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Towards a complete Free Software market

Let's break this thick glass once and for all. Patching free operating systems like GNU/Linux with proprietary pieces is not mandatory for world prevalence. And it sure is not mandatory for basic functioning of the system anymore either, so you can't exactly use the "RMS used proprietary UNIX to build GNU" argument anymore. We have the complete Free OS. We have three of them. Now we have to go further and build a market around them, on our own or with help of others. We have to do it either way.

1. Mixing oil with water: the prevalence of a mixed operating environment

Apparently, certain open source guys have been suggesting that the only way to increase the market share of GNU/Linux is to patch it with proprietary software where needed to achieve perfect convenience for the end user, because according to them, that is the only way to win them over. However, these same people aren't spending so much time advocating GNU/Linux pre-installs as much as they are advocating this view of compromising with proprietary software for convenience.

They do however mention GNU/Linux pre-installs, but the way they see it is the opposite to the way I believe it should really be. This is the process they see, and according to them proprietary software is absolutely necessary in this plan:

  1. Make the OS completely user friendly, no inconveniences. It has to work with any hardware, play all media and do all jobs, no matter how much of proprietary software we need to use for that.
  2. Put this OS on computers of major computer vendors like Dell.
  3. Offer easy access to any additional software buyers of these computers need, proprietary or not (read CNR.com).

There is not much doubt in my mind that this strategy, if all three steps are satisfied, will work. It will work in establishing GNU/Linux as a huge contender and eventually prevalent OS in the market. However it will also inevitably work at establishing a mixed environment between proprietary software and Free Software, where the two would be used interchangably on *most* computer systems, while hardware manufacturers like Nvidia and ATI wont feel so much pressure to release free drivers and specifications since so much of the community was so willing to simply adapt and use existing proprietary drivers.

Sure sure, some among them (Mark Shuttleworth?) will tell you they're willing to pressure companies to release free drivers once this good position has been achieved, but where are the actions to back this pressure up? Will Mark tell AMD "look dudes, we are a huge OS now, and we will stop using your proprietary drivers if you don't release free ones, do we have a deal"? Gosh I'm resisting to burst into laughter right now. And I'm sure AMD guys would too. First he was so willing to accept proprietary drivers and now he's actually expecting them to feel the heat from this kind of request? As if he's really going to pull the proprietary drivers off at that point?

Really, who are these guys kidding? This is not the way that pressure works. If you want to put pressure on them then you can't make compromises with them at all. You wont accept their way. You will go your way and you will fight your way upwards to a point where you will, instead, be able to come to ATI and say:

Quote:

Dudes, as you have seen we have been rejecting your proprietary drivers so far, all the while growing to a point where you can't ignore us anymore. We will continue growing, and the only way for you to start earning some karma and sales within this growing Free Software market is to free your specifications and drivers.

Now this is the real deal. He never compromised. They know it. They know, quite clearly at this point, that he is right. The only way to bite this increasingly tasty cake is to play along. They will free their stuff or not take the cake.

So as you can see, temporary compromise tactics doesn't work here. You compromise once and that's it, you can't be taken seriously when you start threatening to "uncompromise" again. It's a one way trip.

So these three steps that some in the FOSS community are proposing do not lead to the goal of Free Software prevalence. The operating platform that will "rule" if these three steps follow through is not the entirely Free Software platform. It is an environment in which we would still have to fight against the problems of inherent incompatibility between proprietary blobs and the rest of the freely flowing code. It's like trying to mix oil with water. It's a struggle that will never end.

Do we want that? Do we want a domination of a yet another operating system with a yet another struggle? How much of a progress would that really present?

There is apparently a huge distinction between these two goals then. The first goal is the one to which the above three steps lead to: possible world prevalence of a mixed operating platform; oil and water; proprietary and free; constant struggle and continued existance of leverage to those who want to remain proprietary and continue abusing this position.

2. Only clean water: a prevalent entirely Free Software based market:

The second goal is the goal we should really work towards. It is the prevalence of Free Software, a completely Free Software operating platform and a Free Software-based market, regardless of the operating system. Players in this new market can be GNU/Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris, Haiku OS and anyone else who wishes to enter. At first, of course, GNU/Linux would be at the forefront as currently the most popular Free OS, but it wouldn't matter if its popularity would be displaced by the popularity of BSD or the new child being born these days: Haiku.

If you agree that this should be the true goal, then consider the alternative three steps towards success:

  1. Make a Free OS as friendly and convenient as possible with only Free Software. (We are already in the "good enough" stage here actually, especially considering the requirements for step 2 below).
  2. Build PCs with only the hardware supported by Free Software and reject the rest as incompatible and unsupported. (This fosters the growth of pressure on hardware manufacturers of these "unsupported" components. The bigger we get, the harder this pressure will be.)
  3. Offer easy access to additional Free Software only, through various (potentially competing) Free Software portals or repositories. If people want proprietary components they would have to search for it themselves. (As we grow, this puts a growing pressure on the providers of these proprietary components (like flash and some applications) to release them as Free Software in order to gain better acceptance by the Free Software market).

You probably doubt that this will ever work in getting a significant enough number of people to buy such 100% Free Software-powered PCs for it to grow into a respectable market. The reason for this doubt is something I could almost call a collective self-indoctrination, a notion that the end user needs perfect convenience in order to consider switching to something else, and apparently being able to buy a fully Free Software powered PC that "just works" out of the box is not perfect enough simply because it doesn't have flash or that user would have to check for support if they want to buy additional third party hardware to go with this PC.

And this is where I draw the line. This is going too far. This is probably almost insulting to people we're talking about here. Do you really think it is that hard for these people to look up the hardware database (which would be, as I'll describe in another article, very conveniently accessible) to see whether their system will support the piece of hardware they consider buying?

The point being missed here is that these people have already gone through quite a good deal of inconvenience with Microsoft Windows, an inconvenience which actually very likely outweighs the inconvenience that is anticipated with a Free Software box. What is this inconvenience? Do we really need a list? Aren't the price of additional applications they have to buy or dig around for *after* they bought the computer, the DRM restrictions dictating how they use their computer, the instability and insecurity caused by the proprietary hidden architecture of the system, enough??

Please, if you think a fully Free Software PC is doomed to failure, reread above and reconsider. Proprietary plugging is not always the answer.

In the next article I will present you with what may be considered a blueprint of a Free Software PC company, working towards the fully Free Software prevalent market goal.

Thank you
Danijel

NOTE: I had no intention of offending anyone with this article nor make my word on this final. This article is one of the most direct and suggestive writings I have done so far, because it presents conclusions that I have come to after considering various points of view, including the idea of a temporary compromise. You can read about the process that led to these conclusions in my previous articles on this subject.

The followup to this will be more constructive. It will be a description of a new business idea that can work towards what I see as a complete Free Software market. Thank you for reading and please do post comments, no matter if you agree or disagree. Smiling

Comments

libervisco wrote: Now we

 
libervisco wrote:

Now we have to go further and build a market around them, on our own or with help of others. We have to do it either way.

No, we don't have to do it either way, what about this way:

3) Small compromise

1. Make the OS user friendly. It has to work with most common hardware, play most common media (provide access to necessary codecs and drivers).

2. Put this OS on computers of major computer vendors like Dell.

You are deliberately pushing the idea that adding vast amounts of proprietary software to a free OS is the only alternative to adding no proprietary software to a free OS. This is wrong.

libervisco wrote:

Sure sure, some among them (Mark Shuttleworth?) will tell you they're willing to pressure companies to release free drivers once this good position has been achieved, but where are the actions to back this pressure up? Will Mark tell AMD "look dudes, we are a huge OS now, and we will stop using your proprietary drivers if you don't release free ones, do we have a deal"? Gosh I'm resisting to burst into laughter right now. And I'm sure AMD guys would too. First he was so willing to accept proprietary drivers and now he's actually expecting them to feel the heat from this kind of request? As if he's really going to pull the proprietary drivers off at that point?

Really, who are these guys kidding? This is not the way the pressure works. If you want to put pressure on them then you can't make compromises with them at all. You wont accept their way. You will go your way and you will fight your way upwards to a point where you will, instead, be able to come to ATI and say:

"Dudes, as you have seen we have been rejecting your proprietary drivers so far, all the while growing to a point where you can't ignore us anymore. We will continue growing, and the only way for you to start earning some karma and sales within this growing Free Software market is to free your specifications and drivers".

Now this is the real deal. He never compromised. They know it. They know, quite clearly at this point, that he is right. The only way to bite this increasingly tasty cake is to play along. They will free their stuff or miss the boat.

You are saying that if we compromise, then Mark Shuttleworth won't be able to pressure them, but if we don't compromise we will be able to pressure them.

What about this possibility: we compromise, and then we don't want to compromise any more. If they don't take us seriously, who cares - it's their profit and their problem.

I agree that Mark alone can't do a thing, but you apparently use it to prove that we can't pressure them if we compromise, and you obviously fail to do so.

libervisco wrote:

So as you can see, a temporary compromise tactics doesn't work here. You compromise once and that's it, you can't be taken seriously when you start threatening to "uncompromise" again. It's a one way trip.

No, I don't see that. If noone wants to buy ATI products anymore, it doesn't matter who was buying them before, or if ATI is taking anyone seriously. If ATI doesn't adapt, it goes bankrupt.

The rest of part 1. is based on the flawed reasoning before it.

libervisco wrote:

If people want proprietary components they would have to search for it themselves. (As we grow, this puts a growing pressure on the providers of these proprietary components (like flash and some applications) to release them as Free Software in order to gain better acceptance by the Free Software market).

No, people can make companies that package and sell proprietary software for the new free OS, or proprietary companies can package them themselves. So there is no pressure on providers of proprietary components to release them as Free Software, only pressure to support the new free OS. So you get bunch of proprietary software on a free OS again, if that's what people want. Unless you go Bill and somehow lock them out. Is that what you want?

libervisco wrote:

You probably doubt that this will ever work in getting a significant enough number of people to buy such 100% Free Software powered PCs for it to grow into a respectable market. The reason for this doubt is something I could almost call a collective self-indoctrination ...

You are basically saying that there is no place for doubt here, without providing any reasons, and you are also saying that the reader is self-indoctrinated if he doesn't agree with you. Nice going so far.

libervisco wrote:

This is probably almost insulting to people we're talking about here.

So the reader is not only self-indoctrinated if he doesn't agree, but he also insults some people.

libervisco wrote:

Please, if you think a fully Free Software PC is doomed to failure, reread above and reconsider.

Now you are both insulting the reader and indoctrinating him, but you are doing it politely.

Remember all those people calling free software supporters zealots that try to shove their opinion down people's throats? Well, you just made them happy.

stojic wrote:You are

stojic wrote:

You are deliberately pushing the idea that adding vast amounts of proprietary software to a free OS is the only alternative to adding no proprietary software to a free OS. This is wrong.

I never mentioned vast amounts. The plan you propose is basically the first plan in the article. It includes compromising with proprietary software (yes, a little), and hence fails to make a convincing pressure case for proprietary hardware vendors.

It can also be a slippery slope to even more compromises (yeah, little by little) to a mixed environment I describe as unwanted.

stojic wrote:

No, I don't see that. If noone wants to buy ATI products anymore, it doesn't matter who was buying them before, or if ATI is taking anyone seriously. If ATI doesn't adapt, it goes bankrupt.

I think you misunderstood. It's not that noone would want to buy ATI anymore. In a contrary, because a compromise was allowed with their proprietary drivers, people would continue buying it and ATI wouldn't have such a clear cut "adapt or die" case. That's the case we would have if we went without compromising.

stojic wrote:

No, people can make companies that package and sell proprietary software for the new free OS, or proprietary companies can package them themselves.

Yes, that's what Linspire will be doing apparently. I don't see them taking the mass market though. Eye

stojic wrote:

So there is no pressure on providers of proprietary components to release them as Free Software, only pressure to support the new free OS. So you get bunch of proprietary software on a free OS again, if that's what people want.

Well isn't this the very reason why I am writing these kinds of articles and why Free Software people are advocating what they are? So that we get enough people to actually care enough not to go in droves with those other companies, but to go with a GNU/Linux project which will not compromise.

It's kind of a catch 22. You're describing a scenario in which we failed to convince a significant enough amount of people that our strategy is better.

And no I am not talking about lock-in strategy. Man, you know me better than that.

stojic wrote:

You are basically saying that there is no place for doubt here, without providing any reasons, and you are also saying that the reader is self-indoctrinated if he doesn't agree with you. Nice going so far.

No, I am saying this because it has been a long standing mantra for very long now, and I find it to be overexaggerated and overemphasized to a point that it indeed is a sort of self indoctrination. It's sort of a buzz if you will, something too many people take for granted without questioning and yet may not be the right thing.

So it is not that I am setting my opinion as without doubt, I am putting doubt on something too many people found undoubtable before.

stojic wrote:

So the reader is not only self-indoctrinated if he doesn't agree, but he also insults some people.

I didn't apply any particular label on the reader here, sorry. I said that it may be insulting to some people, the notion that they aren't capable of or willing to check the hardware database before buying a piece of hardware. You sure can understand that.

stojic wrote:

Remember all those people calling free software supporters zealots that try to shove their opinion down people's throats? Well, you just made them happy.

I wonder what should I say about them, then, when they start making such claims? It goes both ways you know. I expressed my opinion, you misunderstood and overblown this misunderstanding to a conclusion that paints this article as a closed minded zealot-rant. Well I don't need to defend myself. My history will. If I was such a zealot I wouldn't be giving the "other view" a chance, wouldn't I?

libervisco wrote: I never

 
libervisco wrote:

I never mentioned vast amounts. The plan you propose is basically the first plan in the article. It includes compromising with proprietary software (yes, a little), and hence fails to make a convincing pressure case for proprietary hardware vendors.

It can also be a slippery slope to even more compromises (yeah, little by little) to a mixed environment I describe as unwanted.

You mentioned "It has to work with any hardware, play all media and do all jobs, no matter how much of proprietary software we need to use for that." and "Offer easy access to any additional software buyers of these computers need, proprietary or not", where you clearly implied that users will have access to vast amount of proprietary software. The plan I proposed includes only "access to necessary codecs and drivers". These two things are the same only if your reasoning is that any amount proprietary software is as bad as much proprietary software. My reasoning is different, so these two plans are completely different to me.

libervisco wrote:

I think you misunderstood. It's not that noone would want to buy ATI anymore. In a contrary, because a compromise was allowed with their proprietary drivers, people would continue buying it and ATI wouldn't have such a clear cut "adapt or die" case. That's the case we would have if we went without compromising.

I didn't misunderstand. What I am saying is that if some part of market won't buy ATI products anymore, then it doesn't matter whether ATI takes them seriously. ATI will see the results on its profit, which is what pressure is. You are saying that if ATI doesn't take them seriously (because they were buying ATI before) then there will be no result on ATI's profit (ie, no pressure), which is obviously wrong.

libervisco wrote:

Yes, that's what Linspire will be doing apparently. I don't see them taking the mass market though.

We'll just have to wait and see about that.

libervisco wrote:

Well isn't this the very reason why I am writing these kinds of articles and why Free Software people are advocating what they are? So that we get enough people to actually care enough to to go in droves with those other companies, but to go with a GNU/Linux project which will not compromise.

It's kind of a catch 22. You're describing a scenario in which we failed to convince a significant enough amount of people that our strategy is better.

And no I am not talking about lock-in strategy. Man, you know me better than that.

Ok, but the reasoning in the article is still wrong. I know what you wanted to say, but other people don't.

About the rest of my comments - I think that the rest of the article is written in a very bad form. I am afraid that this article does more harm than good as it is. I know what you wanted to say, and after reading the article I wasn't one single bit more convinced in what you wanted to say (and I was very interested in being convinced because I would like it to be true). All this article does is show that you strongly believe something to be true, but it doesn't show why that something is true.

stojic wrote: You mentioned

stojic wrote:

You mentioned "It has to work with any hardware, play all media and do all jobs, no matter how much of proprietary software we need to use for that." and "Offer easy access to any additional software buyers of these computers need, proprietary or not", where you clearly implied that users will have access to vast amount of proprietary software. The plan I proposed includes only "access to necessary codecs and drivers".

Alright, your idea is limited to only a certain smaller portion of proprietary software. I understand that. The reason why I implied a bigger portion is because of CNR.com and ESR's general attitude towards the issue of proprietary software. And he is, in fact, the most vocal supporter of this whole strategy of compromise. I just don't see him oppose Linspire's selling of additional proprietary software, whatever they can sell. In fact, it's quite possible ESR would cheer them on.

So you didn't see yourself in this description of a plan, but some people probably would.

stojic wrote:

You are saying that if ATI doesn't take them seriously (because they were buying ATI before) then there will be no result on ATI's profit (ie, no pressure), which is obviously wrong.

Well of course that the only way they can take it seriously is when they see an immediate hit on the bottom line. That's the whole point. If Free Software projects consistently refuse to adopt ATI proprietary drivers, aiding the community to choose alternatives instead, ATI would feel the hit. So yeah, we wouldn't need to state the obvious for its own sake. ATI would see the problem themselves.

But if majority of Free Software distros just accept proprietary drivers, this certainly wont discourage people from buying ATI on and on, so ATI wont feel a hit at all.

Maybe I misunderstood what you meant by your comment again, but what's the problem with my argument again?

stojic wrote:

I am afraid that this article does more harm than good as it is. I know what you wanted to say, and after reading the article I wasn't one single bit more convinced in what you wanted to say (and I was very interested in being convinced because I would like it to be true).

What do you think I'm saying then? I mean, you're talking about it as if I hid the message in some sort of a puzzle. Smiling

Actually I was more direct in this article then usual, no funnying about and redundant "in my opinion" or "according to my analisys" kinds of statement. It is less analytic and more suggestive.

But the thing is that if you put it in context of my previous writings it does fit in a bit. I've went from seriously considering a temporary compromise strategy to sheding some doubts and then finally completely dismissing it. I really went through the process to come to this direct statement of opinion you see above. Smiling

I understand what you're

 

I understand what you're saying, but you didn't convince me Smiling. I also felt that the article was direct while trying to also support its statements with arguments, but not enough (and not good enough arguments).

We agree on one thing - if you can get enough people to value freedom and support ideas behind free software, then they can influence the entire industry and change it for the better. The thing I think we disagree on is (obviously) the best way to do it.

I think that you simply can't get enough people to support these ideas. That's it. People who have been exposed to these ideas either accept them, oppose them or don't care, with the last ones being in majority. All three groups want technically good systems, but only one wants those systems to be fully free.

I think that without some serious rearranging of system of values of current society, the first group will always stay in minority. Thus, I believe that it will stay in minority for a long time. This is why I think the best way to bring free software to mass adoption is by compromising a bit to achieve technical superiority, because this is what masses want. Another reason is because big vendors will be willing to preinstall GNU/Linux in this case.

Note that I don't want to push the mass adoption, I only consider compromising to be the best way to do it. I'd be happier to see GNU/Linux free as it is now (or more) but with small number of users than to see mass-adopted GNU/Linux intermixed with proprietary software beyond recognition.

I believe that if you push adoption, no matter how, you'll inevitably end up with a mixed system. This is because GNU/Linux is free, and people are free to add to it or subtract from it whatever they wish, so most users will end up using mixed systems, because they don't care if their systems are fully free or not. In the long run, free software would push proprietary software out, at least most of it.

To sum it up, maybe the best thing that can happen to free software is adoption at the same rate as adoption of ideas behind it. We are hoping for fast adoption because that will make more people more free and eliminate dangerous obstacles. But will it really, if it ends up as a mixed system?

Well there you make some

Well there you make some good points. Indeed, the best possible way we can imagine is getting everyone to care about values of freedom enough to reject non-free software. This is part of the mission of the Free Software Foundation.

When you think about it, considering the current state of things in the technology world, the amount of efforts being put by the industry to restrict users, even without shame and without hesitation, it might make our job at convincing people easier. The more they push their restrictions the greater and more visible is the contrast between proprietary and free. So people can much more obviously, in practice, see what we mean when we talk about restrictions on freedom.

So things like DRM in this way actually contribute a bit to bringing people to the realization of importance of computing freedoms.

But this is a long process, yeah, and in the meantime we are looking for the best strategy of getting our system on as many computers as possible, because while not all of these users will be convinced about the Free Software ideology, their numbers will help make our voice more significant (the market share equals market pressure).

And this is where we disagree on that one crucial thing. Should this strategy involve any proprietary software or not? After considering the idea of accepting this compromise I have been unconvinced myself that it is the best way, and hence fell back to my default, which is 100% Free Software.

Why am I unconvinced? Well the reason why I at some point considered an option of a temporary compromise is because I thought it really could be the only thing we can possibly do if we want to significantly boost adoption in the next two years or so (for the supposed 64bit wave). At that point, however, I wasn't thinking much about pre-installs.

Once this idea hit me, along with the idea of having those GNU/Linux powered PCs built only with Free Software supported hardware I thought to myself; there is a way to avoid proprietary drivers as a need for a significant amount of people, because it is *masses* who buy done PCs from the store, it is *masses* who don't install operating systems, and by providing PCs that just work to them these *masses* wont need proprietary drivers. We escaped the whole issue.

So we're discussing on and on about what happens once they buy their free systems and want to put additional software on, but the thing is that this will always be out of our realm. This is where nothing but education plays a crucial role, but if they continue relying on us (supposed PC makers) to guide them towards additional software they would be given clear simple to understand signals that we don't support proprietary software and that they would have to go through someone else to get that kind of support.

If you think that's treating users badly, well what can I say, I really disagree. It is just a normal strategy within the agenda we'd be following. And it's certainly not like we'd be the only ones through which these people can get software, so it's not like the end of the world if a vendor doesn't offer an easy channel towards this stuff.

When I say "we" here I mean a hypothetical company that I could, for just an example, control. To be honest I do have some aspirations towards that business and if my current business (Libervis Network) is succesful enough, I might be able to bootstrap something like this and possibly show you in practice the kind of organization I'd like to see established, the kind of Free Software computer vendor I want to see.

It is about doing whatever we can to have as many people as possible run Free Software only (without lock in and any such dirty strategies mind you) while trying our best to educate people, once we provide them with our Free Software solutions, to care enough to avoid other proprietary bits (especially if their life really doesn't depend on them Eye ).

But you see.. the alternative to this kind of thinking, while I can understand it, is immediately a more compromising and less determined attitude which is, unfortunately, lacking in the FOSS community. There are enough people who would agree with you. I believe too many. Someone's gotta be on the other side of the hill, and I count myself among them.

It all comes down to this. Advocates of a temporary compromise have not demonstrated a *compromise*, no matter how small or how supposedly temporary it should be, as an absolutely necessary thing, as a crucial thing for mass adoption. The fact that they still believe in it so much is the reason why I used that "self indoctrinated" term here. I mean, if I can't find a compelling enough argument, backed with some evidence, that proprietary software is what is absolutely needed to get us there, on what exactly do they base this belief? Demand alone? Well, people demand functionality, not proprietary software per say.

There are apparently often the cases where while people thought it was proprietary software which would meet that demand, something else was found adequate enough. I mean, why do some people still use non-free ATI drivers for cards which already have comparable and even better support with free drivers alone? In that you will find the spark that feeds my FreeSoftware-all-the-way thinking. It is because too much of the community accepts compromises too easily, to a point that they overlook that some compromises are not needed at all.

As long as this is the case I will be supporting only the 100% Free Software way.

Two things

 

Interesting discussion. I was afraid it was turning to flaming at some point, but that was avoided;

On the issue of drivers, I think we really have to differentiate pre-installed systems from current distribution CDs. At the moment GNU/Linux users still are amongst the 10% most advanced users around; these users install the system themselves and expect it to work with their hardware. A wide hardware support is a crucial requirement and thus, I think, the necessity for proprietary components.
When GNU/Linux hits the pre-installed computer market, the array of hardware to be supported will be much smaller, and it will make much more sense to use fully-free software (if hopefully someone comes up with better marketing than the gNewSense team). Today, when handing out GNU/Linux CDs to newcomers, I much prefer non-fully free distros like Ubuntu - When things don't work (for example, hardware not supported) you don't get a second chance to talk about free software.

Also, you put proprietary drivers and proprietary media plugins together; I believe they are quite different.
To put it boldly, we are never going to get away from the latter. Playing MP3s, DVDs, connecting to MySpace and YouTube are now fundamental requirements for users when they want a computer. We simply are never going to be a large enough number of only-free-software users to weigh in the balance of large media corporations. Struggling with Microsoft on several fronts (dual booting, file system access, pre-installed software, Office file compatibility, marketing) is already a huge task. Sadly, IMO, the day I will be able to buy any piece of widely-distributed media and view it with fully-free software will probably never come. I believe we have no choice at all but give in on this point.

In any case, we all agree I think, the key lies in making freedom in software an important value in our society. Most of us are working at it here ;-)

ariadacapo wrote: To put it

ariadacapo wrote:

To put it boldly, we are never going to get away from the latter. Playing MP3s, DVDs, connecting to MySpace and YouTube are now fundamental requirements for users when they want a computer.

Yeah right. Eye Most of these things are already well supported by Free Software alone man. Laughing out loud It's not pre-installed not because it isn't Free Software, but because distributors are afraid of software patents laws, but those aren't in power in all countries so... I happily use this stuff myself and would pre-install it on any PCs I would ever sell if I ever get into that biz.

Cheers

We need a rebel brand

 

RMS is right, gnu is a darn funny word, makes me laugh, and so does the logo.

But that's not going to cut it if we want to win hearts and minds with people who have been suckered into using DRM on iPlods and non-free software on their pcs.

Saying gnu or wearing a t-shirt with a gnu on is more likely to get you ridiculed than gain any street cred. But hip-hop is colossal, young people are natural rebels. Canons Rebel XT is their best seller in the USA, there are lot's more examples, the rebel identity is not just popular with youth, we were all young once and most like to keep that spark alive.

And here we are, like Rosa Parks or Che Guevara making a stand, we're fighting for freedom and justice against oppressive giants, we're the genuine article, the real deal, we've the key ingredients for huge popularity, we've got the just cause, but then we say gnu, and try to educate them.

We need a brand to capture the public imagination. We're asking for temporary inconvenience, and we've got a compelling argument. But we need to perfect our presentation and smooth the path from first awareness to choosing freedom. This is psychology, we can say we're not going to be like pr agencies using brain-washing techniques and plough on regardless like a bull in a china shop. But we should be wiser in sequencing the various elements of our message when we're talking to the mainstream.

Getting back to the pc stores idea, it could do with a cool name that invokes the rebel spirit. If the PC's are 100% free they are the real deal, they are pc's from and for the rebels. I've no expectation that one size will fit all either within the community or among users, but hey, you've got to do what you believe is right.

The idea of a 'Rebel Brand'

The idea of a 'Rebel Brand' is very interesting democrates. Che has become a big symbol of rebellion and the fight for freedom. Musicians such as Bob Dylan and Rage Against the Machine have also captured the youth over the decades to call for change.

If a brand could be formed which made GNU and freedom a necessary rebel cause for the youth there is a good chance it would succeed better than current campaigns. Though one must remember about the iPod, which is not a rebel cause and supports anti-freedom software. In a way we must get the 'iPod-generation' who listen to all their rebellious music to realise that they themselves can have an effect on freedom (anti-DRM campaigns etc.).

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