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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] opinions please: expanding the definition of "

From: J.B. Nicholson-Owens
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] opinions please: expanding the definition of "software freedom"
Date: Sun, 22 Mar 2015 16:55:33 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Icedove/31.5.0

Miles Fidelman wrote:
I've begun to wonder if there is a conflict between software freedom and
key pieces of software that create massive dependency webs.  Or put
another way, "vendor lock-in."

I see no such conflict because the freedoms of free software don't guarantee software you'll like (clearly you don't like systemd), don't guarantee software you must use (you could assemble your own GNU/Linux system and not include systemd), and don't guarantee support for software (I'm not aware of any obligation to provide you with support).

"Vendor lock-in" doesn't make sense to me here because systemd doesn't have a vendor and doesn't lock its users in. Even if Red Hat employees do the majority of systemd development, users can get free software (such as systemd) from distributors other than Red Hat and they can get systemd non-commercially. Systemd users are free to use and develop GNU/Linux systems that don't include systemd or they can replace systemd with something compatible they'd prefer to use instead.

But I figure what you really want is for someone to maintain a GNU/Linux distribution without systemd you can use so you don't have to do that work yourself.

I begin to wonder if programs that create massive dependencies - such as
systemd - directly conflict with freedom 0.

They don't because software freedom says nothing about how much work is required to separate the rest of the software from the common dependency. Software freedom only says that if you put the work into it, you can separate yourself from that dependency. How you'd implement this separation is a detail.

One might also argue that systemd, in particular, conflicts with freedom
1 - in terms of feature creep, poorly documented code, changing APIs,
etc., etc.

There is a lot of free software out there. Too much free software for anyone to know of the details of all of every free program. Furthermore, the free software movement is not a development methodology. Therefore I'm sure you could find people who would use the same descriptions ("feature creep", offering "poorly documented code", and "changing APIs") for other free software. We don't seek to amend the free software definition for those programs and we don't look for ways to exclude them from being called "free" because of their suboptimal development.

Trying to get systemd seen as non-free based for software development reasons strikes me as ironically shortsighted because of what you'd get in the end: the more you lean on the development methodology argument (a value of the open source movement, not the older free software movement), the more you're speaking to the wrong movement. Open source advocates apparently have no problem including non-free software in free software OS distributions (hence the need for So there's no reason to believe open source advocates would put the work into maintaining a systemd-less GNU/Linux distribution so long as systemd is convenient to include.

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