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Re: [Savannah-users] Help

From: Foerester Savahnna
Subject: Re: [Savannah-users] Help
Date: Sun, 5 Apr 2009 21:04:21 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)


sorry for the late answer.

First of all let me clearify that I am not working for Savannah and I am not
a member of the FSF.

On Thursday, the 02. Apr 2009 Michael Tarsitano wrote:

> Please tell me - why this restriction on using programs written in 
> non - open source variants of Basic, like VB6?  It seems to me that if 
> you want to distribute something that is free and open to modify, then it 
> should not matter which tool was used to build the program.  It's the program 
> which results from the programmer's imagination which counts, not the tool 
> used 
> to compose it.  It's like a book and a typewriter - it's not the brand name 
> of 
> the typewriter that's important, but the book that is produced with its help. 

Software written for nonfree compilers can be Free Software and is accepted
by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as such.
Savannah (which is a project by the FSF) however has a stricter policy.
On the front page you can read: "We host free projects that run on free 
operating systems and without any proprietary software dependencies"

The goal of the Free Software Foundation is to build a real alternative to
nonfree software. The goal is to replace nonfree software completely.
(By the way, the "Open Source" people don't share that goal. That is the 
main difference between the two.)

This goal might sound illusionary for people, who are not familliar with Free 
Software yet. But for many people this already is a reality. There are many 
people, who don't use any nonfree software at all.

So a dependency on nonfree software would be against that goal.

You are right, that it doesn't matter what tools _you_ use to write a program.
But it does matter, what tools _the user_ has to use to run the program or to
make changes to it.

For example, it really doesn't matter what texteditor you use to write the 
program. Most likely the program can also be edited with a free texteditor.
As long as the program can be compiled with a free compiler, it doesn't matter,
if you use a nonfree compiler.

However, if the user cannot make changes to the software without getting a 
nonfree compiler, he is not free at all. He could not get rid of nonfree 
when he wants or even needs to use this program.
If he even needs a nonfree operating system, that is of course even more of a 

Many nonfree software companies try to bind customers to products of their 
This is called "vendor-lockin". Microsoft is not the only company that does 
such things, 
but they are very good at it. Visual Basic is a good example. Visual Basic is 
specific to the Windows operating system. Well you see, when a programmer uses 
Visual Basic 
and the Windows-API, it is not just his personal decision, but by doing so he 
also binds the 
users of his software to products of that company. I hope you can see the 
problem in this.

That doesn't mean, that you could not support nonfree operating systems at all. 
You could leave the choice to the user. Many Free Software projects are 
"cross-platform". Unfortunately that means more work for the programmers, 
if Windows should be one of the options. Most modern operating systems try to be
more or less compatible to the POSIX standard. Windows is one of very few 
They don't want to be compatible, because they want to bind their customers. 
don't want that their users have a choice.


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