Monday, November 17, 2008

A 'Novel' definition of freedom

(Warning : High FOSS Content)

A really depressing incident that happened at the recent National Conference on Free Software 2008. The event was widely hailed as a major example of how a government initiative is being taken to promote FOSS. Little did the public know that the people to do with the event were neither people who had any sort of experience/contributions in the field of FOSS, neither were they people who were in any sort of touch with what is called 'FOSS Philosophy'.

Bottom line : A 'Boycott Novell' Protester is manhandled at the apparently 'Free and Open' national conference. Why? Because he chose to make public his views on why a proprietary corporate like 'Novell' (which is widely regarded as Microsoft's playpawn against the rise of GNU/Linux) should be the main sponsor for such an event.

To go right to the story, here :

http://playingwithsid.blogspot.com/2008/11/boycott-novell-protesters-man-handled.html

http://boycottnovell.com/2008/11/16/novell-sponsorship-critique/

Read Anivar's full storyon his blog post here - a complete account, and you will appreciate the situation even more if you know what the political atmosphere at CUSAT is like (I have been there, I know).

To cut it short
- Yes, Novell Software (makers of Open SUSE) is no longer one of the heroes of the FOSS world, it has changed its stance well enough to make it no longer 'FOSS' in the true sense of the word. That even 'Open SUSE' may no longer be accepted in all circles as abiding to the GPL.

- Novell turns out to be main sponsor for the above mentioned Conference. Now what they are doing here, dont ask me. Its a sure joke on the moral groundwork for the conference anyway.

-Anivar Aravind, a major Open source activist in Kerala, and also a former student of CUSAT, was at the conference representing SMC along with many others (a FOSS Malayalam computing organisation).

Anivar and other SMC members had previously (on Saturday) taken a workshop on language translation and localisation, and language computing, at the request of the organisers themselves. Ofcourse, seeing the main sponsor being a familiar former friend turned enemy, some of the activists there decided to spread the word about why Novell can be dangerous to freedom, through posters.

Nevertheless, there were some pretty good posters depicting 'novel' ways to spread awareness. 'Say no to against 'Microvell' was one of my favorites.

So, as is obvious to anyone, you dont insult the main sponsor and get away with it ! :). The organisers spent no time in setting the police onto the people behind the incident. Who incidentally were invited guests only 24 hours ago. Ofcourse, no one really cared to ask whether the organisers ever knew what they meant by Free and Open source at all.

Or perhaps the world itself is still confused on what it means to be free :). I still know people who think using pirated Microsoft OS's means theyre promoting Free Software. (Aah.. thats what you thought too, isnt it ? :) )

4 comments:

Mahesh Mahadevan said...

Novell's agreement with Microsoft is still a weird pipeline deal, and the dust hasn't settled on it yet. I have no clue what they are trying to accomplish, with such an open 'alliance' - if it were tacit and secret, I can understand it would be "taking the system down from within", but this is ridiculous. With modifications due in GPLv3 we can only wait and see how the FOSS supercluster will handle this.
I see FOSS isn't in your blood, but in your bones - as you will become F"OSSified". But again, aren't bone marrows where RBCs are formed? Now I'm confused.

Hari Vishnu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hari Vishnu said...

@mahesh
lol at the pjs :).. n yea, that microvell deal is a really shady one.. both may have their own greater future plans to do with it..

Balajee.R.C said...

Hey! Whatever you say....I've been on OpenSuse 11 for a while now and am loving it! Besides, the way I understand it, Microsoft are screwing themselves over with this deal than anyone else. The lawyers from Eric Raymond's coterie think so.