Inducing others into the trap
Posted Mar 3, 2010 13:37 UTC (Wed) by malor
In reply to: Inducing others into the trap
Parent article: Linux-2.6.33-libre released
How does Regular Linux limit my
freedoms, whereas Linux-libre does not? Seriously? And before you start telling me about the
ability to fix the code myself etc., I will remind you again: I'm no programmer. I could not make
"tiny improvements here and there" since I'm not a programmer.
To add to what lxoliva said... you're thinking of yourself as a single entity. "It doesn't affect me directly, so why should I care?" But modern operating systems and applications are ridiculously complex entities, with codebases so large that individual programmers struggle to keep up with just one major program. Even the best programmers in the world, whether they're in Free software or proprietary, are dependent on the work of others. And if you're not a programmer yourself, you're even more dependent on them.
So, when those programmers tell you that they can make your life better if they're allowed to completely understand hardware, and fix bugs and introduce new features in the code that runs that hardware, you should pay attention. Any given device with open firmware will be improved by that openness. Whatever functions it may or may not have, open code makes the possibility of new or repaired functionality possible, even if the manufacturer has lost interest in the product. Manufacturers who erect barriers to that kind of control over your hardware are using their control over that code to try to extract more money out of "the market", ie, you. It may be a limitation you're willing to accept, if their proprietary software is good enough, but you put yourself into a subservient position by doing so.
You don't have to do that; you don't have to be subservient. And even if you personally would never change a firmware, there's thousands of people who will, and will happily share their improvement with you, often for free, since it costs them so little to give you a copy of their work.
If you're a Linux user, it should be pretty apparent by now what an advantage Free software can be for you, giving you as much control over your software environment as you choose to exercise. Pushing that freedom down into the firmware is an important next step to really owning your computing environment, in being able to use your general-purpose computing devices for whatever you wish. There's no reason to have to put on shackles to to use a device, and the linux-libre project is an attempt to entirely remove those shackles, both on you and on everyone that contributes to your chosen ecosystem.
Now, myself, I probably won't run this kernel, but I'm glad it exists. In fact, I hope the project eventually obsoletes itself. Just like Free software was so important to giving you choices about what you do with your operating system and applications, Free firmware gives you the same choices about your hardware. If a device has a feature, you can't be artificially excluded from that feature because you didn't pay a high enough price, or because the manufacturer would prefer to sell you something new instead.
Marketers hate that idea, because they really love being able to sell the same code and hardware at multiple different price points, and force product churn by selling you a new product to do something your old product was perfectly capable of doing. Anything that marketers hate should be something of interest to you, because it's probably a net positive in your life.
to post comments)