Are you being served by Free Software?

Doctormo made a tought-provoking video, which I think is worth listening to, and pondering about.

Here are my thoughts on it:

Indeed, as a user, you cannot expect any Free software project to continue to indefinitely serve your needs, unless you are somehow a major contributor to it.

A good example is MuseScore, a program for typesetting music (which nowadays I mostly use for my own needs, but I did do it semi-professionally for many years, mostly back in the day when I was using proprietary software like Finale). With version 4, MuseScore became completely unusable for me. As it became more and more popular and gained more and more windoze users, it has focused away from Linux, and removed essential Linux features I was depending on. It also added some proprietary add-ons and spyware, which I simply refuse to run. So, I had two options: use this crippled version of MuseScore, stick to the previous version (version 3), or switch to something else. Knowing that staying on version 3 is at best a temporary solution (especially on Arch), I decided to immediately switch to Lilypond, which quickly proved to be a great decision and I’m sure it will work out in the long run. However, most of the times such an alternative is not available.

I think that is one of the reasons Free software is not as popular among professionals. There is this perception of unreliability in the long run, and professionals really do not like to change their workflow. As a Free software user, I’ve grown accustomed to dramatically changing my workflow, more often than I’d like to. On the other hand, there certainly are benefits to being often kicked out of your comfort zone, but it’s not pleasant.

I think Free software should be Linux/BSD focused. Now, it’s very easy to dismiss that statement as bias, based on my passionate hatred for anything Micro$oft, but I think it makes sense even without that bias of mine. Focusing solely on Linux/BSD means having a very small user base, but also a very devoted one. Windoze support should be offered as a third-party fork, but not be something the official project should devote any resources towards. In principle, it is very easy to make Linux software run natively on windoze (in practice, it there may be problems and new bugs), pretty much all of the dependencies are available there. Windoze software, on the other hand, typically has proprietary dependencies which simply do not exist for Linux.

When I see a Free software project that does not cater to windoze users at all (my favourite example is GCC), I immediately consider it to be more reliable and trustworthy – it shows that the developers take Free in Free Software seriously; it’s not just about being Gratis software, or just about sharing source code, but having an ideological alignment as well. I have immense respect for software developers who do not even have a windoze machine to test their software on, and say to people demanding a windoze-version: “it’s Free, if you want to make it yourself, I won’t stop you, but I want nothing to do with it!”.


His main line of argument is: “You absolutely should not trust any open source project to continue to be aligned with your personal needs.” (11:05 min)

I would reply, that it can happen that an open source project takes a turn that I dont want or dont like. This is how community projects work. Is that bad? No! This is simply how it works. Is rain or snow bad? No! This is how weather works.

Side note: For many open source software you do not even have a commercial alternative. But lets skip this aspect for now.

The big open source projects are actually very good in keeping aligned with their users. github issue trackers and such are very good means to get user input and to track progress on issues and feature requests. Closed source projects on the other hand do not have that. Did anybody here try to influence Microsoft which next steps they take with regard to O365?

I remember Aftershot Pro from Corel Draw. I bought it some years ago. It is basically dead since a long time (no new functions since 2016 when they published the last handbook) and they still sell it for 70 €. darktable in the meantime is far more advanced and for free. This is just one example where commercial software takes an unwanted turn. There are many more I believe.

My point in a nutshell: “You absolutely should not trust any software project to continue to be aligned with your personal needs.”

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My thoughts:
Good sir wants some new stylish hat!


nor should you absolutely trust that a proprietary piece of software will be aligned with YOUR personal needs as they are not considering your personal needs. I’ve seen lots of software come an go and lots of software change rather it was free open source or proprietary.

I’m pretty sure “open source” is a mistakenly used term here.