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

Justin Findlay justin at
Mon Jan 21 12:05:42 MST 2008

On AD 2008 January 21 Monday 04:58:24 AM -0700, Levi Pearson wrote:
> 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.

Neither do I.  I use it because it makes *my* world better and blithely
believe that it would make the rest of the world better as well.

> > 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.

Should I mix a little proprietary SW into my diet so that it will be
more nutritious? :-)

> 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.

I'm curious as to whether you have a positive counter argument for this.

> > 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.

I submit you hear it a lot because it's true.  Just because *I* don't
read the source of all the SW I use doesn't negate the benefit.
Moreover, the OSS world is large and diverse and I suppose that there
are people out there hacking on most everything because they can.

> 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.

I may be one of those purchasers. :-)

> 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.

I hope my principles aren't imagined.  I'm passionate about Free
Software goodness but maybe I'm unwittingly guilty of Free Software
religion as well.

> > 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.

That's kind of a dogmatic argument.

> 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. :)

I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say.  That's not hard to
do since I am often given over to rhapsodic effusions in the place of
cogent arguments, but I always enjoy arguing with you because your
logic and scintillating wisdom act like detergent on the understanding.


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