The crux; ; Re: [yavor at Re: Defining Free Software Business]

Sam Liddicott sam at
Tue Jun 27 20:13:37 UTC 2006

Is it time to fork the FSF?

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:
>    >    It has been repeated often enough here that in many lines of
>    >    business it is NOT possible to transfer instantly to use 100%
>    >    free software and that it is not even a neccessary evil, but a
>    >    noble good, to aid the transition by means of compatability
>    >
>    > There is a difference between making a transition, and
>    > recommending the use of non-free software.  One is not related to
>    > the other.
>    Sometimes it takes a piece of non-free software to assist the
>    transition as RMS has testified in the past, and you have also
>    stated in this list.
> You must have misread something.  
I don't think so, although the word "testifies" perhaps extravagantly 
implies a little more loquaciousness which would now be embarrassing 
(exaggeration on my part); emacs, the first GNU product was released in 
1985, 2 years before gcc started.
Early versions of gcc used the Sun assembler.
> I have not stated any such thing,
> nor do I know of RMS having stated anything remotley similar.  

Today, you said: "

It is called a `needed evil'.  When RMS wrote emacs and GCC, NO free
software operating system existed.  It was impossible to _not_ use
non-free software.

I think this is the crux of the whole thing.

You find some of us talking about evils that you or the FSF don't need; 
but we need them and we know people who need these evils.

Is it time to start the Free BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Software Foundation? 
The Free TELECOMS Software Foundation?
> What
> has been stated by me, which is directly based on what RMS has said,
> is that if you have non-free software you do not use it or support it,
> but write a replacement.  
And heroin addicts should quit cold-turkey.
We've been talking about cases where free versions for various tools 
exist, but business are only willing to migrate slowly.
> Debian is doing nothing in the vicinity of
> that.  
I think that our world-views are not reconcilable.
> There is a free Java suit that the GNU project has developed,
> yet for some odd reason, Debian feels it wise to include the Sun Java
> suit.
I don't think you have a proper understanding of "Debian" but it is not 
relevant, it has been clarified already to what I think is the 
satisfaction of most observers here.
>    But you have suggested that it should not be for people who solve some
>    peoples problems by promoting certain uses of non-free software to aid a
>    transition and it is this that I disagree with.
> You cannot solve problems by promoting evil.  You solve problems by
> working _against_ evil, and replacing the evil with good.
I wonder if my phrase "promote certain uses of non-free software" was 
We are possibly imagining up different uses of this non-free software; I 
was (of course) thinking of necessary evils; like using MS Word under 
Linux in order to open documents that Open Office could not, and save 
them in another format to aid conversion. Like using exchange connector 
so that departments could be switched over to from MS Outlook/Windows to 
Evolution/Ubuntu one at a time in a manageable way, because approval 
won't be gained otherwise. Each problem has many such difficulties and 
risks which need managing and fallbacks until the transition is 
complete; escaping from 20 years of vendor lock-in is a slow process.
>    I know you disagree so we don't need to repeat that; I just don't see
>    why you think the GBN should not even LIST companies that are going for
>    other fields what RMS has already done in his own field, or that are
>    HELPING those who are doing in their field what RMS did in his own field.
> You have a conroted view of RMS.  The only reason he used non-free
> software was because there was _NO_ alternative, no editor, no
> compiler, nothing.  He was _forced_ to use non-free software.
He sees it more clearly than some. Many businesses don't feel forced to 
use Outlook, they CHOOSE to. And the only way those within the business 
who value the freedom can get them to switch, is to do it in stages 
which for management permission requires certain uses of non-free software.
> Now we have the core that allows us to develop more free softawre, so
> there is absolutley no reason whatsoever to recommend, or support
> non-free software.  
Absolutely false. In RMS field, in your field, this may be true, in many 
fields this is not true.
We had a joke at Orange/Ananova, if someone wanted a complex web 
product, we would give them a C compiler. For you this seems not to be a 
> That some user feels that he has no choice is
> simply not true, he can hire a hacker to write the software he needs
> or he can write it himself.
Part of the problem being solved is how to get budget approval to pay 
the hacker to write the software.
If ROI is poor or long no approval is given. At Orange we hired a 
developer to work on Xapian (excellent search engine) cos the people on 
the floor could see the benefit and desired open source freedom (having 
been badly bitten by its proprietary predecessor).

These "less than pure" potential GBN members using non-free software in 
certain ways are the dutch courage for management and shareholders who 
won't otherwise make a move for freedom at all.
Microsoft know this, they like the FSF extremist attitude, it serves 
them very well.
> Non-free software is unacceptable, supporting it is evil.  
And what about support those who have come to depend on it in order to 
free them? THAT is what I am talking  about, and it requires certain use 
of non-free software to acheive.
> We don't
> need to support it or recommend it anymore.  
No, FSF don't, but FBMSF do, and FTESF do, and FEESF do, do you really 
want to fork the FSF just because hackers needs are now met?
> It is as simple as that.
> What we need to do is develop free alternatives, but distributing
> non-free software and recommending it only works _against_ that.
It does not ONLY work against that, it also works for that.
I believe that you have never worked in a scenario where this is not 
true, and that you are only speaking out of ignorance or dogma rather 
that duplicity. I take it for granted that you think I just can't see 
the true light, that you think I should just ignore table manufacturers 
unwilling to risk their business on an instant move to free software 
with GNU-SAP 0.1, and Open Oracle beta 5 that they've waited 5 years for 
a hacker to write for them. (Of course he can't have used any of the SAP 
tools to export or convert the data, that would count as "contrib" and 
it isn't allowed)

Such strict FSF aims only serve hackers; is it time to fork the FSF?


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