[Fsf-Debian] Another approach...

Mason Loring Bliss mason at blisses.org
Wed Aug 8 14:45:01 UTC 2012

I had a thought about a perspective that hasn't been considered as yet. It's
a long-term proposition but I think everyone on "both sides" would agree it's
absolutely the right approach.

Briefly, my position: I have no formal affiliation with Debian, but I'm an
enthusiastic supporter. I started using it circa 1998 after RMS convinced me
to use Debian instead of Red Hat, when I was transitioning away from NetBSD.
I am as associate member of the FSF, donate freely, try to offer guidance in
the FSF IRC channels, and support and attend FSF events when I can. My
principal interest is in promoting the use of free software for many tasks,
with the general notion being that a rich collective commons offers a better
base for the improvement of the human condition than greed-centered
proprietary software. I have experienced more than one situation in my life
where I observed the direct, measurable harm caused by the use of proprietary

My proposition is as follows. The FSF and its membership shouldn't complain
about the Contrib and Non-Free repositories. Instead, they should take them
as a guidebook and put their efforts into obviating those repositories. The
FSF should be reverse-engineering radio chipsets and writing free software to
drive them. They should be improving Nouveau and Gnash until they're in fact
usable. The FSF should be looking at all the firmware in non-free and
replacing it with working, free software.

The FSF is capable of significant engineering efforts. Emacs and GCC are
two of the more popular examples, but the FSF can also point to HURD and
Coreboot. The FSF provides the libc at the heart of most Lignux distri-
butions. FSF hackers, please make more software. Focus on foundational
elements - write firmware that will let people use their computers without
relying on proprietary software. If the FSF doesn't have the resources to do
this, find and make more hackers, and open dialogues with hardware
manufacturers to get them to free their firmware and drivers.

I have no doubt at all that given good, free alternatives to the proprietary
software in Contrib and Non-Free, Debian will shed them without looking back.

Let's actually solve the problem. I'd like for Contrib and Non-Free to have
no compelling reason to exist.

Mason Loring Bliss   ((  "In the drowsy dark cave of the mind dreams
mason at blisses.org     ))  build  their nest  with fragments  dropped
http://blisses.org/  ((   from day's caravan." - Rabindranath Tagore

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