about free software

MJ Ray mjr at phonecoop.coop
Mon Aug 22 09:02:29 UTC 2005

"Markus" <gnufriend at gmx.de> wrote:
> i hope i don't bore you, but i have some additional questions to my previous
> topic "why free". [...]

I liked most of Ben's answers, so I'll try not to repeat. I'm glad
you're out there explaining this to people. I think you should watch
out for words like calling them "normal people" as it both suggests
they're conformist and that free software supporters are abnormal.

> 1. "Why does i need this freedoms? I have used software for many years and
> had never the need or idea to modify the software, the software just does
> the job and thats ok."

I'm amazed if he's never found a bug in anything, needing some
workaround or losing him some work. Maybe that never made him
think "that should be fixed" but that's conditioning for you.

> If i point him to the freedom to share the software with their friend than i
> just get the answere that he just do it whether the license allows it or
> not. So he just don't care if it's legal or not.

"Don't care was made to care / Don't care was hung /
 Don't care was put in a pot / And boiled 'til he were done"
(English proverb/rhyme)

If the law is there, sooner or later, the law may be enforced,
no matter how inconvenient it is. Just look at all the stupidity
around music already, with Corrupt Discs, suing p2p users and
other ways of attacking customers. Eventually, they'll care,
but it may be too late. If software goes that way, through
Trusted Computing or however, it will really hurt because of
all the places software is now. Better correct it now.

> 2. "What is if there is no Free Software who does the job i have to do?
> Sould i don't do the job with my PC just because the licence of a program is
> non-free?" I think that's the typical argument of a pragmatist.

A pragmatist has no truck with non-free software after the
first time they want to do a job and the inability to modify
software (or pay someone to modify it) makes their job harder
or impossible. Any time you spend learning non-free software is
not investment if you can't adapt it or have it adapted. There
are a few proprietary software developers in niche fields
which respond to every customer and I have less problem with them,
but that's still a closed market and you are betting on one firm.
A pragmatist who likes bets with odds against you?

> 3. This is the economy argument. That there is some kind of software who
> just no one write in the spare time. [...]

So pay them. If there are many customers, form a consortium. It's
sustainable, but there's often this fear that the initial
development funders pay more than they would in the other model.
Why? It seems pretty clear that it's more sustainable if you
play it right and that's why people are doing it now.

Non-free development often sees some sort of capital "gambled"
on the development in the chance of making enough money from
sales later.  For customers, they pay less in this model only
if there are enough customers who don't join the consortium,
or if the gambler loses. If the gambler loses, it depends how
they react: hold on to see if they can milk enough money from
the next upgrade, or strip assets from the developer to get
some return on investment, perhaps?

> [...] It seams that some people accept different kind of freedom for
> software, technical documentation, privat thoughts, musik,.. [...]

Although "accept" is not "like" for even all who "accept". Also, some
of the alternatives you mention are not easy with current laws.

Best wishes,
MJ Ray (slef), K. Lynn, England, email see http://mjr.towers.org.uk/

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