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Re: [gNewSense-users] newcomer's greetings

From: Yavor Doganov
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] newcomer's greetings
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 22:49:39 +0200
User-agent: Wanderlust/2.15.5 (Almost Unreal) SEMI/1.14.6 (Maruoka) FLIM/1.14.8 (Shijō) APEL/10.6 Emacs/22.0.92 (i486-pc-linux-gnu) MULE/5.0 (SAKAKI)

Tryggvi Björgvinsson wrote:
> Don't get me wrong. I was not trying to make any excuses.

I think we are miscommunicating and it is you who are getting me
wrong.  I grasped your point completely, IMHO.

> I am grateful that everyone has the possibility of using a
> completely free operating system. But, IMO freedom should not be
> restricting.

Recently Ciaran O'Riordan posted a link to transcript he made of RMS's
speech in Zagreb last year.  To cite by memory:

"To be able to choose between proprietary programs is to be able to
choose your master.  Freedom means having no master."

I can't think of a way how software freedom can be restricting.  It
restricts the others from restricting the rest of the society (well,
if it is copylefted); that's deliberate and a good thing.

> I don't mind people using non-free alternatives if there aren't any
> free ones.

Well, I do mind just as I do mind selling your daughter in slavery
or intentionally crippling your son so that he gan beg more
successfully on the streets (this still happens in some parts of the
world).  But using free or non-free software is a choice that everyone
makes for himself.

> However, restricting people from using Adobe's Flash because Gnash isn't
> ready is wrong (in my opinion). 

I really don't understand what you mean by that.  I am not controlling
your computer, nor I have even the slightest desire to do so, so how
am I restricting you?  You can always install it if you want.  Of
course, if a person uses it, I know what his values are.  This is sad.

I don't use Flash even at work, where 99% of the pages I have to visit
are entirely Flash based.  My boss haven't fired me yet, and I'm still
using computers all of the time.

> I was only trying to point out that before _all_ parts are free, I
> think people should be able to use non-free software (by using some
> other distro than gNewSense), until the free alternatives are ready.

If you apply this way of thinking, we wouldn't have all the free
software that we have now.  If people consider using non-free software
as an acceptable thing (when there is no free alternative), such an
alternative is unlikely to be ever developed.  The "free alternative"
thing goes even further, as Linus Torvalds for example claimed that
there was no free alternative to BitKeeper and encouraged people to
use it for Linux development.

> Sadly, I don't think many value their freedom more the newest cool
> proprietary gadget or piece of software. I would like to show them that
> freedom is better, but without saying: "Look at how much better it is!
> Btw, you'd have to get rid of your ipod, and flash, and graphics card,
> and wireless card, and your game-console, and etc."

Educating people about software freedom is the most important thing.
You have to practice what you preach, otherwise there is no effect and
in fact you might become ridiculous in the eyes of the others.  It's
freedom or death, there is no "middle" situation.

> Here in Iceland, proprietary products have a stronghold on almost
> everything. 

Here in Bulgaria, proprietary software have a stronghold on absolutely

> The ministry of education has even made a deal with Microsoft.

Our government has made a mutlimillion deal with Microsoft, which was
prolonged for another 3 years recently.  All our ministries,
government agencies, etc. use proprietary software and force the
citizen to use it if she wants to communicate by electronic means.
This is totally unacceptable.

> We've come a long way and enabled those who value their freedom to use a
> completely free operating system. But I do believe we have another long
> way to go in educating the rest about why it is so valuable. I think it
> can be done by either allowing them to use proprietary products for the
> time being or (verbally) attacking the corporations and force them to
> free their software. Both actions are being taken, but I hope the latter
> will pay off.

As I said, if you accept non-free software as a legitimate and morally
justified thing, even temporarily, the battle is lost in advance.

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