Is there a place for (not so) Open Source?October 1, 2009 at 17:41 | Posted in Free (as in Freedom) Software, thoughts | Comments Off on Is there a place for (not so) Open Source?
Tags: binary blobs, Free Software, gNewSense, GNU/Linux, Ubuntu
With my recent move to a totally free, as in freedom, operating system I find myself wondering about the dominance of Ubuntu. I would gladly see gNewSense jump to the top of the DistroWatch list. But I think this is probably unrealistic.
There is still far too much proprietary hardware (particularly wifi cards) that require binary blob drivers. Certainly people are not going to be happy if they have to have a half crippled computer and loose access to proprietary codecs and applications.
So, What if we think of (not so) “Open Source” software like Ubuntu and many other modern GNU/Linux Distros out there as a middle ground. As a stepping stone on the way to total freedom.
Creating this atmosphere would require a couple of things. A more declarative stance on the part of distros that include binary blobs in their kernel. “Now with an 80% free kernel…” and a much stronger declaration every time a user of such a distro installs a non free application.
I personally would like to see a set up in which every non free application throws up a large red warning stating that the application in question violates X,X and X of your essential rights, and goes on to list the possible or in some cases known threats that the closed source software poses (“This application is used to tracks your browsing habits” (Flash-nonfree), “May disclose private information to unknown parties. (we don’t know. We can’t look at the code)” (Skype, etal).
I think in this way that people would begin to understand better what they are doing, what the risks are, and why they might not want to do that. I would also like to see such warnings offer free software alternatives, such as offering Gnash when someone tries to install flash-nonfree with a explanation that Gnash respects your rights and freedoms.
Of course we would also need something to prevent people from just clicking through without reading the important information so perhaps requiring the user to type in “I agree to have my rights violated and my freedoms taken away” in order to proceed.. (well o.k. maybe a check box beside the same phrase.. But really I think having people actually type it would be more thought provoking.)
With steps like those listed above the Murky Source distros could truly claim their place. Not Free (as in freedom). But not as bad as the oppressive tyranny you’ve been living with to date.
A sort of first step out of the dungeon to let people adjust to sunshine, fresh air, and wide open spaces again. These things can be shocking and confusing to people that have been stuck in dark cell for years.