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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Useful background on FLOSS in education

From: Ramanan Selvaratnam
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Useful background on FLOSS in education
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 2003 17:49:27 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.4) Gecko/20030624

ian wrote:
On Thu, 2003-08-28 at 11:44, Alex Hudson wrote:

On Thu, 2003-08-28 at 10:51, Ramanan Selvaratnam wrote:

I read only the first 7 pages. It even proclaims Linux and FreeBSD to be open software operating systems!
Would it not be more meaningful to describe FreeBSD (atleast) as a free OS?

The lack of recognition of Free Software seems to be a failing of the
report, they use 'open source' in it's place consistently. However, I
have to say that this was the only real failing that I found with the
report (I've only briefly glanced at it), it seems okay to me.

OK this time around I read up more and still it seems that the only place 'free software' or even FOSS/FLOSS is mentioned is in the references to the article.

For example, the discussion on 'open source' licences recognises the
motivation to give users specific freedoms (and enumerates them into
five freedoms; the extra one being 'freedom to access source', which the
FSF's four freedoms explicitly implies) [p9].

I am all for expanding on FSF's work. This fifth freedom is a good sign of initiative and serves the purpose of pointing out that Free Software is Open Source by default and more.

It also recognises pedagogical benefits in using Free Software [p15], so
we're not just talking about an economics report here: it addresses the
moral and ethical reasons one might want to use Free Software.

Discussing Open Source software first and then introducing the pedagogical benefits of Free Software could easily send the wrong message that charitable tasks likes schools should adopt Free Software and all other businesses should adopt the 'principles' of Open Source.

Overall, I don't think it's that bad...

This probably is the best document out there but if we were to adopt it we should definitely tackle the shortcoming in the basic principles.

I think we have to accept that popularism is always going to be around.
I know scientists who hate many TV science presentations because parts
of them are inaccurate. Ok, its better to be accurate if at all possible
but I'd rather reports like this existed and went around than no reports
at all. After all these people do need to learn and having a go and
making mistakes is often the best way to learn. Not doing anything for
fear of making an error is a good way of killing learning.

Well, once a mistake is made someone has to point it out too.
It is looking as if AFFS will have this task of promoting 'Free Software' wherever the wrong notion of it is taking shape.

So yes, let's point out errors but try to do it in such a way that it
encourages the people making them to do more work!

...and let us encourage anyone doing new work to get it right from the beginning.

Best regards,

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