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Re: gpl licensing

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: gpl licensing
Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2006 16:45:47 +0100

rjack wrote:
> I suppose you call Richard Stallman and the Free Sofware Foundation a
> democracy? The "free" in free software is euphemistic and semantic
> gobbledegook. RMS is an absolute dictator -- a mini Stalin -- concerning
> supposedly "free" software.

Of hypocrisy and the FSF

Submitted by dylanknightrogers on Sun, 2006-12-03 19:38. debian  free
software  fsf  gnu  linux  rms

The Free Software Foundation acts as the benevolent force guiding the
computer industry. It protects the users of software from the baddies,
the list of which very often includes the names Microsoft, Apple, and

But what happens when the benevolent force transforms into something of
a hypocrit?

The Free Software Foundation has an official list of Free GNU/Linux
distributions. That is, distros that don’t include any non-free software
in the mainline distribution image or package repositories. With that in
mind, the said list is quite selective. The names of the distributions
are as follows:

- gNewSense
- Ututo
- Blag
- Dynebolic
- GNUStep
- Musix

Something that I found peculiar was that the distributions Debian and
Gentoo both have a social contract that ensures the freedom of the
distribution. Debian explicitly states on numerous occasions that the
system will never require the use of a component that is non-free.

Now, for the interesting part. By performing a simple Netcraft check, we
can see the FSF servers running what GNU/Linux distro? Debian, of
course! If the concept hasn’t violated your cortex just yet, I must
remind you of this double standard of distribution selection. While
Debian remains a free distro in its default substance, the official
package repositories include a section with a raft of non-free software
in it.

I spoke with Richard Stallman about this. He didn’t seem to be nearly as
disappointed as I was:

We did not install any of that non-free software, so it is ok for us to
run Debian. But we cannot recommend its servers to the public. Other
people might install the non-free software from the site.

That sentence seems to be missing something. While Stallman has a good
reason to not recommend the Debian servers or condone their actions, he
fails to recognize that I can get non-free software anywhere. Just
because a piece of non-free software is in my distribution’s package
repository does not mean I am going to install and use it. I could very
well go somewhere else and get the non-free software. In fact, requiring
a free distribution to exclude proprietary software from their
repositores may actually increase the prevalence of the users’ ability
to go somewhere else and grab the non-free software they wish to use.
There are many free GNU/Linux distributions out there that need to be
recognized, but cannot becuase of their distribution of non-free
components in their repositories.

This is an interesting debate, and I’d like to hear some feedback. In my
eyes, Debian remains a free GNU/Linux system.

Further Hypocrisies

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2006-12-06 04:15.

Further hypocrisies:

The FSF just officially sanctioned GNU Sense as their official distro.
It is based on the commercial distro Ubuntu, which has its roots in

I thought I would try GNU Sense after hearing RMS on a talk show, where
he was castigating anyone who would use "flash" in their browser. The
first thing I tried was to see how well "gnash" was working now. And,
since this was an official FSF sanctioned distro, surely installing
"GNASH" would be no problem. Guess again! Firefox tried to install
flash! Not only that, but I couldn't find gnash anywhere in the GNU
Sense repositories.

I have communicated with RMS on quite a few occasions. He requires that
you run the gauntlet of semantical minutia, and will pounce on any
references made that aren't just so.

So, is my mention of the fact that the FSF is officially supporting a
commercial Debian variant, and even it doesn't offer any alternative to
flash, in any way nitpicking? Not when you're playing by RMS's rules it

Even Further

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2006-12-06 15:01.

Stallman insists that all Linux distributions be called GNU/Linux.
However, most distributions have elements that are not GPL and GNU
compatible. I would think that he should instead insist that only
distributions that meet the full criteria of GNU and GPL compatibility
be called GNU/Linux. By including non-free software in his definition
this creates a contradiction. It also puts him on shaky legal grounds if
someone uses that term GPL and GNU for something that is not free and
FSF has not enforced the proper use of their name.

Joe Kaplenk



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