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

Florian Snow floriansnow at
Sat Jun 16 16:59:10 UTC 2018

Hi Paul,

Paul Boddie <paul at> writes:
> Many of us commit to using Free Software exclusively where the right
> to exercise this control has been given to us. Actively using and
> developing such software is just as important as promoting it,
> arguably more so. If I were to use proprietary software to advocate
> Free Software usage, it might be said that I would merely be indulging
> in a hobby, that I do not lead by example, and so on.

I am such a person that is very strict about using only Free Software
when it comes to my computing.  There are areas where I feel it can be
benefitial for an organization to be present on social media, even if
that means using non-free Javascript for example.  I think Richard
Stallman as the founder of our movement recognizes that reaching people
can be very important.  For example, in the Rapid Responders team of the
FSF, he sent links to sites that required non-free Javascript to post
comments.  When we pointed that problem out to him (he may not have been
aware of the requirement), he said he would
never ask anyone to run non-free software, but if there was someone in
the group that did not mind, then posting a comment would be helpful to
our movement.  So I would say when it comes to communicating to people
we would not otherwise reach, we have to carefully analyze the situation
and make a decision.  So there may be cases that are not quite clear

That being said, I would support an inventory of software we use under
the right circumstances.  If we were to do that, we would need a clear
scope and volunteer time to actually maintain the inventory.  Staff time
is very limited and precious and I would not want it spent on an
inventory that may not be all that interesting.  From what I have seen
personally, the FSFE staff uses Free Software exclusively, but there are
probably devices that require non-free firmware.  When it comes to
printers and networking devices, there is probably more non-free
software on those devices, but I am not sure how much of it could be
updated.  If it cannot be changed, it could be considered hardware.  But
that brings up the question of scope again.

Happy hacking!

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