What is FOSS United about?

One of the directors of FOSS United says this (in the context of Aadhaar, DPG, etc)

And the policy director later quotes the website:

So, that makes me question. What is FOSS United about?

To promote the spirit of hacking and tinkering.

How did this come inside FOSS? Neither of the words “hacking” or “tinkering” appear in Free software definition or Open Source definition. Who added this line to the goals of FOSS United? Why is it there? What’s the context of adding this to the goals? What’s the definition of spirit of hacking, or spirit of tinkering?

Please clarify.

To build quality FOSS for public good.

Is this the goal for FOSS United the organization or the community that FOSS United is building? It cannot be the former as the number of staff in FOSS United is too low to build software.

So, is the goal to create a community of people who build quality FOSS for public good?

If so, what is “public good”? Is there a definition of public good we’re referring to? Is it the economics term that means non-rivalrous, non-excludable? If so, then isn’t all FOSS public good automatically?

Or is it supposed to mean “the good of the public”? If so, can you define what is good of the public and who defines good of the public?

Does building something FOSS automatically make it good for the public? If not, what are the criteria for FOSS to be good for the public?

To enable and evangelise the use of FOSS in academia, social sector, industry and government.

Why is this framed as “use of FOSS”. Why isn’t this “use and creation of FOSS”? Why should academia, social sector, industry, and government not create FOSS? There are campaigns like “public money, public code” in Europe. Who drafted FOSS United’s goal to be only about use of FOSS and not about creating FOSS?

As I see, goal 1 is vague, goal 2 is redundant, and goal 3 is artificially narrow in its scope.

Can there be a redraft and revision of these?


Some very good questions here. Eager to hear what the broader community has to say. I agree with you that we should focus on “use and creation of FOSS.” The text we are discussing here is at About - FOSS United. Not sure when the text on this page was drafted but yes, it could do with a refresh.

1 Like

It would be nice if you can propose a draft for discussion, that will be a quicker way to get this updated.


Monthly FOSS meetups at Kochi is something I look forward to because it’s a break from my work from home routine, to chill, joke and talk with like minded nerds (plus sometimes a football match with office gang in Kochi). The meetup is a reason for many of my friends to come to Kakkanad and just chill. I travel like 100 kms to and fro from my home every month for this.

Me, Anoop & M volunteer to organize these monthly meetups just for the fun of it. If it feels like a job, we won’t do it. IndiaFOSS is also the same but in Bengaluru. That is my primary concern: the chill part.

Now, I’ve seen firsthand how community, people participation can be used by entities to further their agenda (this can be monetary, legacy building, fueling egos). This I’ve seen from “not-for-profit” tech communities, web3 folks, Aadhar folks, DPI folks etc. etc. I don’t want to be a pawn in any of these agendas, so I keep a distance from all these folks.

Does the people behind FU have an agenda? What is the goal here? Limit the scope rather than expanding to everything. I think it’s perfectly fine that FU is just a Telegram group, a brand name for doing monthly FOSS meetups in anywhere in India, doing IndiaFOSS. But if the community representation is used for something without asking the community, don’t do it.


A vision/mission/objective statement is drafted by the founders of an organization to communicate the purpose of the organization to others. There’s no point in others suggesting what it should be.

An organization will be run as per the vision/mission/objective of those who are in power in that organization. If an outsider writes a vision that’s not what the vision of those who are in power is, then the organization will continue to run with the vision of those who are in power (contradictory to the version of vision statement that’s written down). The same thing can happen even when the founders of the organization write down a vision, but new people take over and run it as per their own vision. The same thing can happen when the people who run an organization write down the vision statement, but not in accordance with what they personally believe in.

1 Like

Though the exact words might not be in the FOSS software definition, they are closely related, many of the FOSS values are originated from hackerculture, which includes the freedom study, change and improve the software

1 Like

I see the whole point of this thread is majorly on questioning or interrogating What is FOSS United about and everything we have been doing ?

I’d like to answer some questions if not all which you are certainly interrogating about. As I am someone who joined last year and since then I have been trying to find answers about what FOSS United does and here are some things I have found which make some sense.

How did this come inside FOSS?
The goal “To promote the spirit of hacking and tinkering” comes under the list of “FOSS United” goals, and not completely inside the term “FOSS”. I don’t really understand why would you try and correlate FOSS United’s goals with the definition of Free Software or Open Source ? Because FOSS United has the word “FOSS” included in it ?

I also think that the work “goal” also resonates to what an organization wants to work on. And here’s what I found on google about the work Free Software Foundation wants to do:

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom. We defend the rights of all software users.
source: Free software is a matter of liberty, not price — Free Software Foundation — Working together for free software

I’d like to ask: What does promoting computer user Freedom or defending the rights of all software users has to do with FOSS ? And if I’m not wrong at the first place according to the definition FOSS just means “having the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study and improve the software”.

Is this the goal for FOSS United the organization or the community that FOSS United is building?

I don’t see why the former one can’t be a reason, even if we do not have a lot of staff who write code, but there are certainly large number of volunteers who gave a helping hand in doing it. Please give this a read. From almost 4 years now, contributions to FOSS United are majorly done by a bunch of volunteers who willingly spend time in the community.

Another read I’d suggestion is this.

If so, then isn’t all FOSS public good automatically?

I think I agree with how you framed the co-relation from what is public good to relating FOSS being public good automatically and by-default.

But, How many NGO’s have programmers working full time ? Let me rephrase it, How many NGO’s feel the need of a programmer ?
RHA (Robin Hood Army) is a great example whose problem was solved by FOSS (Frappe in this case) and many others. I maybe wrong but I feel what FOSS United tried is bridging the gap between the NGO and the Free Software which helps.

My question for you would be, have you ever come across any student who is from the central or northern region of college ? Do you know how weird and dirty the culture in the northern engineering colleges ? I feel hesitated to ask whether have you ever seen the academia in the Northern or Central region of the country through the lens of a non-keralite (please do not consider this a jab) ?

From what I’ve seen is there’s already FOSS being used in majority of the Kerala institutes and schools in the form of Kite Linux. But I’m ashamed to tell you that in Maharashtra (where I live) students barely know What is Ubuntu.

P.S Please do not consider this as a jab or comparison between both the regions, its just what I’ve seen and experienced.

How do you expect FOSS United or anyone to just straightway go to college or students and tell them “You have to make a URL Shortner in Go and push it to coderberg” they’ll be damn clueless right ? And I am saying this after I’ve done this myself. In the beginning when I used to give talks at school and college’s regarding what is FOSS, why make and why use ? There was interest, but no action. They don’t care after they get out of the room.

The FOSS Club initiative was started to increase awareness in schools and colleges about Free Software and majorly to tell them what the hacker culture is. I’d like all the club leads to come forward and tell (if they’re comfortable enough) if the FOSS Clubs initiative had any impact or not.

To promote the spirit of hacking and tinkering.

Here’s my honest opinion on you calling this point “vague”. @nikkothari22 and two of his friends decided to build a slack alternative called raven and they did win, isn’t that a good result they transitioned into a team and company which they call The Commit Company now and have been working on and with FOSS for their official and open source projects.

There are campaigns like “public money, public code” in Europe

Can we please stick to the context of India ? The problem, the goal here moreover is with the Indian context.

Perhaps, in no manner or I wish to overstep your personal opinions on the goals we FOSS United had set earlier.

Hacking and tinkering is basically “build software stuff”
It need not be OSS / FOSS / FLOSS or anything
Just “build software stuff”

I get your point. We need figure out a sub umbrella in org that offers FOSS fellowships for folks who want to build FOSS.

Lets not forget that FOSS United despite having low staff did “build” FOSS.
They built it through many many FOSS projects that were funded in the past.

You’ll never get a “definition”. Its highly subjective.

Most people don’t understand that FOSS is automatically a public good. Stating it explictly helps.

Yes, I think this can be reworded.

I don’t like the framing of this question @asd
I assume it was Kailash and Rushabh. Your statement implies that they intentionally left out the creating part.


Pragmatism over definitions.

1 Like

Thank you for making my point @mangesh_x0 . Please read Kailash’s response in the thread that this thread is in response to. That FOSS United has its focus on certain things and not on certain things is not coming from the definition of FOSS like Kailash claims:

But it is coming from the biases and the priorities of the organization like you rightly pointed out.

I agree with a lot of what you’ve written. My framing of this thread is deliberately poised on exposing the lie that FOSS United cannot be for privacy or other rights of people because all of those are not under the realm of FOSS.

Please recognize that the politics of people driving an organization seeps into the organization no matter what the name or stated objective of the org is.

And also, if you feel that focusing only on use of FOSS and focusing only on hacking and tinkering, while ignoring other issues that are also part of FOSS is alright, then please recognize that that’s also coming from biases about what the org should be about — not from the definition of FOSS.

So, please don’t let people stifle efforts to include things in FOSS United’s agenda by talking about “Oh, but that’s not in the purview of FOSS”. Yes, it is in the purview of FOSS if we make it to be in the purview of FOSS. But if we want to play 4D chess and exclude certain things from the purview of FOSS, let us at least be clear about how that’s our personal interest.

1 Like