Subject: Towards an FSB customer bill-of-rights (Re: RH in the news)
From: Tom Lord <lord@regexps.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 10:31:53 -0800 (PST)



       owinebar@free-expression.org

	They [RH] seemed (from my vantage point) to be of the "open but
	opaque" school of commercial open source quite some time ago.

There's a marketing line for Free Software that goes something like:

	"Free Software protects and empowers customers by giving
	 them access to the source and the freedom not to rely on
	 a single vendor for support."

It seems to me that for such a line to be meaningful, especially in
the enterprise-critical server and embedded system development
markets:

	1. By default, customers should receive complete source to
           everything.

	2. It should be possible to rebuild, test, and install the
	   entire system from that source with fewer than 10 commands
	   and only slightly more difficult to include bootstrapping a
	   fresh compiler for that build.

	3. It should be possible to rebuild, test, and install each
	   subsystem with fewer than 10 commands where the granularity
	   of "subsystem" operates at multiple scales (e.g., all of
	   user space, all of "/sbin", the program "ls").

	4. Inter-package dependencies should be minimized and carefully
	   documented.  The contents of the installed system should be 
	   carefully audited and traceable in every case to the
	   particular source and build of their origin.

	5. Each customer should be provided all of the tools necessary
	   to cut their own custom distributions.

	6. In addition to being able to receive binary upgrades over
	   the net, customers should be able to identify the sources
	   they have in the vendor's public repository, query for
	   issues and patches related to those specific versions, and
	   update to more recent versions of the source.  The path
	   from the public maintainer's releases to a compatible
	   source component of the distribution should be as simple as
	   practical and well documented.

	7. It should be practical, easy, and supported for customers
	   to maintain local modifications to the sources while,
	   nevertheless, incorporating source-level upgrades from the
	   distribution vendor.

In short, I don't think you can empower customers with merely the
*idea* of free software; you've got to make the idea effective in the
form that your products take.  

-t