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Install Fests: What to Do about the Deal with the Devil (gnu.org)
56 points by lelf 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 70 comments

So, as a card-carrying member of the FSF, I'll weigh in. When I pull out my FSF card that contains a tiny flash drive with a Trisquel image on it [0], most people think it's incredibly cool and often allow me to demo it on some old PC/laptop they have lying around.

The "demo" of Trisquel goes pretty well for about ten minutes (the DE is quite easy for people used to the Win 9x paradigm to understand), then I inevitably get to the point where they want to see the browser or something that requires internet, and it doesn't work. It doesn't work because there are very few desktops or laptops that ship with a wireless card supporting a completely free driver that Trisquel will ship. And that's where the conversation usually ends. Because if the free OS can't let the computer do the things the end-user expects it to do, they won't use it. It doesn't matter if they align practically or philosophically with the FOSS movement, a computer that can't access the internet is just a toy or a paperweight to them.


> a computer that can't access the internet is just a toy or a paperweight to them.

which would be a thing unheard of if we were still in 1993. We aren't, and you find people happily using iOS or Android devices that do mostly web browsing and video watching and would functionally be a toy or a paperweight if you transported them back to 1993.

Computing has changed in the last 25 years. Paradoxically, more people are using FOSS than before while fewer would subscribe to the kind of Free Software purism (totalitarism?) that the FSF advocates. Windows running a (GNU/)Linux subsystem is a victory of Open Source, but a defeat for the Free Software movement.

Which brings us to

> if they align practically or philosophically with the FOSS movement

and I'd call this a ruse - the Open Source movement developed as a countercurrent to FSF's ideology around Free Software mostly in the shape of people that liked Free Software (both as in Freedom and as in Beer) as well as software licensed under more liberal licenses but did not see the idea of Copyleft as central to their enterprise. There is a FOSS movement, replete with sympathisers and drama and everything around it, but it's at best a strict superset of the Free Software movement that also contains people with non-FSF-compatible opinions.

If you took an iOS or Android device back to 1993 with no internet, it would have a camera, photo editing capabilities, text editing (desktop publishing, with the right software), music synthesis and editing, a rich game platform, a guitar tuner, a music player, and so on. In short, everything we used computers for back then and more, since phones are just mini-computers combined with cameras. That web browsing is available on top of all that local functionality, and is the most popular, shows why people use our phones 24/7.

But I’m not sure how this is related to a desktop OS in 2019 that can’t access the internet. Sure, a modern GNU/Linux desktop system would have been amazing in 1993 with no internet too.

It has significantly fewer of those things if you don't have wifi access to download them from the store to begin with. Since software doesn't come on floppy disks anymore...

I’m not sure how we’re supposed to complete the entire story because it also requires time travel or something. I assumed that we can assume that the necessary software was available, just not internet access.

How about an island, or any truly remote location on earth (or in space) that may lack broadband.

how did you get there without preparation? no one carries around a mobile phone with 0 apps, the first thing you do is download all the essentials

You can load Android apps from microsd card, or via USB cable with ADB. No central server required, just a single file, like in the old times.

iOS devices can connect to wired ethernet.

and then bridge space-time to connect to the App Store from 1993? If we’re going to go that far we could assume a 28k modem peripheral.

If we had iPod Touches in the 90s before widespread internet, software could be distributed by USB drives (Lightning port drives I guess).

it would be nice to have a usb stick that had both compatible wifi and storage for these types of demos.

So keep a supported USB wifi dongle with your Trisquel flash drive. These things can be had for ~$10 new on ebay, it's a total non-issue.

> it's a total non-issue

Finding a wifi dongle with a free driver is more difficult than you give it credit for.

While testing out Trisquel, I sought to do exactly this. Turns out, the best resource we've got for checking wifi card compatibility with free software is here:


So I settled on a TP-Link N150, which supposedly uses an Atheros chipset and a free driver [0], and is easily found on Amazon. [1] Should be all good, right? Oops! The newest revision of that adaptor uses a Realtek driver instead of an Atheros driver, so no more FOSS driver.[2] Your only option then is to order a specialized one from ThinkPenguin at a generous markup, which the average user is probably not going to know or think to do.[3] It's also not helping my sales pitch to prospective Trisquel users: "Please ignore the wifi card that your laptop came with and that every other OS supports, and shell out an additional 20 bucks so that your Free Operating System can actually use wifi.

To end the story, I returned the Amazon adaptor and never bought a proper one that worked: I just switched my Trisquel testing to a laptop that had an ethernet port.

[0] https://h-node.org/wifi/view/en/357/Atheros-Communications-I...




If you're actually planning to continue doing this with this particular distribution it would behoove you to locate and acquire a small cache of relatively cheap, supported wifi dongles. The cost is so small it makes no sense when you're already investing significant time on this.

Offer to sell them the supported dongle at cost if they're super into what you're demonstrating. You'll probably find yourself profiting a little accidentally when they volunteer to pay you more for your time now that a transaction is happening.

I don't think it's a good idea to send them off to find supported hardware on their own, people are justifiably anxious about buying potentially incompatible computer components - but when you have it in front of them plugged in and demonstrably functioning it's a completely different story.

Keep in mind I'm not shilling for Trisquel--I could just as easily push Ubuntu or Mint if I cared enough to reformat the flash drive on my membership card. The demo usually comes up organically if someone mentions that they're either frustrated with Windows or that they have an old computer/laptop kicking around that's too slow to run anything modern--that's when I tend to say, "Oh, let me see--maybe I can breathe some new life into it."

With that said, the membership card takes a trivial amount of space in my wallet, so I don't exactly have to "plan" to pull it out. Keeping a FOSS-approved wifi dongle in my pocket at all times on the off-chance I might need to show it off would be slightly more burdensome.

I'm all for OSS, but reading things like this really make me think of the community as totally nuts. I don't have the time in my life to get this worked up over OSS, and I don't have the time to avoid the smallest paid software package. I guess I am glad that a community like this exists to push OSS forwards, but I wonder how much this pushes away more moderate people. Would the ecosystem be as easy for a moderate like me to enter were it not for these fringe envelope pushers? Would it be slightly harder to enter, but offset by the larger number of developers not alienated by the apparent gung-ho anti-establishment attitude? In the end I think it's a benefit but it does push me away.

Nuts or not they fight the good fight on our behalf by acting as an anchor at the other end of the spectrum.

Even if I’m not as ardent about it as a beneficiary of open source in all its forms I can understand the viewpoint of those who are.

There is value in that I think.

Richard Stallman is important as a visionary. I think, his views may be really impractical short-term, but he is often spot-on long-term. Taking him seriously and listening to his opinion is worth the effort, I think.

Interesting. What are some examples of things he predicted in the past that were really impractical short-term, but turned out to be spot-on long-term?

I don't have specific examples off the top of my head. This is just the realization I had after reading and watching his talks and articles. You can google "stallman was right" and "stallman was wrong", and see where he got it right or not.

I did some search, and this discussion seems helpful and exactly on this topic: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3417033

I would say the modern state of surveillance capitalism is in a large part what rms warned about with proprietary systems being used against the user.

It's a tough call. I do see the logic in what you're saying, but when I read things like this, he seems more like PETA than anything else: actively harmful to his movement. Basically a walking, talking strawman.

> There is value in that I think.

Yes, thinking does have value. :P

> There is value in that, I think.

Totally agree with your comment, though.

We always have to weigh costs and benefits. But it's easy to make enough compromises and forget that your decisions were impure. That's why you have to have purists laying out what exactly it is you're compromising on, whether it be the FSF or your local church.

Ideally we want to live something close to the "pure" lifestyle and also get the convenience we want. That requires dedication on the part of programmers to get us closer and closer to it. You can't get that kind of dedication from people who are halfway dedicated.

Speaking of OSS: essentially the whole reason that the term "Open Source Software" exists is because the Free Software Foundation often comes across like this. "Free Software" is the brand for people who think that modest proposals like this one are reasonable; Open Source is the brand for actually pragmatic people.

The fact that you'll write "I'm all for OSS, but..." shows how successful this cultural branding effort has been...

No, not the community. Richard Stallman.

In any community - social, religious, utility - you have those people on the fringes. How hard they hang off the edge, and how many they can convert to "edgers" informs where the average point will be.

So if the moderate software moralist is half way between Bill Gates and Richard Stallman, one would imagine that the mean average would be slightly left leaning, slightly pro FOSS, but ultimately pragmatic. Were Bill Gates any more megalomaniacal, or Richard Stallman any more bonkers, the mean might shift.

The problem lies with the repugnance. Only those already willing to feel the pain are willing to align with RMS fully. To most of the rest of the world, we see pieces like this and bristle; we recognise that freedom + cost = nonfree - it's not free if we're shackling ourselves to a system that we can't use properly, or have to cart around dongles to duplicate the functionality already theoretically in our machines.

However keenly we do or don't recognise the moral shackles, we'll certainly recognise the convenience shackles.

Of course, FOSS isn't RMS' only soapbox. His GNU/Linux stance - to the point where he insists podcasts and publications change their name or he'll pull out last minute - creates a second repugnant pull in another direction. Again, the shackles are obvious, the moral imperative not so obvious, the sanity of the flag-bearer even less obvious.

So yeah, you're not alone in it pushing you away. Thankfully, everyone within a standard deviation of the mean will ignore his ravings as he hangs on the edge. As the mean shifts, so will how far off the edge he hangs (until he drops).

Feel free to go as close to the edge as you feel comfortable. And for everything else, shake your head and whisper (not my president) :D

Just like rms, PETA and the ACLU do things I don't agree with, but philosophically, especially with FSF, EFF, and the ACLU, I think that their overall goal is one I agree with.

No one has the time and attention to address everything, and so I am glad there are those that focus on each of these individual issues.

This is a fairly amusing read. Favorite quote:

    This devil would be a human being disguised to teach a moral lesson with a theatrical metaphor, so let's not take the metaphor too far. I think we would do well not to say that users are “selling their souls” if they install nonfree software—rather, part of their own freedom is what they forfeit. We don't need to exaggerate to teach the point...
I'm sympathetic to the FSF's goals, but I think they're desire for ideological purity prevents them from achieving meaningful wins. Increasing the availability and desirability of Free software shouldn't have to mean total exclusion of all non-Free software.

As an industry, I think we should be more troubled by devices that aren't even allowed to run code without special permission from some third party. The App Store is a sad state of affairs in my opinion.

Quote reformatted for mobile:

This devil would be a human being disguised to teach a moral lesson with a theatrical metaphor, so let's not take the metaphor too far. I think we would do well not to say that users are “selling their souls” if they install nonfree software—rather, part of their own freedom is what they forfeit. We don't need to exaggerate to teach the point...

Please don't use spaces to quote text. It makes it unreadable for some people.


That ideological purity is the entire point. The Free Software movement views non-free software as a moral evil on par with human slavery. Obviously in that context, tolerance for it in any form is unthinkable, and the only moral goal is to teach the world to find non-free software reprehensible and work towards its complete elimination.

If you're not willing to buy into the ideology, fair enough, then you can slot yourself into the Open Source camp.

I find it hard to believe that even rms would compare Free Software to human slavery, but would be interested if you have a source.

That part confused me. Having someone in a Devil costume is going to be scary, confusing or offensive to many people, so if it's not a great metaphor, why not pick another one?

I think it's better to skip certain classes metaphors for this kind of event: religion, sex, death, disease (cancer, etc.) probably chief among them.

> Having someone in a Devil costume is going to be scary, confusing or offensive to many people

No it isn't. People sell devil costumes to children for Halloween. Almost no one is confused or scared by the sight of someone in a devil costume, just as almost no one is going to see someone dressed as Thor and actually likely believe the god of thunder is walking among them.

FreeBSD occasionally encounters the same problem with their logo: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3310063

ouch, you "serious" and "professional" people are so boring! It's a cute idea and respectfully presented. As long as the costume is clearly innocent you cannot fathom anybody being offended.

Like a tall guy with beard, round glasses and a black turtleneck?

I don't know how this situation with most WiFi hardware being FSF-hostile will ever change. People who care (be they end users, enterprises, Linux kernel developers, or distro developers) don't provide sufficient motivation to the manufacturers.

Part of the reason might be that, even if one is generally aligned with the FSF's goals, the distinction the FSF makes, based on where the closed firmware is stored, isn't very compelling, IMHO. Most people need a good reason to incur the high costs of FSF-friendliness.

(I've compromised on this, myself. In 2010, the Debian Live variant utility stick distro I made bundled the `non-free` drivers, since that was already a problem then. Though I have bought FSF-friendly `ath9k` PCIe WiFi cards for my own use. And I even went through the massive headache of converting several ThinkPad X200 units to Coreboot, which let me put FSF-friendly mini-PCIe WiFi cards in them. I never would've done the latter, had I known how much work it would be.)

If someone is going to an install fest, their technical skills are not very strong. Especially in this day and age where plentiful devices means not rendering your only computer inoperable, but being able to follow along with online instructions! That user's effective freedom is very low, even if they're sitting in front of a fully documented Free machine!

But they're interested in taking a step in the right direction, even though they will not reap the full benefits for quite some time. This must not be squandered!

The problem here is that emphasizing the negative association still ties it to GNU/Linux - first, the presence of a visible "devil", and second the difficulty of being confronted with an overt looked-down-upon decision that is not fully understood.

Rather, people respond better to the carrot. They should be informed - they might indeed have a different machine that would be a better fit for Linux. And they should walk away knowing that the machine they have is not perfect from a Freedom standpoint.

But how are they supposed to care enough to influence a purchasing decision, especially of a new machine, if we make it difficult for them to become accustomed to the benefits of Freedom? A machine loaded with all proprietary blob drivers still showcases the results of Freedom quite well - similar to why there is such big business in taking Free software and locking it up with DRM/HTTP, but I digress.

In general, RMS really needs to reconsider the nuance of how he applies his philosophy to the modern world. While he has been extremely prescient and unyielding for the overall war, he keeps wanting to fight the original battle rather than many of the new fronts that have sprung up.

For example, he uses a T400 laptop - what storage device does it have? I guarantee it runs non-free firmware from flash. There is little difference between this and AMD's graphics firmware blob files, if the latter is only ever loaded under Free control. Condemning the latter because it puts the blob front and center in our faces is fundamentally a symptom of failing to flesh out the paradigm of what applied Freedom means, and without that we cannot hope to defend it!

> what storage device does it have? I guarantee it runs non-free firmware from flash.

RMS is pretty consistently clear that software intended to be upgraded by the end user must be free. Software/firmware that is not intended to ever be changed or upgraded by the end user is more or less the same as circuitry and outside the scope of the Free Software movement.

> There is little difference between this and AMD's graphics firmware blob files.

AMD's blobs are intended to be installed by the end user. Both the firmware that you upload to the card when you use it, or binary drivers that run on your main CPU. Those are both software that you receive and execute as an end user which is fundamentally different from the gates and firmware fused into your device.

Except that firmware isn't "fused" into your device, but simply on an undocumented flash chip - the days of windowed EPROM are long gone. So RMS is compromising here, in my opinion incorrectly.

If we stop talking about a device as being "Free" but rather use the FSF's verbiage of "respects your freedom", then I would actually argue that AMD's firmware blobs are more-RYF than SSD firmware. The former I can be pretty sure AMD did a decent job at the code signing, meaning they're the only party that can use the device to disrespect my freedom. Whereas the SSD firmware interface remains more opaque, so there's a decent chance that anybody could reverse engineer the SSD and surreptitiously modify the firmware on mine to undermine my freedom!

Of course you can insulate yourself from the SSD by using full disk encryption and considering your SATA controller a security boundary. And that's my entire point - we need to evolve these definitions to incorporate this type of nuance.

I don't see a difference between RYF-ness of CPU microcode and SSD firmware. The main practical difference in the context of TFA is that distros typically bundle CPU microcode but not SSD firmware, hence the question is unlikely to come up in that context for SSD firmware, but that doesn't mean that it's not a problem.

Btw, the AMD CPU microcode is fused into the CPU, otherwise it wouldn't boot; there's an additional SRAM area where the microcode update is applied; for details see https://media.ccc.de/v/35c3-9614-inside_the_amd_microcode_ro...

To elaborate on your last point, I'd always use software encryption with SSDs, because with the opaque firmware wear-leveling it's essentially impossible to be sure that anything is actually physically deleted from SSDs, and if it isn't physically deleted it can be read by a custom firmware.

I was referring to AMD's graphics cards. They have a binary firmware blob that basically must be loaded, but the loading itself is done by Free software. I don't see how this is any different from a RYF perspective than if AMD had put another flash chip on the BOM for storing it cold. That is, assuming a competent signature scheme for both.

So the card itself doesn't RYF, but it can be used to display the output from a RYF computer. And unfortunately barring a better graphics option based on open firmware, these are the compromises we have to make. RMS recognizes this - I just think the manner in which he framed the compromise is a bit unnuanced and out of date. Rather than finding reasons to ignore least-worst blobs, we should be talking about boundaries between Free/non-free components.

SSDs are an interesting case, because the hard drive interface abstraction is so simple and longstanding, we just kind of assume it's a good boundary. But if you want to pop back into abstract Freedom land, imagine what the market would look like if vendors weren't able to market around decommoditizing software features. For example, if the FTL were done by Free software (perhaps on the main CPU), there would be no worries about certain lines of drives getting corrupted due to power failures!

(And yes, totally agree about FDE. I actually just changed my router back to being a general purpose Linux box, and it felt quite odd installing that with no FDE).

I'm sorry, no idea how I managed to jump from AMD GPUs to AMD CPUs :-)

> RMS is pretty consistently clear that software intended to be upgraded by the end user must be free. Software/firmware that is not intended to ever be changed or upgraded by the end user is more or less the same as circuitry and outside the scope of the Free Software movement.

That seems somewhat circular in definition on the edges. I can and have updated firmware on hard-drives (always opaque binary blobs from the vendor, but definitely changes, updates, and bug fixes not directly analogous to circuitry).

RMS has a role to play precisely because he is unyielding and refuses to be pragmatic.

Most of us here are pragmatists. We are trying to get things done as best as we can. Therefore we shouldn't follow his advice. But we should take it into consideration. "This is what could be"

That's not really what I'm saying. In so far as I invoked pragmatism, it's only about what's pragmatic to get people to adopt Free software.

Even RMS engages in pragmatism, hence calling "Free" his T400 with non-Free storage!

From https://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/endorsement/criteria

> However, there is an exception for secondary embedded processors. The exception applies to software delivered inside auxiliary and low-level processors and FPGAs, within which software installation is not intended after the user obtains the product. This can include, for instance, microcode inside a processor, firmware built into an I/O device, or the gate pattern of an FPGA. The software in such secondary processors does not count as product software.

> second the difficulty of being confronted with an overt looked-down-upon decision that is not fully understood.

But that's the point. The goal of the Free Software movement is not to get every person running free software, but to educated people on _why_ they should care, and why they should insist on running free software for themselves.

Installing Ubuntu on a bunch of people's computers and saying "see how much better linux is than Windows" misses the point. I think that's the main flaw in these so called "install fests."

The Free Software movement argues from a moral standpoint, not a standpoint of technical superiority. Otherwise you set yourself up for a constant back and forth of "but this thing was easier on windows."

That's not the point.

This is absolutely Cuckoo, even for RMS.

Take people, probably leaning nontechnical who have an interest in trying OSS and try to explicitly impose on them the concept that they are wrong and you are right and they are 'dealing with the devil' if they don't see things your way. They will be put off linux and the FOSS community for life.

It's not like we don't have years of evidence of what happens if you try to impose your idea of politics on someone.

If you really want people to care, then you need to introduce them slowly, and even then - without appreciating some sort of obstacle (like a technical user trying to get their wifi or graphics cards working) I'm not sure it's so easy, because most people have other priorities.

Unfortunately, this is absolutely in character for him. I also sort of hope that people try what he's suggesting since it will almost certainly backfire. It's not that I want him or the install fests to fail (I'm a big fan and user of Debian), but rather it would be nice if the hard line folks would get a clue and understand that they need to offer viable alternatives rather than telling people to 'just say no'. Maybe lines of people waiting for 'the Devil' would make that clear? (OK, probably nothing would change... but I can dream...)

Yet another self-defeating idea from RMS. If someone asks for Linux, we should either give them a broken version, refuse, or give them a lecture? Sad.

Well, not exactly... the whole point of this idea is that they should provide a way for the install to be completed, but make it clear that a moral compromise is involved.

That will go really well. If there is one thing people love, it is moral conundrums related to electronic appliances.

Regardless of the unpopularity, making people aware and fighting the moral issue he perceives with software has been Stallman’s mission for the last 30-40 years. It’s definitely not going to change anything to point this out to him now.

Don't forget the people lecturing them for the full 30 minutes that they're busy installing a new OS.

At least they’re getting a free computer service. One could compare it to the missions that feed and house needy people, under the condition that they also accept religious proselytization.


Could you please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow them when posting here?

Urgh... this is perhaps one of the worst positions for the FSF to take at this point.

This is a position you take if 10% of the desktop market was already running a mostly free operating system and APIs. (Making a distinction between GNU and Chrome OS).

Once you have enough mindshare to expose people to what Free Software, community developed software, software they can have control over (either by learning how to program or being able to pay someone to do it). Then you push to wipe out these crappy binary blobs.

At this point, with less than 1%, Microsoft could lock out every Linux user from modern hardware by refusing to sign an UEFI kernel.

Things have gotten better. Dell provides a few Linux laptops for desktop users. System76 is great... even if their machines look a little dated. Steam's Proton is a godsend.

But the Linux desktop still hasn't broken out of the a few niche areas. Chrome OS has more market share than all other desktop Linuxes. We haven't gotten past 2% and in many Asian countries we are falling behind even more.

You can't tell people they are only ethical if they use a modern laptop without working wifi. They won't care. A lot of people just don't care about technology. They just want it to work! But once you reach 10%; you have network effects people can rely on and feel confident about choosing a Free Operating System. If you point out this Free Software sticker means it works better for Linux/BSD/Haiku because you have control over the code that runs your wifi/whatever, then people will care.

> My new idea is that the install fest could allow the devil to hang around, off in a corner of the hall, or the next room. (Actually, a human being wearing sign saying “The Devil,” and maybe a toy mask or horns.) The devil would offer to install nonfree drivers in the user's machine to make more parts of the computer function ...

Oh, but this should only be suitable if it's done with FreeBSD and not some Gnuuh-slash-leenacks.

The degree to which Richard Stallman lives on another planet, entirely divorced from the reality of human behavior, cannot be overstated.

We can't even get people to ditch facebook when it is obviously and actively harmful to them on almost every dimension because people simply do not care. The idea that any of them would futz around trying to compile drivers from source code is ludicrous.

This problem is why I use https://fiendish.github.io/The-Debian-Gotham-Needs/ for downloading Debian ISOs, because I know that I'm going to need nonfree firmware for it to actually do the things that I want it to do (and finding the right ISO on the Debian website is a godawful nightmare).

I think the page takes the most rational approach by informing the person about the danger to user freedoms imposed by non-free software while, and this is very important, letting the person just get on with their life right now.

Stallman's proposal sounds...cartoonish and annoying and IMO ultimately harmful. I think the only way to get people who aren't already dedicated to want to use free software is if using it doesn't make them annoyed first.

How is it a nightmare? The site you linked literally just links to one of the images under here https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unofficial/non-free/cd-in... , and not even the most useful one. It'd be more appropriate to link to the multi-arch image because there are many Bay Trail era devices stuck with a wonky 32 bit UEFI / 64 bit processor combination.

> How is it a nightmare?

Explain how to get from https://debian.org to the right download link. Measure how many clicks it involves, how much knowing exactly the right thing to look for it involves, how many paragraphs you have to wade through, how much backtracking if you go down the not obviously wrong but still wrong nonetheless path it involves. Can you even get to it from the "Get Debian" page without halting a download, truncating the url, and then digging around in a directory tree? I'm not sure, but I don't think so. In short, take yourself outside of your "I already know the right answer" head and approach it from someone else's perspective. The fact that your answer is "just use this arcane url that doesn't mean anything, is hard or impossible to find from the landing page even for an experienced person, and also isn't unambiguously googlable without exactly the right techno jargon" is striking to me.

The Debian onboarding experience for normal people is terrible.

> It'd be more appropriate to link to the multi-arch image because there are many...

I disagree with your use of the word "many" and its relevance and whether multiarch solves more problems than it causes, but I acknowledge your beliefs. ( * shrug * )

Ugh, I think you get to pick between "strict purity" and something other than strict purity -- you can't have both. You can't deliberately tolerate something you deem to be devilish without becoming morally soiled by it. You can't perform an act that you call evil, or tolerate and implicitly encourage the act, and then in the next breath condemn it.

Either you have to maintain strict purity, or you have to acknowledge on some level that real life is not especially compatible with strict purity, and sometimes compromise is, at a minimum, necessary and to some degree desirable.

There's no logical way around this, and trying to force there to be a logical way around it gives you this kind of wink wink, nod nod, say-no-more sort of idea.

What distro are they installing at an install fest? I assume the users going to these would typically be in the lower half of the tech savviness distribution. So a user friendly distro like Ubuntu or Mint would make sense, but they include non-free coode in them.

If they install some weird hobby distro, that doesn't have a large community around it to help support users I'd expect to scare users entirely away from Linux.

And those distros usually have a checkbox on their installation wizards asking whether or not you want to install non-free software.


From the sounds of it, Ubuntu is a definite no-no:

> But it is hard to trust a devil to do wrong only within certain limits. What is to stop the devil from offering to install a GNU/Linux distro such as Ubuntu[..]?

Debian disables non-free software by default.

Is "install fest" actually a thing? I thought people just download whatever OS they want to install these days...?

It was a thing in the 90s.

Is it still a thing? I don’t know. Probably on college campuses, organized by comp sci majors.

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