Free vs. Open

I find myself firmly in the camp of the Open Source Pragmatists. Richard Stallman and his cronies, the Idealists, strike me as somewhat crazy. Sure, they have lofty ideals. They have great ideas. But what good are lofty ideals when they alienate the user base? Windows users will not be willing to switch to free software unless it is comparable to their user experience. If the open source nVidia driver doesn’t perform anywhere close to the closed source nVidia driver, using the binary might be an acceptable compromise of ideals. While the MP3 audio format is not a free standard, it is ubiquitous. Linux distributions such as Fedora which make it difficult to play MP3’s serve to alienate the user and possibly cause them to seek other options. Sometimes it’s best to sacrifice some of our ideals for the greater good.