Comment on "Nine Attitude Problems in Free and Open SourceSoftware"

PB dagobert at
Fri Oct 24 12:33:57 UTC 2008

Max Moritz Sievers wrote:
> P.B. wrote:
>> Examples:
>> 1) At work they use "proprietary product X". You're practically forced
>> to have "X" on your home PC, too because very often you must do
>> something from home. You really have to be in a special position to
>> tell your boss: "No. I won't. Use free stuff. then I will/can"
>> The default answer will be: Then you can't stay in our company/team.
>> sorry. Next one, please!
> And how do we judge an executive who prefers to use proprietary software?
sorry. I'm not sure if I know what you mean.

>> 2) 1 out of 20 can open "Free Format Y".
>> So, now you show me e.g. a small company, home-user or no-name band
>> who will take that compromise and say: "Oh you can't read it? Well,
>> I'm soooo important that you will *have to* figure out how to do it,
>> because otherwise you can't work with me / listen to our stuff / read
>> my document"
>> We all know what most people on the other end of the line will answer:
>> "Don't care. goodbye - Do your IT homework and use 'proprietary stuff
>> X' - because that's professional. why? because everyone uses it!"
> I act this way. Sometimes I get quite exclusive content which I distribute in 
> Ogg Vorbis or LaTeX. "You can't use it? Do your IT homework!"
Me too: I'm offering some brand-new audio tracks of our band in
ogg-only. This caused *a lot* of discussions band-internally and I
almost got lynched. They finally let me do this, but mostly because they
can't do anything about it.
Recently it led to a tricky situation:
Someone replied that she loves one of our songs so much, and she's
installed VLC to play OGG on her Mac but she can't listen to it on her
ipod (Why VLC?  because obviously, the QT-support instructions on are still too complicated for mac users). The song itself is
under a CC license, and she would furthermore like to share it with her
I explained to her the sad situation why Apple refuses to support free
formats. She understood, but still she was looking for a practical

So, what now?

Option #1 (for me): flash your ipod with a free firmware, but
a) you think an ipod user could do this him/herself?
b) what if the update fails and renders the ipod useless?
c) the usability will change, due to a different GUI.
The user will hold you liable for *everything* happening on his ipod
from this day on. Have fun! :)

Option #2 would be: Buy a different audio player.
You might be able to actually accomplish something with that suggestion
if you're Radiohead or Robbie Williams...

Option #3 ???

> I have experienced this procedure with MS Word and Excel documents. Somehow 
> they forget their own struggle with incompatibilities. I know of a case that 
> a city administration couldn't read their documents. But thats no problem. 
> They still use MS Office.
I know. we all know. Even the users of MS-office know.
Yet, a lot just "don't feel like making the switch".
...and that's one of the hardest obstacles to overcome: The mind barrier!

Technical issues are mainly solved, but if people simply *do not want
to* - every oh-so-minor issue will become reason for complaint.
Haven't found a fix for this, yet. Can only say that leave the choice up
to the users - but keep the alternative in their ears/heads. Use
alternatives wherever possible, but don't punish yourself.

If it's not free software now, it will be free software in the future...
patience is important. Meanwhile, we shouldn't scare people away if they
see us getting grumpy and unable to perform everyday tasks due to the
lack of "x" not being free - yet.


More information about the Discussion mailing list