Sun Mar 24 21:02:45 NZDT 2019
'This weekend's annual LibrePlanet conference, hosted by the Free
Software Foundation, prompted a new essay about "install fests" from
Install fests invite users to bring their computers so that experts
can install GNU/Linux on them... The problem is that most computers
can't run with a completely free GNU/Linux distro. They contain
peripherals, or coprocessors, that won't operate unless the installed
system contains some nonfree drivers or firmware... This presents the
install fest with a dilemma. If it upholds the ideals of freedom, by
installing only free software from 100%-free distros, partly-secret
machines won't become entirely functional and the users that bring
them will go away disappointed. However, if the install fest installs
nonfree distros and nonfree software which make machines entirely
function, it will fail to teach users to say no for freedom's sake.
They may learn to like GNU/Linux, but they won't learn what the free
software movement stands for.... In effect, the install fest makes the
deal with the devil, on the user's behalf, behind a curtain so the
user doesn't recognize that it is one.
I propose that the install fest show users exactly what deal they are
making. Let them talk with the devil individually, learn the deal's
bad implications, then make a deal -- or refuse! As always, I call on
the install fest itself to install only free software, taking a strict
stance. In this way it can set a clear moral example of rejecting
nonfree software. My new idea is that the install fest could allow the
devil to hang around, off in a corner of the hall, or the next room.
(Actually, a human being wearing a sign saying "The Devil," and maybe
a toy mask or horns.) The devil would offer to install nonfree drivers
in the user's machine to make more parts of the computer function,
explaining to the user that the cost of this is using a nonfree
(unjust) program... Those users that get nonfree drivers would see
what their moral cost is, and that there are people in the community
who refuse to pay that cost.
They would have the chance to reflect afterwards on the situation that
their flawed computers have put them in, and about how to change that
situation, in the small and in the large.
Stallman adds that the Free Software Foundation itself would never let
a devil near its events. "But given the fact that most install fests
quietly play the role of the devil, I think that an explicit devil
would be less bad.
"It would convert the install-fest dilemma from a debilitating
contradiction into a teaching experience."'
-- source: https://news.slashdot.org/story/19/03/23/1624242
Dept. of Computer Science
University of Waikato, NZ
+64 (7) 858-5174
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