<!--#include virtual="/server/header.html" -->
<!-- Parent-Version: 1.77 1.96 -->
<!-- This page is derived from /server/standards/boilerplate.html -->
<!--#set var="TAGS" value="upholding" -->
<!--#set var="DISABLE_TOP_ADDENDUM" value="yes" -->
<title>Overcoming Social Inertia
- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
<!--#include virtual="/philosophy/po/social-inertia.translist" -->
<!--#include virtual="/server/banner.html" -->
<!--#include virtual="/philosophy/ph-breadcrumb.html" -->
<!--#include virtual="/server/top-addendum.html" -->
<div class="reduced-width">
<h2>Overcoming Social Inertia</h2>


<address class="byline">by <a href="http://www.stallman.org/"><strong>Richard
Stallman</strong></a></p> href="https://www.stallman.org/">Richard

<div class="article">
Almost two decades have passed since the combination of GNU and Linux 
first made it possible to use a PC in freedom.  We have come a long 
way since then.  Now 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?</p>

The main obstacle to the triumph of software freedom is social
inertia.  It exists in many forms, and you have surely seen some of
them.  Examples include devices that only work on Windows, commercial
web sites accessible only with Windows, and the BBC's iPlayer
handcuffware, which runs only on Windows.  If you value short-term
convenience instead of freedom, you might consider these reason enough
to use Windows.  Most companies currently run Windows, so students who
think short-term want to learn how to use it and ask their schools to
teach it.  Schools teach Windows, produce graduates that are used to
using Windows, and this encourages businesses to use Windows.</p>

<p>Microsoft actively nurtures this inertia: it encourages schools to
inculcate dependency on Windows, and contracts to set up web sites
that then turn out to work only with Internet Explorer.</p>

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 in their argument, the implicit premise which
cites a form of social inertia: “Currently, more technical
people know Windows than GNU/Linux.” People who 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.</p>

Social inertia consists of people who have given in to social inertia.
When you surrender to social inertia, you become part of the pressure
it exerts on others; when you resist it, you reduce it.  We conquer
social inertia by identifying it, and resolving not to be part of

Here a weakness holds our community 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 by social
inertia, so that they become part of the inertia.</p>

To build our community's strength to resist, we need to talk about
free software and freedom—not merely about the practical
benefits that open source supporters cite. And we need to resist 
nonfree software by <a href="/philosophy/saying-no-even-once.html">
taking action each time we can</a>, voicing our reasons out loud. As 
more people recognize what they need to do to overcome the inertia, we 
will make more progress.</p>  

</div><!-- for id="content", starts in the include above -->
<!--#include virtual="/server/footer.html" -->
<div id="footer"> id="footer" role="contentinfo">
<div class="unprintable">

<p>Please send general FSF & GNU inquiries to
<a href="mailto:gnu@gnu.org"><gnu@gnu.org></a>.
There are also <a href="/contact/">other ways to contact</a>
the FSF.  Broken links and other corrections or suggestions can be sent
to <a href="mailto:webmasters@gnu.org"><webmasters@gnu.org></a>.</p>

<p><!-- TRANSLATORS: Ignore the original text in this paragraph,
        replace it with the translation of these two:

        We work hard and do our best to provide accurate, good quality
        translations.  However, we are not exempt from imperfection.
        Please send your comments and general suggestions in this regard
        to <a href="mailto:web-translators@gnu.org">

        <p>For information on coordinating and submitting contributing translations of
        our web pages, see <a
        README</a>. -->
Please see the <a
README</a> for information on coordinating and submitting contributing translations
of this article.</p>

<!-- Regarding copyright, in general, standalone pages (as opposed to
     files generated as part of manuals) on the GNU web server should
     be under CC BY-ND 3.0 US. 4.0.  Please do NOT change or remove this
     without talking with the webmasters or licensing team first.
     Please make sure the copyright date is consistent with the
     document.  For web pages, it is ok to list just the latest year the
     document was modified, or published.
     If you wish to list earlier years, that is ok too.
     Either "2001, 2002, 2003" or "2001-2003" are ok for specifying
     years, as long as each year in the range is in fact a copyrightable
     year, i.e., a year in which the document was published (including
     being publicly visible on the web or in a revision control system).
     There is more detail about copyright years in the GNU Maintainers
     Information document, www.gnu.org/prep/maintain. -->

<p>Copyright © 2007 2007, 2021 Richard Stallman</p>

<p>This page is licensed under a <a rel="license"
Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License</a>.</p>

<!--#include virtual="/server/bottom-notes.html" -->

<p class="unprintable">Updated:
<!-- timestamp start -->
$Date: 2021/07/22 14:04:38 $
<!-- timestamp end -->
</div><!-- for class="inner", starts in the banner include -->