ISP-contracts versus GPL-freedoms

Marcus Brinkmann Marcus.Brinkmann at
Tue Dec 10 18:05:46 UTC 2002

On Sun, Dec 08, 2002 at 02:56:19AM +0100, Wouter Vanden Hove wrote:
> I wonder what kind of internet-connection/ISP you guys have, especially
> the ones that claim to run only Free Software.

If your provider sucks and doesn't allow you to run server programs, it
doesn't matter if the server program is free or proprietary.  There is no
technical difference in how these programs provide the server functionality.
A blocked port is a blocked port.

But as you asked, I have a static IP and as far as I can tell all ports are
wide open, so I can run whatever I want.  My traffic is unlimited in amount
and only limited in speed.
> I've got cable, and I want to have GPL-freedoms as much as possible, but
> I can only get an internet-connection which restricts my rights. 

Then put your money where its market value is and get another provider.  As
the FSF put it: The GPL can not fix all of the world's problems, only some
of them.  By your argument, someone could say that he has now a CD with free
software, but no computer to run it.  That is a pity for this person, but
that's it.

This said, many people who don't run free software don't even notice how
restrictive some ISP's are, because they can not run server programs on
their operating system.  Insofar, the free software allows you to verify and
test the quality of your ISP in a better (cheaper) way than any proprietary
software could.  Know that you found out that your ISP is blocking all
incoming ports, you know what to do: Talk to your ISP and ask them to open
the ports, or switch to another ISP if they won't.

> Freedom zero: "The freedom to run the program, for any purpose".
> But with what ISP?

There are many ISPs which don't restrict your freedom.  You just have to
watch out more thoroughly.  Try a list of local providers, they may be more
expensive, but their service is better.


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' GNU    marcus at
Marcus Brinkmann              The Hurd
Marcus.Brinkmann at

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