[conspire] No more GNU HP Minis

Carl Myers cmyers at cmyers.org
Thu Nov 5 17:09:40 PST 2009

I am fetching those movies, we'll see... =)

> >And it seems if I ever contribute anything important to the Free
> >Software community it will be to convince people that EVERYONE
> >needs a Free Operating System to work on...if they want to live in
> >freedom.

The problem is the phrase "if they want to live in freedom" - most people in
group #1 don't.  Especially today in this country where civil liberties are time
and time again eroded, where groups of Americans band together to deny rights to
other groups of Americans [1], it is difficult to convince people they need
these freedoms (and there are times when I doubt they deserve them - apologies
to Ben Franklin).

I don't want to belittle the progress the open source community has made with
Linux.  The progress far exceeds even the brightest and most optimistic
predictions (at least, and I can recall from the 1990's, which to give you an
idea of what a young upstart I am, was when I was in highschool, and well before
I *really* learned about Linux).  I remember installing Slackware 3.0, and I saw
my friend install Debian on his shiny new netbook a few weeks ago - the
difference is night and day, folks.  But to say Linux is "ready for general
public usage" is still an exaggeration at best, and a misunderstanding of what
the general public needs and wants (or at least thinks they want) at wost.

There are problems that remain for GNU/Linux above and beyond the "I can't get a
machine with pre-installed Free OS" one you cite here.  Distros and large major
projects are fractured, duplicating effort and making standardization difficult.
What group #2 (and I myself) consider a great advantage (I can choose Gnome or
KDE, or Fluxbox or Ratpoison - I can choose a Redhat-based RPM distro, or a
Debian-based DEB distro) actually makes it challenging to deliver a free OS
"standard enough" that group #1 will use it.  The very thing that makes
GNU/Linux strong is also the very thing that makes appeasing group #1 so very

I think the valuable thing we could contribute, if our goal is "world
domination", is teaching those users in group #1 that they want freedom.
Showing them why vendor lockin hurts them, why choice is good, and why freedom
is worth fighting for.  It does not further those ends, however, to fight for a
pre-installed OS from a big company that won't care enough to do it right, or to
convince users in group #1 to use GNU/Linux only to see that it doesn't do for
them what the proprietary OS they used to use did (which is hold their hand, and
have ubiquity which makes getting support easy).  For that reason, I doubt HP
selling a pre-installed free OS will help - not until *everyone* sells a
pre-installed free OS, and it is really cheaper than windows, will that ubiquity
occur.  And it's pretty hard to be cheaper than windows, since Windows is

[1] http://www.overcompensating.com/posts/20091104.html
[2] http://autotelic.com/windows_is_free

Carl Myers 
PGP Key ID 3537595B
PGP Key fingerprint 9365 0FAF 721B 992A 0A20  1E0D C795 2955 3537 595B

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