Really Sort of Missing the Point

by chromatic

An open letter to PETA, inspired by Ryan Lortie's very silly My stance on Ubuntu and the Bad Vista campaign.


2007-01-10 00:47:42
I'd only say I'm sorry for you if you're missing so many points. I do not care much though.....and yes I'm missing your missing your points.
simon hibbs
2007-01-10 03:31:05
Yep, I can't understand the anti-Ubuntu thing either. If someone has bought hardware that requires proprietary drivers for full functionality, they've already made their decision. If the free software movement is really about freedom, then surely it's also about the freedom to use proprietary software as well, if you choose to do so.

Yes educate users about the problems. Yest lobby the manufacturers to help with open source drivers where they can, but if the user has the hardware, and there is a way to interface with it fully, then refusing to do so using a binary driver is just kicking the user in the face out of spite. Bad consumer, you bought the wrong kit. No full functionality for you!

Similarly if you paint all omnivores as murderers by default, you're kind of weakening the credibility of your argument that they should be nicer to animals in other ways. Having lofty ideals is great, but beating up on people because they don't agree with you about them is a dangerous step to take.

Carla Schroder
2007-01-10 09:04:04
I love it when people comment without reading the source material, or even worse, read it and don't understand it.

Ryan Lortie's open letter has a number of flaws, the biggest one being he did not do his homework. He has no idea what the Free Software Foundation stands for. If he really wants to help the BadVista campaign, they spell it out right here:

An open letter is not a serious attempt to help someone. If he were serious about working with the FSF, he would have contacted them directly. And done maybe ten minutes of reading to learn about the FSF and their goals and history. Then he would have learned that the FSF and the BadVista campaign are not about promoting Ubuntu, but are about promoting Free Software, and educating people about the defects and perils in Vista.

It's a nice piece of yesbutmanship. Yes, he thinks the FSF are awesome, but they need to change the things they believe in and stand for. He loves them just the way they are, except they need to be different.

This comment is especially fun- "I'm not aware of what Ututo is, but by your recommending it, I'm going to assume that it is subject to the same problems with gNewSense." That's great- don't bother to do five minutes' of basic research. That wins friends.

"Ubuntu is more or less 99% free. It doesn't even come anywhere close to being as awful as Vista is." Now there's a campaign the FSF can launch with pride- "Use Ubuntu, because it doesn't suck as much as Vista!"

Mr. Lortie has no idea of what the Free Software Foundation stands for. He's just another Ubuntu fanboy who doesn't understand what made it possible for Ubuntu to exist in the first place. And, that "99% free" is going to decrease:

So Ubuntu is moving even farther away from what the FSF stands for. Soon to be 95% Free- not bad, eh, Mr. Stallman? Isn't that good enough to make Ubuntu the FSF poster child?

No. Because as anyone who does the courtesy of some basic research before trying to persuade the FSF to take a particular course of action would quickly find out, 99% Free is not good enough for the FSF. Whether you agree with them or not, what the FSF believes in and advocates has been the same since its inception, and it's certainly been no secret. At least not to anyone who isn't too lazy to do a bit of reading before offering unsolicited advice.

2007-01-10 10:57:44
Although you may not agree philosphically, Ryan has a VERY valid point. If people try to switch from Windows to Linux and use gNewsense, they are going to run very quickly back to windows and we will lose them forever. I personally refuse to use Ubuntu but I have to admit that it works. I can't say the same for gNewsense. People have WiFi cards and other things that just aren't supported by gNewsense. There is such a thing as compromise and meeting people half way.
2007-01-10 11:36:07

If the free software movement is really about freedom...

It's not about generic freedom. It's about the four freedoms in software. What leads you to believe otherwise?

Carla Schroder
2007-01-10 13:58:13
I think I feel an article coming on, because it's apparent there is little understanding of both the Free Software Foundation and gNewSense.

I agree that gNewSense isn't for everyone. It is for users who want a 100% Free GNU/Linux distribution. I think the FSF is splitting hairs by not calling Fedora and Debian Free distributions, because they have non-Free repos and include packages with OSI licenses that are not GPL-compatible. But that's their business, and they're not just sitting around whining about it. They're releasing their own distribution that meets their standards.

Just like any other Linux, users are free to install whatever they want on gNewSense, including non-Free software. Lots of folks are saying that gNewSense is unusable without all the proprietary guff. Well, guess what- they're wrong.

The ASUS WL-107G cardbus wireless card uses 100% Free drivers. It's a great little performer, and it costs under $30. Since it is Ralink-based, there are probably others under other brand names.

Multimedia is where critics really lose it over Free Software. They wail that they cannot play movies and music on their PCs with only Free Software. That is quite untrue. There is all kinds of multimedia Free Software - the problem is in the US, most of it is illegal under the DMCA. So US-based distributions cannot legally distribute it. But it is easily available to any end-user who wants it.

So before folks go all nuts over proprietary codecs and drivers, they might spend a bit of time looking into what Free Software has to offer first.

Craig M
2007-01-13 09:29:31
I think you might want to rethink that PETA analogy. It's a bit more polarized than you may think.
Caitlyn Martin
2007-01-16 14:27:59
I agree with Carla's comments about both FSF and Ryan Lortie's article. Having said that I also agree with What?'s comment that Mr. Lortie has a valid point even if his rant lacked minimal basic research and any understanding of FSF. Yep, Utoto Linux is a long established distro and is not like GNewSense. I also felt an article coming on, albeit a different one than Carla will write, and I've posted it already.

Oh, and I plead guilty to using an Atheros chipset wifi card with madwifi drivers. Some people claim madwifi is Open Source while others claim it to be proprietary even though the source code is freely available. I checked their websit and I can't find a license listing so I assume it isn't a fully free driver.

Oh, and Chromatic's lampoon was funny even to this vegetarian who doesn't particularly agree with him.