October Newsletter /Summit

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Tue Oct 11 20:11:36 UTC 2016

On Tuesday 11. October 2016 07.43.18 Florian Snow wrote:
> Werner Koch <wk at gnupg.org> writes:
> > I miss any mentioning of an (internal) discussion in the aftermath of a
> > very questionable talk[2] advertising proprietary software.
> Thank you for pointing out that talk.  I was not aware of any problems
> with it so far.  I will watch the recording soon.

From the talk page...

"2016 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot, the ‘German Beer 
Purity Law’."

That already set the alarm bells ringing for me. Not only is this topic 
tenuously connected with data management standards for public Internet 

"For this reason we propose a set of Honest Internet Purity Laws to uphold 
trustworthy and open internet services as a required standard."

...but since it's also something that Norwegian "beer bores" would constantly 
bring up while justifying the local monoculture of low-quality, mass-market 
pilsners (until everybody and their dog started making their own microbrews), 
it shows that we're not all starting out with the same cultural perspective 
and thus the same receptiveness to the talk's premises. And from this niche 
cultural reference stretched out over the frame of an analogy, I guess things 
just get more and more muddled from there.

But returning to the topic, sorry...

> > The speaker of that talk is head of a company selling non-free
> > software but trying to get associated with Free Software.
> There were a couple of speakers from that category at the summit.  While
> that certainly makes me take a closer look and makes me more suspicious,
> I would not want to exclude these people from giving talks _purely_
> because they work in a non-free software job.  The talk needs to be
> about Free Software, though, of course.

It seems like the company offers the Open-XChange product which is GPLv2-
licensed, perhaps as part of an "open core" offering. There seem to be other 
"open core" offerings on the company's site: I doubt that we're talking about 
any AGPLv3-licensed services where you can get the exact code running those 
"trustworthy and open" services.

> > In the F&Q after the talk the speaker was asked about this (35'50''
> > into the video) and confirmed that their software is and will not be
> > published under a Free Software license.  He also said that he did not
> > think cloud services should at all require Free Software, be it GPL or
> > BSD.
> Ok, this is a serious problem.

That sounds like "bait and switch" to me.

I'm not a conference enthusiast any more, and talk selection was always 
something that didn't appeal to me, but browsing conference sites makes me 
think that vague talk abstracts (or even no actual abstract, "more information 
soon", stuff indicating an invited speaker, that kind of thing) together with 
no evidence of additional materials and hardly any peripheral information 
about the topic just shouldn't be accepted. And any notion of "the big reveal" 
of some previously unknown project, where you might expect a lack of existing 
public material, is just annoying: such things hardly ever live up to the 

But since I wasn't at the summit/event, please attach as little weight to my 
opinion as is deemed appropriate.


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