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<h1>OLinux: Freedom, Equality and Fraternity</h1>
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<p>
Interview by <a href="mailto:allan@olinux.com.br" class="autor">Allan Vasconcellos</a> ( 17/12/2001 ), OLinux
<a href="http://www.olinux.com.br">http://www.olinux.com.br</a>
</p>
<p align="justify">
<b>OLinux: What are the FSF Europe activities?</b></p>
<p align="justify">
<b>Georg Greve:</b>
The FSF Europe works towards all aspects of Free Software in Europe.</p>
<p align="justify">This includes the "classical" issues of working for the GNU Project
and supporting the development of Free Software, but this is only a
part of our activities.</p>
<p align="justify">Other activities are more work-intensive and often less visible, but
usually at least as important.</p>
<p align="justify">Free Software is one of the answers to questions raised by the
upcoming information age, but only if society becomes fully aware of
these questions, we can make sure that Free Software is here to
stay. Since many people are surprised to hear this, I'd like to point
out that society includes companies, by the way. </p>
<p align="justify">We may be finding a different form of society sometime in the future,
but right now business is an important part and we work towards
explaining how Free Software benefits companies - the "We speak about
Free Software" campaign is an example of this.</p>
<p align="justify">At the same time we need to make sure the political and legal
processes do not harm Free Software. All our work may be destroyed
instantly by a law ruling Free Software illegal. This danger is more
real than most people realise and only constant and enduring work can
prevent such things from happening. </p>
<p align="justify">Therefore we work as a competence center for politics, lawyers and
press in order to help them make informed decisions and participate
actively in the different fields.</p>
<p align="justify">Making Free Software understood is one of the crucial issues we have
to take care of. Only if the importance of freedom is truly
understood, people will work to gain it and be careful not to lose it
again.</p>
<p align="justify">More information can be found at<br />
<a href="/about/mission.html">https://fsfe.org/about/mission.html</a><br />
<a href="/activities/activities.html">https://fsfe.org/activities/activities.html</a>
</p>
<p align="justify">
<b>OLinux: Has FSF Europe suported or influenced the French Gov. during
the decision to adopt Free Software on the Public Administration?
What was the FSF role in this decision?</b></p>
<p align="justify">
<b>Georg Greve:</b>
Yes, the Free Software community and the FSF have taken part in this
process. Most people know that Richard Stallman has talked to several
government officials in France, but there was more.</p>
<p align="justify">During the past two years, activists of APRIL and AFUL have worked
towards this legislation. As you may know APRIL is the associate
organisation of the FSF Europe in France and its founder and
president, Frederic Couchet is also the French chancellor of the FSF
Europe.</p>
<p>Along with Olivier Berger, secretary of APRIL, he has worked many
hours on the political issues of Free Software for quite some time
now.</p>
<p>Of course the FSF Europe was only founded this year (we officially
began work March 10th 2001), but I guess you could say that we did
indeed participate in this process since our inception.</p>
<p align="justify">
<b>OLinux:
What do you (FSF) think about the creation of a FSF Latin
America? Here, we need such an institution to support the Free
Software employment on the Public Administration.</b></p>
<p align="justify">
<b>Georg Greve:</b>I think this is a great and very important step, but also one that
needs to be done with great care.</p>
<p align="justify">Before founding the FSF Europe, we spent about a year discussing all
the issues related to such a step. What is it that makes the FSF
special? What is important to keep an eye on? The FSF has always stood
for certain principles and values - which are not always easy to
maintain, so it is a step that requires a lot of consideration.</p>
<p align="justify">It seems that the FSF Europe has spawned initiatives to create FSF
organisations around the world. We already have a FSF India and
Masayuki Ida recently visited Europe to talk to us about our input on
possibly creating a FSF Japan. </p>
<p align="justify">In our discussions with Masayuki Ida or the volunteers from South
Africa it became clear that a good way of getting things going is to
create some sort of open Free Software association first and work
closely with the FSF organisations around the world.</p>
<p align="justify">Good examples of such organisations are the associate organisations of
the FSF Europe.</p>
<p align="justify">
<b>OLinux:
FSF Europe "was born" from the FSF USA or it's an independent
institution? And how is the relationship between both?</b></p>
<p align="justify"><b>Georg Greve:</b>
The FSF Europe and the FSF are legally independent sister
organisations. We work closely together and in daily work it is
usually not relevant which FSF you are working in or for.</p>
<p align="justify">In a way this is a lot like that of other international institutions,
such as Greenpeace or the Red Cross.</p>
<p align="justify">Europe is currently the most active area for Free Software in the
world, so having a European FSF seemed like a natural thing to aim
for. When I first voiced that idea to Richard Stallman - that must
have been about 2.5 years ago - he agreed and suggested other people
to get in touch with for this endeavour.</p>
<p align="justify">So we began discussing all issues related to creating a FSF Europe
sister organisation. In November 2000 we were certain that it could be
done and it could be done right, so we issued
<a href="/about/history/doi.html">"Declaration of Intent"
</a>, making the idea public.</p>
<p align="justify">I have been working full-time on getting the FSF Europe going since
January 2001 now. From the FSF in Boston we got some financial support
for my work for 6 weeks and a lot of moral and personal support, which
was of course very helpful.</p>
<p align="justify">So it is very much a child of the European Free Software community.
</p>
<p align="justify">
<b>OLinux:
Which is FSF's purposes for Education?</b></p>
<p align="justify">
<b>Georg Greve:</b>
Free Software in Education is something that is extremely important
because everyone should grow up using software freely. </p>
<p align="justify">There is a lot of initiatives in and around Free Software and
Education that work towards similar goals, but very often they do not
coordinate their efforts enough and sharing experience is something
that is also not done effectively enough.</p>
<p align="justify">In order to support these initiatives, the FSF Europe has begun
gathering initiatives in and around Free Software and Education, one
of them, Ofset, has even become associate organisation of the FSF
Europe, in order to network them more effectively and enable them to
share their experience.</p>
<p align="justify">It would be very useful to bring all these initiatives together at
some point to discuss the issues in person - if we find volunteers to
organise it, we would be glad to support such a summit next year.</p>
<p align="justify">The FSF Europe itself advocates the importance and advantages of Free
Software to politicians at every opportunity.</p>
<p align="justify">
<b>OLinux:
What exactly is the campaign: &quot;We speak about Free Software?&quot;</b></p>
<p align="justify"><b>Georg Greve:</b>
The "We speak about Free Software" campaign is an initiative to raise
awareness for Free Software with businesses. Also it allows companies
to distance themselves from the hype built around "Open Source" and
show that they have really understood the issues behind Free Software
and that they feel committed to it.</p>
<p align="justify">Funny enough, the idea for this campaign was born in Milano, Italy
this year, where some Free Software businesspeople complained about
the abuse and fuzziness of the term "Open Source" and asked whether we
couldn't do anything to advocate the term Free Software again, which
is what they would prefer to use.</p>
<p align="justify">Of course we were willing to help, so we assembled some of the reasons
why Free Software is the superior term and concept and put them online
at <a href="/activities/whyfs/whyfs.html">https://fsfe.org/activities/whyfs/whyfs.html</a>.</p>
<p align="justify">You might find it interesting that Bruce Perens, co-founder of the
Open Source movement and author of the Open Source Definition was
among the first to let us know he welcomes this campaign and asked us
to add his name to the list of supporters.</p>
<p align="justify"><b>OLinux:
In which stage is the adoption of Free Software all over
Europe currently?</b></p>
<p align="justify"><b>Georg Greve:</b> Europe is definitely the region with the strongest acceptance for Free
Software right now, but there are huge regional differences. Most
advanced are Germany and France, where politicians slowly become aware
of the issues and have made a few first legislative steps in favor of
Free Software - although this is still not as far as we would like it
to be.</p>
<p align="justify">Other countries, like Italy, still have more work to do. In some cases
much more work. We're on it. :)</p>
<p align="justify"><b>OLinux:
Do you think Free Software can overcome the property softwares
someday?</b></p>
<p align="justify"><b>Georg Greve:</b> I'm not certain whether I like the word &quot;overcome&quot; in this context.</p>
<p align="justify">Our goal is to have Free Software available for everyone and every
task. People should be given the freedom of choice to do anything they
want with Free Software. Noone should ever have to use proprietary
software. </p>
<p align="justify">So we do not want to make proprietary software illegal, we rather want
to make sure that noone is forced to use proprietary software and
everyone understands that proprietary software is a bad choice.</p>
<p align="justify">This means we seek to inform people why they should prefer Free
Software. It is my firm belief that there is no reason to use
proprietary software while there are compelling reasons to use Free
Software, but this is a decision everyone should make for her- or
himself.</p>
<p align="justify">Given that the disadvantages of proprietary software are so obvious
once you know where to look, I am quite confident. Given that even
people from the Free Software community still fall for marketing
schemes like "value added" proprietary software additions, we still need to spread
the word, though.</p>
<p align="justify">Allowing people to make such informed decisions and making sure they
are still capable of making this decision is what the FSF Europe is
working for.</p>
<p align="justify"><b>OLinux:
What do you think about Microsoft's market policy? And about
the process of EU against Microsoft?</b></p>
<p align="justify"><b>Georg Greve:</b> The FSF Europe has applied for third-party status in the EU
investigation against Microsoft to make sure that EU officials get
proper information about Free Software and to pledge for open markets,
which inevitably means Free Software.</p>
<p align="justify">I can only emphasise that although Microsoft makes a very visible
target, they are not the big devil. They are the natural consequence
of a system based on proprietary software.</p>
<p align="justify">Still they are one of the most visible representatives of the
proprietary system and they play dirty, which is something we should
not accept. This is nothing new, it is just that we have found
ourselves in the focus of their interests because Free Software has
been too successful.</p>
<p align="justify">The best quote in this context is probably from Ghandi: &quot;First they
ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you
win.&quot;</p>
<p align="justify"><b>OLinux:
Could you send a message for the brazilian fans of Free
Software.</b></p>
<p align="justify"><b>Georg Greve:</b> Keep on spreading the word. What we do today will influence the future
of mankind for the next 200 years to come - we have to make sure that
people understand the issues of Free Software and the importance of
freedom. </p>
<p align="justify">Do not let anyone tell you these issues were irrelevant or otherwise
harmful, they are not. Only by talking about freedom and philosophy
will we be able to explain these issues to people, so please keep
talking about it and explain it to everyone who is interested in
listening.</p>
<p align="justify">Freedom counts!</p>
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