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

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun Aug 30 23:26:11 PDT 2009

Quoting Sameer Verma (sverma at sfsu.edu):

> This is a somewhat long answer

Sadly, it is not an answer at all.

> Diffusion and adoption of an innovation (FOSS as an innovation) has
> been studied for around 50 years and has a well established record
> across various fields such as agriculture, healthcare, technology,
> etc.

Just as a gut reaction:  I would be deeply doubtful about any attempt to
consider those things comparable, given that they have, for starters,
radically different fundamental problems.

[big snip]

> Populations to be addressed by events such as Software Freedom Day are
> the early majority going through the persuasion stage.

Begs the question:  What persuasion is accomplished?  I've seen what
happens:  They just perceive it as free-of-charge stuff for MS-Windows,
and another reason to take no other action.

[big snip]

> So, as per diffusion and adoption research, to push people in the
> knowledge and/or persuasion stage to adopt FOSS, its very important
> that we address not just the relative advantages of FOSS over what
> they already use, but to address the compatibility with existing
> systems (which in all likelihood will be a Windows environment).

> Excluding Windows users defeats the purpose.

Fallacy of begging the question again.  The open source community has
never "excluded Windows users".  It welcomes their arrival and creates
pretty much all of the best compatibility mechanisms for them, if they
wish to join us on genuine open source operating systems or even if
they don't (Samba, BIND9, ISC dhcpd, Apache httpd, Tomcat....).

It has even, for reasons of compatibility with genuine open source OSes,
written some of the best documentation for some MS-Windows features.
The example that comes most readily to mind is the Linux Documentation
Project's documentation in the HOWTOs concerning NT OS Loader (and
successors), which were always the best documentation available on that

Not only has the Linux community never "excluded Windows users", but
your rather polemical assumption that handing out MS-Windows software is
_including_ them is clearly bogus.  You're not including them in any
meaningful way whatsoever:  They treat it, and regard it, as just
free-of-charge stuff.

At the end of the day, that's all you'll have done.

And, by the way, you have no hope whatsoever of getting across the
concept of open source / free software to the unitiated if you adopt the
mind-numbingly opaque acronym "FOSS" for it.  "FOSS" is an excellent
example of retrograde motion in public understanding, given that the
listener must understand (1) what the initials stand for, (2) what "free
software" means, _and_ (3) what "open source" means.  This nomenclature
invention, which (along with "FLOSS") seems to have arisen from FSF
hangers-on, has done more harm to public outreach than just about
anything else I've seen in the last several years.

> My other point about the spirit (not just the letter) of the Open
> Source definition (http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php) was
> that items 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 convey a sense of non-discrimination,
> which goes both ways.

Sameer, I think I've been really patient in the face of these extremely
dodgy and unsupportable appeals to the Open Source Definition.  Do you
_really_ need me to detail why avoiding "discrimination" completely and
utterly fails to require or even suggest that members of the Linux
community spend money and time giving MS-Windows users free-of-charge
MS-Windows software?

It was a transparently bogus argument the first time. 

> Helping people with a free OS but not a non-free OS is discriminating
> on the basis of their OS of choice.

Oh, heavens!  Call Interpol!

Again, do you _really_ need this "discrimination" notion dissected?
It's not actually a good use of your time or mine.

> I am willing to bet that most of your computers run on a proprietary
> BIOS. Should we stop helping you?

I'll give you a nice shiny US $50 bill if you can cite where I asked
your help with proprietary BIOS code.  (I'd appreciate an entirely
voluntary $1 payment to recompense me for my time and annoyance if you

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