[Fsf-friends] Item-9 in Open Source Definition

Raj Mathur raju at linux-delhi.org
Wed Nov 26 09:11:38 IST 2008

On Tuesday 25 Nov 2008, Mani A wrote:
> On Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 7:36 AM, Raj Mathur <raju at linux-delhi.org> 
> > Er, why?  All that the clause says is that you are allowed to
> > distribute, e.g., nVidia drivers along with Ubuntu on the same CD
> > if you want.  It doesn't impact the freedom of free software in any
> > way.
> It does deprive users of many of the advantages of FOSS and even OSS.
> Users are required to trust more closed source stuff. FOSS should
> mean 100% FOSS not something like 90% OSS and 10% closed source
> software.

It doesn't deprive users of anything.  To be quite frank, 99.9999% of 
users don't care what licence the software on a Linux CD falls under as 
long as it works for them and they can obtain and use it for free.  
There have been and will continue to be pure FOSS Linux distributions, 
but you probably won't see them gaining much traction in the market.

The users who care enough about the differences between FOSS and 
proprietary software are in any case clued in enough to be able to 
choose a distribution which meets their FOSS needs.  I prefer not to 
use proprietary software, so I use Debian which also has a non-free 
repository.  Requiring a licence to prevent bundling of free and 
non-free software together seems like overkill.

To sum up, people who care about FOSS principles will be able to sift 
out non-free software anyway.  People who don't care about those 
principles will probably not use a pure-FOSS distribution at all.

> Yes, GPL does say that. But  most concepts of FOSS try to go beyond
> that.

Wasn't it RMS who wrote v2 and approved v3 of the GPL?  Are you saying 
that the concepts of FOSS extend far beyond RMS' vision?  Be very 
careful! ;)

Seriously, though, let's distinguish between FOSS as a usage model and 
FOSS as a concept.  I don't necessarily subscribe to the view that 
everyone should only use FOSS -- IMO everyone should use whatever works 
for them.  If Autoc*d happens to be non-free and my sister-in-law 
(who's an architect) needs to use it, more power to her!  I wouldn't, 
but then I'm (a) not an architect and (b) slightly more fanatical about 
these things.

IMO the important goal is to eliminate proprietary software altogether, 
not to eliminate proprietary software users.  If you believe in that 
goal then you can stop worrying about non-issues like bundling of free 
and non-free software together in a distribution and instead work 
towards making the principles of FOSS more entrenched in peoples' 
minds -- once they believe they will stop using non-free stuff 
automatically.  Make better software so that it is difficult or 
impossible for proprietary software companies to profit from leasing 
out software, work towards getting Governments to adopt FOSS and FOSS 
principles, tell people about the benefits and ideology of FOSS 
wherever possible (don't become a bore at parties, though :) -- IMO 
these are some of the ways to eliminate proprietary software.


-- Raju
Raj Mathur                raju at kandalaya.org      http://kandalaya.org/
       GPG: 78D4 FC67 367F 40E2 0DD5  0FEF C968 D0EF CC68 D17F
PsyTrance & Chill: http://schizoid.in/   ||   It is the mind that moves

More information about the Fsf-friends mailing list