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Re: free vs. non-free debate
- Subject: Re: free vs. non-free debate
- From: Alessandro Rubini <>
- Date: Tue, 2 Nov 1999 07:15:24 +0100
- Resent-Cc: recipient list not shown: ;
- Resent-Date: 2 Nov 1999 06:16:23 -0000
- Resent-Message-ID: <Pi2ODC.A.lY.3GoH4@murphy>
Since I'm breaking threads, I'm replying to all three at once. Yes,
I'll try to fix the thread-breaking issue. It's all my fault, not the
mailer I use.
> From: Hugo.van.der.Kooij@caiw.nl
> What happens if someone is offered the ability to get paid for writing
> free documentation for non-free software? Will you refuse it? Even if this
> means turning down a good document?
I see no problem in that (although I personally woudln't do it as I
don't use non-free software so I can't document it). However, the LDP
should not promote such documentation (having a reference to that is
fair, embracing is not).
> From: Mark Komarinski <email@example.com>
> I don't think it's in our "charter" to dictate to people what they
> should use. We should provide a higher emphasis on free software,
> but denying documentation about non-free software is shooting the
> Linux community in the foot.
It depends on what is your definition of "the Linux community". If it
is "everybody who's running the Linux kernel", then you are right. So
the LDP should endorse the documents about StarOffice, Word Perfect
and even Word for Linux. But will you *really* be happy of
distributing non-modifiable full-of-microsoft-ads documents describing
Word for Linux?
It's not a question of dictating, just of suggesting.
I used microsoft as an example just because everybody knows the way
they behave (disclaimer: I don't know if they are working on WfL, but
I see nothing against such hypothesis).
Actually, defining the community as "anyone who uses the kernel" looks
very like an anti-windows stance, even if that is not your real
position. I prefer to identify the so-called Linux community with the
free-software community. Much of the LDP applies to BSD systems and to
GNU/Hurd as well, and I see this as positive.
> Sometimes, non-free software is the answer that is required.
Yes, agreed. But then documenting that software and distributing the
documentation should be responsibility of the software company. They
didn't help the community, they don't deserve help from the community
(even though individuals might help). If Word for Windows has a huge
"copiable but not modifiable" documentation corpus and AbiWord (GPL)
has just little documentation, will you support both, thus giving
more resources and more visibility to the more massive corpus?
Disclaimer: I see that you suggest to "provide a higher emphasis on
free software" so I'm not saying that you are completely wrong. I'm
just supporting the stronger position -- the one Guylhem adopted:
>> We will refuse documentation covering non-free software.
> From: "Scot E. Wilcoxon" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> [...] Feel free to segregate the docs for non-free
> software so people won't be confused between categories.
That's another option, and it may be the best of both world. I'd only
add a size-limit of a few megabytes for each vendor, to avoid being
flooded and not being able to refuse those docs without being flamed
to the media (once again, think of how microsoft behaves, just as an
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