> Irritatingly, RMS made the very valid point that pragmatists, like the
> Open Source people aim, and get quite different results to what the
> idealists from the GNU foundation aspire to.
> Although I understand that getting our employers and friends to use free
> software because it's really good is important, I don't think it's as
> important as telling people that non-free software is restrictive, unfair,
> unsociable and many other nasty things as well as supporting and growing a
> community of free software users that can exist because at least some
> software is free.
But there's nothing actually *stopping* us from doing both. "Linux",
either as a banner or as an operating system, isn't actually tied to
either camp. *Despite* what RMS says, there's nothing in the ESR camp
which prevents "GNU" ideals being promoted alongside "OSS" ideals - it's
just that the OSS people recognise that many (most) people aren't
"ready" to be exposed to the full force of Free Software ideals, and
some people will *never* accept them while they may be ready to accept
OSS goals. Good advocates will know how to decide which approach is
more likely to achieve results, and ideally will "break people in" with
OSS pragmatism, and convert them to GNU idealism at a later stage.
In one sense, this situation isn't at all new - it almost exactly
mirrors the rift between "mainstream" Socialist parties like Labour and
"hardline" parties like the Socialist party, the Socialist Workers'
Party, the Spartacists and the People's Front o Judaea. The latter
group, in general, take the view that compromise on principles is *per
se* evil, and that an "incomplete revolution" is unacceptable. The
former would incline more towards the view that incremental change is
acceptable, and desireable, and that it's okay to keep the revolution on
hold for a while in order to make smaller improvements. However, I (and
everyone else I know in the Labour Party) will *vigourously* oppose the
suggestion that, by compromising in practice, that we have shelved our
ideals in principle.
It's the same with OSS versus GNU (and I'm well aware that I'm
mis-applying labels here) - the 'hard-liners' (there I go again) are
generally under the impression that the 'pragmatists' (whoops) have
*abandoned* the ideals of Free Software, whereas in the opinion of the
wussy soft-liners, they are working towards the same ideals, but
in an incremental rather than a revolutionary fashion.
> Yes, Linux, and ILUG are very strong brand names in Ireland, that help
> get free software used, and eventually get us more members. But by
> diverting people's attentions from GNU, and their goals, are we also
> doing long term harm, by not focusing on the social side of software?
For one thing "more members" is hardly a stated goal of the ILUG. I
don't think we've ever paid any attention at all to membership numbers
(FWIW, there are 589 addresses on the ILUG list). For another, all you
(or I) can say about the ILUG membership is that they're "interested in
Linux". Redefining the group as anything else means that you can no
longer claim the existing membership as supporters. This is the
principal reason I am opposed to any redefinition of the ILUG. If a
Free Software movement started in Ireland, I'd be among the first to
support it, as I suspect would a large portion of ILUG members, but it
would be (and would have to be) *separate* from the ILUG. There would
be strong links between the two, but they would not be the same thing.
Colm Buckley BA BF | NewWorld Commerce, 44 Westland Row, Dublin 2, Ireland
colm at tuatha.org (personal) | colm.buckley at nwcgroup.com (business)
+353 87 2469146 | whois cb3765 | http://www.tuatha.org/~colm/
What hair colour do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?
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