Richard Stallman wrote a new article Overcoming Social Inertia:

by Richard Stallman

15 years have passed since the combination of GNU and Linux first made it possible to use a PC in freedom. During that time, we have come a long way. You can even buy a laptop with GNU/Linux preinstalled from more than one hardware vendor, although the systems they ship are not entirely free software. So what holds us back from total success?

The main obstacle to the triumph of software freedom is social inertia. You have surely seen its many forms. Many commercial web sites are only accessible with Windows. The BBC's iPlayer handcuffware runs only on Windows. If you value short-term convenience instead of freedom, you might consider these reasons to use Windows. Most companies currently use Windows, so students who think short-term want to learn Windows, and ask schools to teach Windows, which they do, thus leading many other students to use Windows. Microsoft actively nurtures this inertia: it encourages schools to inculcate dependency on Windows, and contracts to set up web sites, which then turn out to work only with Internet Explorer.

A few years ago, Microsoft ads argued that Windows was cheaper to run than GNU/Linux. Their comparisons were debunked, but it is worth noting the deeper flaw that their arguments reduce to social inertia: “Currently, more technical people know Windows than GNU/Linux.” People that value their freedom would not give it up to save money, but many business executives believe ideologically that everything they possess, even their freedom, should be for sale.

Social inertia consists of people giving in to social inertia. When you give in to social inertia, you become part of it; when you resist it, you reduce it. We conquer inertia by identifying it, and resolving not to be part of it.

Here is where the philosophical weakness of most of our community holds us back. Most GNU/Linux users have never even heard the ideas of freedom that motivated the development of GNU, so they still judge matters based on short-term convenience rather than on their freedom. This makes them vulnerable to being led by the nose, through social inertia.

To change this, we need to talk about free software and freedom — not merely practical benefits such as cited by open source. Thus we can build our community's strength and resolve to overcome social inertia.

Copyright © 2007 Richard Stallman. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

There is also an article by Fellow Marcus Rejas Free software advocates, please do not talk about price!, which I recommend reading.