Free Software Directory
The FSF directory has a large number of programs for GNU/Linux. However, the target audience is people who already understand the values of freedom. I think a directory of a different kind, modeled after freeware sites, would be a good idea in order to inform people that proprietary software is not the only option.
Here's the principles that I would follow:
- Free Software only, but don't exclude applications that fail to prohibit proprietary add-ons
- Target Windows and/or Mac users -- GNU/Linux users have package managers instead
- Software should make a good impression and be accessible to ordinary users. Don't include software that is buggy, experimental, non-native (e.g. Cygwin), command-line-only, or otherwise requires technical expertise to install and use
- Include search, screenshots, direct download links (Windows and/or Mac)
- If users attempt to search for proprietary software, provide them a Free alternative and a specific message about why proprietary software harms them. e.g. "MS Word is proprietary software. It restricts your freedom, and writes documents in an encrypted format often unreadable by other versions of MS Word. Instead, try one of the following Free programs: ..." or "iTunes is proprietary software. It restricts your freedom and implements DRM ..."
Creating such a directory shouldn't be too hard, but there are some cons:
- Not as pedantic as other advocacy (because it permits Windows/Mac instead of promoting GNU/Linux)
- Only effective if hosted on an appropriate website that attracts users
- FOSS developers may not like that their software is omitted or misrepresented
- Some software has no viable alternative. For example, I don't think Gnash qualifies under the criterion "make a good impression"