I was never truly sure about BadVista, an FSF campaign warning about the dangers and inconveniences about Windows Vista and proprietary software. I am basically agree with most of its contents, but the direct and reckless attack often gets the opposite effect: to feel sympathy for the victim, and to stand in one’s previous positions. This effect is seen in many areas, but its notable in politics, where most times strong attacks from one party to another only achieve to mobilize the followers of the attacked party.
Now, when the unpublished Windows 7 is having a good reception amongst press and hobbyists, FSF launches Windows 7 Sins, a very similar campaign. There is something I like from this campaign, that is remembering that even if Windows 7 was technically wonderful (that is yet to be seen), there are reasons to reject it that are more related with its proprietary character, and these reasons are the ones in which we must be centered. Windows Vista was received badly by almost everyone, but it was for being technically poor, not by its privations of user freedom.
Free software supporters often wield technical topics when discussing against Windows, or other proprietary software. We do that because sometimes we find impossible, or very difficult, that people gets convinced by more philosophical ideas, but this is in great part a mistake, because when a techincally prefect proprietary software appears, these points fall by their own weight. BadVista and 7sins attack the root of the problem, instead of shielding in sentences like “Windows Vista eats a lot of RAM” or simply “Windows Vista is crap”.
My impression is that 7 sins has had much more repercussion that its predecessor, maybe for the expectation that Windows 7 has generated. It has received a lot of enthusiastic celebration from some activists, community members and fans. It has received too a lot of negative criticism, thought, centered in an idea somewhat similar to the one I exposed in the beginning: “We must center on the good things free software can offer, instead of the enemy’s bad points”.
This criticism is mostly right, but not fully. Free software born in opposition to the abuses of proprietary software, it is reasonable to speak against its defects that we want to solve. We could speak, thought, of the adaptability of free software and others advantages not directly related with proprietary defects.
My reticence to this campaign is the same that I had with is predecessor: the reckless attacks get supporters into trenches and not so identified people into sympathy for the victim.
But I don’t want to fall into contradiction, so I am to speak in a positive way about a campaign that is not new, but I felt in love the first time I saw it. Meet get GNU/Linux. The campaign is very close to FSF philosophy, but I don’t think it will receive its bless because it often uses Linux for GNU/Linux, and because it recommends not 100% free distros, like Ubuntu.
Anyway, I believe these concessions are minimal and perfectly pardonable. By the other hand, its offers a moderated and nice tone, gives the information in a clear and concise way, with small paragraphs with links to expand information. It has a section discussing the problems with Windows, but in a restfully tone that will not scare people as the one used by 7 sins, while still speaking about the base problems of proprietary software, instead of trying to convince that Windows is a botch.
In conclusion, a wonderful site to address someone who wants to know what is this Linux (or GNU/Linux) and free software, or why we oppose Windows with this strength.
This is a translation of an Spanish article I made.
I apologize for the comments of the blog not working. If you see mistakes (there must be lots of them) in my English, please write me in badenglish _at_ member _dot_ fsf _dot_ org.