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GNU is Not Unix

FSF Announces Corporate Patronage Program 130

Andy Tai writes "The Free Software Foundation has announced a 'Corporate Patronage Program' to allow companies to support the work of the FSF. The members already include IBM, HP, Ada Core Technologies and MySQL. Interested parties should contact Ravi Khanna."
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FSF Announces Corporate Patronage Program

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  • Suggestion... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:06PM (#5611691) Homepage Journal

    The FSF should at least offer to make the company's names on its Patron sponsor [fsf.org] list linkable to the companys' websites. It is 2003 you know.

    I hate having to go to Google to type in "OEone Corporation" to find out who the heck they are.

    --LP
    • This is offtopic. Since you mentioned OEone, I looked at the website demo. Their calendar looks nice. Does anyone know of a stand-alone GUI calendar program for GNU/Linux that doesn't require installing most of the Gnome or KDE libraries, or any other massive libraries? (I use fluxbox on a laptop)
    • At a guess, I'd assume FSF has a policy of not linking to (directing users to) companies that produce non-free software.

      Ciaran O'Riordan
    • The FSF has a policy of not linking to websites that promote proprietary software. Hence they cannot link to IBM's page because it might promote WebSphere, or DB2, or whatever.

      Which kinda illustrates how odd it is that these companies are publicly supporting the FSF, given that organization's opposition to proprietary software.
  • Time was when.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomlord ( 473109 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:12PM (#5611715)
    Time was when contributions to FSF funded programmers busy writing new free software. This appears to be far less the case, these days -- at a period of time when, 10 years ago, I would have predicted that FSF would now be doing more or less what RHAT does.

    This is a delicate criticism, of course. It's not at all that where there money goes isn't important -- far from it.

    But, hey, where's my "complete GNU system" (other than in arguments that various non-FSF distributions should be called GNU/Linux)?

    -t

    • by the Atomic Rabbit ( 200041 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:38PM (#5611832)
      I think the reason is that, unlike 10 years ago, many companies are now in the business of writing free software. There's no reason for the FSF to take donations to do something that businesses such as Red Hat are already doing. The FSF is going where it's needed - providing legal support to ensure that existing free software remains free, and providing hosting services for volunteer-run projects.
      • by tomlord ( 473109 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @10:11PM (#5611961)
        I think the reason is that, unlike 10 years
        ago, many companies are now in the business of writing free software.

        Not really. Not in the comprehensive way that was once the FSF agenda. Sure, companies doing development in fairly narrow (and not infrequently private or even proprietary) areas -- but no big R&D push comperable to the effort that FSF had going. Lot's of company-oriented projects that have the hearts and minds of volunteers, though.
        (And isn't that last point at least unseemly?)

        The FSF is going where it's needed - providing legal support to ensure that existing free
        software remains free, and providing hosting
        services for volunteer-run projects.

        Some of what the FSF is doing (you left out advocacy) is very important. I don't disagree about that. That's why it's a delicate criticism -- I also have a lot of respect for the FSF.

        I'm not even sure that the Right Thing is for the FSF to change here -- only to raise the issue on /. to see what folks might have to say.

        -t
        • Re:Time was when.... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by EricFenderson ( 64220 ) on Friday March 28, 2003 @12:12AM (#5612594)
          Not in the comprehensive way that was once the FSF agenda. Sure, companies doing development in fairly narrow (and not infrequently private or even proprietary) areas -- but no big R&D push comperable to the effort that FSF had going. Lot's of company-oriented projects that have the hearts and minds of volunteers, though. (And isn't that last point at least unseemly?)

          I think it comes down to priorities. The 100% GNU system has already waited this long. We have free software alternatives that work beautifully. They could either spend more resources developing it and risk loosing the freedom to develop at all, or they could work more toward making sure that freedom isn't lost. If the complete GNU system doesn't make it out before those freedoms are lost, lots of resources were wasted. And if it does make it out in time, but quickly become illegal or un-runable, again, all was for naught.

          But if they (we!) work to make sure that freedom isn't lost, there will a plenty bright future for a complete GNU system, and plenty of time to develop it.

          I think the difference was that 10 years ago few people would've guessed that the powers-that-be would so quickly sour on the idea of digital freedom. Thankfully for all of us, the FSF has been an exception.

    • Re:Time was when.... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mslinux ( 570958 )
      where's my "complete GNU system" How about Debian GNU/Linux? It's 100% GPL if you install it w/o all the non-GPL stuff (and it is installable that way). Just becasue the FSF didn't provide the kernel doesn't mean that Debian is not a "complete GNU system"

      When you think about it, there are lots of "complete systems" that use FSF software, netbsd, freebsd, openbsd, MAC OS X, etc.
    • by dspeyer ( 531333 ) <dspeyer@w[ ]umd.edu ['am.' in gap]> on Friday March 28, 2003 @12:49AM (#5612828) Homepage Journal
      Right here [debian.org]

      Seriously, the FSF originally set out to make it so that you could run a completely free system, and now you can. I do it; so do many others I know.

      The FSF's task now is to make sure it remains possible -- i.e. no SSSCA, no DMCA'ed .doc format, sane or relatively impotent patents, and a legal environment in which free software feels like a safe choice to managers. When we started out, the biggest threat was actually needing something that only proprietary software offered, but that's not the big threat now.

      Sure, more software needs to be written, but we are writing it. The FSF looks to secure our most vulnerable points.

      P.S. Debian essentially is the long-promised GNU system. The FSF dropped out of administering it pretty early, and it uses Linux not Hurd, but it is basically the promised GNU system.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )
      There really is very little software from the original FSF definition that isn't being written by the free software community that matters (for example I don't know if there is much development on "empire" but no one cares anymore). At this point the FSF serves a few roles which are important:

      1) A legal advocacy organization
      2) Giving direction on GPL related issues to the community
      3) A place for authors to drop off code if they want someone to maintain it and they aren't interested anymore.

      As for "com
  • Isnt it great? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geesus ( 545118 )
    Its finnaly great that big companies like IBM are not only getting into the swing of writing thier own free software, but also funding other projects (like jabber). The world needs less market grabbers like Microsoft and more sharing and careing.</hippy>
    • Very true. Probably a big part of this is the thought of "a enemy of my enemy is my friend" type thinking. It doesn't matter (at least short term) if they profit from it, just anything that can start breaking into the Microsoft controled world.
    • Re:Isnt it great? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 )
      > The world needs less market grabbers like Microsoft and more sharing and careing.</hippy>

      <capitalist>And the world needs more market - so there's more pie from which everyone can try to grab a slice.</capitalist>

      I work for a commercial software developer. We build tools. Someday, those FSF hippies might build Free tools that do the job better.

      Y'know what? I can live with that. Someone writes a Free tool that beats our tools? Cool! More tools means more productive softw

  • by guacamolefoo ( 577448 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:14PM (#5611728) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't this have Sally Struthers written all over it?

    For example:

    Today, I am visiting with GNU/Linux guru Richard M. Stallman. He needs a sponsor in order to be able to afford basic human necessities, like a razor and a haircut. Not to mention, in his part of the world, there is no running water. These GNU/Linux geeks are people too, and they are deserving of our compassion. For just pennies a day, you can make a difference.

    GF.
    • For just pennies a day you can have pennies a day, and be hypocritically called a cheap bastard by all of /. for admitting it.

      I think private donatinos would be better attained by selling cool t-shirts and such. I'd buy some Debian ones; I have nearly every cool one in ThinkGeek stock.
  • by Mattygfunk1 ( 596840 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:15PM (#5611736)
    While there are many organisations that deserve our support, the I have an even bigger soft spot for the Free Software Foundation.

    Here's hoping that both companies and individuals support it by the bucketload.

    ____________
    Linux Hosting! $3 a Month! Cheap Web Site Hosting [cheap-web-...ing.com.au]

  • Ooo... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chester K ( 145560 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:17PM (#5611743) Homepage
    Quick, someone tell Microsoft about this! I bet they'd love to sign on!
    • If you want to keep the FSF head alive you had better not. We all know what happens when you try to get into Microsoft's money. Does the name Daniel Feussner [silicon.com] mean anything?
    • Re:Ooo... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jbx ( 90059 )
      Actually, Microsoft's "corporate values" program encompasses the Microsoft "Giving Campaign". That "Giving Campaign" encourages donations to charitable organizations with a 100% match by Microsoft of any employee donation. The only restriction is it can't be a purely religious organization, and it has to qualify as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization - and FSF does. (After all, if you're going to write off your half of the donation, Microsoft wants to, too.)

      Anyway, my point is, I'd be surprised if Micro
      • That "Giving Campaign" encourages donations to charitable organizations with a 100% match by Microsoft of any employee donation. The only restriction is it can't be a purely religious organization [...]

        MS may balk at matching funds when they find out about St. IGNUtius [owlriver.com].
  • GNU/IBM (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:30PM (#5611796)
    their only demand for the system is that you prepend GNU/ on your company name.

    it had to be said.
  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@gmail . c om> on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:31PM (#5611800) Homepage Journal
    This is a good thing. The FSF is getting corporations involved in free (libre) software. Goes to counteract all those nay-sayers who say "RMS and the FSF are communists!" No, they're not communists. Not even close. In fact, RMS and the FSF have repeatedly scolded licenses which are "like the GPL" but prevent corporations from using them on those terms.
    • The best way to fight BS charges is for the Linux community to stop making up its own charges against Microsoft. Time is not free and until people start to price it into ALL software decisions, it is likely stupid squabbles will remain. Get down to dollars and cents.
      • What BS MS charges? MS has been convicted of illegally using their monopoly, of anti-competitive behaviour, and was only slapped on the wrist, continuing to do the same thing that they always have done. They have proven that it is foolish to trust them and wise to distrust them. Btw, nothing in the GPL or LGPL prevents one from making money off of his or her software. It simply calls for different business models than the MSolithic model. Nothing in the GPL says you have to put your binaries or source
        • What BS? It's not like they killed a guy.

          Simply, being "convicted" of violating one of millions of stupid laws is (often) of no more substance than speeding. As to whether or not they should be trusted, if it is your money, trust nobody (or "Trust but verify." - you get the point - few guarantees).

          My point remains: You want to get away from charges of communism, then stop needless attacks on somewhat-free enterprises. You may also want to learn some free-market theory to learn why charges "anti-competive
          • Somewhat free-enterprises. Free enterprises do not naturally stay free enterprises. Various regulations are needed to ensure that they do. MS violated most of those regulations as a monopoly -- blackballing OEMs to not pre-install other OS', using their dominance in the OS market as leverage to obtain dominance in the web-browser and office markets, and so on and so forth. Lets not forget, there's the MS tax which anyone buyinga pre-made computer must pay, and MS does not offer rebates for those who don
            • "Lets not forget, there's the MS tax which anyone buyinga pre-made computer must pay, and MS does not offer rebates for those who don't want Windows."

              This gets back to my basic point. If you don't want to people spreading FUD&LIES about Unix, then don't do it about Windows. Computers are availabe (from Wal-Mart, no less) without Windows and have been for as long as the invention of the computer. You simply are not telling the truth. Besides, "tax" is not the appropriate word in this instance. Annoya
              • Walmart is not a major computer-OEM. Now, they sell computers with Lindows on them, but these are low-end machines. Major OEMs have not sold computers for the home user with GNU/Linux on them, though this may now change, despite MS stomping their feet. Getting charged an extra hundred dollars for an OS you don't want and can't send in for a rebate is, according to you, an annoyance? No, bullshit, that is fraudulent, especailly since consumers cannot read the EULA's before buying the OS & computer (a
                • You just don't get it. You are under no obligation to do business with these people. "Call it whatever you want"... how about a bad deal for some people? If you are not specifically knowledgable in these matters, you can't expect to get the best price. If someone can't read a EULA prior to purchase, then I support their decision to return said product if they choose not to agree with its terms. That's the risk merchandisers take by hiding contracts.
                  • Back when Rockefeller controlled 95% of the US' oil, no-one was under any obligation to do business with him either. They could have travelled miles and miles to find that other 5% that actually offered competitive prices, or they could have chosen not to use oil at all. Lawmakers rightfully decided that this was wrong and anti-capitalistic -- capitalism requires fierce competition, and it requires that consumers have a reasonable option to choose among competitors.

                    All of the major OEMs are under these a
                    • I question your interpretation of history. Here is a reference since you left that out:

                      Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. [objectivistcenter.org]
                      By Ron Chernow
                      ISBN:0679438084

                      Chernow labors mightily to set Standard's commercial accomplishments reasonably straight. He identifies correctly the factors that account for the early growth of the firm (entrepreneurship, economies of scale, technological innovation) and its ability to maintain market leadership. He also identifies correctly the changing market conditions
    • "Goes to counteract all those nay-sayers who say "RMS and the FSF are communists!" No, they're not communists. "

      The FSF putting out a call for donations suddenly proves they aren't communists?

      I don't get it, where is the logic in that?
      • Gee, working with corporations for a common goal, as opposed to calling them the evil capitalist schwein of the world, sort of indicates to me that they aren't communists.
        • Working? They're asking for handouts, and they don't offer anything concrete in return other than warm fuzzies.
          • I suggest you RTFA -- read the fucking article. The FSF is offering several things for the donations:

            FSF's Corporate Patrons can display the Patronage logo on their materials and website, will be listed on FSF's Corporate Patronage website (http://patron.fsf.org/), will receive two free hours of consulting from FSF's GPL Compliance Lab, and will receive two complimentary passes to FSF-sponsored seminars.

            Furthermore, in case you're totally clueless, corporations fund these sort of things partially for
            • LOL! You seriously believe this nonsense.

              Tell ya what, instead of predicting the future why don't you tell us all when they're actually successful?

              I'm so very tired of Linux losers hyping up their failed crap.
              • Believe what? That the FSF will honor their agreements with corporations who give donations? Yes. They are an honorable organization, unlike the gutter-trash at M$. Believe what? That FS / OSS produce uesful software that businesses benefit from...well, wake up buddy and look around. I can start out with GCC, Apache, GNU/Linux in general, SQL, BSD, Mach, and so-on and so-forth. Why don't you FUDing M$ trolls actually try getting up to speed before making fools out of yourselves?
  • by stonebeat.org ( 562495 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:33PM (#5611818) Homepage
    "corporate espionage program", to support there "user/computer tracking" database.
  • by I Am The Owl ( 531076 ) on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:38PM (#5611834) Homepage Journal
    This kind of cooperation with the bourgeoisie exploiters cannot be tolerated! I demand an immediate reversal of direction by the FSF!
  • by Otter ( 3800 )
    All corporate patrons receive two gratis hours of Free Software licensing and/or GPL consulting from FSF's GPL Compliance Labs (with a reduced rate for further consultation).

    Wow, two free hours of RMS insisting that "it's correctly termed GNU/Linux -- here, read this 85 point manifesto."

    It's a nice chunk of change they've picked up, though. Looking at their rates [fsf.org] [fsf.org], that's $10,000 each from IBM and HP, and probably $500 each from the others. I wonder if they really got that much or if they offe

    • > Wow, two free hours of RMS insisting that "it's
      > correctly termed GNU/Linux

      RMS doesn't run the GPL compliance lab, that's David "Novalis" Turners job. RMS mostly meets politicians in America, Europe, and india. In between those engagements he gives many many speeches.

      > that's $10,000 each from IBM and HP [...]
      > I wonder if they really got that much or if they
      > offered a discount to get the ball rolling.

      I doubt they were offered a discount and I doubt
      they would ask for one. IBM and HP
  • I havent read the article so dont troll me. but maybe it would be good to include ways that companies can make a profit off of it. im not sure how. maybe a free basic version and then a upgrade option from the companie that can be purchased. star office sucks if youv ever had to really use it, if there was financial incentive then I bet the kinks would be worked out. IMHO
  • Oh the Irony (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2003 @09:47PM (#5611871)
    Patent happy IBM is supporting a group attempting to get rid of software patents. IBM is cruising for a corporate identity crisis. Who will win? IBM's Hackers and marketers or IBM's lawyers?
    • Re:Oh the Irony (Score:2, Insightful)

      Why does there have to be a conflict?

      Is it not at least possible that IBM has decided that, under current IP laws, it makes sense to grab as many patents as possible, but that it would also make sense to loosen IP laws?

      If you're convinced that you're the smartest guy on the block, this is an appropriate stance to take. After all, if nobody can understand your technology better than you, you won't lose much by letting other people use it as long as you can use theirs (which, presumably, you'll soon be able
    • The FSF has never taken a position against software patents, and has actually been rather restrained in its critism of them. For example, when the W3C tried to deal with the problem of incorporating patented technology into their standards, the FSF's only objection was that the patent license was too narrow.

      Now, the League for Programming Freedom [mit.edu] has a completely different take on the topic. Since it can be hard to tell its core members from those of the FSF, you're excused from the mistake this time :-
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe they will take a few million shares from you?
    • Back in the day, when VA Linix had their IPO, several members of the GNU and Linux communities were offered "friends and family" shares - the moral equivalent of a large bag of cash. Eric Raymond took the stock - Open Source afficianados have no problem with making money. Richard Stallman refused the offer, supposedly because he objected to use of non-Free software in their products.

      In hindsight, RMS might have been the smarter investor!
  • Another KDE League? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I hope that this new organization is less secretive than the KDE League has been. All it did was act like a roach motel, where the money checked in but never checked out. I don't think they have provided an accounting even yet.
  • Do these companies actually need the 2-hour consulting with the FSF that they get in return for their patronage? Wouldn't it cost them more to switch from the normal consultees or just using their own staff?
  • ... that logo has to go. The cow/bull/devil/whatever logo of GNU/FSF, etc is horrific. IMHO it looks like a doodle you would find on the back of a Junior Highschool student's notebook. What company wants to have a laughing cow on a front page? At least have something that would look pleasant (yes, I know, that's relative) so companies can proudly have it on their site.

    • It's a GNU, you irrepressible rantallion.
      Why the hell should the FSF throw out 15+ years of brand recognition on the say-so of someone called "Eric_Cartman_South_P?"

      Now that you mention it, the bald eagle is ugly. And "bald" suggests old. We'd better change the national seal RIGHT NOW!
      • It's a GNU, you irrepressible rantallion.

        Thanks... I know. Many times what I see as fun dry sarcasm (the false naivety of not knowing the GNU logo, as reflected in my original post) gets across as simply idiotic. That's the risk I take when I type first and think second, maybe?

        As much as I love GNU/FSF and enjoy the fruits of their labor, I think that in the real world, acceptance by companies and customers and clients el. al. involves MARKETING. And as far as that goes, IMHO the GNU logo is rather; w

        • Re:Seriously... (Score:2, Informative)

          by gimpboy ( 34912 )
          perhaps you would prefer the meditating gnu [fsf.org]. it's one of my favorites. you have others [fsf.org] to choose from, many of which are similar to the one you dont like. there is another nice one for you page here [fsf.org]. if you dont like the mascot, i think you are just shit out of luck. i doubt they will be changing it any time soon :).
        • You are kidding, right? The FSF has more "brand recognition" than many companies 20 times their size. In the software world who hasn't heard of RMS?

          Yes, they have some cheesy logos. On the other hand, Disney's mascot is a rat, your point?

          • In the software world who hasn't heard of RMS? The software world isn't limited to hackers... Most people have heard of linux, some of them know who Linus is, a little percentage know RMS, but nobody know what the FSF is.
        • I coded my site and did all my graphics and the simple yet crisp look of the page IMO is sweet. But! Putting that GNU head on my front page is not going to happen...

          Personally, I'm quite fond of the "Boar's head,", but I can see why you wouldn't want it on your site. However, That's the GNU logo. You say you want to support the FSF on your site - well how about you put up the Free Software Foundation logo [gnu.org]. That's fairly clean and professional looking.

        • That you think a Fark photoshop contest would actually improve the state of the GNU logo indicates just how questionable your judgment is in this matter. :)
    • It's not just the logo. I was trying to explain to a non-techie coworker about the terrific free alternative to Photoshop, which I'm pretty sure would do everything she actually needs Photoshop for, but wouldn't cost almost half again as much as her new computer. I just couldn't bring myself to tell her what it was called. (The fact that she's sort of cute makes it even worse.)

      I'm serious - The GIMP is an excellent piece of software (even if it's not as powerful as Photoshop), and I use it all the time,
    • What company wants to have a laughing cow on a front page?
      La vache qui rit [www.ucad.fr]
  • "The Free Software Foundation has announced [read: created] a 'Corporate Patronage [read: donation] Program' to allow companies to support [do] the work of the FSF. The members [donors] [companies with vested interests] already include IBM [ibm.com], HP [hp.com], Ada Core Technologies [gnat.com] and MySQL [mysql.com]. Interested parties should contact Ravi Khanna [gnu.org] [a fund raiser sponsored by Ada Core?] ."

    Its ALL about the Ben Franklins.

  • I really like programs like this that allow people to support those that need it. This takes place in all forms of life, from those who help out the homeless, to helping out with FSF, to giving time to the EFF!

    Hell, you can even help friends get mercury fileshack service these days. They just added a referal system. Shameless plug for mercury / fileshack (demos, patches, movies, clips, and a whole lot of fun etc. -- fast and cheap. Still available for free, but pay a few bucks for no lines and faster
  • Interested parties should contact Ravi Khanna."

    Ravi Khanna? What kind of name is that?!

    It sounds arab, and *MY* company doesn't support terrorist organizations! We can't take the risk that General Asscroft may raid the FSF and seize *our* assets too!

    </humor impaired>
    --

  • This is a good move -- hopefully many companies will catch on and the FSF will get sponsorship. But what worries my is that the FSF is an organization whose goals are not clearly stated. I, for one, am not sure what exactly FSF can and cannot do. I've spent some time looking for a charter, or a set of rules governing this organization and haven't found any on the FSF web site. All I found was talk and marketing.

    I believe this should be particularly alarming to software authors who assign copyrights to the
  • by Pflipp ( 130638 ) on Friday March 28, 2003 @05:30AM (#5614020)
    I have a little trouble grokking FSF's international structure.

    On FOSDEM, FSF Europe was present, as well as RMS. While the FSFE was doing its own campaign, RMS was handing "FSF Associate Membership Sign-up" cards, with all the numbers in dollars on it and the address in Boston.

    While Free Software is an international thing, I'd like to see some kind of representation back from where the funds came. For instance, spending high $$ on fighting American law structures is just so-and-so relevant to me, as long as the Netherlands/ Europe have their own situation.

    I think that if the FSF would be willing to accept international donations in general, it should also take some time to explain how it benefits people outside of America (or how it doesn't, I don't care if it advertises well, but I'd like to get the picture), and how a donation to the American "chapter" affects the FSF Europe or another local chapter.

    OTOH, if the FSF wants Europeans to become a member of the FSF Europe instead, to better support that organisation and local issues, they should also make that clear.

    Just my 2 eurocents.
  • Imagine the same story with different actors:

    "RIAA announces new Corporate Patronage Program."

    Those companies would immediately be on /.'s most hated list. FSF does it, we throw a party.

    Perhaps it will turn out well. But perhaps not. Robert Johnson sold his sould to the devil to be the best guitar player around.

    These Corporate Patrons have agendas that aren't open, that will be pursued via their now substantial support of the few lawyers around who give a hoot about free software. Woe be the FSF whe

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