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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Mac OS X refund

From: Andrew Savory
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Mac OS X refund
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 13:06:31 +0100


On 1/21/08, Noah Slater <address@hidden> wrote:
On Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 11:56:55AM +0100, Andrew Savory wrote:
> I'd certainly be happier with a fully free OS that does everything I want
> and need in a way that is sufficiently usable. I'm quite sad that it isn't
> available (yet).

I am aware that free software is not suitable for certain things, like
accounting or high end design. What is it that you have problems with?

Accounting is the only one for which there are no "good enough" equivalents. Others I'll discuss below.

> But Aqua is more akin to an X window manager, and technically not
> needed to make the machine itself usable.

It is, you can't run OS X on the desktop without Aqua.

I use at least one machine remotely via console only; for that machine I could quite happily remove the desktop GUI (if it were possible). I should have written "technically shouldn't be needed".

> A developer tool that has been made available so that others can improve
> their programs, but that happens not to work as it should yet, is not a
> reason for a user to ditch an OS. Heck, that it's been added at all is a
> good start.

No, that you run an operating system which has it's foundations
solidly in non-free software and closed formats should be enough.

"Foundations solidly in non-free" is a bit of an exaggeration when it is built on top of Darwin, I think. Yes, there's lots of non-free and closed formats. There's also lots of free and open. Not enough, obviously, but there is significantly more than the next alternative.

But my point is really that in the context of a user, the freeness or otherwise of developer tools makes no practical difference to me on a day to day basis.

> How about "I used a Linux-based machine for 5 years, and found I was more
> effective using Mac OS X to do my Free Software development and advocacy"?
> Where does that sit in the world of valuing freedom sufficiently to meet
> your exacting standards?

It's completely contradictory. How can you say that you find it better
to use non-free software to spread the message of free software? Can
you imagine RMS using Windows Media Player (guessing here, not used
Windows for many years) to do podcasts because it's easier and helps
him get the message out faster?

This is the problem that an awful lot of FLOSS advocates suffer from: the inability to see that the "all or nothing" zealot approach doesn't tend to work very well in some circles.

My presentations have become significantly better since I opted to use what I consider to be the best presentation software out there: Apple's Keynote. Therefore my effectiveness at describing the benefits of FLOSS at a senior level has increased. That's just one example of where non-free software has helped me inform people of the benefits of free.

I would use a free software operating system even if I had to use the
most cripled system on the plannet, it's not about pragmatism.

I applaud you for doing that, it's great that you are able to.  Not everyone is.

> In the long run, FLOSS always wins out. Will we get there quicker if 10
> people switch today based on your notion of "ethical obligation" but then
> take 10x as long to do their FLOSS work?

What FLOSS work do you do that is 10x faster using non-free software?

Writing presentations is one. Email (I fought for years with mutt, evolution etc. before finally accepting mail.app is better for *me*). Code (when I get the chance) is done in a proprietary text editor that I find *I* am significantly more productive in (yes, I've tried all the others for a long time). Conservatively, they give me a 10x boost on productivity.

Then there's the argument of things working out of the box, saving wasted time. I did my share of compiling kernels, fighting apt on upgrades, before it got as easy as Ubuntu is today. My early enthusiasm for "fighting the good fight" and "doing the ethical thing" has been replaced with a pragmatic approach of "I have to teach people how to make best use of FLOSS, what's the most effective way for me to do that?"

Perhaps the most trivial (and typical) example is that for years I tried to get my linux laptop to reliably and quickly suspend and resume. If I'd just got a Mac right away, I'd have saved myself probably a month of man-hours that I could have put toward something productive.

Printing is actually what made me switch in the end. Even though I had CUPS on the linux box, it was only when I used it on the Mac that it all "just worked" for me. Again, this single thing saved me days.

But more than that - do we really live in a world where proprietary software must not exist? Isn't the freedom to be able to write and license software however you like and to choose whichever software you want to use just as important as the four freedoms? Is the FLOSS way the only one true way to the detriment of all others? That's the message I'm getting here.

> I think the "ethical" argument is a great way to upset people and
> harm the adoption of FLOSS.

Drop the OS bit from the middle and what you have is a socio-political
movement centered around the very concept of computing ethics. It
sounds to me like you, personally, should be using the term OSS
because this statement is clearly contradictory.

Sorry, can't parse that ... can you restate?


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