Soni's Blog

What Do You Want To Do With Free Software?

"We'd like to bolt QEMU, MoltenVK, Mesa, and a few other things together, and send the whole package to sister so sister can play Terraria with us, by running SteamOS with seamless integration with macOS."

A few months ago, sister talked to us about wanting to play Terraria with us. However, when we all looked into it, we found that it wouldn't run on newer versions of macOS. That put us all off from buying it on sale, and we tried to setup an Ubuntu VM to run it in, but we had no luck getting hardware accelerated graphics to work. She then had to leave and we all gave up on it, partly because without access to the machine we believe it would be really hard to get it working, at least with the tools we were using.

As of writing this post, there is no prepackaged solution for this. (In fact, even on the Windows side things aren't looking any better - WSL2 doesn't support running SteamOS seamlessly with support for games yet.) And, personally, we feel like we don't have the skill to be able to do this yet.

Depending on who you ask, if you're not using only Free Software, you can't be truly free. But, it's not the software that makes you free. Consider the following situation: you don't know how to program, and you only use Free Software, and someone sends you a file for which there is no Free Software program that you can use to open it. You can't do anything about it! But someone has made a Free Software program that enables you to open it... with the help of a non-Free Software package. It's an emulator, or something akin to one, and it even supports a whole host of scripts that are Free Software and allow you to tweak the behaviour of the non-Free Software package to better suit your needs, built by the community around it.

The freedom doesn't come from sticking strictly to Free Software, but from being able to make choices and still get things done. It's about being able to stick software in a VM and make it work, on your terms. You can only be free if freedom applies to all software packages. It's why Right to Repair and whatnot are important, with bonus points if we also stop to acknowledge that software can also go faulty (or as some might say, haywire) and need repairing.

But we digress. All of this points to pretty much one thing, one core value: software freedom is valuable if you're making software for people close to you. While the world today relies heavily on Free Software, ironically it's often used to take away your freedoms, by being incorporated into systems of control. So maybe Free Software shouldn't be the focus of software freedom.

Anyway, it'd be nice to be able to play Terraria with sister. Maybe one day we'll be able to. In the mean time, what do you think Free Software is about? What would you want it to be about? What would you like to do, that you can't do, and you believe Free Software could do for you?