|Subject:||Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Ubuntu !free|
|Date:||Sun, 04 May 2008 09:11:08 +0100|
|User-agent:||Thunderbird 184.108.40.206 (X11/20080227)|
Tim Dobson wrote: <snip>
I would suggest that it is productive to push so far and not further. Being able to sense the line is something which is quite hard to judge and actually stopping the conversation there is also something difficult.
The trick, which is quite difficult, is to try and be friendly with someone and explain it to them or ask them whether they have [insert small step towards freedom] yet?
Yes, there's a real and important distinction here: on the one hand, the psychology of helping *people* to move to free software; and, on the other, the (moral) principles by which we might judge the software
itself.It may be true that some distros are not perfectly free. That's where this thread started, with aidy lewis's question: "In last night's lecture Stallman gave some examples of free GNU distros. Ubuntu was not one of them. Why then does Ubuntu say it is free software... If it is not free software, should we not raise a bug against Ubuntu?"
But then others pointed out that every one of the GNU/Linux distros most people actually use are imperfect in regard to freedom from all proprietary elements.
And the line that Tim describes (above) is to do with what 'people actually use'. It's created by the fact that free software does not yet do *all* the things that people have come to need / want / enjoy that using computers gets them.
Richard Stallman's personal take on this seems to be, "If it's not free, I don't use it; and if that means there are some things I can't do, well, that's tough, but I'll live with that". But Richard is a hero, and a saint in the Church of Emacs: it is not given to everyone to chose the life of a monk. In regard to free software, most of us are closer to the young Augustine (later a saint in another church), who prayed, "Lord, make me chaste - but not just yet!"
For ordinary mortals, there have to be means for us to take the first steps towards freedom: from gmail to Thunderbird; from WinXP to Ubuntu; from Ubuntu to Debian; from Debian to gNewSense. (Ooops - gNewSense 2.0 is Ubuntu Hardy with the impurities removed, so the path is not so clear, is it?)
This path is important to the psychology of people's adoption of free software. We don't yet have entirely free software that will do immediately everything that people who have been using proprietary software are used to; and we can't expect they them to adopt the life of a hermit for the sake of freedom. So distros like Ubuntu are a very important bridge in the process of helping people get free. Perhaps an essential bridge just now?
The difficult question is, how to keep moving beyond the bridge: how to keep developers engage with the principles of freeing software and not just making the bridge more attractive. (Especially when Mark Shuttleworth is such a nice guy, and is prepared to spend a lot of his own money on improving the bridge!)
Any ideas? Mac
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