[l2h] Free Software Company

Radhakrishnan C V Radhakrishnan C V <cvr@md2.vsnl.net.in>
Tue, 12 Sep 2000 10:40:55 +0530 (IST)

What I am giving below is off topic but relevant to everyone 
associated with free software.

I hope most of you might have heard about Richard M. Stallman
(RMS) and the Free Software Foundation (FSF), especially those
aligned with TeX are no doubt allies of the free software
movement ignited by RMS.

An intense discussion is going on at freedevelopers@topica.com
for the formation of a Free Software Company entirely owned by
the free developers world wide (100,000 developers expected) to
safeguard the moral, social and ethical foundations on which FSF
was built up, to provide appropriate monetary compensation and
quality life to a free software developer he deserves in all the
fairness and to fight the merciless commerce of the proprietary
software corporates. These being the primary objectives,  Tony
Stanco <TonyStanco@aol.com> (an associate of RMS, who moderates
the list) describe it in the following way:

1. Proprietary code is the enemy. It must be destroyed for
   developers and the world to be free. Open source is an ally. 

2. Developers can be paid salaries and/or stock options to work
   on free code without violating the core principles of free

3. Mergers and acquisitions of proprietary companies are not
   objectionable in defeating proprietary. 

4. A company of free developers, by free developers, for free
   developers is an acceptable vehicle to achieve the ends of free

5. A requirement in the certificate of incorporation that all
   code owned by the company is licensed under GPL or other tying
   to FSF is appropriate to ensure that the core principles of
   free software are observed going forward and to protect from
   slipping back to proprietary. 

6. A democratic, free developer run corporation does not require
   special safeguards to protect ordinary world citizens. 

As one of the developing nations, in India or in any developing
nation, where automation has just started, Free Software Company
and FSF have plenty of implications.

1. In the first place, our poor economy cant afford to the fancy
   prices of proprietary software (maybe due to the foriegn
   exchange conversion magic).

2. Free Software can meet any objective, functionality that is
   claimed by the proprietary.

3. The huge man power resources generated in each and every
   place of higher academic learning in this country get a
   chance to contribute to the free software movement, while
   he earns a substantially increased income comparable to his
   counterpart in any proprietary corporate, as an employee
   of the proposed company. The discussions tend to provide
   the standard wages in India as in any part of the world.
   That will surely solve the disturbing problems of migration
   in many an Indian family.

4. There are plenty of requirement for software in this country
   for meeting its target of total automation for which each
   and every government or other agencies stand for today. Free
   software can meet their objectives on sound moral, ethical and
   social foundations than any other proprietary corporate.

A Case Study:

The Govt. of Kerala has formed an IT mission to automate the
1000 and odd Gram Panchayats (the lowest unit of elected body at
village level) of this state. It is a massive and aggressive
project to bring details of all the citizens of this state into
a huge database, each Panchayat becoming a resource center for
the government and at the same time act as the information
exchange medium between the public and the government. 

This is an ideal project for the free software movement. The
government have earmarked around Rs. 800,000 per Panchayat for
using proprietary software and related development as initial
investment and Rs. 150,000 as annual recurring expenses. While
this came as a proposal, the Linux Users and TeX Users Groups
came forward to negotiate with the government to do the project
at a cost of Rs. 150,000 per Panchyat as initial expenses and
rs. 20,000 as recurring expenses.

But we were turned down, just because, we were considered to be
a group of free thinkers, whom no responsible government can
rely upon.

Had there been a corporate entity with FSF objectives to compete
with the proprietary agencies, the public exchecquer would have
saved millions of rupees, the developers in this or neighbouring
states would have got employment.

Still the project is not finalized due to the media stir we
raised and the seminars of users groups wherein the government
nominees were special invitees. To make matters difficult for
the government, the Cochin Linux Users Group came up with a
viable, stable, functional software model which the political
bureaucracy cannot overlook or deny. The final decision was
postponed and still lingering.

That means we have not lost the race, the global Free Software
Company can still fight it out once it is formally incorporated.
Tens of thousands of projects are in the offing which we all can
undertake. This is the case in many other countries world wide.
There are a quite a number of posts in the freedevelopers list
similar to this from West European countries.

Therefore, if you believe in the non-exploitative future of your
country and the world at large and if you believe in the objectives
of free software movement, you are always welcome to make the
Free Software Company a reality. It requires the developer in
you, not for free, but for a standard compensation as in any
other proprietary corporate.

Why don't you subscribe to the discussions by sending a mail to:


with a word `subscribe' in the subject line?

You are not alone, but you are going to meet/associate with some
of the greatest minds of this era in this movement. And
remember, Free Software Company is going to be the greatest
event in the history of Internet and every country should have its 
fare representation and share.

Comments are welcome.