Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Building the case for turning the Boy Scouts into a worldwide advocate of free software.

These days, software and good education cannot live without each other. Nobody could deny that the two are linked in many ways. To the best of my knowledge, however, one of those ways, and not the least important one, has not been officially practiced yet. Everybody knows that many schools and educators worldwide have to work with a null or tight budget. This forces them to look for the most cost effective tools. Other selection criteria are much more important, however.

Schools should teach students ways of living that benefit society as a whole. The most fundamental mission of schools is to teach people to be good citizens and good neighbors--to cooperate with others who need their help [1]. The real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. To leave this world a little better than you found it [2]. Teaching the students to participate in a community, is a hands-on civics lesson. It also teaches students the role model of public service [1]. Happiness is the result of active work rather than passive enjoyment of pleasure [3]. So, let's teach concepts, not applications ... let's try to teach boys how to use tools to think [4]. The secret of sound education is to get each pupil to learn for himself, instead of instructing him by driving knowledge into him on a stereotyped system [5]. When appropriate, it is necessary to give students real skills, not only "directions for use" [6]. We want to get them all along through cheery self-development from within and not through the imposition of formal instruction from without [7]. The common thread in each project must be the ability of collaboration, to greatly enhance learning opportunities [8]. The boy, while working in co-operation with the others, is responsible for his own separate part of the job [9].

And my point is? Simply put, not one word in the last paragraph is my own. In my opinion, the several statements prove the unexplored link I anticipated: they reinforce one another but come from two distinct sets of sources. Those in plain text were written by several supporters of free software in education. The first is R. M. Stallman, founder of the GNU Project, explaining the main reason why schools should use exclusively free (as in freedom) software.

All the sentences in italic belong to Robert Baden Powell, the founder, almost one century ago, of the Boy Scouts movement. The Boy Scouts has become one of the most important international youth organizations, with almost 30 million members in more than 200 countries.

The purpose of Scouting, bearing the motto "Be Prepared", is to help all boys become good, active citizens. Scouting achieves this goal by making Scouts "play the game" in the outdoors--away from TVs, PCs and cell phones--as often as possible. There is no question that this approach remains valid and perhaps even more needed in the age of the Internet. Many members, however, use computers every day outside Scout activities. Nobody thinks for a moment that they should stop, but it is natural to expect that basic Scouting principles also be applied to these new tools. The Boy Scout movement places a lot of importance on self-reliance and not living out of pre-packaged solutions. The statements pasted above are merely the tip of a mountain of assertions that support the same thesis made by the founder and many Scout leaders from all countries: Scouting wants to educate from within, making the boy know and build his own tools, because that helps him to build and know his own character.

After reading this article, please also read the material listed in the Resources. Our thesis continues to make perfect sense (even more, if you ask me) if we substitute "schools" with "troops" or "patrols" and "students" with "Scouts". In the meantime, let's go back for a moment (thanks to Marco Bravi for pointing this out) to the core of Baden Powell's Last Message to all Scouts [2]: "leave this world a little better than you found it". Now, the modern world also is made of software, which is here to stay. Could a Scout apply the founder's advice to the software he uses? Leave any program a bit better than he found it? More to the point, should he? Why, yes! First of all, it would be a really neat and useful good turn to do so. Secondly, it would be an excellent way to acquire valuable skills for a qualified job. Of course, any Scout worth his promise does this only if and when it is legal to do so. Consequently, this Service (yes, Service) is possible only with software that is meant from its inception to be improved in this way. Such software, regardless of its price, legally guarantees:

  • the freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).

  • the freedom to study how the program works and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1).

  • the freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).

  • the freedom to improve the program and release your improvements to the public, so the whole community benefits (freedom 3).

Once more, we started at Scouting and ended up at Free Software: the four lines above are copied word by word from the official Free Software Definition.

The direct links between these two partners in education doesn't end here. Baden Powell believed "that we were put into this world of wonders and beauty with a special ability to appreciate them, in some cases to have the fun of taking a hand in developing them, and also in being able to help other people instead of over-reaching them and, through it all, to enjoy life - that is, TO BE HAPPY" . Writing software according to these guidelines, a Scout then should guarantee all the freedoms above to all future users of the improved program. "For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights". In other words, the Scout should license his software under the GNU General Public License, from which I copied this clause, or a similar one.

Discovering the many other "Free Software is Scouting" connections is left as an exercise for the reader; please post them below, however). We already have enough evidence. If, on top of this evidence, we also pair the thousands of arguments about how free software can save money with the Scout Law that says "A scout is thrifty", the case seems to be closed. Linux and the whole FLOSS movement do appear as the soul of Scouting made software: the first, if not only, kind of IT technology that should be proposed to Boy Scouts or used by their leaders.

In spite of this, although many schools have made official endorsements of Free Software, as far as I know, Scout associations have made none. As of April 5th, 2004, searching the Web sites of the World Scout Movement, the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe and the Boy Scouts of America doesn't return anything about Linux and free software. I also asked for comments, without feedback so far, on the and mailing lists. The current requirements of the Computer and Internet Merit Badges of the Boy Scouts of America do not mention free software at all. Even a general search on Google didn't return anything relevant. Why hasn't this affinity been acknowledged before? I've been wondering for years, since I first realized what free software really was or could be about. For the record, I've been a Scout since 1977; I am not mixing random quotes found on-line last week in order to make noise. Instead, I want to stimulate a constructive discussion. Is it really true that no Scout association in the world officially uses and recommends free software? If so, why not, considering the similarities?

I'm almost sure that, until today, it simply has been a mix of innocent reasons: the sheer ignorance that there is an alternative; the need to concentrate on issues perceived as more urgent or closer to the "core business" (yes, I agree that Baden Powell himself would pour a mug of cold water down my sleeve for writing those two words); the existence of parents enraged because "Junior doesn't get his daily Pizza at Camp!!!!"; and the need to not irritate them further exactly because Junior sorely needs some Scouting, any Scouting, to remain sane.

I've personally been in similar situations as a Scout Master, and I know how it feels. Still, at least in the medium and long term, none of these arguments seems valid. There certainly may be other reasons, which escape me, why a tool that matches the Scout philosophy so well must remain ignored. If this is true, it would be a good idea to explain why and give clear directions to all Scouts. If, instead, there is a case to increase the adoption of free software among Scouts, let's look at some ways to achieve this goal faster.


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OpenScout "Scouting and Free Software"

PauLoX's picture
The answer is OpenScout, free software in scouting and scouts in free spoftware movement.
La risposta è OpenScout, il software libero nello Scoutismo e gli scout nel movimento del software libero.

OpenScout wiki ( )

OpenScout ( )

Merit badge - form, structure, content

Anonymous's picture

In regards to the web page requirement of the merit badge proposal, a scout shoud be able to differentiate between form (CSS), structure (HTML), and content (good writing) and maximize the benefit from each.
Likewise, for the graphic, a scout should know the general difference between lossy and lossless compression and when to use which. Bonus points for knowing the advantages/disadvantages of proprietary vs open file formats.

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

Hi, I'm Paolo Bonzini and I am maintainer for GNU sed and GNU Smalltalk (as well as a scout master, of course). I cannot but agree with Marco. You can write me at if you want to discuss the matter more.

Indeed, since I am in one of the 20 Italian Regional Assemblies, I will surely try to put together a request to examine the matter of switching to OpenOffice (as an appetizer, who knows what may happen in the future...) at the next assembly.

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

rays's picture

The following submission contains much of what I wrote to Marco in reply to his original request for a 'position statement' from the World Scout Bureau. He received it perhasps only a few short hours after he had already posted his article here. (Unfortunately, he did not make us aware of the deadlines he was working to.) In subsequent exchanges, I confirmed that I would re-work some of my comments to respond extensively and directly to the challenges presented in his article and here they are!

Some general remarks

The many girls who are members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement may take exception to the exclusive references to the male gender here. Italy is in the minority of countries which technically does not have girls in Scouting because the girls in the Italian associations are technically Guides (members of WAGGGS, not WOSM). Important, therefore, when talking about the Scout Movement at the international level we try to remain politically and factually correct and not use 'Boy Scouts' but just 'Scouts'. WOSM stopped referring generically at the international level to Boy Scouts many, many years ago (1964, or thereabouts) and only refers to Scouts (which may be of either gender). And in this day and age, shouldn't IT be clearly proposed to all Scouts, whatever their gender?

We can all understand that it is not the purpose of Scouting - whether nationally or internationally - to endorse products, per se. There have been and will continue to be 'hot' debates in and between many national association over the pros and cons of accepting commercial sponsorship in Scouting, or not. For example, this could be interpreted as endorsing a manufacturer and, by extension, their working practices in some countries where the Convention on the Rights of the Child may not be as well respected as it is in the local country. Thus, it may not be realistic to expect any other 'official position' from me or any other spokesperson for the World Orgniazation or any of its national member organizations, other than there is not an 'official position' towards any software product:free, distributed freely or otherwise.

On the other hand, I think we can all agree that the good practices evident in the open source community are entirely consistent with the ideals of Scouting today, so ably expressed by our Founder and as Marco has outlined in his article.

As Gino pointed out, the World Scout Bureau (the professional support structure of the World Organization) has used Apple Macintosh computers for many years. (On a personal note, the only bit that hurt was Gino's implication that the change was coming to our platform of choice "whether we like it or not." I thought he knew me well enough by now to know I would personally embrace these changes with enthusiasm.) The decision to opt for Macs pre-dates my employment. In 1985, the "Macintosh" computer line had received a big sales boost with the introduction of the LaserWriter printer and Aldus PageMaker, home desktop publishing was now possible. Since, at that time, the World Scout Bureau was heavily engaged in producing support publications on paper of one sort or another, choosing Mac was the financially sound decision as it brought considerable cost savings and greater efficiencies to a major part of the organization's output through DTP. The Mac continues to be our platform of choice and the Gartner Group, amongst others are better than me at explaining the reasons behind the lower 'total cost of ownership' of Macs over Windows. To mis-quote 'cgh', "These savings continue to be channelled directly back into developing today's youth."

Gino correctly noted the core Unix foundation of Mac OS X and the underlying impact this has. This operating system has matured sufficiently (v 10.3.3 recommended!) that we are now seeing the benefits of Apple's decision to make the Darwin core (on which OS X interface is built) open source. So, yes, we are using open source software every day in our daily work - those fortunate enough to have been upgraded from Mac OS 9, that is. has not yet been fully released for Mac OS X and will never be developed for Mac

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

Borrowed computers? Slap a Knoppix CD in it. Instant open source.

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Gino_Lucrezi_Scoutnet's picture

Hi Ray!

I re-read my comment and it came out harsher than I wanted it to... I really wanted to say that, fortunately, all the Mac community will be migrating to opensource, even though some of its members don't realize it yet.

I still think the Mac architecture has always been too closed for my tastes, but now I'm glad it's changing!

However, your reply was really very good news to me. We hadn't heard from each other in a long time, and I didn't know all these changes were going on.
I mean, I'm glad you're still governing technological developments, instead of being carried around by them. Your post outlines a strategy which wasn't self evident from documents I had read. I am delighted of it!

I'm glad you mentioned one of Scoutnet's services, too :-)

Do you remember the project I mentioned to you the last time we met? For all the rest of the people reading, it was just a wish I had... and unfortunately it is still the same. I believed (and still believe) that we can take old computers, equip them with software with low requirements, and send them pre-configured to scouts of developing countries to help them develop a communications infrastructure. At the time I was thinking of Fidonet-technology (being the least resource hungry in bandwidth and CPU terms), nowadays better alternatives exist.

Marco's "Rule Project" is very similar in conception... I think we'll be working together.


From Marco:let's start to work

Anonymous's picture


thanks a lot for your comments. I am happy to see the synergy
between Free SW and Scouting acknowledged. Please contact me
at your earliest convenience. I am obviously eager to help you to
define a strategy

Yours in Scouting,

Marco Fioretti

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

I've been supporting the IT systems for our local BSA Council for 5 years now. When we started the Scoutnet project, the recommended spec was for Windows. We saved $14k in licensing fees by abandoning those specs in favor of two linux servers: an Internet gateway, and a Samba workgroup server. Through those 5 years we've had only one extended outage due to a memory DIMM flaking out. $14k sends a lot of kids to summer camp.

We've been looking into how we could extend Linux to their desktops, which would be 30 fewer OS, Office, and anti-virus licenses. Unfortunately, the Scoutnet application distributed by BSA National has the requirement of running on IE, and also distributed a non-standard printing applet which only runs on Windows. These days it is difficult to excuse a web application that has browser dependencies. To compound it, they have selected a VPN and firewall appliance which only offers windows clients. Again, a closed decision. And no one would be surprised to know that the standard for all documents remains MSOffice despite StarOffice/OO being such a compelling alternative.

As a not-for-profit organization, I would love to see BSA National endorse a thorough Open Source strategy right through the desktop. With OOO, or even with WINE and MSOffice much money could be saved not only in the removal of licenses, but also extension of the hardware refresh cycle. Considerably more money could be saved in support costs as well. These savings would channel directly back into devloping today's youth.

Did B-P imply, or require it? I don't think so. Although I really enjoyed this article, I think the issue is much more fundamental. It's a simple business question, and Scouting is indeed a business: By spending considerably more money, is our business objective made proportionally more effective using closed source? The answer to that question is, "No." I'm hopeful that BSA National will arrive at a similar conclustion.

From the author: Scouting is NOT a business

Anonymous's picture

As a not-for-profit organization, I would love to see BSA National endorse a thorough Open Source strategy right through the desktop.
This is exactly what I hope to help happen (worldwide, not in any single

I think the issue is much more fundamental. It's a simple business question, and Scouting is indeed a business
Sorry, I really don't think so. The issue which is fundamental is exactly that real Scouting is not a business.It is an educational movement: as such, I say, it has first
of all to remain coherent to its original values.
In this particular case Free SW also happens to be the choice that saves more
money, but that's a nice add-on, not the fundamental criterion

Yours in Scouting,
Marco Fioretti

Re: From the author: Scouting is NOT a business

cgh's picture

[forgot to log in before, so I'm no longer anonymous]

From a philosophical standpoint, I like what you are suggesting. However, my observations in working closely with Scouting suggest there is significant emphasis on financial implications of a decision. When I voiced my advice to replace NT servers with Samba servers, it wasn't the morality of the decision which swayed the Council, it was the financial implications.

That's not to say they didn't realize and appreciate the peripheral valaues and benefits of the decision, but in the end, the savings were too substantial to overlook. Had NT provided similar savings over Linux and still met the underlying business requirement, they would have chosen differently.

I believe that the decision makers within Scouting would embrace the concepts you outlined, however they have a responsilbility to their financial backing, and to the youths they guide to use money wisely. In today's environment a sound financial decision is more easily articulated and understood than one rooted in Open Source Philosophy.

As Open Source gains ubiquity I think the number of outsiders who understand the philosophies will increase, and a turning point may occur, but today I believe we still have intertia to overcome before the final choice elevates from financial to philosophical.

I anxiously look forward to that day both as a Scout, and as a supporter of Scouting IT resources.

Re: From the author: Scouting is NOT a business

Anonymous's picture

I anxiously look forward to that day both as a Scout, and as a supporter of Scouting IT resources.
Well, maybe we that day can arrive a bit earlier if we make sure that as
many Scouts as possible read this article, and those Scouts who agree with it
ask to their association to comment officially, motivating why and how
they will or will not use Free Software.

Will you do it?

Yours in Scouting,
Marco Fioretti

Re: From the author: Scouting is NOT a business

cgh's picture

I passed the article to the folks I work with locally immediately after reading it. I'll ask them to bubble it up and request an official response. To be realistic it's going to take more than one council to elicit a proper response. I'd like to think that many OSS advocates volunteer with their local councils in the same manner I do. Hopefully others will follow your suggestion to request a comment.

This article was a great new spin on OSS advocacy. I'd love to see responses from others who are putting their OSS skills to use supporting Scouting. I'm sure I'm not the only one!

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Gino_Lucrezi_Scoutnet's picture

Ciao Marco!

A few remarks on your article (I already sent them to you by Email, but I want to share them with everybody)

First of all, we had a discussion on a similar thread in the most important forum on scouting in Italian.
It's available as it.sociale.scout on most news servers, as on the scoutnet servers, and also as a mailing list and web-based forum.

You can view the thread on Google:

My intervention mentioned that 10-15 years ago it made a lot more sense to develop for DOS/Windows than for Unix, and also a lot of scout software in Italy was distributed as shareware (sometimes with source).
Nowadays, we can make the next step...

Some other interesting facts:

Scoutnet only uses free software for its servers, and we don't regret it.

A couple of weeks ago, the Commissioner of my region (Abruzzo) recommended to all the regional council members to switch to; since that suggestion, he's been sending us a lot more PDF documents than DOC ones ;-)
We still receive some MS Word documents, but usually they come from higher up in our scout association.

In the World Scout Bureau, in Geneva, they only use Macintosh computers. I've always criticised this choice because it locked them into an extremely proprietary world, but given the recent developments in the MacOS world with its convergence with unix, maybe something will happen, wether they like it or not.

A few notes on me. I've been in scouting since 1978, in Agesci, the italian catholic scout and guide association. Nowadays I'm international commissioner for my region.

I'm also global coordinator for Scoutnet (, a worldwide network for scouts and guides.


From the author: Gnu/Linux, not just Linux

Anonymous's picture

Kind readers have asked me "if you're going to get the scouts
to endorse free software as an ideal, how about telling them it is the
GNU system with Linux?"

I agree with that. It is my fault if I didn't make it clear in the article,
writing Gnu/Linux whenever appropriate.

Yours in Scouting,
Marco Fioretti

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps adding a badge or merit (I don't understand the system, having never been a boyscout) for assembling a machine and installing Linux or other OSS OS, is a good idea.
Scouts could get involved in rebuilding older machines for the use of libraries, school or needy students.
This is something I'm trying to get into myself ( like the folks at .
It would be a great project for scouts and could have great benefit to the community.


AUTHOR REQUEST: let's stick to topic, please!

Anonymous's picture

It is probably my fault to not have made this immediately clear in the article.

As far as this forum is concerned, let's just analyze if B-P thought does
imply and require that Scouts should use Free Software
(the philosophy, more than any single "product") in principle, regardless of anything
else. This is why I wrote the article: I will ignore (in this forum, of course) any
side comment, and am asking the readers to do the same.

Thread hijacking (jumping into any online discussion and start talking of
something else) is simply and terribly counterproductive. It doesn't even matter who is right and who is wrong. Nobody ever goes anywhere when that happens.

Yours in Scouting,

Marco Fioretti

Re: AUTHOR REQUEST: let's stick to topic, please!

Anonymous's picture

Relating free software and online projects like with scouts and guides is a very natural and terrific idea!

Richard Kweskin
rkwesk at hellug dot gr

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

Given scouting's incredibly offensive discrimination against atheists, non-Christians, and homosexuals, that's a really terrible idea. It's a Neo-Nazi organization in all but name anymore.

I'm a former scout, and I've completely renounced it.

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

Nonsense. Tell that to our troop's Jewish Scoutmaster. We have a 2 Hindus, many Christians and Jews in our troop. We are multiracial. Yes we believe in God and Country. Somehow I don't expect you to remember the quote "friendly, courteous, kind...clean and reverent" and I'm not going to jump into the mud with you.

That is hardly scouting

Anonymous's picture

I assume you have been exposed to BSA scouts (of USA). It amazes me that they can still call themselves Scouts (especially as it is not an American organization to start with).

Rest assured, in the rest of the world scouting has evolved to an humanistic movement along with the rest of the civilized world.

In my country, the head of our scouting organization is openly homosexual.

Re: That is hardly scouting

Anonymous's picture

What country are you referring to? I'm guessing Denmark? Sweden? San Francisco?

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

Oh joy: yet another anti-moral bigot. BSA isn't discriminatory at all against non-Christian religions (it may not approve of your favorite parody religion, suicide club, or clique of self-proclaimed "devil-worshippers"; that's no serious objection). It is true that in some areas the only troops nearby are those sponsored by local Christian churches and that these troops won't always try to integrate people of other faiths or do a very good job of it; people are welcome to look farther afield for a troop, do the Lone Scout program, or even try to get another troop started.

And so it doesn't want to turn into a platform for gays to try to spread their abominable "lifestyle" or sodomize boys; so what? Is there something wrong with that?

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

Well I assume you were a Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. Whilst I totally disagree with some of the attitudes and beliefs of the BSA, you have to remember the Scouting is enjoyed by millions of Boys and Girls, or should I say 'young people'. Sexual orientation is an issue which seems to obsess the BSA.

In the UK Scout Association, we have an equal opportunity policy.

Richard Fairbairn
Assistant Area Commissioner (Cub Scouts)
Midlothian Area (Scotland)

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

So which of those minority groups are you? You can't be both of a non-Christian religion and an atheist. Very contradictory.

What you fail to realize is that Scouting supports the foundations of order in all our societies. We must believe in a higher power (all religions are accepted), because that gives us the basis for law, ethics, morals, a set of rules to live by, if you will follow my logic. And if we have the rule of law, then we can have a civil society. Freedom and equality are outgrowths of that. You have the right to believe or not believe the way that you wish, but you would not be comfortable in our organization.

You should ask yourself, why do I wish to force others to accept my lack of belief? Why are you so offended that they stand firmly on their beliefs? There is room in society for the atheists and the homosexuals, I don't deny them their right to life or speech, but I am able to choose with whom I associate and with whom my children associate. As an extreme way of life, niether are acceptable behavior to present to boys who are still very impressionable. I could go on, but what's the point.

Everyone please remember that just because those groups yell the loudest, they do not deserve more favor or attention. They are less than 1% of the population. They make up for it by making 80% of the noise, lawsuits and problems.

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

*We* must nothing of the kind! Scouting is a movement promoting diversity and understanding in most parts of the world -- with the possible exception of the bastardized scouting practiced in the USA. *You* must stop talking like the rest of the world shares your view.

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture


I came here to inform myself about Linux in the boyscout movement, and to be honest I am shocked that (in the USA) Atheists (and homosexuals) are not accepted!

>We must believe in a higher power (all religions are accepted),
>because that gives us the basis for law, ethics, morals, a set of rules
>to live by, if you will follow my logic.

No I don't. There is absolutely no connection, it's ridiculous and lacks even minimal logical thinking at all.

I do believe in a god but don't go to church as religion IMHO has nothing to do with belief. Many of my friends don't believe in god, and to be honest those among the people I know that are Atheists, are the more interesting (they think more and not just accept what their told) and "better" people (they have less barriers in their minds like "homosexuals are bad"). They made their own thought out rules to live by.

I don't hope religion is a matter in the boyscouts outside the USA. As a former boyscout I cannot tolerate such a stupidity. It may be a subject in conservative USA but I sincerly don't hope in the movement in the rest of the world....

>You should ask yourself, why do I wish to force others to accept my
>lack of belief?

Why would you force others out of the movement? Because they are black or atheists, because they make up their minds about their existence for themselves? Why exclude anybody at all? (Well - I guess fundamentalists of any book could be rightfully cast out after what happened 9/11, as those who did it were utterly religious people - to be clear: TOO religous)

In my time in the boyscouts it was about tolerance - maybe in the US it isn't - or they failed. Anyway I am shocked that such a thought even exists within the boyscout movement.


Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

I should have read on, instead of angrily posting something that does not contribute to the subject of Linux and boyscouts.

Just forget I ever did.

Re: Bit Prepared: A Missing Link?

Anonymous's picture

I would be shocked if there weren't thousands of scouts already involved in the free software/open source movements.

I agree with you too. It is entirely consistent with the scouting movement to support and encourage freedom.

Your article doesn't talk about how individuals in third world countries are being relegated to insignificance by software companies excessively restrictive licensing models.

I wonder how many millions of individuals around the world in third world countries would be able and willing to help the world and in what ways if they weren't shakled to proprietary software.

It is entirely consistent and appropriate, therefor, for the scouting movement to encourage and facilitate open source software in an effort to improve the digital world just as scouts are taught to preserve and restore the natural world.

Unfortunatly, the scouting movement is tied up defending its core beliefs and values in court. (

In our society we are no longer allowed to believe that there is a God or that if there is that God may have some opinions on how we should choose to live.

I guess that's a problem for us open source people too. We aren't allowed to believe that bettering society is more important than giving money to the bottom line of a corporation.

I am blaming Mickey Mouse for both the resistance to open source and scouting (you know Minnie Mouse was just Mickey in drag).

Chris Spencer
Eagle Scout (1991)
Troop 250
Byron Center, MI

Bit Prepared: How to contact the author

Anonymous's picture


For some reason, my contact information did not appear
in the article. I can be reached at the email address m.fioretti,
at the server:

Yours in Scouting,

Marco Fioretti

Better yet, get the Girl Guides to sell Knoppix CDs door to door

NZheretic's picture

FOSS is far healther for you than fattening cookies/biscuit.

Author reply: Better yet, get the Girl Guides to sell Knoppix CD

Anonymous's picture

Interesting, but let's make one step at a time.
Sticking to the article, I'm proposing that Scouts
use Free Software.

Education-wise, I don't see much difference
between selling cookies or Knoppix, if,
in both cases, the seller didn't make and use
them personally.

Your in Scouting,
Marco Fioretti


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