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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] How do you handle references to non-free softwarei

From: Henry Jensen
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] How do you handle references to non-free softwarein public forums?
Date: Fri, 8 Jul 2011 15:37:29 +0200

On Thu, 07 Jul 2011 23:30:53 +0200
Sam Geeraerts <address@hidden> wrote:

> > This Guidelines are pretty good. May I use them as a blueprint?
> Sure. Note that it's a collective work under GFDL, but that doesn't 
> matter much if you're just going to use the ideas.

As our documentiaton is licensed under GFDL as well I think there
should be no problem.

> The thread shows that ryanpablo knows that Firefox has issues, 

I see your point and you are right if you read the entire thread in
context. But a user that sees the single post without context just
reads "Here's the PPA for branded Firefox" - and that's what puzzled
me. In Ubuntu based distros a PPA is a tool for assistance to
install a piece of software easily. So the post striked me as a
instruction and encouragement to install a piece of NON-FSDG softfware,
which is more than posting a link to the source code. 

> I would put Adrian's other comment more subtly: non-FSDG software like 
> Firefox is very free, but not fully free. Or better yet: not fully 
> committed to software freedom. It's certainly on the better side of the 
> non-FSDG spectrum.

I see that there are several opinions about NON-FSDG software here on
the list (and even within the FSF, I think). Some regard NON-FSDG as
ethical equivalent to non-free software, others think of them as free
software with a glitch in an ethical sense, but still free software and
as such can be used if you know about the glitches and how to go around

Unfortunately the FSDG don't say anything about this matter. As a
matter of fact it don't say anything about forums and public discussion
lists. The most appropriate section is

"All the documentation in a free system distribution must be released
under an appropriate free license. Additionally, it must take care not
to recommend nonfree software."

But I think you can hardly call forum posts "documentation". Of course,
it would not be in the spirit of the FSDG to post recommendations of
non-free software at the forum. 

> Context matters. In the case of packages file names it's not an issue, 
> IMO, because it gives credit to the project where a lot of the distro 
> work has happened. So it's also not a problem to say "gNewSense is based 
> on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian". Neither is it a problem to state 
> facts (e.g. "GNOME is also the default desktop in Ubuntu") or opinions 
> (e.g. "LinuxMint has nice artwork").

Well, there may be border cases. If someone says "With Linux Mint playing
proprietary file formats is smoother than with Trisquel" this may be an
opinion, even a fact, but may be also encourage users to install it.

> Or  someone constantly pointing out the advantages of non-FSDG software over 
> fully free alternatives.

OK, if this happens constantly this would be a case of trolling.


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