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Software Wars: FOSS' Big Chance to Shine on the Silver Screen

Software Wars: FOSS' Big Chance to Shine on the Silver Screen

"Greater use of free software and the ideas in this movie will lead to faster progress on the Linux desktop, improve the way children learn math, finally build computers that think, decode DNA, and more," reads the project description for the proposed film, "Software Wars." "The movie's experts explain what is possible, and the audience decides what happens."

By Katherine Noyes LinuxInsider ECT News Network
01/10/13 5:00 AM PT

Given Ubuntu's recent glitzy and fanfare-accompanied debut on the world's mobile stage, it's beginning to look like limelight and red carpets will increasingly be a part of FOSS' future.

You've come a long way, baby! And to think, we knew you back when!

Now, what could be a more logical next step than an appearance on the silver screen?

Enter "Software Wars," a movie now seeking funding on Indiegogo that aims to show "how free software will save you thousands of dollars and lead to a better world," in the words of its creators.

'Our Right to Share'

"The average computer user is unaware there is a war for freedom going on that will determine the path of modern society," the project description explains. "Software Wars is a movie about the battle for our right to share technology and ideas.

"Greater use of free software and the ideas in this movie will lead to faster progress on the Linux desktop, improve the way children learn math, finally build computers that think, decode DNA, and more," it adds. "The movie's experts explain what is possible, and the audience decides what happens."

Currently eight days away from its deadline, the crowdfunding effort still has a long way to go. Linux Girl took it upon herself to spread the word about this worthy project down at the blogosphere's Broken Windows Lounge.

'I Hope It's Successful'

"I love the idea for this movie, and I think it's important to get the facts out there on just how important software is not only to the individual, but to the world in general," Google+ blogger Linux Rants told Linux Girl.

"I don't know how well it's being marketed, as [at the time of this writing] it looks like it's going to miss its funding goals by miles," Linux Rants added. "I hope that it's successful in its goals."

Indeed, "the movie seems interesting," agreed Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C.

'Belief in the Human Race'

"I would say that the war is between companies and products, not the software per se," Gonzalo Velasco C. added.

"There is also a conflict of philosophies, but mostly because the FLOSS philosophy is regarded as dangerous for the ones interested in selling their software," he pointed out.

"For FLOSS users, on the other hand, such philosophy is something to be proud of, and has even made us renew the belief in the human race," he said.

'Is This Something We Really Need?'

Of course, it would be difficult to find a Linux fan who doesn't support the philosophy of FOSS. What was less clear to some was the movie's potential effectiveness.

"Is this something we really need?" wondered Google+ blogger Kevin O'Brien, for example.

"I think Free Software is extremely important, but I don't exactly see how a movie is going to change anything," he added.

Similarly, "I don't care how good the production is, only open source followers will ever bother to go see it," predicted consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack.

'Telling Us How Cool We Are'

"I can think of far better ways to spend US$150,000 that would be far more effective than a movie telling us how cool we are," Mack went on.

"Imagine $150,000 spent on programmers to clean up old apps to make sure everything is using modern sound, FX and widget libraries," he suggested. "Or $150,000 hiring programmers to write applications for the Linux desktop.

"You know, spend it on something that will actually do something to convince someone they need Linux," Mack concluded.

'A Gap in the Plot'

Blogger Robert Pogson had a different complaint.

"'Software Wars' seems to have a gap in the plot," Pogson told Linux Girl. "The software wars have been about Free Software vs. that other stuff, not just open source code. Open source code that can be closed at the whim of some corporation or open source code that can be encumbered by harmful restrictions does not win any war, but surrenders victory to the enemy of Freedom."

Pogson pointed to several of the battles in this war so far:

  • "The Digital Divide: restricting IT only for the rich who can afford to prop up Wintel and M$'s 'partners. It was GNU/Linux that cracked that front wide open. Android/Linux came very late to the fight -- the real work was done years before Android came to be.
  • "Malware and other crapware: brought to you by M$ and friends. GNU/Linux saved many from that 15 years ago.
  • "The Web: GNU/Linux practically created the Web, making information (nearly) $free, creating new economies and lowering barriers to entry while increasing the competitiveness of startups. Google, champion of Open Source, might not even exist if GNU/Linux and other Free Software had not given them the tools. Where their hatred of RMS and GPL came from is beyond me; PTSD, perhaps?
  • "Raw performance: How soon people forget that M$ was willing to ship software that crashed at the drop of a hat for years before GNU/Linux and Free Software showed them up. I and millions of others only adopted Free Software when that other OS utterly failed to perform at any price."

In short, "I could go on for pages, but the truth is that Open Source owes a lot to Free Software and is boorish in denying that history and claiming any kind of superiority," Pogson concluded.

A 'Black Box' Future

Finally, Slashdot blogger hairyfeet was perhaps least optimistic of all.

The movie "will work about as well as the occupy movement," hairyfeet opined. "What did they change again? Oh right, not a damned thing."

What's particularly ironic "is that it looks like the big 'savior' of FOSS, Google, is gonna be just as black box as the other two," hairyfeet told Linux Girl. "The pains they went through to keep ChromeOS and Android GPL V2 should have made that obvious."

So, "when you see somebody walking down the street with an iPhone or iPad? Be sure to give them hate because our future -- which will ALL be black box -- can be laid squarely at their feet," he said. "THEY are the ones that stood in line like getting tickets to a concert to pay crazy money for devices so locked down it's pathetic; it's THEY who made Apple the richest corp. on the planet, it's THEY who spent untold millions in a locked-down app store where your only right is to hand over your CC."

'It's a Damned Shame'

It's also because of such users that "Windows will go from being the OS you can install on anything and write programs on to being a locked-down black box with an app store, and that Google will do the same," hairyfeet went on.

"These companies saw the insane amounts of money thrown at Cupertino and said, 'Well, if that is what the people want ... all right, we can do that,' and completely wiped out 20+ years of desktops becoming standardized and turned the whole thing into glorified consoles," he explained.

Bottom line? "They can occupy all they want, make their little movie all they want, but the public will walk right past them to the nearest tech store to buy their dumbed-down, locked-down game console, be it a handheld like a tablet or a home system like a desktop, and those of us that actually cared about such things will be looked upon as dinosaurs from an earlier age," hairyfeet predicted.

"It's a damned shame -- never before has hardware been so powerful and yet so cheap, but the masses have spoken and the future is nothing but consoles," he concluded. "We will look back on this time as the last of a golden age, but the public won't care because 'It doesn't have viruses and just works now!' and won't mind all the data-mining and micropayments crap; that will be our future, and frankly it's gonna suck."


Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.


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