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Re: [seul-edu] SEUL Licensing (was: Our presence at trade shows)

I too am confused by this discussion, because it seems to me that our goals
reflect two incompatible objectives:

        1. To have all software used by schools be free (in a financial 

        2. To encourage commercial producers of educational software
                to port their products to Linux.

It is hard to imagine a way to accomplish #2 while holding to the standard
of #1. Of course, it is easy to talk about such goals when writing
manifestos ... but I've alrwady made my view of the value of manifestos
sufficiently clear, I think.

One legitimate answer to this is that "free" is not meant in a financial
sense, but in the "free speech" sense that FSF uses it to mean. In that
case, the problem of how to compensate developers for their time remains
unsolved. (If you think it has been solved, please name a solution that has
been shown to work, not one that people allege will work. And I'd like to
send you the prospectus on a fine bridge I have for sale as well.) 

The large number of orphaned ecucational software packages out there, and
the ones that proceed very slowly because they are developed in someone's
"spare" time, highlight the limitations of "free". Until someone solves the
problem of getting rewards directed to developers sufficient to attract
large numbers of them to developing Linux-based educational apps as their
work (not on the side), we will not see the large number of good apps that
we want to see available.

Personally, I think that in our approach to schools, we are too stuck in the
trap that Linux is free (in a financial sense). It encourages schools to
want to be on the receiving end of largesse, rather than to commit resources
to support an OS, and related apps, that are valuable for reasons that go
beyond their cost. 

I'd be curious to read an explanation of why developers giving away their
software (surely the "free" in Hilaire's paragraph below means zero price)
is reasonably characterized as "an equitable sharing of these tools of
knowledge." Or, if not, how one might provide compensation for developers
while preserving zero-price distribution to schools. Are grants a real
alternative or a pipe dream?

Even Roger's suggestions run into problems here. If he is right that "if we
demonstrate that it's useful, then truly free software will spring up to
replace it," how can we conceivably make a pitch to commercial companies to
port their software (without concealing our intent)? There's that old
Marxist line about capitalists selling us the rope with which we will hang
them, but I doubt that real businesses are quite that gullible (and
honestely, I hope they are not -- I don't feel good about trying to trick
businesses into supporting Linux).

All this leads back to my earlier comment that I wish we would be more clear
about what our goals are. 

At 11:06 AM 8/30/00 -0400, Roger Dingledine wrote:
>On Wed, Aug 30, 2000 at 05:10:42PM +0800, Hilaire Fernandes wrote:
>> In education, end user free software are as much important as the
>> kernel or any server related software. After all, the kids get some
>> learning from these end user application. Getting the end user
>> software free allows an equitable sharing of these tools of
>> knowledge. Next using free software in school has some side effect as
>> the source code is there and this allows talented student to go
>> further with the software.
>The motivation for trying to get any high-quality software available is
>a short-term solution. The overall thinking is that if we demonstrate
>that it's useful, then truly free software will spring up to replace it
>(particularly if we maintain an environment that encourages that). For
>instance, geda.seul.org is coming along very nicely to fill in the gaps
>of electronic design automation software. As another example, the license
>for wxFTP was non-free when we first adopted the project, and by showing
>Alexy that more people would use his software if he made it really free,
>I eventually convinced him to change the license.

------------------------------------"Never tell me the odds!"---
Ray Olszewski                                        -- Han Solo
Palo Alto, CA           	 	         ray@comarre.com