Non-free software is evil, but that’s good.

Following a suggestion from Richard Stallman, today I met Niibe Yutaka (新部 裕) from The Free Software Initiative of Japan at his office in Akihabara.

During our conversations Niibe-san mentioned something that I had almost forgotten: Debian has a non-free section in their distribution.  A lot of people don’t like that, or they are at least surprised to see what looks like a compromise from such devoted Free Software advocates.

But Niibe-san had a different perspective inspired by his Buddist faith: he can accept the existance of evil, and it can be used to highlight goodness. Evil (or non-free software) exists to remind us that more good needs to be done.  If we didn’t have a non-free section we would not notice the programs that need to be liberated.