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Author Topic: This forum and Javascript  (Read 2683 times)
onpon4
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This forum and Javascript
« on: December 20, 2012, 02:08:47 am »

I'd bet that I'm probably alone here running GNU LibreJS, a Firefox/Icecat/Iceweasel/Abrowser extension which blocks nontrivial, nonfree Javascript (where "free" refers to freedom, not price). Anyway, LibreJS rightfully blocks all of the Javascript code on this forum because there is no documentation indicating that the scripts are free software in comments. Although this doesn't make the forum unusable (I'm using it right now with the Javascript blocked), it would be nice if it could be documented as free/libre/open-source software if this is possible, preferably in a way that LibreJS can understand. See here:

http://www.gnu.org/software/librejs/free-your-javascript.html

One more thing I want to mention: I've noticed that whenever I click a "modify" or "quote" button when the Javascript code is blocked, I've noticed that a number of newlines are inserted into my posts, kind of in a way that you would expect an E-mail client to behave. It's a bit annoying, so maybe it's worth looking into, though not essential.
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meep-eep
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2012, 02:13:29 pm »

AFAIK, SMF isn't Free software.
Also, while I support Open Source, this free-your-JavaScript thing seems a tad silly. A bit like PETA protesting video game animal cruelty. Maybe it's just a publicity thing, but I don't plan on spending any time on it.
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2012, 02:41:48 pm »

Well, like I said, the forum is not unusable without JavaScript, so if it's too difficult to do, I understand not wanting to invest time into it. It would be nice for that thing with newlines being inserted to be investigated, though.

I don't think it's silly at all (of course; if I did, I wouldn't be using LibreJS). JavaScript programs are software, and some of them do very complex things, such as what Google Drive and YouTube use. It is very possible for this software to contain malicious features, and it is also perfectly reasonable to want to modify the software and redistribute it (both the original version and the modified version). For this very reason, browsers also ought to make it easy to use modified versions of scripts on websites.
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meep-eep
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2012, 07:18:55 pm »

That goal isn't silly. What is silly is the idea that adding markers to your own scripts and breaking websites for yourself is going to help achieve that goal.
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2012, 08:23:57 pm »

Ah. Well, it isn't an attempt to achieve that goal (for me, at least; maybe it is for others), but rather assurance that I am not running nonfree software; I personally refuse to run nonfree software wherever possible (which includes using Trisquel GNU/Linux and other completely free distros rather than more popular distros like Fedora or Debian).
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Death 999
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2012, 07:51:03 pm »

So you don't use any of the common search engines, youtube... what else?
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onpon4
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2012, 10:16:34 pm »

So you don't use any of the common search engines, youtube... what else?

I don't use YouTube directly; I use UnPlug (a free Firefox extension) to download the videos.

Search engines rarely need JavaScript to search (actually, I don't know of any). Google, DuckDuckGo, Startpage, YouTube's search, Wikipedia's search, etc work without it, only using Javascript for minor extras (I avoid using Google directly because of privacy concerns, but this is completely unrelated).

Other than YouTube and other video streaming sites, there's not much that conflicts with my refusal to run nonfree, nontrivial Javascript. Some websites are badly designed such that they don't work without the Javascript, but it's never a huge deal since I don't visit any such sites regularly. 000webhost and Blogger unfortunately require nonfree Javascript to run websites and blogs (respectively), so I have them whitelisted for now, but they are the only ones.
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meep-eep
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2012, 10:41:43 pm »

Even if you disable JavaScript, you are still using the non-free software which runs on the (web)servers.
Does it really matter on which system the software runs that you are using? What if there were a proxying service which would execute the non-Free JavaScript for you, with all the events and such being sent from your own browser using Free software? Would that make a difference?
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2012, 11:39:40 pm »

Even if you disable JavaScript, you are still using the non-free software which runs on the (web)servers.
Does it really matter on which system the software runs that you are using? What if there were a proxying service which would execute the
non-Free JavaScript for you, with all the events and such being sent from your own browser using Free software? Would that make a difference?

This is a really sticky area. I would say that this is at least very similar to software as a service, and software as a service can be a
terrible idea, because like you sort of mention, you don't have freedom with that either (and that's the case even if the program itself is free).

Here's where I draw the line: if all I'm doing is asking for data on someone else's server (e.g. a search on Google), it doesn't matter from my end how they get that information to me, similar to how it is not my concern whether or not an ATM runs free software. This means, in particular, there is normally nothing wrong with server-side scripts being nonfree to me, because I never see them and I never need to see them; a complicated PHP file might as well be a plain HTML file from my perspective.

The complication is that SaaS (Software as a Service) is, technically, just a matter of indirectly using software on someone else's machine via requests, so what I just described is technically SaaS, but SaaS is software which you don't control, and it's plainly obvious that running your own copy of, for example, a converter program gives you more freedom than sending a file to convert to a server which sends back the converted file. My resolution to this is two-fold: First off, SaaS is only dangerous (and therefore a bad idea), not inherently unethical. Second, it is only "really" SaaS if you don't need the server in question. For example, searching on Google, you need the huge database found on Google's server, because it would be insane for everyone to maintain their own databases of the Internet. Similarly, Random.org supposedly gives truly random numbers, which is not possible via normal computing. But if, for example, a file is sent to a server to be converted, you don't need the server; such an example of SaaS is gratuitous since you could easily run your own copy of a
converter program on your computer.

That's my take on it, anyway.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2012, 11:43:48 pm by onpon4 » Logged

CelticMinstrel
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2012, 03:26:36 pm »

All this "refusal to ever run any nonfree software" strikes me as pretty stupid, to be honest. I can sort of see a point in what the LibreJS page says, in that it would be good to be able to select which JS scripts run and which ones don't; for example there's a news site that I'm occasionally linked to which uses JavaScript to put up an overlay over the page and prevent you from scrolling the article unless you have cookies enabled. (I disable cookies globally and add exceptions for sites that need them, such as this one, so as to avoid getting cookies from sites like Facebook that I don't even use.) But denying a program from running just because you're not allowed to modify it is really going overboard.

And refusing to use an operating system distribution simply because it allows you to install nonfree software is way overreacting; I can almost understand refusing one that installs nonfree software without your consent, but simply making the option available to you is no reason to reject the operating system altogether.
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onpon4
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2012, 03:40:27 pm »

And refusing to use an operating system distribution simply because it allows you to install nonfree software is way overreacting;

That's not what I do. Trisquel doesn't block nonfree software. What it does is remove the nonfree software from the repos, and it doesn't suggest or mention nonfree software on its website or anywhere in the OS. If you are so inclined, just like on any GNU/Linux system, you are perfectly able to get it yourself.

For example, I used to be less strict, so I previously installed a proprietary game which I will not name on Trisquel. I also still have AssaultCube and The Ur-Quan Masters installed, both of which the Trisquel repos don't contain because these games contain nonfree game data (I consider free game data to be a good thing, but not essential, like movies, music, etc).
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CelticMinstrel
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2013, 05:07:01 am »

Okay, let me rephrase. Refusing to use an OS distribution simply because it makes it simple to install software that you might want to install that happens to be nonfree is way overreacting. This is really directed more at the FSF than you personally, but still. It's not even installing this software. It's just providing a way for you to easily discover and install it. Why on earth is this such an issue? It doesn't make any sense. It's crazy!
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onpon4
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Re: This forum and Javascript
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2013, 08:23:58 am »

There is a mention somewhere on either the FSF, GNU Project, or perhaps Richard Stallman's website on why this is the policy. I don't know where, though, and I wasn't able to find it last time I got into an argument about that. An argument I don't want to get into again right now because last time, it ended with me leaving the community it happened at because I couldn't deal with the stress (kind of like what can happen when arguments erupt over YouTube comments), though to be fair there were other factors involved.

However, on a personal level, I use a distro that includes no nonfree software (Trisquel) so that I don't have to worry about looking at each individual program (and, in some cases, each individual feature) and make sure no nonfree software is involved in what I'm doing. It's quite a practical convenience that makes avoiding nonfree software much easier. Debian would therefore work fine for my personal use, but I don't use it because I wasn't very fond of it when I tried it some years ago.

Also on a personal level, I would never recommend a distro that includes nonfree software in its repos or suggests nonfree software in its packages because that would come in conflict with my principles, and someone might misinterpret my recommendation of part of a system as a recommendation of all of a system and therefore wrongly assume, for example, that I consider Adobe Flash Player to be acceptable.
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