Deadly accurate article on the state of GNOME and its relationship to the FSF

From: Eirikur Hallgrimsson (
Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 23:21:46 PDT

I thought this deserved to be FoRKed for its own sake. Yeah, it's the same
link I buried in my reply to the MSFT/IBM thread.

He's biased. He's nasty. But he's right on all the details that I
personally know, and I know a lot, having interviewed at Ximian and hung
around the FSF. I disagree that KDE before the GPL retrofit
was free in 'every rational sense of the word.' He forgets that the FSF,
did, in fact, define the term Free Software. In 1983. Sticking to their
definition does not do them discredit. (But he's got lots of other good really should read this.)


Now. Wait a minute here. Gnome was started because the Free Software
Foundation ("information wants to be free") got itself in high moral
dudgeon over the fact that an independently developed (meaning, no one
kissed Richard M. Stallman's, uh, ring) desktop, KDE, was being
produced under terms that no user could find objectionable but that
the Free Software Foundation found insufficiently "free," based upon
its made-up definition of the word. We jump ahead a few years. Gnome
is controlled -- c'mon, don't kid yourself -- by two companies. KDE,
meanwhile, isn't controlled by any companies. It doesn't even have any
companies that distribute versions of it exclusively. If one were the
suspicious sort, which I am, one would wonder if maybe there were more
here than meets the eye.


I am not alleging impropriety here. It could be that it's all mere
coincidence. But it is absolutely undeniable that the FSF has thrown
its support behind a desktop controlled by two for-profit companies,
one of which has an officer who sits on the FSF's board; the same
company has purchased advertising aimed at confounding those who are
seeking a desktop that is truly free in every rational sense of the
word; and the other company has suggested that users can assist its
product in surviving but help it avoid paying its bills by donating to
the Free Software Foundation, or else an officer of that company has
flung down and danced upon his fiduciary responsibilities by saying,
in a communication that is part of his corporate function, that people
might want to send money to the FSF instead of the company. And they
all do it, evangelists as they are for "free" software, with a
holier-than-thou air.

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