The Forgotten "F": A Tale of Fedora's Foundations

Florian Weimer fweimer at
Fri Apr 25 11:39:16 UTC 2014

On 04/22/2014 12:15 PM, Nikos Roussos wrote:

> There is also a third group, somewhere in between, who believe that's ok
> to ship Free Software that connects and interops with proprietary
> services (gtalk, aws, etc), but it's not ok to ship proprietary
> software, metadata about proprietary software or advertise proprietary
> services through our main UI tools.

I think there is something completely missing from the discussion: the 
wishes (expressed in terms of service agreements) of the proprietary 
service providers.  In many cases, these terms require users to access 
the service through official interfaces only: a web browser, or 
published APIs (with API keys).  The data available over APIs is 
typically more limited than what is accessible in a web browser (e.g., 
no content, only metadata, or no write access) and not suitable for a 
general-purpose client users would want to use.  Furthermore, 
distribution of the API key in free software is problematic as well.

I don't know how serious service providers are about restricting such 
alternative clients.  In the IM market, there have been past efforts 
which seemed to be designed to block out alternative clients, presumably 
after they gained sufficient market share.

What I wonder is this: Will these clients work only as long as Fedora is 
sufficiently unpopular?  How will we respond once we are blocked?  Where 
is the Freedom in telling users to access services in ways presumably 
not approved by the service provider?

(This concern does not apply to showing a website running proprietary 
software in a web browser, but this is not always what our clients do.)

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