Richard Stallman pours cold water on Steam

While many open sourcers have welcomed the news that the games company Steam might be making thousands of games available for Linux, Free Software Guru Richard Stallman is not impressed.

Writing from his bog, Stallman said that while the availability of popular nonfree programs on GNU/Linux can boost adoption of the system, it may not bring enough freedom.

He said that nonfree games were unethical because they deny freedom to their users. So if users want freedom the only way they can do that is to only have free software on their computer.

Stallman admits that if you must use these games you’re better off using them on GNU/Linux rather than on Windows. In other words, if it comes to which is better to lose your freedom on, it is better Linux than Voleware.

He thinks that Steam’s move might do both harm and good. It could encourage GNU/Linux users to install these games, and it might encourage users of the games to replace Windows with GNU/Linux.

While Stallman thinks that the direct positive effect will be larger than the direct harm, it will teach bad things to little outsourcers.

He claimed that any GNU/Linux distro that comes with software to offer these games will teach users that the point is not freedom. He already thinks that nonfree software in GNU/Linux distros works against the goal of freedom, and this would make matters worse.

Stallman said that if hardline open sourcers want to promote freedom they should not talk about the availability of these games on GNU/Linux as supporting their cause. 

Instead you could tell people about the Liberated Pixel Cup free game contest, the Free Game Dev Forum, and the LibrePlanet Gaming Collective’s free gaming night, which are much more exciting than getting the latest Halo.