[Mageia-dev] free software purity question

Frank Griffin ftg at roadrunner.com
Thu Jul 19 18:38:24 CEST 2012

On 07/19/2012 11:48 AM, Johnny A. Solbu wrote:
> I am not talking about the hardware. If I want to change the hardware 
> I have to make something myself, or more realistically, replace it.
> That's where the difference of opinion is. I have the same opinion on 
> this as Stallman and FSF have.

Well, three cheers for you, but I was discussing the issue on its own 
merits, and not Stallman's or FSF's agenda.

The difference of opinion is simply whether "hardware" or "software" has 
anything to do with the issue any more.  My point is that I could make a 
perfectly good argument for the position that if it can be programmed, I 
want to be able to program it, and if I can't, then it's not free and open.

That was pretty much the original thrust of the Free Software movement, 
except that back then the only things that were viewed as "programmable" 
were computer systems.  That has changed drastically, and it no longer 
makes any sense to draw arbitrary distinctions between hardware and 
software, especially if the basis of the distinction is how far "into 
your face" the existence of closed software gets.

If you use a computer of any sort, you are at some point and at some 
level using closed proprietary software whether you like it or not. 
That's always been true, just not as obvious as it is today.  And that's 
why drawing an arbitrary line in the sand and trying to view the issue 
as black and white doesn't make sense.  It is, and always has been, 
shades of grey.

In our case, the particular greyscale balances finer feelings about free 
software against the desire to be able to accomplish certain goals, 
whether the goal is to get 3D video, be able to use 
commercially-produced hard disks, or even just use a computer to do 
*anything* at all.  At some point, we all cave and walk away from the 

BTW, my last post was directed at the thread in general, not you 
specifically.  Please don't think that I was singling out "your" 
particular line in the sand.  My point is that *any* line in the sand is 
equally meaningless.  And, as should be obvious at this point, I wasn't 
"confusing" hardware and software, I was deliberately erasing the 
distinction between them.

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