Thoughts on Free Software

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damage3025
Offline
Iscritto: 03/08/2012

I expected rants here. I don't mind.

What's the advantage of using pure free software? I'm talking about normal people, not hackers.
1. Giving up the freedom of using many good hardware.
2. Giving up the freedom of using many decent payware.

I respect the free software movement much. And I'm quite interested in solve some local GNU/Linux related issues.
But lets meet some annoying facts.
1. Free OS, in general, won't make people's computers faster or easier to use. They are likely to spend more time on housekeeping work. They may give up.
2. Linux Community is a minor group. Pure free distributions are even more minor.
3. Most people don't hate non-free. They just choose what work better.

So the best way of contributing to free software seems to be.
1. Buy a Mac and use virtual machines to work on specific free software. The highlight would be things like Adobe Flash Support.
2. Do not promote another fancy of release of GNU/Linux. Do your homework and protome multi-platform free software like LibreOffice.

libredrs
Offline
Iscritto: 01/29/2012

I'll bite (but no ranting)...

I'm a professional research scientist (aquatic toxicology) and do all of my own data collection, sophisticated statistical analyses and interpretation. I'm decidedly NOT a hacker (although I do like to play around with the command line and admire a few hackers) - I really just need to get my work done. I use Trisquel (without ANY proprietary software or components) for all of my home and work computing.

I'm also an advocate of personal freedom and view the use of ANY proprietary software as infringing on my freedom, for many of the reasons described by the Free Software Foundation. I won't use proprietary software.

Quite frankly, I see only advantages to using free software:
1) Trisquel is quite stable and runs quickly on inexpensive computers.
2) I can now afford to own several computers, including the one in my office. The IT people at my college want nothing to do with my system and I'm quite happy to keep it that way. They leave me alone and I don't have to deal with their Macintosh or Windows systems, which are defective by design.
3) I spend far LESS time on housekeeping that I used to with Macintosh or Windows. I also experience far less downtime than my Windows counterparts, in particular.
4) Virtually all of the free software tools that I use for data analayses, desktop publishing etc. are equal to or better than what's available for Macintosh or Windows. They are far less buggy and updated more frequently. Many of them are also more elegant. I will never go back.
5) Did I mention that I can get my work done? That's what matters most.

The size of the free GNU/Linux community is more than sufficient and (to anyone who is paying attention) has reached critical mass. If I run into difficulty or have a question, I can almost always find the answer and resolve it rather quickly and without a fuss. If my favorite free GNU/Linux system falls by the wayside or becomes dormant, I'll find another one that does the job.

In summary, I can maintain one of my few remaining personal freedoms (sadly becoming more and more in short supply in the U.S.) and... get my work done.

What more can you ask for?

libredrs

lansburyslido
Offline
Iscritto: 08/29/2011

Second bite, (but no ranting)...

Advantages?

1. I have good hardware which works fine with free/libre software.
2. Free/libre software can also be 'payware', it's not free as in beer.

Facts?

1. I have to use Windows at work. I can tell you which machine needs more
software updates/patches/security work done continually. And it's not my home
laptop running Trisquel gnu/linux.
2. Bigger doesn't mean better.
3. Most people aren't aware.

Contributing?

1. Buy a mac? Contributing to Apple's coffers and software lock in isn't what
I would call contributing.
2. I like my software free/libre. Like my operating system.

miga
Offline
Iscritto: 09/17/2011

Here's a third bite. But first, a little bit of backstory.

I'm a high school student, and as such, I barely have enough money to buy
things like expensive operating systems and proprietary software (not like I
would now, anyway). I've used GNU/Linux for some time now, and started out
using it with Ubuntu. When I first started out, I had a little bit of
proprietary software (the nonfree Linux kernel and Adobe Flash to name a few)
on Ubuntu. Back in 2009, I started having problems with the proprietary
nVidia drivers and Flash both deciding to act broken. Back then, I didn't
really know what "proprietary" meant since Ubuntu uses the term "restricted"
more. I always figured that everything in GNU/Linux was free and could be
fixed by everybody. Of course, I was horribly wrong. Everybody that was
experiencing bugs like these were stuck waiting for Adobe and nVidia to fix
their problems.

Well, I got sick of it and all proprietary software in late 2010, and started
wondering if there even were truly free versions of GNU/Linux out there. I
looked up "fully free ubuntu" and got results for Gobuntu, but realized that
there were no new versions coming out. That's when I changed the search terms
to "fully free linux" and found Trisquel, which was exactly what I wanted. I
installed it on my PC over my Ubuntu partition, and used it for two years.

Granted, I wasn't able to use my nVidia GPU with 3D acceleration at the time
because it needed proprietary drivers, so I stuck it out with my Intel
integrated GPU. As of last year, I finally was able to use my nVidia GPU
again with the nouveau DRI.

Today, I don't use Trisquel anymore except on a low-end server because I
don't really like apt-get, but I'm still sticking to freedom by using
Parabola GNU/Linux-Libre.

Anyway, backstory time over.

The advantages for me:
- All of my hardware on both my desktop PC and laptop (Alienware M11x) work
with Free Software.
- Extremely stable. I've had Trisquel running on my low-end server (an Asus
Eee PC 701) for 109 days now, according to "uptime".
- If it breaks, you can fix it. If proprietary software breaks, sucks for
you.

I still use Windows because I still have to use Adobe Flash (my online school
uses it for everything and Lighspark/Gnash can't render it), and I refuse to
use it in an environment where everything else is free/libre. However, all
the other work that I do can be done in a fully free environment. Free
Software rocks.

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Iscritto: 04/23/2011

Maybe I'm not following what you are getting at or what your point is
although here goes on countering the thinking that free software is some how
harder to use.

There are many advantages to free software. Many revolve around the freedom
bit or extend from it at least.

Most of the things you have said I feel are just wrong. GNU/Linux comes in
different flavours and some are harder than others. However there are things
that make most distributions easier to use than non-free platforms. Bugs
aside GNu/Linux is easier to use. In most cases the solution to the bugs is
the selection of a less buggy distribution.

I'll give you some reasons why I see GNU/Linux as easier to use for the
masses than the non-free operating systems:

1. Automatic update system for core software- you don't have dozens of pop
ups with dozens of different and confusing screens

2. Security- I don't mean more eyebals equals better security- although that
helps. I mean users actually get the updates for the tools that matter.
Firefox, LibreOffice, Thunderbird/Evolution, Pidgin/Empathy, etc.

3. There is less maintance - when was the last time you had to remove or
reformat due to a virus? Most people have to hire some one or take it to
staples, bestbuy, or some similar tech shop.

4. Consistancy. while gnu/linux is known for a lack of a standard interface
(UI between gnome/kde/etc apps) there is consistency over the years for those
who want it. Every three years there is a new long term support release.
Nothing changes for three whole years.

5. Every thing made for gnu/linux is 'plug-n-play'. If it isn't then the
device wasn't really made for gnu/linux. What I mean by this is that hardware
that is deisgned for gnu/linux is 100% free software compatible. Free
drivers, free firmware, and fully supportable by the community. That means
you get updates through your distribution and don't have to worry about
getting it to work. It just does.

6. It is very easy to install software risk free. There isn't a learning
curve to doing it either. Once a users has been taught that anything 'here'
(the repository) is safe there isn't anything to worry about. The learning
curve I'm referring to is 'figuring out what is safe' not the actual clicking
of a button.

7. When was the last time a program actually required user input or differed
from another program's installation procedure? gnu/linux has excelent
consistency here. You install every program the same way (again, through the
repository).

8. Whoever supports you can actually support you if they know what they are
doing. we would never be able to do this on Microsoft Windows.

apvp
Offline
Iscritto: 12/10/2011

:) Yeah... i think i'm getting deja vu here. There's the magic number in your
nickname. Lets play Find Evil Wally, shall we?

But hey, if you don't like free software don't use it! But if you really
think you're right in what you say then why do you feel the need to advocate
that, especially in a free software forum? :) :) :)

SirGrant

I am a member!

I am a translator!

Offline
Iscritto: 07/27/2010

For normal people free software has many advantages. This list is not
exhaustive but you will get the point.
1) Free software doesn't spy on you. People who write free software are
concerned with user freedoms so they don't write spyware. If it does somehow
make it into a free software project it is a big hoopla.
2) You can copy the software. This means none of that bologna where
microsoft makes you activate your OS on each computer you install it on.
3) It doesn't have malicious features. Again microsoft if you install their
OS and don't "phone home" to activate it they will disable your computer
after 30 days. Free software doesn't have things like DRM/time-bomb features
in there.
4)Mentioned above but the constant updates are nice.
5) Freedom 0: You can run it for any purpose. None of that "for students
only" or "only for non-commercial purposes" bull. If I want to run the
software in my business, school, or home it doesn't matter. I can and I
don't need anyone's permission.

On your "annoying facts":
1) You miss the goal of a free OS then. The goal of a free OS like Trisquel
is not to be the fastest. It is to be totally free. Don't get me wrong
there is nothing wrong with being fast or user friendly. Trisquel tries to
do both (and I think it does a good job) but that is not the ultimate goal.
2) This I would agree is true (except that it is the GNU/Linux community).
If you have any ideas on how to improve this problem we are open to ideas.
We are looking to start a marketing team to work on advertising
trisquel/bring in new members. If you are interested let us know.
3) I agree that most people don't hate non-free software because they don't
even know anything else. I have had to educate people on this. I try to
explain that the nvidia drivers are non-free and they say "but I didn't pay
anything" (a different problem altogether). They are just ignorant (I am
using dictionary definition here, not saying they are stupid) about the
software they are using most of the time.

On your ways of contributing to free software:
1) I don't understand how you got this conclusion at all? Firstly buying a
mac does nothing to support free software. Apple is almost totally opposite
of the free software goal. They want to control everything about your
computing experience. Also adobe flash is a dying breed soon to be replaced
by HTML5. Why is this a highlight?
2) I don't know what you mean by "fancy of release" but we promote and
support the releases of all
[https://trisquel.info/en/wiki/list-free-gnu-linux-distributions free
distros]. I don't know what you know about the history of the GNU project
and free software but having a fully free OS was basically the original goal
of the GNU project. We have it now and we are constantly working to make it
better. I have no idea why you think we should stop. We also do promote
LibreOffice. We include it in the distro and therefore copies of it are
distributed to everyone who downloads and installs the distro. We are
grateful for all kinds of free software. But we will stop working on
releases of GNU/Linux. That would be giving up on one of the basic building
blocks of the free software movement which you claim to respect.

damage3025
Offline
Iscritto: 03/08/2012

Hey, Guys. I'm very grateful for your replies. Your spelling and grammar are
better than me :)

I'd like to disclose some of my personal information here.
I'm from Mainland China and I'm currently doing undergraduate in a Hong Kong
university.
I have two old PCs running GNU/Linux. One Debian and one Fedora. I know
what's good about GNU/Linux. Maybe I'd try vrms[1] some time.
I have a new Macbook Pro. I haven't used OSX before. I find myself spend much
time using MacPorts[2].
I had an iBad. But I gave it to my girlfriend :)
I keep contacting with Chinese FOSS community, both online and off-line. I'm
not sure whether open source is an offensive word here. But many people I
know about do not distinguish Free and Open Source seriously. Put it in
another way, they won't care whether there is binary driver or whether
something is open source but under a restricted license.

In my humble opinion, free software is for the general public rather than
just for technical savvy. So they should work out-of-the-box. But I met many
blockers. Let's give you a list.
1. At least a university in Guangzhou uses IE-only e-campus system. This
university is within top10 in China. Would students use free OS that cannot
register classes? I and some other people already pushed the university's
staff but in vain. Some hackers there comes with the following (in Chinese).
I respect the developer but it is still a temporarily fix. When the
developer graduate, it may not have maintenance anymore.
https://github.com/humiaozuzu/py-sysu-jwxt
2. Most Mainland China E-banking and other critical stuff is IE-only. See the
following site for details (in Chinese).
http://www.openbanks.info/
3. My university use L2TP/IPSec VPN extensively. The network manager hasn't
an official L2TP plugin it. GNU/Linux users have to use CLI if they follow
official instruction. Worse, the provided script is not perfect. I'm working
on this issue by many ways.
http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/itsc/network/vpn/index.html
4. The default input method setting detail is not good for Hong Kong people.
I wrote an issue github and some people copy my word to Launchpad and Debian
BTS.
https://github.com/acevery/ibus-table/issues/9
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ibus-table/+bug/947908
5. A very enthusiastic GNU/Linux user in another Hong Kong university told me
that WiFi performance in one of Linux laptop is worse than Windoze. So he
preserved the Windoze for that machine.
6. A very enthusiastic GNU/Linux user and Fedora packager in Guangzhou told
me that GNU/Linux uses battery twice as fast as Windoze. He can accept this
fact, though.
7. The CentOS 5.5 machines in my department do not support Chinese at all by
default. I contacted the administrator but he refuses upgrading. Recently, I
organized a workshop on how to install Chinese font and input methods to home
directory.

damage3025
Offline
Iscritto: 03/08/2012

More blockers:
8. A course I'm taking uses Microsoft Word as for-edit document. For course
I've taken, I always ask the course staff to provide PDF for for-read
document.
9. Most universities in Mainland China uses modified and proprietary 802.1x
authentication protocol. The network equipment company also make their
clients proprietary. Some student hackers do reverse engineering and write
free clients. But the free clients may not always be available or maintained.

I forgot the references
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrms
2. http://www.macports.org/

My point is simple, freedom is meaningless if the users have to give up too
many things.
Many developer out there won't care a kind of OS with minor user base. So I
think making GNU/Linux more popular is very important. Hype won't work. I
figured out several ways.
1. Try to improve wine. A friend of mine is actively reporting bugs for wine.
2. Try to eliminate software blockers. I already did something.
3. For binary driver. I have mixed feeling.
3.1 What would you think if NVIDIA stop maintaining their binary driver at
all?
3.2 Installing binary drivers for Linux is non-trivial but for Windoze is
trivial. I cannot blame on both sides but it is a blocker.
3.3 Maybe not buying these hardware is an contribution, do you, free people,
have a decent website for that?
4. Try to promote LibreOffice, GIMP and so on first. Microsoft Office related
issues is just annoying.

For those who Free OS already work perfectly for you. I'm quite happy about
that! But there are many problems pending. I hope you can help!

damage3025
Offline
Iscritto: 03/08/2012

You may check my universities VPN setup guideline page:
http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/itsc/network/vpn/vpn.html
Compare the relatively difficulty in configuration.

You may check a decent bite for FOSS.
http://daringfireball.net/2004/04/spray_on_usability
http://www.lambdassociates.org/blog/the_problems_of_open_source.htm
Some sentences may be BS but you may get some insights also.

lansburyslido
Offline
Iscritto: 08/29/2011

Hi Damage3025.

Do you see a common thread in your points 1 to 9 above? In all cases someone
has taken a software and/or hardware decision that *forces* people to use a
specific brand of software. And in many cases it's the worst possible choice.
For example, I would never, in a million years, connect to an online banking
system with IE. Yet people are being made to. It's madness.

With free/libre software comes true freedom, something very much lacking in
the scenarios that you describe.

G4JC
Offline
Iscritto: 03/11/2012

I support totally free/libre because I enjoy making stuff for free and
contributing to projects which support freedom. In turn this helps me and
others not just one sole-entity or corporation which is trying to get rich
and lock down the source code by not sharing it with others.

There are some blockers...
1) Most "bugs" are caused by compatibility issues with non-free formats.
(This includes some excel documents, 3ds Max file types, Adobe Flash, graphic
cards and wireless chipsets, etc.)
2) Companies frown upon those using free software because they think it isn't
good enough.

The benefits:
1) I can make a zillion copies legally
2) I am helping others and usually get better support than from Microsoft
regarding bugs I do find
3) No fear of embedded spyware or as Adobe likes to say "web beacons" in the
software.

If I'm paying for software I like to know it's not coming bundled with
spyware, tracking and other nuances. User Privacy and code-transparency is a
wonderful part of FOSS.

If more hackers make linux easier for "human beings" we could slowly convert
people to GNU/Linux. There's a lot of compatibility and more being worked on
everyday. Sadly as miga stated above schools and workforce generally forces
non-free software down the peoples throats. Time to resist it and promote
free software as much as possible. Find a bug? Fix it, or pay a hacker to do
it for you and release the code into the GPL. :)

Just my two cents.

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Iscritto: 04/23/2011

I would love to see students stand up and refuse to use the software. Even if
that means failure. Instead of blaming GNU/Linux blame those who created the
problem in the first place. Until people take a stand things don't improve.

lansburyslido
Offline
Iscritto: 08/29/2011

Second bite, (but no ranting)...

Advantages?

1. I have good hardware which works fine with free/libre software.
2. Free/libre software can also be 'payware', it's not free as in beer.

Facts?

1. I have to use Windows at work. I can tell you which machine needs more software updates/patches/security work done continually. And it's not my home laptop running Trisquel gnu/linux.
2. Bigger doesn't mean better.
3. Most people aren't aware.

Contributing?

1. Buy a mac? Contributing to Apple's coffers and software lock in isn't what I would call contributing.
2. I like my software free/libre. Like my operating system.

miga
Offline
Iscritto: 09/17/2011

Here's a third bite. But first, a little bit of backstory.

I'm a high school student, and as such, I barely have enough money to buy things like expensive operating systems and proprietary software (not like I would now, anyway). I've used GNU/Linux for some time now, and started out using it with Ubuntu. When I first started out, I had a little bit of proprietary software (the nonfree Linux kernel and Adobe Flash to name a few) on Ubuntu. Back in 2009, I started having problems with the proprietary nVidia drivers and Flash both deciding to act broken. Back then, I didn't really know what "proprietary" meant since Ubuntu uses the term "restricted" more. I always figured that everything in GNU/Linux was free and could be fixed by everybody. Of course, I was horribly wrong. Everybody that was experiencing bugs like these were stuck waiting for Adobe and nVidia to fix their problems.

Well, I got sick of it and all proprietary software in late 2010, and started wondering if there even were truly free versions of GNU/Linux out there. I looked up "fully free ubuntu" and got results for Gobuntu, but realized that there were no new versions coming out. That's when I changed the search terms to "fully free linux" and found Trisquel, which was exactly what I wanted. I installed it on my PC over my Ubuntu partition, and used it for two years.

Granted, I wasn't able to use my nVidia GPU with 3D acceleration at the time because it needed proprietary drivers, so I stuck it out with my Intel integrated GPU. As of last year, I finally was able to use my nVidia GPU again with the nouveau DRI.

Today, I don't use Trisquel anymore except on a low-end server because I don't really like apt-get, but I'm still sticking to freedom by using Parabola GNU/Linux-Libre.

Anyway, backstory time over.

The advantages for me:
- All of my hardware on both my desktop PC and laptop (Alienware M11x) work with Free Software.
- Extremely stable. I've had Trisquel running on my low-end server (an Asus Eee PC 701) for 109 days now, according to "uptime".
- If it breaks, you can fix it. If proprietary software breaks, sucks for you.

I still use Windows because I still have to use Adobe Flash (my online school uses it for everything and Lighspark/Gnash can't render it), and I refuse to use it in an environment where everything else is free/libre. However, all the other work that I do can be done in a fully free environment. Free Software rocks.

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Iscritto: 04/23/2011

Maybe I'm not following what you are getting at or what your point is although here goes on countering the thinking that free software is some how harder to use.

There are many advantages to free software. Many revolve around the freedom bit or extend from it at least.

Most of the things you have said I feel are just wrong. GNU/Linux comes in different flavors and some are harder than others. However there are things that make most distributions easier to use than non-free platforms. Bugs aside GNu/Linux is easier to use. In most cases the solution to the bugs is the selection of a less buggy distribution.

I'll give you some reasons why I see GNU/Linux as easier to use for the masses than the non-free operating systems:

1. Automatic update system for core software- you don't have dozens of pop ups with dozens of different and confusing screens

2. Security- I don't mean more eyeballs equals better security- although that helps. I mean users actually get the updates for the tools that matter. Firefox, LibreOffice, Thunderbird/Evolution, Pidgin/Empathy, etc.

3. There is less maintenance - when was the last time you had to remove or reformat due to a virus? Most people have to hire some one or take it to staples, bestbuy, or some similar tech shop.

4. Consistency. while gnu/linux is known for a lack of a standard interface (UI between gnome/kde/etc apps) there is consistency over the years for those who want it. Every three years there is a new long term support release. Nothing changes for three whole years.

5. Every thing made for gnu/linux is 'plug-n-play'. If it isn't then the device wasn't really made for gnu/linux. What I mean by this is that hardware that is designed for gnu/linux is 100% free software compatible. Free drivers, free firmware, and fully supportable by the community. That means you get updates through your distribution and don't have to worry about getting it to work. It just does.

6. It is very easy to install software risk free. There isn't a learning curve to doing it either. Once a users has been taught that anything 'here' (the repository) is safe there isn't anything to worry about. The learning curve I'm referring to is 'figuring out what is safe' not the actual clicking of a button.

7. When was the last time a program actually required user input or differed from another program's installation procedure? gnu/linux has excellent consistency here. You install every program the same way (again, through the repository).

8. Whoever supports you can actually support you if they know what they are doing. We would never be able to support Microsoft Windows to the extent we support free software.

apvp
Offline
Iscritto: 12/10/2011

:) Yeah... i think i'm getting deja vu here. There's the magic number in your nickname. Lets play Find Evil Wally, shall we?

But hey, if you don't like free software don't use it! But if you really think you're right in what you say then why do you feel the need to advocate that, especially in a free software forum? :) :) :)

But i'll play your game, just this once: for me, the biggest advantage in using 100% free software is that, that way, you have access to source code and you know what you're using (no built-in spyware), but i guess some people have problems with that (not being able to spy on other people). Besides that, IT'S FREE! It's a failed question to begin with.

By the way, you should check the stats a little better. Linux is an always growing community - it has been ever since it started. I don't know what you mean by "minor group" when referring to GNU/Linux.

You're just wasting your time and ours. (Sorry if i "ranted" too much).

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Iscritto: 04/23/2011

I think he we was getting at how it is benefitial for end users. What does the source code liecening terms let you do as an end user you generally couldn't do otherwise?

apvp
Offline
Iscritto: 12/10/2011

Maybe my previous answer to damage3025 was not in the most appropriate terms. My sincere apologies to him.

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Iscritto: 04/23/2011

I think he we was getting at how it is benefitial for end users. What does
the source code liecening terms let you do as an end user you generally
couldn't do otherwise?

apvp
Offline
Iscritto: 12/10/2011

Maybe my previous answer to damage3025 was not in the most appropriate terms.
My sincere apologies to him.

SirGrant

I am a member!

I am a translator!

Offline
Iscritto: 07/27/2010

Question: What's the advantage of using pure free software?

For normal people free software has many advantages. This list is not exhaustive but you will get the point.

  1. ) Free software doesn't spy on you. People who write free software are concerned with user freedoms so they don't write spyware. If it does somehow make it into a free software project it is a big hoopla.
  2. ) You can copy the software. This means none of that bologna where microsoft makes you activate your OS on each computer you install it on.
  3. ) It doesn't have malicious features. Again microsoft if you install their OS and don't "phone home" to activate it they will disable your computer after 30 days. Free software doesn't have things like DRM/time-bomb features in there.
  4. )Mentioned above but the constant updates are nice.
  5. ) Freedom 0: You can run it for any purpose. None of that "for students only" or "only for non-commercial purposes" bull. If I want to run the software in my business, school, or home it doesn't matter. I can and I don't need anyone's permission.

On your "annoying facts":

  1. ) You miss the goal of a free OS then. The goal of a free OS like Trisquel is not to be the fastest. It is to be totally free. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being fast or user friendly. Trisquel tries to do both (and I think it does a good job) but that is not the ultimate goal.
  2. ) This I would agree is true (except that it is the GNU/Linux community). If you have any ideas on how to improve this problem we are open to ideas. We are looking to start a marketing team to work on advertising trisquel/bring in new members. If you are interested let us know.
  3. ) I agree that most people don't hate non-free software because they don't even know anything else. I have had to educate people on this. I try to explain that the nvidia drivers are non-free and they say "but I didn't pay anything" (a different problem altogether). They are just ignorant (I am using dictionary definition here, not saying they are stupid) about the software they are using most of the time.

On your ways of contributing to free software:

  1. ) I don't understand how you got this conclusion at all? Firstly buying a mac does nothing to support free software. Apple is almost totally opposite of the free software goal. They want to control everything about your computing experience. Also adobe flash is a dying breed soon to be replaced by HTML5. Why is this a highlight?
  2. ) I don't know what you mean by "fancy of release" but we promote and support the releases of all free distros. I don't know what you know about the history of the GNU project and free software but having a fully free OS was basically the original goal of the GNU project. We have it now and we are constantly working to make it better. I have no idea why you think we should stop. We also do promote LibreOffice. We include it in the distro and therefore copies of it are distributed to everyone who downloads and installs the distro. We are grateful for all kinds of free software. But we will stop working on releases of GNU/Linux. That would be giving up on one of the basic building blocks of the free software movement which you claim to respect.

damage3025
Offline
Iscritto: 03/08/2012

Hey, Guys. I'm very grateful for your replies. Your spelling and grammar are better than me :)

I'd like to disclose some of my personal information here.
I'm from Mainland China and I'm currently doing undergraduate in a Hong Kong university.
I have two old PCs running GNU/Linux. One Debian and one Fedora. I know what's good about GNU/Linux. Maybe I'd try vrms[1] some time.
I have a new Macbook Pro. I haven't used OSX before. I find myself spend much time using MacPorts[2].
I had an iBad. But I gave it to my girlfriend :)
I keep contacting with Chinese FOSS community, both online and off-line. I'm not sure whether open source is an offensive word here. But many people I know about do not distinguish Free and Open Source seriously. Put it in another way, they won't care whether there is binary driver or whether something is open source but under a restricted license.

In my humble opinion, free software is for the general public rather than just for technical savvy. So they should work out-of-the-box. But I met many blockers. Let's give you a list.
1. At least a university in Guangzhou uses IE-only e-campus system. This university is within top10 in China. Would students use free OS that cannot register classes? I and some other people already pushed the university's staff but in vain. Some hackers there comes with the following (in Chinese). I respect the developer but it is still a temporarily fix. When the developer graduate, it may not have maintenance anymore.
https://github.com/humiaozuzu/py-sysu-jwxt
2. Most Mainland China E-banking and other critical stuff is IE-only. See the following site for details (in Chinese).
http://www.openbanks.info/
3. My university use L2TP/IPSec VPN extensively. The network manager hasn't an official L2TP plugin it. GNU/Linux users have to use CLI if they follow official instruction. Worse, the provided script is not perfect. I'm working on this issue by many ways.
http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/itsc/network/vpn/index.html
4. The default input method setting detail is not good for Hong Kong people. I wrote an issue github and some people copy my word to Launchpad and Debian BTS.
https://github.com/acevery/ibus-table/issues/9
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ibus-table/+bug/947908
5. A very enthusiastic GNU/Linux user in another Hong Kong university told me that WiFi performance in one of Linux laptop is worse than Windoze. So he preserved the Windoze for that machine.
6. A very enthusiastic GNU/Linux user and Fedora packager in Guangzhou told me that GNU/Linux uses battery twice as fast as Windoze. He can accept this fact, though.
7. The CentOS 5.5 machines in my department do not support Chinese at all by default. I contacted the administrator but he refuses upgrading. Recently, I organized a workshop on how to install Chinese font and input methods to home directory.

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

Keep pushing back against the university. Make people aware of it. Every time you encounter a problem complain! Make others aware. The more costly it is for them to ignore the problem the better.

We need to demand free software compatibility. The US is better I think most of the time than China although we run into these same types of issues.

I was unable to get onto a school wireless network once in one building. The number of people complaining forced them to act. Within hours the building worked with GNU/Linux again.

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

Keep pushing back against the university. Make people aware of it. Every time
you encounter a problem complain! Make others aware. The more costly it is
for them to ignore the problem the better.

We need to demand free software compatibility. The US is better I think most
of the time than China although we run into these same types of issues.

I was unable to get onto a school wireless network once in one building. The
number of people complaining forced them to act. Within hours the building
worked with GNU/Linux again.

damage3025
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Iscritto: 03/08/2012

More blockers:
8. A course I'm taking uses Microsoft Word as for-edit document. For course I've taken, I always ask the course staff to provide PDF for for-read document.
9. Most universities in Mainland China uses modified and proprietary 802.1x authentication protocol. The network equipment company also make their clients proprietary. Some student hackers do reverse engineering and write free clients. But the free clients may not always be available or maintained.

I forgot the references
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrms
2. http://www.macports.org/

My point is simple, freedom is meaningless if the users have to give up too many things.
Many developer out there won't care a kind of OS with minor user base. So I think making GNU/Linux more popular is very important. Hype won't work. I figured out several ways.
1. Try to improve wine. A friend of mine is actively reporting bugs for wine.
2. Try to eliminate software blockers. I already did something.
3. For binary driver. I have mixed feeling.
3.1 What would you think if NVIDIA stop maintaining their binary driver at all?
3.2 Installing binary drivers for Linux is non-trivial but for Windoze is trivial. I cannot blame on both sides but it is a blocker.
3.3 Maybe not buying these hardware is an contribution, do you, free people, have a decent website for that?
4. Try to promote LibreOffice, GIMP and so on first. Microsoft Office related issues is just annoying.

For those who Free OS already work perfectly for you. I'm quite happy about that! But there are many problems pending. I hope you can help!

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

http://libre.thinkpenguin.com/

Note: I'm not sure this works in China. We run a Tor node (non-exit). I forget if the IP address it is assigned to is the same as the Tor node. We have never had a customer from China order. We have had customers from other countries in the region.

If you would like to help us fix it send us an email or contact me. I'll see what I can do.

SirGrant

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I am a translator!

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Iscritto: 07/27/2010

1) We aren't huge on wine. Wine is a compatibility layer mostly used to just run non-free programs. I have used wine one time and that was just to get the screenshots for the documentation on how to burn trisquel disks on windows

2) I agree and the FSF has a list of projects it considers high priority. We have been working on this problem for over 25 years. The work is ongoing.

3) I don't know what binary driver you are referring to.

3.1) I would have mixed feelings. On one hand I wouldn't care very much because I don't use NVIDIA's binary driver. On the other hand I would probably be happy because that would probably encourage more development of nouveau.

3.2) Again I don't know what binary drivers you are referring to but they sound like proprietary drivers. We don't encourage you to install those anyways.

3.3) ThinkPenguin is a good website (ask Chris) for buying hardware that works with free software.

4) The free software movement has been going on for over 25 years. Firstly GIMP stands for the GNU Image manipulation program. It is part of GNU. This distro by promoting GNU promotes the use of GIMP. LibreOffice has the document foundation running it. It isn't our job to promote it. It is the job of the document foundation. Yes, we are aware microsoft office is annoying. The FSF has a campaign for ODF because we all agree office documents are very annoying.

baptistredbloom
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Iscritto: 08/04/2011

"My point is simple, freedom is meaningless if the users have to give up too many things."

I respect your opinion, and here's mine: freedom DOES matter even if it means giving up a lot (in some cases even everything). I would highly suggest you read Mako's article on "When Free Software Isn't Better" http://mako.cc/writing/hill-when_free_software_isnt_better.html

I've been where you are now and totally understand your feelings and apprehensions. I do hope that you'll give being free even for a week.

lembas
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Iscritto: 05/13/2010

vrms is very silly. It's named after rms, yet it doesn't output what rms would say but what DFSG says.

http://libreplanet.org/wiki/Software_blacklist#vrms

Many of the woes you cite are quite universal. If you care about your freedom and the freedom of your community, you run free software. It's not always easy but it is always right.

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

http://libre.thinkpenguin.com/

Note: I'm not sure this works in China. We run a Tor node (non-exit). I
forget if the IP address it is assigned to is the same as the Tor node. We
have never had a Chinese customer. We have had customers from other countries
in the region.

If you would like to help us fix it send us an email or contact me. I'll see
what I can do.

SirGrant

I am a member!

I am a translator!

Offline
Iscritto: 07/27/2010

1) We aren't huge on wine. Wine is a compatibility layer mostly used to
just run non-free programs. I have used wine one time and that was just to
get the screenshots for the documentation on how to
[https://trisquel.info/en/wiki/burn-trisquel-cd-images burn trisquel disks on
windows]

2) I agree and the FSF has a list of projects it considers
[https://www.fsf.org/campaigns/priority-projects/ high priority]. We have
been working on this problem for over 25 years. The work is ongoing.

3) I don't know what binary driver you are referring to.

3.1) I would have mixed feelings. On one hand I wouldn't care very much
because I don't use NVIDIA's binary driver. On the other hand I would
probably be happy because that would probably encourage more development of
nouveau.

3.2) Again I don't know what binary drivers you are referring to but they
sound like proprietary drivers. We don't encourage you to install those
anyways.

3.3) ThinkPenguin is a good website (ask Chris) for buying hardware that
works with free software.

4) The free software movement has been going on for over 25 years. Firstly
GIMP stands for the GNU Image manipulation program. It is part of GNU. This
distro by promoting GNU promotes the use of GIMP. LibreOffice has the
document foundation running it. It isn't our job to promote it. It is the
job of the document foundation. Yes, we are aware microsoft office is
annoying. The [https://www.fsf.org/campaigns/opendocument FSF has a campaign
for ODF] because we all agree office documents are very annoying.

baptistredbloom
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Iscritto: 08/04/2011

"My point is simple, freedom is meaningless if the users have to give up too
many things."

I respect your opinion, and here's mine: freedom DOES matter even if it means
giving up a lot (in some cases even everything). I would highly suggest you
read Mako's article on "When Free Software Isn't Better".

I've been where you are now and totally understand your feelings and
apprehensions. I do hope that you'll give being free even for a week.

lembas
Offline
Iscritto: 05/13/2010

vrms is very silly. It's named after rms, yet it doesn't output what rms
would say but what DFSG says.

http://libreplanet.org/wiki/Software_blacklist#vrms

Many of the woes you cite are quite universal. If you care about your freedom
and the freedom of your community, you run free software. It's not always
easy but it is always right.

damage3025
Offline
Iscritto: 03/08/2012

You may check my universities VPN setup guideline page:
http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/itsc/network/vpn/vpn.html
Compare the relatively difficulty in configuration.

You may check a decent bite for FOSS.
http://daringfireball.net/2004/04/spray_on_usability
http://www.lambdassociates.org/blog/the_problems_of_open_source.htm
Some sentences may be BS but you may get some insights also.

lansburyslido
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Iscritto: 08/29/2011

Hi Damage3025.

Do you see a common thread in your points 1 to 9 above? In all cases someone has taken a software and/or hardware decision that *forces* people to use a specific brand of software. And in many cases it's the worst possible choice. For example, I would never, in a million years, connect to an online banking system with IE. Yet people are being made to. It's madness.

With free/libre software comes true freedom, something very much lacking in the scenarios that you describe.

damage3025
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Iscritto: 03/08/2012

Hi, lansburyslido.

By saying blocker, I mean something is virtually not replaceable. There is no alternative for end-users.

Take the E-banking issue in China as an example, the rare banks that support non-IE browsers may not have a single branch in most cities in China. Such supporting states are even subject to change. Would you like to abandon E-banking entirely for software freedom if you were in China?

If your answer is Yes. Thank you for your contribution. But most of the general public is not contributor.
If your answer is No. What would you do? Hacking should be very hard for most people. Programming is not included in computer literacy nowadays, right?

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

Complain to the banks and stop using them. I don't know how many banks a typical Chinese city has. I know a small town in the US though generally has many banks to choose from.

That said depending on your needs there are banking features that are almost impossible to get in the US without a significant amount of effort.

Take for instance remote check deposit for a small business. There are generally no local credit unions available which a small business can utilize. The few non-local credit unions that do exist with this feature won't work because they won't give accounts to small businesses. They can only provide accounts to non-local individuals (and not all credit unions do- at least one credit union exists that will provided you become a member of a particular organization which is open for all to join).

We had this issue. The solution for us was to simply have people deposit checks directly into our account in a city or two on the other side of the country. Since we used a local bank that did not exist in these other cities we found out about shared branch banking. Shared branch banking is where you can deposit a check into an account held at another bank. The bank or credit union does have to participate in this. Fortunately it is very common and in the US there probably isn't a decent size town where you can't find a bank to use.

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

Complain to the banks and stop using them. I don't know how many banks a
typical Chinese city has. I know a small town in the US though generally has
many banks to choose from.

That said depending on your needs there are banking features that are almost
impossible to get in the US without a significant amount of effort.

Take for instance remote check deposit for a small business. There are
generally no local credit unions available which a small business can
utilize. The few credit unions that do exist with this feature won't work
because they won't give accounts to small businesses. They can only provide
accounts to non-local individuals only.

We had this issue. The solution for us was to simply have people deposit
checks directly into our account in a city or two on the other side of the
country. Since we used a local bank there is something called shared branch
banking we used where you could stop into other banks that were not our own
to deposit the check who were part of a group of banks which share branching
facilities.

damage3025
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Iscritto: 03/08/2012

Hi, lansburyslido.

By saying blocker, I mean something is virtually not replaceable. There is no
alternative for end-users.

Take the E-banking issue in China as an example, the rare banks that support
non-IE browsers may not have a single branch in most cities in China. Such
supporting states are even subject to change. Would you like to abandon
E-banking entirely for software freedom if you were in China?

If your answer is Yes. Thank you for your contribution. But most of the
general public is not contributor.
If your answer is No. What would you do? Hacking should be very hard for most
people. Programming is not included in computer literacy nowadays, right?

G4JC
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Iscritto: 03/11/2012

I support totally free/libre because I enjoy making stuff for free and contributing to projects which support freedom. In turn this helps me and others not just one sole-entity or corporation which is trying to get rich and lock down the source code by not sharing it with others.

There are some blockers...
1) Most "bugs" are caused by compatibility issues with non-free formats.
(This includes some excel documents, 3ds Max file types, Adobe Flash, graphic cards and wireless chipsets, etc.)
2) Companies frown upon those using free software because they think it isn't good enough.

The benefits:
1) I can make a zillion copies legally
2) I am helping others and usually get better support than from Microsoft regarding bugs I do find
3) No fear of embedded spyware or as Adobe likes to say "web beacons" in the software.

If I'm paying for software I like to know it's not coming bundled with spyware, tracking and other nuances. User Privacy and code-transparency is a wonderful part of FOSS.

If more hackers make linux easier for "human beings" we could slowly convert people to GNU/Linux. There's a lot of compatibility and more being worked on everyday. Sadly as miga stated above schools and workforce generally forces non-free software down the peoples throats. Time to resist it and promote free software as much as possible. Find a bug? Fix it, or pay a hacker to do it for you and release the code into the GPL. :)

Just my two cents.

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

I would love to see students stand up and refuse to use the non-free software. Even if that means failure. Instead of blaming GNU/Linux blame those who created the problem in the first place. Without people taking a stand things don't improve.

The problem is not freedom. The problem is a lack of freedom.

If I were to do this with forethought I'd probably take on additional classes I had no intention of completing. This way you can get the attention of those with power without risking the grade or falling behind academically. I never took any actions to this extent although I did manage to irritate a few professors. One thing to be weary of is there are professors who will penalize you for your politics if you make them aware of it or they otherwise become aware.