Libre services


Libre services

Libre Services are an extension of the principles of free software into the domain of Internet services. Free software proponents argue that this allows complete freedom of action for software users, since the software may be copied and reused without restriction. Proponents of Libre Services similarly assert that they provide equivalent freedom of action in the services sphere, since they are Internet services that may be reproduced and redistributed without restriction.

Libre Services are implemented entirely in free software, based entirely on patent-free protocols, and reproducible as a complete service by anyone. Any company, organization or individual can reproduce and host any Libre Service, and deliver the service to others. Any group of individuals can likewise host the service for themselves, thus acting as their own service provider.

The Libre Services model operates in contrast to the proprietary Internet services model of AOL, MSN and Yahoo, analogous to how Linux is licensed freely, in contrast with proprietary operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple Inc.'s Mac OS.

Definition

The first formal definition of Libre Services was published by the Free Protocols Foundation in December 2005.cite web
url=http://www.libreservices.org/PLPC/100101
title=The Libre Services Concept|
] That definition, written by Mohsen Banan and Andrew Hammoude, states that a service (Internet Service) is a Libre Service if it has the following basic characteristics:

#all software components of the service are Libre Software
#all protocols used are Free Protocols
#all software used to integrate the service is Libre Software
#all software needed to reproduce the service is available to anyone wishing to reproduce the service.

Proponents of Libre Services conclude that the above characteristics result in freedoms to the user that are absent in the proprietary Internet Services model.

Model freedoms

Proponents of Libre Services argue that the Libre Services model provides a range of critical freedoms that are entirely absent from the proprietary model:

* the freedom of the engineering community to engage in unrestricted creative development, building new and better Internet services for the benefit of the public

* the freedom of any group or community to operate their own Libre Services, according to whatever principles they see fit: since they are no longer subject to the actions of a commercial service provider, this guarantees a range of critical civil liberties: privacy, protection against government monitoring, freedom of information, freedom of ideas and freedom of speech.

* the freedom of the business community to participate in the Internet services industry, without any intellectual property barriers standing in the way. Libre Services transform the closed industry of today into a truly open industry, creating major new business opportunities and industry growth.

Naming

Because of the double meaning of the word "Free" in English, "Libre" has been borrowed from French, Spanish and other languages. To summarize this in a remark distinguishing "libre" (freedom) software from "gratis" (zero price) software, Richard Stallman has long said: "Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in 'free speech', not as in 'free beer'".cite web|url=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html |title=The Free Software Definition |author=Free Software Foundation |accessdate=2007-04-22]

Many in the libre services community have adopted the term "libre" to avoid confusion.

Licensing

On 19 November 2007 the Free Software Foundation released the GNU Affero General Public License, which requires the operator of a network server to release modified code to the users.

Notable Libre Services

* Portals:
**ByName
**ByMemory
* Distribution centers:
**GNU Savannah
**BySource

Impact

Free software played a part in the development of the Internet, the World Wide Web and the infrastructure of dot-com companiescite web|url=http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_server_survey.html |title=Web Server Usage Survey |author=Netcraft] cite web|url=http://www.unc.edu/~mohrmana/apache.pdf |title=Apache Strategy in the New Economy |author=The Apache Software Foundation] . Free software proponents argue that this allows users to cooperate in enhancing and refining the programs they use, and that free software is a pure public good rather than a private good.

Proponents of Libre Services assert that they bring the cumulative and collaborative development characteristics of free software into the services arena, that they are furthermore open to completely unrestricted, large-scale collaborative development, and therefore have an ability to undergo complex evolutionary growth that cannot be matched by the proprietary model. In terms of richness of functionality, these proponents conclude that Libre Services have the ability to surpass the proprietary model completely.

Societal ramifications

Proponents of Libre Services argue that in addition to straightforward end-user functionality, Libre Services also provide a number broader societal benefits:

*Engineered for the user, not for business

In the free software model, engineering does not take place within a business framework. Instead it is a collaborative effort, undertaken by many organizations and individuals in a variety of diverse environments. Therefore the dependence of engineering on business imperatives is severed. The engineering effort, according to proponents of Libre Services, no longer takes place at the behest of business but is instead driven by fundamental, constructive engineering motives: the desire of the software engineering community to create applications of real value to the user.

*Civil liberties: services operated by the user, for the user

In the Libre Services model, it is possible for any group or community of people to host the service cooperatively for themselves, and operate it according to whatever policies they see fit. Proponents of Libre Services therefore argue that the Libre Services model thereby breaks the separation between the provider and the user, and that they can now be one and the same.

Libre Services can be operated by the user, for the user. Proponents of Libre Services argue that the civil liberties of the user are thereby assured.

*Privacy and securityIn the proprietary services model, user activity can be monitored without the user's knowledge or consent. There are two forms of monitoring that present societal concerns: monitoring by commercial entities, and by government agencies.

In the case of commercial monitoring, any aspect of a user's activities can be recorded and reviewed by the service provider. This includes the content of incoming and outgoing e-mail, search queries, websites visited, products and services purchased. Any service usage that is technologically available to the provider can be monitored, without the knowledge or consent of the user.

In the case of proprietary services, based on closed source software, monitoring can take place because the community of users has no way of knowing what the software is actually doing. But proponents of Libre Services assert that the complete openness of the software permits verification and authentication that the service is completely free from all monitoring activity. They argue that the community of users is therefore able to know exactly what the software is doing, and that it is doing no more and no less than they wish it to do.

In the proprietary services model, covert government monitoring is possible because the user has no way of knowing what the service provider is doing. In particular, the provider is under no obligation to disclose government monitoring to the user. But proponents of Libre Services argue that any individual or organization can prevent covert monitoring by running the service for themselves, rather than leaving it in the hands of a third-party provider.Governments can still demand access to a user's information, but proponents of Libre Services argue that any governments attempting this would need to direct their compliance demands against a multiplicity of individual persons and organizations, and could no longer do this without the user's knowledge.

*Service stability and continuity

In both the free and the proprietary worlds, software applications and services can be discontinued. The provider of the application or service can go out of business, or may decide to discontinue supporting the application. In either case the user may be left with an investment in an "orphaned" application. But the dynamics of how this occurs, and the effects on the user, are very different under the two models.

Proponents of the Libre Services model argue that it provides guarantees of continuity that are completely absent from the proprietary model: since the services are a communal resource, the user would not be not be tied to any particular service provider. These proponents assert that the effect of the Libre Services model is to decouple the service functionality from the service provider, and that following termination of a service users can simply go to an alternative provider, and be assured of receiving a functionally identical service.

* Complex integration of user environments with services

Proponents of the Libre Services model argue that in the proprietary model, a particular service is tied to certain specific user environments, and that the service can be accessed only via one or two user environments, typically a web browser, and possibly also a dedicated client application provided by the service provider.

Proponents of the Libre Services model argue that Libre Services place no proprietary limitations on integration between the user environment layer and the Libre Services layer. Since the service is completely transparent, they argue, the dependence of the service on any particular user environment is severed, and any user environment can thus be integrated with any Libre Service.

Business ramifications

Under the free software business model, may charge a fee for distribution and offer pay support and software customization services.Within the proprietary software domain a powerful revenue-generating engine exists in the form of the traditional software licensing model. This revenue source is absent under the free software model. In its place there are a number of possible business and revenue models, but these may lack large-scale repeatability from a business perspective.

Proponents of the Libre Services model assert that the business potential of free software has largely been unrealized, but that a transformational event is taking place in the evolution of the Internet: a shift of traditional software applications towards a service-based implementation, or what is sometimes called the "transformation of software into services". They argue that this is the critical event that will solve what they call the free software revenue puzzle, and that this development unites the generative power of the free software domain with the revenue models of the services domain. They go on to conclude that the transformation of software into services allows the powerful generative model of free software to be invested directly into the powerful revenue model of the Internet Services industry.

Controversies

GPLv3

Version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPL), or GPLv3, was released on June 29, 2007 after a nearly two-year public comment process on earlier drafts. Compared to version 2, GPLv3 contained expanded efforts to address software patents, hardware restrictions on software modification ("tivoization"), compatibility cite web|url=http://www.fsf.org/quick-guide-gplv3-announcement |title=A Quick Guide to GPLv3 |author=FreeSoftware Foundation] with other free software licenses, and internationalization, as well as many other changes involving such issues as how license violations are handled and how additional permissions can be granted by the copyright holder.

The notion of enforcing the Libre Services intent for a particular software component through the license is subject of discussion and controversy in the Free Software community.

See also

* Free software community
* Free file format
* Free Software Foundation
* Free software licenses
* List of free software packages
* List of free software project directories
* List of liberated software
* Free content
*
* Libre knowledge

References

External links

* [http://www.freeprotocols.org Free Protocols Foundation]
* [http://www.libreservices.org Libre Services Main Page]
* [http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html The Free Software Definition]
* [http://www.libreservices.org/PLPC/100103 Libre Services: Projects for Bootstrapping]
* [http://libre.org Free Knowledge Foundation]
* [http://communities.libre.org/philosophy/saylibre Say Libre] and [http://www.wikieducator.org/Say_Libre discussion] .


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