Skip to main content
Welcome guest. | Register | Login | Post

GNU/Linux does not matter that much

50 replies [Last post]
Gustavo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-09-11
Hello,Jose wrote:The

Hello,

Jose wrote:

The other thing I want to point out is that the growth of Linux helps freedomware everywhere even if part of the user base happens to be clueless on the matter of freedom.

GNU/Linux users unaware of Freedomware make no difference. How are they different from Windows or Mac users? The only thing that changes is that support for open standards is enabled by default - but that's completely useless since they keep their constrained standards.

They do not help freedom in computing, no way. Freedom in computing does help them.

Average "Linux" user wrote:

I've just installed Linux. Now I'm going to follow the any of the thousands of HOWTOs to use the MSN Messenger, play MP3s and play WMVs. This is gonna be like in Windows - but with no alerts, blue screens, nor badware! Linux is cool!

We are full of "Open Source" believers - those who use the cool Freedomware applications and don't mind using freedom-trampling software if its free alternatives are not so cool. They are not any better than Windows users. They are part of the Windows Culture - they just happen to be open to more alternatives, as long as they are cooler. They are not going to make people switch to open standards - they are the first who enjoy Skype and playing MP3s.

It's false things are ever going to change after they use GNU/Linux. Completely false. Their intentions to sacrifice temporarily their comfort to follow their conscience will be the same, no matter what OS they use. They will bring "the old school" to the new one - Until someone finally bothers to make them reflect on this situation and help them to make steps forward.

Cheers!

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
>> We are aware that we may

>> We are aware that we may use closed formats under GNU/Linux, as well as closed protocols, and any sort of closed standards, and that way the GNU/Linux userbase would grow faster.

I think you missed the gist of what I was saying. On Linux there are very many FEWER closed protocols and standards than on Windows. On Linux there are very many MORE cleanly open standards than on Windows (or Mac).

How could that not be a very important consideration? And that's besides the fact that GNU/Linux/BSD/etc itself is freedomware way unlik MSware/Mac.

>> An almost fully free computing environment is not enough for us.

That's fine, but it will never make sense to me that trying to work with 5% free to teach freedom and its "tremendous" value (at 5% the users won't believe it) is better than to work with 95%+.

Don't forget that on Windows, openness gets corrupted. It's a constant battle with all the closed apps and environment (not to mention that MS closed formats rule).

On Linux, you can sail comfortably almost all the time for all time. [You can all the time if you are careful, but typical users will eventually hook up to closed services and download closed apps.]

[I just noticed something, but I'll state it in the upcoming reply to your other post below this one.]

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
Gustavo, I think I just

Gustavo, I think I just noticed that you want "troublemakers" off Linux so that Linux stays pure. Is this observation correct?

I can't join that approach. I think there are exceptions to every rule (in particular situations, which may be transitory for example).

You also don't seem to recognize that hardware support, useful to everyone on Linux, is facilitated with large market share.

It will be easier for those that want to be 100% free to have a "modern" system if Linux is large than if it is marginalized. Today, everything closed that could be done on Linux is done on Windows. This means Linux is less competitive than it could be because it is more likely that there are more people doing closed source software that can't be reused since Windows encourages that.

Anyway, I'll stop because I really think you want Linux to remain pure and segregated and will fight moving anyone over that may not think 100% in free terms.

Keep in mind that people change their minds. You cannot guarantee anything. And some flavors of Linux will get more and more closed over time. Companies are moving to Linux to put a check on Microsoft's power. And don't forget either that GNU values spread as Linux distros and apps grew and not simply by people talking/writing with nothing to show.

Anyway, I respect your approach and your education goals. I have no problem with them and support them. Maybe you are correct that by putting up a strong defense, people will come eventually on your terms. Certainly I understand you not wanting to waste any time advocating anything but freedom. [Other people like myself will be working on bringing users over. ;)]

I'll end by repeating yet again that it is inconsistent to say that Firefox on Windows is more free than Firefox on Linux or to imply it (not that you will say or imply that, but some words thrown around here made me nervous). If 99.99% free is as bad as 0% free, we are in for a lot of trouble.. or maybe that means MSware is not that bad. Either way, I don't believe that hypothesis. Isn't "sin" unavoidable by humans? So we should all just sin away, right?

[BTW, what is wrong with mp3? Is it a patents thing and/or is it something else?]

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
You want people to use free

You want people to use free API/software hooks/formats and not those that are closed in order to eventually be able to leave the closed/locked-in ways behind.

The easiest way to guarantee this is to have people move to a relatively clean Linux distro (probably all or most distros today are fairly clean though that depends on how one views things like mono). In the future, there will be more proprietary based distros, that's virtually a guarantee. I accept that development to the extent I want the industry to get behind Linux to break the MS monopolies. Longer term, you want to avoid closed systems as much as possible, but I think MSware presents the biggest short-term closed challenge of all by far today, and overcoming that should be the top priority for the moment.

I think advocating freedom and educating about applications that produce clean standards is the way to go, but this is much easier (and actually possible) to do with/on a Linux/BSD/etc distro.

It's true that at some level Microsoft can clone FOSS or that others will do it and port it over to a closed environment. In the end people will have to resist those scenarios if they want to have control and the benefits of freedom. However, the most important thing is the macro view. Not so much that Harry Smith III uses nothing but freedomware, but that freedomware is always a fairly viable choice and not too difficult to acquire/use.

We have to be realists. There will always be many that add their closed subsystems with some unique features. To think this won't happen is odd (though certainly, you should do what you think will lead to less of it).

Also, you can't clone everything readily, and it makes no sense for us to do the cloning ourselves (especially for $0) or to make it easy for others to clone unto closed systems.

Consider as an example, the making of mono apps. This makes porting to MSland much easier, meaning users of any quality mono app that arises could easily find themselves too attached to a closed platform underneath (eg, back in Monopoly land), or closed versions of such apps on the closed platform will get the really "cool" plugins. In other words, someone like Microsoft will be able to take that product, close it off (if they own the IP or license it from, eg, Novell or anyone else), then strike deals so the the crucial plugins or extensions will only work on the closed environments.

The above scenario will play itself out many times. The first main hurdle is to crack open the monopolies because this will allow real openness to spread much quicker and wider. Later on, the challenge becomes in keeping people as clean as possible if they want to stay empowered as much as possible.

It's much easier to make it difficult to extend things if we hook them up to a strong Free kernel like Linux and low level systems like key GNU software. [It would help if Linux were GPL3, but GPL3 isn't even ideal for some circumstances].

To recap a few items. We "tie" software to things like Linux, not to keep users "locked" into Linux (impossible) but to increase the costs of porting the apps to where they will become locked and dependent on a closed environment. Also, by taking advantage of key items offered by low level libraries/kernel, we get better quality software than if we make things too abstract and general (as "portable" code tends to be). Portable code at some levels is great (not all alternative platforms are MSware or similar), but be wary about performance sacrifices. Freedom and openness are best shown off, experienced, and preserved on something like a linux distro as opposed to something like MSware.

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
>> I thought it was

>> I thought it was implicit, but I guess the definition is necessary now. When I say freedom I mean four essential freedoms

I know what you meant. I was reacting as someone else might upon initial contact with a "freedom" message that actually would be useless to their immediate needs (hence not providing freedom at all).

Eventually, freedomware that doesn't solve problems will not be taken up by very many. After reading Gustavo's postings, I see that maybe him and others do not mind that outcome. I don't know if you can stop the companies taking Linux and closing it, but I understand you may want to focus your time with "freedom" issues and not "conversion to free platforms issues" since that would be time not spent on the "freedom" message.

As I replied to Gustavo, I have a different view of what is important or should be worked on most (for myself to do). I don't know if I am correct or will adjust my position later on, but definitely I want to work most today to grow Linux (eg, through selling the "freedom killer app" that is Linux) than to ignore market share growth to spend all the time educating on freedom.

Different needs addressed by different people makes the world go round.

>> Unique flavour of freedom? Man, you're relativising beyond meaning. I defined it above and Mac/Windows "freedom" is no freedom.

Sorry, but that is me.

I was trying to maintain the balance that freedom can mean different things. I was imagining a person that was looking at the more general definitions of freedom to be in the "room" partaking in this conversation (ie, I was trying to address simultaneously the hypothetical person we are considering). To that person, not being able to open their existing .doc files from a *100% free platform* is no freedom at all. Thus in that use case scenario, Windows would be more freedom-ish for their current need.

>> I don't think that GNU/Linux has and can have any killer apps, unless it is proprietary. Why? Because of freedom, because of the availability of the source code. As soon as there is a Freedomware application which is of such great quality and so desirable to make people want to switch, there could be someone who would, instead of switching, just take the code and port it to Windows, redistribute it to everyone and remove the need for switching. That'd be it. To have a true "killer app" you need to have something that is both great and uniquely tied to a given platform (something no other platform can have).

Ah, that is exactly why I defined a killer app more generally Eye.

I consider a LiveCD, transparency/FOSS, freedom top to bottom, the ability to truly resolve issues or find unique solutions, various things that may be doable at the distro level, etc, as killer apps contenders. [Yes, these are overlapping categories, I'm aware.]

See also this recent comment http://www.nuxified.org/topic/gnu_linux_does_not_matter_that_much#comment-12137

>> It is great (which is not being said enough)

It's great! It's truly great. Really, it is great.

Glad to give you a hand.

>> I talk about freedom as the foundation that must be continuously preserved, not an end goal in the sense that you mean.

I too know freedom is a foundation (one GNU/Linux has and MSware does not). "But a foundation that never has anything useful built upon it is not useful to me." That is how many might think. *End goals/practical results* matter was my point.

>> However, the reality seems to be that Free Software is not always perceived as superior to proprietary software. This might not be so much of an indication that the development model which results from four freedoms is failing, but that the proprietary industry simply had more time and resources to construct the closed environments that could efficiently produce great software.

The closed model of making money has dominated so most that want to be paid to write software have used it. They have the numbers and history on their side. $ is always a factor (it offers freedom).

The tide is turning I hope; however, even assuming a greater percentage of the good stuff written is (or becomes) FOSS, you still have many that will be able to take that and add their proprietary bit on top to essentially end up with 101% of the goods. The GPL is supposed to prevent that, but it's not perfect and the LGPL offers a (practical) loophole. Of course, you also have other licenses that allow closed extensions or plug-ins.

>> And this is the thing which puts me in a predicament. How do we promote clearly inferior Freedomware, in such cases, when it is technically speaking inferior? What is the reason people should consider using it?

I have the open source faith that frequently enough the open stuff will rise high enough. I like the GPL because it's clearly better for end users and developers like myself (who aren't interested in getting tied down with a regular steady developer job doing to a large degree whatever I am told to do or is in that particular company's best interests). The GPL makes it easier to stay ahead of closed systems because they can borrow less easily (ideas yes but code no). The GPL doesn't stop the copyright owners from relicensing or coming up with their closed 101% closed systems though. No license can fight that, but I still think it is a great deal for devs/users.

One key to reaching a situation where more of the FOSS is superior is to bring more devs on board to this FOSS deal. This is done simultaneously with growing Linux.

It's a very good question (the predicament). I hope you liked my answer.

Many birds with one stone:

Spreading Linux takes freedom to many more people. It helps them better appreciate openness/freedom by making it possible and likely they will experience it hassle free and to its fullest (eg, open standards and open source). It helps current community members (eg, through better hw support coming from a larger market share). It fights the monopoly control (eventually breaking it). It leads to better overall quality software (more devs, doc writers, teachers, feedback, etc). It gives more members of society the tools they need to grow a more free society and learn to solve important problems cooperatively (the good uses should overwhelm the bad uses.. openness allows the good to fight on a fair playing field with the bad, who usually rely on darkness to gain advantage and element of surprise). Surely I am leaving out some more benefits, but you should get the idea. These are all supported by and support the growth of Linux.

Gustavo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-09-11
Hello,Jose

Hello,

Jose wrote:

Gustavo, I think I just noticed that you want "troublemakers" off Linux so that Linux stays pure. Is this observation correct?

I don't think so.

I'd be happy if non-free software was an aberration for most people, that's all I want. But it's not something specific to GNU/Linux. I don't feel anything special about GNU/Linux. I don't consider myself a Linux fanboy either. I've been actually considering switching to a BSD system.

Ideally, "Open Source" and "Free Software" would be the same thing; "Open Source" would just be used to avoid the ambiguous "free" adjective in English (libre or gratis?). But in practice, those who are self-described as "Free Software advocates" are usually real Freedomware advocates, but those who describe themselves as "Open Source advocates" are not real Freedomware advocates (this is, those who think "I'll use the best software I'll find, be it free or not - although Open Source Software usually rocks").

Free Software advocates and Open Source advocates were supposed to be the same thing, but we are not. And people are "becoming" FLOSS users because "Ubuntu, Firefox, Compiz, etc, are cool". So I care about "open source" believers as much as Windows/Mac users, because they are not any better.

I don't want them to leave GNU/Linux, trust me. I am just saying that we should be very careful: We should take care of Open Source advocates as much as Windows and Mac users. Put simply, GNU/Linux does not matter, but only Freedom does.

Quote:

You also don't seem to recognize that hardware support, useful to everyone on Linux, is facilitated with large market share.

What kind of hardware support are you talking about? The unconstrained or the constrained (with NDAs and/or binary-only files) one?

Every device will have unconstrained support the day most people appreciate Freedom in computing.

Quote:

It will be easier for those that want to be 100% free to have a "modern" system if Linux is large than if it is marginalized. Today, everything closed that could be done on Linux is done on Windows. This means Linux is less competitive than it could be because it is more likely that there are more people doing closed source software that can't be reused since Windows encourages that.

If the GNU/Linux userbase keeps growing this way, the "bad habits" will be established here too. Today it's Adobe Flash, what about tomorrow? (free alternatives of Google Earth or Adobe Flash would not necessary in Free Software aware societies).

The OS doesn't matter.

Quote:

Anyway, I'll stop because I really think you want Linux to remain pure and segregated and will fight moving anyone over that may not think 100% in free terms.

I repeat, it has nothing to do with GNU/Linux. I'll happily use Windows or Mac the day they'll be free.

Quote:

Anyway, I respect your approach and your education goals. I have no problem with them and support them. Maybe you are correct that by putting up a strong defense, people will come eventually on your terms. Certainly I understand you not wanting to waste any time advocating anything but freedom. [Other people like myself will be working on bringing users over. ;)]

I don't remember the saying I'd love to use right now. The fact is that you should always fight for more than you expect, because you'll likely get less than that. Sayings are not my stuff Smiling

People who work on cool things for GNU/Linux are required, as well as those who promote them. I love them too, as much as you do (trust me, you won't want me to explain - once again - why I love KDE). But nowadays, I think we need more real Freedomware advocates (as a technician, I'd love won't have to worry about a piece of software being free or not, I just would like to enjoy it - but I cannot). Some day all software will be free and we'll only select those we consider the best.

Quote:

I'll end by repeating yet again that it is inconsistent to say that Firefox on Windows is more free than Firefox on Linux or to imply it (not that you will say or imply that, but some words thrown around here made me nervous). If 99.99% free is as bad as 0% free, we are in for a lot of trouble.. or maybe that means MSware is not that bad. Either way, I don't believe that hypothesis. Isn't "sin" unavoidable by humans? So we should all just sin away, right?

No, indeed almost-fully-free is far better than not-free-at-all.

Quote:

[BTW, what is wrong with mp3? Is it a patents thing and/or is it something else?]

Right, it's patent-encumbered.

And I'll end by quoting an excerpt from a comment I made on my blog:

Quote:

Yes, indeed the way Freedom-depriving software hurts societies is not so tangible (if compared to wars, for example), but I believe that many of the biggest global problems would be solved if societies adopted the Free Knowledge philosophy (and Free Knowledge requires Free Software).

I'm confident it's ignorance the world's root problem, and it can only be eradicated with Free Knowledge (which requires Freedomware).

That's the reason why I promote Freedomware. My personal digital freedom is secondary to me.

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
>> Right, it's

>> Right, it's patent-encumbered.

Anything can "become" patent encumbered (ie, any of the many patents that are overlooked, are in the pipeline, or are difficult to avoid). It's not as if the bar for getting patents is that high. It's very costly to spend time trying to rid software of patents. No GNU system is out of violation.

To me the patent argument is not a reason to avoid using free software, though it does mean I might have preferences for something else (eg, .oggs). In some parts of the world, patents are meaningless. Anyway, I'll leave this sidetrack.

>> I repeat, it has nothing to do with GNU/Linux. I'll happily use Windows or Mac the day they'll be free.

The Windows scenario is extremely unlikely (for the forseeable future) and the Mac scenario just slightly less so, but I agree that as long as we have the ability to verifyably build the software ourselves, there is no closed problem. At that point, there are still things to consider.

One, is some particular company getting significant leverage (eg, owning the copyrights) through us using their system, and what is that company like (how large are they and do they have monopolies or a very closed portfolio elsewhere)?

Two, what is the quality of the offering overall? Just because something is open doesn't mean it will be very useful to me for day to day use.

>> If the GNU/Linux userbase keeps growing this way, the "bad habits" will be established here too. Today it's Adobe Flash, what about tomorrow?

FOSS tends to dominate most proprietary stuff on Linux. Gnash will get better as more devs come work on it. Adobe may very well open up the parts that gnash addresses (Sun opened Java to counter FOSS competition; Trolltech opened up Qt; many companies open up to counter rival FOSS efforts that gain on them since the potential loss is greater if they don't). The trend for software "vendors" really is towards services to making money (as well as online hooks and selling proprietary licenses as MySQL does, but these have nothing to do with Linux). Sun opened up Java. Adobe is one of the last players left of significant influence for the desktop user (Microsoft being the more obvious player, of course).

I certainly expect more bad habits to come, but that goes with the territory if you consider where people are now. However, over time, free is clearly to the end user's gain. But most people need to start building things on free platforms before they will embrace it. You have to put your stuff somewhere. Do we want to make it easy for them or not?

I never expect too close to 100% of anything. I know you want to push for that ideal. I don't disagree (I for one am dying to start seeing more really open hardware). What I don't expect people to do is to convert over night when they have lots of investments in closed areas. Helping that person move to a free system *today* like Linux is *today* and MSware is NOT *today* is helping that person in a significant way to become more free starting *today*.

I understand that you can't just jump at things without thinking about tomorrow, but all the smart money is on Linux being free 2 or even 5 years from now and MSware/Mac remaining closed.

>> What kind of hardware support are you talking about? The unconstrained or the constrained (with NDAs and/or binary-only files) one?
>> Every device will have unconstrained support the day most people appreciate Freedom in computing.

Just because more hardware support will include the constrained kind doesn't mean it will not also include the unconstrained kind and overall help. [Linus develops the kernel, each day making it more difficult for drivers to remain closed.. and NDA's only affect those in contract.. it's a step where otherwise we might get nothing. Anyway, NDA's are another argument.]

My overall belief for software applies to software. The greater the number of Linux users, the more likely the open stuff will dominate on that platform because of the larger number of eyeballs. Many companies didn't even really consider the open hardware push except because of the growing Linux base. In fact, without this open OS, right now more hardare vendors would be struggling and fighting each other to incorporate DRM and meet MS's hw guidelines to work with Vista.

Openness is addictive.

It's possible to believe that generally open source will win out and at the same time not say that you will simply use what is coolest. I mean, if the "open source" world as a whole just wanted the coolest stuff, they'd stop coding. What happens is they strive to get the coolest stuff and keep working at it until it gets there. Generally speaking.

Openness is "viral" (that's Ballmer's contribution to GNU). The more you have around you, the easier it is to grow to like it and grow to appreciate it, but yes, some will probably always use closed stuff at least temporarily.

You did imply in this last post I think that 95% open is better than 5%. Thus, a bigger problem than people using flash on otherwise almost all open Linux has to be people simply using Windows (not to mention flash and a bunch of other things).

Anyway, I have a better view of your focus. I just hope you don't end up working against me as I try to move Jack/Jill onto Linux. If you do, I'll have to keep spending hours and days posting on these forums! Can you say carpal tunnel syndrome?

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
>> Openness is addictive.A

>> Openness is addictive.

A worthy read: http://radian.org/notebook/astounded-in-arahuay

The XO laptop uses Linux btw. [See also this: http://www.linuxtoday.com/news/2008031102626OSHW ]

Spreading Linux helps promote freedom and open standards.

[The converse also applies: accepting Windows is accepting closed source and tolerance for the uncontrollable and nonfree.]

libervisco's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-05-04
If Microsoft embraces an

If Microsoft embraces an open standard and extends it, then it is no longer an open standard in question. However, the original which Microsoft took and extended is still left in tact, because, just like the source code of Free Software, specifications are open.

That said, if particular piece of MSware, such as MS Office, does not support a given open standard (like ODF) then people can use OpenOffice.org, even before they switch to GNU/Linux.

As for whether it's a good idea to have Freedomware on Windows, as I said before, everyone would use Freedomware on completely Free OS's like GNU/Linux. However, when we prioritize freedom then it becomes at least slightly more important to get people to appreciate freedom, including freedomware and open standards, regardless of whether this will make them switch immediately or later on. The point is that once they are aware and care about the issue the seed has been planted and it will drive them in the right direction.

It is all about priorities. Just because we put the awareness of freedom as the NO1 priority doesn't mean that we are losing sight of the value of switching people wholesale to Freedomware, including an operating system. I'd say this is in fact a Priority NO2.

libervisco's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-05-04
Jose wrote: I was trying
Jose wrote:

I was trying to maintain the balance that freedom can mean different things. I was imagining a person that was looking at the more general definitions of freedom to be in the "room" partaking in this conversation

Unfortunately, without clearly defining what we are talking about leaves all three of us in this "room" in a state of confusion. That observer may have whatever definition of freedom he wants, but it is not the freedom I was talking about and I stated clearly what that was. That said, if you want to go on a completely tangential discussion, on what "freedom" most objectively means or how to peace together all the subjective views of freedom, I know a good place where we can do it: Libervis.com. Eye

Jose wrote:

I consider a LiveCD, transparency/FOSS, freedom top to bottom, the ability to truly resolve issues or find unique solutions, various things that may be doable at the distro level, etc, as killer apps contenders.

All of which are possible as a direct consequence of having freedom, hence pointing to the real killer feature.

That said, I'd bet LiveCD is possible on proprietary platforms too. That said, if you disagree with my definition that's fine. But it seems to me even if you expand the definition a bit you're still left with mostly things that are directly tied to freedom.

Jose wrote:

"But a foundation that never has anything useful built upon it is not useful to me." That is how many might think. *End goals/practical results* matter was my point.

You just actually mentioned a number of practical consequences of having freedom. One thing I argue in my Linux+ submitted article is that fully Free Software may be the best way to achieve a perfect "just works" experience. Everyone has the code so everyone can integrate things perfectly just as Apple can integrate all their stuff perfectly since they have access to all of their components (not to mention they actually used some of Free code themselves to get where they are).

Freedom equals more practical benefits than you will ever want in the long term.

Jose wrote:

It's a very good question (the predicament). I hope you liked my answer.

To the extent that you did answer the question, I indeed like it, because your answer can easily be paraphrased as "freedom" (you speak of benefits of GPL and GPL is meant to provide and protect freedom). Smiling

As for needing more developers, sure that'd help, but then and there when the software still isn't developed well enough for a given person to switch you can't throw the superiority argument successfully unless you include freedom/power to control your own computer and to actually help that thing become better. Interestingly, since this argument in such a scenario has a better chance of success it actually ends up increasing the number of people using Freedomware and hence proportionately the amount of development work being done on it. Yet when the superiority argument fails, and you fail to bring up freedom, you are surely at loss on all counts.

---

I think, overall, that you have misunderstood mine and Gustavo's views as more extreme than they really are and then tried to argue with that false assumption. Yet is it incredibly simple. As said earlier, it is all about priorities, not necessarily about abandoning one thing in favour of another.

As my priorities stand:

1. Spread awareness of freedom without forcing everyone to use 100% Free Software (once they are aware of the issue they should be capable of making their decisions about it themselves). This "not forcing" policy might be the only thing which you misinterpret as "let's leave them all on Windows until they are willing to use 100% Free Software" - totally wrong. Even if they move to GNU/Linux and still use things like Flash, yet are aware of the ethical problems flash poses and restrictions which, by using it, they accepted, they wont exactly have the "open source" mind set and will more likely be to contribute to an effort to develop a free alternative (like Gnash). This is a big difference.

2. Switch people to a Free OS like GNU/Linux. It does matter big time, but success at doing this will be much more fulfilling if the guy/gal who switched knows that a big difference that GNU/Linux makes is in their freedom, not just being "better" in a relative sense in which Mac OS X or god forbid Vista could be.

I thing we just have to do thing thing for the right reasons, or else why does it even matter? If nobody would care about freedom which makes the roots of Free Software then 20 years from now Linux might have 70% market share yet be so filled with layers of proprietary standards and software that it might not make much more difference than Mac OS X or even Windows. You may think this could never happen, but this is only because by being so active organizations like FSF pretty much made you believe that there are always people who'll make sure things don't turn out that way.

I am talking about a scenario in which such people would've ceased to exist long time ago. GNU/Linux would be worthless of a cause outside of the realm of fanboyism and having an alternative to Windows (but replacing rotten apple with another isn't much achievement).

Bruce Byfield talked about this exact thing in his recent article: GNU/Linux World Domination for the Wrong Reasons

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
I had a eureka moment. I

[Modified until about a half hour after initial posting.]

I had a eureka moment. I think I see your and Gustavo's angle better now. I'll try and describe it. Then I will give a motivation for why I think I still would stick with the view that we should sacrifice efforts to advance FOSS on Windows in order to instead improve FOSS on Linux whenever possible.

*** Your view expressed so as to highlight some subtleties I did not see before: ***

If Linux is tempting, those moving have proved little (ie, we remain doubtful and they may be fooling themselves), but if they move by themselves off Windows, then they earned Linux and proved their freedom views and are likely to on average have more strength to remain true longer or through more difficult future challenges.

*** To be or not to be: ***

I am not convinced though that you can't adopt strong principles even if you move to Linux first for the wrong reasons. Meanwhile, there would be gains for the rest of the community if users prefer this path over a path where they may stay on Windows for a long time. I mean what if in the end most people don't care about freedom (let's suppose) or at least won't put it on the number 1 spot or very very high? Would society not still be better off if Linux were used more than Windows? Sure there would be more people enjoying the fruits without appreciation, but how about those that do have appreciation?

So..

Is it better to put society on hold until the majority are ready to move forward? Or is it better to take society forward (Linux) so that those that appreciate it get more fruits?

That is the question we are debating I believe.

*** My view: ***

I can understand the "slow and measured" movement scenario, but there are other costs to staying put.

Additionally, to invoke Christian religious beliefs for a moment, there is something powerful about being given a gift that you don't deserve. Yes, you may not deserve it, yet when you do come to your senses, that can be a very powerful experience that can ultimately perhaps lead to more net gain for society.

*** But doubt remains: ***

But what if you don't come to your senses? Truly, what approach would serve society the best on average?

And have we really gone overboard here? This is, after all, just computer software we are talking about.

Eye

PS: Imagine if we were individually magically taken back to whatever society would fit our current sense of appreciation and fortitude? Yes, I could use a swift one to the head every now and then, but I sure am happy to be able to stay where I am. I actually view as preferable to bring up other people than to hold us back.. at least as a society. ..Specifically, I guess I am talking about "bringing up" people by making it harder for their wrong platform to remain competitive so that a switch to the better (ie, freer) one is easier. Both dueling approaches described above involve the easy and the difficult, the painful and the comfortable.. I guess my bias has to do with being a developer or maybe it has to do with me not having gotten too attached to Windows at any point in time..

BUT we are off the boat anyway. Things will just happen. This is computer software for goodness sake!!! Laughing

PS2: Don't forget to invoke religious teachings when you reply in disagreement. You CAN'T let me get away with that. Smiling

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
My earlier reply is useful

My earlier reply is useful here, too: http://www.nuxified.org/topic/gnu_linux_does_not_matter_that_much#comment-12146

This prior link really is my best answer; however, at the risk of possibly opening up more points to be argued, I'll add some things specific to your reply here..

I understand your argument about sticking to the most correct path because that one would be the best path long term.

I just think that the most correct path involves easying the path towards an appreciation for proper standards by getting users to see a good model ASAP, even while they haven't fully learned the grasshopper lesson.

Contrasted to your approach of a more theoretical nature with less hands on practice in the early stages.

I don't know if I truly believe this describes our differences, but I would almost say that, if so, it would reflect an American vs a European bias.. or at least I am thinking of that stereotype right now.

THIS IS ONLY SOFTWARE !!! Laughing

PS: I am starting to be convinced that we each (+ others) appreciate freedom in all areas, but just have a slightly preferred approach towards moving forward. At least I feel a little better since there are many people sharing your views, and it is frustrating to me. Sometimes it seems like a submarine attack. I can see how your approach benefits Microsoft. In fact, we would agree it would.. short-term. Longer term.. let's not argue any more.. I do try to think long term and think the Linux *today* path is the best one.. at least the best path for me to push given my perspective/motivations and capabilities. The world needs people of all perspectives and experiences.

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
The part about this only

The part about this only being software was a joke to mock us. Yes there are more important issues IMO (L&D, eg), but this is important enough or we wouldn't be here quarreling.

Gustavo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-09-11
Exactly
libervisco wrote:

As for whether it's a good idea to have Freedomware on Windows, as I said before, everyone would use Freedomware on completely Free OS's like GNU/Linux. However, when we prioritize freedom then it becomes at least slightly more important to get people to appreciate freedom, including freedomware and open standards, regardless of whether this will make them switch immediately or later on. The point is that once they are aware and care about the issue the seed has been planted and it will drive them in the right direction.

I fully agree with you, once again. =)

Gustavo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-09-11
Jose wrote:>> Right, it's
Jose wrote:

>> Right, it's patent-encumbered.

Anything can "become" patent encumbered (ie, any of the many patents that are overlooked, are in the pipeline, or are difficult to avoid). It's not as if the bar for getting patents is that high. It's very costly to spend time trying to rid software of patents. No GNU system is out of violation.

To me the patent argument is not a reason to avoid using free software, though it does mean I might have preferences for something else (eg, .oggs). In some parts of the world, patents are meaningless. Anyway, I'll leave this sidetrack.

I meant "it's royalty-encumbered", sorry.

Quote:

>> I repeat, it has nothing to do with GNU/Linux. I'll happily use Windows or Mac the day they'll be free.

The Windows scenario is extremely unlikely (for the forseeable future) and the Mac scenario just slightly less so, but I agree that as long as we have the ability to verifyably build the software ourselves, there is no closed problem. At that point, there are still things to consider.

One, is some particular company getting significant leverage (eg, owning the copyrights) through us using their system, and what is that company like (how large are they and do they have monopolies or a very closed portfolio elsewhere)?

Two, what is the quality of the offering overall? Just because something is open doesn't mean it will be very useful to me for day to day use.

What I meant is that, if it's freedomware, I would not mind using it, unless I have other reasons to avoid it.

Quote:

>> If the GNU/Linux userbase keeps growing this way, the "bad habits" will be established here too. Today it's Adobe Flash, what about tomorrow?

FOSS tends to dominate most proprietary stuff on Linux. Gnash will get better as more devs come work on it. Adobe may very well open up the parts that gnash addresses (Sun opened Java to counter FOSS competition; Trolltech opened up Qt; many companies open up to counter rival FOSS efforts that gain on them since the potential loss is greater if they don't). The trend for software "vendors" really is towards services to making money (as well as online hooks and selling proprietary licenses as MySQL does, but these have nothing to do with Linux). Sun opened up Java. Adobe is one of the last players left of significant influence for the desktop user (Microsoft being the more obvious player, of course).

So what? Our long-term goal must not be developing free alternatives to freedom-trampling software, but make people know about their rights. In Free Software aware societies, all software would be completely free. See my controversial article "The Big Failure of the FSF".

Quote:

I certainly expect more bad habits to come, but that goes with the territory if you consider where people are now. However, over time, free is clearly to the end user's gain. But most people need to start building things on free platforms before they will embrace it. You have to put your stuff somewhere. Do we want to make it easy for them or not?

Definitely. But the question is, why? Just to use GNU/Linux or to adopt Freedomware as a whole (progressively)?

Quote:

>> What kind of hardware support are you talking about? The unconstrained or the constrained (with NDAs and/or binary-only files) one?
>> Every device will have unconstrained support the day most people appreciate Freedom in computing.

Just because more hardware support will include the constrained kind doesn't mean it will not also include the unconstrained kind and overall help. [Linus develops the kernel, each day making it more difficult for drivers to remain closed.. and NDA's only affect those in contract.. it's a step where otherwise we might get nothing. Anyway, NDA's are another argument.]

My overall belief for software applies to software. The greater the number of Linux users, the more likely the open stuff will dominate on that platform because of the larger number of eyeballs. Many companies didn't even really consider the open hardware push except because of the growing Linux base. In fact, without this open OS, right now more hardare vendors would be struggling and fighting each other to incorporate DRM and meet MS's hw guidelines to work with Vista.

Developing free drivers for closed hardware must not be the long-term goal, again. We must fight to make all hardware open.

Quote:

Openness is addictive.

It's possible to believe that generally open source will win out and at the same time not say that you will simply use what is coolest. I mean, if the "open source" world as a whole just wanted the coolest stuff, they'd stop coding. What happens is they strive to get the coolest stuff and keep working at it until it gets there. Generally speaking.

I think that's untrue. I cannot think of a single reason why "open source developers" would stop using these software development methodologies.

  • "Open source" developers, like Torvalds, love this way of making software, and they respect users' freedom (as a consequence of their software methodologies, not because they're moved by freedom). And *many* of them don't mind developing "closed source" software (see MySQL, Trolltech, BitRock, etc.)
  • "Open source" users love "open source" software because it uses to be cooler. But they don't think twice before using "closed source" software when its free alternatives are not so cool, or don't meet their needs.
  • Freedomware developers are concerned about freedom (and thus they respect users' freedom) and love this way of making software. They don't develop freedom-depriving software.
  • Freedomware users only use freedom-respectful software, unless they *really* have no option but use a non-free software temporarily.
Quote:

You did imply in this last post I think that 95% open is better than 5%. Thus, a bigger problem than people using flash on otherwise almost all open Linux has to be people simply using Windows (not to mention flash and a bunch of other things).

But, do they care about freedom? Are they switching to freedomware progressively? A Windows user concerned about freedom and switching to freedomware over Windows (with intentions to switch to GNU/Linux later on), is much better than a "open source" GNU/Linux user.

Quote:

Anyway, I have a better view of your focus. I just hope you don't end up working against me as I try to theymove Jack/Jill onto Linux. If you do, I'll have to keep spending hours and days posting on these forums! Can you say carpal tunnel syndrome?

Don't worry! Go ahead! Our getgnulinux.org website will become the ultimate online reference for GNU/Linux someday *soon* (it's already in non-English communities). So, the more people know about it, the more people will know about freedomware through getgnulinux.org.

Cheers!

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
>> So what? Our long-term

Before replying to this comment, see the reply to this comment that I am about to add below. I add things to the arguments that were left unfinished here. I broke it out into a separate posting to make it easier to read. If I had more writing skills and time I might combine the two ideally. I think the current setup is good enough for the moment.

>> See my controversial article "The Big Failure of the FSF".

My contention is that freedom is served more by people having Linux under their noses as quickly as possible, than by not hearing a message and having a bit more FOSS on Windows under their nose or even by hearing the message and having a bit more FOSS on Windows under their nose.

So I do believe spreading Linux the software helps communicate the message *even* if you initially introduce them to it in a context where freedom is not the most important. Even more strongly is my belief that, if you do introduce them to it properly, it is better to have the Linux there than not.

We seem to agree on the end goal but not on the path to that end goal.

Like you, I don't believe in one jump to 100% free if that can't be done. However, you seem to think that FOSS ideals are best taught with a bit of FOSS on Windows rather than with almost 100% FOSS on Linux (with Windows on the side if necessary).

Linux under people's noses provides better contrast to Windows than does a bit more FOSS on Windows under people's noses. All else being the same, the highest level of contrast makes learning/appreciating a concept the easiest possible.

When people have Linux there in hand, they also have Windows and perhaps even FOSS on Windows nearby. Not only do they have greater contrast with Linux there, but they don't give anything up. They also don't give up the opportunity to see the milder contrast that OO.org on Windows provides vs MSO. This means that the user sees a wider array of things and can still opt for the pace of migration that is appropriate. By leaving Linux out or advocating against it being there under the wrong circumstances, you are taking that choice and perspective away from the end user. It's as if you know what sort of steps they are better off taking.

Perhaps you think that too much choice is bad and will (on average) confuse and hurt in the long term. If you think that, then state it and present your case.

Perhaps you think that Linux introduced while freedom is discouraged hurts the freedom message. Well, who is doing this and to what extent? If I see a specific case, then we can look at that. It still remains that regardless of what is told at time A, something else can be told at time B, yet they will have the product there. [The assumption was that they were introduced to Linux for a positive reason (eg, quality) and not for all negative reasons.] Even if you give positives at time B, someone can come around at time C and G and P to say the opposite.

But at least Linux is there so that your arguments of freedom, whenever they come, will have a more accurate context in which they will be heard. And with Linux there, it will be more likely that the user discovers freedom all by themselves or figures out that arguments downplaying freedom are ill-conceived.

So I believe more will approach the level of appreciation Gustavo has sooner if they have Linux nearby sooner. From that greater level of appreciation sooner comes more benefits to Linux sooner EVEN THOUGH the average level of appreciation for Linux users will go down initially because of all the users with bad habits and a lack of appreciation coming in quickly. [This last part shows why I thought you were worrying about the average taking a dip (ie, Linux becoming contaminated) and not the long term view of more people improving their understanding and their lives QUICKER.]

As far as the FSF's approach...

I don't see anything wrong with the FSF advocating a fully free system. That is the model they are holding up, and some are trying to live by it. That by itself is not that useful but the FSF does other things. In fact, the FSF may not be that vocal and spend that much on advertizing their ideal model (do they?) because they recognize that it is impractical for many.

Thankfully, the world does not depend on the FSF to turn. There are potentially a few more billion people that can take steps the FSF may not be taking.

And let's not forget other costs of going slow...

Microsoft gains more dollars in order to fight us. Some of their new hooks (eg, through Vista) and other tricks will have a chance to reach further.

Effort spent improving FOSS on Windows slows us down...

Obviously, the contrast between Windows and Linux (at least on the surface) is lessened. This lessens the ability mentioned above to contrast and learn, which also then diminishes the motivation to give Linux a more thorough look.

FOSS on Windows demeans FOSS. It is fake FOSS. That environment lacks many of the benefits of FOSS on Linux where you never reach a wall and can always contribute to multiple interfacing projects at the same time, sometimes leading to a change in these interfaces. On Windows I have no doubt Microsoft improves interfaces and incorporates it into their interlocking products. Us on the outside however don't benefit as much as we would want to (they won't give up all their tricks and savings, even if they wanted to, since they use closed source), and we can't contribute and fix things ourselves or offer competitive examples (fork). .. And then there is all the other things MS does on purpose to help eliminate competition of any sort.

FOSS on Windows is untrustworthy. It is giving FOSS a bad name and giving a limited view of what real FOSS (on Linux) is like. The contrast is missing and is perverted. The chances that freedom will be appreciated as one looks out from Windows are lessened. The chances of leaving Windows to really give Linux a try are also lessened. This means Gustavo will be wondering why people "don't get it" for a longer amount of time and wasting extra amounts of his time.

>> Developing free drivers for closed hardware must not be the long-term goal, again. We must fight to make all hardware open.

My posts here (as Jose_X) cover some of the above, but there is a section devoted just to device drivers. http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2008031201626OPBZDP .

If you have a solid argument that says that by time X in the future we should have more free drivers if we do this or that (which disagrees with the argument I posted at that link), then present it.

>> I think that's untrue. I cannot think of a single reason why "open source developers" would stop using these software development methodologies.

You lost me. I said (or intended to say) quite the opposite of what I think you are implying I said.

>> But, do they care about freedom? Are they switching to freedomware progressively? A Windows user concerned about freedom and switching to freedomware over Windows (with intentions to switch to GNU/Linux later on), is much better than a "open source" GNU/Linux user.

You are missing something. Yes, what you said is true, but for any particular user, being on Linux will help more (on average). That is what I claim. What you compare is a user on Linux that cares not for freedom vs a user on Windows that cares a bit more. At no point do you provide any evidence that this is the same user we are talking about, ie, that a typical user will advance towards freedom quicker when on Windows with FOSS than when on Linux with FOSS.

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
Here I consider some more

See the sibling post.

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
Here I consider some more

Here I consider some more issues wrt introducing Linux at the "wrong time or under the wrong circumstances" where wrong generally refers to "too soon".

Maybe you are worried about introducing something the end user is not ready for.

Personally, I hate it when others make that decision on my behalf. I always want maximal access, but I do understand the worry that some minds are just too unprepared for some things. But, assuming the worry is justified, who says Gustavo knows enough about others' minds to make that determination?

Doesn't communism and many dictatorial states always try to make those sorts of decisions for users/citizens? Even in a place where many things are not censored, we always have many groups censoring for their particular followers. Most people seem to want a certain amount of censorship for kids.

But how do you extend some of these more commonly accepted censorships (eg, hate, pornog..) to Linux/freedom?

I think the risk of (opportunity) loss is greater by doing little to spread Linux instead of by doing too much. If others spread Linux, will you be trying to confiscate discs, for example.. because people are not ready?

If anything, today Linux is mostly free. The longer we wait, the more proprietary applications will exist. This is one reason I want to move sooner rather than later.

Or do you think that only when we have the open drivers should we release Linux unto the masses? What if this day never comes, or things get worse (ie, the proportion of closed drivers to open drivers grows), or it takes longer to arrive because of how small the Linux market is (as I argued in the link provided earlier to Linux Today)?

Simply, I think all of this is misleading. Knowledge and access is good for end users. If end users think Linux is useless (eg, for their hardware), they will just stay on Windows. Maybe in 5 years they will try Linux again. Maybe in 2 years. Maybe they will petition and ask about Linux support because they want it to work.

Society may find that X% of freedom is good enough. Do you worry that if people dive into Linux when they are not ready, they may settle on a number that is less than 100%.. say 89% or worse?

Well, here is what you are doing. You are giving Microsoft time to help guide society into such a stable point. And I am almost certain that point will be LOWER than if we let the current Linux community take the reigns. Time is on their side in many ways. You are helping people slowly get more free until they reach some low percentage where more would be nice but not if it is uncomfortable or only if there is a significant pay-off to warrant the small extra increase in openness/freedom.

On argument you might use is that if people are shocked, they will revert to a lower percentage. Well, it's too late for that. People will always be getting shocks about how unready Linux is. It's been happening for years. The way out is to improve Linux faster (ie, focus on Linux FOSS not Windows FOSS), not to give Microsoft and other closed vendors time to open up just enough.

In the end, any argument along these lines in your favor seem to me to be questionable at best. At worst, the good stuff is being delayed and the ultimate good stuff will certainly not be reached.

****** a little more harping on the same points...

I want to grow Linux and not wait for some balance more suitable to Microsoft to be found.

Today, we have a good model of free Linux and we can show people that very starkly different model and simultaneously explain the benefits and how that can help them out. Waiting may improve the model a little (eg, make a few of the current binary drivers open), but odds are that it will make things less free on average. When you already have a high average, it's much easier to go down. At some point, Microsoft may give people a compromise they can live with, and people will never even believe that you can be almost 100% free. They may believe that anything more than 85% is unrealistic or not worth the inconveniences.

Remember that Microsoft if wooing FOSS devs. The result will be that Windows FOSS will advance faster than on Linux or fast enough that with 85% openness, Linux will not be able to become attractive enough to overcome the inconveniences of a migration (the liability for leaving Windows will continue to grow as long as Microsoft can do something about that).

Offline
Joined: 2007-09-10
Just posted this on LT

Just posted this on LT http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2008031201626OPBZDP . It's another reply to Bruce Byfield's recent article about being VERY careful about moving people off Windows.

After a slow day yesterday, I was really hoping I was reaching the end of this discussion on whether or not it is a good idea to spread Linux to Windows users in order to advance freedom.

**********

>> Seeing GNU/Linux shift from the fringe to the mainstream is exciting, no question. Being part of that shift is even more so. Yet in the rebellious glee of watching the paradigms shifting, we need to consider that acceptance can sometimes come at too high a cost. True, insisting that the ethics that built the operating system share in its success may delay or even halt that same success. Yet if those ethics don't survive, then the success will not be worth having.

I like a lot of what the article says. The problem I have is that commercial players like Novell (and many others) are doing their own thing and are not going to put community above profits EVER. At most they will find some sort of balance but profits never come second in today's corporate legal environment.

So is the author really talking to community members like Novell when he appeals to freedom above all instead of to profits above all? I don't think so. He is talking to the rest of us.

The problem with the rest of us, the majority of the community, going slow is that every day companies like Novell find more ways to certify more closed source drivers and have more software written (mono) that would be maximized on the closed Windows platform.

Everyday, Microsoft opens up just a little more and comes closer to wooing just enough FOSS developers to its side to approach the tipping point in the balance between FOSS devs primarily coding for Windows and those primarily coding for Linux. At some point Windows FOSS will grow faster or fast enough compared to the 100% Linux FOSS.

The effect will be that most users will reach a level of "freedom" and "openness" on Microsoft's platform that is just good enough so that Linux will not be able to improve fast enough as compared to Windows to make it worthwhile for most users to make the efforts.

At that point, society will have settled on an amount of openness that is far below what would happen if the majority were already accustomed to and using Linux at least part time.

As nice as most of what Bruce is saying, I have to strongly disagree at least with the ultimate conclusion that we should slow down and that anything but near perfection is not worth leaving Windows. Linux has a ton of FOSS drivers and FOSS apps today. Is that not good enough? Is it worth risking having that situation decay? Corps will never make profits less important. Corps pick closed whenever possible because that gives them an advantage. Corps look for hurdles to freedom and easy access. Look at the recent pattern of Microsoft getting many corps to deal with them to approach their level instead of the FSF's level.

So instead of going slowly and carefully, I advocate quite the opposite. We can't move fast enough. Today's Linux platform do stand out in many ways and offer some unique things to users. The contrast between what freedom means and doesn't mean is not likely to be much greater than what we have today when we put Linux alongside a typical installation of Vista or even of XP. At least today Linux is competitive and much freer.

To go slow is to give up and yield the upper hand to Microsoft to dictate the level of freeness for most users into the forseeable future.. certainly that will be if enough FOSS devs take enough of the various bites or sips that MS has set out (eg, mono, "interoperability", etc).

Spread Linux and improve Linux. Closed source cannot keep up if we focus and keep increasing the value of real openness and gaining more users.

Code to help Linus' kernel or code to help Ballmer's kernel? Help sell Linus' imperfect freedom or sell acceptance of Ballmer's version? Those that really want freedom have a really tough choice presented before them. I'm not even sure I know which to get behind? Ballmer, surely. That's what Bruce says we should do if we can't make it to the level of RMS.

...

Another interesting idea being cooked up was presented with a post here http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/26899/ dated "Mar 12, 2008 1:04 AM". Linux will reach 1 million doorsteps.

....

plmday's picture
Offline
Joined: 2008-03-23