Re: [Gimp-developer] Gimp on Steam

Sam Gleske (sam mxracer gmail com) wrote:
I'm curious to hear Simon's opinions since he openly admitted he was one of
the "against" parties.

Ok, so let me detail some of my concerns. I want to have it clear
however, that this is not some sort of "official" statement from the
gimp team, this is just my personal opinion.

Also there are multiple issues which I'd like to consider separately,
although of course there are interconnections:

First there is this connection to the SourceForge issue. Some time ago
we did a deliberate move away from SF and we got a tremendous public
response on that. With that as background we need to consider, that a
move towards a different commercial hosting platform probably will be
perceived as an endorsement of this platform. We have proven in the past
that we do very conscious decisions on our software distribution, so
Steam somewhat gets the seal of approval from the gimp team.

And rest assured that a decision in favor of Steam will be news.

I am not sure if I am willing to accept this responsibility. I don't
have the impression that we carefully evaluated the privacy implications
of that move, and we don't know a lot on "how good" steam as a platform
is. Given that we don't really have an urgent problem with making gimp
available to people I don't see any benefit for us that would compensate
for the "Steam-advertizing".

Secondly I believe that we have a certain responsibility towards the
privacy of our users. By using Steam we are encouraging people to create
an account there, provide download statistics as well as (to an unknown
extent) usage data. We let them generate marketing data for Valve, which
they can use to targeted offerings to their users, depending on their
documented gimp download.

If Gimp is the reason why someone creates a steam account: do we want to
accept this responsibility? I know that I am preaching to my friends and
family about how to use adblock and reducing the data footprint in the
net. For myself I am going through a lot of troubles to minimize me
being a data source as well as being locked into certain technologies.

It would be disingenious for me (and that includes me as a gimp
contributor) to advertize Steam.

Thirdly there is the philosophical (and most complicated) aspect: Is
this "store" way of distributing software something we can accept and
use for ourselves?

By "store" I am referring to the commercially controlled software
repositories, for the sake of this discussion I am limiting myself to
itunes, google play and steam. Here commercial entities set the
conditions for access to their userbase. The most blatant example is
apple, where developers have to pay fees to be able to provide the
software to their users - and free software seems to be incompatible
with the conditions of the store.

Certainly there are varying degrees of strings attached to the
respective stores. But we have to realize that the conditions for a
store are subject to change depending on money-making interests.

By using a store we are submitting ourselves to the conditions of the
store, we (who?) have to accept the terms and conditions of that store.
Should later something change we have to abandon the users which got
gimp through steam - we lose "our" communication channel to them.

To me it feels like we are losing some of our freedom.

On the other side this "store" approach to software distribution is a
highly competitive market, which works by segregating the users into
different camps and keeping them hostage there. We see it with the
smartphones: suddenly it is quite important what brand of smartphone you
have, because the software offerings are quite different. The users lose
their freedom to install the software they need, because the device
determines the software available to them. Dual-booting into different
OSes as a workaround for specific software needs is generally impossible
on smartphones, switching to a different camp means that you lose the
software you bought and/or installed.

I worry about the attempts to introduce this kind of software
distribution to the PC market, because we are already seeing the
mechanisms being developed to make dual-booting harder, introducing DRM
into the whole chain of hard/software, and "stores" are becoming a thing
for PCs as well. I am assuming that we will see more of that and we
might end up in the same disaster as with smartphones. I don't want that
and I don't want to endorse the development in this direction. To me the
philosophical aspect of Free Software is important and I think it is
vital for our future, that users keep the freedom to tinker with their

I realize that this is a forward looking statement - using Steam will
not immediately result in the loss of said freedoms. But I really don't
like the development in this direction and would like to avoid backing

TL;DR: Nope, I don't like it.


PS: I realize that there is a lot where one could quibble about the
details. The discussion above is quite Meta, so to me the actual details
(like what are the *actual* conditions of the Steam store) don't matter
very much - especially since business transactions easily can change the
game quickly and without warning: I find it hilarious how suddenly
WhatsApp-users are scrambeling for alternatives since WhatsApp got
bought by Facebook.

              simon budig de    

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