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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 14:34:36 +0100


On 1/21/08, Noah Slater <address@hidden> wrote:
On Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 01:06:31PM +0100, Andrew Savory wrote:
> Accounting is the only one for which there are no "good enough"
> equivalents.

I would argue that the lack of CMYK support in GIMP along with a few
other issues prevent GNU/Linux being used for high end design work.

Possibly, but I don't do high end design work so it's not been a problem for me.
It seems like the more domain-specific you get, the harder it is to get a good FLOSS implementation. This will certainly change over time, but requires a lot of effort (a particularly effective solution is convincing multiple organisations to pool resources to fix/improve existing FLOSS implementations instead of renewing existing proprietary licenses).

> "Foundations solidly in non-free" is a bit of an exaggeration when it is
> built on top of Darwin, I think.

I was refering the deep rooted Apple philosophy more than anything.

Not sure it's particularly a philosophy - never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence. My guess is that Apple haven't twigged the full benefits of the virtuous cycle of FLOSS yet.

> 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.

I wouldn't consider it zealotry, more "leading by example."

... but since I'm not telling people to shift to Linux desktops, my choice of desktop is an irrelevant example.

The idea that everyone must switch and be completely FLOSS right now is wrong. FLOSS isn't ready for it, apart from anything else. How do you think open development communities might cope with a dramatic increase in support requests and bug filings? Most would implode under the pressure. The gradual organic growth we see now is a much better way. No, that's not an excuse for running proprietary, it's a practical observation. If the FLOSS die-hards got their wish tomorrow, they'd probably find they were completely screwed the day after.

> 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.

If I was attending one of your presentations my first question to you
would be "if this FLOSS thing is so great, why are you using so called
'non-free' software to deliver this presentation. I get the impression
that FLOSS may be good in theory, but simply isn't ready for the
mainstream." and I suspect that anyone thinking straight would be
thinking the same thing.

How would you answer?

You wouldn't be the first to ask. The answer is usually something along the lines of:
"Unfortunately some free software is not yet up to the standard you might expect of it, for example some of the applications in the desktop space, like presentation software. It is important when assessing FLOSS to understand not just the benefits but also the risks of adoption.To understand when it's appropriate to use it you need to know how to properly evaluate FLOSS, which we'll get to in a moment. However, rest assured that in the environment we're talking about, it has a proven outstanding track record and is even considered to be significantly better than the proprietary alternatives for a variety of reasons, including for example reliability and security. Let me give you some examples ...."

> 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).

I agree with your points, things like this are largely down to
personal preference... but this is besides the point, because I was
listening right up until the point you said...

> Conservatively, they give me a 10x boost on productivity.

I call BS.

So where you might spend 1 hour reading and replying to email in the
morning I must spend 10 hours, presumably in an uphill battle against
all the horrible, ghastly things mutt does wrong.

I'm not saying mutt does anything wrong, simply that for me the proprietary solutions I'm using make me more effective across the board. As you say, personal preference.

> 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?

No, absolutely not. You are arguing for the freedom to restrict
freedoms, which is patently absurd.

No, I'm not. In an ideal world I should be able to release my FooMatic software tomorrow under a license that gives you the right to only run it on Thursdays and that you have to give me a beer every time you use it. If you buy it and accept the license, all is good with the world. You have the freedom to accept it, or not. I have not restricted your freedoms other than the restrictions you _may_ accept. But by forbidding me from releasing my software under that license, you are restricting _my_ freedoms.

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

You were claiming that the "ethical" argument is a great way to upset
people and harm the adoption of FLOSS.

I was pointing out that the free software movement is centered around
the very concept of computing ethics and hence your statment is
entirely contradictory.

Hmm. The suggestion there is that my restrictive beer license is morally wrong. I'd argue that not being able to license any way I please is morally wrong.

IMHO, FLOSS is centered around the concept of freedoms, not ethics. That a government should spend $$$ on proprietary software where a free alternative is available or could be created for the same cost is ethically wrong. That I can decide to pay money to run a closed platform on my laptop is a freedom.


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