[Linux-aus] AUUG to close? Will there be a rush of new members to Linux Australia?

Bret Busby bret at busby.net
Tue Dec 18 03:21:55 UTC 2007

On Tue, 18 Dec 2007, James Turnbull wrote:

> David Newall wrote:
>> Bret is absolutely correct.  In my view, there is no substantive
>> difference between AUUG and Linux Australia.  Some AUUG members
>> passionately feel that inclusion of proprietary UNIX in it's charter is
>> an essential feature.  Some Linux Australia members just as passionately
>> feel that closed-source software has no place in it's charter.  That is
>> the difference, and it's entirely unimportant.
> I would have risen to this post anyway but in light of the election
> process here goes...
> I don't have a broad objection to merging with AUUG but I do have
> concerns (and would point out that the argument is somewhat moot until
> AUUG's members decide on an exact approach and vote on it).
> My chief concern is the inclusion or exclusion of proprietary Unix.  I
> would strongly resist the inclusion of proprietary Unix in the mandate
> of LA.  It is not unimportant to me nor should it be to anyone else who
> is attempting to advocate FLOSS.
> Advocacy on behalf of open source, especially Linux, is going to be made
> harder if the chief advocacy group also represents members with vested
> interests in proprietary software.  It seems entirely contradictory to me.
>> I would resist that.  Linux Australia has brand cachet.  (So does
>> AUUG.)  You say, "Linux Australia", and people know who you mean.
>> There's no need to change the name.  The word "Linux" in the name no
>> more restricts Linux Australia than did the word "UNIX" restrict AUUG.
> I would agree with this - the name has good PR value and should remain.
>> When AUUG was started, I don't think anybody considered the the
>> proprietary nature of UNIX.  UNIX was proprietary, and it was so good,
>> and so important, that that wasn't a concern.  AUUG still caters to
>> proprietary UNIX because UNIX embodies the spirit of "openness."
>> Exclude no-one.  (Such a small point, that I'd agree to the contrary
>> rather than argue.)
> I think if you polled AUUG members they would not see this as the reason
> AUUG caters for proprietary Unix.  AUUG caters for proprietary Unix
> because members used those operating systems in their professional lives
> and livelihoods.  Hence they wanted to support and advocate for those
> operating systems much like LA does for Linux.
>> A result of UNIX being available in source was that a number of
>> different "dialects" were created, with the most popular being 4.xBSD
>> and System V.x.  Whilst being the same in broad terms, there were minor
>> differences between them.  Communities grew around each, and regularly
>> conducted flame-wars between each other with an almost religious
>> fervor.  Linux continues that great tradition with the various
>> distributions.  Truly, Linux *is* unix.  Hazzah!
> Linux is Unix-*like*.  I suspect some AUUG members, most of the *BSD
> community, and a lot of proprietary Unix people would not agree with you
> that Linux = Unix.  The disagreement can clearly be seen from some of
> those flame wars.
> This disagreement could potentially lead to concerns from AUUG members,
> and the broader non-Linux Unix community, about what exactly LA does and
> what its mandate is regarding non-Linux operating systems.  This worries
> me as it has the potential to dilute our message on Linux and open
> source software.
>> The big question, of course, would be the name.  I think "Linux
>> Australia" would continue to be a splendid name, although it would be a
>> shame to lose "AUUG".  "Linux Australia AUUG" and "AUUG Linux
>> Australia", both sound good to my ear.
> I think the question is broader than simply the name.  I think any
> proposed amalgamation would need to clearly articulate the scope of the
> new organisation and in my opinion should exclude proprietary Unix
> operating systems.  I'd argue that this potentially could be a
> show-stopper for some AUUG members.
>> Bret is tiresomely right, once more.  This is *the* big issue in
>> Australia's open-source political landscape.  AUUG has such a tremendous
>> history that it would be a shame to let it slip away.  AUUG's history,
>> in terms of what it's done, is exactly the same as Linux Australia's,
>> only it goes for 30 years!  Linux Australia and AUUG should merge.  The
>> name is unimportant; the history is not.
> All of this being said, I do think investigating any proposed
> amalgamation is a very good idea but not at the expense of potentially
> diluting LA's ability to be a strong advocate for both Linux and open
> source software generally.
> Regards
> James Turnbull

Okay, this then gives rise to the question of what Linux Australia, is 
really about, and, whose interests it serves.

In the course of this discussion, reference has been made to advocacy 
for open source software, and, to Linux itself, and to the proprietary 
nature of some UNIX versions.

Is Linux Australia concerned primarily with Linux, at the expense of 
open source software, or, the other way around?

Why can't we have an organisation that embraces each of the three 
components; proprietary UNIX, Linux, and, open source software?

For some examples; PostgreSQL, MySQL, and I believe, now GRAMPS, and 
GNUcash, run on both Linux and MS Windows. Oh, and, so also, I believe, 
does Open Office.

So, within Linux Australia, if it is primarily concerned with Linux, at 
the expense of open source software, is discussion involving any of 
these, and its running on MS Windows, to be banned, especially at 
presentations and workshops at Linux Conferences (which could now, also 
be reviewed, as to what they are about, and, their name(s)?

Are we to have someone like Paul Momjian (if I have the name right), 
come out to give a presentation and workshop at a Linux conference, 
being told that the cannot mention, or include any reference to 
PostgreSQL running on MS Windows, or PostgreSQL databases ebing 
accessed by users of MS Windows?

And, is discussion of how Open Office can replace MS Office, and MS 
Works, and, how to convert from using one of those products, to using 
Open Office, to be banned within Linux Australia and its affiliated 
organisations and activities, such as conferences?

And, is open source software, such as Scribus, which I believe runs on 
MS Windows, in addition to Linux (or is being ported to run on MS 
Windows), to be stifled, both in its development and promotion as open 
source software, by discussion and development of Scribus, being banned, 
where reference is included to such things as its port to Windows, and, 
its ability (or lack of ability), to import and transform MS Publisher 
files, with the .pub file extension?

Are we to have all references to MS Windows, and to proprietary UNIX, 
banned from Linux Australia and its affiliated organisations and 

This could stifle development and education, relating to open source 
software ("We are not allowed to mantion the differences in how this 
software will interact with Linux and with Windows, because it is banned 
from Linux Australia conferences").

And, thence, with something like Oracle, which has gone to the trouble 
of providing free ports to Linux, will Oracle be banned from Linux 
Australia conferences, in presentations and workdhops/tutorials, because 
1) it is closed source software, and 2) it runs on MS Windows?

And, when vendors, such as HP, and Samsung, provide (I believe that it 
is they who provide) drivers for their printers, to enable the hardware 
to run with Linux, is it more important to have the drivers open source, 
and be banned from discussion if they are not open source, or, for the 
drivers to exist, so that the hardware operates satisfactorily with 
Linux helping to make Linux more usable?

Is this really what Linux Australia, is about; separatism, and, 

It is my understanding that, within Linux Australia, are people who use 
and promote MySQL, and, people who use and promote PostgreSQL. I think 
that the former is closed source (or, has different licensing to the 
latter), and the latter is open source. Both also run on Windows, now, 
from what I understand.

So, for whom, will Linux Australia cater? Only for Linux? Only for users 
of open source software that runs on Linux, excluding both users of 
closed source software that runs on Linux, and, users of open source 
software that runs on proprietary operating systems?

Will this make Linux Australia, a closed society, excluding people with 
interests in open source software being able to run on other operating 

Will Open Office then be excluded, and, its promotion as a practical 
replacement for equivalent software that runs on MS Windows?

So, I say that the new Linux Australia committee should be willing to 
investigate the examination of what Linux Australia is about, with the 
prospect of the formation of a new organisation, to which Linux 
Australia could be affiliated, if Linux Australia wants to be an 
xclusive, closed organisation; an organisation including Unix, Linux, 
and open source software with an affiliated organisation for each, if 
each special interest group wants to exclude the others.

It really goes back to the question; "What is Linux Australia really 
about, and, whose interests does it serve?".

Bret Busby
West Australia

"So once you do know what the question actually is,
  you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
   Chapter 28 of Book 1 of
   "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
   A Trilogy In Four Parts",
   written by Douglas Adams,
   published by Pan Books, 1992


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