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Re: gpl licensing

From: Aragorn
Subject: Re: gpl licensing
Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2006 16:56:34 GMT
User-agent: KNode/0.7.6

On Wednesday 06 December 2006 16:45, Alexander Terekhov stood up and
addressed the masses in /gnu.misc.discuss/ as follows...:

> Of hypocrisy and the FSF
> Submitted by dylanknightrogers on Sun, 2006-12-03 19:38. debian  free
> software  fsf  gnu  linux  rms
> [...]
> 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.

And there is the flaw in the interpretation of this Dylan Rogers.  You can
indeed get non-free software, but at least it wouldn't be installed on your
machine by ignorantly selecting packages from a distribution's repository.

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

But it does allow you to unwillingly or unknowingly install non-free
software, and this is exactly why it would be wrong for the FSF to consider
Debian a recommendable distribution.

> 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
> Debian.
> 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.

It's a world full of barracudas.  People are simply waiting for you to slip
up if they see you as their enemy.  RMS is well-aware of that.  Hence his
attention to semantics.

> 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
> isn't!!

The word "commercial" is thrown in by this person solely for the purpose of
bloating his argument.  There is nothing in the GPL that states that
software cannot be sold commercially, or that support for software cannot
be offered commercially.

As for the alternative to Flash, last I heard it was still not viable for
production use, and that is then probably why it was not included with the

> --------
> Even Further
> Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2006-12-06 15:01.
> Stallman insists that all Linux distributions be called GNU/Linux.

No, he insists that the *operating* *system* is called GNU/Linux, as it
comprises of the Linux kernel and the GNU userspace libraries and toolset. 
That is what constitutes an operating system, and GNU's role in the
creation of this software - nor in the maintenance of the Linux kernel, as
the Linux developers *use* GNU tools for their development - this should
not be discarded.

> However, most distributions have elements that are not GPL and GNU
> compatible.

Distributions, yes.  Debian is a distribution.  And they name it Debian -
wherever that name comes from - GNU/Linux.  This is nice, but they could
also simply have called it "Debian".  Perhaps the reason why they call it
Debian GNU/Linux is that they're also offering a distribution called Debian
GNU/Hurd.  So they are including the name of the operating system because
this is relevant to the type of Debian distribution you choose to download.

Gentoo is sometimes referred to as "Gentoo Linux" but even the Gentoo
developers simply call it "Gentoo".  No reference to GNU or Linux, and this
is okay, since Gentoo is an entire distribution.

> 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.

A distribution is not the same thing as an operating system.  Microsoft's
Windows is the clearest example of that, because a bare Windows system does
not contain anything other than (what Microsoft considers) an operating

UNIX-style computer systems are typically far more integrated and come with
lots of additional tools and software.  This is why GNU/Linux and GNU/Hurd,
or FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD are distributed as such complete suites of
software.  And considering that the BSD's all come from the same logistic
source while there are many different logistic sources to software suites
based upon the GNU/Linux operating system, those different GNU/Linux-based
software suites are commonly called distributions.  No foul in any of it.

> By including non-free software in his definition this creates a
> contradiction.

No, it does not.  At least not for someone willing to understand.

> 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. 

No, it does not, for someone willing to understand.  And no matter how
obscure facts are being worded or twisted into words by any opponent, if it
comes down to a court of law, things will again be put in the proper

What you've posted here are in-depth variations of classical FUD.  No more,
no less.

With kind regards,

(registered GNU/Linux user #223157)

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