Re: Non-free software and GNOME (The conclusion)

On Sun, Oct 21, 2001 at 12:03:12AM +0200, Christian Schaller was heard to remark:
> present course (which I think currently stands at 1 or maybe 2 mentions
> of non-free software total).

Let me take the opposite extreme: encouraging the development of
non-free software is good for the free software movement, in so 
many ways. 

First, you get paid programmers who learn/use gnome. This is good:
-- They may send bugfixes and/or develop new features in GPL/LGPL'ed
   code while on company time.
-- They might code a thing or two on thier own time.
-- They might spread the word among freinds, favorably influence 
   decision makers.

Second, you get applications that make the Gnome desktop attractive 
to a larger group of users/consumers.
-- Some of these users might be coders, discovering Linux for the first
   time.  They in turn help spread the word, fix bugs, etc.
-- Some of these users may be managers/executives, who will soften
   thier pro-Microsoft stance, and will communicate the same to thier

I would strongly support the idea that the Gnome Foundation should
actively court non-free software developers in its marketing campaigns [1].
It will only serve to make Gnome and Gnu/FSF stronger, not weaker [2].

Come the day that we have 10 or 20 non-free applications for every one
LGPL'ed Gnome library, I might change my tune and sound a lot more like
RMS.  But we are not currently at risk of drowning in non-free gnome
apps; on the contrary, we are parched.


[1] Seriously. Maybe the gnome foundation should advertise in Dr. Dobbs
Journal? Or one of the many trade rags that are targeted at software
developers or management (that aren't already in the 100% Linux camp)?  
Something along the lines of 'here's why choosing gnome is good for 
your company, here's what the LGPL provides, not only is it
theoretically possible to develop non-free gnome aps, but it actually
happens and :yes you can: build a business on this.'

[2] I suspect the (vast?) majority of folks on this list not only agree,
but are almost bored by this 'obvious' observation.  But if this is the
case, then why aren't we having a dialog on how to engage commercial and
other moneyed interests in the development of Gnome software?  Step one
is to make the gnome foundation financially viable, and Tim Ney seems
to be making good progress on that.  Step two is to (continue) work on 
getting Gnome as widely adopted as possible, and that means, in
particular, coddling up to commercial developers of non-free software
apps.  These people need to feel safe in thier decision to go with gnome, 
and accepted by the community, and happy and pleased to give back to the

pub  1024D/01045933 2001-02-01 Linas Vepstas (Labas!) <linas linas org>
PGP Key fingerprint = 8305 2521 6000 0B5E 8984  3F54 64A9 9A82 0104 5933

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