Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Mon Jul 21 12:49:23 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>>> 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. 

It is a problem the GPL creates.

 > I.e.,
> you're promoting one in detriment of the other.  How can that be
> promoting FOSS?

How would you propose dealing with it when your purpose is to promote 
FOSS and as many choices as possible, then?

> 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
> delay.
> 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.

I believe they are misguided in applying restrictions that make it 
impossible to use GPL code in many situations.  Still, there are some 
where it works, so in those cases it is still FOSS and a reasonable choice.

> 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.

'Luring' someone is a strange concept here. You seem to imply that 
someone who has a choice to use a piece of software does not have the 
same choice to replace it with another piece later.  That's not the case 
and even if it were, the correct solution would be to encourage the 
production of as many other choices as possible.  People always have the 
freedom to choose and change.

> Do you see the conflict in these two positions?

Not really - except that the restrictions are harmful in terms of 
reducing subsequent choices.

> Do you see that a
> step forward for one amounts to a step backward in the other?

Not at all.  The more choices you have the better. You can only go forward.

 > How,
> then, could it possibly make sense to even talk about "promoting
> FOSS"?

Because it makes it easy to move forward with many choices and never be 
locked into any of them.

    Les Mikesell
      lesmikesell at gmail.com

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