Bonum Certa Men Certa

“Twisted Ideological Crusade” and Other Excuses

Free software versus fee software is not 'ideological' debate

In-place upgrades are challenging not only under Windows (high failure rate in XP-to-Vista migrations), but also in other operating systems. The complexity and diversity of systems, especially with added software and hacks, makes upgrades a tricky task that's prone to breakage. When deciding to upgrade any GNU/Linux distribution, it is a wise idea to make complete backups first.



Why are we mentioning all of this? Well, upgrade issues which Bill Beebe was experiencing (Adam from Mandriva already rebuts) left him bitter and willing to try OpenSUSE, which he used many times before.

I already had OpenSUSE 11.1 RC on CD, so I figured "why not?" I dropped the CD into the drive, booted into the live desktop, and started an install. It has been some time since I installed OpenSUSE, let alone worked with it. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the experience turned out to be pretty straightforward and fast. In particular I found that the OpenSUSE installer wanted to view my drives and partitions in the same order that Mandriva 2008.1 (and everything else up to that point) had seen them. The only difference being that the hda/hdb labels were replaced with sda/sdb, and the older sda SATA drive was now sdc.


In a shining display of sour grapes, Bill then decided to justify or defend his new choice of a distribution, excusing Novell, Microsoft and SUSE all at the same time.

The release Thursday of OpenSUSE 11.1 RC 'incited' me to download the KDE-based Open CD version and give it a spin. I've been tracking KDE 4.1 across three distributions (Mandriva 2009, Fedora 10, and OpenSUSE). I tried Kubuntu 8.10 and immediately rebooted my system and threw the CD in the trash. Kubuntu in any version is one of the worst ways to experience KDE (version 3 or version 4).

[...]

And then there are the conspiracy nuts led by Boycott Novell, who would have you believe that OpenSUSE's prime sponsor, Novell, is the Little Satan to Microsoft's Great Satan because of the business agreement Novell and Microsoft entered two years ago. Well, I have a few clues for Messieurs Coyle and Schestowitz; (1) Microsoft isn't going anywhere, and neither is Novell for that matter, and (2) OpenSUSE should be evaluated on technical merit, not some twisted ideological crusade based on distorted and contrived facts.


So due to an error that could be prevented, Bill chose the American distro owned by Microsoft's ally over the European one that proudly rejected racketeering and now there's a search for reasoning. A day or two ago, Sam Varghese wrote about the role of Mandriva in Europe after SUSE had been grabbed by a proprietary software company from the United States.

Among the many distributions which have an European heritage, SUSE and Mandriva were the two best known. Once SUSE fell into American hands, with its purchase by Novell in 2003, there was a gap opened for Mandriva to fill on the European continent.


Anivar Aravind has already explained why Novell is a sinner, at least in India. GNU India has tried to gently distance itself from unnecessary friction using a FAQ, but it was reported to us that this text got watered down for 'political' reasons and it is accessible only to members now (it wasn't the case on December 1st). For future reference, we reproduce a copy below, as permitted (fetched from Google cache).




Board statement on recent issues



1. Who organised the First National Conference on Free Software held in Andra Pradesh in 2007?

As part of FSF India's effort to strengthen the free software movement in AP, FSF India has been working closely with free software activists there. Initiatives like Swecha took place as part of that. FSF India Director, Mr Kiranchandra provided the leadership for the activities in Andhra Pradesh. Based on his suggestion and his initiative, FSF India decided to organise a national convention of free software activists. Under his leadership, FSF India worked with other organisations like University of Hyderabad and Swecha to conduct the first national convention. A committed group of Swecha activists, academicians from Universities like Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) and Osmania University ( OU) in-association with University of Hyderabad actively involved in the first national conference.

However due to the inexperience of the local organisers, the valedictory session became a platform for anti-free software propaganda. Some of the speakers invited for the valedictory session used the opportunity to spread messages against Free Software. Though other speakers like Dr. Nagarjuna did try to correct the misinformation, the damage could not, obviously, be fully undone.

A free software event should support the free software cause, and that also means not lending its platform to the opponents of free software.



Those opponents have lots of money, and hold far more events than we do, in which they promote their ideas. They are not entitled to neuter our events by becoming speakers there.

Website of the conference is available here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20071216052848/http://nationalconvention.swecha.org/WordPress/

http://web.archive.org/web/20070305053215/nationalconvention.swecha.org/WordPress/?page_id=2

 

2. Was the "National Free Software Conference" in Kochi a follow-up to the conference held in Hydrabad in 2007?

 No, it cannot be considered so. FSF India came to know about the `Second National Conference in Kochi` only when the organisers started sending mails to various fora about the conference. We were surprised to see this because FSF India was one of the organisers of the first conference in Hyderabad. We tried to communicate with the organisers of the conference in Kochi and clarify the situation. The facts will be clear from the communications we had with them in that regard that we are publishing now.



After the communications from FSF India, the organisers removed the reference to the first national convention organised by FSF India and renamed the convention in Kochi as simply the 'National Free Software Conference'.

The Organisers of the event continued to refer to their event misleadingly as the followup to the first convention organised in Hydrabad by FSF India, jointly with Swecha and University of Hyderabad.

You can see our communications with the organisers of Kochi conference here.

3. Is FSF India planning to start local chapters in every state?

 FSF India does not have any plan to form local chapters. FSF India is not a mass based organisation. We encourage Free Software Users Groups, GNU/Linux Users Groups and similar other initiatives to come up in every state and we would like to work with them and support them. We are planning to announce a policy for this soon.



We have directly helped to initiate FSUG Banglore, FSF AP (we now realise that this name can be misleading), Swecha, SPACE etc. We also work with many other organisations.

4. What is the relation between FSF India and FSF TN that was inaugurated at a conference in Chennai recently?

 In the website of the Freedom and Software conference held at Chennai on September 21, 2008, it was originally announced that FSF TN would be inaugurated. FSF India does not have any relation with this FSF TN. Based on the information that was available on the website announcing the conference and FSF TN, we wrote to them about our objection to the use of FSF India's logo (the image of a wheel) without permission and the confusion that arose through the use of a name similar to FSF India's. We are yet to hear from them. But they eventually changed their name to Free Software Team Tamil Nadu.

Website of Freedom and Software conference:
http://sites.google.com/site/freedomandsoftware/Home/

Letter from FSF India to TN organizers



 



5. What is FSF India's position with CPI(M) or any political parties for that matter?

 
As a parliamentary democracy, political parities play an important role in the policy formation process in India. FSF India wants to influence public policy on the ICT sector to promote software freedom. In order to achieve this, we work with all the political parties in India. CPI(M) was the first political party to provide policy level support to the Free Software movement. We continue to work with them to further the cause of software freedom. CPI(M) has been positive in its support for Free Software, for instance, in clearly promoting Free Software and its ideals in its ICT policy in Kerala.

However this must not be seen as any political endorsement from FSF India to any political party. We may criticise the party if it promotes non-free software, and we have done so in the past too. It may be noted that we have been vocal about both supporting and objecting to the policies of CPI(M) led governments. For example, we supported the Kerala Education department for promoting free software while we protested when the IKM promoted proprietary software in Kerala or the West Bengal government adopted proprietary software in its schools.

6. What is the position of FSF India on the campaign against Novell?

 FSF India does not have a campaign against Novell. We share the concerns raised by the boycott Novell campaign. While Novell is making contribution to free software, many of Novell's actions put the free software community's and the users' freedom at risk.



7. What is FSF India's position on the protest held in Kochi during the free software conference?

 FSF India condemns the attack on free software activists who were criticizing Novell in a nonviolent and legitimate way.

Two of the FSF India board members, Dr V. Sasikumar and Mr M. Arun, joined other free software activists to protest against man-handling of peaceful free software campaigners. This protest was also stopped by authorities in an authoritarian and undemocratic manner.

It is a shame that an event held in the name of software freedom acted against the freedom of expression of the attendees. This is a lesson to the community for the future. We should keep the words of Shri Rabindranath Tagore in mind:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;



Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;



Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action--

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.



-- Rabindranath Tagore

8. Who can speak on behalf of FSF India?



 The Secretary is normally the official spokesperson of FSF India. But any member of the Board may speak on behalf of the Foundation. However, it may be noted that such statements by any member of the Board, including the Secretary, may be considered as the official statement of the Board only if it is specifically mentioned so.

FSF India board members and employees may have their own opinion on various issues. These opinions are not the opinions of FSF India. Only those decisions, discussed and approved by the Director Board of FSF India, are the opinions of FSF India. We have always tried to clearly distinguish between these when we make public statements. For instance, this FAQ is a statement from the Board.

9. Are the members of the Director Board of FSF India elected?

 The members of the Director Board of FSF India are nominated by the existing Board based on the commitment of the person to the philosophy of Free Software and his/her clarity about the same. As mentioned in the answer to an earlier question, FSF India is not a mass movement and is not a democratic organisation. The purpose of FSF India, as of FSF, is to provide guidance to the Free Software movement. This purpose could be easily defeated if it is made into an elected body.

10. Can any one hijack FSF India ?

 The structure described above makes that very difficult.



11) Are there organisations from which FSF India will not accept support?

 FSF India is willing to accept monetary or other support from any source so long as it comes without any strings attached. FSF India reserves the right to criticise any organisation that, according to it, acts against the interests of the Free Software movement, irrespective of whether they have been supporting FSF India in any manner. Any organisation that believes in the philosophy of Free Software and is willing to contribute in terms of funds or other kind of support is invited to contribute without in any way influencing the functioning of FSF India.

We take care, when accepting donations, not to become dependent on them being repeated.

(Approved by the Director Board of FSF India)

Please send feedback to gnu@gnu.org.in

Copyright ۩ 2002-2006 Free Software Foundation of India.

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

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