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GNU Guru: Linux Steam "Unethical"

The GNU Website has statement from Richard Stallman where the founder of GNU and the Free Software Foundation describes his concerns about Valve's plans to bring Steam to Linux (thanks Ars Technica). He explains the freedom to install Steam games will impinge on a user's freedom:

A well known company, Valve, that distributes nonfree computer games with Digital Restrictions Management, recently announced it would distribute these games for GNU/Linux. What good and bad effects can this have?

I suppose that availability of popular nonfree programs on GNU/Linux can boost adoption of the system. However, our goal goes beyond making this system a “success”; its purpose is to bring freedom to the users. Thus, the question is how this development affects users' freedom.

Nonfree game programs (like other nonfree programs) are unethical because they deny freedom to their users. (Game art is a different issue, because it isn't software.) If you want freedom, one requisite for it is not having nonfree programs on your computer. That much is clear.

However, if you're going to use these games, you're better off using them on GNU/Linux rather than on Microsoft Windows. At least you avoid the harm to your freedom that Windows would do.

Thus, in direct practical terms, this development can do both harm and good. It might encourage GNU/Linux users to install these games, and it might encourage users of the games to replace Windows with GNU/Linux. My guess is that the direct good effect will be bigger than the direct harm. But there is also an indirect effect: what does the use of these games teach people in our community?

Any GNU/Linux distro that comes with software to offer these games will teach users that the point is not freedom. Nonfree software in GNU/Linux distros already works against the goal of freedom. Adding these games to a distro would augment that effect.

If you want to promote freedom, please take care not to talk about the availability of these games on GNU/Linux as support for our cause. Instead you could tell people about the Liberated Pixel Cup free game contest, the Free Game Dev Forum, and the LibrePlanet Gaming Collective's free gaming night.

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74. Re: GNU Guru: Linux Steam Aug 1, 2012, 13:15 Warskull
 
Draugr wrote on Jul 31, 2012, 20:39:
Cutter wrote on Jul 31, 2012, 19:51:
In a "free-market" system we have corporations. Those corporations are all intent on creating monopolies where possible because that means they get everyone's money for the monopoly they've created. No, America is actually moving more toward an oligarchic and/or plutocratic system where the wealth and power is concentrated by a small group of people - the 1%. This is why you a reduction or outright elimination of competitors and compatible good goods and services.

This needed to be said, thanks. It boggles my mind how the word gets thrown around yet most (seem to be) totally clueless.

It is actually kind of interesting. Most of the people throwing 'communism' or 'socialism' around as a slur are products of the propaganda from the cold war era. That kind of hate stays with a society and is passed down from generation to generation.

Think of the stigma attached to Nazi. Yes, the Nazis were truly awful people and the crimes of the original Nazis cannot be understated. However 'Nazi' carries a lot more stigma than 'racist' or 'bigot.' Modern Nazis are really just racists, but the Nazi name seems to draw a lot more disgust than the KKK or other equivalent hate groups.

Another great example is the whole "Chinese food is made from cats and dogs." That was basically anti-chinese propaganda from when Chinese workers came over to build railroads (and consequently opened up Chinese restaurants.)

Communists and socialists are bad because they were the enemy and it still lingers in our society.
 
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