press release critique

Xavier Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Thu May 3 08:55:50 UTC 2001

El Wed, May 02, 2001 at 09:26:12PM +0200, josX deia:
> Agree 100%
> Wavering away from RMS mostly results in chaos, does it not ;-) ?
Possibly. RMS has spent a lot of time thinking these things, in a 
quite rational way, and he is as clever as anyone, so anyone thinking 
rationally about it and starting with similar values will reach similar 
conclusions, I daresay. That's one benefit of restricting oneself to 
rational reasoning.

But I think there is no wavering away from RMS
in making money from programming free software. I don't see a problem 
with even charging for distributing free software, because once you 
get the software you may give it away for free to whoever you want, 
so if you find the price is too high you can either pay it among a lot 
of people and share the software, and then give it away to the world, 
or simply program your own original work and give it away. The important
thing is that when people charge for distributing software they do not
impose absurd restrictions on redistribution, modificaion, etc., like 
propietary software does. We can't even expropiate propietary 
software vendors from their software and make it free, we should 
simply make it clear to everyone that their terms are possibly abusive
and there are alternatives. So we should leave alone people who create
or spread free software for a fee, or indirectly support them (as well 
as non paid developers, etc.) because
they help increase the amount of free software around, and that is 
something we may end up benefitting from. 

If you can't simply ignore people who does charge money for free 
software and get it gratis, it is probably because they are offering 
something more than free software (a good distribution channel manned 
by paid employers, 
ftp servers, customization (i.e. workers time) or some other resource). 
And there is nothing wrong in charging for those services.

I think Josef said it very clear and I agree.
> Actually I'm a bit more extreme: it should be free as in speech
> and it should be free as in beer too. Manny people don't have money,
> so making it free as in beer is the only way to be shure it is
> free as in speech too (so everybody can have it, use it, be enjoyed
> by it.... not only those with too much money to blow).
You can't stop anyone from getting a GPLed program gratis as long 
as the programmer or whoever pays him/her want. So, yes, I think there is 
a possibility for free software not to be available to anyone (please, 
correct me if I'm wrong). And that possibility is either when the software
is not distributed to anyone (only the developer that made or modified it)
or it is distributed to N people (maybe for a fee) and all those N plus the 
developer do not want to distribute it further. 

But if you try to rule out this option 
you are forcing people to distribute against their will and that is
lost freedom, no?. Privacy in free software may sound odd, but it is
just privacy.  

Maybe what you are against is cases in which propietary and free 
software are mixed together in a distribution or something. I think this
is a similar case to pure propietary distributions. We may not want to 
buy something that restricts our freedoms, but it is very difficult 
to stop them selling their own work in their own terms unless we abolish
copyright, which I don't think it is yet time to do. Copyright will 
possibly become obsolete in due time, but maybe it still has some use, 
maybe the right thing to do would be restrict it a little.
> And isn't the best part of it giving the stuff away? If we are
> going to make money with it, or support that notion... what is the
> difference between this bisnis, and standard bisnis... and how long
> is the whole thing going to hold if money gets involved. Let me tell
> you in advance: very, very, very short indeed. Sorry.
The difference is that "standard bisnis" if you mean propietary software, 
restricts the freedoms of the customer, whereas commercial free software 
does not. So it is again a matter of freedom. 

> This money-thing is a trojan horse. Don't let it in, or it will make
> Linux just another bisnis-model with exploitation and everything that
> entails, or it will make suits out of the old hackers.... remember
> what happened to the hippies of the sixties? Now they ride BMW with
> a boring tie and try to make as much money as possible.

Never mind that. Young people grow and change (often for the worse), 
and you can't possibly stop that. If you can, I'm interested in reading 
your work. I really would like linux (or any free software) to become 
a sucessful bussiness model. And I would like to avoid explotation, 
marketing lies, and generally all the consequences of wrongly taking 
money as an end when it can only be a mean, not only in software but in any 
bussiness. I don't think I'll see it, but it'd be great. And free software
can help it by removing artificial scarcity and therefore (hopefully) 
helping raise the quality requirements and reduce inefficiencies. It can 
also help because in order to explain the advantages of free software you need 
to resort to philosophical values (otherwise you'd end up explaining 
open source), and the root of the inmoralilty widespread
in bussiness is lack of philosophical values. But 
free software is not the panacea, and the real problem is consumer
information and attitude, the abuses of corporations 
on individuals, the laws that allow that, the fear of philosophy that 
abound and cause people not to question the law. Wow!. I should 
quit programming and take on politics, or found a sect, or something :)!. 

> Maybe we can make the FSFE more european by being more confrontational
> (in philosophy) and less capitalistic, USA is the land of the capitalists,
> we should not outdo them there I think.
True. So let's follow Josef's advice. No bias pro or against making 
money with free software. Bias pro working with free software.

> If that is what it says, I am afraid I would have to disassociate 
> myself :(. No kidding (not that you should mind though).
I'd mind (not that anybody should mind what I mind). 
I pray you to think it a little more yet.
> > A fee is ok, but "making money" in Raymond style is against
> > the spirit of GNU Manifesto.
> Let's go a step further: giving away for free is what makes it
> so much fun to do. It makes you happy to give (wasn't "sharing
> with your friends" what RMS called his `golden rule', that what
> (face it) was the basis of it all (in it's current form)?
> Isn't it great to work for hours and then just put it on the
> web and let everybody enjoy it?!!!
> Maybe you can't earn your living with it... but, when was that
> the goal, the goal was having fun, not make a coal-mine out of
> it so we can live from it, devoid of the pleasure of making it
> and giving it away.
> Gee, this is the whole BASIS of it all.
> No point in arguing the basis.

Nobody is arguing the fun of that. And I think programming for 
fun should be promoted as a cultural activity just like dancing 
folklore, playing piano or reading a book. I see no problem 
with earning money with programming, dancing, playing or reading, 
but I think it'd be good to have cultural centres promote these 
activities for the fun of it, not only for money. For instance, 
public libraries should have free software available for lending
(or copying at the library), general cultural institutions should 
give Python courses along with painting classes, astronomy sessions,
mathematical puzzles, etc.
What is the problem with someone making money with this fun 
activity?. Some people hope to be able to enjoy the job that 
pays their bills. So FSFE should not only encourage free software 
companies but also free software "ateneus" (not for profit cultural 
institutions, I don't know how to translate that).   

> > As RMS said: We should more talk about freedom. And not of
> > making money, I add.
> > Ciao, Stefan
> I add too, and on top of that: "freedom as in speach and as in beer".

freedom is not optional. It is something to be demanded. 

Free as in beer for what is not scarce should be the only option as well. 
For what is scarce (like programmers) free as in beer should be optional. 
Let each programmer decide.
Xavier Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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