FAQ for giving lectures to students

Bjoern Schiessle schiessle at fsfe.org
Wed Apr 19 20:39:51 UTC 2006

Hi Shane,

Shane M. Coughlan <shane at shaneland.co.uk> wrote:
> 2) What important aspects of Free Software should I highlight?
> A: There are many things you can talk about to show the benefits of Free
> Software.  The four freedoms (free use, free modification, free sharing,
> free improving) are important, but are not the only things you can bring
> into a speech.  If you are talking to political students, you might want
> to highlight the empowerment aspects of Free Software for developing
> nations.  If you are talking to computer science students, you might
> want to highlight the advantages of an open development and testing
> model in engineering terms.

I wouldn't talk to much about the development model.
Free Software is in the first place a way to license software and not
a development model.
Depending on the needs there could be good arguments for a community
driven development model or an in-house development model and both
can result in Free Software.
> 6) What about questions about the difference between Open Source and
> Free Software?
> A: "The fundamental difference between the two movements is in their
> values, their ways of looking at the world. For the Open Source
> movement, the issue of whether software should be open source is a
> practical question, not an ethical one. As one person put it, "Open
> source is a development methodology; free software is a social
> movement." For the Open Source movement, non-free software is a
> suboptimal solution. For the Free Software movement, non-free software
> is a social problem and free software is the solution."
> (From http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html)

I think the question about the difference between Free Software and
Open Source is important. And should be answered at the beginning so
that the audience know why you use the term Free Software and not Open

But your answer can lead to a question like: "Do you really think
that all software should be free? Is this really possible? What about
software depending on development costs which could be split on many

> 7) How should I characterise software companies like Microsoft?
> A: This is very much a matter of personal preference.  One suggestion is
> that being too hostile might alienate your audience.  Point out the
> flaws and inherent unfairness in the business models adopted by
> companies like Microsoft, and suggest that Free Software simply offers a
> better model both for business and for society.

I agree with Stefano, i wouldn't talk about Microsoft at all. If
someone asks about Microsoft i would mention that Microsoft is nothing
special, they just doing the same like many other non-free software
companies and continue to talk about proprietary software generally.
> 9) Where should I point people to find out more?
> A: The Free Software Foundation Europe website (www.fsfeurope.org), the
> Free Software Foundation North America website (www.fsf.org).  Perhaps
> you could point people to Mozilla, Openoffice.org, Ubuntu, Groklaw,
> OSNews...

I think www.gnu.org/philosophy is the first place to get into the Free
Software idea.


Bjoern Schiessle                                http://www.schiessle.org

Nobody can save your freedom but YOU -
become a fellow of the FSF Europe!                (https://www.fsfe.org)
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