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Stallman Says Cloud Computing Is a Trap

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the head-out-of-the-clouds dept.

Software 621

stevedcc writes in to tell us about an interview with RMS in The Guardian, in which he gives his views on cloud computing, with a particular focus on user access to data and the sacrifices made for convenience. "'It's stupidity. It's worse than stupidity: it's a marketing hype campaign,' he told The Guardian. 'Somebody is saying this is inevitable — and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true.'" Computerworld has a summary of some of the blogosphere's reaction to RMS's position.

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621 comments

Dear RMS (3, Funny)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211323)

We love you, we really do. But your delusional and increasingly demented ravings give all supporters of free software a bad name.

And if you're going to represent the opinions of a large group of users like you do, would it kill you to buy a nice shirt and a razor?

Yours

The free software community.

Beta Index (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211359)

I don't like it. I also don't like how the option to turn slashboxes off doesn't work. I hate how I have to either keep the window maximized or read articles in little slender columns that make up less than half of the browser's real estate. This is why I love Greasemonkey.

Re:Dear RMS (5, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211819)

You probably should have saved your pity for an occasion when RMS wasn't right on the ball. He'll give you opportunities, trust me.

But cloud computing is a buzzword for a marketing campaign. It's the newest renaming of renting software as services.

Re:Dear RMS (3, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211887)

Look, I disagree with that smelly old hippy on a LOT of stuff. Most in fact. But on this he's actually right.

Re:Dear RMS (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211951)

Moderation +2
    40% Funny
    30% Insightful
    10% Flamebait

this is why you should never put your moderation in 'the cloud'(a.k.a the control of others)

Seriously though i couldnt agree more with you, i still respect him and he has a point, but id rather have a moderate representing the open source community to the public. id also be more interested in the views of theo,linus,shuttworth,perenes,etc as everybody pretty much knew what RMS would say

Totally agree (5, Insightful)

GlobalColding (1239712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211327)

I am in disbelief over anyones the acceptance of the idea. Relinquishing control over your data to an outside source seems unfathomably retarded, no matter what kind of spin is put on it.

Re:Totally agree (5, Insightful)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211411)

People DO give out far too much data online these days, that much is certain. However, to dismiss using the likes of Gmail entirely is retarded. It's all very well RMS saying we should not use Gmail etc... I use Gmail for all online stuff. (I have a private email address for actual private communication.) Serial numbers for games etc... I'd have been SCREWED if I followed RMS's advice and just kept stuff locally. Oh yes, it's a fine idea in theory, but in Gmail, if I need to find serial numbes (something I've need to do several times in the last year) I can just search for the game name voila! There's my serial number.

To replicate that functionality I would have to backup my entire email pretty much every time I got any, which is completely impractical. Not to mention tedious. Yeah, shell scripts and all that crap, but why bother when Gmail does it all for me, and really, all they're going to learn is I'm signed up on several very dull mailing lists, have bought several games, get spammed by Apple on a regular basis, and apparently am going to be given a load of money by various Nigerian princes, priests, nuns etc...

Yes, people give up too much privacy online these days, but there is a happy medium between that and locking ourselves into a life of self sufficient tedium.

Re:Totally agree (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211465)

Talking about your example directly. That's why I keep all of my serial numbers in a text file. It's quick, easy and simple to backup.

Re:Totally agree (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211541)

True. But riddle me this: when you get up tomorrow and go to sign in to GMail and all you get is a single page saying "Due to financial constraints and an inability to derive revenue from GMail to pay our bills, we have regretfully been forced to terminate the service.", where are your game serial numbers now and how do you plan on getting at them? I know it seems unlikely Google would just drop a service like that. Except that, well, they already have [blogspot.com] .

Re:Totally agree (5, Informative)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211619)

True. But riddle me this: when you get up tomorrow and go to sign in to GMail and all you get is a single page saying "Due to financial constraints and an inability to derive revenue from GMail to pay our bills, we have regretfully been forced to terminate the service.", where are your game serial numbers now and how do you plan on getting at them? I know it seems unlikely Google would just drop a service like that. Except that, well, they already have [blogspot.com] .

Gmail allows you to download your email via pop3 and imap. You can also set it to automatically all email to another account. There is no excuse not to have a backup of all your Gmail mail. This "it might suddenly vanish" argument is a strawman.

Re:Totally agree (2, Funny)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211667)

Gmail allows you to download your email via pop3 and imap. You can also set it to automatically all email to another account. There is no excuse not to have a backup of all your Gmail mail. This "it might suddenly vanish" argument is a strawman.

Yeah, but what if a meteor hits your other account's server farm at the same time? Will you still be whistling Dixie then? I think not. Cloudbusters FTW.

Re:Totally agree (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211865)

This "it might suddenly vanish" argument is a strawman.

Keeping a file of the serial numbers that came in the mail is the same thing as keeping a backup of the mail. If that file can be lost so can a backup, and if the file isn't lost, what does gmail provide over just keeping that file of serial numbers handy?

Re:Totally agree (2, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211961)

I have three copies of my gmail going at any one time.

a pop3 download only to my main computer, which is regularly backed up onto another Hard drive.
an imap synced with my iphone,
and googles copy.

If google closes it down, and my iphone goes stupid, I still have a full copy of my email, and a full backup copy of that.

to lose my email I would have to burn down my house with my iphone in it on the same day google shuts down forever. and trust me the last thing on my mind if my home burned down would be my emails.

Re:Totally agree (3, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211637)

You can backup your mail from GMail using IMAP (or POP3 earlier).

I do this about once a year and store backups on archive-quality DVDs in my nearby bank :)

Re:Totally agree (5, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211643)

where are your game serial numbers now

Bingo. The OP did exactly what RMS is warning against - he confused convenience for freedom.

Whoever controls your data is the only one who can take responsibility for it. Who is likely to use that responsibility in your best interests - you or a company beholden to shareholders?

Re:Totally agree (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211663)

Noone was locked out of their data because those services where dropped. They seem to be simply accessibility features. I would hope that Google would give a few days warning before dropping Gmail or Google Docs.

Re:Totally agree (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211737)

That's possible, if they do have to drop it they'll presumably know a few days ahead of time at least.

I wouldn't count on it though, Google has lost mail before and been unable to retrieve it from backups. So it's pretty much a moot point whether the data is lost because the service goes down permanently or there's just some sort of glitch.

Re:Totally agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211831)

It's "no one."

Noone is this guy [peternoone.com] .

Re:Totally agree (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211681)

The difference there is that none of those services in your link did anything remotely as important as GMail. Some of them were rolled into other services instead of actually disappearing. Also, it's easy enough to back up your GMail account using IMAP or POP and a local mail client.

Re:Totally agree (5, Funny)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211753)

I know it seems unlikely Google would just drop a service like that. Except that, well, they already have [blogspot.com] .

Yeah. All those services that Google already has dropped are exactly like GMail. I remember the outcry when all those people lost all that data when Google Keyboard Shortcuts was taken off line. And who can forget the data armageddon that was the ending of Google Slideshow? It was like Y2K II. Yeah, Google shuts down services and leaves all your data high and dry all the time. Very insightful.

Re:Totally agree (1)

princessproton (1362559) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211871)

That's a valid fear, and one I share - not specifically about Gmail, but the "cloud computing" phenomenon in general. Cloud computing absolutely has its benefits, especially as we become increasingly mobile, but to not have a solid local backup is foolish. In my view, cloud computing shares some of same downfalls as DRM (though has more benefits to balance it out). As DRM has taught us, if you rely solely upon an external business to provide you with access to your own files, you can be left high and dry (as demonstrated by Wal-Mart's recent DRM shutdown). You can hope that a company will operate admirably and give you notice and/or an alternative way to access/backup your stuff, but this is not guaranteed. In my practice, I use cloud computing as a convenient backup option rather than the primary storage area for my information, and I doubt any business line about how "inevitable" is will change this for me.

Re:Totally agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211969)

None of these services that were canceled contained any user-generated content, except for Google Answers, the complete archive of which is still searchable online.

Even if Google terminated the service, there is no reason to believe that your data would become instantly inaccessible. I'd say the chances of your house burning down and destroying all your local data is just as likely.

Re:Totally agree (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211631)

I have a private email address for actual private communication

I intend to set one up at some point, but one of the reasons I don't is because people will send me chainmails, attaching my address to all the other recipients on the sender's list and everybody they forward it to, ad infinitum.

Re:Totally agree (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211793)

Webmail is useful, but I do like to have control over my data. So my webmail server is sitting right here, underneath my feet.

Admittedly it runs MS Exchange Server, so RMS won't approve.

Re:Totally agree (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211481)

I am in disbelief over anyones the acceptance of the idea. Relinquishing control over your data to an outside source seems unfathomably retarded, no matter what kind of spin is put on it.

I am thinking that your problem is both immaturity and the assumption that cloud computing is supposed to replace everything. Well, it's not. No, it's not supposed to replace those applications where you put in your credit card info or social security number (whatever the hell that is). It might claim that it can but why would you do that?

Brace yourself but there are in fact applications for things like ec2 [amazon.com] from Amazon. What if I wanted to design an informative website that might provide details and directions to a brick & mortar store while at the same time store comments from users?

I'm not putting any spin on this, I'm just pointing out that Cloud Computing has a place. It might be smaller than what the companies tell us, it might be larger than what we think. But to outright rule out a potentially cheap, distributed, robust service like this as a developer is really really closed minded. I'm personally willing to give it a chance as I build on open source frameworks and have a lot of applications I would like to toy with that don't deal in sensitive data. And I don't have a whole lot of change laying around to do it!

Re:Totally agree (3, Insightful)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211581)

Well, it's not. No, it's not supposed to replace those applications where you put in your credit card info or social security number (whatever the hell that is). It might claim that it can but why would you do that?

Lots of sensible people would heartily agree. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who are not sensible as well. Of course, using it as a mirror for your open source development or other collaborations is great. But it could very easily turn into another www.facebook.com, where users don't realize how much personal or sensitive info they're putting out until after they get burned by it.

I do hope Cloud Computing does take off to some degree, but only as long as users will educate themselves about what it is and what it's used for first. And also as long as nobody comes to depend on it too much.

Re:Totally agree (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211729)

But it could very easily turn into another www.facebook.com, where users don't realize how much personal or sensitive info they're putting out until after they get burned by it.

This is quite amusing to me. "Don't realize how much personal or sensitive info they're putting out?!" Uh, at what point does your brain fail to see problems with giving Facebook your credit card number for a gift to your friend? Goddamn klaxons go off with red spots exploding in my vision for me. Here's a picture of me free basing a controlled substance, what a great idea to put out online for all to see/have! Again, the old noggin' kicks in with "Danger! Danger Will Robinson!"

People are responsible for their actions. Stupidity doesn't exactly count as a valid defense. Otherwise there would be some pretty hilarious court cases.

It's your responsibility as a developer or company to make sure that your users data is safe. If you fail in this responsibility, you face the courts.

It's your responsibility as a user not to put sensitive information online! If you fail in this responsibility, you face consequences--employers and significant others are fully capable of operating browsers!

The responsibilities are clear to me--am I the only person that understands we are held to some amount of responsibility in using the web?! If you are a parent, please talk to your children about this! It's just like walking up to a stranger and telling them everything about you when you put that crap out in a public profile online. You shouldn't need to act as guardian of the whole internet. Inform people and show them how to protect themselves.

Re:Totally agree (1)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211893)

If you are a parent, please talk to your children about this!

mod parent up ;-)

Re:Totally agree (3, Insightful)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211991)

People are responsible for their actions. Stupidity doesn't exactly count as a valid defense.

I don't disagree with anything you've said, but on the point of the "facebook generation" putting potentially career-preempting photos and information about themselves online, I don't think it's stupidity. They just haven't been raised to expect or feel the need for privacy.

And I know I'm making a big generalization here, but it's like if you convince a generation that it's necessary to give up certain liberties in the name of national security, the next generation won't have any expectation of those liberties. Kids entering the workforce now have been photographed and videotaped at every moment of their lives, and their younger siblings have cameras in their cel phones. They've never suffered any negative consequences so it doesn't occur to them that they should be cautious about what they put online. Plus, they don't have to, cause all of their friends have cameras on thier cel phones, so one of them will post it on facebook and tag the photo with their name.

I really think we will quickly get to the point where it will be too much effort for employers to find someone who doesn't have something embarrassing or worse come up on the first page of a Google search.

Re:Totally agree (1)

GlobalColding (1239712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211607)

First you relinquish control over your data, then you establish a dependency on your data-pimps, and while your data-pimps have your data they control its integrity, its privacy, oh and your cost structure. I maybe immature but this doesnt sound like a healthy relationship.

Latency and control (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211331)

Latency can be a problem. Speed of light and all that.

You also lose control and confidentiality.

Admiral Ackbar reporting in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211337)

It's a trap!

Re:Admiral Ackbar reporting in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211379)

Ah, Admiral Akbar, Long Time, No See.

RMS is going senile... (2, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211363)

None of RMS's concerns are related to the concept of "cloud" computing. His issues are with proprietary computing.

Re:RMS is going senile... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211687)

They asked him about proprietary computing "in the cloud". Specifically, they asked him about gmail.

Re:RMS is a dirty stinking hippie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211713)

And smells

Re:RMS is going senile... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211759)

In general I think that RMS is an alarmist, but in this case he really does have a point. While you can, and I do, download messages from gmail and such on a regular basis, one should be wary about depending upon a service where you don't have control over the data.

Re:RMS is going senile... (1)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211933)

He is an alarmist. But his alarmism tends to generate a lot of discussion on whatever subjects seem to set him off. For that reason alone, I hope he never changes.

Re:RMS is going senile... (1)

neuromanc3r (1119631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211959)

The thing is, tfa doesn't really make it clear what exactly Stallman's concerns are about.

It just mentions a few buzzwords and quotes by RMS which, for all I know, could be completely out of context.

Seriously, after reading tfa I still haven't got more than a very foggy idea what Stallman is actually criticising.

RMS is still more lucid than most of you (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211989)

RMS isn't protesting against cloud computing technology, but to it being marketed as a panacea.

Cloud computing can have its use, like for instance within a business where segment A doesn't have to know the details about the grid, but just request a service and hopefully get it -- I'm pretty darn sure that this isn't what RMS objects to.

However, when you don't control or even know anything about what's going on with the other participants, it becomes lunacy to buy into it. It's the 2008 version of the corporate car pooling fad of the 80s, where companies in the same location would, instead of leasing 10 cars each, would lease a pool of 15 cars in total and share them. Guess what, you don't find that model much anymore, because you have no control over the other companies. Sooner or later, both companies are going to need ten cars at the same time.
Cloud computing is planning based on averages, and not on peaks. Unless you can anticipate and prepare for the peaks, that is a bad idea.

Then there's the whole question about who runs the show. You ask for a "magic box" service, where you don't know the details in the other end. That's very dangerous seen from an openness perspective. How do you know you can trust the service provided, if you can't see under the hood? This isn't much different from buying a sealed PES voting dispenser. Yes, it's lunacy, unless you get to see what's going on in the other end. And once you do, it's not cloud computing anymore -- just grid computing or thin client.

Stallman still has my vote of confidence, especially compared to the hallelujah choir who will embrace every new business fad without going "hey now, wait a minute..."

Shades of Gray (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211369)

It's stupidity.

I'm not a big fan of black and white formats.

Nor am I a big fan of people who paint reality to be only black or white.

There are shades of gray.

For anyone to stand up and pronounce this as either 100% good or 100% bad is laughable. I'm certain Google & Amazon will/have found a completely viable and useful application for cloud computing--I mean unless I'm mistaken I think it's already working with Open Social. I'm sure it will have at the very least a niche application in computing. It might be very small, it might be very big. But to call it complete stupidity is quite ignorant.

'Somebody is saying this is inevitable -- and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true.'

Uh oh, look at this [mamchenkov.net] ! Oh no! Stupid stupid stupid! Just because businesses and proponents want it, doesn't necessarily make it evil or stupid. That's being shoved down my throat and self fulfilled prophecy and ... bad stuff ...

Furthermore, if the source code is GPL and the application is public and the data is not sensitive ... we may have a candidate for cloud computing! Why not let some other company/people provide the cycles? Surely one could dream up some application even if it is merely a trivial/novel concept.

Re:Shades of Gray (2, Interesting)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211621)

cloud computing in nothing more than managed colocation services. or sophisticated hosting services..

coming up with another name for it, is silly, it is marketing, yeah they're using the hosting to allow some people to put their own data up on the internet, but most of the 'cloud' computing services are just managed colo services, with an interface to manage your servers and database etc.

i mean, there is nothing wrong with say using colocation services to let people put up their own content, but giving it a new fancy name, and trying to market it as something separate is fundamentally silly.

Re:Shades of Gray (1)

dacut (243842) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211917)

cloud computing is nothing more than managed colocation services. or sophisticated hosting services..

Er... sort of, but not really. In a sophisticated, managed hosting environment, I'd want tighter SLAs on the hardware than in a cloud computing environment (at least, given what I've worked with on EC2). I'd be willing to put a database on the former; on the latter, only rendering machines (where "render" can mean rendering web pages, movies, the billionth digit of pi, etc.).

The "cloud" part of "cloud computing" comes from how you would draw it on a network or system architecture diagram. Clouds are used when you don't care about the details. For example, getting two servers to talk to each other across the Internet, the Internet is a cloud. You don't care if the network connections involved are DSL, cable, ATM, IP-over-avian carriers, etc.; all you care about is that packets sent into the cloud magically arrive at the other end.

Likewise, with cloud computing, you don't care about the details of the server (Opteron/Intel, SCSI/SATA, 16 GB or 32 GB, etc.); all you care about is that you send a task into this cloud and it spits an answer back at you. If the underlying architecture does matter to you, you shouldn't be using cloud computing!

Re:Shades of Gray (1)

mdahlman (306918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211685)

For anyone to stand up and pronounce this as either 100% good or 100% bad is laughable.

Clarification: by saying it's "laughable" he means that it's 100% bad.

Re:Shades of Gray (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211845)

Just because businesses and proponents want it, doesn't necessarily make it evil or stupid. That's being shoved down my throat and self fulfilled prophecy and ... bad stuff ...

So what you're saying is that suits really ARE making a comeback [paulgraham.com] ?

It doesn't hurt to look at the messenger and consider whether the message is informative or wishful thinking / marketing. Sure - just because someone is backing it doesn't mean it's bad. There's even something admirable about someone invested in their own convictions.

The ultimate decision should be based on the merits of the idea itself. If the idea seems dubious, it's time to ask whether you're missing something or being given a hard sell.

Well (1, Insightful)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211381)

If you dont like cloud computing dont participate in it. Theres no reason for us to argue about the matter.

Re:Well (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211805)

Is this the year that 'cloud computing' redefines 'the internet'? I must have missed the memo. Now we have cloud clients, cloud architecture, cloud outlines, cloud conversions, cloud overhead, cloud management strategies, and a host of other cloud drivel.

This crap is a lot like my old boss and his fascination for mixing up buzz words and who knows what else - he would wander in and utter trash like 'We have a wagon wheel of possibilities, which spider thread we apply to bring closure will depend on your assessment of the associated paradigm.' Er, seriously, WTF?

Re:Well (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211863)

Eh, its kind of buzzy, but it does refer to a real thing.

I'm the sort who lays back and zones out whenever he hears the word paradaigm in a meeting, and I do not support boss-use-buzz-words, but I'm not terribly opposed to the term cloud.

It's better than "Series of Tubes" atleast.

Well DER! (1)

Carrot007 (37198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211393)

The loss of control and privicy should put anyone off cloud computing.

RMS however adds the usual over the top extra paranoia we all love.

I would be up for cloud computing using remote power if it was my remote power. Hopefully soon out desktops will become our clouds for our portable machines. That would be nice, control and power for all!

Re:Well DER! (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211741)

erlang was doing stuff like that 10 years ago. And thin client/XWindows/Remote Desktop/etc have been around even longer. What's missing today?

Cloud Computing is Web Hosting Gone Wild (2, Interesting)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211419)

It's very very rare that I'd agree with Richard Stallman since his "user community" agenda is rarely in line with real freedom for developers (unfortunately Stallman favors users over developers), but this time I'd have to agree with him about cloud computing and the dependencies it creates for people, projects and companies "hosted" in the cloud.

Cloud computing is web hosting gone wild on steroids... however every company or software system that you rely on is another dependency that could cause problems for you down the road. Be careful which systems you use in your magical web app built upon cloud computing systems... a house is only as solid as the strength of the cards (infrastructure) it rests on...

Re:Cloud Computing is Web Hosting Gone Wild (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211829)

Cloud computing is a buzzword, just like e-business was before it.

he's right, but he's also wrong (5, Interesting)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211423)

He is right that cloud computing is a potential threat to the progress we have made on free software, open standards, etc. However, he's wrong that it's marketing hype. Being able to move noisy, power-hungry hardware somewhere else and have other people deal with repairing and replacing it is a big win.

Fortunately, since a lot of cloud computing uses virtual machines, you do get full control and it ends up being not so much of a threat to free software. If anything, FOSS is a natural match to virtual machines, in the cloud or elsewhere.

Re:he's right, but he's also wrong (2, Insightful)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211489)

No you missed part of the point of the statement which is that thats something data centers ALREADY DO for you and 'CLOUD COMPUTING' is just a fancy buzzword Amazon made up to sell their web interface for it.

Re:he's right, but he's also wrong (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211815)

It's 10PM. Do you know where your cloud is? It's only a matter of time before it gets outsourced to another country (cheaper electricity, cheaper computer janitors).

Its all about ease of use (2, Insightful)

tfunk1234 (1109425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211477)

For most users, the loss of control of there data and the other privacy issues that concern us arent really all that important. What matters to them is how easy the software is to use. Compare creating a gmail account to downloading and installing a normal mail client, setting up the pop / smtp servers and so on. In setting up a gmail account the hardest part is deciding on what your address should be (or reading the captcha). The trouble with most technical people is that they assume everyone else to be technical, when this is rarely the case. Hell I'm a programmer by trade and I cant even be bothered finding out how to put line breaks in my post!

Paranoid? (1)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211487)

From the "paranoid" RMS:
"cloud computing [is] simply a trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that would cost them more and more over time"

From the "enterprising" Ballmer on a "free" cloud:
"I was joking actually with Tim Lyons, who's here from Morgan Stanley, 'Sure, we'll give you everything for free as long as we get to watch what every investment banker does all day on their PC, where they go, what their mail says, and we'll give them real relevant ads.' I think we can probably get 100 bucks a year out of them instead of inflicting that experience. So, I don't think advertising is for everything."

Imagine paying your monthly internet bill. And your monthly cloud OS bill. And your monthly email app/storage bill. And your online office application bill. Etc. Etc.

RMS again:
"whenever you hear somebody saying ... this is inevitable ... it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true."

Naaahhh... we've never heard of any giant marketing campaigns trying to convince us that some new product or idea is inevitable or that we can't or won't be able to live without it... right?

Paranoid?

yeah he's right (5, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211493)

Businesses want to make money. The trend is business thinking is "why sell them something when we can rent it to them and keep charging them indefinitely."

RMS hits it right on when he says web-based applications are really an effort to change the market so that every computing function is on a pay per use or subscription basis. Look at itunes DRM if you want to see the future of "cloud computing"

It's all marketing.

As an aside, from TFA:

has become a core part of the rise of Web 2.0 applications

I was amused that the writer of an article about how "cloud computing" is hype used another one of those hype buzzwords that have no concrete meaning whatsoever..."web 2.0"...

Re:yeah he's right (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211755)

"web 2.0" actually has a pretty specific meaning now. A lot of terms that start out as "buzz word non-sense" end up being used for a very specific meaning.. it's one of the way new words enter the lexicon.

Re:yeah he's right (1)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211771)

And as far as web applications go, I think that's fine. Why should I sell something to you for a fixed price when my costs for providing it are on-going and a function of how much you use it?

A lot of the troubles we face today (proprietary software, DRM, etc) are a result of business plans that rely on scarcity for their product when as we all know digital anything is an infinite resource. It is the hardware, power, etc that are scarce. Once a company starts charging for the scarce part of their application, everything starts to make more sense because the rules of economics apply again.

Selling something up front makes sense for, say, software, since the scarcity of the software stems from the media it's on and the development time that went into it. Once the software is sold, there is no more scarcity. But once Gmail is developed, Google has to keep it running. You're paying for the server farm (the scarce resource).

Of course renting makes no sense for DRM, since you are only obtaining a license when you purchase music. It just doesn't make sense (especially at today's prices) to buy license that costs O(n) that's of equal or less value than a license that costs O(c)?

Someone has to administer it (5, Insightful)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211515)

The vast majority of computer users are not system administrators. For them, having someone -- whether it's the company administrator down the hall, or Google somewhere out there -- shepherd their data is a great reassurance.

99% of people don't host their own websites, so they depend on someone else to do it. Would Stallman say it's bad for those people to give that person or hosting company control over their data?

Screw the cloud (2)

offrdbandit (1331649) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211527)

I've never been much of a fan for the idea. Although I can recognize some of the potential benefits, I don't see an overall advantage. How much data are we really willing to give over to Google, Microsoft, etc. Much like the DRM fiasco of interest as of late, what happens if Google decides to discontinue Google Docs? It's not just a "control" or "free software" issue. Cloud Computing isn't the answer; Competent Computing is the answer. IMO, the origin of this entire discussion is a fundamental underappreciation for the immense computing potential even the average computer user (with a computer that may be several years old) has these days. No one needs Cloud Computing. A bargain basement Dell these days is still a very good machine.

RMS, The Guardian, and the 'blogosphere' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211531)

Congratulations on the hat trick of alarmist attention whoring.

gg nextmap

This is what Privacy Policies are for (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211533)

I usually agree with what RMS says. However, this time he's overreacting.

Gmail, for example, has a terms of service and a privacy policy detailing exactly what they can and cannot do with your information. Most other companies do as well (by law?) and it's usually pretty easy to access.

Ultimately you are giving your data to a third party, but I think it's paranoia to say that you should make sure your data never gets stored on the internet. That's like keeping your money under your mattress instead of putting it in a bank -- the bank could, theoretically, take your money and disappear, but it's not at all likely.

Re:This is what Privacy Policies are for (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211693)

It's not having your data stored on the Internet, it's the cloud-computing idea of only having your data stored on the Internet. GMail's a good example. Where other than out at Google are your e-mail messages stored? How do you propose to get at your e-mail if GMail isn't available? Note that it doesn't matter why GMail's unavailable, it could be because you're at a place that doesn't have Internet, because the network links are down because of a disaster, or because Google's gone out of business without warning, unavailable is unavailable. Having your mail on GMail in addition to being stored locally is fine, but GMail doesn't support acting as a backup to a standard mail client and their normal Web interface doesn't provide an easy way to make a local backup of your mailboxes or save new messages locally as you send them.

And if the idea of GMail going away sounds improbable, remember how improbable it was just a month ago that all the major Wall Street investment banks, the backbone of the US financial system for better than half a century, would all be either in bankruptcy or out of the investment-banking business in literally a matter of a week or so.

Re:This is what Privacy Policies are for (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211847)

Gmail, for example, has a terms of service and a privacy policy detailing exactly what they can and cannot do with your information. Most other companies do as well (by law?) and it's usually pretty easy to access.?

Its also a pretty user unfriendly document for the vast majority of these services, including google.

Ultimately you are giving your data to a third party, but I think it's paranoia to say that you should make sure your data never gets stored on the internet.

Agreed. But where is your backup, and how do you access it?

That's like keeping your money under your mattress instead of putting it in a bank -- the bank could, theoretically, take your money and disappear, but it's not at all likely.

Not quite, because with your data, it can (and should) be simultaneously under your mattress AND in a bank. With most web applications, its JUST in the bank, which is just as dumb as as having it just under your mattress.

And as the banks have shown us recently, they do fail.

The trouble with cloud apps isn't just that they host your data, but that they usually host it in proprietary ways, and make it inconvenient to back up yourself, and even if you can back it up, you find that you usually need their services to actually use it. e.g. the backup is really only useful to restore it back to their service; it doesn't do you much good if their service ceases to exist.

Re:This is what Privacy Policies are for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211881)

the bank could, theoretically, take your money and disappear, but it's not at all likely.

The current Credit Crunch wasn't likely too happen either, but it still did. It is all about risks and transparency. And without the latter, there is know way to judge the risks. Most Terms of Service and Privacy Policies are not transparent to the average person. Hell, they are not even transparent to smart people with degrees.

More to the point example. How many people buying Walmart's DRM laden songs actually knew Wallmart could turn of the DRM-servers? Did they read and understand it? Understood the risks they were taking?

I actually agree with RMS (5, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211549)

I'm actually giving a presentation on this in a couple weeks at an academic conference on innovation. "Cloud Computing" had another name in the 1970's, Time Share. Ask folks how well that worked back in the day. Two years ago I did a consulting gig at a Medical Supply company that was still running their inventory and billing off a 486 with DOS, I kid you not. Fortunately their software vender was still around and did offer an upgrade route, but they were pushing to use their new online based system. We shopped around at a few other medical software companies who were pushing the same thing.

The owners of the business were in their 50's and 60's. They were savvy enough with the computers, but everything kept coming back to what would happen to their data. End of the day, they would not trust their business data to an outside vender, period. And for good reason dealing with HIPPA and other privacy considerations. The only way out for the data is a modem that is used to connect to the state's electronic billing system for public aid & medicare and that's it. Not internet connection to the server or the workstations that connect to it.

I work around a college town with several folks who are on the cutting edge. I just built online ordering system for another company that is hosted off a dedicated server. Every day the interns came in, the first thing out of their mouths were, "Why don't you just use Amazon?"

My short answer was, "I know how this will scale. If it gets hammered, add more servers, load balance it out, and cluster the database when it comes time. I've done it before and it will work. And until something better comes along and is proven, stick with what you know."

Most smaller businesses I chat with are not comfortable with the idea of other people hosting their critical data. Basically my conference topic is that we'll see something close to the Adobe Air model where applications can run either online or from the web in some type of VM and enable users to still save their work locally. Whether that be a hard drive or USB thumb drive. No matter how cool a web app is, if I can't run it while I'm not connected and can't save data to my local machine, it is not going to replace traditional desktop apps anytime soon.

Re:I actually agree with RMS (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211873)

My short answer was, "I know how this will scale. If it gets hammered, add more servers, load balance it out, and cluster the database when it comes time. I've done it before and it will work. And until something better comes along and is proven, stick with what you know."

Yeah, that's great -- until you leave the company, and leave the owners holding the bag. The bag, in this case, being a system that nobody knows how to maintain. This model works for a larger company, where you have a staff of sufficient size that turnover doesn't kill the knowledge pool. But for a small company, it's a disaster that happens over and over in this industry.

For a small company, it's absolutely a good idea to go with a service that can manage the whole thing for them. Sure, that service might disappear -- but with the right recovery schemes in place to change providers, that doesn't have to be a disaster. And it's generally a lot less probable than Mr. Key Man deciding to leave for greener pastures.

It's possible that in your instance, what you're doing makes sense. But honestly, you seem more like you're either a control freak that can't stand to let others in, or you're worried for your job.

For small companies, rolling your own hardware is insane. At least use a managed server farm like a Rackspace.

Re:I actually agree with RMS (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211875)

see here's the thing cloud computing has really only taken off with end users. webmail, facebook, myspace... the list goes on and on... companies like security, they like keeping things simple, and they certainly don't trust confidential data they can be sued over for leaking with anyone who isn't in house.

and here's the thing, for the longest time point of sale credit transactions all went over POTS lines to computers deep inside some sort of credit card transaction centers... but now, they've moved to sending them over 'always on' internet connections and since then, hackers have been getting into more and more computer systems and grabbing more and more credit card numbers...

everyone from gas stations to grocery stores are getting their systems hacked and valuable credit card data is getting stolen. all of which could easily be prevented with a a nice hardened firewall and only allowing the actual ports that the system uses.

home users can get the same level of security with smoothwall linux which is free as in beer, companies can buy their commercial firewall product, it's not a bad price for what you get. sadly, i've read 'online' guides on how to 'configure' hardened firewalls that is clearly put there by hackers because the instruction include opening every single type of connection both ways! that would be like relying on windows firewall, which does the same.

Re:I actually agree with RMS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211999)

My short answer was, "I know how this will scale. If it gets hammered, add more servers, load balance it out, and cluster the database when it comes time. I've done it before and it will work. And until something better comes along and is proven, stick with what you know."

I've also done it before -- too many times. I'd like to never do it again.

Racking servers, system administrations, colocation space, upstream providers, power, cooling, hardware purchasing -- it hurts to think about

EC2 and friends offer the application of economy of scale. Someone else worries about the problem, at a scale much larger than you can afford, and the savings get passed down to you.

It may not be "proven" enough for you yet, but I can't fathom how things can go anywhere *other* than API-driven on-demand server/network resource allocation. It is cheaper, easier, and you can use multiple providers to remove single points of failure.

So sure. You know how the old model works. Me too. I also know how to write assembly, but I sure as hell use a compiler when writing software.

At the end of the day, I want to be able to write software that allocates a new server. If that server fails, I want it taken out of the pool of available servers while my software starts up a new instance. Once a week, some NOC monkey can make a sweep of the server room, replacing hardware. Never again will I have to pay someone to head down to the colo to swap out a hard drive (or god forbid, go to that hell hole myself).

It's a trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211555)

This is just the mainframe era all over again. Everything old is new again.

Except this time, just wait until one of your "cloud" providers goes out of business, taking all of your company's data with it. Who will look foolish then?

I'll never understand the RMS haters (5, Insightful)

merc (115854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211567)

If there's one person in this industry who has been consistent over the years it's Richard Stallman. You may not agree with his views: that personal freedoms are more important than technical merit or convenience but you have to admit that he has never drifted from his what he believes in. He's also proven that he is willing to use real hard work (e.g., in the form of code) to promote the principles of his beliefs.

I think few people would realize how much different the computing world would be without the positive influence he's had on our industry.

Also, the record for many of his writings are pretty right on track. Just as an example: A decade ago the idea that you might need special "rights" in order to read a book might have been perceived as .. oh, what are the words people are using now? "raving" or "lunacy". Yet today Digital Restrictions Management embedded in eBooks, games and multi-media are a real thing -- and a real threat to personal freedoms.

Now, I'm just speaking for myself, but when RMS speaks, I will stop and read -- or listen (and be grateful I still have the freedoms to chose to do so) :-)

Re:I'll never understand the RMS haters (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211915)

The reason people detract from him so violently is not that he respects freedom over convenience. It is that they disagree as to what freedom is, and how best it is served, and Stallman consistently writes and speaks as though his outlook is the One Truth. It ends up coming across as arrogance, and arrogance tends to put people off.

Well, Eric Krangel is a moron... (4, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211579)

... whoever the fuck he is.

He says "Oracle's Ellison is selling cloud computing products and poking fun at his own marketing. Stallman is opposed to the cloud because he thinks it locks users into proprietary, non-open source software. Guess which one is a billionaire?"

Regardless of the merits of Stallman's views, that's just a fucking stupid statement. Like someone defending Rush Limbaugh's factual accuracy by pointing to his ratings.

Like someone rebutting concerns over monopolies by pointing out the existence of robber-barons.

Who owns your data (1)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211591)

Ignoring the fear mongering diatribe by RMS he does have a point. Who owns your data (forget privacy laws they aren't worth the paper they are printed on now) and does the cloud service provider have the right to force you to access the data you own through a costly proprietary channel ? Think about it, Im Google, we now have 8 years of your email on our servers, you will now have to pay for a very expensive application to access it, what you dont want to pay, sorry we will delete your precious data then.

Relatively untrue (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211615)

If you do rely solely on the "cloud" and only use one provider, then yes, it is bad and controlling.

If, on the other hand, you do not do that, it isn't.

I'm sure someone in the near future will create a multi-cloud library that, much like the libraries that allow you to swap relational DBs or CPUs without coding for each as long as you don't use DB-specific or chip-specific features, will allow you to run on whichever service is cheapest/less controlling/etc. Once this is done, you are as free or more free as anyone who leases hardware directly.

Possibly as free or more free than if you owned the hardware yourself.

I don't often agree with RMS... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211623)

And I've known him for over 30 years. But just as a stopped clock is right twice a day, sometimes RMS is spot-on.

This is such a case.

For the cloud computing providers, the impetus behind the mad rush to cloud computing is first and foremost to lock users into a single provider. A secondary impetus is to give the provider unfettered access to all users' data.

What RMS doesn't mention, but of equal concern, are the disconnects between what the various players say, and what other players hear.

For example, cloud providers say "use our cloud, and you don't need to have an expensive IT department." IT department heads hear "use their cloud, and we don't need to have expensive IT engineers."

Cloud computing is potentially far worse than proprietary software since the cloud has much greater reach. Once anything is in the cloud, it is difficult to do things unless everything is in the cloud.

A company which is annoyed with Windows can add a Linux box to the mix, and gradually move stuff from Windows to Linux. With the cloud, it is all or none.

Depends on what your intention is (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211773)

If you want to distribute public domain information to as many people as possible and achieve robust storage through massive redundancy, then "cloud computing" is a great idea (think bittorrent). If you want to store your own private data, then storing it on servers that may wind up controlled by your competitors is a stupid idea (do you trust Microsoft with your data). Of course, for the former, all we really need is P2P, not paid-for servers. I think the idea of using a 'net service to store sensitive data is an inherently flawed business model because you will always have better bandwidth and access times to your onsite computers than you will to any service provider.

The Cloud is the New WMD (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211807)

It's to distract us from the impending dust cloud that will puff up the letters "w.a.l.l. s.t.r.e.e.t. w.a.s. h.e.r.e."

Makes sense to me (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211809)

One of the reasons I dont buy games on Steam, the freedom to buy a game at a store and install it anytome, is more important than the convince of one-click buys. (And normally the same price to boot)

Same goes with music thats DRM enabled, email, rss reader, etc. Online might be quicker, but they lock you in, its hard to export and make a backup. Sometimes its easy, but what about converting to other formats, other providers?

Its lock in, and if you dont think its lock in, you are not paying attention. Companies stop churn by making it hard to leave. Its business after all.

Hes spot on. Lock in, just like microsoft, apple does, and even google does to degrees.

Freedom to walk away with your data, anytime.

hmmm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25211843)

Cloud computing sounds like some pie-in-the-sky bullshit if you ask me. Trust a third party with all my data? They go down and I'm screwed. Not to mention when they steal my data and then use it to compete against me, what then?

Always disliked Stallman (0, Troll)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211891)

i have always disliked Stallman, and the GNU in general. but that is my personal opinion... this time though, he has litterally just allowed himself to take a shit out of his mouth.

To cloud or not to cloud... (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25211905)

I've lived through decades of IT buzzwords. At some level, even the internet, they all turned out to be just tools. Like any tool they are refined over the years, do some things really well and are appropriate in some situations. Where I think we get sideways in IT are the crusaders, either community or paid, who try to make the latest tool the one that solves all problems. Like web services. Remember when those came out? They were going to be the end all of computing. Software as a service, web 2.0...

So now it's "the cloud". It's just recycled software as a service delivered over the internet. Some are good and useful tools, some aren't. We use Gmail and I'm pretty comfortable with it. Would I use it to store confidential patient data? Not a chance. Neither would I outsource client confidential data to an outsource provider, especially an offshore provider. Although I'm certain there are many companies doing that without giving it a second thought, we're not going to. We'll keep the data here, encrypted at rest, and strictly limit who has access to the data and the hardware. It's not bullet proof, but it's not dumping people's medical records on an outsource "cloud" data storage system. Which might be good but might not. Which might be running their data storage or backups somewhere offshore. Maybe that data is secure, maybe not. Some things it makes sense to cloud out and some things it doesn't.

One thing that makes me crazy are vendors and partners all using different types of systems. One vendor has some outsource phone conference thing, another one uses some off-site thing to manage his contacts that sends ME email wanting me to update my contact information for HIM, another has some subscription project management something that buries me with pages of project updates with the current entry all the way at the bottom. It's a service mess.

Facebook (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25212005)

I wonder what RMS' reaction would be to Facebook. Its ammunition for a potential employer to use, yes. But I moved quite a few times and since university graduation, most of my friends are on Facebook. FB has really made it easier to communicate with people you might not otherwise be able to reach. And they might even be in the same city I am in.

I do admit I haven't used FB yet because of the privacy concerns. I don't have anything to hide from employers and my friends aren't freaks. Any thoughts?

I'd seriously like to have an ask RMS here on Slashdot and get some modded questions for him to answer. Even if you don't agree, I always find its good to see totally opposite views of your own.

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