Open Ballot: would you hire the FSF for the role of Linux PR department?


The Free Software Foundation has always done a great job defending the various free software licences, promoting their use, and asking for Linux to be referred to as GNU/Linux. But we're asking whether, regardless of its good work in this field, the FSF has helped free software grow or whether its hard stance against proprietary software has harmed Linux up-take. Add your comments below, preferably answering "Yes, they're the voice of free software" or "No, I prefer open source and Linux without GNU."

You should follow us on or Twitter

Your comments

Yes, they're the voice of free software

FSF does the though work, others mostly come along for the ride...

Naming, Philosophy and Affordabilty

Nomination matters little. Pragmatism rules. Cost matters. What one must have to serve a purpose decides. Sometimes gratis, sometimes taxed.

If the FSF could make RMS

If the FSF could make RMS stop singing and wearing load and ugly jumpers then they could well be PR for Linux/Gnu :P

In reality all the different distros make it impossible for there to be a single PR entity. The thing I don't understand is why there are not more computer assemblers that offer Linux as an option for the main operating system, they obviously don't pay much for Microparp stuff but Linux is freer in both senses of the word.

Is Polly Carl Rove? :P

Not a literal PR firm

You guys need to read the whole ballet question and not just the headline. This is the important bit.

"But we're asking whether, regardless of its good work in this field, the FSF has helped free software grow or whether its hard stance against proprietary software has harmed Linux up-take."

Yes, they're the voice of free software

Without GNU tools and licence there would be no linux. Every time I read the GNU licence I think how prevident have been this guys. Yes sometime they're a little bit integralist, but mind that there's also LGPL so closed source is there also

No, FSF is not the way to go - take OSI instead

First things first, forgive-me for my bad english, I hope you can understand me.

I wouldn't hire FSF and don't think they are the "voice of Linux". The way they try to control the development of the free software through their moralist discourse and condemn whoever "betrays the movement" resembles the medieval age's Holy Inquisition. I think they created much more discord and struggle within the free software movement than contributed to unite it towards a common objective.
Instead, I would hire OSI without a doubt.


I'd hire Lucy Pinder & Jordan instead.

While not structured as a PR Firm...

I would take the FSF as Linux PR firm 1000 times over the Tuxradar staff.

Once again the Tuxradar staff managed to form a totally asinine question with the clarity of a SCO lawyer. Leaving people once again with the chance to answer either the question in the title, the question in the body or the question as one understands it once they've read the included links. And, of course, you will no doubt chose to discuss in your podcast the question that puts you in the best light, and I suspects puts the FSF in the worst light.

So now you have people like "Anonymous Penguin who is not Bill Gates" but does not deny being paid by him for acting as one of the 'great unwashed", ( BTW for Polly that is what astroturfing is: a person paid by a company -- Microsoft is the company principally known for this tactic -- to claim they love their products and are a "man off the street" thus causing the appearance of a fake grassroots movement. ) and claiming that GPL is not free because developers choosing it are not naive enough to release their stuff under a license like BSD, so that Microsoft can appropriate their code into Windows without any compensation, monetary and non monetary, like they did with the TCP/IP stack in the BSD Unixes.

I'm quite sure that you will find some way of once again saying that Linux is so much harder to use then the all-so-simple Windows. Uhh guys Microsoft products are not known for there ease of use. That's Apple. Microsoft is the company whose products fail in astonishing ways either by program flaw or malware attacks. Failures that require you to ask for help on websites like ( I notice these Windows help sites and particular malware recovery sites are multiplying ) where some guy will tell you to download and run cryptic programs named GMER. They won't explain what the programs do or the techniques the programs detect malware. This happened to me, it reminded me of the bad old days of the high priest of the ( IBM ) 360 so much I decided to avoid windows as completely as I could.

You most certainly will find a way to once again bash people who want to avoid Mono because of patents risk while conveniently ignoring not only TomTom, but also the recent Amazon deal and the other pending patent deals.

I have never been one to completely avoid the use of proprietary software. Until the recent incident I split my time approximately 50%-50% between Linux and Windows. I don't mind flash. After all it's in one shared object that
I can delete any time I want. The two things that concern me are the risks of proprietary software becoming so entrenched in FOSS that it becomes impossible to separate the two, and that we simply accept things like flash and stop trying to replace it. At least with the FSF around we don't have to worry about those risks because the FSF will always keep us honest.

As for the Genius Bar, well the action sounds like something more suited to ImprovEverywhere rather then the FSF, but anyone who wants to annoy a place called the Genius Bar is not going to get any complaints from me. Especially when my experience tells me the place would be better named, the "Morons who probably can't help" bar.

In conclusion Linux without GNU is fine with me if you can get Linux to agree ( after the kernel is GPL). Then you can remove findutils and binutils and bash and vim and emacs and the rest of the gpl stuff. Including the gcc stack.

PS: I love all the dweebs-come-lately telling the linux community how things should be. After all you really do want to change the development process that has made linux as successful as it is ( against large odds) and change it into the Windows development process. Just one question. Where are you going to get the billions to sink into it?


What you seem to forget is that the beauty and value of bringing new things into the world comes from the unique interpretation each person brings to it. Poets and novelists don't stand behind people and tell them how to interpret or emote over their works. Painters and sculptors don't stand around museums telling people who to admire their work. Why should things be any different for technology and computer code?

No one person has all the answers and that is why ideas have to be allowed to grow beyond their creators. You scold newcomers for trying to change things, but that is the nature of progress. Even though it gets lost, the founding fathers (of the U.S), wanted future generations to make up their own minds, not to blindly follow their beliefs, which is why it is so ironic when people ask, "what would the founding fathers say?" It doesn't matter what they would say, there time has passed.

Who are you sir, or RMS, or anybody else to tell us how things should go? Nobody is trying to take anything away from you. If you want to do things the "GNU" way and pay homage to FSF for the rest of your life, go right ahead, install a holy OS and leave the rest of us alone.

Freedom and innovation doesn't come with a little sticker that says, you must believe X, or practice Y. What are you telling people? Don't think for yourselves; don't' look behind the curtain; listen to your elders and do everything the way the great messiah does?

In case you hadn't noticed, most of the best open source programs are being funded or developed in majority by companies, not by bearded disgruntled ex-MIT employees. Ideas about free software and what it means and how it works have been evolving, so please, don't try to drag us back into the FSF stone age.

"So now you have people like

"So now you have people like "Anonymous Penguin who is not Bill Gates" but does not deny being paid by him for acting as one of the 'great unwashed""

Nobody had previously asked but, no, I'm not paid by Gates. Nor any other corporate entity: I'm unemployed, and fill my time with voluntary work with local adults with learning disabilities, doing up our home, and writing public domain code.

And for the cretins who can't read, ever since somebody pointed out that it was difficult to know who they were talking to as I originally posted as 'Anonymous Penguin', all my posts onwards have had the initials '[rb]' suffixed to the 'Anonymous Penguin' (&_&).

@ Andrew Cole

"Ideas about free software and what it means and how it works have been evolving, so please, don't try to drag us back into the FSF stone age."

That is an unfair thing to say. How would the FOSS movement defend itself without the FSF? Most likely, FOSS wouldn't even have survived long enough to "get out of the stone age".

The FSF may not be the best PR entity, but they surely are one of the anchors (or pillars) of the movement. Without them, FOSS is no match for corporate lawyers.

Yes, they're A voice of free software

I need to qualify my answer I think:

Would you hire the FSF for the role of Linux PR department?

Yes they are a voice of free software (there are also other voices of free software) but I would hire them since I agree to their license. I do think it is important to have MANY voices for free software and not just the FSF, but since the question was if if would use them as PR, yes I would. If Microsoft wants to abandon its whole proprietary operating system thing that will never pan out, they can do PR for Linux too. In fact, I think they already have in a way by demonstrating hope poorly their attempt has been when compared to Linux. The greatest PR for Linux has probably been Microsoft products. Most people I know switched because they were fed up with it.

The community is bigger than justs the FSF

No I don't think I would hire the FSF for PR. The free software community is now much bigger that just what the Free Software Foundation represents, and I think that the FSF's role in the community at large should reflect that. The FSF shouldn't speak or behave like it reflects that opinion of everyone that has ever contributed to its projects, but rather serve as an advocate for building and continuing those projects that it has been so successful in promoting.


No. Look at the scoreboard. Linux is stuck at 1% of the desktop market forever. Whatever the FSF do there track record shows that they have not increased the Linux market share in more than a decade.In the real world that is called failure.

I personally reckon that the whole OpenSource / Free Software / Freedom debate is a Redmond initiative to divide and conquer.

Its the quality of the code, the ease of use to NON Geeks and usefulness of software that matters to the masses. Thats why despite Redmond's best efforts Firefox are gaining market share.

they'll always be more

they'll always be more professional than linus torvalds. i know some of you think this ballot is really profound, but you're fooling yourselves.

pr is really important when you need to polish a turd. gnu/linux is not a turd, so pr is not as important. pr isn't useless, it can be a good thing too, but only the "open source" crowd acts like it"s the most important thing, because it's what they're most interested in.

no matter how you rebrand things, "linux" is just a kernel. that's all it will ever be. but pr matters a lot more if you're trying to turn a movement into an operating system into an ordinary product.

the fsf will never be the right pr department for that, because they have no reason to care about "linux" as a product, or your re-writing of history, it's just a means to an end. they do pr for freedom, not for linux. you do pr for whatever YOU believe in- integrity, or no.

Something will survive

Hopefully, whatever disastrous corporate and proprietary decisions the bulk of Linux users end up following, there always will be a FSF and a Gnu maintaining a genuinely free and available core operating system. It is an insurance policy that we should all preserve, whether you like or dislike the individuals running it.

Arwe you a total idiot or do the questions make you seem so?

Seriously, what kind of dumb ass question is that?

Even most diehard FSF supporters would answer no since they have little to do with the kernel or the distros.

The FSF is the conscience of free software and it does the job others cant, wont or especially dont feel like doing.
It does not speak for the Linux kernel or the distros.

Everyone has a different job in GNU-Linux world: FSF, SFLC, Linux Foundation and so on.
Most of us seem to understand that.
What the FSF does first and foremost is represent the users (devs and freebders always confuse that the GPL is there to protect their rights. That is false. Its about the users rights.) and that is a thankless job where uncomfortable truths have to be spoken.
Find me one more group whose focus is so much on user rights. You will see that its not something that people are killing themselves representing.

We also understand trolling for hits, what this 30 second post is... and YOU are a link WHORE.

Yes, you are a whore. Embrace it openly.

"We also understand trolling

"We also understand trolling for hits, what this 30 second post is... and YOU are a link WHORE.

Yes, you are a whore. Embrace it openly."

you mean, go write for zdnet?

don't give them any ideas

Far too preachy

In my opinion, the Free Software Foundation wouldn't make a good Linux PR department because they concentrate far too much on the philosophy behind Free Software.
This is no bad thing in itsself, but isn't appropriate for modern-day OSS.
I think companies like Novell and Canonical are best suited to this role.

Free Software is important, Linux isn't

I don't think the FSF has ever tried to act as a PR department for Linux. The GPL and FSF are here to protect the four software freedoms that are listed in the preamble of the GPL. The FSF is not concerned about making Linux popular, they just want to ensure that we have a Free Software alternative to the proprietary operating systems. One of these alternatives is GNU/Linux, but there are also other operating systems made of Free Software.

I like my GNU/Linux system and I think the Linux kernel does its job just fine. But I've also used FreeBSD and I don't see a big difference between the two operating systems. If Linus Torvalds and the other kernel developers suddenly decided to join Microsoft or Apple and discontinue working on Linux, I could easily switch to using the same familiar Free Software applications on FreeBSD. No harm done.

Therefore, I think that Free Software is much more important than Linux. And I think the FSF got their priorities right when they decided to stay determined in protecting Free Software, rather than to sell their ideals and work as a PR department for software that includes non-free code.


Hiring the FSF for PR would be like handing the Papacy to Jim Jones. While it might be amusing for a few hours, eventually you are going to sober up and realize just how bad an idea it is.

It's GNU/Linux

FSF does a commendable job.

The rush to "Windowize" Linux will destroy it.

Who would you hire, alternatively - Novell?


>>The FSF may not be the best PR entity, but they surely are one of the anchors (or pillars) of the movement. Without them, FOSS is no match for corporate lawyers.

I agree with the above comment.

And the definitions that the FSF gives to "Freedom" are not constraints but guarantees.

I see no point attacking the FSF..maybe their use of the language but the work they've done is just epic.

Take care.

Troll Poll

I fail to see the point of this poll other than the fact that its just a nasty shallow troll for people who aren't interested in the important issues.

free software

I'm all for free software but there is a need for proprietary software such as multimedia codecs which can be purchased through Fluendo.

heck yeah!!!

The FSF embodies every principal that should exist when it comes to computing software and hardware philosophy. If they annoy you, you are likely the enemy or a brainwashed victim of the enemy.


No, I prefer open source and Linux without the GNonsense.

Having the FSF do "public relations" for Linux is something like having PETA doing public relations for the Bronx Zoo.

I'd have to say no. Given

I'd have to say no. Given the various reports about their antics in discrediting others rather than promoting their own credits makes me think they are something of a "loose cannon". Not the kind of thing I'd like to promote Linux and all it's wonderfulness. I'll be the loose cannon, thank you very much!!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Username:   Password: