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    The fsf is more interested in ideological purity than helping users solve their problems and do so with free software

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      I think that’s kind of the point. If you want to benefit from the fruits of the FOSS community while also using the odd non-free app, firmware/drivers or even OS, then there is a wealth of information and tools available to you. Many Linux users are happy operating their computers this way and they certainly don’t need FSF’s help.

      FSF’s main purpose is being the irritatingly uncompromising voice. I like this article because it shows that they’re not managing to do that either - due to historical exceptions that probably made sense at the time, they’re now trapped in a weird middle ground where they’re neither pragmatic nor ensuring the freedom they really wanted. Hopefully they can modernise without making concessions to pragmatism or they will cease to be relevant at all.

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        You say ‘ideological purity’; another might say ‘morality.’ I assure that you have some inviolable moral precepts; so does the FSF.

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          Another might say “black-and-white thinking,” which as I grow older, I find to be harder and harder to maintain. The world is a mess of shades of gray.

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            My take is that the FSF’s positions congealed in the 1980s and they (well, RMS) has lacked the nimbleness of thought to keep up with the changing world.

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            What is the moral argument for closed-source blobs being totally fine so long as you don’t have to upload them from software, though?

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              It kind of makes sense for things that talk to a remote service: it means they can’t force you to take a firmware update you don’t want by saying “firmware versions older than X will not be supported”. But it’s still not really a good argument.

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            The thing about ideological purity is that it’s quite attractive to social movements. Totalizing worldviews are simple, and they give their adherents a feeling of righteousness (deserved or not) that can be a great recruitment tool, and also a great motivator for getting things done.

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              A truly totalizing worldview is the opposite of simple. Take for example the ideology of the market, which subsumes and totalizes all social relations under the measurement of how productive labor investments are in exchange as money. The web of justifications for this naturally self-expanding totality are as varied and complicated as modern history itself

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                Can you explain more about what you mean here? I think you’re disagreeing with the parent comment, but I don’t understand how what you say is incompatible with it.

                I.e. “the ideology of the market” is simple, at least as I understand it (“Trade lets people get what they want”). Its instantiation and justification is complicated. The same seems true in many cases (Communism: “The means of production should be owned by everyone”; Free Software: “Software must preserve these 3 particular freedoms”; Nationalism: “Our country is the best country”; Futuramism: “All Glory To The Hypnotoad”). The claim is that this core is usually simple, and easy to put a lot of emotion into. There are almost always a lot of contortions that go into dealing with objections, and into putting that core into practice. But people are drawn in by the central idea, and by how emotionally appealing it is, which puts a lot of pressure on the central figures to be extremely devoted to the simple core, at least in their outward behavior.

                1. [Comment removed by moderator pushcx: This condescension is inappropriate here. You were doing well when you were explaining your points rather than trying to hurt someone's feelings.]

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                    Meta: I don’t think I said anything that justifies the snark level here - I’m trying as hard as I can to have a conversation with you, where I might come to understand the things I don’t currently understand about what you’re saying, and where I try to explain where I’m at in the process. I think the parent comment is really rude, and it has made me want to disengage from that attempt.

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                      Sorry, sounded to me like you were just ridiculing me honestly

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                        Nope, the first paragraph (and the whole thing) was a legit question; I’m still interested in the answer if you want to explain!

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              On of my observances is that the FSFE on the other hand is very pragmatic and levelheaded - which makes them far more effective in my view.

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              Honestly it just feels like the FSF is stuck in the 90s in general. I’ve basically lost all hope for them.

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                This is another example of the things that have always bugged me about the FSF, as someone who completely agrees with their stated goal:

                • They don’t like providing a migration path. If you want to transition to a world that is entirely Free Software, then you must expect that there will be a long intermediate state where there is a mix of Free and non-Free Software. The GPL, for example, makes it very hard to be in this environment, whereas a permissive license (or a per-file copyleft license such as the CDDL) makes it possible to gradually reduce the proprietary software in a system over time.
                • They focus on negative incentives. If you use a law or contract to make people do what you want then they will do so reluctantly and devote effort to finding loopholes. If you create economic incentives for people to do what you want then they will try maximise the amount that they are doing it. If you create social pressures for people to do what you want then they will try to maximise the amount that they are perceived to be doing it.

                This is another example. They say don’t use non-Free firmware or microcode, but there’s no migration path. It’s far better for the Free Software ecosystem to have a completely reliable Free OS and application stack on top of a non-Free Foundation than to have a non-functional OS and app stack on top of a buggy foundation. In the first case, people can move to using Free Software in ring 3/EL0 and ring 0/EL1, and then there will be social pressure to move to Free Software in the more privileged layers.

                They call out folks that aren’t ideologically pure, even when they’re providing the closest approximation of what the FSF wants that’s available on the market. There’s no economic incentive for other people to try: they won’t get more sales unless they get to 100% and that’s probably not achievable at the moment. There’s no social incentive for other people to try because the FSF complains just as loudly about people that try and fail to get to 100% than people who don’t try at all.

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                I agree that running a deblobbed kernel is pointless, but not that the RYF certification is harmful.

                If any certification is to encourage free firmware, it must discourage blobs. Unavoidably, it will also “encourage” any nonproductive “solutions” that also satisfy the rule. Be it disabling the device or pretending that the blobs don’t exist (because they come from the factory or exist in a coprocessor). That’s the harmful part. If there could have been fewer loopholes (as the article hints at), that’s valid criticism.

                Also valid criticism is that in the (typical) outcome that the same blobs that exist anyway are just more hidden and unupgradable, you are only getting the harm; not any benefit: The beneficial outcome – firmware in source code form – came in an alternate universe.

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                  If they really wanted to do something to encourage Free firmware, rather than just whine, then they should adopt a model like the environmental efficiency labelling that’s been mandatory on all consumer electronics sold in the EU for a few decades. These have been so successful that they’ve had to recalibrate the scale recently so that A*** on the old scale is C on the new one. When they were introduced, most products scored around a C or D and the A in the scale was aspirational. Unlike the FSF scheme, this was designed based on solid psychological research. Given two products that were roughly equivalent in other metrics, people preferred the one with the higher rating. This meant that manufacturers competed to produce more energy efficient devices. A simple pass/fail doesn’t do this.

                  Imagine if, instead of RYF as a pass/fail thing, they’d created a scale like this:

                  • A***: Everything is Free, including RTL for the hardware.
                  • A**: All software, including microcode is Free.
                  • A*: All software except for CPU microcode is Free.
                  • A: All software except CPU microcode is either Free or runs in isolated components with restricted privilege (e.g. firmware for a face-recognition engine that cannot access main memory except via explicit DMA transfers mediated by another device).
                  • B: The bootloader, kernel, and all device drivers are Free, firmware is not.
                  • C: The bootloader is unlocked and third parties provide a Free OS that supports all of the hardware.
                  • D: At least one Free OS exists for this platform, user can boot it, but not all devices have Free drivers.
                  • E: Users cannot boot a Free OS on this platform.

                  Given this kind of labelling, it’s clear that A*** is where the FSF wants everyone to be, A or A* are quite feasible to do with today’s hardware ecosystem given sufficient economic incentive, most things are somewhere in the B-D range. Each step in this grading in the range A-E is a fairly incremental step that requires negotiating with hardware suppliers to release firmware source code but nothing else.

                  Given two identical-seeming laptops / phones / whatever, users would be able to look at the FSF’s grade here and see that one was a B and the other a D, so everything else being equal that’d choose the B (even if they didn’t care about running a Free OS now, knowing that one existed and had a complete set of drivers endorsed by the manufacturer would give them confidence in the longevity of the device and its resale value). Over time, you’d expect to see things classified D or E die out in the market and the competition move to the AA-B range.

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                    I very much like this idea. I’m ponder now how to best give it some legs.