Open Ballot: would you hire the FSF for the role of Linux PR department?

TuxRadar

The Free Software Foundation has always done a great job defending the various free software licences, promoting their use, and asking for Linux to be referred to as GNU/Linux. But we're asking whether, regardless of its good work in this field, the FSF has helped free software grow or whether its hard stance against proprietary software has harmed Linux up-take. Add your comments below, preferably answering "Yes, they're the voice of free software" or "No, I prefer open source and Linux without GNU."

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Your comments

No, The FSF should not be the Linux PR Department

Keeping out of the open source/proprietary argument, they are both necessary in order for Linux to grow. The best software is what people will use, regardless of the licensing model (for example, most people would use the proprietary Flash player) and we cannot have a "PR Department" which only supports one or the other.

would I hire them?

No I wouldn't hire them, but I'd defend their right to do it anyway.

No

And even if I wanted to, they would insist on being the GNU/Linux PR department ;). Until more viable free software alternatives are available for currently proprietary-only things (and I long for that day), the FSF are just TOO devoted to free software to get anywhere with the general public.

*Part* of Linux PR for sure

I would not want FSF (or any single-issue political entity) to control my PR, but the FSF absolutely has a fundamental role within the PR front.

We are in a very volatile and potentially very destructive phase of increased proprietary involvement in open source, open standard and free software development. All three are potentially at risk of being hijacked by proprietary interests. There are many (flamewar) examples, for instance office documents, where a proprietary interest has delayed, interfered with or hijacked consensus.

Sometime in the future it is possible that people currently badmouthing FSF will wish that their position was more widely understood and more widely supported.

No, I prefer open source and Linux without GNU

Freedom is the absence of coercion. The FSF promotes coercive practices (all software licenses are, by definition, coercive) as 'freedom'. At best, the FSF is intellectually challenged; at worst, they are intentionally attempting to obfuscate the true meaning of the words free and freedom.

So no, I don't believe that such an organisation makes a particularly good ambassador for Linux.

No.

The vast majority of people just want (or need) software that works and works well. They want it to just work, out of the box and not have to plough through thick manuals to do anything.

I think this is why Linux Mint and its Main Edition is proving so popular. (I've now even got an 83 year old lady across the road from me using it. It just works!)

To me Linux is the best OS available and that has nothing to do with it being Open Sourced.

No: Freedom comes second

I've been blown away by some of the FLOSS software I've started to use this year, and by the software I've been using for many years with my eyes SHUT.

What opened my eyes wasn't the FSF but the quality of the software.

If someone were to invest in PR based on the quality, backed up with inherent affordability then perhaps with a sprinkling of Freedom, more people would follow.

It's going to take some expensive well thought through campaigns to compete with the Redmond Rotters - not crazed street preaching.

Yes, they're the voice of free software

The fact remains Linux and GNU are conjoined twins. To all those "No's" out there, I hate to inform you that they both share too many vital organs to be successfully separated. Please keep this in mind as you try to chainsaw your way through their shared heart in the name of "freedom from FSF coercion". Yes, we may be able to distinguish the face of Linux from the face of GNU, but when they come knocking at your door, you'll always be staring down at both.

I for one am extremely thankful to the FSF foundation for everything they have done in defense of the GPLs and the GNU project for all the great software and libraries I can use freely. If you aren't a corporate thief, stealing and making a profit off a public resource, how can you possibly be against the FSF?

Another cheap shot from Linux Format

I know that Future Publishing - the company that produces Linux Format and the Tux Radar site - must make money to survive. And, because its other publications depend on Windows, it must be careful not to offend allmighty Microsoft.

But, come on, enough already! You guys have been finding covert ways to denigrate the FOSS mindset for a while, and now you use a quasi-subliminal tactic to attack the FSF. What is up with you? Come out in the open and be honest - or is that much to ask of you?

This "open ballot", poll or whatever you want to call it is a disgrace. The FSF has never meant to do PR - it is about software, quality, freedom and awareness. PR, as you imply, is the time-honored trickery used by marketing companies to lure the naïve into buying crappy products, ideas or services - exactly the *opposite* of what the FSF tries to do. Again, FSF is *NOT* about propaganda and deception, and *YOU KNOW IT*

So, please, if you cannot be honest and stop depending on Microsoft's money, just shut up and close your Linux and FOSS-related publications. Is Carl Rove working for you, now?

Astroturfers, go away

I learned the word/expression "astroturf" just recently. It is the practice used by some companies to throw mud on whom they dislike. And the people who actually do the dirty work are called, not surprisingly, "astroturfers".

Seeing the avalanche of implied negativism against GNU/Linux/FOSS that is creeping up lately in Linux Format and Tux Radar I am starting to think of at least two possibilities:

1) Future Publishing / Linux Format / Tux Radar are in the pockets of Microsoft,

or

2) There are a lot of "astroturfers" coming to these blogs/forums to contaminate the posts with bad things about Linux/FOSS.

Of course, it is possible that both (1) and (2) are true...

@uomosenzanome

"If you aren't a corporate thief, stealing and making a profit off a public resource, how can you possibly be against the FSF?"

(1) Licensed software (GPL or otherwise) is _not_ a free, public resource. It places restrictions upon you. The only truly free software is that genuinely in the public domain.

(2) Theft, legally and morally, occurs when you are deprived of the use of some good that you posses. Somebody taking and using (and even selling) a _copy_ of 'your' software does not deprive you of your use of _your_ copy. So it simply cannot be theft.

[And no, I'm not a corporate fanboi -- quite the opposite. But I do understand what freedom means, and recognise that what the FSF is peddling 'aint it.]

@Polly the Parrot

Do you really believe what you write there? First of all this is a podcast, not Linux Format (which isn't a huge FSF-fanzine either, but more balanced). Everyone, including the 4 presenters, is entitled to his or her own opinion.

I have difficulties to believe that MS would be interested in driving a wedge between the FSF and the listeners of this podcast - I don't think that that's worth anything for them.

The FSF has done fantastic things for the free software world and nobody will ever doubt that. That does not mean, however, that everyone will always have to agree with them. And I certainly don't like the idea of "Denial of Service attacks" on MacStores or of a strange "Windows 7 Sins" document which does not take facts too serious at points.

We should convince Windows and Mac users by showing them a superior OS with amazing technologies, not by telling them how wrong they are and by throwing the free software bible into their faces!

@ tobi

If I didn't believe what I write, I wouldn't write it here. I am sincere in what I say and do. And, please, stop being personal - let's discuss ideas.

Now, to say that what the FSF fights for is not "freedom" is to show that you (a *generic* you, not you tobi) does not understand the big picture. Just to stay in the software business: if you place software you created in the public domain, what prevents corporations from taking advantage of your work, growing from it and using their power against you - maybe indirectly? Freedom has to be kept, cared for, and it counts more to the little than to the big - because the big usually misuses it to oppress. That's the whole point.

And I'd argue that, if the FSF made mistakes, they were out of good intentions, not out of greed and power-hungry machinations. They are not a slave-owner corporation.

@ tobi & @ Anonymous Penguin

I ended up replying to both posts under a single caption. I stand corrected in my addressing, but stand by the contents. Just to clarifyl

The pull No/Yes

First I'm not pro FSF. I think extreme option tends to scare people away. However, like sweet and sour sauce i don't think linux would be the same without it's more extreme parts.

It's kind of like the paranoid part of the news media. Keeps the rest of us on our toes.

Still NO: It's not going about it the right way

All the above aside, it simply comes down to how its done. If (generically FLOSS) is supposed to be a club for geeks, then YES, but I hope it isn't - because the rest of the world needs to know what GNU/LINUX is capable of and it's scared of losing profit, being run by techies and people with beards and the sort of silly stunts that we see - eg that damned song!

Every time I see a customer and say it's Free, I get the same question and the same baffled looks when I answer it - 'What's in it for them'. The answer scares the general populous. Not just the corporates, even the not for profits we work for.

As I said in my first comment, change tack, change representatives and the world is our oyster.

"No, I prefer open source and Linux without GNU."

If I may play devil's advocate on behalf of the TuxRadar guys for a moment, I have a lot to say. I think the wording of this ballot was poor, and so the wrong intentions came across. I don't think they were literally talking about a PR department, but rather the value of using the FSF campaigning philosophy to try and attract new users.

In that case, and that is how I am taking the question, then I would say the value is negative. On the one hand, it is hard to argue against the FSF and RMS because they have provided us with so much. I can't honestly discount the GNU/Linux argument, because as far as I know, no distribution is GNU free, or could be. The GNU userland of tools is just too important to any *nix system for them to be blown off.

On the other hand, that doesn't give RMS or his foundation a right to try and force his socialist opinions down the throat of users. He himself, in his own words, admits that it is more important to him to spread his political ideas than the software, which automatically disqualifies him in my book to be an effective spokesman. It is a shame that as a father of FOSS in general, he has allowed his political views about how society should work to degrade him from a place of authority on the matter.

If I show you a piece of code that is licensed under the GPL it would be impossible for you to tell me whether or not it is free software or open source, because there is no difference, only in the minds of the people who look at it. Those differences are more important to the FSF than the code itself. The general public isn't interested in politics; they are interested in software that works.

Besides, not all software should be free or open source, in my opinion. In the Eric Raymond book, the Cathedral and the Bazaar, he makes the same case. It doesn't make sense for every program to be FOSS. Telling people they have to use a system that is only FOSS is just as stupid as telling people they have to use a system which is only closed. I have already started working on a massive project which will be distributed in pieces, some open, and some not.

There are good volunteers who work on FOSS, but if you wasn’t real progress, you need people who can focus on development, and that costs money. Not all software lends itself to the support model, and closing and charging is the only way to raise that money. FOSS games suck for this reason.

Also, consider this, why should it matter if a piece of software were put into the public domain and not licensed? If you really believe that FOSS produces better software, then it shouldn't matter if it is in the public domain or not. Imagine a match of Iron chef where the ingredient was some public domain code. The closed source chef who takes it should produce a worse program with it compared to the FOSS chefs’ right? So what is the problem? Only people who actually accept the value of closed source software should be afraid of the public domain.

@Polly the Parrot

"to say that what the FSF fights for is not "freedom" is to show that you (a *generic* you, not you tobi) does not understand the big picture"

What the FSF 'fights for' is restrictive access to software. Now, you -- and they -- may argue that they are doing so (via the GPL etc.) for the 'greater good'. That's fine; you/they are entitled to that view.

My objection is that appeals -- moral or legal, as in the case of licenses -- to the 'greater good' have absolutely nothing to do with individual freedom; quite the contrary, in fact.

That's my beef with the FSF: they claim to espouse freedom, whilst practising authoritarianism. If they dropped the pretence of seeking freedom then, yes, I'd still disagree with their authoritarian agenda. But I would accept that they were at least being honest about their intent. Right now that's not the case, and true freedom, as an ideological concept, is suffering as a result. That's what really p*sses me off.

The choices you offer ignore the wider importance of the FSF.

The FSF performs a necessary function in the wider discussion. The existence of such extremes shape where the middle-ground consensus lies. Without ardent FOSS advocates on one side of the debate, the middle-of-the-road consensus could shift too far towards dependency on patented or closed source solutions, which would risk damaging FOSS in the long-run.

@ Anonymous Penguin

First, please, get yourself a unique, distinctive nickname. It's hard to talk with "Anonymous Whatever"...

"What the FSF 'fights for' is restrictive access to software."
How so? Everybody has access to GPLed software. Everybody can download its sources, binaries, make copies, use, redistribute, etc., etc. One just can't *IMPEDE* access to it. One just can't *RESTRICT* access to it!

@Anonymous Penguin (the one who wrote to me)

>(1) Licensed software (GPL or otherwise) is _not_ a free, public resource. It places restrictions upon you. The only truly free software is that genuinely in the public domain.

I can't debate freedom according to how you may or may not personally define it but since we were talking about the FSF, I was using freedom according to their enumerated definitions:

* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
* The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
* The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the PUBLIC, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

I think I used "freedom" and public" quite aptly in this case, and since the debate is about linux and GNU, I would be willing to bet that most of the rest of the code in any given linux distro that isn't GNU has a much more restrictive license. Until "Public Domain Linux" is released, I don't think the public domain is even at issue.

> (2) Theft, legally and morally, occurs when you are deprived of the use of some good that you posses. Somebody taking and using (and even selling) a _copy_ of 'your' software does not deprive you of your use of _your_ copy. So it simply cannot be theft.

I think we have a manipulated personal definition here again so I will just take a little less biased "wikipedia" definition of theft: "In criminal law, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent." So the writer of a program, etc. freely chooses a GNU license for his/her code. It is now essentially GNU's property as such which is gives freely to the public (per the aforementioned definition of freedom), with clearly defined rights for use. So if I am Best Buy and I take GNU code and throw it into a blue ray player that I'm selling and the FSF writes me for months on end pointing out that I don't have permission to be doing that, I have taken GNU code and used it in a way other than given by the consent. If it's not mine and I don't have permission from the rights owner to use it in they way they freely defined, then yes, it amounts to theft.

Unlike many others, I have to say yes.

I agree with uomosenzanome, especially with the last point, as otherwise, there wouldn't be any order or politeness and 'this is my work, you can't make money out of it without my permission'. I don't think they would be quite suited to the role of PR though, but I don't know that much about them.

@Polly the Parrot

"One just can't *RESTRICT* access to it!"

OK, suppose I'm a certain Mr Gates [I'm not ;-)] and would like to include some GPL'd code into Windows. I can't, without causing myself all manner of pain.

You, and the FSF, might say that's great. But whatever your moral/ethical position, you simply cannot argue that your license is not restricting my actions, _my freedom_.

The GPL does keep _source code_ free. But it doesn't keep _people_ free, and nor does any other license. But code in the public domain is also free; even if someone takes it and licenses it, the original PD code is _still_ PD. And you can do whatever you like with it, without anyone's grant of permission (which is what a license is). In short, PD code is _the only_ truly unrestricted code that there is.

Just to clarify...

When I say I agree with uomosenzanome, I mean the first post!

@uomosenzanome

"I can't debate freedom according to how you may or may not personally define it"

I defined it in the only coherent intellectual manner -- the absence of coercion. I'm sorry, but the FSF's four 'freedoms' are simply not 'freedoms' at all. They are permissions, rights, granted to you by an IP rights holder (as you yourself acknowledge in your second point).

You quoted me the first line of the Wikipedia entry for "theft". If you had skipped two paragraphs down, you would have found the more formal definition:

"The actus reus of theft is usually defined as an unauthorised taking, keeping or using of another's property which must be accompanied by a mens rea of dishonesty and/or the intent to permanently deprive the owner or the person with rightful possession of that property or its use."

As I said in the post that you quoted, somebody copying 'your' software and using that copy is _not_ depriving you of your copy. Ergo, it isn't theft. Although the IP fiends would like to argue otherwise!

I wouldn't

Personally, I liked the quality of Linux and other open source software, and wouldn't have been convinced by appeals to freedom, however much I might value it.

In fact, I'd have probably thought that preaching freedom with regards to software was ludicrous, since there's nothing inherently oppressive about proprietary software (if you don't like it or its licence terms, don't use it), and there are more important issues where freedom is concerned. My position has changed now, but I reckon that's what many would think when they hear "software freedom" being mentioned.

No, the FSF are obnoxious and negative.

Having the Free Software Foundation act as the voice of Linux's PR would be like having Steve Ballmer act as PR for Microsoft - and he's obnoxious, loud-mouthed, and annoying. The FSF is more like a legal department than a PR department. Canonical is much, much better with PR.

My last retort, I promise

@ Anonymous Penguin [rb]:

My post:
"One just can't *RESTRICT* access to it!"

Yours:
OK, suppose I'm a certain Mr Gates [I'm not ;-)] and would like to include some GPL'd code into Windows. I can't, without causing myself all manner of pain."

Well, Mr. Gates still has *access* to the GPLed code, and he can use it; he just can't *STEAL* or *CONCEAL* it from the owner(s) of that code - he *can't restrict access* to it. He has to respect the *freedom* of others.

But this discussion is getting old. I'm moving on. Bye.

@ The other "Anonymous Penguin"

Holy crap, how can I distinguish what "Anonymous Penguin" am I replying to? C'mon, guys, get creative! Invent some cute nickname, like "Inglorious Basterd" (with the wrong spelling), or something!

You:
"In fact, I'd have probably thought that preaching freedom with regards to software was ludicrous, since there's nothing inherently oppressive about proprietary software (if you don't like it or its licence terms, don't use it),"

Me:
Proprietary software will be oppressive while still there are software patents - another aberration against with the FSF fights. (Yeah, I know, this is another big can of worms, but I promise I will stop discussing it here right now.)

Exactly my point

See?

Brought to you by Polly the Parrot.

Yes, they're the voice of free software

Yes, they're the voice of free software
Just my $0.2

@Anonymous Penguin (the one who keeps writing to me)

>>I defined it (freedom) in the only coherent intellectual manner -- the absence of coercion. I'm sorry, but the FSF's four 'freedoms' are simply not 'freedoms' at all. They are permissions, rights, granted to you by an IP rights holder (as you yourself acknowledge in your second point).<<

I'll say it again: your definition of freedom is not concrete enough to debate, so either define what you mean as well as the FSF did or drop it. All you've managed to do is to link the nebulous notion of freedom with the nebulous notion of coercion and expect everyone to guess what you meant by it. "Freedom is the absence of coercion" is like saying "Land is the absence of water". Whether you agree with it or not, at least the FSF gave us clear definitions of what they mean by freedom.

In any case, I think you are guided by misplaced notion of what freedom actually is. You aren't being denied your freedom when you walk off a cliff expecting to go across like the roadrunner and find yourself at the bottom of the gorge. You are simply being subjected to the laws of physics. If you want to build a glider or a bridge, or get shot across the gorge in a cannon, all of those things are fine as long as they don't violate the laws of physics. You can cross the gorge anyway you want, just don't expect to go across like the cartoon roadrunner or any other way inconsistent with the laws of physics. Without the laws of physics, there wouldn't even be a gorge to cross.

Likewise, the GPL licenses are the conditions under which code is released. You are granted the specific enumerated freedoms under the license. You also have restrictions akin to the laws of physics that keep you from going across a gorge like the roadrunner.

Now if you want to go ahead and create your own "Public Domain Linux", go ahead. Go make your cartoon world where you can walk across the gorge without falling, just don't expect to do it in the real world. Also, don't forget . . . even cartoon worlds have certain restrictions (eg. Acme products never work effectively for Coyotes --- how dare the Acme company deny the coyotes their freedom!)

>>You quoted me the first line of the Wikipedia entry for "theft". If you had skipped two paragraphs down, you would have found the more formal definition: "The actus reus of theft is usually defined as an unauthorised taking, keeping or using of another's property which must be accompanied by a mens rea of dishonesty and/or the intent to permanently deprive the owner or the person with rightful possession of that property or its use."<<

That isn't a more formal definition of theft, it is the definition of the typical "actus reus of theft" . . . just as it states. In the cases that the FSF has won, such as in the Paris Court of Appeals, clearly these situations met the qualifications of theft under the law, as judged by people who I am sure know more about it and have more experience than any given Anonymous Penguin. There is therefore clear judicial precedence to make the case that it is indeed theft to violate terms of the given GPL.

As far as moral aspects you brought up relating to theft . . . if I give someone $100 on the condition that they use $10 of it to buy bread for children at the orphanage, and I have reminded them for months that they need to get the bread and still they never do . . . clearly there is an immoral aspect that can be equated with stealing. There was not coercion by force to take the money, the person wanted the benefit of the $90 so they agreed to the condition for the $10. If they wanted to go out and get their own $100 their own way and spend it as they like, they can do it. But they shouldn't tell me I'm hindering their personal freedom after freely choosing to accept my money with the well-established conditions.

@uomosenzanome

WRT the definition of 'freedom'. Please stop trying to distract, and simply look the term up in a dictionary! Here's Wiktionary's two-part defn:

"1 The state of being free, of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

2 The lack of a specific constraint, or of constraints in general; a state of being free, unconstrained."

As ought to have been obvious, this definition is simply a wordier way of stating _exactly_ what I said; that freedom is the absence of coercion. Without coercion you can act in an unconstrained manner. OK?

"There was not coercion by force to take the money, the person wanted the benefit of the $90 so they agreed to the condition for the $10"

Oh, agreed. And I never suggested otherwise. If you wish to accept constraints/coercion upon your freedom imposed by others then, yes, you are free to do so. And if you feel the same way about software then, yes, you'll see nothing wrong with licenses.

But I never argued that point. What I have been pointing out throughout this thread is that what the FSF does -- pushing a philosophy of constraint (copyright and licensing) -- is at odds with what they _claim_ to do -- pursuing freedom. It's a simple join-the-dots:

1. Is 'freedom' the absence of coercion/constraint? [yes]
2. Are software licenses coercive/constraining? [yes]
3. Does the FSF push software licensing? [yes]
4. So, is the FSF really about 'freedom?' [no]

The FSF and their approach (GPL) could very reasonably be described as 'open source'. No quibble, as that is what it is. But _they_ hate the term, and insist on using appeals to 'freedom'. As I stated a good few posts ago, it's that inaccuracy/hypocrisy that riles me, as it helps to undermine the real meaning of 'freedom'.

Yes, they are the voice of free software

My first thought was not to participate, because doing so I am certainly supporting what look pretty much like a personal attack to the FSF, but I was amazed by the number of NOes

Probably, the people who would vote Yes are out there using their time to write some good free software for all of you to use (while you speak so good of them)

P.D. I am with 'Polly the Parrot'

@The Great Stallboy

"Probably, the people who would vote Yes are out there using their time to write some good free software for all of you to use (while you speak so good of them)"

And shockingly, perhaps, some of us who don't agree with them are also out there using our time to write truly free (public domain) software for you all to use ;-)

NO, they are the voice of free software

I think the FSF does brilliant work and their hard-line stance, including those 'coercive' licences, is a great antidote to some of the more Orwellian practices in the IT world. In that way they are the voice of free software, and they help Linux grow in much the same way as a gardener helps a tree grow by pruning it. Even though that may reduce growth in the short term, it provides a stronger plant with more and better fruit in the long term. But a good product is not the same as good PR.

I wouldn't hire the FSF to be the Linux PR department, any more than I would hire a gardener to sell my apples. PR is neither the FSF's mission nor its strength; if I was going to hire a PR department, I'd choose a pro.

Freedom!!

open source promote freedom

freedom in promoting my open source operating system.
freedom to call it by whatever name i want,like....Linux without GNU.As long people know what the hack i'm refering

No!

No, I would not. Stallman doesn't belong in Linux, he and his ken should stick with his BSD projects and leave Linux alone!

Of course not, and the comments prove it

FSF shoots itself in the foot all the time. The FSF is good for a variety of things, as I'm sure we all know, but none of those things is PR.

The FSF has come to a point that it is immediately associated with attitudes and opinions like as those found in the comments of user "Polly the parrot". Paranoid, agressive, and completely out of touch with reality. Let's keep that away from linux's image please.

The embarrassing uncle at the wedding

Much like your uncle dancing at a wedding their enthusiasm has to be admired, but it still doesn't stop you from hiding behind the wedding cake and denying any form of relationship with them.

Often when reading about their latest escapades I'm left thinking that we really need an organisation to go in and clean up the PR devestation often bought about by hurricane FSF. Someone to turn around to companies and organisations and say, they're not really with us now here are some real reasons as to why you might like to use Linux (yes I am deliberately leaving off the GNU-slash) and how they really apply to your business.

@ Ceno

You:
"The FSF has come to a point that it is immediately associated with attitudes and opinions like as those found in the comments of user "Polly the parrot". Paranoid, agressive, and completely out of touch with reality. Let's keep that away from linux's image please."

Me:

First of all, thanks for the "ad hominem" atack. It speaks volumes.

Thanks for calling me "paranoid". Just to quote Andy Grove, "only the paranoid survive". Your enemies are out to catch you. Didn't the great Steve Ballmer say that "Linux is a cancer" and (paraphrasing) "should be dealt with accordingly"?

Thanks for calling me "aggressive". I'd hate to be a "passive" target, just like the entire politically correct crowd that avoids telling the truth because squeamish people would frown upon them. Or because people with a hidden agenda doesn't like it.

Thanks for saying that I'm completely out of touch with reality. Progress comes from dreamers - if you want to stick to you perceived reality you will be just another one in the crowd. I don't want to get to the end of my life and, looking back, conclude that I have wasted it doing just what everybody else does. I'm not a sheep in the herd.

And, as for keeping Linux's image "clean": what really matters, in the end of the day, is the problem-solving capacity of the proposed solutions - software or otherwise. I am not a PR person - there is people more qualified for it than me. I just give it to you as it is, and you do the best you can with the information. You are free to do it.

No, because...

If we are looking for popularity of Linux, really open sourced software has nothing to do with any PR effort and would therefore preclude the FSF. You may personally hate this or that company/system/technology but if people use it (and like it), who are we to put bars in the way of them enjoying it. And, if they can't use it, how would you expect them to adopt a Linux Distribution that will not undertake the application or hardware support they require?

The FSF do a fine job in the niche they occupy but, the Linux world is far wider than them and any publicity work on its behalf should be undertaken by those who can deliver to the whole community.

@Polly the Parrot

@Polly the Parrot: they say the FSF does a "great job" and you somehow believe that they're being paid by Microsoft?! What sort of warped, zealot logic is that?

"Oh no, there's a debate as to whether something could be improved in the free software world... IT MUST BE EVIL MICRO$SCHAFT BEHIND IT!!! HATE HATE HATE!!"

You know, perhaps it's possible to point out that not everything is perfect in the free software world, without somehow pointing it at Microsoft.

People like Polly the Parrot cause more damage to the movement than anyone else: seething, angry zealots who can't face the tiniest bit of criticism without throwing a massive OMG MICRO$$$OFT IS EVIL ITS ALL MICROSOFT FAULT YOU MUST BE PAID BY MICRO$$$OFT tantrum. Totally out of touch with reality.

Polly, please leave my community. You're only causing damage and making us look like weird, angry zealots.

You can't have Linux without GNU...

...so anyone who says they do clearly doesn't comprehend the debt of gratitude they owe to GNU. That having been said, the semantic pedantry of the GNU/Linux proponents, while interesting in geek circles, is not the kind of discussion we want to be having with a PR company, which FSF aren't anyway.

The best PR for Linux (or GNU/Linux if it's really that important to you) is it's users. Not that we should preach like Apple fanboys, but we should be doing subtle things to get the word out. As an example, I took my laptop on a group holiday. All the others in the group were using it to surf the web, check email, listen to music etc.. Guess what? They found it completely intuitive and hassle-free. This is the kind of PR that no company can generate.

my answer to the the question is 'no', BUT ...

... FSF remains an incredibly important part of the FOSS ecosystem. It is deserving of our respect, even if we do not all share its views and priorities in many areas. Who was it who said that "when all are thinking alike, none are thinking"?

Constructive disagreement and a range of views on important philosophical matters makes us stronger. Disrespect and paranoia of the kind seen in some of the posts above, however, can do Linux and FOSS nothing but harm - both within the community and (I shudder to think of it!) in a "PR" context. Shame on you!

@ Zappa: Let the witch hunt begin

First, your post/comment looks very much a hysterical nervous breakdown of a teenage diva. Get a grip and try to discuss ideas instead of freaking out. It is not by "shouting" like a wounded sissy that you are going to make your point. And don't be personal - if that's all you can do, there is a big chance that you don't have ideas to talk about.

Now, to your sorry post:

>>> @Polly the Parrot: they say the FSF does a "great job" and you somehow believe that they're being paid by Microsoft?! What sort of warped, zealot logic is that?
--- If I say to you "You are a great guy, but you are ugly, stinky and dumb", is that any less offensive?

>>> "Oh no, there's a debate as to whether something could be improved in the free software world... IT MUST BE EVIL MICRO$SCHAFT BEHIND IT!!! HATE HATE HATE!!"
--- Where did I show hate, my little diva? I am discussing ideas and legal entities and economics and businesses, not people. Sorry I hurt your hemorrhoids.

>>> You know, perhaps it's possible to point out that not everything is perfect in the free software world, without somehow pointing it at Microsoft.
--- Sure it is, but "Microsoft" in a context like this does not mean only the company of Redmond, but also all it represents. For those who can read...

>>> People like Polly the Parrot cause more damage to the movement than anyone else: seething, angry zealots who can't face the tiniest bit of criticism without throwing a massive OMG MICRO$$$OFT IS EVIL ITS ALL MICROSOFT FAULT YOU MUST BE PAID BY MICRO$$$OFT tantrum. Totally out of touch with reality.
--- People like me are more in touch with reality than those who pretend nothing is happening and just go with the flow. I can take a lot of criticism if I know what I am being criticized for. Please be more specific in your (plagiarized) accusation, so I can defend - and eventually correct - myself better.

>>> Polly, please leave my community. You're only causing damage and making us look like weird, angry zealots.
--- What if I *don't* leave YOUR community? You gonna tell momma on me? First, it is not your community - a community does not *belong* to any one. Second, who is hating now? Third, you have all the freedom in the world to express your *ideas* to - if you want - distance yourself from the "weird zealots" and become just another sheep.

Looks like I am touching the correct buttons of some people here. It is good - complacency makes the world bad. However, if I were in the physical world and not in an Internet forum, by this time I would have been crucified, or sent to prison, or burnt in a bonfire in the public square. The "powers that be" *and* the populace don't like independent thinkers. They don't like their "reality" to be stirred - much less shaken (hope you get the joke). So, all it takes is for the first one to take a shot at Polly the Parrot and then suddenly the whole crowd sets out to lynch Polly. Oh, well, such are the ways of the world...

Grow up, Zappa.

polly

just read this thread. polly, you make totally ludicrous, unproven, strange accusations that tuxradar is being funded by microsoft because they dont always praise linux...

then you say you are in touch with reality?

your posts here show that you're a complete zealot who has lost rational thought. please stop, get some help, as you're just making us all look bad :-(

POLLY = LOLLY

I've listen to the podcast for a while, and while the guys are pretty
harsh sometimes, I like it, I'm glad they have proper opinions and
don't just turn the podcast into a Linux circlejerk, and I'm glad they
point out flaws so that we can always improve. All this stuff is
generally good.

And all Polly can do is say that Microsoft pays them? WTF? Can that be
the only reason they're not alwasys 100% positive Polly?

The logic here is almost retarded. If Microsoft was paying them, then
they'd just shut down the whole site and magazine to not give Linux a
platform at all.

Pollys level of paranoia is pretty disturbing. Get help dude.......

FSF important, but lacking in PR skills

FSF probably gets less credit than deserved in the mainstream for the many obscure and powerful little code building blocks that underpin things that Linux distros have historically depended upon. Furthermore, FSF takes an extreme ideological stance which I believe is a necessary counter to the forces that would otherwise yank back the grassroots freedoms that we all have enjoyed in computing in the last 15 or so years particularly. Having said this, I believe Richard Stallman's arrogant, immature and oftentimes rudely obnoxious behavior toward people all over the world, ends up undermining the promise of all that is hopeful about free software and taints Linux in ways that seem spectacularly unnecessary. One could hold an extreme ideology, *and* be a decent respectful person as well, seeking to demonstrate the fruitional goodness of your ethic as it translates beyond the 'lockergnome' incubators that some tech celebrities spent their youth in. This would help tremendously. While, important, I think the FSF's place must be under the bigger perceived umbrella of the free Linux OS world as it develops in the minds and hearts of the masses of less tech literate folks. These folks need to be treated with respect. That's good PR in my book.

To all the Polly haters

This means, mainly, "Anonymous Penguin" (another one... sigh!) and gg67:

Read my reply to Zappa. In special the second-to-last paragraph.

Then go back to the fairy tale, and stop wasting your time replying to me. You know what I mean, if you understand figurative language. I'm right, and you know it. You just don't have the guts to stand out. You prefer the comfort of conformity.

The question I have to ask myself is "why do I care, after all"?

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