As I’ve written this, the thing I’ve struggled with is that everybody thinks they are being practical. I’m sure the FSF thinks absolute freedom is the practical thing to do. Sometimes I think the drawing a line in the sand is the practical thing and the Democrats could certainly take some queues from the FSF. I wish I got paid by the words typed and not by the words submitted! (oh wait, I wish I got paid!)
Now, let’s talk about ethics. Let’s get one thing clear, aside from the fact that libre OSes (Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris, etc), I don’t care what you do. The FSF is hung up on ethics; that proprietary software is somehow unethical. Bollucks. What is unethical is Apple locking people out of iTunes (Re: Palm) and tax payer money going to Microsoft or Apple.
It’s not just about ethics. I’m not super concerned about privacy, but mostly that’s because I don’t think people should be concerned about what they do…but clearly they have to be with the current legal climate in our country. However, knowing that hackers would change grades or siphon funds, it’s pretty important that the IRS and any government agency handling large amounts of money have a secure system and libre does not guarantee security, but at least there are cases where you can guarantee security. You can *never* *guarantee* security on a proprietary system. Sure you *can* trust them. Diebold, Microsoft and Apple have given me no reason to trust them.
I’m happy to discuss the public money thing or the ethics thing, but what I want to talk about is practicality. The main thing is Hulu. I was very intrigued by Boycott Novell on FLOSS Weekly, but the analogies between me and either Jono or Roy go back and forth. I think it would be too difficult to follow for anyone that hasn’t listened to the interview. If you want me to make a post about it, please let it be known. Back to Hulu. Recently there was a stir on identi.ca and the various omb offshoots about the Hulu desktop client coming to Linux. The FSF crowd decries the proprietary software is bad; that it pollutes libre software. Photoshop not being on Linux is one of the things Pete (and others) decry about Linux. Others say the same thing about Final Cut Pro. Perhaps if some of those people came to Linux they’d start helping the GIMP team, or maybe they’d start using OOo instead of Word. The ecosystem is everything and the Linux ecosystem is one of libre software. Yes, there is Flash and Opera and potentially Photoshop or Final Cut, but 95% of the software people use on Linux (or BSD or OpenSolaris) is libre. How can this possibly be a bad thing? Now, some smart people have argued that’s it’s a bad thing because people depend on it and then people won’t develop a libre alternative. I respect some of those people, but it’s simply ridiculous. Linus did not start Linux because of some whack-off obsession with freedom. My using a proprietary wireless driver does not make me want a libre one any less.
As I said at the beginning, this post was supposed to be about practicality and the upshot is I think having proprietary software available for Linux is simply practical. The agnostics are never going to be sold on the religion of freedom. Stop trying to convert them. Fighting the war of freedom is not a practical war. There are winnable wars. We should fight the war against marginalization. We should fight the war against unnecessary government spending. We should fight the war against monopoly power. We should fight the war of availability. We should fight the war of access. If we fight the appropriate war, we will win. Freedom is simply destiny.