Free Software developers fall into two main categories: those that stand by the principles behind free software - patent-free, license-free and unrestricted distribution (for example, Richard Stallman's admirable stance); and those that are simply happy to compromise to some extent, for example to download libdvdcss to watch DVDs, or to install proprietary software such as Skype, on the basis that there is simply no (or no better) alternative (for example, Ubuntu which supports all kinds of proprietary firmware and binary drivers, and gets itself into enormous difficulties as a result).
These "level of integrity" choices are decisions that we, as Free Software developers, are free to make. Yet the average person is simply unaware of these issues of "integrity", or they are but do not value them highly, choosing "interoperability with their friends and businesses" as "more important". Or worse, they agree that integrity is important yet are forced into making decisions to use - and stick with - proprietary software. In such instances, the level of experience of (and thus the offerings available from) Free Software developers in a particular area of specialist expertise that the users absolutely must have before being able to consider migration, is close to or literally zero.
As Free Software developers, is it therefore ethical for us to ignore these people whose lives are blighted by lack of choice, or is it more ethical for us to remain in our integrity, by providing non-interoperable Free Software alternatives (with no means of conversion between the free and proprietary software)?
To put that another way: should Free Software developers serve themselves and their own needs, or should they look to serve others? This article highlights these quite important questions that every Free Software developer should be asking themselves, and advocates a way to proliferate, protect, enjoy and benefit from Free Software principles: that of the "Social Business".