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RMS Says "Software As a Service" Is Non-free

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the ok-thats-a-bit-inflammatory dept.

GNU is Not Unix 715

BillyG noted an RMS interview where he says "'Software as a service' means that you think of a particular server as doing your computing for you. If that's what the server does, you must not use it! If you do your computing on someone else's server, you hand over control of your computing to whoever controls the server. It is like running binary-only software, only worse: it's even harder for you to patch the program that's running on someone else's server than it is to patch a binary copy of a program running on your own computer. Just like non-free software, 'software as a service' is incompatible with your freedom."

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715 comments

I must not use it? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730217)

Try and stop me, Emperor Neckbeard.

Re:I must not use it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730271)

My rigid grill structure is coming in on your unprotected cargo door

RMS goes to the Zoo (3, Funny)

Fanboy Fantasies (917592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730669)

With a twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step, RMS slammed his sky-blue Chevette's rusted-out car door and turned on heel toward the MIT Zoo entrance. Today was a Sunday, and RMS had decided the daily stresses of Free Software, the GPL, and his crazy drug-smoking habits could go away for just one afternoon while he enjoyed the zoo.

"That'll be twenty-five dollars, sir," the lady at the admission booth said glumly. She looked at RMS expectantly.

"I was expecting this zoo to be Free," RMS stated loudly, eyes darting around to gauge onlookers' reactions. There were none: RMS's capital F had went unnoticed. "Can you ensure me that this money will not help fund -"

The admissions lady cut him off. "Twenty-five dollars, or twenty bucks with a Bawls can," the lady cut in.

With a grumble and shake of his beard, RMS handed over twenty five of his hard-earned dollars. Considering that the GPL works to unemploy programmers, one must wonder where this money came from.

By evening, RMS found himself in front of the penguin exhibit. He felt himself start to sweat, which would have been no surprise -- his thick, full, grizzly beard was worth a thousand down comforters -- except that he was wearing only a pair of nylon biking shorts and a travel pack around his waist. He stared at his hands. What was wrong?

"Awk" a nearby bird squawked. RMS wheeled in the direction the screech had come from. He was met with the steely, unfeeling stares of a penguin. "Awk! Ooooh God, the penguin said awk... Lord, lord lord, it's GNU/Linux. The penguin is Tux!!!" RMS blurted out. He felt dizzy, and cold sweat now washed over his brittle, hairy chest. He looked this way and that. From nearby a bird again squawked.

"Awk! Awk! Awwwwk!!!"

RMS ran as fast as his atrophied hippie-programmer legs could carry him, right through a gate and into an exhibit. He realized what he had done, and before he could turn around, he heard a low, ominous sound. Like the Devil's riding mower.

"Moooooooooooooooo!"

RMS gasped and darted his eyes around him as he stood deathly still.

"MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

RMS was standing in the Gnu section, and it seemed these bull yaks were in rut and ready to mate with the first hairy thing with a hole in its center they found. Bad luck for RMS and his beard. Just then he felt cloven hooves push him down, and the world became fuzzy. RMS blacked out and remembered no more.

No need for him to lift a finger (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730293)

The first hiccup in your company internet connection will have you scrambling to replace many of the services you signed up for...

Re:No need for him to lift a finger (2, Informative)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730771)

My internet connection has only gone down 3 times that I can recall in the last 5 years.

2 of those times were blackouts. So I wasn't using my computer. The 3rd was because of a communication problem causing my service to get shutoff a few days before my new service was installed.

I'm not worried about losing the internets.

RMS IS A CUNT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730429)

This is just another RMS cream pie on the face of Slashdot.

It's a trap! (-1, Troll)

oreaq (817314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730439)

Every web site is a "software as a service". RMS says: You must not open the article at broadcast.oreilly.com and read his article.

Oh ... and every time you post on /. RMS will kill a kitten. You have to trust me on that. Do not google for "kitten RMS" or you will forever lose your freedom.

Re:I must not use it? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730517)

Try and stop me, Emperor Neckbeard.

He doesn't have to. When the almighty Google decide to shut down their Gmail beta without notice you'll stop whether you like it or not.

Dupe? (5, Insightful)

maccallr (240314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730235)

Seems uncannily like this story from a month ago: Richard Stallman Warns About Non-Free Web Apps [slashdot.org]

Re:Dupe? (5, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730345)

Seems uncannily like this story from a month ago: Richard Stallman Warns About Non-Free Web Apps

Newsflash! RMS has the same opinion he had a month ago!

Re:Dupe? (0)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730767)

It will be "news for nerds" when RMS appears in a Microsoft commercial buying a Dell. He's not cool enough for a Mac.

Re:Dupe? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730595)

No, that was about how doing tasks with web apps was bad. This is about how the whole concept of doing computing on a machine which is not under your control is wrong.

Re:Dupe? (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730675)

On reflection, it seems that RMS has reached the conclusion that software freedom is beneficial, therefore the absence of software freedom is harmful, and furthermore that any absence of software freedom is unacceptable. I look forward to him publishing future articles from a home-built, hand-fabricated microcomputer, or perhaps some sort of elaborate open-source mechanical turing machine, when he decides that nonfree microcode is unacceptable. ;)

Re:Dupe? (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730691)

Oh no! I don't control my employer's system...I'll have to tell him that I can't do any work on it because RMS says I'm wrong!

Obviously! (4, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730255)

I'm no RMS fan (GPL2 all the way) but isn't this shit obvious?
The only point in software as a service's defense, is that at least you know you don't own the software.

Re:Obviously! (3, Insightful)

rumith (983060) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730435)

The problem is, paying for all that computing power, data storage, software development and other stuff may occasionally not be my goal. Sometimes I just want to browse a damn photo gallery or write an online document.

Re:Obviously! (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730463)

no it's not.

I had a customer just last week ask for us to get his backups from carbonite. I was confused and he said," I stopped paying for it a month ago, I want the copies of my backups from them."

I had to explain to him that you cant go to the car wash and demand the dirt off your car given to you after the wash cycle. It's gone, they delete all of it when you stop paying them.

He still did not fully understand it. And this is a college educated business owner.

"that's unprofessional of them to delete MY data."

Re:Obviously! (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730709)

That's not software freedom, that's information freedom, though. Actually concepts like freedom of information mandate such destruction of data by those you hand it to.

Re:Obviously! (2, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730493)

I'm no RMS fan (GPL2 all the way) but isn't this shit obvious?

Do my rms-ian freedoms include deciding to use a website I know doesn't release the source code? Or is that more like the BSD freedom?

Re:Obviously! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730601)

Nobody has any intentions of stopping you from doing so. RMS merely recommends that you don't. I've never understood why that raises so much ire. Were he proposing coercive measures to stop you, I'd see it; but (correctly) noting that, if you use SaS, you have fuck all control over the software is simply true.

Re:Obviously! (2, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730687)

Nobody has any intentions of stopping you from doing so. RMS merely recommends that you don't.

Really? He should read RFC 2119.

"Software as a service" means that you think of a particular server as doing your computing for you. If that's what the server does, you must not use it!

Sure sounds like an imperative to me.

Re:Obviously! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730811)

You don't understand the difference between "must not" and "MUST NOT".

Re:Obviously! (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730713)

I think it's because instead of saying "before using SaS, think about these points," he says "just avoid SaS at all costs." There's no place for it... which isn't always the case for some or most people.

Re:Obviously! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730563)

Delicious currently gives me full access to the data that I have generated using the service, and they are actively developing new features.

Where's the problem? I guess I could worry that they might change what they are offering, but for something like a bookmark, access to the data is 99% of the equation for me, not access to the software.

Congratulations to RMS... (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730257)

...for spotting the major con of software as a service. I'm sure companies and individuals considering the use of such services will now weigh this con against the pros and develop an informed decision about whether or not a given service is right for them.

For services where personal data is kept, I'm sure that concepts like security, trustworthiness, and portability of data are key concerns.

Re:Congratulations to RMS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730423)

For the intonation impaired, parent is supposed to read slightly sarcastic.

Re:Congratulations to RMS... (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730661)

Is it really a con?

I always thought the whole idea of SAS was simply shifting and consolodating the effort of creating and servicing software to (hopefully) lower costs. Not eliminate them. Kinda like call centers for help desk support (they usually manage multiple companies' help desks at one center), only it's serving your software. Honestly, who said paying someone else to serve software for you to use would be free? There's a contradiction in that statement if they did.

I'm surprised anybody needed to point this out. It blows my mind. And calling it a con? I'll bet they never thought anybody would be dumb enough to think it's free! Even at the most basic level.

Wow.

Not to mention (3, Interesting)

atomicthumbs (824207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730265)

...you can't use it when you don't have an internet connection. Why doesn't anyone think about this?

Re:Not to mention (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730427)

This is Slahdot; we all live on the internet. We'd rather lose our air supply than our DSL!

3G data service (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730481)

...you can't use it when you don't have an internet connection. Why doesn't anyone think about this?

Apparently, the web application providers think everybody who really needs mobile access to web applications can afford to buy 2 years of 3G data service from AT&T, Sprint, etc. for $720 per year. I was in RadioShack on Saturday and saw a deal for $250 off an Acer Aspire One subnotebook PC with such a contract.

Re:Not to mention (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730593)

you can't use it when you don't have an internet connection. Why doesn't anyone think about this?

Because people prefer to think more about how to have an Internet connection all the time. Which is why iPods, cellphones, Palms and even my bloody DVR have Internet jacks, and why I can connect walking around or in my car, even in my rural area of America. It's also why I have wifi access in my home and business, why the local coffee shops have wifi, and in fact, why the local *pizza hut* has free wifi.

'Tis simply all-around better to be connected. And most of us don't need control of the software, as most of us aren't programmers anyway, or programmers interested in fussing with any particular software-as-service. Those programmers that do need access, already have it -- the program authors. RMS is missing the boat. Or perhaps has simply fallen off it.

Re:Not to mention (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730773)

No, control of softare isn't only useful for programmers. All that means is that if gmail changes something, and you don't like it anymore, you're stuck. The control part comes in that if you like Outlook 2003, but hate the new UI for 2007, you aren't forced to upgrade to 2007.

Re:Not to mention (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730629)

...you can't use it when you don't have an internet connection. Why doesn't anyone think about this?

Because companies that use these services often have redundant internet connections?

Umm. Yeah. We know this. (0, Redundant)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730281)

From Bruce Schneier [schneier.com]

Cloud computing services like Google Docs, and social networking sites like RealAge and Facebook, bring with them significant privacy and security risks over and above traditional computing models. Unlike data on my own computer, which I can protect to whatever level I believe prudent, I have no control over any of theses sites, nor any real knowledge of how these companies protect my privacy and security. I have to trust them.

But really, does anyone with sense think your data is secure when it's somewhere else that you don't control?

Re:Umm. Yeah. We know this. (2, Insightful)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730431)

Or somewhere you do control. How many laptops are stolen every year? How many computer have keyloggers? ... No safe place.

Re:Umm. Yeah. We know this. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730779)

My company outsourced their digital security department to India.

I was shocked.

And there are ways to ensure your data is secure, but they generally require having enough clout to have one of your own guys inspect their methods of storing and securing your data on a regular basis.

That rules out 95% of all companies, let alone individuals.

Thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730283)

Thanks, RMS. I wasn't quite sure. Glad you cleared that big mystery up for me!

Ok, seriously (3, Insightful)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730287)

Does anyone give a shit anymore?

In any case, I use a few software as a service type websites that offer their software as a gpl download so I could install it on my server and run it myself.

In fact, I'm doing just that with dimdim (netmeeting software) for my work.

But seriously, this is getting old.

Re:Ok, seriously (3, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730533)

Exactly. I use whatever tools I want, and "my freedom" and the limits I want to impose to "my freedom" (whatever THAT is) is only my business. I use the tools I like/need, and there are free tools, commercial, open source ones, binaries only, etc. They help me in my work and I pay whatever *I* think is worth to pay for them. That is my freedom. But having some long bearded troll telling me what my freedom is and what I must do and not do... that's not freedom, that's the closest to catholicism we got on the software arena....

And yes, I use public transport as well. And pay for the service. And no, I cannot repair their buses either if there are problems with them (don't have or want to learn mechanics).

Re:Ok, seriously (2, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730769)

"Does anyone give a shit anymore?"

Yes and i suspect many more will in a few years time once burned by SAAS and all of its implications. Other than software freedom there are countless liability and accountability issues thats totally unresolved right now.

As for software freedom RMS has done more for most of us than we see before we really think about it. Even if you dont run for example Linux its effect on Microsofts and their pricing, quality and security has been more than visible.

Sure he has an on the edge view of things but not at all any different or worse than on the other side where people are viewed upon as wallets to lure their savings from.

I dont have the same views as Richard Stallman but i strongly respect his views and the reasoning behind them is sometimes pretty solid. Its just that the world right now is ran by a bunch of greedy bastards that has nothing but themselves in view.

The World doesn't care (4, Insightful)

prayag (1252246) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730291)

RMS is right of course. Software as a service is not free and one should always be at guard while using them.

Having said that, it is also important to realize that general public does not care, if its free. If you just ask them, "Do not use it." It does not help the cause. Shouldn't you instead try to educate them and warn them of the pitfalls ?

The world is not black and white. And software as a service is here to stay. When would RMS realize that ?

Re:The World doesn't care (4, Insightful)

mr crypto (229724) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730503)

Agreed. RMS's advice seems to be to run your own server, but how many people can or will do that? If he presented a viable alternative for the masses I'd be more sympathetic.

Isn't Savannah SaaS? (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730525)

The world is not black and white. And software as a service is here to stay. When would RMS realize that ?

Even RMS's organization offers software as a service: Savannah [nongnu.org] , a hosted free software development tool suite based on a fork of SourceForge.net's software.

Re:The World doesn't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730625)

Yes, as usual, Stallman takes an obvious point and embellishes it with ludicrous hyperbole about freedom. Who's still fooled by this idiot?

I mean at least he could get a dictionary, and look up the meaning of the word "must".

Re:The World doesn't care (1)

intx13 (808988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730865)

And software as a service is here to stay. When would RMS realize that?

I'm sure he realizes it, he just feels that it's at odds with how the world should work.

I think software-as-a-service is just one of the many difficulties that are going to be facing RMS and his black-and-white world (software) view in the near future (software-as-a-service has been around forever of course).

How is RMS going to handle on-board FPGAs for runtime code offloading into hardware? Your software, let's say it's Free, cranks through some possibly non-Free algorithm to produce (assumedly non-Free) hardware description language (softare? hardware?) which then turns into actual hardware on a non-Free device. Is it ok to use such a feature?

Let's say he answers that question in the affirmative. Now let's put that FPGA on each board in a cluster half-way around the world and let's pay for monthly access. How about now? Are we paying for software-as-a-service or hardware-as-a-service? Is it ok to use?

Again, let's say he answers in the affirmative. Now let's say the company has a phone system I can use to dial in and reboot the cluster. The software that runs the phone system is non-Free. Can I use the cluster? If my software requires a reboot as a part of its nature (and can only run on this particular system) is my software now non-Free?

Software, hardware, software-as-a-service, and other related concepts are only going to get more muddled as time goes on. The questions are going to get harder.

Free software has many practical benefits; I'm an everyday user thereof... but I'm not sure there's any moral rightness about it. As the questions get harder, if we stick to thinking of software as a moral question, as RMS tends to, we're going to elevate computer programming to a religion. When there's a desire for Free software (the open source community, for example) the need will be met (home-brew projects, Sun, IBM, Red Hat sponsored projects, etc). But is there some innate need for ALL software to be Free? I don't think so.

(Note that here I'm talking only about RMS's desire to classify each and every computing model as Free or non-Free - I'm not addressing the concept of IP ownership in general.)

Ever get the feeling that.... (2, Insightful)

Idiot with a gun (1081749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730297)

RMS is a bit insane?

On one hand, he's right, when someone else runs your program, they have your data. This has always been a concern with "cloud computing" and software as a service. What happens if the company holding my information goes down? What if they're attacked?

On the other hand, many businesses don't have the time, or the equipment to run this software on their own. It's great to say that they should run open source software, but that's an easy generalization. Sometimes there isn't an open source alternative (keep in mind, I am writing this on Firefox, running on Linux. I love open source as much as the next geek, I'm just realistic). Or even if there is, sometimes just renting 10% of some other server to run a service for you is cheaper than getting your own servers, and IT people to maintain it.

Overall, RMS has become the ideological leader of the free software movement. Like any good Libertarian (analogy, I'm not saying he's Libertarian. I'm not aware of his political affiliations), he doesn't allow for practicality to interfere with ideology. I mean, the idea of free software is great, just some compromises need to be made. One cannot jump straight to free software without any in-between.

Oh, and his complaints about people calling GNU/Linux just Linux are really starting to get old.

Re:Ever get the feeling that.... (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730433)

Overall, RMS has become the ideological leader of the free software movement.

Has become? When was he not?

No, actually... not. (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730737)

Has become? When was he not?

He's the leader of an allegedly free (but not very) software movement. I write free software, and I neither follow him or agree with much of anything he says, writes, or promotes. I think public domain is the only truly free software philosophy, and have long used the presence of the GPL to motivate me to run the other way, far and fast before even looking at the code. Because I'm not interested in lawyers, and I'm not interested in telling anyone they can't use my code. Because it is my intent that it actually be free.

Re:Ever get the feeling that.... (3, Insightful)

Cheviot (248921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730459)

Exactly. I don't dry clean my own clothes. Theoretically, I could. The methods and chemicals aren't a secret. Instead I turn over control of my cleaning to a third party. Precisely how they do things I do not know... and if they use too much starch I have no way to debug the process.

But guess what, it's a lot better than wasting my time and money learning the process, buying the equipment and filling my basement with vats of noxious chemicals.

Re:Ever get the feeling that.... (4, Interesting)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730571)

The problem is when you crack open your daily life and look at computing services you can't crack open and look at.

Every minor, hidden process is suddenly game. Go to a grocery store and use your credit card? You are using the credit card company's servers to take care of the work of moving your money from account to account. Your data. Their software. Cut up your cards. Heck, stow your money in a mattress. You don't want the bank to be liable for doing account computing when you can't get to the software.

I mean, I'd like to see the underlying process and know how their software works, up-to-the-code-level, but realistically? I don't have the time or interest. I'll trust the bank to keep my money safe and they get to enjoy the benefits of that trust.

He's showing his myopia. (3, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730307)

Software-as-service is only free if you own or have consistent access to a given computer. For the millions of people throughout the world who have been given the ability to use online applications for free (at cybercafes, etc) even though they could never afford a computer, RMS' line is almost insulting.

And what does this mean for mobile computing?

Re:He's showing his myopia. (2, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730715)

I don't think he was insinuating that no one should use any computer they don't personally own. You could make the argument that software isn't free at all since you need a computer which can never fail or become obsolete. You're always going to be dependent on *some* type of infrastructure, including electricity (which would mean that software that runs on a computer which doesn't have its own generator/crankshaft attached to it isn't free either).

He's pointing out (something that is somewhat obvious, IMO), that it's even easier for the software provider to disconnect you from functionality whenever he or she chooses, if this software isn't on your machine.

It may be a bit "well duh", but it's not wrong.

Actually, pretty funny (3, Funny)

huckamania (533052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730745)

Can't you imagine all of the web based applications converted to work on a single computer...

Twitter - A single text entry box with a 126 character limit that appends to the text already displayed.
Facebook - An html file on your desktop that links to your media folder.
Google - Grep from a bash shell.
WoW - A virtual landscape with no other players, just lots of rats (this already applies to 2nd life).
StumbleUpon - A file browser.
Wikipedia - Man pages.

Where do I sign up?

Re:Actually, pretty funny (1)

Bake (2609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730867)

No no, this is RMS we're talking about here.

man pages are old'n'busted.

info pages that only an elite few know how to browse are all the rage!

Re:He's showing his myopia. (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730791)

Software-as-service is only free if you own or have consistent access to a given computer. For the millions of people throughout the world who have been given the ability to use online applications for free (at cybercafes, etc) even though they could never afford a computer, RMS' line is almost insulting.

Hey slaves! You aren't free. You need to throw off the yoke of slavery and be free.

For the millions of slaves who couldn't afford food and shelter, who were provided for by their masters, such a sentiment is almost insulting.

Freedom isn't free. It has a price. And if you "can't afford to be free", you are on the fast track to "slavery", and it should be your first objective to get off that train.

Becoming too reliant on 'aid' and 'free stuff' is worse than not having it at all.

And what does this mean for mobile computing?

Run your own server? Problem solved.

Re:He's showing his myopia. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730839)

I think there's an element of myopia, yes. Remember the incident that set RMS on his course: he was flabbergasted when he discovered he wasn't allowed to modify the source code for a printer driver. This was tremendously inconvenient, and his ideological fight is against the inconvenience of non-free software.

But software as a service, when it works, and especially when it's gratis, is just so convenient. It's pretty explicit that you don't own it and you can't modify it (whereas non-free sofware vendors can fool you into thinking you "own" something you've licensed). Lots of people seem perfectly happy to sacrifice certain abilities in exchange for that convenience.

Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730319)

Stallman says "if you don't do what I tell you to do, you are not free".

C'mon . . . Just a taste? (5, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730335)

I've got some really neat cloud for you. I'll set you up real cheap, free even . . .. You're gonna like this stuff. C'mon, give it a try. You won't get hooked . . ..

You can always quit later . . .

Some people don't care (3, Informative)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730349)

I have a business problem which a properly programmed computer can solve. I can either;

a) Hire a programmer, or a team of programmers, to create this application for me.
b) Utilize a proprietary application, with a contract to protect my rights.

Is the proprietary application free? No, but it does increase my efficiency 10x over. Would I get that kind of increase by hiring the programmers? Not after you take it to account all of the overhead I have with that plan. It just doesn't make business sense to go with option A, regardless of my personal belief on the topic.

As for my client? Ya, they simply do not care.

Re:Some people don't care (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730609)

That's not what he's crying about. What happens when you business depends on an online service that goes under? That's the type of concern he's describing. While it make monetary sense to use it, it has drawbacks that can have severe effects on your bottom line.

Re:Some people don't care (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730797)

You are a community of one.

More purity trollism from RMS (1, Insightful)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730367)

Seriously, I respect a lot of what Stallman does, but what he doesn't seem to understand is the economics of software. All that matters when it comes to productivity applications, for me and for most people, is convenience. I'm much more willing to have my work on a cloud if it's easier to access that work from anywhere and I also don't have to shell out $300 for my own copy of MS Office or waste my own computing power running a bloated copy of OO.org/AbiWord/insert your favorite open source word processor here rather than simply opening a browser and gaining access to the limited set of WP features I actually use and all of my files. The benefits of being able to access my data, very easily, anywhere and being able to spend my cycles on processes I care more about while saving money clearly outweigh the risk of having Google (a company which, wrongly or rightly, I trust more than I fear) in possession of my data. For me, at least, and I suspect also for most people. It strikes me that Stallman may just be a bit paranoid.

It also strikes me that someone who, I thought, believes information should be free should be so guarded about private - proprietary - information. Does he mean free for everyone or free for everyone but businesses?

Anywhere, even on a laptop? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730619)

The benefits of being able to access my data, very easily, anywhere and being able to spend my cycles on processes I care more about while saving money clearly outweigh the risk of having Google (a company which, wrongly or rightly, I trust more than I fear) in possession of my data.

Anywhere, even on a laptop? A 3G data plan costs $60 per month for 24 months, at least in the United States. A lot of people like myself aren't willing to pay $1,440 for the convenience of Internet access anywhere, which is why they carry a working copy of their data on a USB memory card.

Re:Anywhere, even on a laptop? (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730885)

There's a lot of places I can (and do) access my data and I don't have 3G Access. Work, home, the library, school, etc etc. They all have workstations for me, and I tend to use them. As a matter of convenience.

The article is mugglebaiting... RMS gets it... (3, Interesting)

Art Popp (29075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730623)

The message if you Read The Lengthy Article, is that if they don't have and open license to the server code, don't use them. He seems OK with the idea that you use a server based application if they are covered by the GNU Affero GPL.

If you are reading this, you have a perfect example of software as a service, in an open fashion. If you want to make your own /. go download the slashcode and set it up.

The correct direction to charge with pitchforks and torches would seem to be pressuring the Gmail team for a G-Code release, or making SquirrelMail (or your favorite server-based e-mail) as robust and reliable and Gmail.

That won't be easy. Does anyone here have a good suggestion for a starting point? What's the best FOSS ServerSide E-mail server?

Re:The article is mugglebaiting... RMS gets it... (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730855)

The message seems to be you can't trust anyone but yourself. I don't see how computing, or really anything, is possible under this philosophy. Computing from the very second you start your computer up requires trust. Trust that your OS isn't intercepting your keystrokes and sending them away, trust that the manufacturer of your hard drives are competent and the drives won't crash and lose all your data, trust that you don't have a worm on your computer, trust when you send payment info that there's nobody in the middle intercepting the data. I certainly don't examine every line of every application I use, and so even using open source software requires very much trust - trust that the patch reviewers and committers are honest, that nobody inserted a line(and I'm not saying this isn't the case for prop. software to an even greater degree). In a lot of cases it is comforting to that I could review the code, but in 99% of cases I will not have reviewed the source of the software I am using. So I have to trust. And most of that trust comes from reputation, not whether or not I can empirically verify what is going on. In short, there's a limit to the precautions I can take, and it's practically impossible to go around believing the whole world will take advantage of my trust if they can.

So I don't see what a major difference between using the cloud computing services for proprietary software and using open source cloud computing services on a private host. I still have to trust the people who wrote the software or who host the servers or who made the servers, etc etc etc.

Incompatible with RSM you mean... (0, Flamebait)

Cheviot (248921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730381)

I get it, I get it Rich... but come on, this kind of ranting is just getting old. Just because you don't like something doesn't make it bad.

Trust (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730383)

'Software as a service' means that you think of a particular server as doing your computing for you. If that's what the server does, you must not use it! If you do your computing on someone else's server, you hand over control of your computing to whoever controls the server.

While there is helpful advice in his statement, such absolutes are indicitive of paranoia. You wouldn't let just anyone take care of your kid, but most people are okay with sending their children to school several hours a day.

Re:Trust (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730835)

RMS also needs to realize that we all depend on each other some way; that's what is called civilization.

He has a history (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730389)

A bit of MIT/LCS lore here.

RMS used to live on the 7th floor of LCS. That's where he used to have his office before he resigned in protest over the commercialization of something or another. But they let him keep his office, and he lives there, because he refuses to have an apartment. (Given the rent rates in Cambridge, the assholeness of most landlords, I don't blame him. Rather than live in my office, I chose to move to Texas, and the change in rent rates and lack of state income tax resulted in an immediate %25 pay raise. RMS doesn't have that option because we have the death penalty for people like him down here.)

Anyway, RMS has or had a number or geek chick groupies. I wouldn't call any of the ones I've seen "hot", really -- well except for this one little psycho jewish undergrad from NYC. He would sleep with them on the sofa in his office. That's why he got kicked out off floor 7, and down to the 3 floor, is that the cleaning staff complained about pulling used condoms out from behind the sofas. No joke. You can use this information for trolling if you wish, but it's all true.

RMS has a phobia of water that prevents him from showering. This is part of this post I know from first hand experience, because I myself have observed him taking a sponge bath in the 3d floor mens room in LCS. Apparently once he had a girlfriend who he was totally in love with, and she convinced him to take one shower a week. It was a traumatic experience for him each time.

RMS also has a phobia of spider plants. When RMS starts bothering a grad student and going to his office and talking to him constantly and getting him to spend all his time writing free software, the grad student will complain to someone on the floor, and they'll let them in on the secrete -- get a spider plant in your office. The next time RMS drops by, his eyes will bulge a little and he'll say " Umm. . . I wanted to talk to you about hacking some elisp code . . . why don't you stop by my office sometime ?" and make a hasty exit.

One of his more nasty habits is picking huge flakes of dandruff out of his hair while talking to you. At least he doesn't eat them, like some people I know.

Now, I know everyone loves to make fun of RMS, and I'm feeding that a bit here, so I'd just like to say that I think he really is a genius, on the order of Socrates (another filthy slob who couldn't keep a normal living arrangement, and lived in a barrel) or Ghandi or Ezekiel. Everything he has ever said to me, while sounding naive and idealistic and stupid at the time, turned out to later be correct.

The only thing I fear in his philosophy is his interest in reducing population growth. Everyone else I know of who was obsessed with that "problem" turned out to have facist or totolitarian tendencies, and I think that the problem will solve itself as more and more of the world moves into a middle class type existence.

But on everything else, bitter experiences have taught me he is right. I will not use any non-GPLd or lGPLd software, and I look forward to being able to buy only "open" hardware. I would like to see software patents completely eliminated, and with the development of digitial communication, I see no reason why shouldn't simply repeal all of Title 17 and do away with all copyrights. They just aren't needed. I expect to spend much of my life being paid to write software, and I just don't see copyrights has helping me in anyway.

Re:He has a history (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730681)

I will not use any non-GPLd or lGPLd software, and I look forward to being able to buy only "open" hardware.

Is your "software" limited to operating systems and productivity applications, or also video games? Music? Scripted video series? Feature films?

Re:He has a history (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730785)

So he's like a street preacher?

Re:He has a history (1)

radicle (1096399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730815)

"I expect to spend much of my life being paid to write software, and I just don't see copyrights has helping me in anyway." you are going to let people take your software for free. Could you tell us who's going to pay you? Debian guys are fed up by Ubuntu's hardworking people who's selling services to companies. Fedora is not continued. RMS is probably good in programming, but to say the understanding to human nature and society, he's just naive and pathetic.

Re:He has a history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730849)

I can't believe no one's realized that this is ripped almost verbatim from ED: http://encyclopediadramatica.com/RMS

Heeeeere we go again. (1)

TrebleJunkie (208060) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730411)

"I can no longer sit back and allow Capitalist infiltration, Capitalist indoctrination, Capitalist subversion and the international Communist Capitalist to sap and impurify all of our precious computer software."

- Richard "And Yet Somehow Not A Commie" Stallman.

[Don't worry, Richard, this is fair-use satire.]

Re:Heeeeere we go again. (1)

TrebleJunkie (208060) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730783)

[oopsie. misposted.]

"I can no longer sit back and allow Capitalist infiltration, Capitalist indoctrination, Capitalist subversion and the international Capitalist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious computer software."

- Richard "And Yet Somehow Not A Commie" Stallman.

[Don't worry, Richard, this is fair-use satire.]

Newsflash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730413)

RMS is completely out of touch with reality. More news at 11.

Yes But....... (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730417)

This is nothing new and it's how companies like Google get around not releasing their code under the GPL, but at least with software as a service I have a choice whether I want to use it or not. If I'm truly locked into it even when I want to leave then it will usually be as a result of the usual proprietary formats held in place with proprietary software.

If you go out into the world and use things then there is a certain amount of lock-in involved as you come to rely on those things, and yes, you have to ask yourself whether it is better if you do certain things yourself. Indeed, in the long run it can work out cheaper. However, you can go too far with this approach. Do I go with Google Apps or do I set up a Zimbra server? If I set up a Zimbra server then do I go to a hosting company, in which case I might give up some control, or do I sit in front of a terminal for a few days installing Zimbra and then wondering why clamd has stopped working because there is another bloody binary update? Should we all run our own data centres? I'm afraid those are real-world concerns that people dwell over every day and they're not going to listen to ideology from somone in an organisation that has produced a decent straightforward license I grant you, but has produced nothing as an alternative for anyone to date to back up that ideology. All the GNU software in use today has gained traction off the back of one thing - Linux.

Servers spend their whole lives in tiny cages! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730421)

The only moral way to do the software services thing is with free-range servers.

They should have a change to stretch their legs, socialize with other servers, and have little baby servers.

And when they get too old, they shouldn't be sent to china or Somalia to be buried, but humanely killed and eaten.

Sigh. Every time I see Stallman quoted..... (2, Insightful)

jcochran (309950) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730441)

the more I see him as an extremist.

If the world does not conform to his ideals, then the world itself must be in error.

And he's still using the incorrect name "GNU/Linux" instead of "Linux". It must really gnaw at him that Hurd has never progressed past the stage of vaporware. Yes, there's a LOT of extremely useful software in FSF and yes the GNU compilers, tools, etc are absolutely wonderful.

taxicab analogy (2, Informative)

Cmdr-Absurd (780125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730453)

You can take a taxicab instead of owning a car that you can work on in your back yard.
You don't get to do mechanical work on the cab. You don't care.
You are paying for the service -- which includes not having to worry about maintaining the thing.

The whole point of SAaS is turning over control and headaches to someone else.

Just because something is not free does not mean.. (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730473)

... that it should "not be used, EVAR!!!!"

Going to a museum is not free, in any sense of the word. I have to pay to get in, I can not modify the works, I can not borrow them to take them home, I can't modify them, heck I can't even look at them too closely usually. I guess that means museums should never be visited and in an ideal world there would be no museums, because they run contrary to one's absolute freedom?

RMS needs to get his head on straight. Software as a service has it's own upsides and pitfalls, just like everything else.

Re:Just because something is not free does not mea (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730755)

I concur: The argument 'it's not Free' is rather rubbish, because the public doesn't give a shit.

A far better argument is this one: you have no control over your data if the company goes under and you aren't paying them. I refer you to these excellent two web posts by Jason Scott: Fuck the Cloud [textfiles.com] and Dancing on Magnolia's Grave: Fuck the Cloud II. [textfiles.com]

Seriously, if you don't use Flickr Pro, don't keep anything on there where you don't have a backup. Et cetera.

Re:Just because something is not free does not mea (2, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730775)

One key underpinning of his arguments is that digital "property" is a much different animal the physical property.

Do much online banking (1, Insightful)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730537)

Hey RMS, ever do any online banking? How about use an ATM?

Guess what? they aren't going to give you the source!

So go get your beard deloused and chill.

A benefit of SaaS is that you aren't the one who needs to patch it. If it needs patching, and they won't do it; ditch them. And if you fail to negotiate that into your contract, that's your mistake.

Re:Do much online banking (1)

nysus (162232) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730743)

Actually, I doubt he has done online banking or used an ATM.

Re:Do much online banking (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730757)

Hey RMS, ever do any online banking? How about use an ATM?

Nope [wikipedia.org]

Sure, it's not free (1)

Kuciwalker (891651) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730589)

But it's goddamn useful. It's a business model that suits plenty of software providers and fills a need of many users. Which goes to show that demanding all software be Free is counterproductive.

I just discover I'm giving away my liberty (1)

Permutation Citizen (1306083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730597)

I am using a software I have no control at all, on someone else server.

I'm still using it right now, so I have completely surrendered my liberty to this company called "SourceForge, Inc" running "Slashdot.org".

And all my little IP packets are going through routers running software I don't even know how they are licensed. Terrific.

frOsT pist!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730615)

OUTER SPACE THE Is the ultImate not so& bad. To the

So... (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730645)

I should be running my own instance of /. at http://localhost/ [localhost] ? Then I could patch /. to not have "idle" and editors I don't like. RMS, you're a lifesaver!

A short history of RMS (2, Insightful)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730699)

RMS: Hey! I've got this great idea
RMS: [Proceeds to describe idea]
World: Wow, that's really good. Let's do that!

RMS: Great, if you think that one was good, how about this one
RMS: [Proceeds to describe idea]
World: Hmmm, that one wasn't quite a good

RMS: Oh, well how about this one
RMS: [Proceeds to describe idea]
World: Erm... that's even worse than the last one

RMS: OK, hang on, what about this
RMS: [Proceeds to describe idea]
World: Yeah, you know what? You only had one good idea

RMS: That's not true! Listen to this
RMS: [Proceeds to describe idea]
World: Riiight... We've gotta go, could you switch off the light on your way out?

Not only is it not free, it's not safe! (1)

You Don't Know Me (265497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730721)

In the cloud computing means you're not only putting all your eggs in one basket, you don't own or control the basket!

Worry disclosure risk (if the data in the cloud gets loose how bad is it for you/your company?) and be prepared to do your work elsewhere (locally, another cloud, whatever) when your primary cloud isn't available.

It's all the same problems we have today, just with someone else's hardware and a network connection required for everything.

"GNU is not quite complete" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730733)

... next up, RMS announces "things fall when you drop them"

Gee... (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730751)

Is that how he really sounds? It had the same tempo as if AOL and Microsoft had just warned me about a new virus that will delete all my accounts and clean out the deli drawer in my fridge and even Yahoo agrees.

Depends what you think you are paying for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730763)

I have a bank account (no really).

I phone up my bank and tell them to transfer money to another account. Is that software as a service or unfree software?

To my mind no it is not unfree.

I log in to my banks website and transfer money. Is that software as a service or unfree software?

Where does the difference occur?

Does anyone still listen to RMS? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730799)

to be brutally honest, I'm sick of hearing RMS constantly claim that anything not entirely open source is evil.

While it mightn't be *HIS* ideal solution, there is a reason things like gmail are so successful. Not everyone can afford to setup and maintain the servers and software required to store the vast amounts of emails they and their companies get.

Be on guard and read the terms of use before you sign up, but don't just start labelling an entire (and valid) industry based on wholesale, outdated rubbish.

ah, the freetards are at it again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27730813)

let's see how many more utterly ridiculous statements rms can pull out and get his freetard army to follow it.

this is almost as rich as the alleged freetard who said that because a pc copied a song from hard drive to memory in order to play it that it must be a violation of copyright. the odd thing is that i think it gave the riaa ideas in the same groove.

SaaS can mean free and open too (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27730873)

SaaS can mean free and open if the SaaS company publishes their source code as Open Source. The company can still make money because they provide the hosting, troubleshooting, administration, and support services to clients that choose to host their install with the parent company.

SaaS does not have to mean proprietary or even vendor lock-in. It can mean the software is libre free and what you are paying for is electrons (powering the machines) and not the bits (composing the software). It's a good model when run that way.

Pay for electrons, not bits!

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