Feedback appreciated for "There is no Free Software company - But!"

Giel van Schijndel giel at
Thu Nov 17 14:11:13 UTC 2016

On 2016-11-15 18:28, Matthias Kirschner wrote:
> * EXCELLENT: Free Software only and on all levels, no exceptions.
> * GOOD: Free Software as a complete, useful, and fully supportable 
> product.
>   Support available for Free Software version.

The difference between this definition is and "EXCELLENT" is not clear 
to me.

EXCELLENT excludes something:
> no exceptions

And GOOD requires support (shouldn't EXCELLENT also?):
> Support available for Free Software version.

The support sentence seems to indicate there may be a free and a 
version of the same product. But it isn't spelled out explicitly. Thus 
making it
difficult to know where to even start thinking about drawing the line.

> * ACCEPTABLE: Proprietary interfaces to proprietary systems and 
> applications,
>   especially complex systems that require complex APIs/libraries/SDKs, 
> as long
>   as the above is still met.
> * BAD: Essential / important functionality only available proprietary, 
> critical
>   functionality missing from Free Software (one example for an 
> essential
>   functionality was LDAP connector).

One problem that I see with this is: that which is "essential" or 
"important" depends,
for a large part, on how people use the software/service. E.g. what 
might seem an
important feature (just "nice to have") at the beginning of a project 
may turn out
to be one of the most compelling reasons for using it.

> * EVIL: Fully proprietary, but claiming to be Free Software / Open 
> Source
>   Software.

To me this seems to be fraudulent.

I'm thinking about food labelling legislation where there are very clear 
given for some food stuffs. Just using a label/name that has a legal 
without meeting its criteria is illegal in that case.

Maybe the free software definition would be interesting to try to work 
with political
representatives to get into (local) law too?

Just as an example from food legislation: yoghurt. In Dutch law, if you 
call a product
yoghurt it has to contain _living_ bacteria of the Lactobacillus family. 
there's three categories: skimmed ("magere"), semi-skimmed 
whole (not-skimmed, "volle"). These have upper and lower bounds on their 
fat content.
Not adhering to these criteria while still labelling it as such makes it 
illegal to sell
these products.

> **Now I would like to know from you:** what is your first reaction on 
> this?
> Would you like to add something? Do you have ideas what should be 
> included in a
> checklist for such a test? Would you be interested to help us to 
> evaluate how
> good some offers are on such a scale?

Idea seems good, the criteria as of right now are not clear enough IMO.

> To summarise, I believe it was a mistake to think about businesses as a 
> whole
> before

This sounds a bit like it being counter-productive to judging an entire 
person as
good/evil instead of their behaviour. But at the same time if you start 
behaviour it can give you an overview of how one imperfect company 
performs when
compared to another company. I.e. when done properly you can make more 
comparisons than perfect/non-perfect company. Which given the large 
amounts of
imperfect companies seems a necessary category to be able to compare 

> and that if we want to take the next big steps we should think about
> Free Software business offers / activities – at least until we have a 
> better
> name for what I described above. We should help companies that they are 
> not
> deluded by people just claiming something is Free Software, but give 
> them the
> tools to check themselves.

I think people/companies being deluded by other companies to be more 
likely than
by individuals not operating on behalf of a company. (The profit motive 
seems to
be the motivator for conning people about this subject, just like it is 
"fair trade", "organic" and a whole lot of other labels people think are 

Met vriendelijke groet,
With kind regards,
Giel van Schijndel

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