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Re: Release plans

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2008 17:12:12 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

'Afternoon, Richard!

On Sat, Aug 02, 2008 at 01:12:10AM -0400, Richard M Stallman wrote:
>     > Have you seen any cases where that eventually led a person to
>     > switch from proprietary software to free software?

>     Well, that's not a binary thing.  Seeing Emacs has caused people to
>     use free software more, and to use more free software.  Many
>     projects I've been on have run on a Windows or Unix company
>     network, but have used GCC, GNU Make, bash, and friends to build
>     the product.  I've introduced quite a few people to Emacs, the odd
>     one or two to GAWK, ...., and they're probably still using them.
>     One or two are probably using GNU/Linux on their home PCs, too.

> More use of some free programs is a kind of partial success that falls
> short of our goal.  All else being equal, it is better if Windows and Unix
> users compile with GCC than if they compile with a proprietary compiler.
> But that isn't our goal, it just gets part way there.

Borrowing notions from chess, you're talking about winning by direct
attack, possibly with brilliant sacrifices along the way, while I see
things more as a positional game, accumulating small advantages,
manoevring against enemy weaknesses.  You're Mikhail Tal, I'm José
Capablanca.  ;-)

The local administrations in Munich (where I use to live) and Vienna are
converting to G/L (which you know already).  Gcc/GNU Make/bash and
friends are well established for embedded systems development (where I
work).  Drip, drip, drip, free software is steadily establishing itself. 

Ten years ago, if you bought a PC, it would have had MS-Windows installed
on it, full stop.  Now, if you shop around, you can find PC's with
preinstalled GNU/Linux.  Soon, hopefully, you'll be getting asked what OS
(if any) you want on your new PC, and sometime after that (five, ten
years from now?) it'll have free software installed as a matter of
course, with proprietary alternatives available at extra cost.

> That is why I asked if you have ever seen such cases lead to real
> success: a person liberated from proprietary software?

Myself, perhaps?  The real liberation is in the becoming aware of what
proprietary software is and does, and having the confidence to avoid it.
Funnily enough, that is more difficult in a Unix environment, because the
software there works pretty well in general (even the bits (like ksh)
which aren't free).  With Windows, so much of the software is so icky
that you can't help but feel the itch to fix it - but of course you
can't.  Show mutt to somebody who emails with Lotus Notes, and you can
almost feel the "hey, I want that!".

I think it would "do you good" to spend a week using only proprietary
software on a Microsoft Windows system; I don't think you're aware of
just how sucky it is.  If you were, you'd realise that campaigning on the
basis of software quality in addition to freedom could be effective

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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