[yavor-yaJe4DpVFf9AfugRpC6u6w at public.gmane.org: Re: Defining Free Software Business]

Yavor Doganov yavor at doganov.org
Tue Jun 27 11:25:47 UTC 2006

On Tue, 27 Jun 2006 11:53:15 +0200, Marc SCHAEFER wrote:

> The first technical moves of the FSF was to implement an libre editor, and
> libre compiler on top of a proprietary operating system (UNIX). The goal
> was to replace it, piece by piece. 
> If the people at the FSF had been so strict at that time, the GNU
> Project and the FSF would not exist today.

This is like climbing a mountain using a proprietary equipment; when
you go up, you throw all non-free ladders and ropes and make free
ones, so the other alpinists can join you using the free tools.  You
never look back for them, their only purpose is to help you make your
own and go higher.  Err, that doesn't sound like a good comparison,
but you got the idea.  One by one the free software programmers were
cleaning their machines -- currently there is not a single piece of
non-free software installed on the GNU machines.

Sometimes, even today, in order to develop a free program, one has to
use a non-free one.  I guess that the Samba developers use a Windows
server -- it is necessary for Samba development.

> Also, remember that most today's processors are proprietary, and that
> they have software in them, which executes x86 or x86_64 instructions
> (the CPU microcode).
> This software is a very important part of a computer system: no software
> can run without it.

This is an important issue.  Also some architectures require non-free
software to work (such as oldworld Macs).

> Also, the BIOS of every machine is proprietary. There are efforts to
> develop a libre BIOS, however I didn't see any partnership from the FSF
> with a hardware manufacturer in order to deploy it somehow. That could
> be interesting, for many reasons.
> Why is the FSF not pushing the design and release of a new microcode
> processor, fast and efficient, instead of letting people run libre
> software on top of a so proprietary architecture ?

FSF's resources are not unlimited -- I guess this is the main reason. 

> You just have to *define* where the limit is. 

There is no limit.  The Free Software Movement is just the beginning
-- we want free books, free music, free movies, practically everything
that is possible to be set free.  We don't want to be controlled by
feudals and mega-corporations.  

> I am pretty well today with a proprietary processor containing
> proprietary software microcode; and I can stand a proprietary BIOS,
> at least on my laptop.

Until there is a free replacement we don't have a choice, really, if
we want (or have to) use computers.  This doesn't make me happy.

> I pretty much understand why we should raise the limit. I am in the
> libre software business for about 5 years and I try not to compromise
> with it. But people at the FSF should really learn that it's a daily
> fight, and sometimes, we *do not* have any solution for the customer
> and have to admit it.

This is true and unfortunate -- not every piece of existing
proprietary software has a free program to replace it, so some users
are locked and forced to use non-free software.  The purpose is to
resolve and wipe this dependency.  It won't happen if we recommend
non-free software.

JID: doganov at jabber.minus273.org

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