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Christopher Carella: Viva Free Software!

Jul 13, 2001, 14:31 (50 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Chris Carella)

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By Christopher Carella

I am terribly sorry that you have such a misguided view of the Free Software Foundation, and Free Software in general. I will attempt to make this email brief and just address some of the issues you stated in your osOpinion column, "Free Software Foundation Must Die."

You wrote:

"When a project receives the foundation's approval, it results in much effort being poured into that project. In theory this might be a good thing, except the foundation has a knack for approving technologically unsound projects. That lack of perspective combined with influence has cost the community millions of lost man-hours. And that is inexcusable."

The Free Software Foundation, the GNU Project, and Free Software in general is on a total volunteer basis. People contribute to projects they are passionate about, we never recommend a project to anyone, we just ask people to work on something they are interested in. If they are working on something you feel is "technologically unsound", it has little to do with the Free Software Foundation, but with the developers of the project.

Many times the software is created outside the realm of the GNU, or stared outside of the GNU project, and the authors come to us and say "Will you accept this into the GNU project?" We then decide if that piece of software fits into the GNU system, make sure it is well coded and technologically sound.

We do have our own goals, they can be found on the GNU Task-List.

Remember: the GNU system is designed to be a Free Computing System, and there are many parts that go into a computer system, and we have a large variety of software that helps this goal.

You wrote:

"From a user's perspective, GNOME is out-classed by KDE. KDE is more functional, scalable and polished."

I won't get involved in the classic flame war here, but I am a user and from my perspective GNOME is not out-classes, and infact I actually prefer using it.

You wrote:

"Some might argue that because Qt was not under a free license in the past, the community needed a truly free desktop environment. However, what the community needed was a free and functionally superior replacement for Windows, i.e. KDE."

I think this is where you are misguided about Free Software. If Qt was not under a Free Software License in the past, then how could the community create a "free and functinally superior replacement for Windows"? Think of the word Free as the French word Libre... Freedom. Let me refer you to this document written by Richard Stallman.

You wrote:

"What has been the result of this lack of perspective?"

Again, I don't think this is a lack of perspective. The GNOME project was the first Desktop that fit into the category of Free Software. It's creation was very vital to the life of Free Software, and the freedom of software developers and users around the globe.

I also believe that perhaps this duplicate effort produces some waste, but both projects are doing very well, and I applaud both efforts.

You wrote:

"The latest and most disastrous act of the FSF was approving DotGNU. By announcing its support for such a misguided project, the FSF is again guilty of the crime of misleading the community."

Please read more about DotGNU and the Mono Project. Here are some places to look: http://www.gnu.org/projects/dotgnu/ and http://www.ximian.com/tech/mono-index.php3.

I think after reading these documents you may think again about calling this a "misguided project." I don't think it is any secret that Microsoft has a hold on most of the world. As Free Software is increasingly being supported by more people and companies everyday, Microsoft still hold a large share of the computer market. To allow them to have a central repository of all internet users information would be a great cost to Freedom. DOTGNU will offer an alternative to this, so the world is not locked into a Microsoft only solution.

I hope I have helped clear some things up for you. I also hope you don't forget that most of the basic software you use on your GNU/Linux systems were created by the Free Software Foundation. By no means have we ever harmed the community.

Thanks for your time,
Chris Carella
GNU Volunteer Coordinator

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