Totally "free" Ubuntu? That's the plan for Gobuntu (Linux.com)
Posted Jul 14, 2007 15:44 UTC (Sat) by njs
In reply to: Totally "free" Ubuntu? That's the plan for Gobuntu (Linux.com)
Parent article: Totally "free" Ubuntu? That's the plan for Gobuntu (Linux.com)
>How much good does it do the cause of Free Software if large numbers of people install Linux to see what the fuss is about, find that Linux doesn't work very well, and go back to Windows?
If you define the cause of Free Software to be achieving success in the marketplace, then what you say may be right. If you define the cause of Free Software to be coherently and consistently standing for a particular moral position vis a vis software freedom, then you're unambiguously wrong. So it depends.
Of course working for either of these goals can lead to the other, and I assume part of why you think market success is worth working for is that it will lead to moral success; so it comes down to a trade-off. Strategically sacrificing one's principles gains an advantage in the short term (more users! more exposure!), while weakening one's cause in the long term (oh, those principles we ignore when convenient? you should totally believe them, because, umm...).
Game theoretically, a trade-off like that makes sense if your win condition is in sight -- the short term benefits can put you over some threshold, and the long term effects stop mattering. The question is, why should we believe we are in the unique historical moment when that is true? People have been making exactly the argument you make for a long, long time, and paradoxically, it's the community's historical refusal to budge that has over the long run built up that free codebase that is so attractive in market terms. We could have brought some particular companies around earlier, etc., but no-one would remember that now, while the compromised licenses would still be haunting us.
Don't be so impatient. If world domination takes an extra year, so what...
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