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  3. <head>
  4. <title>Free Software Experts</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <p />
  8. <blockquote>
  9. <center><h2>Free Software Experts</h2></center>
  10. <p> Have you ever been depressed, possibly more than once, to
  11. discover that a so called <a
  12. href="http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.fr.html">Free
  13. Software</a> project was financed despite the fact that
  14. it had nothing to do with Free Software? Europe will soon
  15. be financing new projects and you could help prevent
  16. similar travesties by becoming <a
  17. href="http://candidature.cordis.lu/expert-evaluators/">External
  18. Experts</a>. It will then be more difficult to claim that
  19. nothing could be done: your skills are required to
  20. validate the candidate projects.
  21. </p>
  22. <p> The <a href="http://www.cordis.lu/fp5/src/over.htm">Fifth
  23. Framework Programme</a> (FP5) of the European Commission
  24. <a
  25. href="http://www.cordis.lu/fp5-openings/home.html">needs
  26. experts</a>. Of the candidates who proposed themselves
  27. thru the <a
  28. href="http://candidature.cordis.lu/expert-evaluators/">online
  29. application form</a>, only a few have any real
  30. understanding of what Free Software is and how it
  31. works. While all experts will be eligible, only a few will
  32. be solicited for any particular evaluation. In each case
  33. the experts will speak only for themselves, not for their
  34. employer nor for organisations they belong to. Early in
  35. October 2001 a number of projects will be sent for
  36. evaluation in the <i><a
  37. href="http://www.cordis.lu/fp5/src/t-2.htm">Creating a
  38. user-friendly information society</a></i> framework.
  39. </p>
  40. <p> Who will then be able, technical concerns aside, to judge
  41. that a so called <i>Free Software</i> project is not in fact
  42. simply a marketing attempt, using the latest buzzword? The
  43. candidates for funding know that the European Commission <a
  44. href="http://www.cordis.lu/ist/ka4/tesss/impl_free.htm#2001">wishes
  45. to encourage Free Software projects</a> because of their
  46. intrinsic qualities of freedom, independence and sharing.
  47. The temptation will be great for them to say they have the
  48. technical and human resources necessary to create and
  49. maintain a Free Software project even if they don't have the
  50. slightest idea of what it really means. If no expert has a
  51. real knowledge of Free Software project development, how
  52. will the European Commission be able to sort that out?
  53. </p>
  54. <p> An example demonstrates this situation. Let's pretend that
  55. the <a href="http://www.gnupki.org/en/index.php">GnuPKI</a>
  56. project and the <a
  57. href="http://www.campware.org/">campware</a> project <a
  58. href="http://www.cordis.lu/ist/ka4/tesss/prog.htm">submit
  59. proposals</a> that are equally good technically speaking
  60. (regardless of the fact that they deal with different
  61. subjects). Let's further pretend that the commission has to
  62. choose between these two, without the benefit of advice from
  63. any Free Software experts. They will probably favor
  64. GnuPKI since they do a better job of marketing themselves.
  65. </p>
  66. <p> It turns out that people familiar with Free Software would
  67. notice some anomalies about GnuPKI. First of all it is
  68. not a package of the <a href="http://www.gnu.org/">GNU
  69. project</a>, despite their name [<a href="#gnu">1</a>].
  70. Given that the GNU project provides core components to the most
  71. widely used Free Software operating systems (Debian, RedHat, Mandrake etc.),
  72. this mistake demonstrates a disturbing ignorance. Free Software is
  73. a matter of communicating with heterogeneous development groups,
  74. this is therefore a point that plays against GnuPKI. In addition,
  75. the GnuPKI security expert, Mr
  76. Eduard Tric, <a
  77. href="http://www.google.com/search?q=%22eduard+tric%22">has never
  78. participated in Free Software development</a> and no
  79. package of the developed software is available as yet.
  80. This shows a lack of understanding for the development model.
  81. Taking these facts into account, we would now expect GnuPKI's
  82. chances of being successful to be much lower than those of
  83. campware.
  84. </p>
  85. <p>
  86. One cannot expect all cases to be as clear cut as this
  87. example. Evaluating a project, for the European Commission
  88. or for your own company, often requires a more subtle study.
  89. When dealing with Free Software it is essential to carefully
  90. evaluate the legal status of a project with particular
  91. regard to copyright, because various licenses
  92. are used and many companies are involved. The ability of the
  93. candidates to co-operate with development teams on the
  94. network, their ability to establish a dialog and their
  95. current involvement in the Free Software community is also
  96. of great importance. These points are not technical, they
  97. don't have an equivalent in non-free software projects and
  98. can only be evaluated by people actively involved in Free
  99. Software.
  100. </p>
  101. <p>
  102. [<a name="gnu">1</a>]
  103. <i>
  104. A frequent mistake is to confuse GNU and Free Software.
  105. They are not identical terms. Many Free Software are not
  106. part of the GNU project. The GNU project, started in 1984,
  107. is exclusively made of Free Software but it is not necessary
  108. for a software to be part of the GNU project in order to
  109. be Free Software.
  110. </i>
  111. </p>
  112. <i><a href="mailto:loic@fsfeurope.org">Loïc Dachary</a></i>
  113. <p/>
  114. Thanks to Phil Hands, Bernhard Reiter, MJ Ray.
  115. <p/>
  116. Submitted to:
  117. <ul>
  118. <li><a href="http://www.linux.org.uk/">linux.org.uk</a> (<a href="http://www.linux.org.uk/">published</a>)</li>
  119. <li><a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/">The Register</a> (no reply)</li>
  120. <li><a href="http://www.slashdot.org/">Slashdot</a> (rejected)</li>
  121. <li><a href="http://www.linuxtoday.com/">LinuxToday</a> (<a href="http://linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2001-08-27-009-20-PR-CY">published</a>)</li>
  122. <li><a href="http://www.newsforge.org/">NewsForge</a> (<a href="http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=01/08/27/1215241&amp;mode=nocomment">published</a>)</li>
  123. </ul>
  124. <p />
  125. </blockquote>
  126. </body>
  127. <timestamp>$Date$ $Author$</timestamp>
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