The Road To Freedom

There is currently a massive discussion on the openbsd-misc list about removing recipes for installing proprietary software from OpenBSD ports system, which seems to be Richard Stallman versus several members of the OpenBSD community. Richard explains his views in a very civil way, given some of the crap thats hurled at him, and its inspiring for me to read the discussion as it goes down.

Here are some choice quotes about the process of moving towards a free system:

I appreciate that you make efforts to replace them with free software. Many others who prefer free software, or say they do, make no efforts to bring their use of non-free programs to an end. They leave the job to others and do not try to shoulder even part of it. I believe that all software should be free — what you call a “very extreme” position — and I have spent 24 years working for this goal. Free operating systems exist today because of the campaign which I started in 1983. I am also very pragmatic in how to campaign for this; otherwise I would never have got this far. My only method for achieving this goal is by convincing people, and it is clear it will take many years to succeed (if we ever do). Many people do not yet want to migrate all the way to free software, and the possibility of migrating partially as a bridge is very helpful to the progress of free software. I recognize this as much as anyone. I also recognize that we cannot keep moving towards a distant goal without keeping it in our minds and upholding it with our actions. Otherwise, it will be forgotten, or turned into a purely theoretic Sunday-school principle which people do not follow in life. To reconcile these two needs, I concluded that I should generally accept compromises and part-way measures that are beneficial in the short term, as long as they don’t undermine the long-term goal. However, we must not advocate part-way measures that imply rejection of the goal. More concretely, this means that I can grant legitimacy to installing free software, even if they don’t go all the way and erase all the non-free software on their machines. But I cannot grant legitimacy to installing a non-free program, because that would be treating the problem as a solution. Thus, I can encourage installing Emacs, GCC or OpenOffice on Windows, but I should not encourage installing non-free programs on GNU/Linux or BSD, just as I should not encourage installing Windows. It sounds like you disagree with these conclusions, and also with the goal that they are based on. I respect your right to your views, but I strive to act according to my views.
Creative Commons License
The The Road To Freedom by David Crossland, except the quotations and unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.


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