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Re: handling Mozilla with kid gloves [was: GUADEC report]

My overly clever rhetoric started an unintended
quarrel with good free-software people who are
my friends not my foes.  I ask their pardon.  A
simpler statement from me would have sufficed.

Branden said it better than I did.  He wrote,

> By adopting a milquetoast approach we do the
> Mozilla Project no favors.  How are they to be
> a part of the FLOSS community if we keep them
> outside it?  Shall we look upon Mozilla as
> manna from heaven, or shall we expect them to
> engage in the same rough-and-tumble that the
> rest of us deal with on a daily basis?  RMS
> had the privilege of seeing two of *his*
> babies ... challenged to the point of forking.
> Why, then, should we treat AOL Time Warner
> with such delicacy that we dare not even offer
> them frank feedback on their choice of
> license?

I concur.  Some corporate managers do correctly
sense something big, something important in the
Debian Project; but what it is exactly, they
often cannot clearly perceive.  They are no
hackers.  They do not understand.  They lack the
very basis to understand.  Slowly, slowly, some
of them are learning.  (I think that this is
part of David's point.  In my view David and
Matthew are right.)

Now speaking for myself only, I am willing to
admit that I doubt that it generally serves the
interests of Debian and its users to court some
reluctant corporations too aggressively.  Our
door stands open.  They are welcome to come, to
use, to develop, to contribute---but only within
the letter and spirit of our rules.  If our
rules are not really negotiable---really they
are not, are they?---then whose interest would
it serve to let some corporate managers believe
otherwise?  Certain companies like nVidia, X-Oz
and Adobe will not cooperate, of course.  No one
denies that such uncooperation hurts us in the
short run, but what else can we do?  The DFSG
define who we are.  They are not negotiable.

It seems to me that some corporate managers do
not quite yet understand the basic fact of DFSG
non-negotiability.  We can forgive this fault in
a corporate manager who has made his way to the
top on the strength of his negotiating skills.
Although it may be clear to him that the DFSG
are simple, honest, impartial, unburdensome,
decent, broad-minded and fair, it may not be
immediately clear that the DFSG are
non-negotiable.  This is fair enough because no
one understands everything immediately; and we
are all learning, the corporate managers and we
both.  It is in their nature to probe our
resolve.  Up to a point, we do not blame them
for this.

On the other hand, a company which cynically
stretches the DFSG's outer limits then refuses
to regard debian-legal's advice in the matter is
to be watched warily.  The Debian Project is
blessed with many friends, but if such a company
is not one of them, then what else can we do?
How else can we act?  It is good for us to know
who our friends are.

I do not know where nVidia, X-Oz, Adobe or any
of the others will be ten years from now, nor do
I know whether their uncooperative strategies
will prosper in the interim.  But I do know that
you and I have a dream, a powerful dream of
freedom which is not theirs to buy and to sell.
The Americans of 1776, the Germans of 1848, the
Poles of 1989---in our own small way we follow
in those people's honored footsteps.  We are
disciplined insurgents against an established
order in a high cause, and the wonder of it is
that we are winning.

Well, there goes the rhetoric again.  :-(
Long live Debian, and hopefully it will not
offend this time.  I love all of you, for all
that you do.

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