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Stallman Worried About Chrome OS

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the fear-the-cloud dept.

Google 393

dkd903 noted that Stallman is speaking out about the risks of Chrome OS and giving up all your local data into the cloud, pushing people into "Careless Computing." Which is a much more urgent concern than something like calling it GNU/Chrome OS.

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RMS (0, Offtopic)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548300)

Root Mean Square...or Richard M. Stallman?

Only time can tell.

Re:RMS (0)

tenchikaibyaku (1847212) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548370)

Both? Neither?

Re:RMS (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548646)

Or, in what can only have been a black joke on Redmond's part, Microsoft's "Rights Management Services"... Somebody was stroking a white cat and laughing insanely when they hit upon that one...

Re:RMS (2)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548886)

Root Mean Square...or Richard M. Stallman?

How original! We've never heard that one on slashdot before.

News Flash! Water is wet! (2, Insightful)

Ubertech (21428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548358)

Like most other expressions of concern that come from brother Stallman, the geeks hear him, and keep merrily on with technological progress. Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (5, Insightful)

CodingHero (1545185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548468)

Like most other expressions of concern that come from brother Stallman, the geeks hear him, and keep merrily on with technological progress. Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

In this case, however, I believe his concerns are completely valid. People store personal information on Facebook, whose privacy policies are a constant subject of debate and, it seems, in constant flux. Information security aside, when I store my credit card information on my home computer I can feel safe that no one is going to get at it who I don't want to get at it. When I give it to some entity in the cloud, who knows what could happen without my knowledge or consent.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (5, Insightful)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548780)

People store personal information on Facebook, whose privacy policies are a constant subject of debate and, it seems, in constant flux

People store information on facebook with the purpose of sharing it. Anyone using facebook for private storage does not understand the purpose of facebook.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548942)

However, there is a bigger problem: people who use Facebook may actually lose access to their own data. At any time, Facebook could terminate your account, and suddenly hundreds of pictures and messages become inaccessible. This should not be a problem...except that some people actually do depend on Facebook to store these things for them, and would have no recourse if their access was suddenly terminated. Suddenly, people become beholden to Facebook's rules, which they have no say over.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549398)

My photos would still be on my desktop system, my backup drive and on my web server. When you post to Facebook, it copies the files up to it. Not sure how'd you make it do a move.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (2)

Skrapion (955066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549196)

I disagree. This might come down to different demographics, but whenever I ask people why they love Facebook so much it usually boils down to the fact that it's easier to use than email. PMs and event discussions are expected to be as private as emails.

Of course, when Facebook dies and people start using the next big social networking site, they'll need to recreate their address book (or "friends list", or whatever) all over again, and they won't have any backups of any of those discussions.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548910)

People store personal information [in a phone book]...

When I [hand my credit card to a waitress at a restaurant], who knows what could happen without my knowledge or consent.

People never seem to think of the meatspace equivalents - why?

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (1)

PincushionMan (1312913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549036)

The day I need my phone number in a phone book to look is the day I hang it up.

As for the CC/waitress example - the law (and the CC industry) takes a dim view of waitresses that charge themselves a little something extra with your card.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549208)

The day I need my phone number in a phone book to look is the day I hang it up.

Phonebooks were ubiquitous for 75 years or so. Nobody died from lack of privacy.

As for the CC/waitress example - the law (and the CC industry) takes a dim view of waitresses that charge themselves a little something extra with your card.

And so does that law protect you online, so what's your point?

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (1)

MFENN (1064062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549278)

Right, because it's not like your credit card information is stored on any other computer system, or on paper, anywhere other than in your home. Why don't you bury the card in a concrete slab in your basement... then no one could ever access your account, right?

"Progress" (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548476)

Sometimes I am left wondering just how much "progress" cloud computing and web apps really represent. So you can edit your documents and photos using a web app instead of a desktop app...where is the progress? We were accessing files remotely years before cloud computing, so what exactly is it about the current methods that represents "progress?"

Just because you are using new methods to accomplish the same thing does not mean that you have made "progress."

Re:"Progress" (2)

Ubertech (21428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548572)

Perhaps, but in this case the "progress" may simply represent a step from one place to another. In this case, local copies to cloud only, with a probable balance down the road. Where we're at isn't necessarily better, just forward from where we were. (i.e. progress doesn't necessarily mean superior)

We'll see where it shakes out when the gee whiz factor of it all goes away. :)

Re:"Progress" (2)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549086)

You mean, like IMAP ?

Or also remote applications, like Citrix ? Or like XDMCP before that ? Sunrays ?

There's not much new under the sun, mostly just new marketeers who don't know their history.

Re:"Progress" (2, Interesting)

MosX (773406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548716)

The progress is having your data accessible from any computer. The example given in one of the Chrome OS promotional videos was having your machine break and picking up a new one, logging in, and continuing your work like nothing happened.

Re:"Progress" (4, Interesting)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548826)

There are advantages to these "do it in the cloud" ideas, though. Google's promoting of Chrome OS makes the advantages clear: you can access your documents from anywhere, you don't need to worry about your current device getting lost/stolen/damaged/corrupted, because all your important data has been copied off of the computer. No need to worry about installing applications or keeping them secure and up-to-date, since web-apps take care of that for you. And so on...

What I'm not so sure about is if this is really the best possible implementation of the "store it in the cloud" concept. Google's design seems to be: have all the documents and applications in the cloud, and download the minimum necessary to your local computer to get your work done. The disadvantages have been pointed out many times: lack of net connection makes getting anything done painful or impossible (even with some amount of local caching, it doesn't work that well), latency of the network slows down application performance, third-party has full access to all your data. And so on...

It seems like a better model would be to continue to use your local computer for data and storage and running applications, but have the computer synchronize all files to "somewhere in the cloud" on a very routine basis (like, every time you save a document or the application auto-saves). Other computer you authorize then synchronize from the cloud, as needed. The copy in the cloud can be encrypted, so only you have access to your sensitive data. Applications could actually work similarly: your computer synchronizes a list of installed applications and settings, so that other computers have access to the same work environment. At its most basic, this is probably what most geeks already do: organize files on their computer but have some offsite backup location. One could package the whole thing up so that it is much more slick and automated. In my opinion this would be have almost all of the advantages of Google's offering, without the drawbacks (a lack of a net connection just delays the backup-sync; you can still work normally).

My point is that the ideas of "in the cloud" are not bad. They are good ideas. The problem is that the implementations are not the best. Obviously companies have more to gain in terms of data mining (by having access to your data) and lock-in (by hosting the closed-source applications for you) by doing it their way... But hopefully we will see more competing efforts (Ubuntu One [ubuntu.com] might be a step towards that...).

Re:"Progress" (2)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549294)

you've just described Dropbox. (and SugarSync and many others)

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548554)

I'd argue a more nuanced position: relative to his value system, which he is quite upfront about, Stallman is actually extremely accurate, sometimes verging on "prescient"("The Right To Read" written a fair few years vs. Amazon's remote kindle wipes or Apple's 'cryptographically blessed software only' smash hit... for instance).

However, his expressions of concern are basically never of the form "Technological development X won't work", which would be disprovable simply by making it work. Rather, his expressions are of the form "Technological development X will reduce the freedom of users and/or developers and/or both, which is bad". That isn't a statement about the possibility of Technological development X(indeed, he basically doesn't bother issuing statements of concern about stuff he thinks won't happen), and is almost always true for the various Xs he has warned people about.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (5, Insightful)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549238)

Stallman is actually extremely accurate, sometimes verging on "prescient"("The Right To Read" written a fair few years vs. Amazon's remote kindle wipes or Apple's 'cryptographically blessed software only' smash hit... for instance).

Or the Java trap. [gnu.org] * (Meaning it's not enough for Sun to be friendly to the OSS/free software community, it has to guarantee those freedoms with appropraite licenses. Also GPLv3 was before the Oracle takeover.) Sun wasn't applying the GPL license to Java and OpenOffice until some anti-Java activism from Stallman.

* It doesn't mean I don't develop in Java. Actually, I like it pretty much, and the licensing of Mono isn't any better either. They're just not on the same level of freedom as e.g. Gnome.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! Spread the word! (3, Insightful)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548594)

...the geeks hear him, and keep merrily on with technological progress. Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

Perhaps the rest of us have the task of making sure it's not just 'the geeks' who hear him. Stallman has a valid and important point here, and I suspect most Slashdotters agree with him. But the non-geeks are the ones who most need to hear the message, and they'll only hear it above the din of Google's grand pronouncements if we all scream it out loud, long, and often.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! Spread the word! (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548970)

But the non-geeks are the ones who most need to hear the message

and who care the least.

We are geeks.. we think and care about technological issues around privacy and freedom and security. They are a big deal to most of us. This seems to blind us to the fact that most people don't really care.

And it's not because they don't understand. Twitter and facebook are popular because most people outside of the geek community _like_ sharing every mundane detail about themselves with anyone who will listen. The answer to most "what they can do with the data" is "so what".

A conversation with a non-geek on the subject of data privacy tends to go like this:

They sell it to credit card companies, advertisers, marketters, and anyone else who wants to sell you some junk:
a) So what? how does that hurt me. I get more targetted advertisments and possibly products that better suit me

They give it to the government:
a) If the government wants to know what I did at that party last week.. I would have happily told them

When we revert into some paranoid disutopia the forces of opression will use your twitter comments to identify you as counter to their objectives and have you dragged from your homes and taken to the acid mines where you'll ...
a) oh get a life..

If we want to convince people that privacy is important, we need better scare statements!

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! Spread the word! (3, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549262)

and who care the least.

We are geeks.. we think and care about technological issues around privacy and freedom and security. They are a big deal to most of us. This seems to blind us to the fact that most people don't really care.

This is hardly as universal as you imply. I am as geeky as the next Slashdotter and could not care less about privacy or security, and my definition of "freedom" is likely as idiosyncratic as yours. Geeks are fascinated by technology and I suspect that the vast majority of them would gladly part with privacy or security in exchange for something flashier, faster, and/or cooler, especially if it's programmable.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! Spread the word! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34549082)

I think warnings like his tend to fall upon deaf ears. And I don't think it has anything to do with his personality. I mean, can anyone here think of a time anywhere that someone issued warnings about some terrible impending thing (doom is a bit harsh since we are all still here) and said terrible thing was averted by said warning? Maybe Y2k qualifies, but so much of the software used was already compliant (in my experience, YMMV) through 2038 that I didn't see all that much actual danger personally. Well, for 28 years at least.

Personally, I think things will get very bad eventually, as Stallman warns, and until it does, most people won't care. Then there will be some sort of revolution, and everyone will care, for a while, and things will slowly slide right back to where they are now, and the cycle will repeat, with some small difference. Maybe the next cycle will be physical products (seems more and more likely every day with things like the Cupcake CNC machine being almost affordable for most hobbyists). My favorite famous quote currently is, "History doesn't repeat; it rhymes."

I hope I'm wrong, but I think human history backs me up.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! Spread the word! (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549096)

... and they'll only hear it above the din of Google's grand pronouncements if we all scream it out loud, long, and often.

This is wrong on at least a couple of levels.

Firstly, people don't listen to you if you scream loudly. They just dismiss you as a crazy person.

Secondly, the average person has no idea of the latest thing Google has announced, and has no empathy or concern for Google as an entity. They just know that Google is how you search the interwebs to find the Facebook login page.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548822)

I just wish I had some data that someone wanted.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548964)

Like most other expressions of concern that come from brother Stallman, the geeks hear him, and keep merrily on with technological progress. Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

What I find more disconcerning is how quickly these geeks dismiss his argument while blindly accepting each "innovation" from Google without thinking about the potential consequences. Ironically these Google faithful will yell the meme about Microsoft's evil monopolistic principles.

Sure they will point to how Google uses open source software, but they fail to realize that Google isn't interested in software but rather the personal data accumulated by said software. Sure Android OS, Chrome OS, Google Mail, Google Earth, Google Calendar, Google Voice, and Google Talk is monetarily free, but I agree with Stallman that we are paying a huge price in privacy. You mocking him will not change this fact...

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549052)

As much as I'd really, really love to dismiss Stallman as a lunatic, I can't help but realize he's been right about most everything he has predicted. Most of the world thought he was silly when he predicted the rise of "Tivoization" where most of us would be running free software but not have the ability to modify it because of hardware controls... Hm, I don't know about you but that seems awfully close to the current state of Android right now, with phones being made to prevent people from adding/removing programs or operating systems on it. The problem is, on almost every prediction RMS has made, he has been spot on. The integrity of the "cloud" is questionable when you realize who is running the cloud, companies with a large amount of money in advertising.

Re:News Flash! Water is wet! (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549134)

Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

I would venture to say that Stallman's essay on "the right to read" [gnu.org] was rather prescient at the time. Like him or not, I doubt that anyone knowledgeable about RMS would call him the "Chicken Little of geekdom."

Banish your ignorance and read some of RMS' writings. You might be surprised that the hype doesn't always live up to the reality.

Proprietary Software (5, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548412)

Anyone who reads and understands the free software definition can see that web applications and "cloud computing" fail to meet the definition. The users are not free to modify or study the applications, and lacking access to the actual program files, they certainly cannot redistribute the applications to others...

So why would anyone be surprised the RMS takes issue with an OS that is designed to be cloud-centric?

Re:Proprietary Software (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548494)

At Amazon you can rent cloud machines with free software. There is no reason that an virtual machine image pre-prepared by some company consists of free software only and nevertheless is turnkey-ready configured for a user (that may even be hidden behind a nice interface).

Re:Proprietary Software (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548804)

That sounds an awful lot like the situation (well, former situation) on the PS3...

Re:Proprietary Software (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548802)

The users are not free to modify or study the applications, and lacking access to the actual program files, they certainly cannot redistribute the applications to others...

And, I think more importantly, the TOS of almost all cloud systems more or less say that they have a right to use your data as they see fit.

When you put your important data into someone else's servers, you lose control over it. It could easily end up in a country where they can use it in ways that would have been illegal where it originated.

Here in Canada, most Government data simply cannot be legally put into something like this because the US basically passed a law that said they can force anybody to hand over data they want. So, if we hosted with Amazon, we lose control over our data -- much of which is covered by privacy legislation.

Re:Proprietary Software (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548896)

Because he's out of touch with reality and doesn't understand that no one gives a shit except him.

Re:Proprietary Software (1)

isomeme (177414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549110)

What's to stop someone from releasing the source of a "cloud" application? In point of fact, a great deal of the "cloud" infrastructure -- e.g., several web servers -- is already open. The question of where an app happens to be running is irrelevant to the question of whether it is open/free.

Re:Proprietary Software (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549274)

Anyone who reads and understands the free software definition can see that web applications and "cloud computing" fail to meet the definition.

Plenty of web applications and "cloud computing" technologies (both infrastructure and applications) meet the free software definition.

Its, of course, possible to create web-based and/or "cloud" applications that don't, or to implement cloud infrastructure with closed software, just as its possible to create desktop applications that are closed.

There is nothing inherently non-Free about web-based or cloud computing.

Its certainly true that Chrome OS relies on an infrastructure that is currently implemented with some non-Free components, though the client OS itself is Free, and most of the infrastructure technology needed to support its use is based on specifications that are open and for which Free implementations, where the primary implementations are not Free, are quite possible.

Re:Proprietary Software (2, Insightful)

Platinum1 (519177) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549324)

What RMS and others aren't acknowledging is that you are already part of the cloud. You can set up your own web server, running whatever open source server you want. If you don't trust Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. with your email, you can set up your own mail server however you like, and you're running on the cloud. Sure, some (most) web apps aren't open source, but it doesn't have to stay that way - instead of compiling source to run natively, you can throw a web app on your server, and access it anywhere in the world using ChromeOS (or any other browser)!

Cloud computing doesn't have to rely on giving up your data - it's just moving to a thin client model. Maybe this is an opportunity to promote open source web-based applications that take advantage of the cloud based computing concept while leaving you in charge or protecting your own data, as RMS is advocating.

Data, but what about control?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548418)

It is funny that we all worry so much about protecting our personal identity and our precious data, fearing relinquishing it to the crowd.

But then we have always allowed just a few people to have full control of our governance. We call them "leaders" and "representatives" and "politicians," but we all know that they are in fact our rulers. That's what they think of themselves, and that's how we treat them. Now wouldn't it be nice if they relinquished control of our lives to the crowd. [metagovernment.org]

Cloud a joke (3, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548428)

He previously called the cloud a joke. But here is the reality of the situation. I like having my email available on multiple devices. I like how easy it is to use web services rather than run my own cloud. I'm voluntarily allowing Google to serve ads to me in return for free services.

And for most non-technical users who can't figure out how to back-up their data, automatically saving their data in the cloud is better than having no back-ups at all.

Re:Cloud a joke (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548598)

I like having my email available on multiple devices.

Me too...but I have had that for a long time, and it has nothing to do with the "web" or "cloud computing."

I like how easy it is to use web services rather than run my own cloud.

I will not even try to decipher that one, it looks like your definition of "cloud computing" is different than...well, actually, there is not even a standard definition, so I guess the point is moot.

And for most non-technical users who can't figure out how to back-up their data, automatically saving their data in the cloud is better than having no back-ups at all.

Stallman is not referring to backups, he is referring to the situation in which the data only ever exists on Google's servers. Non-technical users may not be aware of the difference until it is too late, when suddenly Google or Microsoft or Amazon is able to dictate if and how they can access their data, and they are powerless to do anything about it because their computer was designed to only store their data remotely.

Re:Cloud a joke (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549166)

Stallman is not referring to backups, he is referring to the situation in which the data only ever exists on Google's servers. Non-technical users may not be aware of the difference until it is too late

It's been my experience that non-technical users don't have any idea where their data lives.

They think that their documents are actually stored inside Microsoft Word... And use the open command in Word to access all their documents... And are simply amazed when you show them the contents of My Documents.

They don't worry about how they treat the "modem", because everything is stored in the screen.

They never, ever download anything off of their camera... And then delete pictures when it gets full... And then wonder why they can't find those pictures from that vacation last year...

I fail to see how throwing everything into the cloud and hoping for the best is any worse.

Re:Cloud a joke (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548604)

Yes, the problem is that at any moment, they can cancel your account and leave you without your data. This would not happen if you chose a server which assures you that upon account termination, you can download a copy of your data. But guess what, with Chrome OS you CAN'T choose a server. They choose for you!

Re:Cloud a joke (2)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548628)

You give up control of your own data so easily. Why not save your data in the "crowd" too? 8^) Personally, I only let crap data live in the "clouds." Like email, video game libraries and scores, and that's it. For actual info I need, I back that up and keep it local, near-line, and off-site too. Keeping your data in someone other entity's data center is saying you trust whoever it is they decide to hire to keep your data safe. Good luck with that! My data is safer no where else but in my hands and storage places, because I actually value it and know the limitations and risks involved with choosing a storage medium. Your data must not be that important, or you don't really care about it that much.

Re:Cloud a joke (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548728)

I, too, laugh at people who give up control of their data so easily, especially those who trust "computers" and "disks". Dell and Verbatim will never be able to hold my data hostage because I engrave all my data on gold foil.

Very, very tiny gold foil.

On my teeth.

Re:Cloud a joke (5, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548660)

Right, this is why the cloud is attractive. You could accomplish the same thing without the cloud, but it would involve transparent synchronization between all your devices, and that's a problem nobody's adequately solved. But if you had transparent synchronization, you would be in control of your data. Without it, someone else is in control of your data. That's all. Personally I think that's the important issue.

As far as the open source question goes, the average user uses what they perceive to work best for them. Trying to get the average user to use something that gives the perception of working less well simply won't work. Free software advocates who care about this issue, which is a real issue, ought to care about the user experience of open source apps. Provide a better user experience, and the users will flock to your software. That's the only way to get users to switch.

Re:Cloud a joke (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549030)

You could accomplish the same thing without the cloud, but it would involve transparent synchronization between all your devices,

well, even that isnt the same. I rather like being able to access gmail from anywhere, from ANY device, mine or not (ie, from the public library).

Re:Transparent Synch (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549078)

I think you're on the right track.

I'm disturbed why synch is "so hard". For whatever program you're using at a particular moment, it should be a snap to designate one active copy and X superseded copies. Then when another device with a superseded copy shows up, just synch it (or back-synch the Cloud copy, and with an advanced manual permission option).

My current opinion is that the Cloud Services vendors actively work to squash localizing copies of their programs. For example, I don't yet know of an easy "Yahoo Mail Offline" app.

I support RMS's view here - we risk literally becoming Cloud of Fortune. Would you like to buy a vowel?

Re:Cloud a joke (2)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548676)

I have my email available on multiple devices through the hosting company I lease a couple managed dedicated servers from using IMAP. They even have a web based interface or I could install any number of web-based IMAP clients if I wanted. For those who have been around computers long enough, the "cloud" is nothing more than timeshare. Same concept, slightly different implementation. You still have a big room (now with a bunch of servers instead of one big one, and everyone then connects via a terminal or in this case a web browser.

I still think the term "cloud" is joke. Or rather, buzzword. What is a cloud? We've run our website and services on dedicated servers and I've been doing it since 1997. So instead of providing clients with a shopping cart I guess I should just call it a "shopping cloud" to be hip.

 

Re:Cloud a joke (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549158)

Is the service free?

Google is providing me free services that don't take time and effort on my part to administer.

Like I said, I could arrange my own "cloud" to access my files, contacts, email, calendar, etc. on my own server in some hosted farm.

I in turn trust the vendor who is hosting those servers, and pay money, plus all the time on my part, or I trust Google.

I have no qualms trusting Google.

Re:Cloud a joke (2)

citylivin (1250770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548906)

Yeah the cloud is all well and good, untill the US government decides that it doesn't like what you are posting and shuts you down. The whole wikileaks crackdown should make any serious organization think twice about reliance on the cloud. What did it take, a few phone calls, and an entire non profit as well as anyone remotely associated with them was taken offline. Their payment processor, a non profit, was banned from taking payment, not just for wikileaks, but for every site they processed payment for!

... it's worth noting that PayPal didn't take action against Wikileaks; they took it against the Wau Holland Foundation, a charitable foundation who had been supporting Wikileaks as one of several activities driven by their charter. They are now unable to use PayPal to collect donations for anything.

article link [computerworlduk.com]

Re:Cloud a joke. My local personal cloud is not. (1)

zamfield (1346305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549286)

I sympathize with your point. I like having my email available on multiple devices too. Along with bookmarks, notes, tasks, pictures, rss feeds, calendar appointments, shared documents, music and video. Basically I want to share my data with all my devices, and I don't want to have to surrender it to Google or some other cloud provider to get that functionality. I think Eben Moglen's idea of a local wall-wart style server that can be plugged in the the outlet and provide all your device's cloud services from your own home is the way forward. We know that the mainframe, centralized control of data and applications puts its own interests ahead of the rights of the users. That's why we all wanted our own PC so many decades ago when they hit the scene. I feel that if we need a server, it should be our own, and it should just work and be open for us to modify as needed. After all, it is our own data, and much like our thoughts their can be no greater claim of ownership.

Re:Cloud a joke (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549426)

He previously called the cloud a joke. But here is the reality of the situation. I like having my email available on multiple devices

Email has always been available on any devices. Email is how the cloud should work. Your data is stored on a remote server, but the protocol you access it with is open and the source for the client is open. If I don't like the client provided, I can switch clients, or modify it to work as I see fit.

But... (0)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548448)

But I thought information wants to be free?

Agreed. (3, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548466)

I don't want my information in the cloud.

Neither do I want the inevitable yearly charge for constant upgrades to the latest Cloud software. I bought MS Office *once* for ~$80 and have been using it for thirteen years. (Likewise I bought Final Fantasy 10 for $20 and have been playing it for ten years. In contrast Final Fantasy 11 requires a ~$5 per month constant fee.) No thanks. I want to OWN my software not rent it.

So don't. (4, Insightful)

djkitsch (576853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548698)

It's a choice - that's market economics for you. The models exist, and thrive, because demand is there, or at least there are enough people who are willing to sacrifice conventional ownership to play the game or use the software.

Welcome to the modern world: you don't like the product, don't buy it! Buy something else, something which does suit your needs. Or, if that doesn't exist, build it yourself, or help start an OSS project to do it instead. And, if all of that is impractical or impossible to finance, then you've probably found the reason why no-one else is doing it that way.

Of course, there is market momentum, the incumbent's advantage, monopolistic misbehaving etc, but that's what regulators are for (when they're left to do their job properly). However, "the cloud", downloadable content and subscription-based RPGs exist because there's a gap in the market. Think you can do better? Fill it yourself!

Rant over...

Re:Agreed. (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548750)

From a software company perspective I get why the "cloud" is so popular. Subscriptions provide a steady stream of operating revenue month in and month out. You have one code base of the software to support. All clients get updates rolled out at the same time and are all on the same page. As someone who owns a software company that has both types of products (subscription and buy and use), the subscription based ones provide enough predictable income each month that we can plan for our expenses accordingly. Our stand alone apps, it just depends. Generally we'll see a lot of revenue in the short term (usually a quarter or two) but then as sales stagnate you may have on going maintenance to pay for. And generally that's where a lot of the cost of those products come into play is after release.

Re:Agreed. (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548830)

Well, what do you think cause software bloat?

Re:Agreed. (2)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549028)

I don't want my information in the cloud.

Lots of people do.

Lots of people want to be able to check their email just by logging in to a web page. They want to be able to show photos to friends and family all over the world. They want to be able to work on a report from anywhere they happen to be.

Sure, a lot of this can be enabled by running your own blog or photo gallery site... Or by carrying everything on a flash drive... But, for a lot of people, it's just easier to stick it in a web app somewhere.

Neither do I want the inevitable yearly charge for constant upgrades to the latest Cloud software. I bought MS Office *once* for ~$80 and have been using it for thirteen years.

And if it does everything you need, that's great.

But if you need some new feature that's only found in Office 2010, you're going to be stuck paying for an upgrade. And whether it's a yearly "cloud upgrade" fee or the cost of a new box of software every 13 years - you're still paying for the upgrade.

(Likewise I bought Final Fantasy 10 for $20 and have been playing it for ten years. In contrast Final Fantasy 11 requires a ~$5 per month constant fee.) No thanks. I want to OWN my software not rent it.

But FF11 is an MMOG, and FF10 is not. So they are not comparable products.

FF10 is fine if you want to run around playing underwater soccer and fighting monsters by yourself... But if you want to team up with your buddy on the other side of the planet, you're going to need FF11.

Similarly, cloud software frequently has features that standalone software does not.

Re:Agreed. (1)

dwandy (907337) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549066)

I don't want my information in the cloud.

Unless you are running/maintaining your own mail server your e-mail is already at least cloud-ish.
If you're on a web-based e-mail like gmail or even a web-mail solution from your ISP, then your e-mail is already in the cloud.
Those that are "cloud-ish" would be those that download all their e-mail to a local store (using for example Thunderbird) and then always delete the server copy.
Of course many people no longer find it practical to manage a local store for their own e-mail: while I used to use Thunderbird and deleted the server copy I now have a 'droid-based phone and it is simply waaaay to convenient to have access to my e-mail everywhere I am (home, work, cell-phone, library, friends-house, etc) without a convoluted sync'ing scheme, leaving a port open on my home network, or buying some hosted space somewhere or some other non-trivial solution.
We do trade privacy for convenience, but if I was really concerned I'd implement an encryption system such that the cloud only had my e-mail in encrypted form...but unless everyone sends it encrypted (using for example a PKI setup) then your e-mail will still be transmitted in the clear at some point. I guess it just depends on from whom you want privacy.

I see the point (1, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548478)

I see the point RMS is making but then again the point of ChromeOS is to not store things locally so they can be available from multiple locations.

There is nothing to stop you from creating your own website, with your own notepad, doc setup and logging into that. you don't need google's stuff. There are lots of different companies that offer such things now a days.

Anyone ever security audited Emacs? (-1, Flamebait)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548550)

Has anyone ever done a security review on Emacs?

I mean, with a piece of software that bloated, it could be decrypting your stuff and uploading it to anyone.

Re:Anyone ever security audited Emacs? (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548760)

I mean, with a piece of software that bloated, it could be decrypting your stuff and uploading it to anyone.

You can say that about any software at all; frankly, you can say that about your computer's hardware.

On the other hand, Stallman brings up worthwhile points. You may lose certain legal rights -- in the USA, for example, you may lose your 4th amendment rights. You do not have control over web applications -- the provider can change things, yank out features or add new features you do not want, and you have no recourse (how many times has Facebook done this?). You may even lose your access entirely.

There are different levels of problems. Yes, large programs like Emacs may have malfeatures that have been snuck in, as could a complex CPU or even the cloud programs themselves. Interestingly, if Emacs were trying to communicate your data to others, you could at least detect it; it would be substantially harder to detect if Google was leaking your data to others.

Re:Anyone ever security audited Emacs? (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549168)

On the other hand, Stallman brings up worthwhile points. You may lose certain legal rights -- in the USA, for example, you may lose your 4th amendment rights. You do not have control over web applications -- the provider can change things, yank out features or add new features you do not want, and you have no recourse (how many times has Facebook done this?). You may even lose your access entirely.

Likewise with the Facebook example, we can see that such changes do not cause the users to seek alternatives, either out of apathy or because there is none.

Re:Anyone ever security audited Emacs? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549334)

No, I use a lot of software that isn't overly complex and has been security audited.

I'm just wondering if RMS made Emacs clean before running his mouth about the cloud.

Re:Anyone ever security audited Emacs? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549364)

On the other hand, Stallman brings up worthwhile points. You may lose certain legal rights -- in the USA, for example, you may lose your 4th amendment rights. You do not have control over web applications

Unless they are your web applications.

the provider can change things, yank out features or add new features you do not want, and you have no recourse

Unless you have a contractual arrangement which prevents that. Sure, that may not be typically offered on gratis services, but then you have to judge for yourself whether the lack of recourse is worth the lack of up-front $ cost.

For many people, for many applications, the risk may be worthwhile.

Frankly... (-1, Troll)

djkitsch (576853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548556)

...if Stallman is worried about it, it's probably worth using. Chicken Little indeed. One supposes that there might come a day when RMS realises that nobody gives a flying fuck.

As Bruce Schneier is fond of saying, security is a trade-off. Software and information licensing is a trade-off, too, and cloud users are clearly happy with that trade-off. Having worked in web technologies for some time, I've had many "but someone else will have our data!" conversations; people are not stupid, and if they choose to keep their data elsewhere, it's because they consider it worth the up-sides. Duh.

Re:Frankly... (2)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549114)

Software and information licensing is a trade-off, too, and cloud users are clearly happy with that trade-off.

I don't think that this is at all clearly established at this point. In fact, I don't believe you can even describe the bulk of 'cloud users' as being AWARE of the trade-off.

As an example: My wife went through a phase of buying a lot of wma's from Walmart, all while I was explaining how evil DRM was and that she'd eventually regret it. She understood the technical aspects of it, and believed that it was possible that she'd eventually get screwed over - she just didn't imagine a company ever actually doing anything like that. She 'bought' the song, so it was 'hers', right?

Fast-forward to the day they shut down their DRM servers. None of those songs work now. She still keeps all the files on her hard drive, hoping that one day I'll hear about a crack for them. But only NOW does she really GET what the risks are. Now one could call her 'aware' of the trade-offs of DRM. Today she buys mp3's from Amazon, and would never buy another DRM'ed song from anywhere.

Until the cloud burns enough users to make them imagine how the negatives of the trade-off might impact them on a personal level, human nature would dictate that people really are not measuring the decision with much care. Ergo 'careless computing' really is valid.

Times have changed ... sort of (5, Interesting)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548568)

I started using personal computers back in 1981 because I wanted to be able to run my software whenever I wanted, and not be dependent on the (university's) mainframe system being up. Today, I can't imagine using the cloud for anything other than as a backup, and then only with strong encryption.

Re:Times have changed ... sort of (3)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548720)

Maybe now that Orwell's 1984 is coming true, they are working on Animal Farm?
'Local processing good, remote processing bad' turning into 'Local processing good, remote processing better'?

Re:Times have changed ... sort of (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549148)

'Local processing good, remote processing bad' turning into 'Local processing good, remote processing better'?

Nah, it's just that in every new generation of IT someone gets the idea that life would be wonderful if we all paid to rent mainframe time from them. And then after a few years we remember that mainframes sucked and go back to local processing for a few years until the next generation comes along.

Re:Times have changed ... sort of (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549276)

I started using personal computers back in 1981 because I wanted to be able to run my software whenever I wanted, and not be dependent on the (university's) mainframe system being up. Today, I can't imagine using the cloud for anything other than as a backup, and then only with strong encryption.

Yeah, I was sort of surprised that the most popular suggestion when I asked what to use after OpenOffice.org went to Oracle was Google Docs [slashdot.org] (most of the other highly rated comments were personal attacks or LibreOffice which I now use and am very happy with).

Oh well, if people want their most personal stuff up on Google Docs, I say they'll learn their lesson sooner or later. I find a use for Google Docs, putting up things that I do not care to be public. I consider anything I put up there to be something that might as well be public. From a list of songs that I hear on MPR that I like to links to strategy guides for certain games, I only collect things I want to share with people and am not afraid of. Resume? Finances? Software key codes from boxes I have discarded? You have to be kidding me!

Your "backup + strong encryption" is interesting to me. Tell me, what if I copied your data off the cloud through some lax security policy and fifteen years later we finally have the tools to crack whatever encryption you were using? Is the data you put on there timelessly sensitive? Just a thought I'd like to offer if you put stuff like SSNs out there.

I think the reality is that people are willing to put everything out on the cloud -- maybe even passwords. The real question is how do you even start to educate some normal about this?

Your comment has a misleading title (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549390)

... because your comment's body tells that things haven't changed since 1981 (in the mainframe vs PC respect).

Only one solution (1)

hilldog (656513) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548588)

The only sure fire way to protect your data and business is unplug your computer, dust off your check book and buy a roll of stamps. Keep your pictures in an album and mail letter (yes letters!) to your friends. Better still move to the forest and forget it. Seriously can we actually have privacy and safety and be linked as we are today?

Let's face it Google is Evil (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548614)

They are a corporation and have a self-interest governed by a hive-mind that has no sense of personal accountability other than demonstration of positive advancement of the corporate agenda.

Google has made it quite clear that they want to know every last thing about you and are working on finding ways to collect all your personal data, privacy be damned. This is why I only use GMail for public email and run my own mail server, why I refuse to use GoogleDocs, why I will never use ChromeOS.
These "free" apps and services come at a great hidden cost in terms of privacy, and that cost is too high IMO.

I'm not hating upon Google and do make limited use of their services.
But they are far from golden in my eyes and I am very wary of them.

Re:Let's face it Google is Evil (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549002)

I'm not hating upon Google

Uhm...

Re:Let's face it Google is Evil (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549176)

They are a corporation and have a self-interest governed by a hive-mind that has no sense of personal accountability other than demonstration of positive advancement of the corporate agenda.

Um, none of that is genuinely 'evil'. 'Self serving', sure. But one needs to be a bit selfish to be successful in any scheme involving limited resources.

The rest of your point is valid, but without at least some evidence of Google using the data to do harm to you or another party, you can't really flip the switch all the way to 'evil' like that.

Cosmas_C Worried About Stallman (1)

cosmas_c (1079035) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548626)

who is Stallman anyway ?

Re:Cosmas_C Worried About Stallman (4, Informative)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548820)

I guess you're probably joking but just in case...
RMS [stallman.org]

I see the comments filling up with RMS is irrelevant, chicken little!, etc.. If you really don't know who he is give the site a read; I learned a lot about the software industry reading articles by Richard. Give this [oreilly.com] a try as well. Better yet, buy a copy!

Stallman is (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549074)

'the guy'

crowd should be cloud (1)

Robert Heinich (857844) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548654)

The summary should be edited. your local data into the crowd
should be
your local data into the cloud

As usual... (2, Informative)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548656)

There's a relevant XKCD comic:

http://xkcd.com/743/ [xkcd.com]

Oh the Irony! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548980)

Facebook was developed with Open Source software.

Is that his only concern about LOIC? (3, Insightful)

zn0k (1082797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548674)

> Stallman warns would-be hackers not to download the LOIC software being pushed as a method of expressing anger with sites that have acted against Wikileaks - not because he thinks the protest is wrong, but because the tool's code is not visible to the user. "It seems to me that running LOIC is the network equivalent of the protests against the tax-avoiders' stores in London. We must not allow that to constrict the right to protest," he notes. "[But] if users can't recompile it, users should not trust it."

LOIC's source code is available on SourceForge.
http://sourceforge.net/projects/loic/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:Is that his only concern about LOIC? (2)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549076)

I think he's speaking more specifically about downloading precompiled binaries from uncertain sources, any of which could have packaged malware in with the source before compilation. Either that or he is uninformed about LOIC.

Re:Is that his only concern about LOIC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34549388)

I agree, his quote doesn't specifically say that the source is unavailable, it looks like the guardian is just spreading falsehoods under his name.
And it sounds typical of him to say that all users should compile their own source. Although compiling source that you don't understand doesn't make the risks go away.

I've emailed him for clarification.

The problem is convenience (2)

asnelt (1837090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548708)

Of course, RMS has a point here. And this is not the first time he is arguing against cloud computing. As can be seen in his recorded talks he has been doing this for quite some time now. The problem is that cloud computing has a couple of advantages which makes it attractive. You don't need to have backups of your data and you can access your data everywhere given that you have an internet connection. So this is very convenient for the user. But then you are giving up some of your freedoms for convenience which is not really a good thing.

Re:The problem is convenience (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549084)

You don't need to have backups of your data

Really? You actually trust Cloud Supplier X to a) be taking usable backups of your data and b) not decide to shut down your account and delete all your data?

Good luck with that.

The matter is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548714)

Do not give your private information to others, and you will not risk it becoming public.

In other news... (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548794)

Richard Stallman is also concerned about the ubiquity of showers and electric razors, and deeply worried that either may be nearby.

Chrome Browser issues (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34548812)

I still view the Browser as a "work in progress" there are certainly a lot of things which need finishing in it or it performs badly.

Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548858)

RMS worried about non-GNU-Software, stop the presses!

Personal Server/Cloud? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548890)

With the recent costs of cloud computing (namely amazon) being really affordable and the cost of having your own home server equally affordable, I don't understand what the big problem is.

I can't wait to live in the cloud. -MY- Cloud. I have no problem with google hosting a few smidgets of crap for me. Maybe e-mail, maybe some docs, but having having a home server that can handle your more sensitive stuff or in my care, legally questionable tasks, IE streaming tons of music/videos to whatever cloud device I see fit via vpn.

The problem is the market just has to shift towards that. Linux is great for the slashdot crowd. WIndows home server is manageable for a hobbyist. Mac OS X server is pretty and unix based. Don't fret because the big boys are doing the dance. They simply offer a product. It's how it's used that gives the product definition.

Stallman is ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34548994)

... irrelevant.

Pah! (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549026)

The heck with RMS, I am looking forward to editing 1080i video with the clouds using my awesome 60 kilobyte/second virgin media upstream. Cloud computing FTW!

Quite right. (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549042)

imagine, all your sensitive data, all your history, your everything in the custody of a corporation. and a single government - if one recalls what happened to amazon.

its beyond logic.

the only way i would agree to moving wholly to a cloud, would be the time one independent, totally self-reliand p2p cloud is created. much like after the format of bitcoin idea :

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

Imagine a cloud (5, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549138)

which exists with its own life, totally independent. imagine that, this cloud is created by millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people running p2p based clients on their devices. imagine that this cloud uses the collective computing power of these hundreds of millions of people, and with top encryption.

it cant be controlled. it cant be killed. it cant be censored. it cant be outdone. its everywhere.

that is the kind of cloud i would be willing to move into, without hesitation.

something after the format that bitcoin project uses http://www.bitcoin.org/ [bitcoin.org] ( i know this is the second time i linked this, but im enthusiastic )

Old man yells at cloud? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34549270)

I actually agree with Stallman in substance. But it's too hard to resist the headline from an episode of the Simpsons: "Old man yells at cloud".

Lets just sum up all of RMS arguments (3, Funny)

not already in use (972294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549328)

I think RMS arguments, all of them, can be summed up concisely as:

STOP LIKING THINGS I DON'T LIKE
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