[Fsfe-ie] Irish Times article, my feedback

adam beecher lists at spamfilter.cc
Sun Jul 27 23:27:00 CEST 2003

Hi Ciaran,

Karlin will likely reply by telling you that she understands a lot of what
you're saying - I've discussed the Microsoft contracts with Gov.ie in the
past - but that she has to play to the lowest common denominator in her
audience, which means sometimes leaving out intracacies in order to get her
story across. Sometimes I disagree with her, because on occasion she twists
the story to make it sit better, but this can be deceptive. Most of the time
I can see her point though. I believe Karlin's running Red Hat at the moment
by the way. :)


> -----Original Message-----
> From: fsfe-ie-bounces at fsfeurope.org
> [mailto:fsfe-ie-bounces at fsfeurope.org]On Behalf Of Ciaran O'Riordan
> Sent: 26 July 2003 23:05
> To: fsfe-ie at fsfeurope.org
> Subject: [Fsfe-ie] Irish Times article, my feedback
> Hi all,
>   In Friday's Irish Times there was an article on page 4 of the
> business section titled
>  "Linux popularity is swelling but advocates must spread the word".
>   It was a journalists account of a "Linux" press conference chaired
> by Linus Torvalds, John Hall, and spokesmen from Oracle, SuSE, RedHat,
> and VA Software.
>   I mailed the following response to the author, the jist of it is
> that it's the GNU project and the Free Software movement that really
> needs advocates.  I thought I'd forward it here in case anyones
> interested.  I'll let the list know if I get a response.
>   My comments near the end about an Irish Free Software organisation
> are hopeful guesses.  I made no reference to this list so I'm
> representing myself alone.  I'd like to see such an organisation
> emerge from this list, I have some ideas which I'll mail to the list
> later.
> Ciaran.
> ----- Forwarded message from Ciaran O'Riordan
> <ciaran at member.fsf.org> -----
> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2003 22:23:31 +0100
> From: Ciaran O'Riordan <ciaran at member.fsf.org>
> To: klillington at irish-times.ie
> Subject: July 25th article, Linux needs advocates...
> Dear Ms. LIllington,
>   I read your July 25th article "Linux polularity swells but..." with
> great interest.  The semi-uncomfortable interaction that you noted
> between the press and the panel was interesting but it hides a deeper
> issue.
>   The operating system that is commonly called "Linux", began
> development in 1984 and initially had nothing to do with Linus
> Torvalds or Linux.  In 1984, Richard Stallman began a project to write
> a completely free operating system called GNU, free in every sense, as
> Stallman says "think free speech, not free beer".  Starting with
> nothing, Stallman spent years hacking away, building component after
> component and gathering more developers has he went.  Along the way,
> he established the Free Software Foundation (FSF) to help coordinate
> and fund the GNU project.  The FSF created the Free Software
> Definition, a set of criteria that software must fulfill in order to
> be Free Software.  A brief summary is that software users must be
> given the freedom to use, alter, and distribute the software they
> receive.  Permissions to do these things must not be charged for but
> people can charge for related services such as distribution or
> technical support.
>   At the start of the nineties, some of the GNU components had become
> industry leaders due to their stability and completeness (examples:
> GCC, GDB, Emacs).  The most notable missing component was a kernel,
> the piece of software that lies at the heart of an operating system to
> take care of the hardware and share resources.  Enter Linux.
>   In 1991, Torvalds began working on a kernel out of his own interest,
> his kernel became known as Linux.  Without applications, Linux systems
> were useless though, so the Linux developers looked around for other
> software they could use and found the GNU software.  They continued to
> use the name "Linux" for what they were using.
>   When the GNU developers noticed this, they asked that the operating
> system should be called "GNU/Linux" on the grounds that they had
> written the great majority of the code and if people didn't know that
> it was the GNU projects that created it, they would not find out that
> all the software is completely free, as in speech.
>   In the late nineties, Big Business began to take notice of
> GNU/Linux.  For them it represented liberation from the desktop
> dictator role that Microsoft had.  Using GNU/Linux could save them
> millions in licensing fees and advocating the use of GNU/Linux would
> give them a platform for their software that didn't required
> Microsofts permission or help.
>   But there was an issue.  If they released their own software as Free
> Software they would lose revenue because their business models relied
> on users having to pay for permission to use, copy, or distribute it.
> They decided it would be best to keep quite about Free Software, and
> to cut off the information pathway they decided they'd just call it
> "Linux".
>   It is hard for a panel to discuss the interests of GNU/Linux users
> at a press conference because they differ so greatly from company to
> company.  Torvalds prefers coding to politics so he likes to stay
> outside of the issue of software freedom.  Companies such as Oracle
> and VA Software are users that don't want to contribute, SuSE
> contributes but doesn't want to commit, and RedHat contributes greatly
> but say they have to use the term "Linux" because it's the most
> recognisable to other businesses.
>   The GNU project is going from strength to strength but keeping up
> with Big Business takes a lot of work from mostly unpaid people.  The
> FSF has spread and now has chapters in America, Europe, India, and
> China.  Most european countries also have national Free Software
> organisations.  France has APRIL, UK has AFFS, Italy has ASL, Portugal
> has ANSOL.  Ireland is on the verge of having it's own Free Software
> coordination organisation, I am working on it along with many
> interested comrades.  We hope to have this organisation established
> before October of this year.
>   Free Software has the potential to cut goverment spending on
> software, right now the Irish goverment is Microsofts largest Irish
> customer.  It will also cut educational spending on software and
> decrease the cost of computing for the general public.  GNU/Linux has
> a Free Software desktop, office suite, and all the applications people
> expect with a modern desktop computer.  What it needs is that, as the
> end of your article title says, "...advocates must spread the word".
>   Before the end of the year, we hope to have a press pack and a
> website for information about Free Software and GNU/Linux.  Until
> then, please feel free to email me with any questions you have about
> Free Software, GNU, Linux, "Linux", or similar topics.
> Thanks.
> Ciaran O'Riordan
> Related documents:
> Free Software Foundation : www.fsf.org
> FSF, European chapter    : www.fsfeurope.org
> About the name "GNU/Linux" Vs. "Linux":
> http://www.gnu.org/gnu/why-gnu-linux.html
> The Free Software Definition:
> http://www.fsfeurope.org/documents/freesoftware.en.html
> ----- End forwarded message -----
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