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Re: [OFFTOPIC] Free Software (was: Making Emacs more friendly to newcome

From: chad
Subject: Re: [OFFTOPIC] Free Software (was: Making Emacs more friendly to newcomers)
Date: Sun, 3 May 2020 16:27:31 -0700

On Sat, May 2, 2020 at 2:17 PM Stefan Monnier <address@hidden> wrote:
>>> I don't know, but it
>>> seems like both Vi(m) & Emacs have got a revival lately.
>> That's true for FOSS editors in general, though. We didn't have so many good
>> options before.
> Indeed, seems as a general trend, we have never had so much FOSS
> software in general, not just editos, but everything, from AI research
> to Game Engines, 3D Editors, compilers, libraries, you name it. Seems
> like world has realized power of open source, which is great.

Sadly, I believe this only applies to a particular subset of the uses
of computers.  Maybe we could describe it as the subset that applies to
desktop computers.  In the tablet/phone world, Free Software is
not nearly as prevalent (instead, in that sphere, the most prevalent is
freeware which is a name that mostly disappeared, replaced by the name
"free software").

I agree in general, bit things aren't necessarily as stark as they might seem; there are a fair (I originally said "reasonable" and then rejected that implication) number of iOS and Android packages that make their source code available for all to see and maybe-use. The troubles tend to arise where the tools for building and installing that software is closed, and also in the steady move towards "walled gardens" where a user needs to jump through extradoridinary hoops to install and run self-made software on their own devices. As a practical matter, the rough shape of Android app security has resulted in strong movements towards ever more proprietary walls for a large set of users, the platform maintainers (Google and the various OEMs), and many of the software producers (because "knock-off" versions of popular software with added spyware/exploit code is so common). At least in the U.S., the hegemony of the mobile carrier networks makes free mobile software very difficult. From my own perspective of hobby-level hacking on mobile hardware since the mid 90's, it feels a bit like "one step forward, two steps back, and then the goalposts get moved forward 20 meters".

Sorry for the tangent; thanks for the FSF & GNU.

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