Richard Stallman's new article: Overcoming Social Inertia

Alex Hudson home at
Mon Nov 5 21:30:15 UTC 2007

On Mon, 2007-11-05 at 20:04 +0100, Matthias-Christian Ott wrote:
> We should really teach everyone about the philosophical aspects of free
> software. As Stallman mentions this is the only way of making clear what
> free software is about, why it was invented and why it should be used.
> We should all keep in mind that GNU was not created because of technical
> reasons. It was invented to have a free operating system. And we should
> impart this to everyone.

I don't think that is any kind of universal truth. 

Where I would disagree with Stallman's article is the statement, "Most
GNU/Linux users have never even heard the ideas of freedom that
motivated the development of GNU, so they still judge matters based on
short-term convenience rather than on their freedom". That might be
factually correct - I don't know that anyone has actually done the work
to figure it out - but it seems to exclude the middle, that there are
users who have heard of freedom but still don't care for it.

Out of the people I know on my local user groups, I would say the number
of people who would never use proprietary software is a handful. There
are more who seek to reduce their use as much as possible, in the tens
maybe. Many more are those who will use either but prefer free software,
and then even more who will use either.

It's not few of those in those groups have heard of free software; the
vast majority have in some way. Large numbers of them know the arguments
very well, they just don't accept it.

If you believe the idea that it's simply that people haven't heard the
message, or that they didn't understand the message, then you completely
miss the point about why people might not support free software.



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