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RMS Says Free Software Is Good

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the and-mundie-is-wrong dept.

GNU is Not Unix 215

A few city blocks and many philosophical lightyears away from the New York University auditorium where Microsoft Senior Vice President Craig Mundie extolled the virtues of proprietary software a few weeks ago, Richard M. Stallman spoke this morning instead on the reasons that software developers, CEOs and every citizen whatsoever should prefer the Free software movement's methods and results. Stallman, founder of the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation, said a lot of things that he's been saying since 1984, but also threw in some zingers aimed at Microsoft's recent public criticism of open development models. Update: 05/30 01:56 PM by T : Correction: I incorrectly reported in the story below that David Touretzky of CMU introduced Richard Stallman at this speech; in fact, it was Mike Uretsky, Administrative Director of NYU's Center For Advanced Technologies (CAT) and professor in the Stern School of Business; the text below reflects this. With many apologies to both professors and to readers, timothy. (Read more.)

NYU Information Systems chairman Mike Uretsky and NYU computer science professor Edmond Schonberg briefly introduced Stallman to a standing-room-only crowd at NYU's Courant Mathematical Institute.

Stallman drew laughter and applause during Uretsky's introduction by calling out "I do Free software, Open Source is a different crowd" when Uretsky made a reference to Open Source software. Rather than a point-by-point rebuttal of Mundie's speech advocating Microsoft's current "shared source" initiative, Stallman's speech presented both an overview of the Free software movement -- several times emphasizing how it differs from the more pragmatic Open Source movement -- and a defense of Free software at several levels. Though peppered with jokes and historical asides, the bulk of Stallman's talk was devoted to explaining the benefits of Free software and comparing community-based, non-proprietary software development to the "deliberately inflicted waste" of proprietary software.

The publicity that Mundie's speech has stirred up around software licensing is obviously not forgotten, though. Stallman began by saying "I'd like to thank Microsoft for providng me the opportunity to use this platform. For the last few weeks I've felt like an author whose book was fortuitously banned somewhere, but all the articles about it are giving the wrong author's name, because Microsoft describes our license as an 'Open Source' license." Stallman emphasized at several points that the approach he and GNU project have is at its core philosophical, not merely pragmatic.

Beginning with cooking rather than computers, Stallman pointed out the advantages of being able to share functional documents in the form of recipes. He pointed that while nearly everyone cooks, "unless you're great, you probably use recipes. You've probably had the experience of getting a recipe from a friend -- and unless you're a total neophyte, you probably have also had the experience of changing the recipe. If you've made changes and you make it for your friends, and they like it, you can write down your changes for them." Imagine, he said, if recipes were packaged in black boxes, unavailable for inspection.

Stallman named the qualities he uses to define Free software. He began with "freedom zero" -- the freedom to run the software for any purpose -- noting, "If you're not even free to run the software for anything you want, it's a pretty damn restrictive license."

He went on to describe three additional freedoms which distinguish Free from proprietary software: the right to change software to suit user needs; to redistribute the software; and to publish improved versions.

These freedoms are absent in proprietary software, Stallman said, and cited what he said was his first taste to the evils of non-disclosure statements, which took place while he was working as an operating system developer at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Stallman knew of a computer scientist at Carnegie-Mellon University with a copy of the Xerox source, and asked for a copy in order to add this feature. He found his request was denied, because his fellow academic had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

"He had refused to cooperate with just about the the entire population of the planet Earth, because he had signed an non-disclosure agreement. This was my first encounter with a non-disclosure agreement, and I was the victim -- my lab and I were the victims. The lesson it taught me is that NDAs have victims, they aren't harmless."

Toward the close of his speech, Stallman pointedly applied the advantages of Free software to businesses, giving examples of ways in which a community of more than 100,000 developers leads to more robust and maintainable software, all issues of price aside.

Describing his experiences after releasing GNU-Emacs in 1984, Stallman said "I got a msg that said 'I think I saw a bug, and here's a fix.'" Others emailed him with new feature requests and bug reports, and in many cases, the code to implement an improved version, "until they were pouring in on my so fast that just making use of the information I was getting was a big job. Microsoft doesn't have this problem."

The iterative, inclusive software development process resulted in constantly improving code for the GNU Project's various pieces of software, said Stallman. "What people began to note around 1990 was that our SW was better -- it was more powerful than the proprietary alternatives."

Since that time (before the Linux kernel was developed and employed alongside many GNU utilities), Free and Open Source software has increased dramatically in use and public acceptance.

Citing the large number of companies now paying to develop Free software, and that the majority of pages on the World Wide Web are served with Apache running on GNU/Linux systems, Stallman scoffed at claims that the GPL was unfriendly to business. "Microsoft says that busineses can't get along with the GPL. So if businesses don't include IBM, and HP, and Sun, then maybe they're right."

Addressing one persistent myth, Stallman said "It's not true, sometimes I wish it was true, that if a company uses GPL in any project, that the whole project has to be GPLd. If programs operate at arms' length from each other, then they're legally separate, in general."

Again, though, Stallman was careful to point out that the advantages and intent of Free software had more to do with ethics and social good in a variety of fields than any particular bottom line. Closed software, he said, "causes psychosocial harm which affects the spirit of scientific cooperation. Progress in science crucially depends on people being able to work together. Nowadays you see scientists act as if they're in gangs at war with other little gangs of scientists ... we're all held back." And not just scientists -- of anyone who uses computers in the workplace, Stallman said that in the absence of a broad right to modify and improve the software they use, "Their lives and jobs are going to be frustrating -- people protect themselves from frustration by deciding not to care. When this happens, it's bad for those people and for society as a whole."

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215 comments

Re:All very nice... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#190020)

The question is, how do you expect a software user to buy your proprietary code when they can usually obtain Free Software which is as good as or better than your product?

This sounds like flamebait, but I really am interested. Sure, there are cases where proprietary software is better (technically) than all the Free alternatives, but in my experience that is the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps your software is one of the exceptions. But even in these cases someone eventually will write a Free alternative that is technically superior to your product.

It is true, you may lose if you make your software Free. But even if you keep your software proprietary, I suspect you (and all other proprietary software makers) will be defeated by Free Software somewhere down the road anyway.

So, like it or not, the GPL will get you -- one way or another.

Victims of NDAs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#190021)

The lesson it taught me is that NDAs have victims, they aren't harmless.

Free Software has victims too. It's intent is to undermine the commercial software world, and put thousands of programmers out of work. What makes one kind of victimization OK and the other not?

Programs at arms length (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#190022)

If programs operate at arms' length from each other, then they're legally separate, in general

In other words, if you are prepared to sacrifice performance you can mix GPL and non-GPL code.

Exactly who does that hurt, Mr Stallman, except for the users of such products?

GPL is as disruptive as cold sore virus (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#190023)

just like when you get a cold sore virus, it stays inside your body for life. It's a little bit disruptive and annoying, but far from harmful or life-threatening. When the GPL first came up, it did nothing to MS, when the Linux craze came up 3 years ago, MS took notice and reacted and now have resumed full speed ahead. The notion that the GPL model will do anything is laughable, considering how many companies are making money on GPL software (a handful at most), but propietery closed sourced is here to stay, and there is really nothing inherently evil or wrong with it.

MS emailed reporters questions to ask about GPL (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#190024)

According to the ZDNet EWeek story, Microsoft emailed reporters suggested questions to ask Stallman about the GPL:: "Stallman also had retorts to some of the suggested GPL-related questions forwarded to some reporters by Microsoft before Stallman's address. Microsoft's list, distributed via e-mail, called into question what Microsoft presented as ambiguities in some of the licensing terms and conditions outlined in the new Free Software Foundation Frequently Asked Questions document." www.zdnet.com/eweek/stories/general/0,11011,276634 1,00.html

All very nice... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#190025)

...but can anyone please tell me how a company such as mine, which has invested over $3 million in R&D, can possibly hope to recoup even 10% of this money by releasing the code under the GPL? We use third party software which costs thousands of dollars per month in developer fees, and also have to cover numerous training trips.

I guess this sounds like flamebait, but I really am interested. We develop software for a very small niche market (~500 possible installations).

When the rubber hits the road, what do I tell the stock holders in the Annual General Meeting?

Re:RMS misunderstood the argument (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#190026)

The argument was not that businesses can't get along with the GPL.

The argument was indeed that. Read it straight from Microsoft [microsoft.com]:

Even businesses who may believe they are "mere users" of GPL software are threatened since they combine what they believe to be separate applications with GPL code. This licensing model has the effect of foreclosing a business's choice of what IP to share with the community and on what terms.

Re:Hypothetically (2)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 12 years ago | (#190027)

If our world were to suddenly switch to the utopia of horseless carriages, which provide travel and faster delivery of goods and services to the common man, how many people would be out of paying jobs?

What of the blacksmiths who make horseshoes? And the tanners who make reins and tackle? Are we not dooming them to a life of poverty?

And this "electricity" thing. Won't this kill off the lucrative whaling industry? What price is progress! Down with Free Software! Join the amish!

Re:RMS misunderstood the argument (2)

Ian Bicking (980) | more than 12 years ago | (#190031)

he's [RMS] also not that great of a programmer (ever looked at the emacs code? bloat bloat bloat)
Why are people always dissing RMS's coding? First, Emacs is far more than most critics realize it is. Yeah, it's big, but it does everything you could want and much more. There aren't that many large programs still being so actively used and developed after so many years. Sure, there's legacy systems much older, but Emacs is by no means a legacy system.

Anyway, RMS wrote more than Emacs. He was the first author of gcc, which even the BSD folks somehow manage to use despite the license. He wrote ls for GNU's fileutils, for instance. His name is also on a lot of other little programs that he wrote out of idealistic dedication, not because they were interesting. If you don't notice active development from him, it's probably because he hasn't written much in a number of years due to RSI, from my understanding.

And anyway, who looks at code and thinks "bloat"? You look at programs and think "bloat", which is probably all you've looked at in Emacs... if you look a bloated program's code you think "cruft". Get your terms straight!

Hypothetically (1)

DataPath (1111) | more than 12 years ago | (#190032)

A question... if our world were to suddenly switch to the idyllic utopia of free software comletely, for every job, and it were developed collaboratively, instead of competitively, how many people would be out of paying jobs? The only paying work in the field that I can identify would be the solutions providers, the people who take existing tools, and adapt them to work for a particular company's needs. As far as I can tell, that's not enough to buy the bacon for the existing base of computer scientists/software engineers

now, considering the case where we just talk about making the world free [speech] and not necessarily free [beer], that might create the kind of world that we're actually looking for, but I think we blur the distinction way too much.

Borg meets virus: GPL as a disruptive technology (5)

Andy Tai (1884) | more than 12 years ago | (#190034)

disruptive technology, noun:

A new product or service that disrupts an industry and eventually wins most of the market share.

The term "disruptive technology" was coined by Clayton M. Christensen in 1997 to describe new technical inventions that distrupt the established industries and economic patterns and cause existing, dominating companies to be replaced by new players based on the new inventions. Yet the distruptive inventions do not have to be technical. Can the GNU GPL, a 12-year-old software license and a hack on the copyright law, also be called a distruptive technology? It seems so. Microsoft is the most successful example of the proprietary software business model and dominates today's software market. Microsoft's recent attack on the GPL shows the attempt of an established player to try to suppress something new, up and coming. Except this time, the new player does not play by the rules. Instead, through viral-like propagation properties, the GPL establishes a new social model where software is passed freely and shared. The GPL distrupts the proprietary business model by social engineering, building a new way of life based on freedom and cooperation. Microsoft can assimilate anything following the proprietary business model but will have problem dealing with the social model of Free Software.

As the GPLed software domain further expands, the proprietary business model is graduately pushed aside. How will the Borg assimilate the virus inherently incompatible with the Borg's nature? Will the virus distrupt and ultimately destory the Borg?

RMS's comments on Ransom Love (5)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 12 years ago | (#190035)

Everyone knew that RMS was going to be critical of Microsoft, but I personally didn't expect him to lay into Ransom Love.

Here's how eWeek [zdnet.com] is reporting it. To whet your appetite here's a direct quote from the article:

"Caldera's not a free software company at all. They are just a parasite," Stallman claimed in a press conference following his talk. "Who in the world is Ransom Love to have any ideas about what's good for our community?"

Majority not on Linux and Apache (1)

howardjp (5458) | more than 12 years ago | (#190043)

60% of the webservers in the Netcraft survey run Apache but this makes no claim for the OS. This would be 84% of the Apache sites are running Linux. Since Apache ships standard on MacOS X and runs without flaw on Solaris, FreeBSD, and damn near any other Unix varient, I find this number an exaggeration at best or more of Stallman's bullshit at worst.

*groooooan* (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 12 years ago | (#190044)

I think I'll approximate my groan with a low frequency sine wave in either case....

For the non-engineers out there, the typical RMS approximation assumes the input is a sine wave. (At least, as I recall.) That means that the approximation works for measuring things like wall current (aka. "the mains" for you non-'merkins), but not for more complicated signals, such as audio or noise or what-have-you.

--Joe
--

Re:Transcript? (2)

BuzCory (6977) | more than 12 years ago | (#190046)

I was there too, and while I have no transcript or direct quotes, I do have four pages of notes which could be turned into some 20 .. 50 KB of HTML if desired.

BTW, the article that was posted is pretty accurate and has some details that will not be part of my writeup.

I exapect to be writing this up this evening. If you want a link when it is ready, please send me email [mailto]. I will send the link directly to all the mail me, and if I get enough requests I will post that link as a reply to this.

I submitted the following "story" earlier this evening, apperently just a little too late. Someone else beat me to it and was on the queue (210 items long) when I submitted mine.

New York, New York 2001-05-29 18:00 EDT
Courtesy of the AnyNix Sig [nyct.net]

Preliminary report on RMS talk at NYU.

RMS spoke from 10:15 to 12:00 today at NYU to nearly a capacity crowd (only about twenty seats vacant of about 250 capacity).

In general, RMS talked about the history and philosophy of the GNU project, the GPL, and the FSF; as well as their relation to Linux, other free but not copylefted software, and non-free "open source" software and the inclusion of proprietary software on "Linux" Distros.

The last 30 minutes or so were about how Free Software is good for business in general and Software Developers in particular.

People started leaving sometime after 11:00 until about 2/3 of the original crowd remained.

All in all, this reporter thinks the whole thing went well. RMS seemed to come across as a mild-mannered zealot for software freedom, with well reasoned and well presented arguments. This reporter has no idea of how many of the crowd were already users/advocates of "Free" or "open source" software, but is of the opinion that any who were not, but willing to "think" rather than simply react were at least somewhat moved toward his point of view.

Re:Of Course it is Good! (2)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 12 years ago | (#190048)

Yeah I get it. How's that working out for you?

What?

Being clever.

"Duh"... at first. (1)

TaoJones (10412) | more than 12 years ago | (#190049)

Now that's the kinda headline that would usually make me scroll on past and not read the article - to me, Stallman saying "free software is good" is akin to the American Dairy Association saying "milk does a body good".


Reading on though:

He pointed that while nearly everyone cooks, "unless you're great, you probably use recipes. You've probably had the experience of getting a recipe from a friend -- and unless you're a total neophyte, you probably have also had the experience of changing the recipe. If you've made changes and you make it for your friends, and they like it, you can write down your changes for them." Imagine, he said, if recipes were packaged in black boxes, unavailable for inspection.

Now that's good. It's a nice little metaphor than non-geek buisness type folk can actually understand. It'll make a hell of a lot more sense than trying to explain "free as in free beer" to a PHB.

What more do we expect? (1)

chrisv (12054) | more than 12 years ago | (#190051)

RMS Says Free Software Is Good

Of course. But, why on Earth would he not say that?

I'll admit that after having read the whole thing (and no I haven't really read much of the other similar stories that have been posted on the subject) that there are good points in it.

I feel like I'm in school. "Do insert-3rd-grade-task-here." 2 days later: repeat.

It is just a little ridiculous. Why do we keep beating the horse?

Re:What's for dinner? (2)

DJerman (12424) | more than 12 years ago | (#190052)

Recipes can be propietary, expensive, and for good reason. Good luck trying to get that famous chef to tell the secret ingredient.

Not so -- great chefs often give away their recipies. Emeril tells you how to make essence, Paul Proudhomme publishes the Turducken recipie, but McDonalds jealously guards the Secret Sauce. The difference is in the experience and skill of the great chef to improvise, adjust and flow with differences in the raw product, or the patience and precision that brings it together (which is what makes them great).

Sure, there are reasons to be proprietary, but there's a model where you pay the chef for preparing the food well, and there's a model where you pay for the formula regardless of the quality of the product. I prefer the former :-), and I agree that the latter is only sometimes worth while.

Re:True but... (2)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 12 years ago | (#190054)

There is no reason to waste an amazing amount of money reinvinting the wheel every time one needs a new text editor or just because one is trying to circumvent someone else's IP. What a waste

Can you please explain to me then Gnome & KDE for starters? And how about FreeBSD vs. Linux vs. HURD? OpenOffice vs. Emacs? Mozilla vs. Konqueror? MySQL and PostGres?

etc. etc. etc.

Source is available and people still go and make their own incredibly complicated software rather than join into an existing enclave... Or are you just calling Linus an idiot for not developing something based off of AT&T's source code...?

Re:GPL is as disruptive as cold sore virus (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#190055)

I don't want to get into the whole rock-em sock-em battle over commercial vs. GPL, but you have missed something:

The notion that the GPL model will do anything is laughable, considering how many companies are making money on GPL software (a handful at most)

Of course companies that try to sell GPL'd software aren't doing so well; but those aren't really the parties the GPL is designed to help anyway. The GPL is user-focused; users of GPL'd software will have lower costs and/or more value in the long run, and so it is an advantage to use GPL'd software and to contribute back into that community. It's a Good Thing for software users that it's tough to make a profit on GPL'd software - Microsoft is an example of what you get when it's easy to make a profit on software.

Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

Re:RMS's comments on Ransom Love (3)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#190056)

This is in response to a quote from Ransom Love in Mundie's speech, where Love was expressing doubts about the use of open source. Of course Ransom Love (whom I agree is pretty much a waste of flesh) isn't making a whole lot of money selling GPL'd software; the advantages of GPL'd software go primarily to the users of such software, not to the purveyors of it. In that sense, Ransom Love is a lot closer to the Microsoft viewpoint than the RMS viewpoint.

No company will become Microsoft-sized based on GPL'd software. It remains to be seen if the GPL will support even a Caldera-sized company. But the GPL allows software innovation to come from the grassroots users rather than from Microsoft on high, and in the end GPL'd software will provide more of what users want.

Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

Where are these so-called zingers? (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 12 years ago | (#190057)

Imagine, he said, if recipes were packaged in black boxes, unavailable for nspection.

Maybe someone needs to explain to RMS that not all recipes are available to public inspection. See: Coca-Cola formula, KFC seven herbs and spices formula.

He went on to describe three additional freedoms which distinguish Free from proprietary software: the right to change software to suit user needs; to redistribute the software; and to publish improved versions.

But then it takes away the right to keep the changes to yourself. So much for freedom.

Citing the large number of companies now paying to develop Free software.

Did he also happen to cite the fact that so many of these companies are going tits up lately?


Cheers,

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 12 years ago | (#190058)

1. If Stallman had his way, you'd be forced to give your neighbor your new recipe. That's not freedom. 2. The part I quoted specifically refers to redistriburing the software, so it's pretty intellectually dishonest for everyone to be clinging to the strawman of "But that's only if you redistribute!!" Like you said, you can't redistribute unless you want to be forced to give away your changes. (If you noticed, the part I quoted refers to That's not freedom. 3. Last time I checked, HP isn't doing all that well, and neither IBM nor HP base their business around GPL products. C'mon, let's see your list of winners for companies which have devoted themselves to the GPL.

The BSD license definitely offers freedom, the GPL clearly doesn't.


Cheers,

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 12 years ago | (#190059)

Free software is for the good of the community, not the individual.

That pretty much sums it up for me, too, at least as far as the GPL goes (I'm making a distinction here between the GPL and free software, because I don't think the GPL offers freedom the way that the BSD license or public domain software does), which is why I'd discourage it. And just because I discourage it doesn't mean that I think that everyone shouldn't be able to use it if they want to or that there should be some McCarthyistic witchhunt against people who do (or don't).

I'm for the individual, not the collective that I firmly believe the GPL represents. Software aside, I think that the collective is always doomed in the face of free will.


Cheers,

Re:GPL is as disruptive as cold sore virus (1)

jelle (14827) | more than 12 years ago | (#190061)

"and there is really nothing inherently evil or wrong with it."

True, but if it's closed source commodity software, it will be replaced. Resistance is futile.

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (2)

Evan927 (15553) | more than 12 years ago | (#190063)

Maybe someone needs to explain to RMS that not all recipes are available to public inspection. See: Coca-Cola formula, KFC seven herbs and spices formula.

Well...no. Imagine your friend buys a recipie book, and cooks you a dinner. You like it, and ask for the recipie. She tells you her (slightly changed) version of it. You go home, and make it. You can't do that with non-free software.

But then it takes away the right to keep the changes to yourself. So much for freedom.

Again, wrong. You don't have to tell people the changes. You only have to show the changed if you re-release the software. IOW, you can't build non-GPL'd products off of GPL'd products.

Did he also happen to cite the fact that so many of these companies are going tits up lately?

Last time I checked, IBM was doing fine. So was hp.

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (2)

sharkey (16670) | more than 12 years ago | (#190064)

Did he also happen to cite the fact that so many of these companies are going tits up lately?

Are we to infer that you believe the opposite; ie., that companies who make proprietary software do not go out of business?

--

Re:RMS misunderstood the argument (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 12 years ago | (#190065)

"Even businesses who may believe they are "mere users" of GPL software are threatened since they combine what they believe to be separate applications with GPL code. This licensing model has the effect of foreclosing a business's choice of what IP to share with the community and on what terms."

Okay, let's examine this for a moment. The phrase "combine what they blieve to be separate applications with GPL code" means that if they choose to incorporate GPL code into a tool that's distributed with a larger project, they could potentially be required to open up the code to the larger project (depending on how that tool is used, obviously). As well, it also has the more obvious meaning of including GPL'ed code in a project requires that project be GPL'ed. This is bad, and you can be sure that the listed examples (Sun, HP, IBM) do not do this on fear of being forced to give away their cash cows.

Following from the comment you quoted, the exammples of Sun, HP, and IBM surely carefully check that their own GPL'ed projects are not contaminating their proprietary code (then again, as I'm not employed by any of those companies, I couldn't tell you for sure).

Re:RMS misunderstood the argument (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 12 years ago | (#190066)

Do you have any clue how much money a company like Sprint pays for service contracts to vendors like IBM? Lots and lots and lots and lots.

This only works when dealing with B2B contracts. The model falls flat any time you try to live off of service fees in a B2C relationship, because most customers are simply unwilling to pay the necessary fees for service many of them consider (justly or not) useless. Would you pay $500 for a two or three year support contract for Microsoft Office, if Office were given to you for free? Would you even be willing to pay $15/mo for the same thing?

Too many people would answer "no" to those questions. Thus, to make money (allowing you to then make more software and also to be around to support what you've already written), you sell your software (which is your most valuable property because it's where the greatest number of man-hours are spent, unless you take the view that a person's time is worthless) and "give away" (or sell for a trivial price, for those people that are afraid that they'll "get what they pay for") your support services for a set amount of time (generally, two generations of a product is long enough, at which point anyone using 2+ generations old versions should upgrade).

Now, Microsoft is moving towards a "Software as a service" model, but that model revolves more around the software rather than the support (you get "free" upgrades for the duration of your subscription, for example). This will work because customers get something of perceptible value for their dollars -- in other words, they don't get the software until they've paid the subscription fee. Giving away software to sell support can't be as successful, because the customers get the valuable portion (the software) for free, and have little incentive to then pay for help (which you can often find for free online, or get cheaply in the form of a book).

RMS misunderstood the argument (2)

Osty (16825) | more than 12 years ago | (#190068)

Citing the large number of companies now paying to develop Free software, and that the majority of pages on the World Wide Web are served with Apache running on GNU/Linux systems, Stallman scoffed at claims that the GPL was unfriendly to business. "Microsoft says that busineses can't get along with the GPL. So if businesses don't include IBM, and HP, and Sun, then maybe they're right."

The argument was not that businesses can't get along with the GPL. It was that businesses can't prosper by relying solely on the GPL. The example given by Microsoft was giving away your most valuable property (your software), and then hoping to make money on the marginal business of supporting that software. IBM, HP, and Sun do not follow that pattern. They're large enough to be able to finance some GPL'ed projects, but they're not giving away their cash cows. Solaris is not GPL'ed, HP-UX is not GPL'ed (if you could really consider HP-UX a cash cow any more), Java is not GPL'ed, WorldSphere is not GPL'ed, and so on. And while you might argue that these companies support linux, which is a direct competitor to their own unices, they're making their money on the hardware, not the software. That's like calling Apple out for supporting MkLinux back in the day because it competed with Mac OS -- They still sold hardware either way, so they were happy.

<flamebait>RMS is not some messiah. He's not a good businessman, and he's also not that great of a programmer (ever looked at the emacs code? bloat bloat bloat). He's just a man, with an over-ambitious vision and the ego to back it up.</flamebait>

Re:RMS misunderstood the argument (1)

LocoBurger (18797) | more than 12 years ago | (#190074)

The example given by Microsoft was giving away your most valuable property (your software)

I think RMS is saying that software isn't the most valuable property, and not the thing that should be effectively sold. Sell service. All these companies make their money on service contracts. Do you have any clue how much money a company like Sprint pays for service contracts to vendors like IBM? Lots and lots and lots and lots.

You're looking at it wrong.... (2)

PugMajere (32183) | more than 12 years ago | (#190089)

Your business model is aimed around selling software. The truly successful computer companies (other than Microsoft) have all been services companies. What a GNU world would say is, "Don't sell the software, lease your expertise in the software." In other words, support, customize, redesign the software, and let your customers help. Run the best *software* shop you can, because that's how you compete.

Re:Of Course it is Good! (2)

jfunk (33224) | more than 12 years ago | (#190093)

So, is Richard Stallman an approximation or is he True RMS?

Yes, yes, I can hear you groaning...

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (1)

James Lanfear (34124) | more than 12 years ago | (#190095)

1. If Stallman had his way, you'd be forced to give your neighbor your new recipe.

I haven't seen any indication that he wants that. He's actually fought against licenses requiring distribution of changes, e.g., early versions of the APSL, being considered Free, even when they were (mostly) Open. He quite often states that the right to keep modifications private is a requirement of the Free software. It's only when you distribute that source availability becomes an issue.

Re:All very nice... (1)

dajt (39633) | more than 12 years ago | (#190098)

No. Back when I used to work for the FSF we sold tapes of GNU software for significantly more than S+H. The "profit" on them was used to pay our salaries and all the other costs we couldn't get donations for. These tapes contained the same software I put on on prep for anonymous ftp. (I made the master tape images, too, so I'm sure of this.)

If you sell binaries, you must sell the corresponding source code for "for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution". But you can charge as much as you like for the binaries. And if you only sell source code, you can charge as much as you like for it.

However, since you can't prevent your customers from reselling the software at any price they like, anyone who likes can easily go into competition with you.

So how do you make money? Sell warranties and support! And training. And pretty bound manuals. And consulting services. Cygnus was profitable for years with this model (It used to be "Cygnus Suport", after all.) and if they hadn't foolishly sold out to Red Hat, they'd still be profitable.

Anyone here watch Seinfeld - Soup Nazi??? (1)

oldman1080 (63173) | more than 12 years ago | (#190120)

It's the first thing that came to my mind when I saw RMS's reference to recipes. Remember how valuable the Soup Nazi's soup was and how desperate people were to get his secret proprietary product.

Then Elaine found the recipes in drawer/cabinet that the Soup Nazi had given Kramer..

And ruined him by announcing the recipes to all the customers (in revenge for suspending her soup privileges).

NO SOUP FOR YOU! So lets open source that sucker..

Henceforth, let MS be known as the Code Nazi

True but... (1)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 12 years ago | (#190122)

...but can anyone please tell me how a company such as mine, which has invested over $3 million in R&D, can possibly hope to recoup even 10% of this money by releasing the code under the GPL?

True but he only reason why you had to spend that money yourself is because you were hoping to take adavantage of existing IP laws. If these laws did not exist in the first place, you would not done so. Others in society would have gotten together and paid you to do it. If there is a need for something for the common good, society sould get together to make it happen. There is no reason to waste an amazing amount of money reinvinting the wheel every time one needs a new text editor or just because one is trying to circumvent someone else's IP. What a waste!

Just imagine if the quick sort algorithm was patented by its inventor. It would have done much more harm than good. Imagine if the technology behind the WWW was patented. This is one of the minor promise of free software: it eliminates the waste in human effort. It also encourages cooperation and good will among people. The world could surely use a little bit of that lately.

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 12 years ago | (#190123)

It is a lie that government funded projects cannot be efficient. After all, we have roads, highways, bridges, etc... The bidding system is not perfect but it works and sometimes it works spectacularly well.

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 12 years ago | (#190124)

The question is not if they can be efficient but what is the percentage of these projects that end up being complete fuckups as compared to number of such failed ventures in a private sector.

You'd be suprised at the number of companies who go belly up every year. The .com debacle was not a shining example of the successes of capitalism. Still, I believe in free market society, one where the wealth of the earth is an inheritance right for everybody. This way everyone gets to compete on a fair basis.

After all, everyone knows how Soviet state run economy ended up after 50 years of head on competition with US free market style society.

As far as I know, the Soviets had agencies who managed things directly. Is not the state the sole employer in a Marxist system? I doubt that they had a bidding system like the US.

Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (2)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 12 years ago | (#190125)

Again, though, Stallman was careful to point out that the advantages and intent of Free software had more to do with ethics and social good in a variety of fields than any particular bottom line. Closed software, he said, "causes psychosocial harm which affects the spirit of scientific cooperation. Progress in science crucially depends on people being able to work together. Nowadays you see scientists act as if they're in gangs at war with other little gangs of scientists ... we're all held back."

I takes a tremendous amount of time an effort to write good software. I am not sure if RMS has addressed this issue but I think it's worth thinking about. In a labor-based economy where one's livelihood is dependent on one's labor, it is not easy to create free software without a source of income. I believe that free software should be subsidized by the government because it is as beneficial to society as roads and telephone lines. After all art is subsidized.

But we should not wait for government subsidies. You can support your favorite artist/inventor/programmer/organization by writing them a personal check now! All philanthropists and charitable organizations should take notice. The FSF should be the recipients of billions of dollars in subsidies and support from the government and industry.

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (2)

ka9dgx (72702) | more than 12 years ago | (#190126)

I takes a tremendous amount of time an effort to write good software.

Wrong - Writing software is easy! It takes a tremendous amount of time to make software good. Anyone, including myself, can hack out a piece of code that functions for the limited use of a single person. It takes a community of users to use the software, and in the process find the rough edges, and wear them down. The polishing process is what is responsible for truely great software, with many users putting it through it's paces, pushing the limitations and extending it into unintended new applications.

I once wrote a Forth compiler for OS/2, in assembler. I did it just to learn about assembler in OS/2. A user of the software decided my documentation truely sucked and wrote better documentation. Other users submitted feedback, and it did fairly well, finding use all over the place. My efforts were really just in providing the rough hewn stone, the users provided the true grit and polish.

If Microsoft were truely consistent, users would be paid to find problems in their products. This is because when a user finds a problem, and assists in fixing it, they are giving time and experience (value) to Microsoft.

Microsoft and crew try to push the idea that any person involved in creating software has to some how be paid, or it's a communist/socialist conspiracy against the world. They obscure/overlook the fact that most of the work in open source/free software is actually done by the users of the software, just by using the software . If I'm using Microsoft Word to write a document, and it does something wierd, I have have very few options, mostly all involving paying money to Microsoft, and NOT getting my problem fixed to my satisfaction. If I'm using something written as open source, or shareware, I'm either going to give feedback to the author(s), or fix it myself, and possibly make that fix available to others.

Fortunately for Microsoft, in the real world, the users of software aren't expected to be paid for using the software in any software model. They paid to be users, in terms of money if it's commercial, and time learning in ALL cases. Free software doesn't make any socialistic or altruistic demands on the users, just the people who provide the rough hewn starting material.

I believe RMS when he says just processing the feedback was almost overwhelming. A thousand real users can do at least a hundred times the work of a crew of 10 paid debuggers. They can do this because they have a vested interest in the software doing what they want it to do. They will notice things, and make all sorts of suggestions and comments which might never cross the mind of someone set out to build a product for one specific, highly engineered use. This is incredible leverage, and it's free, and even in the interest of the users.

--Mike--

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (1)

VB (82433) | more than 12 years ago | (#190132)

If you take some GPL-ed software and improve it, but, don't want to distribute those improvements, how the hell is that any different than what you got in the first place?

If you want to proprietarize GPL software for a specific client, do it. Just don't send it back. Keep it at your client's site. You just can't sell that as an offering. Which is great since you didn't write all the code, anyway. Just what you changed. Why are people so flipping hung up on this? It's a good thing...


Linux rocks!!! www.dedserius.com [dedserius.com]

Of Course it is Good! (1)

webword (82711) | more than 12 years ago | (#190133)

Oh please, of course Root Mean Squared [qut.edu.au] thinks that free software is good. Without free software, we wouldn't be able to easily do our statistics! Imagine doing our statistics with Excel, or some other M$ product. Gasp!

Re:Of Course it is Good! (1)

webword (82711) | more than 12 years ago | (#190134)

If you don't get this, don't worry. Here's the scoop. When I see "RMS" I think of root mean squared first, and Richard M. Stallman second. Naturally, I had to make a (very lame) attempt at humor. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

Re:Of Course it is Good! (1)

webword (82711) | more than 12 years ago | (#190135)

I was doing fine until I cut myself. They should only be used for chopping onions and carrots.

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (3)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 12 years ago | (#190136)

I shouldn't reply to an obvious troll, but I'm being obtuse today.

Maybe someone needs to explain to RMS that not all recipes are available to public inspection. See: Coca-Cola formula, KFC seven herbs and spices formula.

And can you get Coke, or "Kentucky Fried Chicken" anywhere other than from the companies that own the recipies? Can you make them yourself? Can you improve on them if you don't find them satisfactory? No?

You've actually made RMS's point quite succinctly. Closed software is like buying prepared food made to a secret recipie. Free software is like cooking for yourself -- it's a bit more work, but it's a whole hell of a lot cheaper, and generally tastes better and is better for you.

He went on to describe three additional freedoms which distinguish Free from proprietary software: the right to change software to suit user needs; to redistribute the software; and to publish improved versions.
But then it takes away the right to keep the changes to yourself. So much for freedom.

This is just false. There is no language in the GNU GPL [gnu.org] requiring you to distrubute modifications to GPLed software. It only imposes conditions that must be met were you to distribute it. You don't want to share your changes? Don't! It's that simple.

Did he also happen to cite the fact that so many of these companies are going tits up lately?

What, like IBM [ibm.com]?

Doofus.

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (1)

pyth (87680) | more than 12 years ago | (#190137)

No, more like if you give your friend some of the food, and they ask how you made it, you must provide the recipe. Free software is for the good of the community, not the individual.

Re:Majority not on Linux and Apache (2)

krmt (91422) | more than 12 years ago | (#190138)

This isn't bullshit at all because all but Solaris are considered free software. Besides, these are very viable alternatives to closed systems, and because apache is itself free software, it only goes on to prove that free software is a very viable model. Not bullshit but proof, if you actually decide to look at what he's really saying rather than lashing out at the numbers.

"I may not have morals, but I have standards."

Freedom zero = LGPL (1)

sequence_man (97765) | more than 12 years ago | (#190144)

Stalman said "freedom zero" -- the freedom to run the software for any purpose is the most basic right. This is in contradiction to the GPL which says that I can't run the program as a subroutine unless I open source my code. Thus, he is arguing that the correct liscense is the LGPL.

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (1)

zimbu (99236) | more than 12 years ago | (#190145)

But then it takes away the right to keep the changes to yourself. So much for freedom.

You're free to keep private any changes you want, you just have to provide source code if you distribute those changes.

I can see the headlines for tommorow (2)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 12 years ago | (#190148)

Bill Gates: Commercial Software is Good
Linus Torvalds: Open Source Sofware is Good
Craig Mundie: Free Software is Bad

Oh please. This is like posting a headline saying that Linux is better than Windows. Next time, try to tell us something we don't know.

Pull his string and he speaks! (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 12 years ago | (#190150)

"Free software is good" Gee, that sounds like what you'd expect from the Stallman doll!. "Pull it's string and listen to one of 8 witty sayings!" Mind you, I like free software, mainly because it means I don't have to pay for it...

Re:A Haiku (2)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 12 years ago | (#190151)

Speaking in his defense, we all now know [slashdot.org] that Mike isn't responsible for lame posts such as this horrific "Haiku" -- his account has been h4x0r3d [slashdot.org].
--

Re:Programs at arms length (1)

ctembreull (120894) | more than 12 years ago | (#190153)

I hate to be tiresome, but if you don't want the responsibilities that come with using GPL code, then don't use it. Period.

You're not obligated to use GPL code. If you wish to make use of the work of someone else who has already solved your problem, you must be prepared to contribute back to the community. Your alternative is to reinvent the wheel, to solve your problem in-house, with proprietary code. It is up to the developer/corporation/whatever to decide which route is more burdensome for its bottom line and for its users.

The GPL is not a lasso or a cattle prod - you are not required to use software protected by it. So, in other words, it hurts precisely nobody.

Chris Tembreull
Web Developer, NEC Systems, Inc.

omg (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 12 years ago | (#190160)

realaudio is a patented closed source format! what the fuck is wrong with you? Everyone should delete all the audio (even .wav) files and immediately switch to ogg!

Re:All very nice... (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 12 years ago | (#190161)

I think the GPL might actually work in your situation. Just charge each user something like $50,000 for the code. Now, even though they can share it, they are extremely unlikely to do so.

The only way you can get screwed is if your customers engage in collusion and agree to form a purchasing pool. If your customers are not aware of eachother, this rather risky business model might succeed.

The only business model for GPL that is gauranteed to work is a one-time sale. For example, I spend $5 million to develop an AI interface to Gnome that does what I want it to do, not what I tell it to do. It's very valuable. I sell it *once* to RedHat for $10 million.

Bad for society as a whole. (1)

PhrackCreak (136718) | more than 12 years ago | (#190168)

"Their lives and jobs are going to be frustrating -- people protect themselves from frustration by deciding not to care. When this happens, it's bad for those people and for society as a whole."

Personally, I feel RMS touches on an important issue here. People don't care because dollars are traded for loss of emotional attachment. Everything is a tradeoff, and when businessmen speak, they don't worry about the non-dollar tradeoffs - which are slowly de-humanizing mainstream culture.

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

mdouglas (139166) | more than 12 years ago | (#190169)

>After all, everyone knows how Soviet state run economy ended up after 50 years of head on competition with US free market style society.

the soviet economy crapped out due to massive trade isolation. compare/contrast the soviet economy with the chinese economy.

Re:What's for dinner? (2)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 12 years ago | (#190170)

Or you go to an expensive restaurant, pay an exhorbitant amount of money for crap.

---

Just my two cents (1)

ebyrob (165903) | more than 12 years ago | (#190172)

It's not what the GPL will do TO you. It's what the GPL will do FOR you.

Use Open source as much as you can. There might be GPL or other OSS alternatives to the $oftware you're currently using to develop. As you fix things in the tools you're using, publish those fixes to the OSS community.

If you're $3 million behind already, be greedy with your own licenses, don't open anything you don't have to. Hire a lawyer if you need to, but make sure you use the OSS licenses appropriately. Once you're ahead instead of behind, think about OSSing your old stuff to keep the competition on it's toes. (moving on to the next product)

As for making money with new OSS, experiment on a small scale. Try it with a sub product see how customers like it and if you still get enough related service money and/or fame to make it worth your while.

If someone tries to tell you what you "owe" the open source community, laugh in their face. The only reason to open source code is to get more people using it, and to make other peoples lives better. Understanding why this is beneficial is difficult for many individuals and most corporations. But in the long run, believe me, it's the best policy. (I'm talking about helping others, not expecting them to help you!!)

businesss != software (3)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 12 years ago | (#190175)

Mundie, and you, confuses whats good for Microsoft with whats good for everyone else.

Our company's most precious assets, or even IP, are not software.

MS's IP approach is perfect for microsft at the expense of everyone else (want to measure that expense? just add up your software expenditure)

For businesses that use computers to help them do other things, things that are actually what makes us money, good quality public domain software is a godsend. Some stuff we modify, under the terms of the GPL but those mods aren't crucial to our competitive advantage and we're happy for them to be incorporated into the next version. It saves us the time of remodifying the next version.

Don't confuse what's good for Bill Gates with what's good for you.

RMS Says Free Software Is Good (1)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 12 years ago | (#190176)

What an earth-shattering headline!!

Reminds me of the Simpsons where Rod and Todd print a paper with the headlne "Playtime is Fun".

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

Bodrius (191265) | more than 12 years ago | (#190180)

The government subsidizes the roads/services they think are needed, not whatever a company that wants to build a road says is needed.

To donate billions of dollars to the FSF would be totally different and would not make sense. The government should not subsidize the FSF anymore than they subsidize PETA.

What would be a good idea is to do exactly what the government does with any other project that benefits their citizens: pay someone to do it, and put some conditions.

Since the idea is to maximize the benefits to all taxpayers, it would make sense to give them the source code, and it would help to reduce maintenance and development costs. Therefore, an important condition would be to make it Open Source... and actually the GPL would be a good candidate for a license.

Whether the billions of dollars go to the FSF, IBM, or Microsoft doesn't matter. The developed software goes to the community, GLPed and everything.

The fact that the total budget gets dispersed among different entities that have to compete to provide the best results instead of a single, monolithic entity that gets billions of dollars dropped on its lap, is an advantage that cannot be overstated.

Re:What's for dinner? (5)

Bodrius (191265) | more than 12 years ago | (#190181)

Or you go to an expensive restaurant, pay an exhorbitant amount of money, eat the best dish you have ever tasted in your life and still have no idea how it was made, maybe not even what it was.

Recipes can be propietary, expensive, and for good reason. Good luck trying to get that famous chef to tell the secret ingredient.

The lesson? If you're paying for prepared, closed-recipe food, and you're paying big money, it better be good. Really good, to be worth it.

Win9x is the OS version of the Hungry Man dinner.

Transcript? (1)

fantom_winter (194762) | more than 12 years ago | (#190182)

No offense, but especially since /. often gets facts wrong in these matters, could a link to the transcript be provided?

Here is a link to some Real Audio:

RMS Speech [lrw.net]

Re:Transcript? (2)

fantom_winter (194762) | more than 12 years ago | (#190184)

Here is a link to some Real Audio:

Ahh, this speech is 3 years old, as the other poster mentioned. My bad. Still, it would be nice to have some transcripts and maybe a stream.

Listening... (3)

fantom_winter (194762) | more than 12 years ago | (#190185)

I am listening to RMS speak right now, and at first I thought he was a horrible speaker.. That he wouldn't relate to people on a simple enough level. But what I am finding when I give him a chance is that he really puts his own experiences for everyone else to understand, in his own words..

I can only hope that people will be able to understand his perspective, because whether he is right or not, I think that Free Software/GNU needs to at least be a part of software philosophy in the future.

Re:Listening... I am - now listen back.. (1)

Vspirit (200600) | more than 12 years ago | (#190186)

Now you are talking. this is the first interesting post i've read in this thread so far.

open/'non'restricted source and whats alike will be a part of the future software philosophy, no doubt about it. so will closed/restricted source.

here is my little view on the matter which I base my business on as well as my idealistic beliefs:

systems/formats will mainly be based on the free/open princip for everyone to have freedom and oportunity.

solutions will mainly be based on the cost princip in order to generate a sufficient steady income in order to have the fundamental economy to provide what the customer specifically needs and to secure your employees and yourself. in addition to that you have to come to an understanding with your customers who wishes to incorporate special features - you give them the ability to do this. - there are reasons business wise why not to do it, but there are also reasons human wise why to do it. - and the goodwill pays back in customer satisfaction which again pays back business wise.

this will be the case until we reach star trek reality.

but you guýs just keep fighting as you please. the activity is business wise good for community sites making a living on the users participation. no offense /. I am pleased to participate as well.

The way we do things in my business, because of my and now also my associates philosophy, is that we make use of the systems as a platform on which we can deploy our solutions. we partially sell these solutions, others we give for free as appetizers so people can get the basics covered and get started. From the income generated, mainly based on the solutions we sell, we return some to the projects and people behind the development of the systems that we are dependent ón so these can improve and become more widespread in society.

welcome to the reality/the future/now guys.. its about cooperation. extremes can never exist without the other. they cover each their need and support each others reason for existing.

guess this was about time I spoke from inside the outside - should you agree with me, try to find my email and say hi.

if professionals can't differ from the hobbyists, wherein is then the professionality?!

I respect both the open source way as well as the 'microsoft' way. but i've had enough of the microsoft monopoly and had so for the last many years which brought me to where i am today, just as the level at which open source is today.

best regards
casper andersen
sophistic systems

should you wish you contact me for ideas in these matters. lectures. strategic partnerships and what else you can think of, mail any of the sophistic email addresses found on the url in the header of this posting.

Ha! (2)

graveyhead (210996) | more than 12 years ago | (#190188)

So I guess all you slashbot doomsayers were wrong. RMS was exactly the right person to deliver that speech. He didn't drag it into a point by point debate, he emphasized those things that are important to free software developers, exactly on the same playing field as Mundie. I really hope this catches the attention of the "Open Source" community. Free software is a philosophy and a choice, not a bright idea to get your source code used.

Well, your fingers weave quick minarets; Speak in secret alphabets;

RMS missed the boat (1)

Gallifrey (221570) | more than 12 years ago | (#190190)

RMS replied using philosphical arguments. The origional arguments offered by Microsoft were based on economic arguments...the bottom line. Instead of focusing on the philsophy of open source, hit Microsoft where it hurts. Point out that the economy will benefit from not having half of their IT costs be gobbled up by licensing. So we lose a monopolistic company in the process. Who cares? The bottom line is that the money that's saved from licensing can go into expansion, lower prices, or whatever.

That will give the economy a better boost that keeping Microsoft around for philanthropic reasons.

transcripts anyone? (2)

gol64738 (225528) | more than 12 years ago | (#190193)

anyone know where to get a transcript of RMS's speech?
weather you like RMS or not, this is history in the making folks.

Bill Gates reaction to RMS reply (5)

WillSeattle (239206) | more than 12 years ago | (#190195)

In news today, Bill Gates, upon hearing RMS reply promptly said "Oh!" and vanished in a puff of smoke. The smoke, of course, was blue, tinged with streaks of red.

In related news, all multinational corporations trying to extend and embrace their software and hardware patents and copyrights promptly decided to throw in the towel, and relinquish all rights to the public good.

As a result, previous estimates of GDP growth for the world have been quintupled for the forthcoming year, due to the increase in useful knowledge for the world's citizenry.

Refusing to comment at press time are holders of patents for biological innovations in gene therapy.

(c) 2001 All Of The Above (TM)

RMS vs caldera (1)

theridersofrohan (241712) | more than 12 years ago | (#190196)

Apparently, RMS mentioned some pretty nasty (regardless if they are true) stuff about caldera:
"Caldera's not a free software company at all. They are just a parasite. Who in the world is Ransom Love to have any ideas about what's good for our community?"

Code is speech because this is redundant (1)

Lonath (249354) | more than 12 years ago | (#190198)

Code is speech because math is speech and typing a math paper into a computer is speech so typing math into a computer using a specific set of symbols is speech.

And what happens when we have robots that understand real speech and you teach your robot to "weed the garden" by explaining how to find weeds vs plants and how to pull weeds and how to throw the weeds into the compost pile. Then code == speech is even more clear. And what happens when people have neural implants in their brains so teaching people in school is "programming a computer"? Will you be sued for telling someone how to do something?


Re:Victims of NDAs (1)

TheRealSlimShady (253441) | more than 12 years ago | (#190200)

Putting people out of work as the economy becomes more efficient is not victimization. It's simply progress.

But you're not putting them out of work, you're just giving away the stuff that they put their effort into to develop. Those people still need to be paid. Or are you proposing that all software development is done by students and bludgers?

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 12 years ago | (#190203)

Suggestion: each project maintainer should provide a designated "donation box" e-mail address where satisfied users could PayPal two or three bucks whenever they decide that they really like the software they're using. Mandrake does this (I don't use Mandrake, though), and while they've recently gotten flamed for it, it brings up a good point: Eventually, all projects have to be funded somehow. The programmers are giving us software voluntarily; why not give a little back?

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 12 years ago | (#190204)

It's certainly possible that they can be efficient, but they're likely to be less efficient than capitalist counterparts since governments don't have to operate under real-world cost constraints. Business want to make a profit: profit = revenue - costs. Governments want to break even: 0 = revenue - costs + whoops-we-need-to-raise-taxes-because-we're-over-b udget-revenue.

Re:All very nice... (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 12 years ago | (#190205)

GPL and proprietary software business models operate under different mindsets. Proprietary-software developers say, "I'll spend lots of money to write this software and then make more money by selling it." The GPL counterpoint is that if the software is going to be written, the R&D costs are going to have to be paid sometime, somehow. As long as that R&D is a given, why not invite the help of potentially thousands of developers worldwide? Then recoup your investment through services--install for, train, and administer your software for your clients

Re:Where are these so-called zingers? (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 12 years ago | (#190206)

it takes away the right to keep the changes to yourself

Troll. Read the GPL, or at least a summary.

Re:All very nice... (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 12 years ago | (#190207)

No, one of the "freedoms" is to sell it for whatever you want (the key, though, is that if you charge an insane amount, people will get it from friends, download it, etc.). But if you write the software, the GPL doesn't apply to you--the copyright holder can do whatever he wants to with the code.

Re:All very nice... (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 12 years ago | (#190208)

So, we'd say, GPL the software and sell the data; if the R&D costs weren't put into software, the GPL/proprietary issue doesn't really apply. There (is|was) at least one project to produce a GPL'd massively-multiplayer online game; the company would then sell the graphic sets and server access.

Re:Headline: The sun rose today! (2)

Soggy_Cornflake (303767) | more than 12 years ago | (#190211)

Of course it was predictable. 90% of Slashdot is. - including your comment
What were you expecting/hoping?

I read it to see how he makes his comparisons. It was too bad he didn't try to make a point by point rebuttle. That could be a good read.
I liked the receipe anology but of course many people eat fast food all the time. Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn't publish their receipe. People wanting food and lacking the skills and/or time can enjoy fried chicken without going through the process of cooking the bird themselves. Sure they might get something a bit better if they cooked it themselves, but if you don't have the same equipment, you can't get the same thing.
Most Computer users aren't even aware that they can get any alternative to Closed Source Software just the same way that people who have never tasted a free range chicken haven't a clue what they are missing.

What's for dinner? (5)

klykken (310263) | more than 12 years ago | (#190212)

What Stallman said about the recipes awakens some interesting thoughts. IMHO, it's a brilliant metaphor for the open source situation.

- You get a recipe from an online database, go to the store and buy (or order online from the comfort of your own toilet seat) the ingredients. You cook and improvise. You eat. You enjoy. Next time, you improve your skills and the resulting meal by improvising even more.

- You buy a finished heat-and-eat meal in the store, witch may or may not be protected by several patents and trademark protections, you nuke it, eat it, burp and discard. You'll never know exactly what you just ate, and it's difficult to make improvements the next time you want something to eat.

.../Bosse

Re:Victims of NDAs (1)

number one duck (319827) | more than 12 years ago | (#190213)

If the students and bludgers can do the work better, for free, then some people need to find other lines of work.

Re:All very nice... (2)

number one duck (319827) | more than 12 years ago | (#190214)

Personally, I'd say something that comes between 'give up' and 'good luck'. The GPL isn't something that can come in and bail out a failing shop, all it will ensure is that when you *do* fail, it will allow your work to continue with a life of its own.

You should probably have your business plan down pat *before* you get to this stage...

I couldn't disagree more. (1)

catpyss (321548) | more than 12 years ago | (#190215)

"Free Software has victims too. It's intent is to undermine the commercial software world, and put thousands of programmers out of work. What makes one kind of victimization OK and the other not? "

Please, name some _victims_ of Free Software. The intent of Free Software is not to eliminate competition and programmer jobs, but rather insure that users of Free Software have an alternative to right-restricting, expensive software. I fail to see how companies like Redhat, Sun, IBM, HP, SuSE, Mandrake, and Linuxcare manage to _not_ employ people for Linux and GPL-related work. Also, NDAs and software licenses are very different.

Its a strange victim that _uses_ software and all of a sudden destroys himself and 'thousands of programmer jobs.'

Re:SCO? (1)

catpyss (321548) | more than 12 years ago | (#190216)

"I haven't heard much from SCO lately. Sure they had competition from Novell and Microsoft, but the similarity to *BSD and Linux give you pretty much no reason to buy new SCO software when you expand your already-SCO system. "

SCO was purchased for a nice sum by Caldera, a company that has done pretty well using GPL'ed software. And... whats your point? Why _should_ you buy SCO if there are better and cheaper alternatives? You just made a great argument for why Linux, BSD, and Free Software are good for consumers.

Re:RMS misunderstood the argument (1)

novastyli (450003) | more than 12 years ago | (#190221)

If I remember correctly (I was at the talk), he said that 1) most businesses are not in software business, 2) 90% of those are in software are in custom development business, and 3) since most businesses don't distribute their custom software, GPL doesn't apply.

I have to agree I don't see how GPL can be bad for non-software business.

Don't talk about "Intellectual Property" (1)

novastyli (450003) | more than 12 years ago | (#190222)

Another thing he said was that talking about "Intellectual Propery" should be avoided because it oversimplifies the whole subject by blurring the difference between copyrights and patent rights, which are totally different.

I once heard Robert Dewar pointing out that neither copyright nor patent should be treated as property; that they are rather privillages that are granted for the sake of public benefit. I don't know if Stallman has the same position, but what he said reminded me of this.

Re:RMS misunderstood the argument (1)

GPLwhore (455583) | more than 12 years ago | (#190225)

"He's not a good businessman"
No argument here.

"he's also not that great of a programmer (ever looked at the emacs code? bloat bloat bloat"

Bloat has nothing to do with quality of software designers who worked on the project.
It is a direct result of faulty planning and if it was done by RMS he might be shitty "business analyst" but it says nothing about his abilities as a programmer.

PS.
I think RMS is a dangerous lunatic as far as his political ideas go but I don't think he is a bad programmer. Got to be fair here.

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

GPLwhore (455583) | more than 12 years ago | (#190226)

No, that's bullshit. Do you really believe that software creation process can improved upon by having bunch of governmental paid puppets dispense money based on their beliefs on what good software is about?
BTW. Funding for arts is a complete waste of money as far as government spendings are concerned.
To put it in another way, Government has no business funding arts just like it has no business funding religion.

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

GPLwhore (455583) | more than 12 years ago | (#190227)

The question is not if they can be efficient but what is the percentage of these projects that end up being complete fuckups as compared to number of such failed ventures in a private sector.
After all, everyone knows how Soviet state run economy ended up after 50 years of head on competition with US free market style society.

Re:Society Suffers Because of IP Laws But... (1)

GPLwhore (455583) | more than 12 years ago | (#190228)

"You'd be suprised at the number of companies who go belly up every year. "

Well, Goverment run companies rarely go "belly up" for the simple reason that our lovely Democrats in the congress will always have enough money to spend unless somebody stops them from doing so. They can print more.

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