Subject: Re: Merger
To: Richard Stallman <>
From: Rob Browning <>
List: macbsd-general
Date: 09/06/1994 17:58:47
At 4:50 PM 9/4/94, Richard Stallman wrote:
>       Castigating somebody for purchasing hardware from Apple
>    in that context is simply irrelevant
>I agree.  The LPF never castigates people for buying Apple computers,
>or even for writing software for those computers.  We just try to
>convince them it is in their long-term interest not to do this.
>    Whether or not they buy Apple computers is immaterial - if they are on
>    our side, they can help us to finally win the battle in Congress.
>It is true that they can help us this way if they are on our side.
>Whether they buy Apple computers is immaterial for *that*.  But this
>doesn't mean that the LPF's condemnation of Apple can't do any good.
>Would we win substantially more support for other LPF activities if we
>drop the boycott?  I am not sure.  We may get more support from Apple
>customers.  We may get less support from other people.  Anger at
>Apple, and the Fanged Apple button, are effective for raising support.
>Most of the people we look for support from are not Apple customers.

I tend to agree that _if_ you could get most programmers to boycott the Mac
you would eventually have success in hurting Apple.  However, I think that
there will always be enough programmers willing to work for Apple so that
they might never  be seriously hurt.  Look at all the other things in the
world that people will do for money.  Perhaps Apple would not get the best
programmers, but there have been many examples to prove that the quality of
a piece of software may have little to do with its success.

Your greatest avenue of success would be do raise the consciousness of the
users and buyers of Apple computers, and eventually have Apple hear them
complaining about this issue.  Public opinion is one of the strongest tools
available in our society.

As you appear to recognize, you won't get the user's attention through
punishing or abusing them for buying Mac's.  After all, most everyday users
(and they have a much louder voice by sheer number than programmers)
effectively have only Apple and Microsoft to choose from for their OS, and
those people who are likely to choose Apple in the first place (and I'm
talking about those who are not necessarily fanatics) don't even consider
Microsoft an option.

I know many people like this, but in fact most of them, when I explain your
position to them, feel that you are correct.  However, they also feel like
they have no alternative, because they refuse to put up with Microsoft's
products.  These are not hackers, just everyday users who feel that any
system that forces you to limit filenames to 8 characters or to refer to
your drives with 1 character is unacceptable.  They are adamant about
issues like this.

However, after they understand your position, even though they continue to
use Macs, they become critical of Apple with respect to the issue, and
vocal about it.

In the end, I feel that this is a much more effective way to win your
point.    Go for the mass of users.  Make them aware of the issue.  Allow
and facilitate people in porting your software to the Mac, and encourage
others to write software for the Mac in the spirit of the GPL, but require
that they include polite, but unavoidable reminders in the software and/or
documentation of your stand.  If you put this on people's minds, it will
sink in.  By boycotting Apple altogether, or making your case in sucha a
manner as to completely alienate Apple users, you are effectively isolating
yourself from the one group that could make your point with force.

Include things in the software like "We hope that you enjoy our software,
but please bear in mind that Apple is directly threatening our ability to
bring this program to you in the future.  For more information please see
<About the FSF> under the help menu."  And elsewhere provide the user with
effective analogies and examples of the kinds of things that Apple is
trying to do in terms that the end user can apprecciate and understand as a
threat to their computing freedom.

This issue is similar to other social issues like conservation, where 30
years ago, a small group of intellectualls was clamoring for change.  It
took 30 years and mass public awareness to bring to bear the kind of
pressure that is starting to make changes today.