Not Any Browser (was: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3)

Frank Heckenbach f.heckenbach at
Wed Sep 27 03:21:19 UTC 2006

In discussion at, simo wrote:

> > The current GPLv3 comment system should be junked before the end of the
> > process and replaced with a more common email+web-forum-based moderated 
> > consultation which is open to all hackers with the most basic software.
> Hey you know what? This commenting system actually requires a computer
> and a network connection!!!! Oh my God! It requires all that!

This kind of arrogance and cynism is exactly what's called for in
this situation. And I've observed it a lot in various forms in such

The issue of browser dependence is not really new (about 10 years
old, minimum), so I don't think I need to explain how it differs
from the requirement of (any kind of) computer with (any kind of)
network connection.

I'm likewise amazed about the ridiculousness of some other arguments
used to support it, such as quoting browser statistics. Just imagine
another organisation, say the EU, making an influential survey on an
important political matter, requiring a certain OS, browser,
document format or whatever that "98% of computer users use or have
ready access to". What an outcry this would be here! (But the
supported browser in this case is a free one? Well, yes, but it's
still only one browser, other free browsers are not supported. Also,
even though we probably agree that when others use such means to get
an unfair advantage to proprietary software, this is a bad thing, it
doesn't mean that using the same means, intentionally or nor, to get
an unfair advantage to free software is a good thing.)

BTW, says: "The GPLv3
comment system is actively being developed, and its browser
compatibility is currently limited." So this means, according to the
usual meaning of "currently", that the issue will be resolved, does
it? I just wonder if this is going to happen before the end of the
process (seeing that it's been at least several months now since the
issue was first brought up), otherwise it would be of no value.

I've looked at the comment system, using The Supported Browser(tm),
and it does look nice and spiffy and all, and its authors are
probably quite proud of the program, rightfully. Unfortunately, a
public comment process about the most important (as intended) free
software licence for the next several years is exactly the wrong
place to deploy it; here, spiffy features should be second in
importance to the maximum possible openness.

Finally, I'll note that abuses the "Any
Browser" tag (which it applies to "This site" which by usual
definition includes all subpages, such as the comment system). As
long as the issue isn't resolved, I hope they will at least be so
honest as to remove this tag. (CC to webmaster at for
this reason; if another address or a special form and/or browser
must be used to post such comments to the web masters, anyone feel
free to forward this; I won't.)

Now all you who support the current comment system can go on
asserting each other how good it is, but it won't convince anyone
else. Even if I don't share all of the Linux developers' concerns
about the GPLv3, I understand well why they didn't submit them via
the designated route, but chose to write an open letter instead ...


Frank Heckenbach, f.heckenbach at
GnuPG and PGP keys: (7977168E)

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