everything wrong with free software
"free as in speech"
*originally posted:* oct 2021
...or whats left of it after removing most of github (about 1 in 5 fsd entries) and java (hundreds of entries).
both removals were done by locating the entries with automation, then determining what to remove manually. plenty of entries mention java without referring to something written in it. i dont trust the rdf info to be up to date, but it could be.
the list is down to 200,000 lines, consisting of blank lines, title lines, and urls. many entries have a debian tracker link or debian package link, ive tagged all those automatically with a highly visible string of dashes.
i wanted to review the entire list visually so i could get a better idea if these lines could all be removed. i knew most could. i thought of a couple ways to verify this programmatically, but other data is in the way and i just wanted to go with the simplest and surest method.
i can page through 200,000 lines, to be certain. ive put enough stress on my wrists this week, and i did NOT want to press pgdn (or even hold down the down arrow) that many times. i could have scrolled through the list with a fraction of a second delay on each line, but then i would have to stare and it would be a bother to pause.
i really wanted a foot-pedal way to scroll.
i have an old keyboard that i only use when i have to, because the keys are so stiff. this isnt a matter of "breaking them in", i got the thing used and cleaned lots of dust off it. its actually a membrane keyboard, i dont know what material they used for it though-- im guessing a 1-mm-thick layer of recycled tyre. given the title of this, thats just about perfect.
the one thing about this keyboard thats great is how easily the keys can be removed and put back. this even applies to the longer keys like shift and enter, but i havent tried removing the spacebar. i removed all the keys from the numeric keypad, along with home, end, insert, delete, and pgdn. i actually settled on paging up instead of down, because its higher on the keyboard. im aware of key remapping, though its really not something i want to fiddle with. i do remap my mouse keys with xmodmap.
i took two pieces of double-sided (foam) tape and stuck those between the flat-surfaced cap of a marker and the pgup key. that might have sufficed, but to keep the marker from acting like a lever (right idea, wrong axis) i also put a piece of double-sided tape between the other end of the marker and the edge of the keyboard.
i put the keyboard on the floor and swapped the keyboard i normally use with this one. they probably both work at once, but they all want current, dont they?
i was able to page through the entire list in a reasonable amount of time, first using the left foot (the choice of foot had everything to do with where it was easiest to put the keyboard down) and then trying the right one after a while. when i really got into it, i started alternating feet, which as the keyboard paged up and the list scrolled past on the screen, gave me the impression i was bicycling through the free software directory. its cheaper than a peloton, at least.
for the record, you can remove the debian tracker and debian package urls, if you find yourself working on a (very) similar task. the goal here is to get the list down (initially) to one url per fsd entry-- just that url, as the entry. i really am throwing out MOST of the data in each listing. of course, i still have a local copy of most of it.
some people might wonder why im doing this. my reasons are political of course, but i want a free software list i can actually recommend to people. i want to help people boycott github, too. this is the next logical step of that: a more github-free list than the fsd, debian repos, or openbsd ports list.
as with most things i do, im trying to create some sort of example, rather than be the definitive, authoritative source. it might turn out to be the best list there is, but i would rather people emulate it (themselves) than simply bow to it. its more sustainable that way.
i also want to make the list simpler than the fsd. the latter has some cool features, maybe a few too many features-- if they can keep up with it. i will likely add stuff too, but im more dedicated to keeping it simple.