Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 14th Dec 2009 15:16 UTC, submitted by chully
Gnome Over the weekend, there has been a bit of a ruffling of the feathers over in the GNOME camp. It started with complaints received about the content on Planet GNOME, and ended with people proposing and organising a vote to split GNOME from the GNU Project.
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what about...
by thebackwash on Mon 14th Dec 2009 16:29 UTC
thebackwash
Member since:
2005-07-06

What I don't understand is the idea that the mere presence of proprietary software in any way diminishes the value of free software. One could claim that the *lack* of a viable free alternative is a hole in the free software quilt, and then the fault lies with the free software community (as a loosely-defined concept,) but some would rather point the finger.

Sure, I could see the issues people have with software patents, the DMCA, etc., but those are completely orthogonal to the existence of proprietary software, i.e. the concepts are well-defined and completely distinct.

Say there are 20 things that software can do, and that all the proprietary software in the world can do 18 of them, and all of the free software can do 18 of them, with the 2 things that each can't do different from the other. Those in the free software community, instead of bitching about how proprietary software is evil, should write the software to do those last two tasks. Then the onus will fall on the end user to decide how *free* he or she wishes to be. Likely, there will be no benefit realized by this freedom, so the choice will be made based on other factors

Sorry for such a pedantic response, but I can't help but feel that these two camps, the pragmatists, and the idealists, talk directly past each other without carefully stating their arguments.

Reply Score: 2

RE: what about... - where it leads
by jabbotts on Mon 14th Dec 2009 18:46 in reply to "what about..."
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I think it's more about where it leads. We have Adobe's Flash player which is good enough so no one bothers writing a libre source flash player. The result is that we remain locked into Adobe's Flash player which may be fine for now but screw us all later. Now for this, one also has to assume that no developer will be motivated to write a libre Flash player simply because it's not motivated by a requirement to do so.

Personally, I will use the code that works. I'd prefer libre code but if the hardware is only supported through a closed binary module then I'll be limited to that until a community project becomes competitive. With ATI, that mean the community driver rather than ATI's borked code (previous to AMD buyout and specs release). With Nvidia, that means the closed binary that still managed to outperform the community driver on my system. With my XFI audio card, I'd be screwed for lack of a vendor provided driver if not for Creative being savvy enough to hand off driver source when they lost interest in developing it.

This touches on my belief that closed source hardware drivers are udder madness that benefits the end user in no way. Between vendor budgets going towards limited platform choices or vendors deciding that my hardware is too old for them to support leaving drivers unsupported; freaking madness. The hardware should be the product not the chunk of software that bridges it and the OS.

Reply Parent Score: 3

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

This touches on my belief that closed source hardware drivers are udder madness that benefits the end user in no way.


They cause mad cow disease? Sorry couldn't resist.

Closed source drivers benefit the user by allowing the hardware to work. That's the only thing the user cares about in the first place.

You can give long speeches about how hardware companies should open all their drivers but that won't change the FACT that a lot of them don't want to. It doesn't even matter why since they make the hardware and you don't.

Furthermore NVIDIA has already explained how a lot of their driver contains intellectual property that they don't want to share with competitors. Operating system developers can choose to work with or against the needs of hardware companies and the Linux kernel devs have chose the latter. Not a wise strategy if your goal is to increase marketshare. How many years of the Linux desktop have we had so far?

Reply Parent Score: 1

Ed W. Cogburn Member since:
2009-07-24

We have Adobe's Flash player which is good enough so no one bothers writing a libre source flash player. The result is that we remain locked into Adobe's Flash player which may be fine for now but screw us all later.


There are a couple of projects still (last I heard) working on this, like gnash & swfdec.

However, the impetus for an open player has gone down some because of Adobe's own improving behavior towards the FOSS world. I suspect their change of attitude was not altruistic, of course, but in fact coincided with MS's Silverlight, but still, they have/are improving and opening up Flash...

Reply Parent Score: 1