Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Tue Jul 22 07:20:34 UTC 2008

On Jul 22, 2008, Thomas Cameron <thomas.cameron at camerontech.com> wrote:

> On Mon, 2008-07-21 at 04:35 -0300, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>> 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.

> That is complete and utter CRAP.

> http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd clearly contradicts that.

Indeed, looking only at the definitions, you will miss the context
that justifies them and the short summary you objected to.

For starters, the definitions are not equivalent, and that's
intentional.  There are OSS licenses that do not respect the *freedom*
to distribute [or not] modified versions of a program, but rather make
it an obligation to publish any modifications.

But that's not where the largest difference is.  The context you're
missing by looking only at the definitions (indeed, the OSD is based
on the DFSG, in turn based on the FSD) is in messaging and principles.

In the Free Software movement, we understand that denying any user of
software any of the 4 essential freedoms is unethical, it's an
intentional aggression by the party who artificially imposes the

We understand that being denied any of these freedoms brings harm to
the victim of this aggression.

We understand that accepting such aggressions, and suggesting others
to do so, empowers the aggressor, which can then make more victims
more easily, harming the entire society.

Therefore, non-Free Software is a social problem that needs
eradication, and the solution is believed to be education, for users
to learn to value their freedoms, understand their social
responsibility of rejecting this aggression on themselves and society,
even if this requires some sacrifices for the common good, and adopt,
developing when needed, only Free Software for their computational

This is, give or take a bit, the system of values and beliefs of the
Free Software movement.

In the Open Source movement, it is understood that the freedoms (that
you correctly point out are pretty much the same) are advantageous to
promote a cooperative development model, with technical and economic
advantages to all parties involved.

It is understood that missing these freedoms is inconvenient, but each
user gets to compare whatever inconvenience they perceive with
whatever benefit they expect to get from the software.

Therefore, Closed-Source Software is a pain that we have to learn to
live with.  It is believed that the vendor of such software is
ultimately shooting their own feet, and so it is enough to develop
more Open Source software and get more people to use it, even if this
involves also using Closed-Source Software.  There's a belief that
this will have the advantageous effect of diminishing the influence of
Closed-Source Software vendors.

This is, give or take a bit, the system of values and beliefs of the
Open Source movement.

Do these sound like reasonable descriptions to you?

> Open Source software as defined opensource.org clearly also meets the
> requirements of the four freedoms that the FSF espouses.

That's why I used the words 'movements', 'values', rather than
'software' or 'licenses'.  The fundamental difference between the
movements are not in the kind of software they use and develop or the
licenses they choose for them, but rather on the motivations for these
decisions, as well as the strategies to achieve the goals.

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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