[sf-lug] "Educating Tux: case studies of Linux...and "Purity"

Mark Weisler mark at weisler-saratoga-ca.us
Tue Mar 11 21:05:14 PDT 2008

On Tuesday 11 March 2008 18:29:48 Christian Einfeldt wrote:
> hi
> On Tue, Mar 11, 2008 at 3:54 PM, Asheesh Laroia <asheesh at asheesh.org> wrote:
> > Yes, but he objects to your use of the term FOSS to describe something
> > that isn't entirely FOSS.  Not to your actions, simply to your words.
>  I understand, but what is a more appropriate term?  This is, after all,
> the San Francisco _Linux_ Users Group, not the San Francisco GNU/Linux
> Users Group.  This list varies widely in its use of "Free Software" and
> "Open Source Software" and Linux and GNU/Linux and FOSS, etc.
> So if flash is let's say 2 MB and the overall Ubuntu distro, which is on
> the boxes that we all (including Rick) installed during the March 1
> installfest, and if the size of the image before installing is 700 MB, then
> Flash constitutes 0.2% of the packages on the boxes that SF-LUG is giving
> out via the school.
Richard Stallman visited the Bay Area about a year ago and on 24 February 2007 
visited CABAL and the Moen household. We prepared for the visit by installing 
the Ututo Linux distribution on a computer at the Moen's because that was the 
distro Richard used at the time on his laptop (and perhaps still does). I 
asked about this distro and learned that it was, as I understand it, 100 
percent free and open software and contained no proprietary software. Thus, 
it might be considered pure free, open source software. I think it fair to 
say that rms would pay attention to whether many or any components of a 
system that he wold choose are proprietary.

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=ututo for more information where 
it is claimed, "Ututo is based exclusively on Free/Libre Software."

IIRC this might have been the only distro that, in February 2007, was purely 
free software.

> So if we are going to say that anything but gNewSense is non-Free or
> non-FOSS, then that pretty much means that all of us on the list are using
> non-Free software, and hence the nature of this group is a proprietary
> software group.  That, of course, is a counter-intuitive result, and
> inconsistent with the culture of this list.  99% of us on this list have a
> wee little bit of non-Free packages installed on our boxes.  It is our
> culture and our common practice.  This is not the San Francisco Free
> Software Group.  This is the San Francisco Linux Users Group.  So my use of
> the term FOSS to describe the boxes that are going home with the students
> is entirely consistent with the culture and practice of this list.
> At any rate, I am also sure that most of us would rather be using only
> gNewSense.  I know that I would, and I am looking forward to the day when
> Gnash is a good replacement for Flash.  Currently, it is not.
> I would much rather introduce 20 students to boxes with 0.2% non-Free
> packages than see them go without computers at home, or have them use
> Microsoft Windows  or Apple products at home.
> Also, anyone who comes by the school on Saturday from 1 pm to 5 pm is free
> to install whatever OS they would like.  We have lots and lots of boxes,
> and I am not particular about the distros that are around me, except that I
> don't generally use Gentoo or Slackware or Linspire or Xandros or SLED for
> various reasons.  But if someone wants to install any of those distros on
> these boxes, who am I to say they should not?
> Up to this point, I have been mostly just been installing Flash on the
> Gutsy boxes that were imaged on March 1 and giving them out to kids.  I
> have also been putting other packages on there as well, but they are all
> Free Software packages, such as GNU Denemo, for example.

Mark Weisler 
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our 
people need it sorely on these accounts." ---Mark Twain---
PGP: 0x68E462B6  http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/
mark at weisler-saratoga-ca.us
telephone: office- (831) 531-2916
home-   (408) 867-9377
mobile- (408) 568-1229
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