11 December 2007

What Richard Stallman Wants for Christmas

Bruce Byfield has an interesting write-up of the FSF's High Priority Free Software Projects.

Projects make this list "because there is no adequate free placement," the list's home page explains, which means that "users are continually being seduced into using non-free software."

He concludes with the just observation:

Personally, I find the current list both encouraging and depressing. On the one hand, it is encouraging in that relatively few items affect daily computing for the average user. Moreover, the fact that free software is in reasonable enough shape that it can start thinking beyond immediate needs and worry about such things as the BIOS is a sign of progress.

On the other hand, it is discouraging because progress sometimes seems slow. Video drivers have been a problem for years, and the improvements, while real, are also painfully slow. Similarly, Gnash has not yet developed to the stage where it can rival Adobe's Flash reader, despite several years of work.

Still, over time, the list reflects progress. For instance, since Sun announced last year that it was releasing the Java code, you will no longer find support for free Java implementations listed. By comparing the current list with previous ones, you can get a sense of the gradual evolution of free software, seeing where it's been and where it is heading. For a GNU/Linux watcher, it remains an invaluable resource.

No comments: