Defining Free Software Business

Sam Liddicott sam at
Tue Jun 27 09:14:26 UTC 2006

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:
>    [Please don't send me copies of messages to the list.]
> Sorry, but I can't keep track of who is or isn't subscribed to this
> list.  It is normal practise to always CC everyone.
>    >    What do you think of the suggestion made to draw lines similar
>    >    to those drawn by the Debian project: "free", "free but
>    >    currently depends on non-free", "non-free".
>    >
>    > A bad idea, since just like Debian, you end up recommending and
>    > condoning non-free software by recommending businesses that
>    > perform unethical practises.
>    I don't see how you make this connection. Why would a
>    classification as I suggested necessarily "end up" as a
>    recommendation?
> Since these companies will be listed as GBN friendly companies (with a
> little sign saying something about their "status"), you tell users
> that these companies are OK.  When
I dispute this claim. The "status" is the TYPE of "ok", not every user
has the same standard of  ok-ness; (the significance of this will be
made clear)

You certainly will be indicating some businesses whose types of ok-ness
which will not be FSF pure (yet) and this ok-ness will be acceptable to
some customers, certainly; but I insist that you are actually saying to
the customer "this is WHY this business is NOT (yet) ok"

You are providing MORE information to the users instead of saying "trust
your holy masters"
>  infact, they are not, since they
> recommend/develop non-free software.  What is the point to classify
> businesses that do something that is not acceptable?
So that
1) people can see WHAT it is they do that is not acceptable
2) what sort of behaviours are ideal.

To not even make a statement on these other businesses is to entirely
miss out on these opportunities to educate the world.

No-one who is not already an FSF member will accept that there is a
clear boundary between OK and not-OK, and certainly people will not
accept that the boundary is where the FSF say it is; this is another
reason why we must present a scale that contains most peoples boundaries
so that they have the information they need in order to choose as much
of the FSF good as they are currently able to recognize, and also become
acquainted with greater FSF goodness which they can choose later.

I have to bring in some religions analogies here for which I don't
apologise; the same problems existing with encouraging the adoption of
religious principles. (If I am wrong on some detail, please don't
trouble to raise it unless it affects the point I am trying to make)

Moses descended from the mount with the 10 commandments and found the
people worshipping the calf; he then later came down with a different
set of commandments; he gave them what goodness they were willing to
receive. (Originally Moses and a large group of elders were supposed to
ascend the mount with him, but they were too scared and missed out on
that too).

I'm suggesting that FSF goodness in its pure form cannot be appreciated
by most people. I suggest this as a plain fact; I suggest we help people
to choose the FSF goodness that they CAN appreciate and understand; the
religious principle here being "line upon line, precept upon precept,
here a little, there a little", or in other words don't damn people for
not having finished their education already.

The final religious comparison, Jesus said "I came not into the world to
condemn the world but to save the world"; FSF may wish not to taint
itself by association; however Jesus's only taint (if any) was by
association, he didn't mind the association with "wicked sinners" in
order to lift people; "condemn the sin but not the sinner" etc; a
principle that must be carefully understood, if to be followed without
disaster. The GBN reluctance on this point is virtuous, but total
refusal may mean failure;

Now I observe from MJ Ray's recent post, and fully agree, that the
behaviour of the FSF is responsible for reducing FSF support among
Debian supporters; it places a burden that people are not educated to bear.

It seems we have two choices; selection or inclusion. The GBN strategy
can select the already holy, or it can select the unholy who are (and as
much as they are) willing to be "made pure" which takes time.

If GBN chooses "selection" then they will have my general and inactive
support because the real work that needs doing will be outside the scope
of the GBN.

If GBN chooses "purification" then they have my specific and active
support, for the same reason; or as the religionists might say "we're
not in heaven yet";

There is no freedom if free principles are understood only by one
person; sure if he is RMS he can write emacs and gcc but most people
would be made free-er with MS windows than with nothing. To get the best
value of freedom, everyone must have it.

I think all relevant points have been discussed, I like the 3 debian

I think it is clear that the "blurring" of the boundary is double edged;
the same tool that allows people to keep non-free MS Office on Linux
allows people to move from Windows to Linux.

I support inclusiveness, education, progression, and the 3 debian
categorisations of business services and products.


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