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

Frank Heckenbach frank at
Thu Sep 28 04:35:50 UTC 2006

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:

> Please do not post such long messages, my bandwidth is limited to 110
> Baud.

Please do not send me a 2nd copy by private mail, I'm reading the

> Also, could you use EBCDIC? It takes alot of processing
> power to convert your very long message from ASCII to EBDCDIC.

I don't use evil proprietary formats like EBCDIC.

> But seriously...
>    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!
> That is how it actually is and should be, the real problem is
> requiring people to install non-free software to be able to contribute
> to these things.  With free software you can study how the process
> works, and even adapt it for your own needs, something that is simply
> impossible with non-free software.

(a) Stop preaching, please. We're on a FS list here. And note that
    in my paragraph you quoted, I'm not talking about free or
    non-free at all, but about the sillyness of quoting numbers as
    an argument to exclude a minority. (BTW, what you say is
    actually wrong -- you only mention freedom 1; software may give
    one of the four freedoms and still be non-free.)

(b) Even it if was a "free browser required" site, I'd strongly
    disagree, as I wrote. This would be a requirement unrelated to
    the actual freedom (just like in many cases where proprietary
    software is required, it's not because of the proprietaryness,
    but because of requiring some particular software that happens
    to be proprietary). IMHO, doing the same "in retaliation" would
    be worse than "open source" advocacy, i.e. preferring free
    software not because of its freedom, not even because of its
    technical merits, but simply by "decree". (Think about the
    message that would send: "Why should I use FS? Not because of
    its freedoms, but because you must use it in order to access
    this web site." We certainly don't want this.)

(c) The situation is not even like in (b), because not all free
    browsers are supported, only a particular one.

(d) And even this one, in some forms, is not really free as MJR has
    reminded us. (According to RMS in, "To
    use Firefox as free software, you have to build it yourself from
    the source code." I don't know myself if this is true, but if we
    trust RMS, it would actually mean this requirement might have
    made some people (who didn't build it from source themselves)
    use a not (entirely) free browser to view this site, instead of
    a fully free one they might have otherwise used.)

(e) The "Any Browser" campaign has never been an "Any Free Browser"
    campaign. If you (or the FSF) want to change this, you can start
    your own "Any Free Browser" campaign. But then please use
    appropriate icons or slogans to avoid confusion with the real
    "Any Browser" campaign, on sites such as that are
    not "Any Browser" capable.


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

More information about the Discussion mailing list