Archive for the 'free culture' Category

‘Freedomware’ terms and concepts

I hope you noticed that thoroughout my blog I try to use freedom software or freedomware. I wrote this page as an explanation and to avoid misnaming in the community and to strengthen the brand ‘freedom software’.
NB: I don’t hold much love for marketing or the current advertising mechanism, but I had to use the term brand.

That is because I am trying to avoid ambigous related terms such as:

  • free software which can be interpreted as ‘no money’ or ‘gratis’ OR software under a free license (of course the Free Software Foundation cannot be avoided)
  • FOSS – which makes people say “what is this new acronym? Eah, I don’t care, I’skip it”
  • FLOSS – what is this? a string to clean people’s teeth?
  • open source – it refers to the ability to write a piece of software collaboratively, but it does not reflect any ethical dimension, it’s not the same as free software.
  • linux – many people in the proprietary world or even the general public tend to refer to the freedom software as just ‘linux’
    This is outrageous! Reducing the whole community to just one project or one piece of software is unacceptable for me.
  • Anti-microsoft – I heard people (mostly paid microsoft trolls) who claim that freedom software community actually means anti-microsoft. This is just wrong, I won’t bother explain this if you don’t know it already.’

Freedomware is short for freedom software and I like it because it’s just as short as free software, while it tells the whole concept, such as ‘free (as in freedom) software’ or ‘free (as in free speech, not as in free beer) software’. It leaves no doubt that it refers to software that provides the four freedoms of free software. While I think freedomware can be confused for ‘freeware’ when spoken, I still think it’s preferable to free software. I would like to point that when spoken one should prefer to use the longer term ‘freedom software’. Also read the free software page at Wikipedia.

Also I try to use GNU/Linux when I refer to the generic class of operating systems running Linux kernels because most of them include software from the GNU Project, such as gcc… Although many would point out that most of the software coming from the GNU Project is not used by average users nowadays, I am not calling it GNU/Linux for historical reasons or because we should pay homage to Richard Stallman, I do so because the most important contribution from that project was the GNU General Public License, the license under which the Linux kernel and most other freedom software is released.

I call it GNU/Linux because we should always preserve the spirit that brought us together and that is the spirit of the GNU Project, not Linux, nor open source. Likewise the BSD software community keeps its spirit alive by calling thier operating systems FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, PC-BSD and so on…

PS: While I host my views and terms dear, I don’t try to push them down to other people’s throats and I don’t enjoy others doing the same on my own blog.

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Eliberatica 2009

Ok, I do not know how to cover a conference properly, so I’ll just say that this year I saw more social networking and people were more action focused. I also got the sense that more and more Romanian people want to get involved in the free software movement. Keywords for this conference would be ‘action oriented’ and ‘social networking’, which is great.

A little about myself: I am interested in all things free culture, from software, to artwork, to data, but I am particularly interested in free as in freedom network services (FNS for short), from free cloud service to collaboration services between artists.

What I apprieciate most about this conference is that I had more time to socialize with people around: I had the opportunity to talk with Georg + Monty on patents, javascript AGPL, managed services and mostly stuff related to my trial at making a web/network service.

Now, I’d like to say a few words about the presentations:

Continue reading ‘Eliberatica 2009’

Communication with Free Software supporters, developers

I believe the problem of communication is by far the biggest problem and obstacle in the adoption of free software. I believe we have solved all the major technical problems in the adoption of free software, and the ones that remain are either being worked on or in testing. What has yet kept us from becoming the dominant supplier of software is our way of communication and marketing. Oh, I hear my readers mumbling: “here comes another free software detractor”. Actually, this is my best attempt at gathering attention upon an issue I can not solve by myself.

Why can’t I solve it alone, and then present my solution? Because that would be my solution to my version of the problem, as I see it. It would actually be of little help for others, as their issues are not even addressed. And failing to get their support to my initiative, it would fail itself, as many others did.

This problem needs be advertised by people with higher mind share on the public than my own, as there are still (many) people that negate its very existence.

Where do I see instances of this problem: in support forums in discussions between “gurus” and “newbies”, between developers and (experienced) users. Examples:
Winning Hearts and Minds” by Angry Admin,
Problems between developers and users:
A tale of two cultures” Daniel Robbins, Gentoo project initiator
Why did I stopped reporting bugs on Ubuntu”,
Why I quit: kernel developer Con Kolivas”,
Marketing problems (about the use of incomplete `truths` in our promotional messages):
Can we please stop fighting FUD with FUD? by Ryan Cartwright
Which can be solved with:
A Free Software Manifesto For All Of Us” by Marco Fioretti,

These are all old participants in the free software world (or they claim so). Even if every one of this reports are false, this is still an issue that should be analyzed.

I have to give 2 examples and ask your opinion on it.
1) I believe there is an important distinction to be made between our campaigns to use free software and our answers in support forums.
Say an end-user shows up on a support forum saying “I am using your free software program X on some proprietary Operating system” or “in combination with other software that does not respect user’s freedom”. In the current support forums the end user is likely to be greeted with a knee-jerk type of answer. For example: “Use Linux” or “read the guidelines” or worse – no answer at all.

I believe the right attitude of the ‘support people’ should be: “while we do not support your proprietary operating system, but here is the best advice we can provide you given the circumstances…”. The support community should provide end users with the best experience they can, so that users will come back when they are unencumbered by proprietary products.

End users have their own reasons for using their current products and could probably not give up on those products without costly transitions. Best thing to do should be to ensure a smooth transition – smooth by their terms – to free software. If their first contact is positive they are likely to come back. If we behave badly and rude and speak only technical language they will take their business elsewhere.

The fact that most applications of the KDE Desktop (less Kwin, Plasma) will run natively on most used proprietary operating systems is of great help. It will ensure users have a smooth ride to free software and that they do not have to switch applications all at once. It is also my hope that in the people supporting the KDE port on proprietary operating systems will also bring a new way of talking and behaving to the (technical support) free software world.

2) Another big mistake that we do is not explaining the free software philosophy in end users terms and with examples that affect them directly. Explaining artists the same freedoms as to programming coders is wrong: they care more about culture and telling them free software can smooth their ride in free culture is much more effective. By free culture I mean artwork developed collectively, just as our software, and distributed under a free (copylefted) art license.
It is right to present the four basic software freedoms, but for them free software is a means to achieving an end, free culture, and starting with the means to reach the end is wrong in my logic book. We should rather start with the end they care about and help them understand how Free Software can get them to that end. This is where we should rightly show them the four basic freedoms. This is also where I hope to turn them in free software advocates to others in their profession.

Yes I know I have another similar post here Communication in [an] overgrown community