Comment on "Nine Attitude Problems in Free and Open Source Software"

Yavor Doganov yavor at
Thu Oct 23 23:50:19 UTC 2008

Noah Slater wrote:
> This is a false dichotomy.
> An organisation can "care for freedom" or popularity in shades of
> grey,

Yes, I agree.  The second name for this is "double standards".  How
else could be explained that a GNU manual is dark grey but an
important piece of the system that affects many users is very light

> Note that I quoted "care for freedom" as this implicitly judges
> Debian and Ubuntu from YOUR ethical position,

Of course!  During my all conscious life, I have always evaluated
things from MY ethical position.  I believe that this is the natural
behavior of a human being; once you begin building your ethical
position about anything, you start to evaluate your actions.  If the
action complies with your ethical position, it evaluates to TRUE, so
you can proceed.  If it doesn't, you feel unconformatble so you can
either (1) don't do it; (2) tweak your ethical principles.  The latter
is what's happening with Debian, and to the community at large.

> I consider it reasonable to shorten this to the assertion that
> Ubuntu cares about popularity more than Debian does.

I agree, mostly.  I also think that Ubuntu cares more about popularity
and less about freedom, although the result is really the same.  Both
distros do not teach users to value their freedom.

> This can be seen in the social and technical charters, decisions and
> actions of each group.

These are documents that can be twisted in various ways, or
machine-parsed/analyzed as it happens with Debian's foundation

(Hint: The real meaning of "our priority are our users" is "our
users's freedom", not "our users should get the nVidious drivers
packaged and maintained simply because they demand it".  This is
forgotten nowadays, and many "compromises" are made.  When it comes to
RFCs and invariant sections like "This is a GNU manual, and you can
freely modify and distribute it", the rules are harsh, and such
"blatant DFSG violation" is fixed quickly.)

> I am quoting "freedom" because it means different things to
> different people.

Yes.  For many, it means deleting the free GNU documentation and
ridiculously manifesting how you care about freedom, while for others
it means actually removing software that is not free (again, according
to the Free Software Definition, which may not be what the "different
people" agree with).

> You are not considering that Debian may share a different value
> system from you,

I am considering this very deeply, in fact.  For years.  That's my
personal ethical dillema with Debian.

> You must be able to consider the actions of others from the
> perspective of THEIR value system

This is easy to do, and I realize the actions are perfectly valid
according to THEIR value system.  That's the problem in the first

> Another false dichotomy, resulting from YOUR value system, not
> theirs.

Once again, of course MY value system!  How could you possibly allign
with another value system and apply it unconditionally in all cases?
We are humans, not parsers.

>   * fully free software, and hence good (usable)
>   * not fully free software, and hence bad (unusable)
> Debian do not share this value system with you.

This is obvious.  Debian accepts the compromise to be "usable" for
nearly everyone.  Free distros such as gNewSense do not accept this
compromise, which is why I try to migrate every Debian machine I have
to gNS.  Promising the users in the SC to defend certain ideals while
willfully failing to do so is another reason.

> Extrapolating from this that "it's all about popularity" is patently
> absurd.

Name it whatever you want; it doesn't make a difference.

> > Inappropriate and wrong comparison.
> Not at all, I was drawing a comparison between differing value systems.

In this case, let me rephrase it: the value system of the Debian
project has been altered significantly since its early days.  Now it
does not match the value system of the free software movement.

(Before you say that I align MY value system with the value system of
the movement in general -- that's not true; I don't agreee with some
things and I "evaluate" everything.  You can read for this particular case,
which presumably would shed some light about the immense difference
between the value systems.  FWIW, I fully agree with the sentiment of
the article.)

> > The last GR that reaffirmed the non-free archive confirms that the
> > majority of the Debian Developers are supporters of the open
> > source campaign.
> So? I am a Free Software Foundation member, and I support Open Source.

And I am not a FSF member, and definitely I do not support Open
Source.  So?  You are missing the point, because you are reading
sentences literally.

> Where is the contradiction there?

The contradiction is in the value systems, as you assert.  If you
support open source, then your value system does not state that
non-free software is antisocial, so you accept and "validate" the
"comprimises" Debian makes.  From my point of view, these are totally
unacceptable, as the purpose is to replace non-free software entirely,
its existence and legitimacy is the very problem in the first place.

> > No free software activist would willingly endorse distribution of
> > non-free software.
> Again, you are illustrating your inability to consider other
> perspectives.

How?  The goal of the free software movement is to eliminate non-free
software, and I realize many people disagree (even strongly) with that

> The way I read this sentence is:
>  Most people in Debian do not share my personal value system with
>  regards to free software, therefor they do not care about freedom
>  in general.

Note that in this discussion I have not clarified the details of my
value system...  And I don't want to do that either.  Also, it would
probaly be worthy to check that my value system does not differ much
from what you can read at

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