I agree that putting thee blame on the user for a poor choice is not helpful. After all, the user is the victim of the social problem at hand.
What I find odd (but not really) is that people who accuse us of withholding useful information quite often also vehemently oppose sharing information that would cast the non-Free Software in question: they want things to just work, without informing the user of any problems.
I (obviously) don't agree with their stance, so here's an initial draft for a message that I think would be useful to display to users when a user-friendly system encounters a device that requires non-Free firmware or drivers to work:
We have found component FOO on your computer, and we're sorry to say inform you that, as of this release, it won't work on a wholly Free Software system. Here's why:
- the component designer does not provide you with Free Software (drivers or firmware) to operate this device
- the component designer does not provide you (or us) with enough information to write Free Software to make it work
- the component designer provides you with non-Free Software to run it, and so far we have not been able to reverse engineer it to develop equivalent software that respects your freedoms, at jurisdictions where the designer's hostile reverse engineering prohibitions are not enforceable
What you can do to fix this problem:
- if you're at a shop testing the computer or the peripheral device with Live media, keep your money and your freedom: don't buy it
- if you've already purchased it, try to return it for a refund, so that the hostile vendors who designed and selected this hardware component don't get the prize at your expense
- if you can't return it, try to find a replacement for the hardware component from a friendly vendor, and purchase it so as to offer incentive to vendors who respect you as a person, user and customer
- if you can't replace it, you may want to look at community support lists and web sites, maybe there are newer developments that can make it work in freedom
- if you don't find any, write to the hardware retailer, vendor and component designer to express your dissatisfaction, request a solution for the problem and let them and others in the community know how you feel about buying their products again.
You might find recommendations that involve installing non-Free Software provided by the vendors or from third parties. Please realize that those who offer you these recommendations may even think they're helping you, but in reality they're helping the hostile vendor keep you under control. We do not recommend or support the use of non-Free Software, for we find it harmful to you, the user, and to the community as a whole. Please remember this even if you decide to follow those recommendations, and keep them in mind next time you shop for a computer or try to help others.
Now, if at the end of this message, the installer wrote if you click on Ok, we will install the non-Free Software and make the device work for you, wouldn't you qualify it as highly hypocritical? :-)