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10.20.19

Guest Post: Free Software Developers and Pursuing ‘Market Share’

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 4:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Partial reply to “Should Anybody Dictate the Free Software Movement” (published two days ago)

Summary: “The only people interested in software freedom are (almost always) free software developers. And users are interested in freedom to a very limited extent: the “free beer” side. Even many free software developers are only interested in the “free beer” part of free software.”

THIS is a guest post. Its stance or views do not necessary reflect or agree with ours.


First, I’d like to share my answer to the title: “Should Anybody Dictate the Free Software Movement?

“The only people interested in software freedom are (almost always) free software developers.”No, but yes. It shouldn’t be A dictator, but the (primary) author of each and every project should be, and stay, a dictator.

Should we try to build some kind of community “in the user interest” that drives the free software movement (one or many communities) and we will re-create the Debian case, with a social contract stating (point 4) “Our priorities are our users and free software” but finally get a small set of people dictating how the others should use software. By the developers or simple users does not make any difference, as you state in your post, developers are users. And they are the only ones interested (if excluding those financially interested) in ruling any kind of community.

On the other hand, when the primary author keeps the power over his project, the project keeps its initial direction (the one set by the author at the start), and when another guy wants to do it differently, one makes a fork, with a new name.

When a community takes hold of a piece of software, then the primary target can gets lost and we run into stupid things like current iptables Debian package installing nftables instead… while a “nftable” package should have been created (I think there are many more examples, but this is a recent one I ran into) or companies sneaking in and ruling the project.

Then I do not agree with this point (and according to what you wrote, you do not completely agree, but do not completely disagree either):

“Techies should not dictate the Free software movement. The Free software movement is for Free software users. Not developers.”

“From my experience, users do not care about software freedom, they care about software that they do not even notice, and they are willing to pay for this.”No.

First, as you state, developers are users. And the developers of one tool should always be users of the tool.

And second, and maybe the most important one: users do not care about software or software freedom, and not even much about user freedom.

That’s my everyday experience.

The only people interested in software freedom are (almost always) free software developers. And users are interested in freedom to a very limited extent: the “free beer” side. Even many free software developers are only interested in the “free beer” part of free software.

Should you try to sell either your free software or your time as free software developer in order to feed your family and you become a “f***ing capitalist” to a lot of said free software supporters?

From my experience, users do not care about software freedom, they care about software that they do not even notice, and they are willing to pay for this.

If you start saying “hey, this is open source!” they have already run away, even if you are not selling the software. Maybe because you are “selling” free software advocacy (listen to my free software advocacy and you get a free software).

It’s strange, but if you try to sell an open source product (software or anything else), you do not even sell it to freedom enthusiast.

You even have to pay (at least spend time to ask them) for them to use it.

If you sell or give a product, then people are interested, and it may happen that some of them will be freedom enthusiasts. And as a freedom enthusiast, you can open-source your product.

“Simply using Firefox, LibreOffice or Thunderbird is most of the time asking too much from them.”I learnt it the hard way.

Many many people say they are interested in their freedom, concerned about Google or Microsoft using their data and so on, but when you tell them they can use an alternative like Linux, they fly away.

Simply using Firefox, LibreOffice or Thunderbird is most of the time asking too much from them.

Firefox is widely used not because it’s free or because it protected users’ freedom, but because at one time it had become much better than its competitors, and presented as such, and not as a “freedom-oriented” solution.

There are very few free software users who are not developers, and fighting for them is losing the game, while fighting for us, developers, will bring better software.

At first GNU and Linux had been made by developers for developers. This made it a very powerful system.

As you say, the problem is that companies are now trying to drive open source projects in their interest, and their interest is not freedom, it is users (getting more users).

If we have the same target (or goals), there’s much more chance to have the same results than to get back to freedom concerns.

Well, I think I wrote much more than I thought I would at first, but here it is.

Article’s licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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