Strategy (was Re: Improving copyright)

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at
Sat May 15 22:28:11 UTC 2004

Hash: SHA1

On 15 May 2004 at 11:20, Jeroen Dekkers wrote:

> You still haven't answer my question. Why throw away POSIX, an open
> standard, for a non-standard, proprietary API?

Whether something is proprietary or not isn't anything like as 
important as its ubiquity. In fact, most ISO standards start life as 
a proprietary interface.

POSIX has a long and good history. There are some really rotten parts 
of the spec but a lot of that comes from its age. However in terms of 
quantity of usage, the Win32 API vastly overshadows POSIX. Therefore 
it is more important as everyone can agree legacy compatibility is 
very useful.

> > Almost every *application* for DOS runs fine on NT. Games less so I
> > agree, but then Microsoft's WOW team set a target of being able to
> > play DOS Doom in the subsystem and then it'd be considered done.
> > Business apps were their primary concern and these run very well.
> You are switching from home users to business users. Can you make up
> your mind please? Home users play games, business users don't.

It was you who brought up games. I made a sweeping generalised 
statement that Microsoft places great import in maintaining backwards 
compatibility with legacy binaries. Someone else claimed this was the 
case with Linux and I sought to dispute that because it's not true - 
it's only very recently that an effort has been made to ensure binary 
compatibility, and I strongly welcome that.

> You're totally ignorant about the goal of the FSF. The goal is to
> provide a totally free operating system. Not a system made for
> non-free drivers and non-free applications. A windows clone would be
> just that, encouraging non-free software. Maybe you should read the
> essay "The Free Software Community After 20 Years: With great but
> incomplete success, what now?" to get a picture of what the FSF's goal
> is.

What someone states is their goal usually isn't their goal. I 
distrust them, and I'm not alone - note how Linus mandates that the 
Linux kernel is licensed under a specific version of the GPL and not 
"this or any later version" as the FSF would have you do.

While we broadly agree about the important issues, when you get down 
to detail we diverge rapidly. Since we share common interests right 
now we all work together, but a split will eventually happen. It's 
like capitalism & communism, both nearly the same but diametrically 
opposed to the other.

> I've been demonstrating yesterday and at least they listed to our
> points of view and it's just waiting what they are going to do with
> it.

Wow, you're seriously naïve. Professional politicians have the innate 
ability to make anyone think they're taking you seriously, they 
really agree with you privately and they'll urgently expedite action 
favourable to your cause. And ministers don't get to be ministers 
without being really good at that.

> It's possible to influence the council of ministers, through
> national MPs and by demonstrating for example. Saying it's something
> we can't influence at all is wrong IMHO. In Germany, Belgium and
> Denmark it already resulted in that their minister would probably vote
> no. We only need a few countries more.

The public can get to them on two fronts primarily - through their 
backbenchers (the parliament) and through the media (adverse 
publicity). Our ability to lobby like corporate interests (ie; behind 
the scenes) is very limited.

I've been part of the recreational drugs reform movement for some 
time which has been running since the 1960's. They can teach a lot 
about campaigning to anti-software patent campaigners most of whom 
are very new to this. However, that said, if it makes you feel better 
to demonstrate outside parliament then it's worth doing.

> So? That is that country's problem, it might slowdown Linux
> development a bit, but that's all. Most development would just move to
> places without such wrong laws (the EU and India for example). Just
> like what happened with cryptograhy software when the US had still
> those strict export laws.

Well we'll see. Cryptography was quite something else because 
everyone knew the US had to relax it sometime - that means investment 
will not be wasted. There would be deep uncertainty if patents were 
used in anger against Linux and while I think it'd be like the 
chilling of BSD from the AT&T lawsuit, these are different times. 
Some diehard BSD fans claim that that AT&T suit caused Linux to beat 
BSD to become the world's favourite Unix but I think that's 
underestimating why Linux is so popular.


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