Checking out the Free Software Foundation website today, I decided to look up a new OS, because frankly, there are some features about Ubuntu that have been annoying me. (I intend to write a post about a new OS if I get one.)
Something surprised me about the GNU page sporting the free operating systems: the major, common ones are not included. You’ll find that list on a sub-page. The list contains not only distributions that have propriety code in them (or don’t share all of their code) but also distros that offer ways of downloading propriety software. FSF clearly points out that they won’t endorse these latter operating systems because they hint at some connection to the propriety world. They go to the extent of not even providing links to these sites. On one hand, I can applaud FSF for not being hypocrites in their desire to have a free world of software. On the other hand, haven’t we gotten this far in industry and computer science because of proprietary software? But even more compelling is the question as to even giving people an option. What if someone WANTS to pay for better software? Can’t we give them that choice? We want software to be free, but what about software production? Shouldn’t people be free to choose if they want to make proprietary software? Okay, so the FSF didn’t take it as far as I’m making it, nor are they going to bring up legal cases to intentionally take down big businesses like some of their commercial counterparts are doing. But I do have to wonder if computer science students straight out of college have backup plans if the market becomes more hesitant to give them a paycheck (which is what may happen if all code is free – either that or code will become more secretive).
Comments: Someone on Ars found this link.