Free software campaigns

Windows 7 Sins

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) have launched an attack on Windows 7 by dropping 499 of the Fortune 500 companies a letter advising them to consider a switch to Free Software instead of Windows 7. Theres also been a protest and site setup for the whole thing.

I'm quite critical of the FSF's approach to these things but the only reason why is because I think there in the grand scheme of things actually right. But they seem to go about it in such a odd way. Yes writing letters to the CEOs sounds good but honestly, do they think this will make any difference let alone will anyone actually admit . to reading it? So the message is falling on deaf ears? Does it gather any additional publicity? Maybe. They could have done with something a lot more effective like the Freedom Fry thing, although I got to say it was odd having Stephen Fry giving a speech about software and hardware freedoms while being a big Apple consumer. By the way his latest podcast is well worth listening to. Actually it would be good to have a FSF podcast thinking about it, something like Linux Outlaws but less tech and more laws and infringements.

So my main gripe about the FSF is the scale and scope of some these things they do. I think they need to be more like Creative Commons in there tackfulness and campaigning but also consider much more smarter ways to raise awareness like how Firefox did. One of my worries is that unlike those other successful campaigns the FSF guys are not very good about being native to the web. Which is strangely ironic because with the work going into HTML5 and the mobile web, it seems like a really good time to be native to the web. So with a more refined look at the web the FSF could be pushing good system and practices. For example I've not seen any link to the Open Microblogging standard on the FSF site. In the darker corners of there site, there are some interesting things. The Play OGG one is a no brainer right? Even my Pacemaker editor exports OGG over MP3 for the exact reasons of cost There are some other campaigns which I think deserve as much attention like FreeBios, GNUPDF and a Free software replacement for Skype.

Actually the last one is very important, we're looking at alternatives in BBC R&D for cheap, effective P2P video conferencing. Skype does the job but its restricted in its quality and size which is a pain when your on a super thick pipe using a 2 megapix video camera. My real bets for a solution lie in the work Google has done recently in the video space.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and