Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Mon Jul 21 07:35:44 UTC 2008

On Jul 21, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell at gmail.com> wrote:

> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>> Several times, you end up having to decide between promoting software
>> freedom and promoting the software that happens to be Free (and OSS).

> Yes, the divisive nature of the GPL is unfortunate.

FYI, the GPL (and very many other licenses) satisfy both the Free
Software and the Open Source Software definitions.  There's some 5
different licenses that satisfies one of the definitions and not the
others.  Please don't get the impression that the issue above has
anything whatsoever to do with licensing choices.  It's about
underlying values and goals of the two movements.

>> Depending on whether you're guided by FS or OSS values, you'll tend to
>> consistently choose one in detriment of the other.

> Yes, that is unfortunate, but you have to live with it to promote FOSS.

This is fundamentally contradictory.  If you have to choose between
these two, you're choosing between promoting either FS or OSS.  I.e.,
you're promoting one in detriment of the other.  How can that be
promoting FOSS?

Or, in a more fundamental level, how would it even make sense to say
"promoting something", where something is defined by means of
conflicting goals?

I guess it's worth giving a concrete example, to save a round-trip

The FS movement cares about software freedom, so an essential part of
this movement is to not accept, endorse or promote software that
denies users any of the 4 essential freedoms, even if this means
inconvenience for or even a delay in the liberation of some users.

The OSS movement cares about popularity and convenience, so an
esential part of this movement is to accept, endorse and promote the
use of software that denies users their freedoms, when that is
convenient and can lure in more users.

Do you see the conflict in these two positions?  Do you see that a
step forward for one amounts to a step backward in the other?  How,
then, could it possibly make sense to even talk about "promoting

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{lsd.ic.unicamp.br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{redhat.com, gcc.gnu.org}

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