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Free Software Foundation Turns 25

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-dig-the-crazy dept.

GNU is Not Unix 183

An anonymous reader writes "On this day, 25 years ago, Richard Stallman created the Free Software Foundation. He had been the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Lab. Tired of seeing software that he and others had written appropriated (without acknowledgment or compensation) by disreputable software companies and then told to pay for software they had written, Stallman took action, creating the foundation. The original license was written by Stallman. Stallman had subsequently written a large number of GNU tools, but the license was his most important contribution."

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183 comments

What about emacs (5, Interesting)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784308)

GPL is cool but I think emacs was his greatest accomplishment. At least technical accomplishment.

Re:What about emacs (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784392)

Nah, vi is better.

Re:What about emacs (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784484)

Fuck you, you dirty rotten piece of dog shit. I hope you die and go to hell.

Re:What about emacs (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784748)

Only emacs users go to Hell. All other sins are forgiveable.

Re:What about emacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785326)

I don't know, there's always child molesters and people who talk at the theatre.

Re:What about emacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785686)

... who are all emacs users. Coincidence? I think not.

Re:What about emacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785330)

Nah, vi is better.

What are you talking about? vi can't simultaneously monitor your tulip farm's greenhouse CO2 levels and farm WoW gold using a 3-client group. emacs was practically made for it. I'm posting this from emacs, by the way, and it's about to solve the captcha for me too. Ahh.. the captcha is "gilded". How appropriate.

Re:What about emacs (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785706)

Pico!

Re:What about emacs (5, Insightful)

yankpop (931224) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784704)

GPL is cool but I think emacs was his greatest accomplishment. At least technical accomplishment.

Whoever modded this flamebait needs to have their privileges revoked. I'm not sure I agree with the parent post, but Emacs is unquestionably a substantial contribution in its own right, as is the GCC.

Flamebait is not a synonym for disagree.

Re:What about emacs (4, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785240)

You'll note that the negative moderation was balanced against at least 4 other positive moderations. The moderation system was built on the assumption that some people will moderate poorly but most will moderate appropriately. So Slashdot is working as it's supposed to. You can relax now.

Re:What about emacs (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785478)

Correct, flamebait is a mod for posts which seem to be deliberately crafted to stir up meaningless debates. Like the Emacs vs Vi debate (which is no debate at all, they both suck).

What is there to be said in reply to 'emacs was his greatest accomplishment'? Only posts of the sort of the first reply, 'Nah, vi is better'. I can easily see how someone thought it was just there to stir up an argument, and for that 'flamebait' is entirely appropriate.

Re:What about emacs (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784878)

Only a tiny percentage of people use Emacs.
Programers have the option of Vi, Eclipse.org, Netbeans, XCode, Notepad++, and any number of other free as in speech or beer IDEs.
Think of all the software that is available under the GPL including Linux.
Then think of all the software written using GCC.

While I do not agree with RMS's extremist dogmatic view that all software should be free, I tend to believe there is room for both models. I also really dislike his devoted followers.
But I will say this about him.
GPL was important in influenced a lot of people including myself to write and contribute free software. Emacs while I do not use it is a very powerful editor/ide/os/religion. GCC is wonderful and I use it often. And about the man himself. I wrote him an email once and he actually took the time to respond to me. I didn't agree with him but he was polite and passonate in his view point. I will say that my opinion of RMS is he is a gentalman that I respect but have an honest difference in opinion with.
 

Re:What about emacs (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785362)

I also really dislike his devoted followers.

Do not be so quick to judge. You said it yourself, the man is a gentleman, despite the negative reputation that precedes him (around here). Some of us are still interested in duking this out based on the actual merits of the proposition. I'd like to think that I'm one of those people. I never was one for holding an opinion that makes no sense.

Re:What about emacs (5, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784890)

Technical accomplishments pale in comparison to cultural accomplishments.

Are you really arguing that emacs is a greater accomplishment than the entire open source software movement? GPL is what made OSS possible, without license the software would have been stolen before it could get off its feet. That's exactly what prompted the GPL in the first place - Stallman and his MIT buddies were writing software that vendors were picking up, incorporating into their own products, and then forcing Stallman and his buddies to pay for in the next iteration.

Re:What about emacs (5, Insightful)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785406)

I guess you are probably right but I still think he doesn't get the cred he deserves as a genius programmer. Before the GPL he was single handedly reverse engineering all of Symbolics stuff as a way to screw them for taking code from MIT's mac project and close sourcing it. That code was written by teams of very good hackers. That + emacs + gcc == incredible code writing. Some of the best MIT Hackers still say they we impressed by how much code he was churning out during that time.

Re:What about emacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785566)

GPL is what made OSS possible, without license the software would have been stolen before it could get off its feet.

We already had open source before the GPL. Now we have Free software.

Re:What about emacs (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785582)

I say Emacs could be a bigger accomplishment then GNU.
Sure he is more popular because of the GNU. But the GNU probably couldn't be proven without Emacs and the fact the RMS could sell copies of Emacs under the GNU.
Also emacs was full featured enough to be incorporated in many different OS's giving the GNU a wider appeal.

The basic rule of thumb 25 years ago. If it is free then it is crap. EMacs was free and full featured.

RMS Success fell on EMacs. If he decided a different license he would still be well known and a visionary as his success really hangs on Emacs. Without EMacs and GCC the GNU would just be an academic problem.

Dear Richard, (5, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784310)

Thank you.

Re:Dear Richard, (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784468)

Thank you.

Agreed, the man should win the Nobel Peace prize.

Re:Dear Richard, (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784552)

Yes, I concur. Thank you very much, Mr. Stallman. Good job, sir.

The world desperately needs more ethically capable leaders, such as yourself.

Re:Dear Richard, (2, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784808)

I agree. Thanks, Mr. Stallman and all the good people at the FSF and FSF Europe.

Re:Dear Richard, (1)

zoward (188110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784956)

Seconded. Happy Birthday FSF!

Re:Dear Richard, (1)

Toze (1668155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784964)

Agreed. Thank you, Mr. Stallman.

Re:Dear Richard, (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785026)

And take a bath. 25 years is a long time to go without.

Re:Dear Richard, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785092)

p.s. You've got food in your beard.

Re:Dear Richard, (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785244)

Yep, thank you RMS! You made the world a better place.

Re:Dear Richard, (1)

openfrog (897716) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785738)

I join my voice to the chorus. Thank you!

Re:Dear Richard, (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785842)

Yes thank you, you decerebrated, fire-arm loving (as in free speech) moron.

Removing their rights from the peoples is always the best move to prevent other peoples to remove these rights...

the license? really? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784312)

I'd have voted for GCC instead, but whatever.

Re:the license? really? (5, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784814)

GCC would not have mattered one lick without the license.

Really, it's just a C compiler. It's important, but rudimentary. Anybody with sufficient programming skills can write one for a given machine (and they do). The license was the stroke of genius. GCC only exists in its current form because of the license. Without it GCC would be just another compiler in the dustbin of history.

The real important contribution was the counter-culture he started, and that was only able to survive the extremely proprietary world of computers because of the license.

I don't even like Stallman (I think he's an asshole, frankly), but that's clearly one thing he got very right. It was a brilliant move to use the same copyright laws that were used to steal his (and his compatriates') software in order to ensure their software would be free to use by everyone forever.

In other words, open source software - GCC included - would likely not exist today without the GPL.

Re:the license? really? (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785360)

The BSDs would exist without the GPL. Of course, getting to use GCC helps. Of all the things that RMS is responsible for, GCC is the only one I really use in any meaningful way. I think the majority of GPL software that I use isn't actually GNU or sponsored by the FSF, it just happens to be GPL. But the majority of my platform isn't GPL:
- FreeBSD is BSD licensed
- Apache is Apache (basically BSD) licensed
- PostreSQL uses a modified BSD-style license
- Perl is dual licensed with either the Artistic License or the GPL, depending on which you want to accept
- BIND is BSD licensed

I'm not particularly reliant on any GPL-based software other than GCC. That is the crux of my argument. Don't confuse "open source" with "free software" with the GPL.

Re:the license? really? (2, Insightful)

pjabardo (977600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785594)

It is difficult to know what would happen without the GPL but what the parent says does have some merit: the counter culture was very important and it is possible that all those projects are so successful because of this "counter culture". In this sense the Free Software foundation and GPL are Stallman's greatest contribution.

Re:the license? really? (1)

smegmatic (1145201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785608)

Would all of those licenses have arisen if the FSF didn't prove it was a feasible strategy with the success of the GPL?

Re:the license? really? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785682)

Yes. The BSD license was a consequence of being the product of a public university, receiving federal funds to work on projects. Even without the GPL, I suspect it is highly likely that the BSD license would have been created as-is anyway.

Re:the license? really? (4, Insightful)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785710)

He may or may not be an asshole, but it is his attitude what made this possible. Without the attitude nothing would have happend.

Re:the license? really? (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785764)

Actually I'd argue that it isn't the license so much as the man himself. Love him or hate him (I too think he's gone a little too far overboard and gets worse as he ages) his license would be worth exactly jack squat if it weren't for the man's ability to promote himself and the GPL. after all what good would have been the GPL if only he had used it?

A good example IMHO is the way he'll choose some boring normal proprietary software press conference, which nearly any reporter assigned to is figuring is gonna be as boring and dull as watching paint dry, and at just the right moment holds up one of his little hippy signs with a catchy slogan. If you think about it it is fucking brilliant, as every reporter is gonna lock onto him like a heat seeking missile because he is the only possible controversy in an otherwise boring as hell press release, thus ensuring he and his message gets front row coverage. That is a seriously brilliant piece of promotion right there, which costs him exactly nothing but really gets his point across.

So I'd say the whole argument of Emacs VS GPL VS GCC would be moot if the man hadn't gotten the word out, and with a non profit copyleft style organization promotion has to be not only damned cheap but damned effective too, and love him or hate him RMS is damned smart when it comes for getting himself and the GPL promoted. And I'd say one could safely argue it was that gift that allowed him to create a FOSS empire from nothing but an idea. So here is to you Stallman, we may not agree on hardly anything, but I give credit where credit is due and you've earned yours. Happy Bday FSF.

And it never would have amounted to anything... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784334)

...if by mere chance someone in Finland had not underestimated the impact of a piece of software and chosen the license without much thought. What a fortunate chain of events.

Re:And it never would have amounted to anything... (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784570)

Nope. The GNU tools were already being used to augment commercial Unixen and as a foundation for bootstrapping the development environments of alternate hardware platforms like video game consoles. Free Software was already making it's mark before Linux came along. Many of us were exposed to the GNU tools first and then to Linux later.

Re:And it never would have amounted to anything... (3, Insightful)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785428)

Yeah but without it, I think GNU would have struggled in the 90s. Unix was dying, Linux injected some life.

Re:And it never would have amounted to anything... (2, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785660)

Uhmm, the BSDs are much older than Linux and they also use GCC and other GNU tools. BSD1 was released in 1977, which is before Linus was born! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Unix_history-simple.svg [wikipedia.org]

Hrmph (5, Funny)

egibster (1913920) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784336)

I hate this article because I completely agree with it. I hate you.

The real question... (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784340)


Which came first, the Foundation or the Beard?

Re:The real question... (3, Funny)

rvw (755107) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784360)

Which came first, the Foundation or the Beard?

BEER!

The GPL is the most important.... (5, Insightful)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784342)

...license or legal construction In the history of computing. Easily. It's not even close.



The Open Source movement owes its existence to it. Many a intellectual property lawsuit has been decided by it.

Re:The GPL is the most important.... (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784698)

The GPL is the most important license or legal construction In the history of computing. Easily. It's not even close.

No. Whoever invented the EULA and figured out that software should be licensed instead of sold was a far more important legal construction. That move changed the entire industry to such an extent that almost no software is sold these days. The GPL is only modestly important compared to that monumental legal change.

Re:The GPL is the most important.... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784910)

License yes, legal construction... well, I don't know it really applies but the whole construction that practically all copyrighted software is licensed, unlike a copyrighted book that is sold is probably the single most important legal clusterfuck ever. If your car manufacturer told you what roads you can drive on, what gas stations to tank at, where to get it serviced while forbidding you to use other spare parts, welding the hood down, refusing to let you sell it and has a kill switch there'd be arevolution. But the software industry pulled it off, you now constantly click on EULAs that say "all your base are belong to us". Sorry RMS, but that really dwarfs all the FSF has managed to do.

Re:The GPL is the most important.... (2, Interesting)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785100)

The GPL is the most beneficial license or legal construction In the history of computing.

RealityMaster above may be right - the limited, non-transferable EULA is terribly important right now; the GPL is a sane[r] alternative. Don't ask me about the "freer" BSD license - I haven't made my mind up about that.

Re:The GPL is the most important.... (1)

lotho brandybuck (720697) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785184)

Totally agree. FSF laid the foundation of tools for anyone to use to produce cool stuff. It'd have been very hard to get started with proprietary compilers and libraries. They're expensive, and they're all different.

Director of the AI Lab? (4, Insightful)

No. 24601 (657888) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784344)

Citation, please? I think he worked there and was probably their most famous programmer. But besides that I don't think he held an executive position at that lab.

Re:Director of the AI Lab? (4, Informative)

trb (8509) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784576)

Not to diss Stallman, but he was not the director of the AI Lab, and it's hard to say he was their most famous hacker at that time - the AI Lab spawned many great hackers, and especially then, during the early years of Symbolics and LMI. The most famous AI Lab hackers were LISP hackers (at that time - remember, it was a AI Lab.) Gerald Sussman, Guy Steele, JonL White, David Moon, et al.

Re:Director of the AI Lab? (5, Funny)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784708)

Never heard of any of those guys. Stallman wins.

Re:Director of the AI Lab? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784832)

Never heard of any of those guys. Stallman wins.

You've never heard of Gerald Sussman. Really.

Please hand in your Geek Card at the front desk. Have a nice day.

Re:Director of the AI Lab? (3, Interesting)

trb (8509) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785098)

I think he worked there and was probably their most famous programmer.

it's hard to say he was their most famous hacker at that time

Never heard of any of those guys. Stallman wins.

Yes, he is their most famous hacker now, in 2010. The context of the discussion is 1985. At that time, he was not their most famous hacker.

Re:Director of the AI Lab? (3, Informative)

plasticsquirrel (637166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785006)

Yes, but Stallman was also doing a great amount of Lisp Machine work for LMI. Specifically, Symbolics was trying to shake off a prior agreement to share code with LMI. Stallman duplicated the new features from scratch for LMI, working around the clock. I believe he was their main programmer at the time. He didn't make Lisp history like the others did with Scheme or Common Lisp, but he was deeply a Lisp guy at that time, and wanted the GNU system to support two languages: C and Lisp. In fact, GNU Emacs was written because he wanted a powerful editor, and knew that Lisp was the best way to accomplish that extensibility. Now systems running GNU (Linux) use so many different languages that people have almost forgotten about the Lisp side of things, sadly.

Re:Director of the AI Lab? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785226)

In Stallman's own words (http://www.gnu.org/gnu/thegnuproject.html) he notes that Professor [Patrick Henry] Winston was the head of the AI Lab in 1984.

Winston's CV (http://people.csail.mit.edu/phw/vitae.html) indicates that he was the director from 1972-1997.

And in all that time (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784376)

has he ever bathed?

Re:And in all that time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784888)

Of course not. He uses the shower, like all grown-ups do.

Now go back in your bath with your yellow rubber ducky.

I disagree (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784390)

His most important contribution is GNU Hurd - it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Re:I disagree (0, Redundant)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784702)

I don't see how that can be, since he has yet to actually contribute Hurd yet.

I feel like... (4, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784436)

Looking at the bearded one, holiness to his name, I feel like I need a bath.

GCC (5, Insightful)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784448)

I have a hard time believing that anything RMS is even partially responsible for is anywhere near as important as GCC, from its humble beginnings as a replacement for CC on UNIX to its present juggernaut Compiler Collection.

Thanks Richard for leaving your fingerprints on all of my object files! GCC is the awesome.

Re:GCC (0, Flamebait)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784562)

EMACS was another of his "children," and a valuable contribution...

Re:GCC (5, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784688)

GCC would not be important today at all without the license, because it would be proprietary software, therefore the license trumps it in my opinion. They are kinda two faces of the same coin though. Without GCC, the GPL probably would have never taken off at all.

So he's got two huge contributions, a lot of big ones (Linux was just GNU with Torvald's kernel at first), and then a bunch of crazy wacko rants.

Without the license, GCC would have been closed (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784804)

GCC is what it is because of the license. Without the license, it would just be another compiler most likely closed or restricted in some way. That it isn't is because of the license, not because of the code.

To what do you attribute the Wright brothers plane? The internal combustion engine or the dream to fly? Without the engine there could have been a plane driven by say a rocket, but without the dream their would never have been a plane.

It can be very hard to truly comprehend just how big Stallman's contribution has been. Freedom is very hard to grasp, if you are used to it.

In another response to the story about net neutrality I linked the internet to the press and the contribution to freedom that this tech has made. But what is that contribution? The art of reproducing text quickly OR the power of the written word? The capability of human beings to pass on their thoughts to others without ever meeting them?

Just as the chattering monkey became more human by being able to write down speech, and then more free by being able reproduce it easily and even free'er(?) by being able to transmit what he had for breakfast around the globe (oh okay so it ain't all good), the GNU, FSF etc have given us a degree of freedom that once we couldn't imagine and now can't imagine being without.

The oldies MIGHT remember machines on which you paid for every single second of access. In which hardware was not owned but leased. Only the very powerful could own a computer and making it doing anything useful cost even more.

Today, I can own a computer far more powerful, own it completly and use countless pieces of software for free. Not saying I have to, but I can and the fact that I can already means that those who wish to control software/hardware and freedom are restricted in doing so. Good luck MS with their ActiveX and attempts to stop the internet. IE did NOT manage to make the web an MS experience. Can you imagine what MS would have been like if they had IBM mainframe style control of the IBM compatible? If there never had been a Compaq, never had been a Dr-DOS? It would have been the Apple from Hell.

Trying to explain this alternate reality would be like trying to explain the holocaust (godwin can kiss my hairy butt) in a universe were said holocaust never happened. We escape the complete control of our PC's by IBM, so how can we imagine what the world would have been like with IBM in control?

And of course Stallman didn't do it all alone. But he has been the most central figure who has stood firm for 25 years. He and everyone else who has helped create the idea of software not as an owned and controlled resource has made the world we live in today. How could countless websites have gotten started without free Apache, free Perl/PHP/Python/etc, free databases yes even free OS'es?

But isn't MS software as easily available? Yes, BUT and this is a HUGE BUT, without IBM loosing control over the PC, MS would also never have been. MS, the closed source control freak company owes it existence to "free" software/hardware. Proof? No MS on mainframes.

So yes. GCC is awesome, but it is a minor tool, the AK47 of the freedom movement. It is the fight, not the weapons that matter. The decleration of independe vs the guarilla tactics. The refusal to obey seperation laws rather then choosing a seat in a bus.

And to those who think free software is not comparable. It isn't. But lack of freedom in small areas can mean the lack of freedom is far larger areas. Wouldn't it be convenient for those who want to control freedom, if printing presses could only be bought with identification? If a website could only be setup with a real ID?

So thank you Richard Stallman. I would never have the courage to do what you did, but the world is a better place cause you did it. Not perfect, but better. Just that the rest of us must remember that if we take it all for granted, we might loose it all. DMCA, Trusted Computing etc are real treaths and they do NOT go away just because we managed to stop them once.

Re:Without the license, GCC would have been closed (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785562)

GCC is what it is because of the license. Without the license, it would just be another compiler most likely closed or restricted in some way. That it isn't is because of the license, not because of the code.

GCC was created by the FSF and was always open source. I think you've overlooked the most important attribute - it's free as in beer.

And of course Stallman didn't do it all alone. But he has been the most central figure who has stood firm for 25 years. He and everyone else who has helped create the idea of software not as an owned and controlled resource has made the world we live in today. How could countless websites have gotten started without free Apache, free Perl/PHP/Python/etc, free databases yes even free OS'es?

Free and Open Source software existed before GPL existed. Also Python, Apache, and PHP are do not have a GPL license. Perl is dual licensed with GPL and the Artistic license.

Nice propaganda piece...

Some of us used to share source code and publish software in magazines long before the internet was available to the masses and before GPL.

Let's not forget BSD...

Re:Without the license, GCC would have been closed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785586)

The Wright Brothers' contribution was their wind-tunnel testing of propeller and wing designs, the successful completion of which made powered flight in a heavier-than-air vehicle possible. Not some bullshit "dream to fly".

Their next contribution was the stifling of the American aircraft industry due to patent lawsuits, up until the government stepped in and forced cross-licensing deals for world war 1.

Re:Without the license, GCC would have been closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785720)

Freer licenses existed before GPL.

Your conclusions are fallacious.

Re:Without the license, GCC would have been closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785850)

Huh? The Wright brothers held back the development of the airplane using various patents, until the US govt. forced them to license. Their innovations were not in the engine department so much as in control systems, and taking a methodical approach to development instead of just mucking about. Now if Richard Pearse had been more into team-work who knows what he could have done. IIRC he developed a better engine than most early planes were using.

Re:GCC (2, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785610)

I have a hard time believing that anything RMS is even partially responsible for is anywhere near as important as GCC, from its humble beginnings as a replacement for CC on UNIX to its present juggernaut Compiler Collection.

There is an important symbiotic relationship between the GPL and the GCC. (And also with other "free" software tools, but the GCC is a good poster child.) One explanation came up in a number of projects that I worked on at Digital back in the 1980s and early 1990s. The question kept coming up there of why DEC supplied a number of BSD-based unix OSs, but not Sys/V. They had Sys/V ported internally, and provided it for a few customers that asked, but they didn't much market it. The explanation that kept coming up was that DEC's lawyers had looked into Sys/V software (with some engineers' help, of course), and had noted that the binaries all contained AT&T copyright notices, usually many copies that were inside various library routines. They suggested that, although the courts hadn't ever decided the status of such copyright claims, it was possible that AT&T could use these embedded strings to claim legal ownership of any software that they wanted. Thus, building your products on AT&T software was risking a court case that might give everything to AT&T.

Since then, I've worked on a number of projects at other companies whose lawyers use a similar argument for why they should use GCC rather than any proprietary compilers and libraries. Again, the legal status isn't clear. This means that you're taking a chance that any binaries produced by proprietary tools or using proprietary libraries could become legally the property of the companies that own the compilers or libraries. The GCC license makes it clear that, if you use GCC, you don't have to worry about this. It's about the only C compiler that provides such safety. We've read versions of this argument in the explanation of why google pushed for the Android platform, as a way of keeping their own software free from takeover by Microsoft or Apple (or AT&T or Comcast or ...).

This isn't a trivial concern. There are growing attempts to use "intellectual property" to take control of the work done by others. Look into how Apple now controls the software that runs on many of their devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Look at how Amazon controls what can be on the kindle, to the point of reaching out and deleting content that customers have bought. We even read here some time back that Microsoft is getting patents on some XML encodings, something we thought was beyond such takeovers because XML is a "public" standard.

The GPL in its various forms is one of the few tools we have to fight such control by the industry giants. Figuring out how to use the copyright laws to fight the slow privatization of what used to be public "intellectual" space was an important legal development. It's about the only thing we have left (at least in the US) that protects the efforts of individuals against the legal power of big corporations. So we should be encouraging the people who work on legal tools like this, at least if we want a society in which it remains legal for private individuals to work on anything that involves software.

Fuck you, Stallman. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784454)

Who gives a shit? The FSF has always been full of excrement, as has Stallman. Especially Stallman, he's a fat prick who acts like if anyone really gave a fuck about so-called freedoms.

Re:Fuck you, Stallman. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784616)

The next time you consume some of Hollywood's "product", you will likely be taking advantage of his legacy.

Happy birthday to you, (5, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784470)

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear Richard,
Happy bir- COPYRIGHT VIOLATION DETECTED - TRANSMISSION TERMINATED [wikipedia.org]

Re:Happy birthday to you, (3, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784822)

According to the wikipedia article you linked, Wendy Williams owes $700 to WB when she & her audience sang the song. Meanwhile in Canada WB and other members of the CRIA owe nearly a billion dollars for using songs on "best of" albums without paying the original artists.

"One law for the commoners; one law for the masters."

Happy Birthday! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784512)

Congratulations, GNU!

shouldn't it be... (1)

signingis (158683) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784516)

GNU/FSF?

/me ducks

Re:shouldn't it be... (1)

flam3boy (1716600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784820)

Shouldn't We Be Celebrating?

Re:shouldn't it be... (3, Funny)

melikamp (631205) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785246)

(eval (car (setq gnu '(gnu is not unix))))
(gnu is not unix)

Uhm, no! (5, Informative)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784548)

" He had been the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Lab.?

He was a system administrator, not the director of the lab! Minsky, Papert, et al didn't report to him...

Re:Uhm, no! (4, Informative)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784620)

" Tired of seeing software that he and others had written appropriated (without acknowledgment or compensation) by disreputable software companies and then told to pay for software they had written, Stallman took action, creating the foundation."

That doesn't seem right either - I thought the driving issue was the need to pay a fee to access driver software to modify it to use a product they already bought (I think it was a printer) - as I recall the issue was that software licenses were getting in the way of him doing the work he needed to do. He wasn't against paying for needed software, but in this case (his "tipping point"), but he was being required to pay to fix software he'd already paid for since the the manufacturer wouldn't/couldn't make it work.

Re:Uhm, no! (3, Interesting)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784758)

That's what I remember reading here in Chapter 1: For Want of a Printer [oreilly.com] .

Stallman had subsequently written a large number of GNU tools, but the license was his most important contribution.

Says the vi user who never wrote a line of code in his life! ;-)

Happy b-day! (3, Funny)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784550)

Now get rid of Stallman and I will actively support you.

Dogma (5, Insightful)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784654)

Bethany: What is Stallman like?

Rufus: He likes to listen to people talk. I remember the old days when we were sittin' around the computer lab. You know, whenever we were goin' on about unimportant shit, He'd always have a smile on his face. His only real beef with programmers is the shit that gets carried out His name. Wars. Bigotry. Mobile Operating Systems. The big one though, is the factioning of the distros. He said, "Linux got it all wrong by takin' a good idea and building a belief structure out of it."

Bethany: So you're saying that having beliefs is a bad thing?

Rufus: I just think it's better to have an idea. You can change an idea; changing a belief is trickier. People die for it, people kill for it. The whole of Free software is in jeopardy right now because of the Open Source belief system in this software as a service bullshit. RedHat and SuSE, whether they know it or not, are exploiting that belief, and if they're successful, you, me, all of this ends in a heartbeat. All over a belief.

Re:Dogma (2, Insightful)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784902)

You, Sir, deserve mod points.

I at the very least owe you a coke.

Free Software (0)

Max_W (812974) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784700)

If it were not for free software the PhotoShop would cost not 999 USD, 9999 USD, IIS would cost about 100 grands, etc.

We would have to perform computing with permission of high priests by a code resembling liturgies.

Debatably the free software is not as sophisticated as commercial software, but it is straightforward.

There is a historical parallel. In 30s the FBI was relatively small in numbers, and not that well trained. They've made a lot of errors, but still they could win over gangsters because they did not take bribes; they were honest and straightforward.

Stallman For President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784738)

and while you're at it, write in Mr. Nader for VP.

Wouldn't that be some great governance!

http://www.votenader.org/ [votenader.org]

Re:Stallman For President (1, Offtopic)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784936)

Not really, while I admire the FSF and admire Stallman for his code contribution, a Nader/Stallman ticket would be disastrous for the country. Especially the Nader part. Straight from his website he endorses racism in the form of affirmative action. Affirmative action is nothing more than basic racism, choosing someone because of their race or gender in order to fulfill a bullshit dream of "increasing diversity". Unless you believe that minorities are incapable of being as qualified as white people or women more incapable compared to men, you shouldn't support affirmative action, you should instead choose to have free-market solutions where everyone is level and people are chosen because of their qualifications, not excluding a white male with superior credentials in order to take a black female with fewer qualifications. Nader also mistakenly believes that government can be a solution for problems when historically governments have just made bad situations worse. Nader also maintains a laughable belief in moving away from safe, effective nuclear energy with more subsidies for solar energy despite nuclear power being more safe and cost-effective. He also proposes adding in new taxes which would slow down an already stagnating economy, etc.

Re:Stallman For President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785174)

Affirmative action is nothing more than basic racism, choosing someone because of their race or gender in order to fulfill a bullshit dream of "increasing diversity".

Typical misrepresentation of affirmative action by an actual bigot.
Take a look at what affirmative action in the USA actually means:

"take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin"
Executive Order 10925 - Establishing The President's Committee On Equal Employment Opportunity
http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/thelaw/eo-10925.html [eeoc.gov]

"to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a positive, continuing program in each executive department and agency"
Executive Order 11246--Equal employment opportunity
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/11246.html [archives.gov]

Posted AC because I don't feel like taking the karma hit for speaking truth to off-topic stupidity.

Re:Stallman For President (0, Offtopic)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785334)

Look at what Ralph Nader says on his website which determines what he believes. ( http://www.votenader.org/issues/social/affirmative-action/ [votenader.org] )

A good affirmative action program uses a variety of methods to achieve the goal of increasing diversity, including using race and gender as one of many factors in evaluating the suitability of an applicant.

Now, anytime you include "race and gender as one of many factors in evaluating the suitability of an applicant" that is racism right there.

Race and gender shouldn't matter it should be equal and should be based solely on qualifications.

More structural solutions are required to promote economic and educational equality, including a long overdue and practical Marshall Plan to eliminate poverty in the United States, and an education-focused restitution trust fund.

In other words, Nader is comparing war-ravaged Europe to the mentality of minorities. That simply by being a minority they need extra assistance in getting an education. How is that not racist?

Any time you use race to determine how much you are going to give someone as a scholarship, that right there is racist, especially when you are using taxpayer funds to do that.

At the federal level, authentic minority set-asides and affirmative-action arrangements are a modest way to support the growth of businesses owned and controlled by people of color. Affirmative action is a modest means for businesses to redress historic discrimination. Affirmative action at universities is an important tool to promote campus diversity and educational equality.

Again, Nader is using racist language. This idea of "diversity" being a huge goal is simply racist rhetoric. It sounds more or less like Animal Farm "All men are created equal, but some men are created more equal than others".

Nader is either saying one of two things here, he is either saying that non-minority races have little to add to society or he is saying that minority races, given an equal playing field have no chance because they can never get enough qualifications to fairly compete with non-minorities.

The Justice Department should intervene to oppose judicial rulings against affirmative action in higher education and other spheres.

And here again, Nader is arguing in favor of racism demanding that any rules against racism be struck down.

Based on his own website, I think it is safe to say that Nader's view of affirmative action is racist.

Re:Stallman For President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785598)

Affirmative action is just trying to get a level playing field.

But let me guess, you are white and middle class and eager to keep those advantages that an accident of birth has dealt you? And screw those less fortunate than you.

Re:Stallman For President (0, Offtopic)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785684)

No affirmative action does not level the playing field. The only way that someone would think that affirmative action levels a playing field is if they were racist and believe that minorities cannot compete based on qualifications alone.

What levels the playing field is employment based solely on qualifications, totally ignoring race. Same thing with education and the like.

If we really want to take racism out of the equation, we shouldn't use race as a basis for anything, but affirmative action is not like that, affirmative action is simply racism because you give preferential treatment to someone based solely on their birth. Affirmative action takes the statement "All men are created equal" and turns it into "All men are created equal but some men are created more equal than others".

So long as affirmative action remains, racism will remain.

Twenty-five years later... (3, Interesting)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784764)

I am running Gnu-Linux on an NSLU2, a DNS-323, and a SheevaPlug. I have a free compiler on these devices.

On another computer, I just downloaded MingW and Lighttpd (source and binary) last night.

I remember when "free software" usually meant crippleware, and there was no way a poor kid eager to write code could get a compiler for free.

Thanks for your vision, RMS. You changed culture and you helped the future.

Thanks RMS.. (4, Insightful)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 3 years ago | (#33784794)

.. for your vision, contributions, and (and I know I'm not alone in this one).. helping me establish a career.

I make a living building and maintaining *nix hosts, and it probably wouldn't have happened if I didn't spend my childhood and teenage years playing with free software like Slackware, Debian, gcc, screen, bash, and a million other packages. Of course, a complete thank you list would be long enough to overflow my copy/paste buffer, but as this article is about GNU:

Thank you RMS! You've inspired millions of us, and pushed humanity forward yet another step.

take a bath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33784976)

hippie

If Stallman had any balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785024)

He would have released his software as public domain. I guess he can't just step up to the challenge.

Who wrote this claptrap? (4, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785028)

Tired of seeing software that he and others had written appropriated (without acknowledgment or compensation) by disreputable software companies and then told to pay for software they had written, Stallman took action, creating the foundation.

What a terrible mis-representation of RMS's motivations. The EFF wasn't founded because RMS thought his software being "stolen" - it was created because he was locked out of fixing bugs in software on equipment in the lab where he worked. Read the first chapter of Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software. -- For Want of a Printer [faifzilla.org] for a description of that seminal moment.

Re: Who wrote this claptrap? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785572)

FSF not EFF, I always get those acronyms mixed up. Too many F's or maybe because their goals are complimentary.

That's 21 too many (0)

alex67500 (1609333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785386)

Communism died between 1989 when the Berlin wall fell and 1991 when the USSR was dismantled. The FSF should have followed closely. Shame really. Especially when you see how many good projects managed with out it (notably BSD and Apache).

HURD Status (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785424)

Have they given up on the HURD?

I'm not being a smartass, I'd actually like to know. Did Stallman give up and give in to "GNU/Linux" or will we ever see an actual HURD?

Feed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33785474)

I like his political notes and news articles feed. Excellent choice of articles.

Thank you richard. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33785746)

i dont know you well, actually i dont know you at all. but, thank you, really.
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