GNU Business Network Definition comments

Stefano Maffulli stef at
Mon Jun 12 06:56:29 UTC 2006

On Thu, 2006-06-08 at 15:19 +0100, Shane M. Coughlan wrote:
> This approach ties Free Software into the company mission statement
> rather than the company development model.  

Absolutely.  The development model is a tool that the companies can use
to achieve the ethical aim.  With the definition of FSB rotating around
the ethical concepts, not only companies that develop software can be
included but also other kinds, like law firms or architecture firms.

> It's not unreasonable but it
> leaves a very important question: what about companies that already have
> a mission statement that does not include the concept of explicit
> adherence with the GNU Manifesto?  Most software and support companies
> fall into this particular category.

IMHO the adherence to the FSB principle can also be made outside of the
mission statement, just like any other certification is added on top of
existing missions.

> The existing GNU Business Network Definition appears to assume that
> companies will choose to entirely adopt Free Software.  In doing so it
> potentially excludes a vast number of existing companies that would
> benefit rather than hinder our overall cause: the promotion of Free
> Software.

You are right in being worried about a network that is made of few
nodes: it makes very little sense, indeed.  This is why I personally
prefer to concentrate into finding an acceptable definition of FSB first
and then see what to do with it :)

> I don't think attempting to dictate mission
> statements and business ethics to businesses is going to win us many
> friends from existing companies.  It is my opinion that we should give
> businesses the freedom to support our software *and* the freedom to
> support other software if they so choose.

In some respects, you are right: business out there still largely depend
on 'obscure non-free software' to run and it is still quite difficult to
tell them 'don't use SAP anymore', especially since they spent so much
implementing it *and* there is no free substitute for it.  So, for
example, and using the the ethical point of view: a manufacturing
company uses SAP for its production/management line but sells robots
powered only by Free Software (Linux and other utilities) and
participates actively into the Linux community, contributing patches and
more.  Would this company qualify as a Free SW Biz?

> If we have confidence in our model 

Do we have such confidence to sell it to a 45 years old bizman that
feeds 5/10 programmers selling proprietary licenses?  Even if he barely
makes the end of the month, I think we still don't have enough arguments
to draw exclusive circles like the GBN and we need to come up with
something that is inclusive instead.

thanks for the discussion

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