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Re: free vs. non-free debate

Alessandro Rubini wrote:
> > From: Mark Komarinski <markk@cgipc.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?

Isn't that why we have rules regarding how the document should look and
be distributed?

Perhaps I'm missing the point here.  I was out last week and
600 messages to go through was an easy flush to the Trash bin.
Are we talking about documentation written about non-free software
by the company that created it, or documentation about non-free
software written by an (outside?) individual, or both?  Guylhem
has implied both. 

Though if you're talking only about the first case, I can just see
Tim trying to run MS-WfL.sgml through sgml-tools and watch smoke
pour out of his machine.  I doubt that large companies would bother
spending the time to write proper SGML that suggessfully compiles
to just act as a marketing vehicle, especially if there are so many
other places that money could be better spent (for marketing that is).
> It's not a question of dictating, just of suggesting.

Suggesting is to give both views with a lean towards one side.
Dictating is to provide only one view.
> 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.

I don't think we can keep that up for much longer, no matter how
we personally feel.  As an organization, I feel that it's our duty
to document Linux for users, new, old, commercial, OSS.  Not that
we ourselves document it, but the LDP should accept documentation for
all those applications.
> > 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?

Marketing propaganda and documentation are two different things.
I would hope the QC team and the HOWTO coordinator would know the
> 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.

This is still short sighted and far too extreme.


Carlo Gavazzi IPC     | Mark F. Komarinski, RHCE - Compat. Engineer|
176 Second Ave        | markk@cgipc.com - www.cgipc.com            |
Waltham, MA 02451 USA | Ph: 781-290-4800 x138  Fx: 781-290-4810    |

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