Carmony's position is that, in ten years of holding out, the FOSS community has made relatively few gains, in terms of convincing vendors to release libre codecs and drivers. In other words, the strategy doesn't seem to be working. Additionally, while some will be patient, most users would prefer to have something – anything – that works in the meanwhile. One could argue that more people need to reject the non-free software and related hardware, and I agree that it takes a mass movement to convince vendors to change. The problem is, we would most likely need the vast audience of Windows users to join our cause – a rather unlikely scenario, if you ask me.
Carmony did reiterate the hybrid car anology with me. He also spoke of the Open Source "vegans". "Just because someone is a vegetarian, I don't think they should try to force everyone else to be that way (and those who do are incredibly annoying people to be around =). Some are what I call "open source vegans," meaning they refuse to use ANY proprietary code. Fine, I respect that, and I would never want to take that choice away from them. All I ask in return is don't try to take MY choices away either. If I want to toss some "junk food" (proprietary software) in with my fruits and vegetables (OSS), I should be allowed to do that.
In order for businesses like Linspire to compete against Microsoft, they have to educate people about the advantages of the GNU/Linux (your platform here), system. They already know about the non-free "choices". FOSS technology is fantastic. People need to be informed about the FOSS choices, and why they are so fantastic. In explaining the advantages of a FOSS system, one of the overriding concerns must be – has to be – the fact that, without the freedom offered by a copyleft license, they would not be able to experience the phenomenal power of a GNU/Linux system, the freedom to share software, and the genuine freedom to learn new skills.
Theo De Raadt recently lamented that many developers take from the OpenBSD community without giving back. And while I assume he is still committed to the non-copyleft approach, I think it speaks volumes to Eric Raymond's claims that the GPL is no longer needed. §
May 10, 2006
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