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> But if you meet a kid who is a little intimidated by the thought of learning coding, but loves playing Minecraft, then you're really going to tell them to stop playing Minecraft and use some weird GNU programs?

I'm not going to tell them to stop playing, no; that's not going to work.

What I am going to do in that situation is explain what free software is, its social benefits, and the problems with proprietary software. I'll introduce him/her to a free operating system like GNU/Linux and introduce him/her to the world of free software. Maybe hack a few programs, and show him/her how transparent the operating system is.

Hopefully then he/she will continue to explore that. If not, that's unfortunate, but hopefully it provides some benefit.

By allowing children to grow up without recognizing proprietary software, you are setting them up to be okay with a world where sharing is a privilage, companies and developers are in control of everything they do. Companies make effort to lock in children and get them dependent on their software---e.g. Windows providing their software gratis to educational institutions. Free software in this case serves a broader social cause.

You might argue that this is teaching them reality. Yes, that's a reality that others permitted to happen. The goal is to _change_ that.

https://www.gnu.org/education/edu-schools.html




It's not the goal of most people, because most people don't agree with you. Including most of us developers who love and use free software. This idea that we have to infantalize users by "protecting them" from developers who "deny them their freedom" is radical, to most of us silly, and to many of us offensive.

Most of us will teach our children about free software while not demonizing proprietary software or its developers.


What do you consider to be the benefit of free software then? If it is freedom, then why are you watching a child give away their freedom? If it is any other "practical" reason then I urge you to reconsider your ethics. Given the fact that we know free software companies exist, then there's no valid justification (on a level of "there's no other way to survive selling my software") for selling proprietary software. The ethics questions become important when you consider the fact that most proprietary software developers do mistreat their users and the users are powerless to do anything about it.

Now, I'm not sure what the right way of introducing a child to this concept is (I'm still a teenager, so I have no parenting experience). I believe that topics like this should become relevant when the child is much older, mainly because social interaction is much more important than ethics about software at a young age.

But I personally feel worried about the fact that many children are now growing up in an age when Google has always existed and they have Google accounts from a young age (it pangs of the children in 1984 that don't know a time before Ingsoc and that planes were not invented by the Party).


You're worried based on what? What is the concrete problem you're so worried about?

Using proprietary software is not giving away one's freedom, no matter what the free software prophets teach. When one joins the military one is signing away one's freedom (rightly or wrongly), because one cannot change one's mind after signing without being subject to penalty. When I use proprietary software I'm not shackled to it.

I wonder, when you eat at a restaurant do you demand to know the recipe? I can understand having a right to know the ingredients, because of health concerns, but do you insist that the chef publish his or her secret? If you eat a bite of that culinary delight, have you lost something?

The ethics questions become important when you consider the fact that most proprietary software developers do mistreat their users and the users are powerless to do anything about it

This is a ludicrous statement, unless you take the FSF's view that any distribution of any non-free software is in itself mistreating users. I'd ask for some kind of evidence for the claim that most software developers mistreat their users, but I know there exists no such evidence.

The restaurant/recipe example is a good one because health codes are important. Most people think it's important to have some rules and regulations in place to protect the consumer. But most people also think these have to be kept at a minimum, because overly strict rules and regulations take away people's freedom, in a real way. Any problems you think exist regarding software can be fixed in a much more judicious manner than a blunt and heavy-handed "MAKE IT ALL FREE!" declaration.

This is the sad irony of the FSF's position. They want to restrict freedom. They want to restrict my freedom to sell (or even give away!) closed-source software. They want to restrict my freedom to purchase (or even receive for free!) closed-source software. And in the name of the preservation of freedom! It's absurd!


> This is the sad irony of the FSF's position. They want to restrict freedom. They want to restrict my freedom to sell (or even give away!) closed-source software. They want to restrict my freedom to purchase (or even receive for free!) closed-source software. And in the name of the preservation of freedom! It's absurd!

I don't have the time right now to respond to much of the above, but I do want say that you are misrepresenting the FSF's stance.

https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/compromise.en.html

"The issue here is not whether people should be able or allowed to install nonfree software; a general-purpose system enables and allows users to do whatever they wish. The issue is whether we guide users towards nonfree software. What they do on their own is their responsibility; what we do for them, and what we direct them towards, is ours. We must not direct the users towards proprietary software as if it were a solution, because proprietary software is the problem."


> When I use proprietary software I'm not shackled to it.

Yes you are, since they often have vendor lock-in with proprietary formats. Sure, those formats are eventually reverse engineered by free software developers, but why not just cut out the middle man and use free software in the first place? .doc and .docx were proprietary formats that were reverse engineered so that you can use LibreOffice to open them (even though you still can't do stuff like fill in .docx forms using LibreOffice). How do you not see that as "being shackled"? Active Directory was a huge vendor lock-in for Microsoft until Samba came along, and Microsoft would every release make their proprietary protocol different so that Samba wouldn't work. How is that not being shackled?

> > The ethics questions become important when you consider the fact that most proprietary software developers do mistreat their users and the users are powerless to do anything about it

> This is a ludicrous statement, unless you take the FSF's view that any distribution of any non-free software is in itself mistreating users. I'd ask for some kind of evidence for the claim that most software developers mistreat their users, but I know there exists no such evidence.

Considering how many universal backdoors have been found in countless proprietary software systems, I'm surprised that you can't remember a single example. Cisco has universal backdoors. Windows has universal backdoors. NetGear had some too IIRC. There are far too many to mention.

For example: every single WiFi router that is owned by your ISP that supports WPS has a "feature" that allows the cable company to dump the entire configuration remotely (this is how the Reaver attack against WPS access points works). If that isn't a backdoor, I don't know what is. And you can't change the PIN on most of these boxes because they are proprietary and there's no option added to the web UI.

Not to mention that very many pieces of proprietary software send analytics to the software developers (which is usually hard if not impossible to disable).

Mobile phones have secondary CPUs that allow the phones to listen in on conversations and many other nefarious mis-features.

I'm not sure if you're trolling that you haven't considered ANY of the above "features" as being examples of software developers mistreating their users.

> The restaurant/recipe example is a good one because health codes are important. Most people think it's important to have some rules and regulations in place to protect the consumer. But most people also think these have to be kept at a minimum, because overly strict rules and regulations take away people's freedom, in a real way. Any problems you think exist regarding software can be fixed in a much more judicious manner than a blunt and heavy-handed "MAKE IT ALL FREE!" declaration.

I don't understand why you're talking about regulation. Without free software, you have no way of verifying that the software is actually what the developers say it is. Why is regulation necessary if companies could just release their code (under the 4 freedoms) to anybody who they give their software to?

> They want to restrict freedom. They want to restrict my freedom to sell (or even give away!) closed-source software. They want to restrict my freedom to purchase (or even receive for free!) closed-source software.

In the same (although more extreme) vein, the US constitution "restricts your freedom to become a slave". You are misusing the word freedom. It has a very strict definition. And I think the FSF wants to replace proprietary software, not make it illegal. If nobody has to use proprietary software, then the companies that produce will either have to liberate it or die on their own.




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