Kuro5hin has an editorial on the question of how best to promote
Linux (and Free Software) in general. Its key premise is a
rejection of traditional activism (defined in a way most activists
will recognize as "lifestyle politics"), and its chief
prescriptions are an embrace of "shareholder activism" and
practical advocacy. The desktop meme has found its way in here,
"I think that free software could learn some lessons
from this. Don't fight the system. Subvert the system. The carrot
and stick method is old and remarkably effective. Unfortunately,
activism calls for the stick more than the carrot. In fact, the
stick has been overused; it is effectively broken. Bill Gates and
proprietary software have been burned in effigy far too many times.
This has the negative effect of destroying the free software
movement's credibility. The free software movement, like
environmentalism, has often ignored practicality in favor of
altruism. Those businesses that listened before are becoming wary.
First, we should be using shareholder activism. We need to
establish a non-profit foundation to buy voting shares from
proprietary softare companies. Then we can be sure that our
opinions are heard on a level playing field. Linux already has
gained support from the likes of companies such as IBM, but this is
not an equal relationship. IBM sways free software. Free software
does not sway IBM. If a company's only consideration is its
shareholders then we must become its shareholders.
Secondly, we must be up front and honest with ourselves as to
when Linux should not be used. Most of the world uses Windows. It
is impractical to ask all others to use Linux, the flagship of free
software. Asking a diehard Windows user to use Linux is akin to
taking a corporate executive through a commune and crooning to him
about how we can all live off the land. He may realise the
technical advantages, but he's not going to just chuck the keys to
his Suburban. Although he would be more efficient ecologically in a
commune, he would be hard pressed to find any personal gain."
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