[ubuntu-uk] Free vs non-free drivers etc

Rob Beard rob at esdelle.co.uk
Wed Nov 15 18:17:45 GMT 2006

Hi folks,

I was wondering if I could get peoples general opinion on free vs 
non-free drivers etc.

We have been having a discussion on our LUG about Flash on PPC.  It 
eventually turned into a proprietary is bad argument with the usual 
suspects preaching that everyone should use just free software with not 
a sniff of non-free software.

For some of us we need or want a bit of non-free code on our computers 
as unfortunately it is the only way we can use our computers or get the 
experience we want.  One of the guys on my local LUG said that if we're 
running non-free on Linux then we're better off running Windows.

Now I have argued that yes, its not ideal that we're running non-free 
stuff on Linux (I would love to go completely non-free) but from a new 
user perspective seeing flame wars like that would most likely put new 
users off.  It seems to be the same couple of users who will sit there 
and moan but not even offer to help out when we're doing things to 
promote Linux.

I argued that surely if a bit of non-free gets new users to move over to 
Linux from Windows, then once they are using Linux they can explore the 
free alternatives, and maybe even contribute to the community (say 
writing a bit of code, documentation or providing support to other new 
Linux users).

I just wondered what others thought.  How I see it, we're in a perfect 
position to be talking up and demonstrating Linux as an alternative to 
users moving over to Vista and potentially dumping a perfectly good 
computer.  I am getting to the point where I am possibly going to set up 
my own mailing list for Devon to promote Open Source software as I just 
don't think that the local LUG I am a member of is interested in 
anything other than /. style flame wars.


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