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Another Saturday Night

August 14, 2010

Amid the recent — and completely minor — hubbub around politics injected into Linux User Group discussions on the Berkeley LUG mailing list, it’s interesting to see how FOSS and GNU/Linux can bring people of different political stripes together.

Exhibit A: Ken Starks and me.

Ken and I put together Lindependence 2008, an effort that brought Linux and FOSS to Felton, California, through a series of miniature GNU/Linux and FOSS expos at the Felton Presbyterian Church hall in July of 2008. Various distros — Fedora, Mandriva, Ubuntu and Debian, to name four — had tables set up at Lindependence, as well as FOSS programs like OpenOffice.org. Representatives from each of the distros and programs had representatives on hand, and the idea was to convert the town to Linux and FOSS.

Ken, a Texan, is an Operation Desert Storm vet and as Rebublican as you can get; a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. Those who know me know that I’m an unapologetic lefty no longer affiliated with any political party, and many of you are already tired of hearing me tell of my Green Party candidacy for statewide office in California (for those who aren’t keeping score at home: In 2006, I was the Green candidate for Insurance Commissioner and got the most votes of any Green statewide that year — 270,218 votes, 3.2 percent).

But recently, I was looking at some clips from video that a San Francisco filmmaker, the Digital Tipping Point’s Christian Einfeldt, shot on Lindependence 2008 featuring Ken and me, and thinking about how despite our differences, those of different political views can work together for FOSS and GNU/Linux, even though each is approaching it from different directions — ranging from either from a purely libertarian (small “l” to describe the philosophy, not the capital “L” political party) perspective to from the anti-corporate, anarchist (in the true sense of the word) paradigm.

[Ken and I, of course, fall somewhere in between, far from either end, of both extremes.]

In watching some of the clips that Christian had shot at Lindepdence 2008, I found one where I said something to the effect that I would never talk to Ken if it weren’t for our shared passion for FOSS and Linux, as he would say (GNU/Linux as I would say), because of our political differences.

I’d like to publicly take that back.

Thanks to this experience, I have since been convinced that you can work across political divisions to achieve a common goal, i.e., Linux and FOSS adoption, and as a result I welcome the opportunity to work with those with whom I may not share a political philosophy.

Despite our political differences, Ken and I worked well in getting Lindependence 2008 going. Further, I’m proud to serve on the board of a project that Ken chairs, the HeliOS Project, which provides Linux-based computers to underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area.

In conclusion, there’s a lesson to be learned here, for the observant.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Categories: GNU, GNU/Linux, open source Tags: , , ,
  1. Colonel Panik
    August 14, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Hell yes!

    FOSS transcends all boundaries, barriers, and other attempts at division.
    Except for that KDE/Gnome thing. But that might be Ken’s fault.

    Having about 20 years as an ExPat I enjoy my ability to converse with
    friends from many countries. We learn to respect each other through
    our Linux travails and the sharing of knowledge. Those that I have had
    contact with for several years now know my view (weird) on things other
    then Open Source. Guess what, being a die hard Linuxtarian is more
    important to them than any other baggage I am lugging.

    But Ken and Larry? Go to some kind of Linux Fest or Linux convention,
    you will see all kinds, I do mean all kinds. No blood shed, except for the
    afore mentioned Gnome/KDE stuff. Larry and Ken are good people.
    They work for what they believe in.

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