[Forwarded email conversation with permission from Denis.]
On Thu, 9 Sep 2021 17:10:33 +0200
David Hedlund <email@example.com> wrote:
"Do you want to become a team captain for Collection:Replicant
<https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Collection:Replicant> with me? --David
Hedlund <https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/User:David_Hedlund> (talk
<https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/User_talk:David_Hedlund>) 11:08, 9
September 2021 (EDT)" -
Given both the discussions on the FSF directory mailing list and the
fact that we didn't manage to review a single Android application yet,
I'm unsure if that list has some future in the directory, but we can
move it if needed to have some bigger impact (see way below on that).
For the Android applications, if you want to try to convince the
directory project of the importance of having Android applications in
there, as I understand it, the best approach would probably be to show
that it would bring more contributions to the project at large and so
indirectly benefit the list of GNU/Linux / GNU/Hurd applications too,
because if I remember well, both Richard Stallman and John Sullivan
were concerned about having less contributions to the GNU/Linux and
GNU/Hurd applications if we opened the door for Android applications.
In any case as I understand we're still good if the application that
runs on Replicant also runs on GNU/Linux or GNU/Hurd.
As for list of free software Replacement I'm not sure that it's the
right approach here or how to do it properly. If I recall well
replacements were already suggested as part of a specific upcoming
FSF campaign, so there is at least some place for that.
To me it seems that it all depends on the context and the people you
are trying to help with lists like that. If the people are already on
nonfree OS (like mostly nonfree versions of Android, Windows, Mac OS,
etc) and/or already use the nonfree programs mentioned in the list, then
it looks crucial to insist on helping people to switch to free
applications as soon as possible.
Let's assume that you have a user that still uses Microsoft Windows or
OSX and also uses Microsoft Office and wants to liberate herself.
Here switching to Libreoffice or any free software equivalent is
crucial for that user as once the switch will be complete that users
will not be at the mercy of a Microsoft Office update that changes the
file format or how it interpret the file format for instance, and that
user will have the same time gained some more independence and also be
closer to be able to switch to free operating systems.
If it's for users like me that don't use any nonfree programs, then
it's probably not that relevant and could be counter productive as I
don't necessarily need to be remained all the time that Skype is the
norm for instance.
If however I'd need to collaborate with other people running a specific
nonfree software, then having some potential replacements to try would
be a good idea. Though in my case I never used Skype for instance so
I'd have a harder time knowing what Skype does exactly, what features
users might be dependent on, etc.
In general having some more context could help a lot here I think, as a
list like that doesn't necessarily tell people reading it what to
For instance Libreoffice is not a free software 100% equivalent of
Microsoft Office but the two suites are pretty close, so in some cases
that might be like a drop-in replacement.
In other cases some businesses and organizations needed years (like 5
years) and a lot of training to switch from Microsoft Office to
LibreOffice, and as I understand it, in cases like that it was super
productive as after that many employees did understand what they were
doing when using Libreoffice and they didn't before as they didn't get
any training on Microsoft Office.
So for people discovering free software (or for helping people switching
to free software) we should probably explain what to expect for both
software (the nonfree one and the free one).
For instance we could either have some generic advise like:
The software aren't 100% the same, they might be better or worse
depending on your use cases, and it might be trivial or not to migrate
to it but it's worth trying anyway, and if it doesn't work for the
person, that person could check again later, like in 1 year if the
or even have specific reviews of specific migrations like Microsoft
Office -> Libreoffice, like:
both office suite contain many programs and do mostly the same thing,
but the default file format aren't the same [...]
And thanks to governments switching to Libreoffice, the common argument
that Libreoffice is less compatible doesn't stand anymore as if
you have a Libreoffice file it's probably better to use Libreoffice
There were some discussions on IRC about an FSF campaign that
mentioned steps users could take to liberate themselves and similar
examples came in the discussion.
Here coupling a list like that with this kind of context seems to make
way more sense.
That FSF campaign could have some examples of users (fake or real) that
would migrate to free software, and for instance point to such list for
alternatives of nonfree software.
If the list is well curated, it could probably have a way bigger impact
than usual lists of alternatives.
So if that campaign goes that way it might be useful to somehow migrate
that list to the Libreplanet wiki for instance and cross reference the
directory for specific free software entries.
Another thing to check is if inter-wiki links would work here. I didn't
check the status on that but AFAIK it's planned according to the person
who initially created the TODO in the Group:Guix/Wishlist page.
There is also a somewhat similar list with the various giving
guides which are more general than just specific software as it
also mention hardware.
In any case the difficult part here is probably to get some context that
applies to most people and that isn't counter productive (for instance
if you say that an alternative is a 100% drop-in replacement and that
it works way better and all that and it's not the case at all for that
specific user and specific use case, then that person might never
retry free software, or maybe retry many decades later for instance in
completely different circumstances (like with strong and repeated
evidence that it worked fine in other cases)).