Free software and public administrations?

Alessandro Rubini rubini at
Sun Nov 24 15:23:53 UTC 2002


> impression is that the criticism against free software in TV is of
> very low quality and in low-rated transmitions.

Ok, then this is not a problem.

> The first chapter is: [...]
> But no one makes theirs job only by operating system, we need
> additional software as well.

Yes. And proprietary applications running on the Linux kernel and GNU
tools are as bad as proprietary apps on a proprietary OS.  If we fail
to say that, we just support our opponents.

A business depending on DB2 is tied, even if the underlying kernel is

> The author makes analogy with printers and consumatives -- the free
> software is like a printer at no cost but with very expensive
> consumatives.

Again, this is known and true. *If* people is confused about what is Free
Software and what is Linux.

Once again, this kind of attack shows how important it is to educate
people about the basic concepts.  They are free to fire themselves by
depending on proprietary application, but it's extremely important
that when they fail they don't say the the problem is Free Software.

Similarly, I tend to always stress that how we shouldn't care about
technical excellence.  We may be technically superior, or we may not,
but this isn't really relevant.  

> Who is interested to promote free software?  Those who sell services.

Yes, because software _is_ service.

> The commersial software is more advanced and requires less and cheaper
> additional services.

Debatable. Still, additional services may well cost less, as licensing
costs are so high that they can cover some support.  This is
commercially successful: people is convinced that the "copy tax" is
needed to support the poor programmer, and then companies can keep
licensing costs high and then competite on service, «oh so good and oh
so cheap» because it is already paid by licensing costs.

Thanks for the quotation of the site. It's interesting. Once again, it
shows the great mistake several supporters of ours (and most
journalists and most of common people).

It is not a "linux against microsoft" battle. It is a matter of what
rights are granted to the recipient.  I think we should remind people
that it is only a matter of license terms.  All social and political
arguments are very important, but they are just consequences of
licensing policies. And such consequences are not bound to specific
products or operating systems; each effects may occur or not occur
according to several external factors but at the core we must care
about license terms and explain what those are.

Community development is a side effect, it often does not exist at
all. Technical excellence is a side effect, often missing as well.
Cheap acquisition price is a side effect. Security is a side effect,
to be verified case by case.  The right to run, the right to adapt,
the right to study, the right to distribute, the right to improve;
those are the core, and they are only features that may or may not be
implemented in a program's license terms.

A vendor should not enslave its users; users that are not enslaved
will appreciate that and make their market choices, despite the
handwaving of other vendors.  If we tell people to choose on technical
merits and prefer linux over windows, they'll choose doors over linux
next year, and we'll have to start anew with a lunax against doors

Thanks for your report, I think you need to have some good information
sites out; if you are careful to avoid the typical errors and stick
the basic concepts I think you'll make a great service to your
country.  In any case I wouldn't be that concerned about this guy or
similar people. They are either exceedingly misguided (and in this
case they may change their minds over time) or they are well paid from
interested people (and this case the trick may be uncovered).

/alessandro, too verbose as usual :(

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