Software Freedom vs. Usability: Must We Lose One To Gain The Other?: Page 3

Posted November 15, 2007

Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley

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Free software alternatives to closed source solutions

Projects like Nouveau, Gnash and Ice Tea Java are stepping up to take on important roles that have, up until now, been exclusively filled by proprietary options. Allow me to share some quick background on them.

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Nouveau, a promising open source 3D acceleration project for NVIDIA graphics cards, may one day mean that NVIDIA will no longer need to be bothered with Linux driver development. It's great in concept, but like many purist visions, it needs help as it remains quite unusable at this stage of the game.

Then there’s Gnash, which hopes to replace Adobe’s Flash. Further along in usability than Nouveau, yet it has about as much functionality in Linux as Flash 7. As any Linux user is well aware of, Flash 7 for Linux was pretty bad with regard to Flash-based video and audio synchronization.

And last but not least, Java Ice Tea or simply "Ice Tea," to be proper. Probably the most usable out of all three projects to date, you can take Ice Tea for a test drive to see how good it is compared to Java. If you are interested in doing so, Fedora 8 is the easiest course of action to doing this.

So there it is in a nutshell. Purists both as users and as a developer community are working for the same thing that the rest of us are in the Linux community. Same path, but the purists are opting for Linux adoption vehicle that is based on their vision of software freedom instead of a practical, “take what works” approach.

People such as myself prefer freedom of choice. This means the freedom to easily install open and restricted software into my distribution of choice. Linux purists on the other hand, believe that their freedom must come at a price. The price of me not being empowered to make my own decisions on which software I choose to install on my operating system.

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