Open Source investigate

Free Software Directory gets overhaul

The Free Software Foundation's (FSF) Free Software Directory has been relaunched and contains over 6500 programs that it says are free.

Started nearly a decade ago, the FSF individually checks and tests each program to meet its free software requirements. The directory will only show software that the foundation says is free software with free documentation and without proprietary software requirements. Programs that run on Windows and OS X can be listed, but only if they also run fully on Linux.

The new site utilises MediaWiki, the same Wiki engine that powers Wikipedia and Semantic MediaWiki extensions, the intent of which is to allow contributors to edit and improve the information associated with each listing.

"We also have plans to collaborate around sharing data with GNU/Linux distributions and other free software projects," said FSF campaigns manager, Joshua Gay.

This update isn't much in and of itself — the directory is littered with empty categories and other problems that come with porting a site, and the move to MediaWiki isn't exactly breaking new ground.

However, should the plans to get the data from this directory into Linux distributions come to fruition, it could provide an impetus to have users contribute more and attract new users easily.

The FSF-endorsed Free GNU/Linux distribution list has been without a flagship distribution since gNewSense went into stasis.

Creating an FSF-endorsed apt/rpm repository from the directory could be a nice alternative to a fully fledged Free distribution and could be used to wean users from the FSF unacceptable software world to something more in line with the foundation's ambitions.

Until some form of sharing starts to occur, though, I expect the directory to maintain its current level trajectory.

About

Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

3 comments
AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Where's the contrived controversy? :p Not bad. Change of pace too, with no world-shattering forecasts :D

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"The Free Software Foundations (FSF) Free Software Directory has been relaunched ... Programs that run on Windows and OS X can be listed, but only if they also run fully on Linux." So it really the 'Free Software For Linux Foundation'. Don't bother them otherwise.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I wonder if that quote is correct, of if another non-proprietary OS would give passage into FSF "heaven", as well?