Free is too expensive (Economist)
Posted Apr 8, 2012 7:31 UTC (Sun) by rqosa
In reply to: Free is too expensive (Economist)
Parent article: Free is too expensive (Economist)
> does it mean they are “small elite with have power over others”?
If other people were actively excluded from joining that group (as is the case when copyright and/or patents and/or lack of source code exclude people who do know how to program from being able to modify the software that they use), then it might. Because if society depends on something that is under the control of an exclusive elite group, they will have political power over the whole society. That's why the core goal of FLOSS has always been to increase the amount of people who have control over the software they use. (And that's also why even non-programmers stand to benefit from FLOSS — with a large and non-exclusive base of developers, non-developer users have more options to turn to when developers/maintainers go against the users' interests.)
> Whatever. You may as well declare Law of Gravity as something “inherently wrong” - it'll not care. Just like I don't care about your crazy declarations.
What you dismiss as "crazy declarations" are nothing less than the core ideals that the 18th century French and American revolutionaries believed in.
> Yes, there are enough failed FOSS projects and I'm sure there will be many more.
It's way too soon to say that Plasma Active and Nemo Mobile are "failed". I believe they'll be more successful than the ones you mentioned (OPIE and GPE) ever were — mainly because the hardware they're designed for is itself far more commercially successful than the old so-called "PDA" devices ever were.
> CyanogenMod is the only project with clear long-term perspective.
It has no more "long-term perspective" than the rest. The only reason it has a larger usage share than the others is from riding on the coattails of it's "evil twin".
> If Android will fail at some point (for example if WP15 will kill it) then CyanogenMod, Plasma Active and other simlar projects will have no hardware to run on.
If that were true, then it would have been impossible for OPIE and GPE to run on hardware made for Windows CE (Jornada / iPAQ), but they did. And it's not guaranteed that Android being successful will ensure that unlocked hardware will be available in the future — for a while it seemed like there would be no more unlocked Android phones, when the Nexus One was cancelled.
> It's either that or nothing at all. If Linux will form the platform which is used by Joe Average then there will be sibling platform for FOSS-lovers.
Again, there's no guarantee of that. iOS is descended from FLOSS (Mach and 4.3BSD), and yet it has no "sibling platform for FOSS-lovers". And there's no reason why a (desktop or mobile) OS based on GPLv2-licensed Linux couldn't be just the same — indeed, Android could easily become like that if Google and the device manufacturers chose to stamp out all unlocked hardware.
The only real solution is for there to be a large enough niche market of people who actively prefer unlocked hardware, regardless of whether it's desktop or mobile. (And I believe that Google, for the moment at least, understands that there is such demand for unlocked hardware, or else there never would have been the Nexus product line.) That's why it's crucially important to make the case to the public at large about the benefits of user-freedom (and in particular the ways that locked-down hardware restrict it).
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