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Supporting Free Software everywhere?

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libervisco's picture
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As I was writing a new shorter version of our introduction on the homepage I was somehow reminded of the idea that we should support Free Software everywhere rather than discriminating on the OS used - that the real battle is not between GNU/Linux and Windows, but Free Software and proprietary software. In this sense, every time someone replaces an application, while still sticking with Windows, is a win. What if that someone comes here for help?

So far the official policy was that we don't support people running proprietary operating systems.

I'm thinking of changing this policy and adjusting the forums to fit. The new policy would be that we will talk about and support all Free Software no matter who and where it is being ran, but of course encouraging people to wholesale switch to one of the Free OS's, which is usually going to be GNU/Linux. Eye

There are a few points to consider in favor of this change:

  • Too many "classic" competitors in the "Linux help" field. Doing something profoundly different might help differentiate us even further. We ain't just another "linux help" forum.
  • We've already been more open towards other Free OSs and Free Software in general, already differing in that sense - even our slogan/description said "Free Software Support Community" all along. Therefore this seems quite natural.
  • We could earn some more sympathy from those who have believed that there should be no barriers between Free Software based on which OS it is. This change makes us more explicitly a really "Free Software" community in the first place (heck even if you prefer calling it "Open Source", the point is in supporting software which basically fits both definitions, so Open Source people are very welcome - they by all means still use Free Software, no matter how they call it).

Some things that are not in favor of this change:

  • Perhaps it's going to be a bit harder to market the site based on the "Linux" label, but then again, considering the competition it never has been easy, and yet we can still keep the "GNU/Linux" name in certain places, it is the biggest Free Software OS afterall..
  • Perhaps some Open Source people will be alienated despite that this change does not at all make this site propagate the Free Software philosophy specifically - it merely provides technical support to all users of what some call "Free Software" (including us) and some "Open Source" no matter which Free Software or Open Source software and OS it is.

The current intro message says the following:

"Everyone is welcome! If you use or would like to use Free Software on GNU/Linux, BSD or even Windows you should be right at home on Nuxified.org.

We wont be rude, we wont abuse you with ads and we will strive to be as friendly as possible. If that sounds like fun to you, hop in and say hello to our community or read more about us."

Please post what your opinions. Thank you.

Danijel

libervisco's picture
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I've started a new FAQ

I've started a new FAQ which would fit the new introduction and this new way of presenting ourselves to users.

free-zombie's picture
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It sounds like a good idea.

It sounds like a good idea. Actually, that introduction is short and sweet. But: I'm not sure fsf.org is the best place to link "Free Software" too — the readers should of course be linked there eventually, but the term itself might better link to something explaining the term, be that the free software definition, or an article like this one I wrote a few months ago

tbuitenh's picture
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The "other free operating

The "other free operating systems" forum set should be renamed to "other operating systems", and two forums should be added to it:

- ReactOS and Free software on MS Windows
- FreeDOS and Free software on MSDOS

The second forum might be rather inactive unless we manage to get some people from the FreeDOS community to use it. So maybe only add the first...

One worry I have about supporting free software on Windows is that most of us are GNU/Linux or BSD people. I for one don't know anything about Windows.

libervisco's picture
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free-zombie wrote: But:
free-zombie wrote:

But: I'm not sure fsf.org is the best place to link "Free Software" too

You may be right. I'll change the link then.

Quote:

The "other free operating systems" forum set should be renamed to "other operating systems", and two forums should be added to it

That may be the easiest way of doing it, though I'm not sure it would be most effective. Another way would be to not divide forums per operating systems at all, but merely make them all just about Free Software. If someone wants to specify an OS they can do so with tags or we could add a bunch of preselected tags/categories for OS's to choose from. But the normal layout will be similar to what we have for the GNU/Linux support except that it wont be limited to only GNU/Linux. For example, the "GNU/Linux distributions" may just be "Distributions" or something like that.

But I'm really not sure about that yet. For a while we really touted GNU/Linux most, and that particular forum, "GNU/Linux distributions" was even meant to help people choose between various GNU/Linux distros and changing it to all distros may add to confusion. The fact still remains GNU/Linux will be the most popular way to go Free Software wholesale.

Gotta think about it.

Thanks for your suggestions.

tbuitenh's picture
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Okay, looking at it from a

Okay, looking at it from a different perspective... we may still have too many forums! I think "*BSD" and "Other Free Operating Systems" could be merged with "GNU/Linux Distributions", the result of the merge could be renamed "OS/Distribution specific". The forum description could be taken from the distributions forum, with only minor changes.

Looking at the other forum descriptions, I noticed a reference to freeos.com. This site lists some operating systems that are not free, such as QNX...

libervisco's picture
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Sounds like a decent

Sounds like a decent idea.

So basically we would blur the line between distributions and OSs. Anyone thinks that is a good/bad idea?

I also actually think we might be missing an obvious forum for certain things... For example, I recently wanted to ask a question about file systems (I didn't since I in the meantime resolved my issue), but I wasn't sure about the best forum to put it on. I thought maybe "software support" forum would be fitting, and it probably is, but I can see this giving new users a pause. Because "software support" is in fact such a general term that it can make people wonder "ok, so what do you mean by that?".

Because of this I'm thinking of some additional modifications. Here are some proposals:

  • 1. Rename "software support" to "application programs" or "applications" (common term for software other than system tools, including file systems).
  • 2. Create a new forum for "system software" or "system utilities" or "system tools".
  • 3. Rename "hardware support" into "hardware support and drivers" to make it more obvious that this is where people can also ask about software related to "driving" the hardware, further lessening the potential burden from "software support"
  • 4. Rename "servers and networking" into "Networking and connectivity" in order to attract desktop users with connection issues or networking desires, since we do want to attract a more mainstream desktop user. The forum would still welcome server administration related topics though.
  • 5. Perhaps rename "software and web development" into "software and web programming" because "programming" is a more familiar word to a common desktop user.
  • 6. Rearrange the order in which forums are displayed according to the likelihood of a topic being posted in them. So "application programs" and "distribution/OS specific" would be at the top while "command line" and programming forum would be at the bottom.
  • Hmm.. loose the command line forum? Not sure...

These are just initial suggestions and I'm not sure if any would be best to do, but maybe someone will have more thoughts that would help make final decisions.

Edit: OK, maybe some of the things above could be simplified, just "networking" instead of "networking and connectivity", "programming" instead of "software and development programming" (or maybe just "programming and scripting") etc. We might also need a "general" forum to catch all cases where a question may still not fit any other forum.

Thanks

tbuitenh's picture
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Sounds good to me with the

Sounds good to me with the changes in the EDIT applied.

2+3 I think "system utilities and drivers" could be one forum, these often appear in the same situations, and often it's not clear to which category they belong (where does a question to which the answer is "hdparm" go?).

4 Name it "networking" and explain the two-sided purpose in the explanatory paragraph in the forum list.

5 "Programming" is enough, scripting is a subset of that. Writing HTML and CSS strictly speaking isn't programming, though... also there might be confusion with where questions about web development should go: networking or programming?

6 good idea

7 No! Having a command line forum is useful:
- it keeps questions that would scare beginners separated from the rest
- it attracts advanced users, who are able to help others
- intermediate users need a place to satisfy their curiosity
- the powerful command line with lots of scripts and utilities available for it is one good reason to use a Free OS
- the command line is FUN!

But indeed the command line forum should be all the way at the bottom, so questions about command line system utilities don't end up in it.

libervisco's picture
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tbuitenh wrote: 2+3 I
tbuitenh wrote:

2+3 I think "system utilities and drivers" could be one forum, these often appear in the same situations, and often it's not clear to which category they belong (where does a question to which the answer is "hdparm" go?).

What to do with the hardware forum then? It becomes this new one?

Quote:

Writing HTML and CSS strictly speaking isn't programming

Isn't it much like scripting?

Quote:

there might be confusion with where questions about web development should go: networking or programming?

I'm not sure myself about that... Networking is more about establishing connections and networks and things related to administering those on a lower level. Web programming is basically higher level development of applications that go on top of those networks.. so maybe it would still better fit the programming forum.

With the rest I agree... and we'll keep the command line forum. Smiling

tbuitenh's picture
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ask Turing
libervisco wrote:

What to do with the hardware forum then? It becomes this new one?

I guess so.

Quote:
Quote:

Writing HTML and CSS strictly speaking isn't programming

Isn't it much like scripting?

Scripting is a subset of programming. Then what makes something a programming language? At the very least it should be Turing complete, and as far as I can tell HTML and CSS are not.

libervisco's picture
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I see. Alright, if anyone

I see.

Alright, if anyone else has any other ideas and suggestion you're welcome to propose them.

Thanks!

libervisco's picture
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I think we might need to

I think we might need to keep a forum for hardware there somewhere.. Although this is primarily a software support site pure hardware issues are occasionally inevitable so it seems reasonable to let people to ask such questions.

So either we make the hardware forum separate in addition to "system utilities and drivers" or we make that one a "system utilities, drivers and hardware", though that's becoming a bit patchy...

libervisco's picture
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Does anyone else have any

Does anyone else have any opinions on this? Do you think blurring the lines between OSs here and focusing only on what is Free Software regardless where it is ran (as long as it's on desktop, laptop and perhaps mobile computers) is a good idea?

I'd like to know an opinion of both the established active users and new users.

Thank you!

free-zombie's picture
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Jumbling OS's together and

Jumbling OS's together and still clearly separating "advanced" stuff like servers and programming... sounds good to me.

libervisco's picture
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Well one way to think of

Well one way to think of this would be turning away from being a OS support site to a simply software support site. You have those which are even more general like "IT support" or "tech talk". Ours would be software support with focus on Free as in freedom Software.

I think we'll have a go at this today.

libervisco's picture
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It is done.

And it's done, with the exception of moving some topics that may now have a more fitting place in another forum, although I believe those should be few because most changes are rounding up the previous topics in previous forums.

Some issues that remain to be decided are where to put questions regarding the kernel (of any OS) and things like package management questions. Should these be in an Operating Systems forum or in system tools forum because they can roughly fit in both? Both tend to be OS specific and both can be considered to be core system tools.

tbuitenh's picture
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kernel - OS

kernel - OS specific

package management - system tools (they may be used on quite different operating systems), except when the question is about the management of a special package specific to some OS (eg how debian handles kernel packages)

libervisco's picture
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Seems like something my

Seems like something my instinct was going for as well..

Thanks!