Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Free as in Forgetaboutit?

I've recently visited Mozilla's site, where I found a link to "Firefox Flicks", which, if memory serves me right, was a contest where users created and submitted home-made commercials.

Now, with Firefox being both the "IE killer" and the iconic Free Software product, I was mostly expecting something that will, at least in some vague way, address those, and other benefits of the browser. However, from looking at the aforementioned page, I quickly realised it was not to be so. What I didn't expect was my inability to actually view those "flicks".

You see, the video clips were presented in Flash. Yep, a non-free, proprietary format, which my computer doesn't support (Both for idealistic and practical reasons). Fortunately, the good folks at Mozilla offer a download option, where you can get the clips. In QuickTime format.

What exactly happened here? Either the Mozilla guys forgot what actually puts bread on their tables, which is the Free Software concept, without which they'd be where Netscape is now (which is nowhere), or they hired a marketing company who doesn't even know what's Free Software, and thinks God farts in Flash. Either way, bad move.

Sadly, it doesn't end there.
As I've recently mentioned, I played a bit with Damn Small Linux. When I got to their download section, a weird file, named "GPL_Sources.txt" caught my eye. The text file included with the downloaded files had this to say: "We honnor the GPL (sic) and will send anybody the sources to the GPL software in Damn Small.
If you want to receive copies of the software please send us $7 (cost of media and shipping) and we will gladly mail you the sources.
"

Now, I'm not a GPL expert, but it seems weird to me that a Free product (both Liber and Gratis) will demand money for sharing its source code, the holy pinnacle of the Free Software concept. And we're not talking about some forsaken application here, we're talking about a GNU/Linux distro. For comparison, if Firefox is the icon Free Software product, GNU/Linux is the Flagship. More so, Damn Small is based on Debian, a 100% communitee project that is also boasting a Free Software Social Contract.

In both cases, we're dealing with people and companies who spit into the well they drink from. Neither Damn Small nor Firefox would've existed without Free Software. Dissing the Free Software concepts, is just not Cricket.

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