I have recently learned of a charitable computer project on
Kickstarter called Endless Computers:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1381437927/endless-computers
It aims to bring a good and education computing experience to a wider
audience in the developing world. I perceive a lot of love and passion
behind this project. However, I was concerned about the software
freedom behind it, so I emailed the developers.
Apparently they have much of their code on GitHub, but is reluctant to
run this product on pure Free Software. I think they have
understandable concerns (listed in their response below), and I wonder
how the folks on this list my reply to those concerns? I don't think
just bashing them for not making the software free is constructive,
especially when they are actually very well-meaning. Are there
tangible examples of how those problems might be alleviated?Thank
Their response was:
I identify with your concern to make our OS completely free software.
We do make a lot of our software available freely at our GitHub repo (https://github.com/endlessm/
), but unfortunately currently not all of
it. The answer for why is complex, it involves a large combination of
business, strategy, community and legal reasons.
Not all of the content we've shipped on the computers is free data, we
sometimes partner with other organizations to get it. We've talked
about shipping the software freely available without the assets, but
it's not really viable from a legal perspective.
Finally, any successful free software project needs a thriving
community: our developers come from that world, and we really don't
want to do over-the-wall code dumps like Android does. When we open up
our software, we want to do it right.
We're currently focused on our target market and users, and that means
we change fast. We'd likely never accept any pull requests or patches
submitted to us. People could inspect and modify and redistribute the
code, indeed, but without the ability to contribute back upstream, it
seems like an empty promise.
As for business reasons, making more of our code free software can be
a business risk. We're a small startup with limited funding trying to
take on big players. Even big companies sometimes get in trouble with
free software. See the recent news about Cyanogenmod being funded by
Microsoft to take down Google's Android.http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/01/microsoft-to-invest-in-cyanogen-hopes-to-take-android-away-from-google/
We're currently not willing to take on such risks right now.
I hope you'll understand that our goals might be different from yours,
and we have gave the question a lot of thought. As we grow and become
more successful, we'll be able to make more of our software free
software over time.
Thanks for the excellent question, and I hope I've given you some
perspective on our decision.