starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

I wanted to touch a bit more on the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and my views, but I also want to talk about the Free Software Movement (FSM) in general as well.

I have nothing against Free Software, and use it myself occasionally. I like GNU Emacs, and the older GNOME 2.x desktop environment for Linux (now supported in MATE Desktop). I appreciate what the GNU Project has done, and what many projects that use Free Software Licenses have done for the software ecosystem. Hell, I'm still a huge proponent of Mozilla's software. I have 12+ years of experience with Linux, ranging from my first days with Mandrake, to Slackware, to Fedora, Cent OS, Ubuntu and Kubuntu, and even my favourite, Gentoo.

I have absolutely nothing against Free Software. What I'm against is the FSF and their "all or nothing" mentality.

The FSF's end goal is to have their ideals take over. Anything they deem "Free Software" would be safe, and anything they don't see as "Free Software" would be denied.

That's not "enforcing freedom", unless you're an American patriot who believes that anyone with a differing opinion should be shot. That's getting rid of choice, in order to have a controlled culture under a ideological dictatorship. That goes against freedom, because it removes the freedom of choice.

Their campaigns tend to be rather misleading as well. For example, Windows 7 Sins has seven tabs which highlight "sins" that Windows 7 has committed. Under Education:

Increasingly, computers are expected to be useful tools in our children's education. But today, most children whose education involves computers are being taught to use one company's product: Microsoft's — Microsoft spends large sums of money on lobbyists and marketing to procure the support of educational departments.

Part of this is an outright lie, and part of it is spin. During that time, Mac OS X and Apple were the most prominent in education, not Microsoft. Additionally, many schools were slowly deploying Linux systems thanks to volunteers and sysadmins who have experience with the complexities of the OS, but this is never mentioned.

And down below, under Monopoly behavior:

Nearly every computer purchased has Windows pre-installed -- but not by choice. Microsoft dictates requirements to hardware vendors, who will not offer PCs without Windows installed on them, despite many people asking for them. Even computers available with other operating systems like GNU/Linux pre-installed often had Windows on them first.

Um...what? This wasn't Microsoft dictating anything. That didn't happen until recently with Windows 10 (which I truly despise).

No, the reason machines were pre-installed with Windows was because that's what people wanted! People wanted Windows because it's where the apps they wanted to run could be found. Many games require Windows, and gaming is one of the two biggest markets for computers, right behind business.

During this time, Dell was offering what I tend to refer to as "Dellbuntus" as an option, allowing people who wanted a Linux machine to have Ubuntu pre-installed with compatible hardware. They sold dick all. I bought one myself, and it was a nice experience, but it was just a PC.

The FSF will sling mud just to get their way, and this is one of many examples of that behavior.

As I've said before, I'm all for Free Software. I wouldn't mind seeing Linux and BSD finally become desktop-worthy for the mainstream--especially for those who just want to use their systems for creating things, and not for programming and tech-geek stuff.

However, it's not even close to that point yet, and trying to force it on people will just cause more and more of the mainstream computer users to turn away from Linux as a whole. People need good reasons to switch, not religious-like spiels that tell them what they should and shouldn't support.

What FLOSS projects need are more people in the UX/UI field, giving developers the information needed to make software in the Free Software world more user-friendly. Having to correct problems with a bunch of CLI tools won't win users. Giving them easy fixes will.

Having real UX/UI QA on projects like OpenOffice/LibreOffice would be a nice start. The kerning and UI for the office suites in general are abysmal at best, and down-right insulting at worst. Likewise with the GNOME 3 and KDE 4/5 desktop environments, which need a lot more love to make them user-friendly for the mainstream users.

Above all else, what the FLOSS projects need is to remember that not everyone is a programmer or geek! This is where the FSF falls flat on its face, pushing a mentality that everyone should be like them. Not everyone wants to dive into code. Not everyone can.

I may touch on this subject more in the future, but this has gotten far too long, so I'll leave it for now.

September 2017

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