Linux laptops, revisited (can any sleep like my PowerBook does?)

Levi Pearson levi at
Mon Jan 21 04:58:24 MST 2008

Justin Findlay <justin at> writes:

> PLUG is ostensibly about Linux and Free Software.  Perhaps the FSF has
> become passé and it is popular to disparage them.  I know you wouldn't
> necessarily do that without good reason, but neither do I believe
> blindly in the edicts of the FSF.  I presume you are familiar with the
> benefits of using/practicing OSS, so I don't understand why you would be
> critical of me in using it exclusively.  

I love open source software, and I use it frequently.  It has been
around as long as computers have, because it's clearly a good thing.
I just don't believe that there is a principle binding upon humanity
to make all software free.  That's where the religion comes in.

> My reasons are partly idealistic, experimental, curious, and
> practical.  I believe that software as OSS is necessarily better for
> the world, so I've made it the staple of mine.  

In the Japanese culture, rice is the staple of the diet.  However,
that's not *all* they eat.  I don't imagine it would be very
nutritious to eat nothing but rice.

Open source software is great because it does provide a lot of
opportunity to exercise curiosity and experiment with stuff.  Just
because it is great doesn't mean that it should be the only way to
make software, or that it is the only software that should be used.

> Since OSS is developed in the open I am better able to learn
> about/with it than its proprietary counterparts.  The freedom to
> copy, study, and modify it is an excellent benefit that proprietary
> SW by definition cannot offer.  

Yeah, I hear this a lot.  How much do you actually study and modify
the Linux kernel?  How often do you look at the source code to
Firefox?  Not very often, I'll bet.

Would it be a great benefit to humanity if all the plans and specs of
your home appliances were available?  Probably not, as it would likely
increase the cost somewhat and provide no benefit to anyone but the
rarest purchaser.

There is no universal principle that mandates all software to be free.
Free software is a great thing, but adhering to such an imagined
principle provides no moral high ground, cuts off access to useful
software, and generally does no good to anyone.

> Besides that I can get all the OSS I need without price. That is the
> substance of my principle and I fail to know how this elicits your
> condescension.

I.e., "I'm a cheapskate, so I refuse to support working programmers by
paying them money for their work."  Nice principle there.

And you're calling me condescending?  Maybe a little, but if we were
to talk about music, I think I'd get a little of that back from
you. :)


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