not perfect, but humble enough

The H reports that most of the Humble Indie Bundle games are now either Free software or going to be Free software. I was torn on whether or not I should contribute to this project given that “World of Goo” and the newly added “Samorost 2″ are holding out as free beer only. I’m not interested in supporting non-free software so my first inclination was to ignore the whole offer. Though I’m a bit irked to know that money contributed to the developers supports the distribution of proprietary software, I thought it too harsh to write off the whole deal so I reconsidered. Overall, I was very pleased to hear that most of the games’ source will be free.

I saw no way on the site to voice my concern about the proprietary offerings I steered clear from. So for now, I’ll use this post to publicly state two facts:

1) My contribution was smaller than it would have been if either all of the games were being released as Free software or the Goo was removed from the promotion altogether

2) Since I won’t be downloading and playing the non-free games, I won’t experience them and therefore won’t be promoting them to others

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6 Responses to “not perfect, but humble enough”

  1. Ancurio Says:

    I do realize that this entry is about a year old. Still I feel inclined to comment, as there is yet another Humble Bundle that has been released recently.
    Please rethink your radical way of thinking. I am completely pro-open source, but for a reason, not only ideology: I see software as tools which benefit greatly from communities that work together to improve them. Games, on the other hand, albeit being software, I see more as a form of art, and art relies heavily on the creativity of only one or a few people. It mostly doesn’t benefit all that much from a community, there is no real “enhancing” that is being done over and over again, just bug fixing at best. Also, games won’t lock you in if you play them because again, they are not tools that you need to work.
    This is the opinion I have come to after a lot of consideration, and thus I highly encourage game porting to Linux even if it’s not open source. I actually believe many game developers are actually scared of porting to Linux exactly because of this prejudice that Linux users require everything to be open source.

  2. petrock Says:

    Hi Ancurio,

    I won’t be paying for the Humble Bundle again unless the games are released as Free Software. You state that games are more like art. There is truth in this. This is why these games should release their engines as Free Software and then they can make the choice to use more restrictive licensing for the artistic parts of the games.

    I would consider buying Humble Bundle games if they followed the model of software like Frogatto & Friends. That may irk Free Culture supporters, however.

  3. Ancurio Says:

    I can somewhat understand your point. Still, what you do by not buying games that aren’t open source is simply telling the developers “Hey, there isn’t really a market for linux games”. When there are less and less games for linux, the chance that their source will be made public shrinks even more.

    Think about this: If every linux user refused to run it on non-free hardware, where would free software be today? It’d be dead a long time ago.
    Is your hardware open source?

  4. petrock Says:

    Ancurio, you say, ‘what you do by not buying games that aren’t open source is simply telling the developers “Hey, there isn’t really a market for linux games”.

    No, I imply that there is a free software-based market neglected when a game is made and released wholly proprietary.

    You then claim that, “When there are less and less games for linux, the chance that their source will be made public shrinks even more.

    I don’t understand what you are claiming here. Could you clarify?

    If every linux user refused to run [the Linux kernel] on non-free hardware, where would free software be today?

    What’s implied in your question is the importance you give to the popularity of Linux. The fact is, if every “Linux user” ran only free software, Linux would not be as popular as it is otherwise. So? Linux is not the whole of free software nor is the popularity of any particular program the goal of the free software movement.

    Is your hardware open source?

    Some. For instance, I have a netbook that will run an entirely free operating system (e.g. Debian “Squeeze” or gNewSense). But most of my systems can only run kernels that compromise (e.g. older Debian versions and Ubuntu) with proprietary software drivers, for instance, Linux with binary blobs.

    However, what you are getting at is – that most Linux users run their system on hardware that can’t run entirely free Linux kernels. That’s not good. It’s arguably better than Windows, but the goal is to be free, not be freer (and therefore, more popular) than Windows. If there is an “enemy” per se, Windows isn’t it (despite what some in the Ubuntu “bug #1” crowd might claim). Proprietary software licensing is.

  5. Ancurio Says:

    I wouldn’t think so. Did you email the developers and told them why you wouldn’t buy their closed source game? Else your not buying the game is just silence, which is usually interpreted as “no interest”.
    Some developers agreed to open their sources should the Humble Bundle reach a certain goal. I believe the more games are released on open source platforms, the more developers become accustomed to this “foreign land”, and would more willingly accept to open source their games. Imagine the requirement for games to be part of the bundle was not only cross compatibility, but being open source: I believe there would be close to no developers agreeing to that.

    I think you misunderstood my last statement. By “open source hardware” I mean hardware with fully disclosed specifications under a GPL-like license (wikipedia will tell you more).
    The fact is, that most hardware these days isn’t open source, so much reverse engineering is required. Now if everyone in the open source/free software world would boycott non free hardware, we wouldn’t be any way close to where we are today.
    The reason I ask this is that your standpoint is so radical, I just tried taking this radicalism to a higher level to demonstrate how your opinion feels to me.

  6. petrock Says:

    I don’t buy the “foreign land” and “willingly accept” angle. Developers who are in that boat will make their games free software if there is incentive to do so, not because “pro-open source” folks like you instill in them some sense of altruism over time. I think it is fundamentally mistaken to believe that by buying more proprietary games we will get more free software games. I think we should teach companies how to make money from free software and reward them when they license their engines freely.

    So while you may find my view “radical”, I find your view naive and again, grounded in the shallow goal of popularizing the Linux kernel. If I shared your goals, then if it’s any consolation, I would wholeheartedly agree with you.

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