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Re: [gNewSense-users] [Off Topic] Will you be getting Microsoft Vista?

From: Dave Crossland
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] [Off Topic] Will you be getting Microsoft Vista?
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2007 10:37:50 +0000

On 31/01/07, Yavor Doganov <address@hidden> wrote:
Dave Crossland wrote:
> However, the "hosted" in "hosted webapp" is important. I can barely
> keep up with how to do residential class systems and network
> administration, because my job is not in the sysad business.
> Administering a webapp is far far outside the ken of most users.

This is a valid concern.  Local GUGs and in general any groups of
users can organize to solve this problem by running a server and
sharing the costs between themselves.  Friends can give accounts to
their friends and to the friends of their friends.

My local GLUG had a bunch of guys who tried this out. Their server got
hacked, and they got landed with a huge bandwidth bill, so they
stopped doing it.

The other problem with self hosting is that speed will often be an
issue; if your webapp is responding with more than 1sec page loads,
its unusuable, like a local machine with no swap.

> That webapps are non-free is a relatively recent concept for me, as
> the software is not running on my computer.

So you wouldn't mind running Opera on X exported display?

From :

-- 8< --
JA: Do you consider it proper for people who are trying to only use
free software to utilize...

Richard Stallman: To connect to a server that's running non-free software?

I don't feel I need to refuse to connect to a server that is running
non-free software. For that matter, I won't refuse to type on a
computer that's running non-free software. If I were visiting your
house for a little and you had a Windows machine, I would use it if it
were important for me to use it. I wouldn't be willing to have Windows
on my computer, and you shouldn't have it on yours, but I can't change
that by refusing to touch the machine.

If you connect to a server that runs non-free software, you're not the
one whose freedom is harmed. It's the server operator who has lost
freedom to the restrictions on the software he runs. This is
unfortunate, and I hope that he switches to free software; we're
working to bring that about. But I don't feel you have to boycott his
site until he switches. He isn't making you use the non-free software.
-- 8< --

What computer the software is running on, and by which protocol the user is
interacting with it is a technical detail for me.


The main ethical problem with proprietary software is that it divides
friendships ~ communities ~ societies because it prohibits sharings,
legally or technically.

Since webapps are not shared, what is the ethical problem for you?

> The Allegro clause in GPLv3 is only an option, though. So its unclear
> to me how to consider webapps.

You mean the "Affero" clause, I guess.

Yes, my apologies :-)

AFAIK FSF doesn't have a firm
opinion about this issue, because of the "freedom to choose not to
disclose the changes you make".  I think that the public must prevail

So you think that "freedom to choose not to disclose the changes you
make" should be removed from the free software philosophy? This
doesn't seem very free.

so I cannot justify the action of one entity exercising this freedom
and harming hundreds (millions) of users.

What harm is caused? (This is the same as my 'ethical problem' question above)

Do note that FSF supports and uses Savane, which was specifically
launched to solve the problem with the SourceForge webapp software,
when it became non-free.  Also, the "Search" at is powered
by htdig, not Google.

A very good point!

I like to see what people do, not what they say - for example, why is
Lessig using Mac OS X? :-)

> Search engines, eBay, Amazon, Lulu, and so on - all are webapps whose
> functionality can't be replicated by locally installed software. What
> *can* we do?

First, the problem must be recognized and the community has to fight
to solve it.  Savane and GForge are escape from non-free software with
that particular functionality and there are websites that host
projects using them --,,, and others -- and yet, many free software developers
choose to register their new projects at or other sites that
use non-free software.

A collaborative development webapp is easy to replicate, and as far as
I know sourceforge doesn't make use of the "network efffects" of its
millions of projects as it maybe could do.

But you simply cannot have a database of all books in your LAN, its
terabytes of data. Or you simply cannot have an auction site on your
own hosting, because there are no bidders.


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