Defining Free Software Business

Yavor Doganov yavor at
Mon Jun 26 18:34:56 UTC 2006

Alex Hudson wrote:
> FSF doesn't promote Debian, because Debian has non-free. 

Correct.  If someone uses non-free software that means that he/she
doesn't value his/her freedom.  But if someone, particularly if this
someone is one of the major GNU distributions, a free software
project, offers proprietary software to its users hiding behind the
"Our priority are our users" slogan, well, that is not only totally
unacceptable, it is disgusting.

> Debian doesn't include some FSF documents, because they believe they
> are non-free.

Imagine how this looks like to us, a poor flock of Debian users -- an
advice (not really, a "statement") from the Debian Project, a project
that *distributes* non-free software, that GFDL is conditionally free
(actually, that's the statement as per the GR, the debian-legal folks'
consensus is that it is non-free under all circumstances).  I would
not accept advice towards free software and documentation from someone
who considers distribution of non-free software a justified action,
an ethically and morally acceptable thing.  This is a paradox.  At the
same time, at debian-devel-announce there is an announcement of the
*absolutely the same non-free as it was* Java and some developers are
happy about the inclusion in the archive!  This is absolute hypocrisy,
while one cannot observe anything similar in the FSF's actions.

> That both sides don't agree with each other over small areas (Debian's
> non-free, or the FSF's GFDL'd docs) really doesn't matter a huge amount
> in the grand scheme of things IMHO. 

If you consider promoting and distributing of non-free software a
small area, that's ok.  But it is fundamental NOT to do that for those
who support the Free Software Movement.

> The FSF and Debian have vastly more in common than they disagree
> over.

I'd love if this was true -- as a devoted Debian user and maintainer
of some (unofficial) packages, I can hardly explain how the present
situation hurts me.  However, many "technical" guys have joined the
Debian Project and their votes count.  Obviously it is far more
important for them to be a "successful" distribution than to stand firm
behind the ideals and principles of Free Software.

> The BSD community also don't think the GPL is 100% free. We'll
> always have these disagreements. We're a broad church, and will
> always have these disagreements. It doesn't help to keep going over
> them though, I think - I'm sure people on both sides understand the
> other's position.

We consider the BSD-like licences free with the important exception
that these licences do not *protect* the freedom -- and we consider
protecting the freedom an extremely important thing.  I always
wondered why we don't strongly object against your licencing policy
while the BSD community had always fiercly opposed the GPL.

Just imagine, if every free software in the world was under the GPL,
Apple couldn't have managed to create Muck OS X (some people call this
system technically superior and are seduced to use it), there wouldn't
be proprieatary variants of Apache, etc, etc.  We would have our
Freedom Island intact and expanding.

Cheers and good luck.

In the GNU Project, discrimination against proprietary software is not
just a policy -- it's the principle and the purpose.  Proprietary
software is fundamentally unjust and wrong, so when we have the
opportunity to place it at a disadvantage, that is a good thing. --RMS

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