Free software on Windows (was: Re: about

Alessandro Rubini rubini at
Wed Oct 31 14:30:53 UTC 2001

>> My point is: it would be great if the whole GNU/Linux system would
>> be ported to Windows: Linux as a program running in Windows. [...]

> As far as I remembered, RMS was against porting free software on
> proprietary OS. If I remember correctly, the argument was: "Don't
> improve proprietary OS with our free software".

He is right. If users need bash, awk, perl etc to work, the won't
press their employers to switch to a libre OS now that they have that
stuff on windows. 

So while it is good to give people some freedom even on proprietary
OS, there are drawbacks. I personally think the balance is negative
because people is not enjoying freedom but only the power of the tools
(for example, most installations don't even have a compiler so people
can't practically do anything with their tools but running them).

Employers will still be reporting to the press they only work with
some-company proprietary tools and the advantage of individual users
won't have any effect at all.

I explained the disadvantage because otherwise RMS' idea would look
silly. It's not, unfortunately; I'll be happy to be convinced that the
balance is positive.

> And what about policy? If we provide free software for proprietary OS
> (like Windows), should we insist to put the source on the same
> package/CD?

If the proprietary distributors ships Libre tools, the source must
definitely be there (as I already noted some time ago, magazines that
do not include source code are on the borderline of legality [1])

> Should we put a prominent warning saying "this software is
> free software with the following 4 rights bla bla"[1]?

This is already there in all GNU tools; well sort of, it's more
focused on the no-warranty than on the all-freedom.  It's quite boring
a message, though.

> [1] Of course, in that case, they could edit the source to suppress the
>     warning. It would be thus an incentive to understand and get into
>     the source, and thus its philosophy. ;)

The GPL (2c) forbids removing the warning if the original program has


[1] IANAL, though.

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