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Re: [bytesforall_readers] [Fwd: Re: Free and Open Source Software: A Blind Alley for Developing

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  • Richard M. Stallman
    I reread Heeks article as posted here. The article uses the word free just once, outside of the combimation FOSS . That one use refers to price, not
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 16, 2005
      I reread Heeks' article as posted here. The article uses the word
      "free" just once, outside of the combimation "FOSS". That one use
      refers to price, not freedom. This shows that the writer either does
      not understand what free software is all about, or has chosen to
      ignore it. Neither possibility commands much respect.

      The purport of the article is just a prediction that GNU/Linux will be
      a failure in the future because it is not very popular so far. The
      problem with this is not that the answer is wrong, but that the
      question is wrong. It is that he has chosen the wrong question to
      answer. His question is whether freedom-respecting software _will_
      succeed. The important question is why freedom is worth fighting for.

      Forecasting the future of technology is error-prone at best. When a
      scholar shows an absurd level of confidence in such a forecast, that
      in itself is grounds for suspicion. Combined with the article's
      general tone of contempt for FOSS, it add up to a clear case of PIPO:
      prejudice in, prejudice out.

      This does not prove the author was in Microsoft's pay. That may or
      may not be the case. But there are plenty of grounds for suspicion,
      which is why I suggest investigating the question to find out the

      We know that several others have been paid by Microsoft to write such
      reports. To suggest that it might be the case here is hardly a "witch
      hunt". One gets the feeling you're trying to deny the pattern we have

      > This is still a free world where people should be able to say what
      > they say without being put automatically into the "bad boys" box.

      I agree. I do not believe we should conclude "automatically" that
      Heeks is in Microsoft's pay. I suggested that people investigate and
      find out whether he is or not. Therefore, aren't you attacking a
      straw man?

      > To make at easy, yes, my organization Chasquinet Foundation works > with Microsoft and yes it is the same organization that
      > produced and published the Open Source tollbox for Telecenters
      > in Latin America http://tele-centros.org/tc-toolkit2.0/ and
      > yes we have as a policy in our organization that people
      > should have a right to choose.

      I don't know what you do with Microsoft, but I suppose it involves
      promoting or using proprietary software. I don't know what's in your
      toolbox, but let's assume it is free software and a worthy
      contribution to the free world. However, by referring to it as "open
      source" rather than "free", you choose not to consider this a matter
      of freedom. So what is the situation?

      We can conclude that you will work with either proprietary software or
      freedom-respecting software--because you do not regard the users'
      freedom as a significant value.

      > What counts for us here at the grassroots are real ICT
      > tools for Development, be they open source or otherwise,
      > what counts is if they make a real positive impact
      > in improving peoples lives.

      Apparently your idea of "improving peoples lives" is measured in a way
      that does not value their freedom. That is a shallow way to judge.


      The choice between free (freedom-respecting) and proprietary
      (user-subjugating) software is not a technical choice. It is an
      ethical and political issue about people's freedom.

      To be neutral on issues that merely concern technology is fine.
      To be neutral on ethical and political issues about freedom
      is nothing to be proud of.
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