Some kinds of limits on how modifications are done

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Some kinds of limits on how modifications are done pose no problem. Forexample, requirements to preserve the original author’s copyright notice, thedistribution terms, or the list of authors, are OK. It is also no problem to requiremodified versions to include notice that they were modified, even to have entire
22Free Software, Free Society, 2nd ed.sections that may not be deleted or changed, as long as these sections deal withnontechnical topics. These kinds of restrictions are not a problem because theydon’t stop the conscientious programmer from adapting the manual to fit themodified program. In other words, they don’t block the free software communityfrom making full use of the manual.However, it must be possible to modify all thetechnicalcontent of the man-ual, and then distribute the result in all the usual media, through all the usualchannels; otherwise, the restrictions do obstruct the community, the manual isnot free, and we need another manual.Will free software developers have the awareness and determination to pro-duce a full spectrum of free manuals? Once again, our future depends on phi-losophy.We Must Talk about FreedomEstimates today are that there are ten million users of GNU/Linux systems suchas Debian GNU/Linux and Red Hat “Linux.” Free software has developed suchpractical advantages that users are flocking to it for purely practical reasons.The good consequences of this are evident: more interest in developing freesoftware, more customers for free software businesses, and more ability to en-courage companies to develop commercial free software instead of proprietarysoftware products.But interest in the software is growing faster than awareness of the philosophyit is based on, and this leads to trouble. Our ability to meet the challenges andthreats described above depends on the will to stand firm for freedom. To makesure our community has this will, we need to spread the idea to the new usersas they come into the community.But we are failing to do so: the efforts to attract new users into our commu-nity are far outstripping the efforts to teach them the civics of our community.We need to do both, and we need to keep the two efforts in balance.“Open Source”Teaching new users about freedom became more difficult in 1998, when a partof the community decided to stop using the term “free software” and say “opensource software” instead.Some who favored this term aimed to avoid the confusion of “free” with“gratis”—a valid goal. Others, however, aimed to set aside the spirit of principlethat had motivated the free software movement and the GNU Project, and toappeal instead to executives and business users, many of whom hold an ideologythat places profit above freedom, above community, above principle. Thus, therhetoric of “open source” focuses on the potential to make high-quality, powerfulsoftware, but shuns the ideas of freedom, community, and principle.

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Term
Winter
Professor
Dr.KenChung
Tags
Free software, Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation, GNU

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