me, thinking out loud…

Software Freedom Day

Three Cheers to ‘Free Software’!
A toast for GNU on its 25th Birthday![1]

If you intend to ask, what I did on this day, I have nothing to show. I haven’t done anything that’s tangible but yes, I have re-dedicated myself to the idea of Free Software.
This post intends to shed some light on a few things (if not for the benefit of others, just as a reminder for myself)

  • Free Software is a matter of liberty, not price.
    I’ve often been in a position that required me to correct people. ‘Free Software’ is software that’s free as in free speech and not free beer. For the lack of a better word in english, the word ‘free’ which also means gratis has been used. Using the term ‘Libre’ sometimes helps and if you are in this part of the world, “mukt” is the best word to use.
  • Free Software comes along with four fundamental freedoms.[2]
    To put it simply, the freedom to use, study, share and modify any software.
  • Free Software may have the advantage of being ‘technically sounder’, but the philosophy is what matters the most to me.
  • I will do whatever is possible within my capacity to spread the philosophy and the associated freedom

Be Free, My Friend!

Here is an extract from one of Stallman’s [3] Essays:

 We must talk about Freedom

   Estimates today are that there are ten million users of GNU/Linux
   systems such as Debian GNU/Linux and Red Hat Linux. Free software has
   developed such practical advantages that users are flocking to it for
   purely practical reasons.

   The good consequences of this are evident: more interest in developing
   free software, more customers for free software businesses, and more
   ability to encourage companies to develop commercial free software
   instead of proprietary software products.

   But interest in the software is growing faster than awareness of the
   philosophy it is based on, and this leads to trouble. Our ability to
   meet the challenges and threats described above depends on the will to
   stand firm for freedom. To make sure our community has this will, we
   need to spread the idea to the new users as they come into the

   But we are failing to do so: the efforts to attract new users into our
   community are far outstripping the efforts to teach them the civics of
   our community. We need to do both, and we need to keep the two efforts
   in balance.

[2] The Free Software Definition
[3] The GNU Project by Richard Stallman


Comments on: "Software Freedom Day" (5)

  1. Stallman says “we need to keep the two efforts in balance.”
    I guess he is saying “no free software for those who don’t agree with its philosophy.” I read him saying about some software that developers should not port it to Windows. I like him, but why don’t we hear more such views. On the web he is mostly ridiculed! I want to know this: what do the developers want? Do they want market share for GNU/Linux or are they happy with a few but dedicated people? Can you answer?

    Moreover, whatever happened to the *nixes minimalistic philosophy? The two most popular distributions now are Ubuntu and Linux Mint, are popular just because they try to replace Windows and not offer an altogether new model. Stallman wants all users to understand computers. The Ubuntu model lets people forget all-that. I was shocked that Terminal is not easily accessible in 8.04 . The messages during boot are not being shown(and no way to bring it up), etc. You can ‘change the settings’ to do so, but so can you in Windows!

  2. not everbody wants to see what happens on the inside.
    should the free software community just ignore that section of the society who use a computer for other tasks and not to learn about computers and contribute.
    philosophy should motivate such people to use free systems.

    if geekishness of the system is hindering wider acceptance of the system, to hell with it.
    as long as i stick to the philosophy it should cause no harm in having a decent interface

    why should the developers be happy with a few dedicated people?
    more people, more awareness, more contributors, more good systems
    all about how deeply the philosophy effects you.
    all a game of probability :P

    and if there is some monetary motivation for capturing market share what is wrong? as long as you stick to the good side no matter what.
    should they starve for being good ?

  3. It is good that people can get an OS as ‘good’ (mostly convenient) as any other, for free. But I do think that it is developing a new arrogant attitude from the end users. I’ve read a few posts saying Stallman is hurting Linux by arguing against proprietary drivers. I wonder what it is supposed to mean.

    I can see a ‘balkanization’ of this whole field, with free, open and closed source softwares ever co-existing. I guess that is what Stallman finds unbearable, his vision is getting destroyed by free software becoming popular without people ever learning what lofty plans he had!

    You have raised good points. I dont think that it should be purposefully geeky, but ‘giving the user choice’ is somehow not the whole story. The minimalistic approach, may not be good from a new user’s point of view, but it did offer a good Initiation! (initiation as in the cult inclusion ceremony). People learnt, perhaps the hard way, ‘why’ software should be free.

    Thoughts about commercialization maybe later!

  4. Actually I dont know anything about the monetary side of things. Mozilla earns tens of million of dollars every year, but it seems to support other free softwares. I guess it is all right as long as the Distros donate part of their profits to the projects.

  5. I wrote that while ‘sampling’ FreeBSD. Now I have switched to Debian, and it seems that the issue I had been raising (trying to interpret Stallman) isn’t such a major issue. At least on me, it somehow enforces freedom!

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