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

Roger Dingledine wrote:

> If I had to pick,
> I would much rather have a free Linux (kernel, libs, etc) than a free
> suite of educational programs. This is precisely because the core can
> be (re)used to support a wide variety of other endeavors, whereas the
> educational software suite is relatively limited in scope.

I agree with this, particularly because educational software _is_ limited in
scope.  More below.

> 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).

I don't know if this will happen, although I'd be happy to see it.  The
problem is that as Bill said, there's little incentive for anyone not deeply
philosophically committed to free software to develop and more importantly
maintain free software in a small niche.  Most of the GPLed software from
large companies are things that they can sell maintenance and support
contracts for, gaining a revenue stream thereby.  For games, educational
software, most home applications, and the like, once the program is installed
there's little or no contact with the producer.  Hence no incentive other
than personal interest in maintaining the programs.

We can all point to outstanding exceptions to this idea, but they are just
that--exceptions.  I'd much rather see reasonably priced commercial
educational software for Linux than poorly or not-at-all maintained free
equivalents.  Of course, I'd like to see well-maintained, innovative, useful
free educational software most of all, but I'm not going to refuse evrything
else while waiting for it.

I think that if we're thinking about "courseware" (pedagogical software) we
may want to investigate creating one (or a few) lesson presentation engine(s)
and GPLing it (them), then creating the lessons ourselves or allowing
teachers or companies to create and sell such.  This would make the software
free, but the content negotiable, in much the same way that Apache are MySQL
free but the information they store and server are proprietary.

> Of course, it does have the drawback that it compromises some of our
> principles -- it doesn't push licensing arguments onto people, and it
> doesn't make clear enough to people the importance of having all of their
> software free. In short, it doesn't educate users as directly about some
> of the most basic aspects of the free software community. I agree, this
> is poor. (This is the fundamental difference between the free software
> and opensource movements.)

There's an axis between total pragmatism and total idealism.  At one end, any
means justify the end; at the other, the means _define_ the end.  We all
exist at some point along this axis.  For me, the end is using Linux to
enhance education (a vague goal, I know).  The means include being inclusive
of anyone or any group that sincerely and honorably wants to work toward a
similar end.

Doug Loss                 God is a comedian playing
Data Network Coordinator  to an audience too afraid
Bloomsburg University     to laugh.
dloss@bloomu.edu                Voltaire