[Fsf-friends] No marks for Free Software?

Ramanraj K ramanraj.k@gmail.com
Fri Sep 16 02:27:44 CEST 2005

In Indian philosophy, marks are very ancient and well known - creation
and life itself began with a mark, which is symbolised by lingam. 
"Lingam" itself merely means "mark".  Religious marks are quite easy
to understand and use: at a single glance, you could easily
distinguish between people professing various beliefs and faiths.

Trade marks also serve an useful purpose in distinguishing between
products and services, and the various classifications within it.

At a time when the free software community should be encouraging the
use of marks that easily identify free software, we find a strange
development that may only discourage people from using the marks more

Are there no marks for free software? Without freely usable marks,
free software will end up as a big zero. As a newbie, I struggled hard
to see the connection between RedHat, SuSE, Mandrake, and the others. 
They all had "Linux" written on it somewhere, that gave me a solid
clue that they are all probably belonging to the same genus, and after
digging into it, I even managed to get to gnu, fsf and gpl.  It is odd
that the free software community could produce tomes of free software,
yet not have even one standard solid graphical mark to identify itself
in simple uncomplicated ways.

There is no confusion with FreeBSD: they have a nice list of logos,
and a clear guide to help people on using them.  Some logos are also
available under a "beer-ware" licence :)

GNU was conceived by RMS and Linux by Linus (or the sys admin who
named the dir linux ruling over freix name suggested by Linus, who was
then too modest to name the kernel after himself).  Though the
currently available free gnu os is named and called "GNU/Linux", there
is no graphic mark that could be uniformly applied to all distros.  In
the spirit of the movement, there should be atleast one logo that FSF,
OSDL, OSI and all the others who contribute code could agree upon to
be used either freely or upon payment of a token fee or formal
permission. It would be a good idea to start this as a separate
project and even see if this could be a source of revenue to sustain
the free software community.  HTH.

-Ramanraj K

"suksmavisayatvam ca alinga paryavasanam" - Patanjali
"The subtlest level of nature is consciousness.  When consciousness
dissolves in nature, it loses all marks and becomes pure" - quoted
from "Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali", by B.K.S. Iyengar.

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