Proposal: Revision of policy surrounding 3rd party and non-free software

Miloslav Trma─Ź mitr at volny.cz
Wed Jan 22 22:49:45 UTC 2014


On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM, Robyn Bergeron <rbergero at redhat.com> wrote:
> Those arguing on principle - that Fedora's foundation of Freedom simply prohibits this - are generally not naive. I don't think anyone believes that "Freedom" is easy; many of the "Features, First" things that we do as part of Fedora development that *increase freedom" by providing open source alternatives are technically difficult, and sometimes even controversial, but we do them *precisely* because Freedom, the advancement of free software, is something we believe in as a project.

The project certainly has an option to deciding "we believe in Free
Software, full stop".  It's perfectly legitimate to form both a Round
Earth Society and a Flat Earth Society, each of which is defined by a
specific belief, whether true or not, or practical or not (as long as
they don't recruit members by deception, I suppose).

I'd rather be more specific: _What_ do we believe about Free Software?
 Do we believe that it leads to fewer bugs?  More usable software?
More fun hacking?  Resistance to surveillance?  Widespread adoption?
Also profit to contributors, including Red Hat?

Those kinds of questions can be objectively evaluated over time; and
yes, we may realize that Free Software is not suitable for achieving
some goals.  And I'd much rather participate in a project that wants
to know the truth about Free Software, and is consistent with what we
know to be true about Free Software.

The Free Software community and ecosystem hasn't created a mass-usable
and mass-used, full-featured (i.e. the users don't want/need to add
proprietary parts) desktop OS (proof: 1) relative Linux market share,
and 2) the prevalence of Flash), and as an opinion I don't see the
trend getting better: "the desktop" will probably stop being a
differentiator/area of innovation before the Free Software desktop
will be able to catch up.  (That, or
$apple_or_other_non-FOSS_innovator may restart interest in the
desktop, but that will probably mean even more work for us to catch
up.)

I don't know what the precise reasons for this failure are (it just
might be network effects; it might be the interests/priorities of
people drawn to FOSS, it can be many other things); however insisting
on "believing in Free Software" without qualifications, in my view,
just isn't supported by the facts.  There is _something_ that we
shouldn't believe about Free Software, and I think we should to figure
out what it is, and then behave accordingly.
    Mirek


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