[sf-lug] mastering CDs in bulk for Software Freedom Day

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Aug 28 15:17:51 PDT 2009

Quoting Sameer Verma (sverma at sfsu.edu):

> I agree that principally, it makes more sense for a *Linux* user group
> to hand out Linux CDs at an event such as this (BTW, does SF-LUG have
> any plans for SFD?), and given that the event is *Software* Freedom
> Day, and not *Linux* Freedom Day, prinicpally I would not discriminate
> against the OS on which the Software (application) runs. IMO, it goes
> against the spirit of some parts of the Open Source Definition.
> http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

*scratches head*

I'm minutely familiar with the Open Source Definition, having
participated in OSI's licence review process for many years.  And yet, I
cannot find any part of it, nor, as the USSC might say, "emanations and
penumbras", that in any way suggest that it's a good thing, let alone 
obligatory, to cut CDs of MS-Windows software at one's own expense in
time and money and hand them out.

I've only been reading the OSD carefully for about a decade, so I might
have missed something:  Does it contain some personal obligation to hand
out software for proprietary OS platforms, above and beyond the need for
OSD-compliant software to not be licensed specific to a product or to be

(Er, no, it does not.)

And, again, the fact that Sept. 19 has been declared by some guys
running a Web site[0] to be *Software* Freedom Day doesn't make it
necessary for desirable for LUGs to hand out software for MS-Windows any
more than it being International Talk Like a Pirate Day makes it
necessary or desirable for them to adopt piratical attitudes.

> I think its safe to say that if the LUGs plan on participating, we
> (SF-LUG?) do a CD run of Linux (which distro?) and we (SFSU) will do a
> run of OpenEducationDisc, which SFD actually ships to teams
> anyway...we just don't get enough to give out.

Without particular objection (except what I've noted before, i.e., it's
no skin off my back if you toil on behalf of MS-Windows users), I note
that OpenEducationDisc appears to be (also) MS-Windows-specific, i.e., 
to consist only of MS-Windows programs.  Sadly, the related Web page
(http://www.theopendisc.com/education/) doesn't mention that fact.[1]
The linked FAQ page does clarify the matter:

  Q:  What are the requirements to run program XYZ?
  A:  You need to check the website of the program where it will give you
  exact specifications. Most of the programs on this disk need Windows XP
  or above and a computer bought within the last few years.

> > This particular bad argument does not improve with repetition:  It's
> > frankly pretty obvious why giving MS-Windows users additional excuses to
> > remain on that platform doesn't "move the user closer to software
> > freedom", and never has.
> I actually have statistical evidence to the contrary (innovation
> adoption of FOSS research), but I have 20 different things pulling me
> 20 different ways, so maybe I'll share another time.

Does your research indicate that handing out open source MS-Windows 
applications to users increases the likelihood of them deciding to 
run an open-source operating system, instead?  It doesn't seem, from
your brief description that it does, which would make your contention
somewhat non-sequitur to the point.

More to the point, the truly relevant question is whether the same
amount of money and effort applied to the actual Linux or BSD
communities has a greater or lesser benefit.  I think it's pretty
obvious that the benefit is greater.  Not that I have any business
criticising anyone else's decision to help MS-Windows users -- but
personally I would rather devote my free time elsewhere.  (I'd 
classify my, theoretically, doing it as "consulting". ;->  )

[0] Basically, consultant Matt Oquist, in conjunction with 
Phil Harper of the OpenDisk / OpenCD effort -- though they've got
several other folks aboard, in the several years since.

[1] An alert reader might also figure out that fact, from the main
page's citation of contents that are obviously Windows-specific, such as
Clamwin and WinSCP.

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