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Are Speakers for FOSS Actually FOSS Supporters?

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Summary: Is the Free software debate being captured by those who just exploit it?

THERE is a growing concern that companies whose products are either purely proprietary or are closed but built with some Free software components in them will be seizing the debate about Free software and even rename it. A month ago we wrote about Black Duck, which weeks afterwards (and shortly after ushering Microsoft) said that GPL adoption was declining; the evidence was unconvincing because this black box study neglected to say that many projects from CodePlex (serving Microsoft for the most part) had just been added, thus diluting the relative value of the rest of the dataset [1, 2].



In general, as Black Duck is a proprietary software company, we have warned for about a year that it was becoming a problematic spokesman for Free software. Like with "open source" people, they step inside an existing strand and change it from the inside. According to this new press release, Black Duck Software will moderate a panel on FOSS (again). But since Black Duck does not believe in FOSS, what can be expected regarding biases?

WALTHAM, MA -- (Marketwire) -- 07/17/09 -- Black Duck Software (www.blackducksoftware.com), a leading provider of products and services for accelerating software development through the managed use of open source software (OSS), will moderate a Birds of a Feather session at the upcoming OSCON open source convention.


What we see a lot of in general are groups of people who enter FOSS and then daemonise their surroundings by finding others who enter similarly, sometimes with the intent to exploit (Free software and as in cheap software to proprietarise). Consider Microsoft employee Jonathan Wong for example. He's running a smear campaign against us and he is citing known anti-Linux crowds, pretending that they are pro-GNU/Linux. There is a rebuttal to this daemonisation attempt for those who are interested.

It is written by a chap called Johnathon Wong and he works for Microsoft. He decided to make his opinions known on the website Boycott Novell and Roy (the sites owner)


Other crowds that have awoken recently are the anti-GPL and anti-FSF crowds (including the Linux Action Show). There is an illusion of consent only among those whose convictions on these matters are long held.

Another last group of people who argue to be favouring FOSS are the .NET proponents/developers, who use Mono to help Microsoft. Here is a new post which summarises ways in which Mono makes Microsoft stronger.

* Spreads Microsoft standards * Spreads Microsoft mindshare * Increases FLOSS dependency on Microsoft * Good PR value for Microsoft * Mono apologists are often obliged to defend Microsoft * Mono evangelists are often obliged to be Microsoft evangelists * Divides, distracts and delays the community * Makes it easier for FLOSS developers to develop on Windows * Provides some nice FLOSS applications for Windows * Provides developer tools * Helps in Microsoft’s fight against Flash * Helps in Microsoft’s fight against Java * Decreases effort in general for non-Microsoft tools


None of the above talks about software patents. The issues are many and the list still partial. Here is another new post about Mono -- one which does mention the patent dilemma.

Spitting in the wind – Mono 180?



[...]

The cost of waging a war on patents is more than any one company wants to bear. We have the open innovation network to help out there, but consider the TomTom case. Notice that out of the 7 or 9 patents at stake, only three related to Linux. Is TomTom going to go to bat for those 3 patents if the other 4 or 6 infringe? No, they are going to have to find a settling point. Since right off the bat a company is facing 8 to 10 million US dollars to fight a patent suite, it makes more sense financially to settle, especially when there is the possibility that you may be found guilty. This does not mean that the Linux patents were legitimate, but sprinkle a few illegitimate patents in with more genuinely infringing patents and you’d be a fool to step up to the plate. Even more, TomTom was facing an injunction, which they could not suffer for the length a trial would take.


Free software came to being through Richard Stallman, who founded GNU and the FSF. As the FSF (with the SFLC's consent) does not endorse Mono and is not a fan non-Free software, maybe it is time to think about the roots of the movement. This includes the GPLv3, which is merely a patch that closes a loophole exploited to work around core philosophy.

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