“Nordic” Projects?

It did struck me why the idea of handing the Nordic Free Software Award to a project feels like a bad idea: Free Software projects really aren’t geographical in general.

People tend to live at a fixed location for a specific time and thus you can say that N is living in a Nordic country or not.

Free Software projects however, are not even allowed to exclude people from other places and even projects that may origin at once place or even have its largest user-base in a particular geographical spot.

Last year’s Nordic Free Software Award was handed to Skolelinux since I believe the project origins in Norway (a nordic country) and some of the leading persons in the project are Norwegian. But is that then a nordic project? I don’t want to claim that it isn’t because I honestly don’t know, but their web site certainly says nothing about it being restricted or limited to nordic countries in any significant way. If it does, I couldn’t find it.

I am the primary person and maintainer behind curl but I wouldn’t dream of calling it a “nordic” project. The trio who started Rockbox are all Swedish but calling it a nordic project would just make me laugh.

Isn’t it so, that if you can come up with a “Nordic” Free Software project that currently only lives and strives within one or more Nordic countries without spreading itself over the world, isn’t that then more likely to be a proof of a failure of said project than anything else?

4 thoughts on ““Nordic” Projects?”

  1. Let’s try:

    Nordic Free Software Project : any project for which a nomination for the Nordic Free Software Award was accepted

  2. Yes, I guess that’s as good as anything as the nomination web page doesn’t even try to define what exactly that qualifies.

  3. Hmm, as one of the people behind the award I will of course say that I do like the award. Free Software almost defines development without national borders, so this is an important discussion.

    Claiming that Rockbox is a Nordic project will be tricky, I agree. Rockbox uses for example Linux, so it will perhaps be hard too call it Nordic if you compare the percentage of code (or other material) done by Nordic people and by non Nordic people. Is the kernel the most important part of Rockbox? What is most important? Is something more important than the other? And we can also dive in to a discussion of who can be considered to be coming from the Nordic countries, living there? born there? has lived there? did visit once?

    [Disclaimer: …. Rockbox is of course just an example]

    I would like to mention that the award not only focuses on software projects. It could be anything that has to do with Free Software. Björn Venn (no) and Mats Östling (se) was nominated for their work in the public sector.

    SkoleLinux can, imho, be seen as something more than just a piece of software assembled by some people in Norway.

    Yet, I think it’s important (and fun) to give credit to Nordic people/projs/orgs active in the Free Software community, showing ourselves and other that things are happening here.

    Given the benefits of the award I can live with the issues you addressed above.

    The nomination page doesn’t mention what the award is about:
    We will fix that. However, this page does mention it:


    …. btw, I am on vacation so my answers to possible replies are going to be slower than usual

  4. Just FYI: Rockbox is not based on Linux.

    And yes, one way to measure it could be that the percentage of something is done by citizens of Nordic countries. I would still claim that most projects aren’t Nordic even if they may be perceived as such, and many projects not at all branded or mentioned as Nordic could then qualify…

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