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Thread: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

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    Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    I have been doing a lot of reading lately on the web about open source software development, as I am now a brand new Linux user on one of my home PCs. I came across the High Priority Free Software Projects link yesterday, posted below:

    http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/priority.html

    A lot of these projects I find fascinating, and others I find a little bit ambigious or mysterious. Specifically, I didn't quite understand the nature of the first two projects, both of which are open source counters to Adobe developments, the first relating to PDF file formats, and the second relating to Adobe Flash (swf) content. Since receiving either PDF or flash content is essentially free for everyone already, I suppose that the Free Software Foundation specifically wants to make open source applications that can create, edit, or otherwise "deal with" .pdf and .swf files. In other words, it's not the free aspect but rather the open source aspect of these file types that is worth pursuing. Is that the general focus for these projects? Are Linux developers more interested in developing this content or simply receiving this content, or both?

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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    Firstly, Free software is not the same as Open Source, so you're supposed to use the former term when talking about the FSF. Flash is not Free. The flash plugin is free as in beer, but it is not Free software.
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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    Quote Originally Posted by nair View Post
    I have been doing a lot of reading lately on the web about open source software development, as I am now a brand new Linux user on one of my home PCs.
    (snip)

    Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by nair View Post
    (snip)
    I suppose that the Free Software Foundation specifically wants to make open source applications that can create, edit, or otherwise "deal with" .pdf and .swf files. In other words, it's not the free aspect but rather the open source aspect of these file types that is worth pursuing. Is that the general focus for these projects?
    (snip)
    Yes, you've pretty much got it "spot-on" there! The "open source" aspect is very important. I can use Microsoft as a good counter-example. Allow me to explain...

    Microsoft's Office apps (Excel, Word and so on) use their own proprietary (non open-source) format. This format is (of course) under the complete control of Microsoft, and they can change it at any time, for any reason. This means that those people (or companies) that have lots of their data in Excel or Word files have two possible options when Microsoft changes formats -

    a) They can sigh, and just "go with the flow", paying more money for the latest MS Office suite which uses the new formats. Or -

    b) They can say "blow this - we've had enough of this", and they can look at switching to (say) OpenOffice.org which is a free and open-source office suite.

    "(a)" above is an example of "vendor lock-in".
    Companies like Microsoft rely on people's "inertia", basically - that people will just passively accept a format-change and fork out more money for a new version of Office.

    Fortunately, there are an increasing number of people and companies for whom that is no longer the case. They have reaslised that open-source apps can (and do) compete very well with proprietary ones, and often (in the case of (say) Firefox) **far exceed** the quality and features of their proprietary "equivalents" (Internet Explorer in that example).
    Hope this helps....
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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    Not a support question. Moved to the Cafe.
    「明後日の夕方には帰ってるからね。」


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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    Both Flash and Acrobat are free to install and use, but not free to ship and redistribute by the end user, same thing goes with most proprietary software that is free to download, but not free to modify, redistribute or ship.
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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    OP: when talking about the Free Software Foundation and free software, "free" != zero cost. Rather, "free" is as in freedom... liberation.

    So, software that costs nothing is not necessarily free software. And it is quite possible to have to pay for free software.

    I suggest you do a lot more reading at fsf.org, if you want to understand the concepts.
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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    Quote Originally Posted by t0p View Post
    OP: when talking about the Free Software Foundation and free software, "free" != zero cost. Rather, "free" is as in freedom... liberation.

    So, software that costs nothing is not necessarily free software. And it is quite possible to have to pay for free software.

    I suggest you do a lot more reading at fsf.org, if you want to understand the concepts.
    Exactly... new users are often unaware of our usage of the term "free".
    There are "free as in free beer" applications that you can download at zero cost.
    Then there's "free as in freedom" software, which is what the Free Software Foundation, GNU and a good deal of FOSS (Free & Open Source Software) is about.
    It's what we usually refer to when talking about free (sometimes capitalised as Free).

    I recommend you read the preamble of the GNU GPL to get the basic idea.

    Then there's Open Source, the other part of FOSS. It's less "Free" than Free Software in that it doesn't care as much about morals... it's the pragmatic approach, so to say. Many businesses prefer it because it allows them to close the derived code and make it proprietary (e.g. when it's BSD-licensed).

    Here's a good read on the difference.
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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    Quote Originally Posted by bryonak View Post
    Then there's Open Source, the other part of FOSS. It's less "Free" than Free Software in that it doesn't care as much about morals... it's the pragmatic approach, so to say. Many businesses prefer it because it allows them to close the derived code and make it proprietary (e.g. when it's BSD-licensed).
    The BSD license is in no way less free than the GPL. Even the FSF lists it as a Free Software license.
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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    Quote Originally Posted by HymnToLife View Post
    The BSD license is in no way less free than the GPL. Even the FSF lists it as a Free Software license.
    Not to start a dispute here: your statement is correct.
    Mine too, if you read it the way I intended... the GPL is not more free than the BSDL, but it's more "Free" (which is what I've written of course, given that you take the FSF's definiton of Free Software)
    But let's not continue the hairsplitting.
    Most Open Source Software is Free Software and vice versa. That's why we generally use the term FOSS. It's actually a small but nevertheless existant difference.

    @EDavidBurg:
    Yes, that's a matter of ... "taste".
    It depends on whether you see unquestionable freedom or enforced freedom as "true" freedom.
    Huh... I'm seeing ghosts ;D
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    Re: Free Software Foundation Top Priorities

    Quote Originally Posted by bryonak View Post
    the GPL is not more free than the BSDL, but it's more "Free" (which is what I've written of course, given that you take the FSF's definiton of Free Software)
    No, it's not What is the FSF's definition of Free Software?

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

    Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:

    * The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
    * The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (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 (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
    The GPL and BSD license both provide these four freedoms. Therefore, neither is more "free" than the other.
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