Public Money Public Code: a good policy for FSFE and other non-profits?

Alessandro Rubini rubini at
Thu Jun 14 06:01:04 UTC 2018

Context: Daniel Pocock writes in his own blog that he will repost at
the next GA meeting a motion that did not pass at the previous GA
meeting. Unchanged, seemingly.

Paul Boddie:

>>> I was surprised that Daniel's motion to document the FSFE's proprietary
>>> dependencies, and to describe ways of eliminating them, was so strongly
>>> opposed.

Voting against by a large majority doesn't mean it was "strongly
opposed".  There was discussion and we agreed it's better not to have
it.  A vote just reflects the balance of pros and cons made by voting

Max Mehl explained the refusal:

>> 1. Which scope should the list of proprietary software in organisation
>>    have? Only the OS and applications on our computers and servers? Or
>>    does it extend to [...]

>> 2. Obviously, we try to use as much Free Software as possible, but
>>    unfortunately we cannot avoid all of it, [...] Does creating such a huge
>>    list benefit our work [...] ?

Paul noted about (1) above:

> This is something I briefly addressed in my message:
> "Many of us commit to using Free Software exclusively where the right to 
> exercise this control has been given to us."
> So the embedded software in your phones is probably not an area [...]

The problem is "probably" and the vagueness of where the right to exercise
is there or not. You also note sometimes it's possible but not reasonable
to demand.

And about (2) above:

> I agree that the potential impact on volunteers would be problematic.

So it seems even you (paul) acknowledge that the proposal is not
"obviously right" when we face the real world, even if it clearly was
designed with the aim to do better.

Oh, and what about firmware? I personally shall be damned because I
download binary blobs to my hardware's RAM (instead of having it in
flash memory).

> But did no-one see any merit in the idea? Maybe one of the many
> other, non-Fellow/member/supporter Assembly members might share
> their thoughts with us.

I am a member, and I think Max well explained the reasoning. But I see
one more: we do not need to publish a "hall of shame".  It would
mostly help internal frictions, or attacks by anybody who wants to
paint himself as holier than us ("himself": women are usually more
intelligent than that).

> But did no-one see any merit in the idea?

Daniel Pocock I suppose. So much as to claim he will post the same
motion again without further arguments. I can't avoid thinking
he wants to lose the vote again in order to complain again on his blog
and increase his own halo. I'd love to be proved wrong.


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