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Ask Richard Stallman Anything

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the ask-away dept.

GNU is Not Unix 573

Richard Stallman (RMS) founded the GNU Project in 1984, the Free Software Foundation in 1985, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. RMS now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital rights management, and software patents. He's agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, free software, and anything else you like, but please limit yourself to one question per post.

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573 comments

Microsoft and GPL (3, Interesting)

allots (2783683) | about a year ago | (#42118127)

What does RMS and other Slashdot readers think about Microsoft's recent offerings to come closer to open source model? Microsoft has Codeplex for open source code and they have made vivid and vast improvements to the Linux kernel and software stack. Is it good that open source is now working closer with Microsoft than ever before?

Is Microsoft the Great Satan? Betteridge says (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42118383)

When passing this question on to Mr. Stallman, try replacing "open source" with "free software". He prefers the term "free software", despite that the Debian Free Software Guidelines are nearly identical to the OSI Open Source Definition.

So since 2009, when FSF's essay on Microsoft [gnu.org] got a major update, is it good that free software communities have begun to work closer with Microsoft than ever before?

Re:Is Microsoft the Great Satan? Betteridge says (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118487)

Is he really that touchy and pedantic?

Re:Is Microsoft the Great Satan? Betteridge says (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#42118505)

ask him.

Re:Is Microsoft the Great Satan? Betteridge says (2, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#42118515)

Free Software and Open Source are not the same thing, the terms are not interchangeable. See my signature for an explanation.

Re:Is Microsoft the Great Satan? Betteridge says (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118545)

Yes, but rather justifiably so. Free software simply isn't 100% synonymous with open source, as you can publish the source code of something under a license that isn't free. So when you're talking about legal issues - and licensing is essentially a legal issue - it absolutely pays to be specific to the point of being pedantic.

Re:Is Microsoft the Great Satan? Betteridge says (1)

LordStormes (1749242) | about a year ago | (#42118679)

Yes. A thousand times yes.

Re:Microsoft and GPL (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#42118629)

they have made vivid and vast improvements to the Linux kernel

Citation please. Preferably without bizarre marketing shill terms like "vivid improvements".

Copy protection and GPL (-1, Troll)

quartersa (2783685) | about a year ago | (#42118131)

I'm a student who has started programming my own applications for sale. I'd like to open source them so that people have free access to the code. My problem is with copy protection. I'd like to make money with my software so I wrapped it around with DRM. The problem is people who have direct access to the code and can therefore copy it at will. What copy protection mechanism RMS and Slashdot readers suggest I'd use? It would be best if the whole DRM app would be open source (free).

Re:Copy protection and GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118177)

Either this is a clever troll, or you do not understand that the concepts of copy protection and GPL are mutually exclusive.

Re:Copy protection and GPL (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42118269)

Neither. It's a troll, but it's not very clever.

Re:Copy protection and GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118297)

Troll. It must a troll. Or a shrill for Oracle/Microsoft/Apple/IBM/$CORPOFTHEWEEK.

Re:Copy protection and GPL (4, Informative)

alexhs (877055) | about a year ago | (#42118773)

allots (2783683) and quartersa (2783685) are both astroturfing accounts, posting the minute the story goes live. Usually there's only one of them by story, but they have no shame :)

Re:Copy protection and GPL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118257)

Are you a troll ?

if your code is free software, then I can buy it from you, modifiy it to remove the DRM and redistribute it, so although DRMs are not "as such" incompatible with Free Software it's pointless...
So if you want to sell your own open source application, look at the business models that do apply (service, consortium, fremium, begging, ease of installation, etc..)
do not try to pretend it's free and then slap traitor ware on it.
 

What was it you ate from your toe? (5, Interesting)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about a year ago | (#42118163)

Seriously, did you eat your toe cheese on stage [google.com] ?

Re:What was it you ate from your toe? (5, Funny)

bellers (254327) | about a year ago | (#42118301)

Hes committed to only eating open sores food.

Re:What was it you ate from your toe? (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about a year ago | (#42118389)

Hes committed to only eating open sores food.

+5 punny!

Re:What was it you ate from your toe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118417)

Oh god, why don't I have mod points today?

Re:What was it you ate from your toe? (3, Informative)

zill (1690130) | about a year ago | (#42118303)

1:51 [youtube.com] , to save you guys some time.

Re:What was it you ate from your toe? (1)

egr (932620) | about a year ago | (#42118313)

That's disgusting! I can't stand when people lick fingers, eat buggers, bite nails or chew on their earwax, but that is a new top!

Re:What was it you ate from your toe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118391)

God I wish I had mod points at the moment. This question absolutely requires a direct response.

Re:What was it you ate from your toe? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118435)

Oh God. Please, *please* don't ask him this. I don't want to know the answer. I don't want to think about it. This is like one of those nasty embarrassing moments that you'd only ever see on the Office.

Re:What was it you ate from your toe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118525)

I actually came here to jokingly ask this. So I second this motion.

Suggestion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118165)

"Dear RMS, my question is: Seriously?"

Capitalism and You (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42118169)

Your monkish lifestyle would leave most people who work in software screaming for a Lear Jet and you have stated "I've always lived cheaply ... like a student, basically. And I like that, because it means that money is not telling me what to do." Growing up in the United States, I have been served the koolaid of Capitalism several times and I have been taught that the inherent competition and struggle for money in all aspects of our lives make us the greatest country ever. I've read a lot of your comments on intellectual property reform and I can't help but feel that it just isn't compatible with capitalism. Have you ever had problems rectifying your stance on intellectual property with capitalism? Do you see any problems at all with no copyright or patent laws inside a capitalistic society?

I feel like you have this admirable and altruistic quality where money isn't the ultimate driving force and when you speak to people who base their entire lives around money, there's a fundamental disconnect that is overlooked.

Re:Capitalism and You (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118595)

You're not asking me question, but how exactly is copyright reform inherently against capitalism? For copyrights (or patents) to exist, it requires a government to enforce them in the first place. To own a copyright is to own the rights to an idea (which IMO makes the entire concept incompatible with free speech), and that is impossible to do with a some sort of force behind you, legal or otherwise.

Re:Capitalism and You (4, Interesting)

SpzToid (869795) | about a year ago | (#42118609)

Yeah really RMS, who do you look up to yourself? I'll venture to guess Ralph Nadar and perhaps even Mr. Fred Rodgers who are both, (also) impressive Americans that have worked to set stellar examples in their field.

Re:Capitalism and You (1)

Digana (1018720) | about a year ago | (#42118681)

Oh, prepare to be lectured for saying "intellectual property"...

Re:Capitalism and You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118775)

Why can't you use a browser like normal people?

For personal reasons, I do not browse the web from my computer. (I also have not net connection much of the time.) To look at page I send mail to a demon which runs wget and mails the page back to me. It is very efficient use of my time, but it is slow in real time.

citation [zawodny.com]

GPL vs BSD (0, Flamebait)

allots (2783683) | about a year ago | (#42118175)

My question to RMS is.. why he thinks GPL is better license than BSD license?

BSD license is ultimately more free than GPL because it allows people to monetarize their BSD-based software products. GPL does not allow this freedom but closes it out. Why is so bad that companies and people must be prohibited from earning living from open source code? Yes, you could potentially sell your open source software but that hardly works. Some kind of products (for example games) can't be really sold support to, either.

Re:GPL vs BSD (1, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | about a year ago | (#42118253)

Talk about kicking a dead horse.

So far the questions are either trolls or completely redundant. Hopefully they will improve.

Re:GPL vs BSD (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#42118279)

Don't you think he's answered this one enough times already?

Re:GPL vs BSD (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#42118469)

And just because I couldn't help but feed the troll...

Nothing about the GPL keps you from monetizing *your* code, it only keeps you from monetizing *my* code in a manner that doesn't benefit me as well. If you want to monetize my code, pay up. The price is that you release your own modifications on the same (or more generous) terms. If you don't like those terms you're welcome to contact me directly to negotiate others.

As for games - it's called content. Just because you have to release the source (aka "the engine") doesn't mean you have to release the art/music/maps/etc (aka "the game")

Re:GPL vs BSD (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year ago | (#42118349)

There is a collection of the FSF's thoughts on various free and non-free licenses [gnu.org] available, including the BSD license:

This is the original BSD license, modified by removal of the advertising clause. It is a lax, permissive non-copyleft free software license, compatible with the GNU GPL.

This license is sometimes referred to as the 3-clause BSD license.

The modified BSD license is not bad, as lax permissive licenses go, though the Apache 2.0 license is preferable. However, it is risky to recommend use of “the BSD license”, even for special cases such as small programs, because confusion could easily occur and lead to use of the flawed original BSD license. To avoid this risk, you can suggest the X11 license instead. The X11 license and the modified revised BSD license are more or less equivalent.

However, the Apache 2.0 license is better for substantial programs, since it prevents patent treachery.

There is also an article [understandinglimited.com] I found on this exact subject, where Stallman says the following:

Freedom means having control of your own life; “Freedom of choice” is a partly accurate and partly misleading way to describe that, and taking that expression too literally leads to mistaken conclusions. Thus, I say I advocate “freedom” — not “freedom of choice”. This always leads to the question of “which freedom?” In the area of software, I want a society in which users are free to run software, free study and change its source code and make their changed versions run, and free to redistribute changed and unchanged versions. In other words, a society in which non-free software more or less doesn’t exist. Establishing a free society that endures generally requires not allowing people to give up freedom. In other words, it requires inalienable rights. I do not want a society in which people had those freedoms only until they gave them up. I do not say this with the expectation that you will agree with me. It sounds like you are as firmly convinced of your views as I am of mine. I hope, though, that at least you will understand better what my position is.

Re:GPL vs BSD (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42118463)

A lot of these questions are answered on the philosophy [gnu.org] section [gnu.org] of his page.

Basically, RMS derives everything from the four freedoms: the freedom (0) to run the program, (1) to study and change the program in source code form, (2) to redistribute exact copies, and (3) to distribute modified versions. If you accept those freedoms, it makes sense to avoid the BSD licenses, because they allow middle-men to deprive end-users of some of these rights. Of course, not everyone thinks those freedoms are important.

Secondly, monetizing is actually easier under the GPL. If that is your goal, you can follow the example of this guy [oberhumer.com] , or QT, or MySQL, and dual-license your code. Those who are willing to preserve the freedoms can have it for free. Those who aren't, can pay. I can't think of any BSD products that have been able to make money like this (maybe there are some).

Re:GPL vs BSD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118745)

I'll answer that question for you, although many won't like it.

He thinks the GPL is better than the BSD license is because he is simply the other side of the same coin as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. He hates actually free software - he is only interested in "Free as in do what I say or else."

Really Orwellian, actually.

Open source and free (4, Insightful)

quartersa (2783685) | about a year ago | (#42118181)

What does RMS think about the current situation with open source software where most people think open source just means free? They hardly care about the philosophical aspect of free software but just want something that's free.

Re:Open source and free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118267)

RMS wants them to think it's "free", but not the way you think!

Re:Open source and free (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#42118733)

I was about to ask this same question.

1980s Hackers Convention (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118195)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl_1OybdteY

Do you remember attending this hacker's convention? What was it like interacting with all of those notable guys back in the early days?

How to reverse the aggregation problem? (3, Interesting)

concealment (2447304) | about a year ago | (#42118211)

A problem with software and operating systems is what I call the "aggregation problem," which is that what we have now is an aggregate of past solutions to problems that may no longer exist. The stuff piles up, increasing complexity and decreasing the uniformity and effectiveness of the interface. At what point do software projects call for a top-down redesign? How can free software do this where industry cannot?

software freedom (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118219)

"and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom"

As opposed to software held in slavery?

Software freedom does not exist. Why are you idiots so damn stupid, that is my question.

Why are you such a tool? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118235)

I mean, really. It's an honest question.

Re:Why are you such a tool? (0)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#42118309)

It's a rubbish question.

"Tool" is poorly defined. And as for the actual question, are you looking for his motivations for being said tool, what he thinks it is that makes him a tool, or what?

MODERATORS. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118725)

This person deserves points! Please comply.

Ask Richard Stallman anything about GNU Rampart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118255)

Dear Richard Stallman,

Did you enjoy the movie "Rampart" starring Woody Harrelson? What was your favorite scene from the movie "Rampart"? Would you rent "Rampart" and watch it at home with friends or family? Are there any plans to create and release a GNU FOSS version of "Rampart" that's both free as in beer and free as in speech? Thanks for answering my "Rampart" questions!

Revolution OS ... (4, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#42118281)

Interviews with you comprised a big percentage of the documentary Revolution OS.

If it were to be remade today, and the financial aspects ignored, what do you think would be different? If you were producing such a documentary today, what would you focus on?

Do you like being worshiped ? (1, Flamebait)

lemur3 (997863) | about a year ago | (#42118283)

Really.. for some people you seem to be some God, and software is the religion.

What do you think of the hero worship?

Re:Do you like being worshiped ? (1)

tomknight (190939) | about a year ago | (#42118371)

Okay, that's a better question than mine.

Re:Do you like being worshiped ? (1)

capt.Hij (318203) | about a year ago | (#42118761)

This brings up a good point. Let me rephrase the question.

Mr Stallman, you are regarded as a founding father of the free software movement, and your opinion on free software carries a lot of weight. Because of this you are put under a harsh spot light, and every little thing you do is magnified. For example, your comments about Steve Jobs immediately after his death were broadcast quite widely. To some people the timing showed a lack of taste and were seen as disrespectful. Because of your status in the free software movement your statement was used by some to smear the larger community. How do you feel about this kind of attention? Have you given it much thought, and what kind of insight can you share about the situation you are in when your private and public mannerisms are misconstrued to be part of a larger group's views and outlooks?

Onesies (0, Flamebait)

tomknight (190939) | about a year ago | (#42118287)

Do you prefer to wear onesies with or without feet?

Hypocracy (4, Interesting)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year ago | (#42118291)

Do you not find it a little hypocritical that you support free software, as it allows all the well known benefits like people collaborating, adding features, fixing bugs, using your code in unexpected ways, and producing generally awesome stuff; but, at the same time support deliberately breaking software designs (e.g. that of gcc), and making it hard to integrate them, edit them, and use them as a third party[1]?

Doesn't that make gcc just as bad as closed source software, as you're going out of your way to make it difficult to do all the great things that free and open software allows?

[1] http://comments.gmane.org/gmane.comp.gcc.devel/59296 [gmane.org]

Re:Hypocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118583)

> is there a reason for not making the front ends dynamic libraries which could be linked by any program that wants to parse source code?

Linking non-free software (as defined by RMS and the FSF) to GCCs front-ends is a copyvio (or piracy if you like) of their copyrights. Linux lets driver developers get away with it and, like it or not, has legitimized the practice. The FSF doesn't want to. So, they've put up a kind of DRM to discourage linking blobs.

Like all DRM, it's a design defect meant to advance a business / political requirement. Much like how GPL is more restrictive than BSD. Is restrictiveness an acceptable evil? I think we can guess RMS's answer, and I'm not sure asking the question will reveal much that anybody doesn't know already.

Re:Hypocracy (3, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year ago | (#42118671)

The question was not about linking closed source against open source, it was about deliberately breaking the design of the software, and in doing so making life hard for the good guys as well as the bad guys. Because they did this, no one can use gcc's parser/type checker/etc to build an *open* IDE either. That to me rather makes gcc's code the very opposite of open, because it's actively trying to stop me from extending, editing, doing generally awesome things.

That's the hypocrisy, not simply not wanting closed source vendors to grab your code and run (which I quite understand).

Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118307)

"The freedom to run the program, for any purpose" This includes the freedom to use a program to kill or torture people. Don't you think it is time to include a clause that forbid this kind of "freedom"?

Re:Freedom (1)

alucardX (734977) | about a year ago | (#42118369)

There are laws that forbid that sort of thing. Where there are not a limit imposed by a software license wouldn't do any good.

GlovePIE (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42118405)

"The freedom to run the program, for any purpose" This includes the freedom to use a program to kill or torture people. Don't you think it is time to include a clause that forbid this kind of "freedom"?

I'm pretty sure he'd say no. The license of GlovePIE software is non-free because it includes a restriction against the sort of military use you envision.

Re:GlovePIE (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#42118727)

your terrorist is my freedom fighter. your traitors to the crown are my country's Founding Fathers.....

How do you feel about the Raspberry Pi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118315)

How do you feel about the Raspberry Pi? Do you feel it is a significant step towards freer PC hardware platforms?

software design paradigms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118317)

What are the most important questions you should ask yourself & considerations
you should take into account before writing a single piece of code?

Copyleft and hardware manufacturers (4, Insightful)

nathana (2525) | about a year ago | (#42118329)

What can we do to incentivize hardware manufacturers to be less "evil"? I have an iPhone, and Apple has screwed me over; this is my story: http://www.anderson-net.com/~nathan/apple-broke-my-phone [anderson-net.com] (also see http://pandodaily.com/2012/11/23/apples-stick-in-the-mud-routine-is-getting-old [pandodaily.com] ). I know, I know...you can say "I told you so" if you want to.

As a customer of theirs, I'm sure I'm well in the minority in terms of how I use my devices, and as long as most of their customers have no problem with how they do business and they continue to rake in money hand-over-fist, Apple losing me as a customer is a mere drop in the bucket for them. If the loss of my money and goodwill as a prior customer is not enough, and other people continue to desire and to buy their products, how can we communicate to companies like Apple that the "open" way is a better way, and do so in a language they can understand and respond to?

-- Nathan

A Generation Lost in the Bazaar? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42118333)

Months ago, ACM published a column titled A Generation Lost in the Bazaar [acm.org] by Poul-Henning Kamp and in it he said:

That is the sorry reality of the bazaar Raymond praised in his book: a pile of old festering hacks, endlessly copied and pasted by a clueless generation of IT "professionals" who wouldn't recognize sound IT architecture if you hit them over the head with it. It is hard to believe today, but under this embarrassing mess lies the ruins of the beautiful cathedral of Unix, deservedly famous for its simplicity of design, its economy of features, and its elegance of execution. (Sic transit gloria mundi, etc.)

Does Kamp have a point? How do you refute his example and his drawn conclusion from it? Have you issued a rebuttal yet?

Re:A Generation Lost in the Bazaar? (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42118521)

I laughed at the article examples.

One of Brooks's many excellent points is that quality happens only if somebody has the responsibility for it, and that "somebody" can be no more than one single person

Without an intermediary / roadblock, anyone who cares can fix the funny whoppers he found in the article. With an intermediary / roadblock the poor guy would be so horrifically overloaded no one would be permitted by the speedbump to fix the funny whoppers he found in the article.

TLDR of the article: "I found something that sucks, quick, lets insert an intermediary and more processes to slow us down!" After all, that's always worked wonders.

Not that I'm against strict technical standards to avoid the funny whoppers in the article. That was strategically never debated in the article. Look at the huge pile of debian packaging requirements. Almost all are excellent ideas. If the author is angry at FreeBSD ports he needs to convince FreeBSD to install a "you must be this tall to git commit" requirement, in other words stolen/borrowed stuff from Debian and elsewhere, not simply install a human speedbump, or argue that a human speedbump is the only possible solution in the face of better examples of doing stuff.

Re:A Generation Lost in the Bazaar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118647)

Kamp was click trolling. Please ignore him and not dignify his blatant attempts to drive traffic to his column.

Heavy breathing... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118341)

What are you wearing?

Opinions regarding freedom of Android (2)

Pedant (75947) | about a year ago | (#42118351)

What's your opinion regarding the level of freedom provided by various Android devices? In particular, Google's Nexus line, CyanogenMod, and other devices that have been rooted and/or unlocked to varying degrees.

What project is using the wrong license? (5, Interesting)

gQuigs (913879) | about a year ago | (#42118353)

What free software project is using a license that doesn't actually match with it's mission - or hinders free software in other ways? In other words, if you could *magically* switch the license of one project - which would you choose and why?

Examples: Move Mesa to GPLv3, Move Linux from GPLv2 to v3, Make andriod GPLv3, GCC - from GPLv3 to Apache.

Are you an alcoholic? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118355)

I've read some of your commentary about being hosted and I believe you will only drink red wine? Do you have a drinking problem and does that explain why you are a control freak who has to have your way?

The future of GCC (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118357)

How do you see GCC progressing in the future? Several things you argued against (converting to C++, allowing non-GPLed code access to the internals of gcc) are occurring, and gcc is getting major competition from the BSD-licensed clang and LLVM.

Random Numbers (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#42118361)

Just how random do you like your numbers?

slashdotted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118395)

If entire server farms can be slashdotted into the ground through traffic simply by refering to them in a post, how about a single individual, even one as magnificent as RMS?

Why is source code so important. (4, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#42118397)

Shouldn't we push more for Open Specifications vs Open Source Code.

If a hardware manufacturer just releases the specification we could create a program to interface with it. If say Microsoft was fully open about its Office Document Specification we could program a 100% compatible system for it.

Having access to Source Code has limited appeal to me. Everyone codes differently and as software gets older it will undoubtedly get to a point where it needs a fresh rewrite. If you release the specs then it allows the freedom of a new system to be made without all the legacy code that most people are afraid to touch.

The argument if the program is Open Source then it is Open Spec, isn't a good one. For example I had to maintain some FORTRAN Code. Then I needed to parse a data file the program made. I had the source... However the Data File wouldn't read when I recompiled the code on a different system. As the Datafile dumped the endianness of the memory into the file. In order for me to parse the file I had to get access to the specification of the original hardware to show me the difference in endianness of the old system with the new one.

Writing code is easy. Remaking code is easy too. Knowing the specification of the program now that is hard. So if there was a bigger push to Open Specification vs Open Source Code, I feel we would have far more software freedom in the world.

Portability and implicit assumptions (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42118703)

I agree with you that the source code is not a complete specification of a program's behavior by itself, but the source code combined with the target platform's ABI is closer to complete. To get around this endianness problem when running the program, you could emulate the original target platform. To get around it when porting the program to a new machine, you could run the program's unit test suite in parallel on the emulated and native systems and then add explicit handling of these implicit assumptions, such as htonl() for endianness, wherever the test results do not match. This way, the source code itself becomes a more complete specification.

Free software business model: Games (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42118413)

This is my first of two questions about free software business models [pineight.com] .

Several kinds of software have historically depended on the business model of restricting distribution. One is video games. Video games consist of far more than a computer program; they also consist of so-called "assets" [wikipedia.org] , such as textures, meshes, maps, audio, and other kinds of non-program works for which you don't want people using the term "content" [gnu.org] . In a world where all software is distributed under a free software license, how would the development of new video games be financed? The model of selling support, which Red Hat has successfully applied to business software, might work for massively multiplayer online games but wouldn't work so well for anything else because a single-player game doesn't need much support after the sale once it's running.

Spanish and French Science Fiction? (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42118431)

You're a fan of science fiction and speak Spanish and French. Do you know of any good Spanish and French sci-fi that English speakers should look into? The field seems to be dominated by English writers and I've been making an effort to reach out to foreign authors and looking for translations. And if you don't know of any, who are your current favorite sci-fi authors? Any unknown sleepers that you've found that people should read?

I just read "Roadside Picnic" and it was so good, I was surprised I had not heard of it until recently.

Personal hygiene (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118441)

How often do you bathe? For the sake of humanity, would you commit to bathing at the minimum of once a week? Quarterly is not acceptable.

Any regrets? (5, Interesting)

Catiline (186878) | about a year ago | (#42118445)

It has been very nearly 30 years since the founding of the GNU Foundation. In all that time, what is your biggest regret?

Free software business model: Tax software (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42118453)

Several kinds of software have historically depended on the business model of restricting distribution. One is tax form preparation software. In a world where all software is distributed under a free software license, how would continuing updates to tax software be financed? Converting the annual changes to the tax codes in dozens of jurisdictions to a machine-readable expert system [wikipedia.org] is time-consuming and requires the effort of people who are experts in both tax law and software engineering. Perhaps the key is that software distributed under a free software license comes with "ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY", as opposed to the fact that the big publishers of individual income tax software in the United States (Intuit and H&R Block) stake their corporate reputations on the accuracy and timeliness of these translations.

Gnus, anyone? (1)

hasso (2781943) | about a year ago | (#42118457)

Hey, do you like Gnus? Thanks

Your computer of choice (1)

thomas8166 (1244688) | about a year ago | (#42118473)

I've read that your personal machine uses a Loonson processor. Is there any particular reason you chose this architechture over x86, aside from avoiding the proprietary IP cores?

Are you really a prima donna? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118483)

http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/10/28/1432221/the-rms-tour-rider

https://secure.mysociety.org/admin/lists/pipermail/developers-public/2011-October/007647.html

FSF and GNU successorship (4, Interesting)

Digana (1018720) | about a year ago | (#42118493)

Although GNU and the FSF's views are often thought to be exactly the same as yours, they are not. GNU and the FSF are many other people and although they overall have the same aims, individuals associated to each organisation may deviate slightly from your views.

The FSF right now is pretty indepenent from you. John Sullivan is actively leading it, but there are other very public members [fsf.org] of the FSF. It has become independent from you, even if you're still the president of the FSF. Unlike its beginnings, the FSF is also no longer primarily concerned with creating free software, but rather it is now involved in campaigning for free software. Social activists mostly aligned with your views have replaced the hacker majority in the FSF.

GNU has no such clear independence. You have the final say on aything that happens in GNU, such as for example usinng bzr as a DVCS for Emacs, a choice of dubious tactical advantage that has generated much discontent. You have nevertheless vetoed any dissent on this topic. Your health is apparently deteriorating, and I hesitate to think what will become of GNU when you die.

Is there any clear path for the future governance of GNU you in the same way that the FSF has done this?

Creative works (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118495)

Do you think that music should be copyleft licensed?

I am a musician and supporter of the free software movement. I feel compelled to release my musical creations under copyleft licenses and feel the moral implications of non-rivalrous digital sharing apply to my work. I have heard the argument that we should think of "creative" and "practical" works separately; that creative works are meant to be an expression of their creator and thus society doesn't benefit from allowing others to modify that expression. But doesn't this assume too clear a distinction between creative and practical? Can't code be expressive, and music utilitarian? And even when music is purely personal expression, won't society benefit from individuals being able to meld a work to meet their own tastes? The subjectivity of music's value means modifications are particularly valid. In the end, I feel like soceity would benefit if all digital works, creative and otherwise, were copyleft.

GNU Movement from another ethical point of view? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118503)

The GNU Movement as an Ethical Movement is based on the Utilitarianism doctrine. Have you think the GNU Movement from another perspective, for example, from the Aristotelian point of view or from the Consequentialism?

--
Joaquin Bogado - Argentina

BSD/MIT licenses (1)

Kergan (780543) | about a year ago | (#42118563)

In retrospect, wouldn't free and open source software have been better off if the FSF had actively been promoting the use of the (New) BSD and MIT licenses? Or better yet, the use of unlicensed [unlicense.org] software?

Is persuasion enough on its own? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118573)

They say that best way to save drowning people is to strike them on the head first, for them to pass out and no to interfere.

Question: were you ever tempted to try other methods of convincing instead of pure evangelism, i.e.
a) beauty appeal (Apple)
b) inertia (Microsoft)
c) 'benevolent' dictatorship (Linus)

If not, why? Are you happy with what you achieved or do you think you could have achieved more by being less respectful to others?

Why FDR and Churchill? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42118591)

During a Q&A Session a while back [archive.org] you were asked about people and movements near and dear to your heart and you said "I admire Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, even though I criticize some of the things that they did." I love World War II history and I also find myself in a love-hate situation with Churchill. Could you go into further detail about what specifics lead you to single out these two over leaders like Lincoln, Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin or even historical figures who have enabled information itself like Turing, Shannon, etc?

MUSIC (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42118607)

Hey RMS I enjoyed listening to your "recent" interview on hacker public radio (its a podcast, or more accurately a syndication of podcasts, or something like that)

Anyway you talked a little about your wide ranging tastes in music and I've always wondered if you (or anyone else) has analyzed taste in specific genre of music vs taste is specific genre of programming. Like people who like psy-trance really like functional programming languages. Or wider range, like the most genre of music you like, the more genre of programming you like (which seems obvious?).

Only half way kidding around, if I'm trying to learn Scala, for example, what music should I listen to for inspiration?

Open source laptops (hardware) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118619)

is the Yeeloong-8133 ever going to drop? are you going to get one? where can i actually find one of these things?

GNU visibility and factioning (3, Interesting)

Digana (1018720) | about a year ago | (#42118635)

GNU is supposed to be a free operating system as well as a group of people working towards building this OS. To a casual observer, however, GNU does not appear very active. Some of the most prominent and supposedly GNU packages, such as Gimp, Gnome, GTK+, and R are mostly GNU in name only. The hackers working on these projects have very little interaction with other hackers working on GNU projects and they very frequently espouse views contrary to GNU's philosophical aims. Thus to an outside observer, GNU does not appear to be a cohesive group of people working towards a common goal. Many GNU mailing lists being private further the public perception that GNU is not even actively producing software anymore.

What can be done to remedy this situation? How can we strengthen GNU, make it reach out again to the people it's supposed to be freeing?

Apologies, RMS, but Obligatory XKCD (1)

ilikenwf (1139495) | about a year ago | (#42118685)

In all due seriousness, I heartily support your efforts...but a little fun is always a good thing!

https://xkcd.com/225/ [xkcd.com]

MIT 1973 (1)

jfb2252 (1172123) | about a year ago | (#42118697)

If memory serves, you got your SB at MIT in 1973. Is there anyone else in the class of 1973 whose work you respect? Or anyone who was on campus at the time, student/faculty/staff?

How do you cope with being right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118709)

You have an impressive track record of being steadfastly correct/prescient about issues of significance, years or decades before common wisdom catches up. Detractors heap on the derision, without apology or accountability. It must be emotionally trying.

How do you cope with being right?

'Walled Garden' Environments (1)

dontfearthereaper (2657807) | about a year ago | (#42118723)

What is your opinion on the 'walled garden' that Microsoft, Apple, and the collective of OEMs (software and hardware) that go along with MS, have force fed to businesses and mainstream users over the past 20 years and is there any real longevity/long term viability in the walled garden business model? I ask because of the lack of resistance from SW/HW vendors to MS's 'Surface' UI being instated across both the mobile devices and desktop/server (Windows Server 2012 also forces this UI).

Favorite hack (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42118737)

(insert my standard question for all tech type people)
Give me your best hack. Specifically something YOU did personally not hire / grad student.
Hardware, software only (yes yes the GPL is cool but I'm looking for code or schematic or at least a description of something made out of source or solder)

I can't put words in your mouth but the ideal answer would be something like "I'm particularly proud of the O(n) memory garbage collection routine in emacs implemented around '89 and how it worked was very roughly ..." or "I really like my homemade fully automatic automotive relay based routing system for my OH scale model railroad sorting yard" or "I built my own legal limit ham radio amplifier" almost certainly a different topic of course, but something of this form of answer.

if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42118749)

if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound, what is your take on this conundrum,
what about if a laptop falls off a tree in the forest does it also make a sound

Altering a referral code (3, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#42118779)

IIRC at least once, some lin... er... GNU/Linux distro packagers modified some referral codes kept in the source of a program, overriding the upstream authors' choice, which would deprive them from the donations of the modified package.

This seems technically compatible with the freedom allowed by GPL, what do you think of such a practice, anyway?

Ciao!

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