[Haskell-cafe] Hackage and Free Software

fr33domlover fr33domlover at riseup.net
Tue Mar 3 09:19:08 UTC 2015

On Mon, 2 Mar 2015 16:27:53 -0600
Mike Meyer <mwm at mired.org> wrote:

> Until you've got an objective set of ethics - or a definition of "software
> freedom" - that everyone accepts, that's just a long-winded way of saying
> "arbitrary".

Indeed there is an objective clear definition:


> Not quite. "OtherLicense" is an accepted license tag, and I take it to mean
> I can use any license I want. If you're going to place a restriction on the
> license types beyond "use one of our tags" (and if you disallow the
> otherLicense tag, then I'd say that's an arbitrary restriction), then you
> should either define the terms in it, or choose terms that are well
> defined. "free software" is so ill defined that gnu.org has to explain what
> they mean by "free software"  (https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html).
> They even point out that there are open source software licenses that don't
> meet their definition of free (
> https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html).  Their
> definition of proprietary as "not free" makes software licensed under such
> licenses proprietary, though that's certainly not common usage.

"Open source misses the point" talks about the open source movement - it
doesn't say the BSD, MIT or Apache are not free software licenses. They are!
gnu.org provides a definition of free software, which makes it quite well
defined. There's even a list of licenses.

There is nothing arbitrary about it - in the same way the law that puts
murderers in prison isn't arbitrary. It's based on ethics: the value of human
life. Free software is similarly based on the value people's freedom to control
their computing, know what they run and be able to adapt and spread it.

> So just saying "only free software licenses" or "no proprietary software"
> would make matters worse, not better, because those terms have multiple
> meanings in common use. And that makes them not only arbitrary, but vague.

The FSF's definition is the only definition I know of. If people understand it
in a different way, this only strengthens my point: make it official and
explain the details and rules, so people do understand what free software is.
If hackage.haskell.org explains this, there will be nothing vague anymore.

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