On Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 11:09 AM, Rushabh Mehta <rmehta(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Wrote a small writeup after attending the RMS talk last week:
Last week, we attended a talk by Richard Stallman, the father of Free
Software. He is legendary in tech circles for founding the GNU Project (GNU
is Not Unix) and writing a lot of tools that are a part of the Linux
Operating System, which according to him, must be called GNU/Linux.
Stallman is also known to have radical political views on software and has
a set of terminology that he insists must be used by everyone talking about
his work. His primary disagreement is with the term Open Source, which he
calls as pushovers. By pushovers, he means that the term Open Source
software is tainted by the need for sustainability using commercial means.
Often this is unfairly done either by only distributing parts of the
software as free or by keeping some features as paid.
The term is also misused by numerous companies who open the code solely for
purposes of audit to paying customers who can demand such code audits.
Microsoft being a prime example.
For Stallman, all software must be free and must be
used in ways that all
derivate works also have the same freedom. The thought is both noble and
also a protection that companies do not pick up work from the community and
bundle it as their own tools. The GNU General Public License, also called
as the "copyleft" license, protects these rights. ERPNext too is licensed
under this License, even though we position ERPNext as Open Source.
Personally I am more pragmatic about the usage of the terminology. We use
Open Source because our users understand this term more than Free. Also
Free ERP has different connotations. Free stuff is eyed suspiciously as
most people believe that there is a cost to everything. This is tragic
because a lot of good free and open source software exists, and it is sad
to see that because of such political issues, groups cannot get together to
promote it. (I will use these terms interchangeably in this post.)
The limitations of english language was touched on by RMS, you could easily
position your stuff as Swatantra (?). And not merely avoid controversy, but
also help spread correct awareness.
Stallman also talked a lot about surveillance and how governments are using
devices to illegally and surreptitiously capture information of our likes,
relations and movements. Even though we all need to caution against too
much intrusion of privacy, these devices also bring a lot of convenience
and freedom to us.
One of the primary roles that Stallman and his Free Software Foundation
(FSF) plays is that of advocating Free Software in education institutes and
governments. Teaching Free Software to students is of vital importance
because if they start getting familiar with free software, they will grow
up to use it. Companies like Microsoft send sales people to promote their
software to schools because they want to get young students to user their
tools and grow familiar with them. In the same way, promoters of free
software must also send volunteers to schools to promote free software.
It is very sad to see that the few
people who are promoting free software are also tired and depressed.
Dunno where you jumped to that conclusion.
Clearly new energy is required on these fronts. We at
Web Notes feel very
strongly about this and we hope to make some contribution here.
Unfortunately we are also stuck with a couple of constraints. One is of
course that we are need to get our revenues in place first and second is
that we don't know where to start. Maybe a fresh beginning is required.
*What Can We Do*
Our first goal, like I said earlier is that we need to ensure we have
surplus funds to invest in this area. ERPNext is surely growing very well
and revenue is also increasing year on year, but it is still not enough. If
we divert attention in too many things, then we may lose the advantage that
ERPNext has built up. Also, there is a lot to be done.
Business development is part of a business. Every state government spends
tens crores on education. The smartness is in campaigning for FOSS with
ones business goals in mind.
If you take funding from let's say the FSF, it would be wholly unprincipled
to project your company / services in such programs, unless you too were
This would be ideally done under the umbrella of Free
of India (or if they are very religious/suspicious about us who have to
earn our bread and don't live off grants, or there are too many
ego-mountains to be climbed, then we could form a new group).
That one is a Pointless rant. Afaik, Nobody on this list is living off
someone else's largesse.