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System76 Saying Goodbye to Bland Design
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The Great Debian Iceweasel/Icedove Saga Comes to an End
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Should the U.S. Army Have Its Own Open Source License?
Should the U.S. armed forces begin releasing software under an OSI approved open source license rather than as public domain?

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GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath on Open Source
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September 26th, 2013

Votes Tallied on the GPL and the NSA’s Spying

Yikes! We got behind in looking at the results of the polls we run here on FOSS Force, which means we’ve got some catching up to do.

What was your opinion on the GPL?

Back on June 30th we asked you, “Which of the following best describes your thoughts about the GPL?” The poll’s been active since, though for most of that time it’s been buried in the article What’s Your Take on the GPL? back in our archives. We took it down just this morning.

In this poll we offered the following options as answers:

  1. It represents a deeper philosophy that can be used as a guide in all areas of life.
  2. It’s a business model that can be employed in other areas of the economy.
  3. It’s a business model that can be applied to copyrighted material only.
  4. It’s a business model that can be applied to software only.
  5. It represents a dangerous attempt to introduce communist ideas into Western corporate thought.
  6. Other
[yop_poll id=”19″]

Those who chose the last option, “Other,” were given the opportunity to type-in their own answer. The wording for the 4th option, the one that evokes “communist ideas,” was meant to be humorous, but not entirely so. Remember, no less than Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer once called open-source software “communist.”

In total, 149 of you took this poll and overwhelming you chose the first option, that the GPL “represents a deeper philosophy that can be used as a guide in all areas of life.” Hooray for you! We agree. We’re going to put a gold star on our refrigerator for each and every one of you. 103 of you selected this option, representing 69% of the vote.

In our estimation, the second choice, that the GPL is “a business model that can be employed in other areas of the economy” was also a good one–except for the slight little detail that it’s not really a business model. You evidently agreed, as that was the only other answer that garnered a double digit response, picking up 22 votes for 15% of the total.

Of the eight votes for “Other,” a few wrote some interesting comments. “It’s a donation model, not a business model,” wrote one. True. The GPL talks about code and its distribution, but doesn’t speak to the process of monetizing it. Another wrote, “It’s bad since it depends on copyright.” Hmmm… We’re still a little confused on where we stand on copyrights, but we do understand the case for carrying them out with the trash. Our favorite was “A superb hack to spread freedom and cooperation.” We agree with that 100%, without even thinking about it!

Surfing in the Time of Spying

Back on July 8th we began our “Surfing in the Time of Spying” poll in which we asked the question, “To what degree have recent spying revelations regarding the NSA and PRISM caused you to change your online habits?” As is the case with all the polls we’re covering today, we just took this poll down a few minutes ago. For most of the time it was active, it was buried in our archives inside the article Are You Making PRISM or Other NSA Changes?

The 250 of you who took this poll were offered the following four answers:

  1. I have totally changed my online habits.
  2. I have made many changes to the way I use the web.
  3. I have changed my online behavior somewhat, but not very much.
  4. I have made no changes to the way I use the web.
[yop_poll id=”20″]

Given the fact that our readership,presumably, consists of FOSS folks who pretty much have a clear picture of tech, the answers here weren’t very surprising. A large majority of you, 42% or 105 votes, chose the fourth option, indicating that you’ve made no changes to the way you use the web.

We figure that most FOSSers understand that there are limitations to security while online. We do our best, but when push comes to shove, the Internet is a party line and if the NSA really wants to read your mail and see what sites you visit, there’s not much you can do to stop them, given their massive resources.

However, we prefer the third choice, “I have changed my online behavior somewhat, but not very much.” Here at FOSS Force, we haven’t done much to change our surfing ways, but in “mission critical” situations, we have added a layer or two of precaution. In our poll, 30% or 74 of you chose that option.

20%, or 51 of you, said you have made many changes to the way you use the web and only 20 of you, representing 8% of the vote, said that you have totally changed your online habits.

Did Microsoft & Silicon Valley protect you?

[yop_poll id=”21″]

On July 16th we asked he question, “Did Microsoft and Silicon Valley do as much as they could to protect their user’s from the NSA?” Again, this poll has been hiding back in our archives, in the article Welcome to Microsoft Trustworthy Computing and was active until we took it down a few minutes ago.

As in the previous poll, there were four offered answers:

  1. No, they could have done much more.
  2. No, but they did all that was necessary.
  3. No, but they did enough.
  4. Yes, they did everything they could do.

In results of this poll make your thoughts perfectly clear. Of the 188 who took the poll, 177 or 94% said “No, they could have done much more.” With those kind of numbers, we figure there’s no use even looking at the other answers to figure how the remaining 6% was divided. The question is, however, will our tech leaders pay attention?

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We’ll be back next Thursday with more poll results.

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