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RMS On Why Free Software Is More Important Now Than Ever Before

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the we-need-the-power-to-make-those-birds-less-angry dept.

GNU is Not Unix 319

jrepin points out an article by Richard Stallman following up on the 30th anniversary of the start of his efforts on the GNU Project. RMS explains why he thinks we should continue to push for broader adoption of free software principles. He writes, "Much has changed since the beginning of the free software movement: Most people in advanced countries now own computers — sometimes called “phones” — and use the internet with them. Non-free software still makes the users surrender control over their computing to someone else, but now there is another way to lose it: Service as a Software Substitute, or SaaSS, which means letting someone else’s server do your own computing activities. Both non-free software and SaaSS can spy on the user, shackle the user, and even attack the user. Malware is common in services and proprietary software products because the users don’t have control over them. That’s the fundamental issue: while non-free software and SaaSS are controlled by some other entity (typically a corporation or a state), free software is controlled by its users. Why does this control matter? Because freedom means having control over your own life. ... Schools — and all educational activities — influence the future of society through what they teach. So schools should teach exclusively free software, to transmit democratic values and the habit of helping other people. (Not to mention it helps a future generation of programmers master the craft.) To teach use of a non-free program is to implant dependence on its owner, which contradicts the social mission of the school. Proprietary developers would have us punish students who are good enough at heart to share software or curious enough to want to change it."

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SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (5, Insightful)

lesincompetent (2836253) | about a year ago | (#44984201)

I dare anyone, especially after mr. Snowden's revelations, to contradict mr. Stallman's points.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984237)

Well I'll give it a go:

One could perhaps have an entirely free software stack on ones phone. Your service providers could use free software for all the servers they run. Everything could be free software everywhere.

But, how does that stop them (the guys running the servers) having access to all of your information you have stored on their machines?

It could all be free software and they could still spy on you.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (4, Interesting)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year ago | (#44984251)

No one can stop them except you. If the entire chain from you to them is open then you will be able to see what information they might get from you and chose to not use their services.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (1)

FPhlyer (14433) | about a year ago | (#44984485)

If the entire chain is open... who's paying for the infrastructure? Who will build the cellphone towers? Run the copper to your house or link the fiber between substations? Until I see a real-world example of private individuals circumventing the entire rest of the communications infrastructure from one end of the chain to the other... I remain skeptical. The closest example is AMPRNet, but AMPRNet is still used to connect to the rest of the communications infrastructure.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984511)

Crypto fixes that for you. End-to-end crypto under the control of the user, that is. Which is "hard" so the majority will say they don't care in order to hide incompetence.

The spooks know who the ends are (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984521)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

End-to-end crypto

Please see replies to Wootery's comment [slashdot.org] .

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (0)

znrt (2424692) | about a year ago | (#44984659)

Crypto fixes that for you. End-to-end crypto under the control of the user, that is. Which is "hard" so the majority will say they don't care in order to hide incompetence.

e2e crypto may be you current best bet, it may be even appropiate for many situations, but it doesn't "fix" anything. nothing can fix loss of trust, and crypto is known to have been tampered too. so unless you are a once-in-a-species genius and do everything yourself, all you can expect is some mitigation or hope that you go unnoticed.

You're still paying them. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984583)

Why is it that you think that if the entire chain is open that means it has to be zero cost to you the customer?

They don't follow on.

Free has more than one meaning. You're a free man, yes? Does that mean you work for zero wages?

Think on it.

If you can.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44984661)

You dont need end to end trust chain.

You need your endpoints trusted and treat the rest as hostile, like you should have always been doing if you had any real interest in security. The NSA revelation's are that your endpoints are compromised.

If I have secure endpoints, the technology is out there to easily transmit data in a way that in uncrackable in any useable amount of time. There are a lot of FUD claims that came out of the Snowden release flurry floating about that just do not add up. YES if the encryption system is compromised it's cracked, but not all of them are.

Plus they dont NEED to crack your communication if they own your endpoints, and I am certain that is their current operation as it makes sense.

So secure your endpoints and stop worrying.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#44984723)

So, who builds the roads and the water supplies? (Water used to be unmetered). We pay for it, just through a different means - same with Free software. We pay for it, somehow and we are free to use it.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (0)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44984277)

A unique subset of phones will give you 'freedom' to code on but in the end your still trusting plain text before encryption on 'their' hardware again.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (3, Insightful)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#44984295)

You've made no mention of crypto. Crypto is what stops 'them' getting to see your data, not software freedom. Non-Free/closed-source crypto can never be trusted, though.

It could all be free software and they could still spy on you.

Not if this Free software was implementing proper end-to-end crypto.

Of course, in practice there might be issues with trusting them to be running the code they say they're running.

Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984375)

Crypto is what stops 'them' getting to see your data

End-to-end cryptography won't stop "them" from seeing with whom you communicate, how often, where, and when.

Of course, in practice there might be issues with trusting them to be running the code they say they're running.

Things like "trusting trust" are why David A. Wheeler invented diverse double compiling [dwheeler.com] . Take two or more independently developed compilers, preferably Free ones such as such as GCC and Clang, and bootstrap a compiler in all of them. If the end result of both bootstrap processes is the same binary, the resulting compiler is overwhelmingly unlikely to be booby-trapped.

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984539)

Ah yes, except this won't work due to differences in how each compiler interprets the higher level language and translates it into something else. Simple example: unrolling of loops. Let's say you program something to repeat five times, call it action X. You'd write something like this in your high-level language:

1. Perform X five times

Your compiler A could interpret this as:

1. Set counter to 0
2. Perform X
3. Increase counter by 1
4. Check counter value to see if it's bigger than 5. If true, move to step 5. If false, jump back to step 2.
5. ...the rest of your program

Your compiler B could say:

1. Perform X
2. Perform X
3. Perform X
4. Perform X
5. Perform X
6. ...the rest of your program

That would look completely different in the resulting binary, although its functional result would be identical. You can't detect booby-traps this way.

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (3, Interesting)

Sneftel (15416) | about a year ago | (#44984553)

Of course you can. Consider X and Y to be two compilers. X compiled by X will, of course, be different than X compiled by Y. But X compiled by (X compiled by X) should be identical to X compiled by (X compiled by Y).

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (2)

znrt (2424692) | about a year ago | (#44984731)

But X compiled by (X compiled by X) should be identical to X compiled by (X compiled by Y).

that proof still doesn't rule out malicious behaviour. the expression "overwhelmingly unlikely to be booby-trapped" is not only embarrassingly unscientiffic but also naive because it simply assumes a compromised compiler can't be that smart. fail. if you want to be sure, you have to analyze the generated machine code, and good luck with that.

folks, don't get me wrong, i'm totally for free software and transparency. only like 1% of the sw i directly use is closed, and i use sw a lot, but i feel not a bit more secure because of that. all these "e2e crypto will fix it" and "diverse double compiling" statements are so misleading. they may be interesting tools, but assuming they get at the root of the problem is just delusional.

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (1)

trifish (826353) | about a year ago | (#44984745)

I don't see how that is immune to the chicken-and-egg problem. In other words, unless you write your own C compiler in raw CPU instructions (machine code), you cannot trust ANY compiler binaries.

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984573)

Actually, with a specification on how the compiler shall generate binaries, even including optimization, you CAN have your independent developed compiler and verify the resulting binary. It does require sacrifice and alot of hard work though.

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#44984613)

The way tepples explained it gives the impression that it depends on compilers having identical output, but this isn't the case; the test can be done with real-world compilers, if you use another layer of bootstrapping, so to speak, as Sneftel explained [slashdot.org] .

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#44984665)

End-to-end cryptography won't stop "them" from seeing with whom you communicate, how often, where, and when.

You're right that this isn't addressed by crypto itself, but there are ways and means. Send random-sized empty (but then encrypted) messages to randomly-selected contacts, at random intervals. On receiving an empty message, discard it.

(I suspect this solution doesn't actually work, as the random messaging would produce a rectangular distribution, and my actual messages would be 'on top of that', and so might still be 'detectable', but I'm confident a slightly cleverer scheme could overcome this.)

I'm sure these issues have already been addressed in some sense. I don't know what this problem is called, but steganography comes to mind.

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (1, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44984671)

Ah, and then you realize that the resultant compiler produces the same output because perhaps the Ken Thompson hack is in the CPU Microcode, as Ken suggested. Furthermore, that since he got the idea from the US Air Force back before his ACM acceptance speech (in 1984), than such hack could be in essentially all the CPUs you'd purchase.

Fortunately for me, I spent my childhood tinkering with electronics and discovering compiler design without any mentors... I know my brain doesn't contain the Ken Thompson Hack, and I can bootstrap a OS without anything more than a serial terminal or a bootable hex editor. [slashdot.org] I had to squeeze the code down, fighting for individual bytes to fit it under a single boot sector... I know the software has no hack because there's no room for it, and the machine code is the same as I'd produce by hand on graph paper. With those simple tools you should be able to write everything else you need to create an operating system.

Note that many features of C are way overly complex -- You don't need to be able to do all those optimizations for speed. The dumb method is actually not noticeably slower in most applications. A C compiler is about the simplest compiler you can make (besides FORTH).

Have you any idea how simple it is to make a custom home network out of a few parallel cables? LIRC exists. Have you ever created an IR Transceiver to record and play back remote control signals and control home AV gear for your media center setup? Ever thought that IR could be used in place of a few parallel cables? Or maybe even RF? Ever made something like that over the weekend? Me Neither! I wouldn't be caught dead by the FCC sending unlicensed wireless data to my garage or neighbors -- Who would risk such a fine just for a little fun?

I've got systems that only network with others over hardware I've built myself. They couldn't "phone home" unless they were sentient and grew legs (or were made by Intel and included a cellular radio). I've got systems that run code written only by me -- Even the BIOS firmware (I replaced it with the OS bootloader, because fuck BIOS, if I can have instant-on; See also Coreboot for an example of how to do this with Linux). I teach kids how to do this sort of thing for fun, they think they're learning how to make games and how CPUs, compilers, and VMs work... Now we're working on a really big (noisy) Tetris game with contractors and LEDs so they can learn electronics by watching it work and pick up tenets of reusable fabrications.

This sort of stuff has been my hobby for decades. Bootstrapping an OS and C compiler from scratch is a relaxing break from the insanity of modern scripting, VM, and C/C++ to me. I do it on all my new hardware just to burn it in or get cozy with a new chipset. When push comes to shove, I'm not worried, but the rest of you are fucked.

Proving it in a discrete logic CPU (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984763)

than such hack could be in essentially all the CPUs you'd purchase.

I don't see how such a hack could be embedded in a computer built out of discrete gates, such as the Apollo Guidance Computer or Kevin Horton's NANDputer [slashdot.org] . A chain of bootstraps starting at this sort of discrete logic could provide even stronger evidence that your compiler and login executables aren't boobytrapped. Besides, major revisions to the compiler would likely break the backdoor detection in existing CPUs.

Now we're working on a really big (noisy) Tetris game with contractors and LEDs

I wonder what Henk Rogers and Alexey Pajitnov would think [slashdot.org] .

Re:Traffic analysis; diverse double compiling (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44984681)

"End-to-end cryptography won't stop "them" from seeing with whom you communicate, how often, where, and when."

It can if you have a clue how to. For example, Stenography in a photo. if EVERY SINGLE photo you post on facebook has a 2048 byte sample of /dev/random shoved inside of it, they will never know that the photo of the shaved cat actually holds a 2048 byte encrypted message in it.

It's called hiding in the noise floor, you just need to raise the noise floor.

plus with the proliferation of Social media I dont have to send Ralph my message. I just post it to twitter, facebook, etc... they cant tell WHO I sent it to because my WHO is the world, and Ralph has to just have an IQ above that of a salad bar to figure out how to look for my message.

Monthly cap (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984735)

if EVERY SINGLE photo you post on facebook has a 2048 byte sample of /dev/random shoved inside of it, they will never know that the photo of the shaved cat actually holds a 2048 byte encrypted message in it.

Which is part of why the telcos have introduced capped data plans. If it takes a 204800 byte page with a photo on it to send a 2048 byte message, you've just reduced your cap by 99 percent.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984311)

But, how does that stop them (the guys running the servers) having access to all of your information you have stored on their machines?

It could all be free software and they could still spy on you.

Yes, the guys running the servers can spy on you. But if the software on the servers is free, then you can run the same free software on your own servers, and then you can spy on you. Free-Software-as-a-Service gives you the freedom to choose which Service to trust, or to run your own Service if you wish.

Communicating with users of the same Service (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984383)

Free-Software-as-a-Service gives you the freedom to choose which Service to trust, or to run your own Service if you wish.

Which doesn't help if the Service is a social network whose value lies in allowing users to communicate with other users of the same Service. Nor does it help when telcos have a blanket policy of not letting home users run their own Service. Let me know when Diaspora and some federated alternative to Twitter are ready for inexperienced end users.

Re:Communicating with users of the same Service (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984441)

Which doesn't help if the Service is a social network whose value lies in allowing users to communicate with other users of the same Service. Nor does it help when telcos have a blanket policy of not letting home users run their own Service. Let me know when Diaspora and some federated alternative to Twitter are ready for inexperienced end users.

The overwhelming popularity of closed social networks and consumption oriented Internet plans would seem to indicate a societal problem that will stymie attempts at a technical solution. Perhaps these inexperienced end users could be transformed into experienced end users through some sort of process somehow. Call it education. Because like the summary says, "educational activities influence the future of society through what they teach."

Re:Communicating with users of the same Service (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#44984597)

"Which doesn't help if the Service is a social network whose value lies in allowing users to communicate with other users of the same Service."

Which is also a point covered by RMS: an enlighted society, one where education on free software and why it's important won't be wanting to exchange their privacy and freedom for some puppies' videos.

Re:Communicating with users of the same Service (1)

AntiSol (1329733) | about a year ago | (#44984675)

telcos have a blanket policy of not letting home users run their own Service.

Sounds like you need to switch to a good ISP [on.net] . Maybe one which will Stand for the users rights [wikipedia.org]

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (5, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#44984575)

"But, how does that stop them (the guys running the servers) having access to all of your information you have stored on their machines?"

So exactly making the second RMS' point: beware service as a software substitute.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984305)

While I generally agree with most of what he says,the bit about schools seems insane.

A school is either a private school (i.e. a corporation) or a public school (i.e. the state), and exists solely for the purpose of provide a service (namely, education).

Why should the school itself not be in charge of it's own stuff? Should we give the students the admin password to the grade-tracking software? Should we let the students edit the curriculum to leave out the boring parts like math and reading?

Software in schools other than school admin (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984401)

Why should the school itself not be in charge of it's own stuff? Should we give the students the admin password to the grade-tracking software?

I didn't see anything in Mr. Stallman's essay implying that students should have administrative privileges on the school's authoritative instance of the grade-tracking software. But students should still have the opportunity to obtain a copy of the software to study and possibly share with other schools that friends and family attend. Besides, software to administer a school is not the only software used in a school. Mr. Stallman used the example of Adobe Photoshop. Schools shouldn't teach particular proprietary software packages. Instead, they should teach skills, and skills can be taught in free software such as GIMP.

There was no such statement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984775)

But it was the best straw the idiot could manage to make out that he's far more intelligent than that stupid hippy RMS, who is entirely out of touch with reality, unlike AC here.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (0)

epine (68316) | about a year ago | (#44984367)

I dare anyone, especially after mr. Snowden's revelations, to contradict mr. Stallman's points.

Snowden's unprecedented disclosed of hard evidence from the inside was in no way revelatory to those of us who have followed the NSA story since The Puzzle Palace. Stallman's tiresome drone about the collectivisation of digital works as an inalienable freedom has been equally predictable for just as long. Here's the problem. RMS's political philosophy has all the subtlety of Benito Mussolini.

Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

Let me rephrase RMS:

Everything within freedom, nothing outside freedom, nothing against freedom.

Did I miss anything? For some reason I persist in the view that the good society is far less polar in its optimal constitution. That's all I'm going to give you for a dare offered up (how generous of you) a decade after this debate widely circulated, and two full decades after the broad outlines were firmly in place.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (3, Interesting)

FPhlyer (14433) | about a year ago | (#44984397)

Stallman's arguments are purely philosophical for most software users. Software as a service, aka "Cloud Computing" is becoming and has become a standard for most computer users... even if they don't recognize it. Free Software is not going to reverse that unless you find some way to pull yourself off the grid... no internet, no cellular service, no land line service, etc. The entire infrastructure is open to attack and running Free Software to interact with the rest of the world doesn't insulate you from most of those attack vectors.
The only answer that could possibly live up to the pipe dreams of RMS would be to completely recreate the entire infrastructure. Need a totally attack free cellphone? You'll need to use an OSS operating system running on open source hardware that you solder together yourself... and then you'll need an open service infrastructure that no one else can connect to... leaving the entire concept useless. What good is a cellphone that can't connect you to other users. The moment you have to hand off your data, even if its encrypted, to a second party you've lost control. It doesn't matter where you hand off control of the data... at the application level, the network level or to another user. At some point you loose control.
Sorry RMS... using wget to fetch web pages so you can read them in your email may work for you, but for most of us Free and Open Source Software are NOT ends but are rather the means to an end. Most of us are perfectly happy to give up control of our data sooner rather than later because using Cloud Services is simply more convenient and adds value. I don't plan on giving up my smartphone anytime soon and as long as I use it I'm allowing numerous parties to potentially access my information and communication. Thanks to my phone's built in GPS I'm letting Google (as well as a number of other App vendors) to know exactly where I am at all times. As a Gmail user I'm perfectly fine knowing that Google reads my mail and potentially shares that info with the Government. All these things (and so much more) are acceptable trade offs for most of us to have access to services we value.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984525)

Good for you, but no, those are not acceptaple trade offs.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984409)

Hey super-genius AGW Slashdot Socialists! Please report to your local
Home Depot stores for your own Self-Vasecotomy kits. An Axe. Do it or
admit to your lies.

Oh and several companies make products to capture your carbon
dioxide. Hefty and Glad are two that comes to mind.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2436551/A-weatherman-breaks-tears-vows-NEVER-fly-grim-climate-change-report.html

"No children, happy to go extinct', tweets weatherman after grim climate-change report made him cry (now he's considering a vasectomy)

Eric Holthaus, who used to do weather for Wall Street Journal, was
reacting to Friday's findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change

        Scientists found in the report that it was 'extremely likely' that humans are causing warming trends
        Holthaus said he has decided not to have children in order to leave a lighter carbon footprint, and has considered having a vasectomy
        He tweeted on Friday 'no children, happy to go extinct'
        The weatherman also said he is committed to stop flying as 'it's not worth the climate'
        US Secretary of State, John Kerry, calls the report 'an alarm bell'
        It means scientists have moved from being 90 per cent sure to 95 per cent sure regarding global warming"

I am curious, do you people get paid by the pound of stupid or what?

How many of you look like this? I mean if this doesn't scream stupid
Obama supporting libtard AGW idjit, then what does?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A2pm-rXwWzI/TEsnyzhNJ0I/AAAAAAAAAKM/KNM2GmBGsLg/s1600/sheepskin-factory-fir_fran.jpg

After he kills himself I hope his wife cremates him in an old tire.

I love telling idiots this: The fact that you vote reliably
partisan-liberal will never change the fact that you've a mediocre
mind and an inferior education.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984689)

Herp Derp much? all you need is a good large rubber band. Much less messy than an axe, and easier to install and use.

Please get an IQ on the process before you post such drivel.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984455)

Simple, how do you interact across the internet with a server, and not give up some control?

You're going to be tracked, regardless of whether it's free software or proprietary.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (1)

welkin23 (1168399) | about a year ago | (#44984557)

I dare anyone, especially after mr. Snowden's revelations, to contradict mr. Stallman's points.

An old Roman already did: "Who is free? The thinking man, who frees himself." These two might have infinite hood credits but they certainly aren't polymaths.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (4, Interesting)

znrt (2424692) | about a year ago | (#44984587)

I dare anyone, especially after mr. Snowden's revelations, to contradict mr. Stallman's points.

his points have actually little to do with snowden's revelations. if you want to be in control you need also absolute control over the hardware (down to every circuit in every chip in every device). open software alone will never protect you from government snooping or from corps selling you as big data meat. and even if you could have fully open hardware, you would need a society that knows how to use it and cares. thats unrealistic. the problem snowden reveals is sociopolitical, not technolgical. it's about actual power abuse, not about the possible means for abuse.

although i agree with most of his points because of the intrinsic value open software has for society, mixing both issues is shortsighted, sounds a lot like usual fear propaganda, just in another context.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984595)

I dare anyone to eat the dead skin from between their toes!

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44984631)

Ok. How can I, as in Me personally, TRUST FOSS? Right now there are no third party Open source groups, not even the FSF that is carefully reviewing it to see what backdoors or other nefarious spying functions are added already.

I honestly see this as an opportunity for FOSS to rise to the top quickly. They need to be publicly certify that their OS is not compromised by the NSA or other faction.

Until then I assume that Linux and BSD are as compromised as Solaris,OSX, and Windows.

Digital communism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984213)

Hopefully we have clang.llmv now

Toe Jam Makes Good Jelly? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984215)

RMS thinks so. So should you.

congratulations (5, Interesting)

kwikrick (755625) | about a year ago | (#44984241)

Thank you rms, for fighting for our freedom for 30 years!

Re:congratulations (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984257)

>Thank you rms, for fighting for our freedom for 30 years!

Tut tut tut, it's GNU/freedom, not just "freedom".

Re:congratulations (4, Informative)

wordsnyc (956034) | about a year ago | (#44984281)

The man is the real deal. Seriously.

Re:congratulations (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984313)

The man is the real deal. Seriously.

He's the real deal like licorice though. What's commonly sold and enjoyed as licorice contains maybe 2% of the actual substance, the rest being sugar and other stuff. Reasonably pure forms of licorice are sold with health warnings (as they are bad for your blood pressure) and enjoyed by rather few people.

Re:congratulations (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about a year ago | (#44984719)

Well, rms is certainly bad for your blood pressure, especially if you are tasked with hosting him. Though I would use a different analogy, rms is best enjoyed at a distance, and preferably in writting.

If only (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984243)

Free software on things like phones or consoles was worth using.

Re: If only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984389)

Android runs on open source kernel (Linux) similar to just announced SteamOS Linux distro that might dominate the desktop like the bat out of hell soon.

Re: If only (1)

FPhlyer (14433) | about a year ago | (#44984431)

But that Linux kernel is at the complete mercy of the wireless carrier and the handset manufacturer. Not to mention the hundreds of app developers to whom you are willing to surrender systems level access in order to use their services. An open source kernel is useless when the rest of the infrastructure is being broadcast to the waiting world. Plus... getting the Linux kernel to load proprietary kernel modules is trivial. You don't think the Linux kernel on Android is already doing that?

I know the U.S. mobile market is screwed up (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984489)

But that Linux kernel is at the complete mercy of the wireless carrier

Only in North America. Most of the rest of the world uses GSM and doesn't price a handset subsidy into the phone bill. If (like me) you happen to be stuck in the United States, switch to T-Mobile, the only carrier among the major carriers that respects hardware freedom.

Free software on consoles (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984435)

On phones: Android is Apache-licensed free software on a GPLv2 kernel. Otherwise, there could be no CyanogenMod.

On consoles: Perhaps Mr. Stallman might accept a Free engine with non-free mission packs, as those are works of art, not works of productivity. There do exist free engines, such as the engine of many Id games more than five years old, and they work fine on general-purpose computers such as GNU/Linux PCs and Android phones. The problem with running them on consoles is artificial, nearly equivalent to tivoization: console makers have historically been opposed to free engines, Nintendo in particular banning anything copylefted [slashdot.org] . This dates back to 1985 when Nintendo had to reassure retailers that its games would be of higher quality than the me-too crap that was plaguing the Atari 2600 in order to get its NES consoles and (physical) game media in their stores. Such demand for quality control is why very few consoles even allow the use of software obtained from unknown (to the manufacturer) sources. But in the 2010s, the need for this reassurance becomes somewhat less necessary as physical media gives way to widespread broadband and web reviews. Thus OUYA (which runs Android) and the Steam Machine (which runs SteamOS, apparently based on GNU/Linux) can start turning this around.

anti-Statist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984255)

> To teach use of a non-free program is to implant dependence on its owner

Does this mean the author is also anti-State?

The State enforces (non-free) the use of a number of services (police, benefits, military, etc) which implant dependence upon citizens (who also *have* to pay for it - in that sense it's worse than non-free software, because with non-free software, you have a choice as to whether or not you buy).

Re:anti-Statist? (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year ago | (#44984273)

That doesn't make any sense. What Richard talks about is program, and what you talk about is not programs.

Re:anti-Statist? (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#44984319)

Indeed. One cannot just take Stallman's views on software and apply them to the state, then call him an anarchist.

If I were going to use the same broken reasoning, personally I'd opt for calling him an anarcho-communist [wikipedia.org] . It seems a better fit.

Re:anti-Statist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984385)

because with non-free software, you have a choice as to whether or not you buy).

Not always. In my country, and many others, the state requires you to conduct all correspondence with them in Microsoft Office format. In many countries, proprietary standards like ISO-STEP are required for engineering specifications, which can only be produced with proprietary software, and the proprietary nature of ISO standards and their licensing precludes them from being implemented in Free Software.

So no, you only really have a choice, if that choice is buy proprietary software, illegally share proprietary software, or not conduct business in the only country you are allowed to live. I suppose you could also choose to protest government coercion to use proprietary standards and software and continue to conduct business until you're fined, have your business forcibly torn down and get dragged off to jail.

Asylum (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984497)

Not always. In my country, and many others, the state requires you to conduct all correspondence with them in Microsoft Office format

Then the leaders of your country, and many others, are intellectually disabled for insisting on a format controlled by a foreign company, especially one based in the country with a notorious NSA.

or not conduct business in the only country you are allowed to live

You appear to reject seeking asylum from a proprietary software regime.

get dragged off to jail

Can the state imprison 100% of its population?

Re: Asylum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984737)

Is that a dare?

Most users don't care (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984263)

>free software is controlled by its users
In practice, free software is controlled by a technocratic elite. Sure, you CAN control it, but the vast majority of the users do not care and will simply accept whats handed to them. The hacker ethic is for hackers only.
It's not enough for software to be free - it has to be good for the masses. You have to think of and for the poor sods, or they will microwave the cat, so to speak.

Re:Most users don't care (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#44984345)

In practice, free software is controlled by a technocratic elite.

Sure, if you don't have any programming skill then you can't hack on Free code, but you can still pay someone else to add features/fix bugs/remove Bad Things. Generally not so with non-Free software, and even where it is possible, they always have the power to just say no.

Sure, you CAN control it, but the vast majority of the users do not care and will simply accept whats handed to them.

Competition between FOSS projects can alleviate this. If/when Gnome make a bunch of unpopular user-interface decisions, its users generally have the option to move to KDE or one of its other rivals.

It's not enough for software to be free - it has to be good for the masses. You have to think of and for the poor sods, or they will microwave the cat, so to speak.

Sure, I think you have a point when it comes to, say, user-interface decisions, but FOSS has proven pretty effective at keeping out code which is genuinely malicious/deliberately anti-user. DRM/inescapable advertising/etc don't survive in FOSS.

Free to hire anyone (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984447)

Sure, if you don't have any programming skill then you can't hack on Free code, but you can still pay someone else to add features/fix bugs/remove Bad Things.

Exactly. Here's how I explain it to people: Free software means you get the blueprints and are free to hire anyone to make the software do what you want.

Competition between FOSS projects can alleviate this. If/when Gnome make a bunch of unpopular user-interface decisions, its users generally have the option to move to KDE or one of its other rivals.

Competitors in this sense need not even be as different as GNOME and KDE products. MATE and Cinnamon are forks of GNOME 2 and GNOME 3 that have gained a following.

Re:Free to hire anyone (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#44984591)

Good point, I forgot about forks :-P

Re:Most users don't care (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44984765)

Sure, if you don't have any programming skill then you can't hack on Free code, but you can still pay someone else to add features/fix bugs/remove Bad Things. Generally not so with non-Free software, and even where it is possible, they always have the power to just say no.

You can easily flip around that argument too: if you don't have any desire or skills to hack on free code, you can pay commercial software developers to make it work. Free software developers have always the power to just say no, and sometimes they have to, as they simply might not have enough developer resources to get everything working. Now, if you are a commercial software house and you say no, you might lose some of your customers, so you have an incentive to get shit working as soon as possible.

Additionally, the bugs and performance problems have increased significantly over last decade and I find myself already thinking if OSS, despite being free, gives me enough advantage over closed software anymore. There are still many success stories, such as the Chromium browser, Intel GPU drivers, and many others, but then again there are too many OS components which creak. The feeling that constantly lingers is what happens when I click this button, as it's not obvious whether the result will be something unexpected or result in a crash.

Re:Most users don't care (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984365)

>free software is controlled by its users
In practice, free software is controlled by a technocratic elite. Sure, you CAN control it, but the vast majority of the users do not care and will simply accept whats handed to them. The hacker ethic is for hackers only.

Except free software isn't controlled by a technocratic elite. Anyone who wants some changes made to free software is free to either learn enough technical knowledge to change it or to hire a knowledgeable person to change it. No one is required to contact the authors of free software and beg for changes to be made to it, although one may choose to do so. In contrast, if anyone wants changes made to non-free software, begging is the only option available.

Re:Most users don't care (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#44984623)

"In practice, free software is controlled by a technocratic elite."

There was a time when *all* culture was in the hands of a technocratic elite. Then society moved on and massively learnt to read write.

Programing is basically applying your rational skills and describe them in a formal language. It can be done by the masses if deemed important enough.

at the mercy of the owners (4, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44984279)

One thing the FSF's licences haven't dealt with properly is the problem of Free software being used to TAKE control rather than GIVE it. Most of the huge SaaS providers are running Free software, adapted as they will - but with code not distributed, because it doesn't need to be as long as they're not distributing their proprietary platforms - and with all your data on their systems. Should the GPL be adapted to deal with that? Could it?

Maybe the FSF need to prepare a set of terms to explain what counts as adequate vs inadequate control over systems and data - to be more clear about e.g. how one could prepare a 'phone ecosystem which leaves control in the hands of the user. For "server" to be a person's home computer rather than Google's cloud would perhaps be a start.

Re:at the mercy of the owners (4, Informative)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year ago | (#44984285)

That certainly is seen as a problem, and the AGPL is supposed to address the loophole. Adoptions isn't that big though, although some large players like Oracle uses it for certain software packages like for example Berkeley DB.

Re:at the mercy of the owners (1)

remi2402 (816874) | about a year ago | (#44984479)

I'll bet a pound of nickels and dimes that Oracle changed the license to screw BDB users and get them to move on to something else. Either Oracle's own products or just anything else really. The corporate overlord probably just wants to stop having to care about BDB and figured a license change was as good a plan as any.

Re:at the mercy of the owners (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year ago | (#44984561)

It is possible, but it might also make some users of Berkeley DB release their own software packages under a compatible license.

Re:at the mercy of the owners (4, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#44984291)

Should the GPL be adapted to deal with that? Could it?

You mean this:

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-affero-gpl.html [gnu.org]

Yes it can and has been adapted for that situation.

Re:at the mercy of the owners (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984303)

One thing the FSF's licences haven't dealt with properly is the problem of Free software being used to TAKE control rather than GIVE it. Most of the huge SaaS providers are running Free software, adapted as they will - but with code not distributed, because it doesn't need to be as long as they're not distributing their proprietary platforms - and with all your data on their systems. Should the GPL be adapted to deal with that? Could it?

Maybe the FSF need to prepare a set of terms to explain what counts as adequate vs inadequate control over systems and data - to be more clear about e.g. how one could prepare a 'phone ecosystem which leaves control in the hands of the user. For "server" to be a person's home computer rather than Google's cloud would perhaps be a start.

Uh, please look up the GNU Affero GPL. [gnu.org] It is intentionally one-way compatible with the GNU GPL 3.0.

So saying "One thing the FSF's licences haven't dealt with properly" is uninformed bullshit. Like with any licensing choice, it's a tradeoff between freedoms to use and freedoms to abuse. But the abuse case is important enough to the FSF that they do offer this licensing choice and make it possible to employ it in connection with GPLv3-licensed software.

Re:at the mercy of the owners (4, Informative)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44984359)

So saying "One thing the FSF's licences haven't dealt with properly" is uninformed bullshit.

Lol, unnecessary hostility. Since

1) Few service providers have adopted Affero; and

2) It doesn't deal with the problem of lack of "control over the computing the server does for them. It also does not tell them what other software may be running on that server, examining or changing their data in other ways." [gnu.org] ; yet

3) other FSF licences are extremely popular,

the Affero licence clearly hasn't dealt with it.

Re:at the mercy of the owners (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984625)

So if it's hostility against you, who are clueless and rabidly anti-FOSS, it's "unnecessary"? How does that work?

Tell me, do you know what "Passive-aggressive" means? Or are you too fucking ignorant?

1) IRRELEVANT: The complaint was that this situation was not taken care of. IT HAS BEEN. That you (in your ignorance) thought it didn't exist is the entire fucking point. It does. Did you say anything about being widespread? NO.

2) And if it did, you'd be whining like a bitch you always do on FSF/RMS about how the GPL is viral.

3) IRRELEVANT. See #1

You showed yourself up as an ignorant moron and are busy scratching through your shit to find a nugget of gold to cover up your shame.

Fuck right off, moron.

Re:at the mercy of the owners (1)

halivar (535827) | about a year ago | (#44984663)

The word "rabid" does come to mind, but not for GP.

Goes too far (1)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about a year ago | (#44984283)

Every time I read an RMS opinion, it seems to start at a good position and consistently attempts to be more and more idealistic to the point that he seems to be arguing a strawman

.

So schools should teach exclusively free software, to transmit democratic values and the habit of helping other people.
Malware is common in services and proprietary software products
To teach use of a non-free program is to implant dependence on its owner, which contradicts the social mission of the school.
Proprietary developers would have us punish students who are good enough at heart to share software or curious enough to want to change it.

I know he defines Malware differently from the common way (he considers DRM as malware, for example), but democratic values are less likely to be transmitted if I use Office? Proprietary developers want to punish students? I guess he means the corporations - and again, they don't generally give their source for modification, so they might be preventing students from modifying other people's work. Is that punishing them? I won't even claim to understand what the social mission of schools are supposed to be - prepare students for functioning in society? Prepare them for jobs? Prepare them for college? Prepare them to develop free software? Prepare them for ignoring copyrights?

Re:Goes too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984325)

Re-education is what you need. You are an infection, Y.

Re:Goes too far (5, Insightful)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about a year ago | (#44984329)

but democratic values are less likely to be transmitted if I use Office?

If you are a teacher, yes. If you learn office at a young age, it becomes very unlikely you will switch to anything else. It can be difficult for some people too, as the interface is different. Once the students go home and have to set up their own computer they will likely use office. They will either pay for it or not pay for it. If they don't pay they are committing a crime which can be severely punished if they get caught. If they pay then the school is basically training them to give money to a large corporation. Not only that, a specific corporation, with a partial monopoly in that market. Evidenced by the fact that you write 'Office' with a capital O and take it as a given that everyone knows you mean Microsoft® Office®.

Training kids to give money to support a monopolistic corporation does not seem to be directly in line with the principles of democracy.

Re:Goes too far (4, Interesting)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about a year ago | (#44984477)

but democratic values are less likely to be transmitted if I use Office?

If you are a teacher, yes. If you learn office at a young age, it becomes very unlikely you will switch to anything else. It can be difficult for some people too, as the interface is different. Once the students go home and have to set up their own computer they will likely use office. They will either pay for it or not pay for it. If they don't pay they are committing a crime which can be severely punished if they get caught. If they pay then the school is basically training them to give money to a large corporation. Not only that, a specific corporation, with a partial monopoly in that market. Evidenced by the fact that you write 'Office' with a capital O and take it as a given that everyone knows you mean Microsoft® Office®. Training kids to give money to support a monopolistic corporation does not seem to be directly in line with the principles of democracy.

This does not limit the abuse by monopoly to just school children! Our very first "home computer" was purchased so that we could become more literate in the coming "digital age". We had a 6 year old daughter and my wife and myself both needed to use fax for the purposes of both getting work and communicating. So we spent 2000 dollars on a decent 486 which could run "Windows" on top of dos. We both had used Vax at work for years and now that it was obviously being dumped and we knew that the "Windows" gui was going to dominate the very future of both our working lives. My wife insisted upon the then brand new Office which set us back another huge chunk of change and took for freaking ever to install from the set of floppies! When we upgraded the unit to the "start me up" roll me over and take it in the rear year 95 version of "Windows" our old version of office would not install PERIOD. So this was my first desperate and financially crippling experience with MSFT. We were almost bankrupted by this at the time because of health issues that occurred concurrently, so I pirated WORD so that we could still fax and my wife could keep her work communications up.

THIS EXPERIENCE SOURED ME so much against MSFT that I investigated what all the fuss was online about Red Hat. After a really good dummies book showed me that our old terminal skills could still make our older 486 work online (good old ifup ip foobar commands) and even do faxes by simply sticking in a different modem than the Win Modem we had things started to look up and the experience brought me into the light. I have never looked back. OR may I add have never "pirated" anything since!

IT WAS a revelation reading Eric Raymond and watching the antics of RMS, Linus and others, the one great rhetorical statement that always sticks in my mind and I am never going to forget is "WOULD YOU BY A CAR WITH THE HOOD WELDED SHUT?"

With companies like Corbis, and others trying to deprive and lock down the world to its very own shared historical great heritage of images online one comes to finally understand the true Ferengi like nature of those who like Milo Minderbinder with a computer have come to dominate digital communications. Do they deserve the laurels and accolades that are heaped upon them. Only history will tell, but if the young are left to believe that they are saints chances are we are headed into a digital dark age.

Thank you RMS and all the others for keeping up the good fight!

Re:Goes too far (2)

ray-auch (454705) | about a year ago | (#44984673)

the one great rhetorical statement that always sticks in my mind and I am never going to forget is "WOULD YOU BY A CAR WITH THE HOOD WELDED SHUT?"

And yet, for every car I've had for the last 10-15 years, I have never opened the hood for anything other than putting in screen wash or checking oil (and maybe once in 20yrs to access the battery for a jump start) - put those on the outside and I would have no need. Otherwise I just open the hood and think "I don't even know where to start on this", close it again and take it to a garage. It's not that I don't know how an engine works or haven't stripped down and rebuilt one before - it's that modern ones are orders of magnitude more complicated, higher precision, lower tolerance, and shoehorned in so tight that it looks like if you don't have exactly the right tool at exactly the right angle you are going to have no arms left after about three bolts.

And yet we buy these cars (in their millions) ? Why ? Because they are ten times more reliable than the ones we had 20-30yrs ago, and getting under the hood just is not as necessary anymore. "It just works". Are we any less free because of this ?

Same goes for software, I've modified my kernel, back in the 0.99something days. I think it had about 100 KLOC. Today Linux is what, 15 MLOC ? Over 100 times the size. Sure, in theory I can still get under the hood of the kernel, but in practice at 15 MLOC I am not going to touch it - it would never be economic.

Then on the services thing, if it was cheaper to get a taxi everywhere than own a car, would I own one ? Maybe for nostalgia reasons, but then again maybe not.
But would I expect to be able to open the hood of the taxi when it turns up ? Do you ? Are you less free because the taxi driver doesn't let you under the hood of his taxi ?

Re:Goes too far (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about a year ago | (#44984523)

If you learn office at a young age, it becomes very unlikely you will switch to anything else. It can be difficult for some people too, as the interface is different. Once the students go home and have to set up their own computer they will likely use office. They will either pay for it or not pay for it. If they don't pay they are committing a crime which can be severely punished if they get caught. If they pay then the school is basically training them to give money to a large corporation. Not only that, a specific corporation, with a partial monopoly in that market.

All true. But public schools are exactly the kind of bureaucracies that love getting locked in to proprietary stuff. RMS here is fighting some very natural tendencies of the system.

Re:Goes too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984351)

Every time I read an RMS opinion, it seems to start at a good position and consistently attempts to be more and more idealistic to the point that he seems to be arguing a strawman

.
  Proprietary developers want to punish students? I guess he means the corporations

You just seem not to understand that joining a machinery makes you part of promoting its goals. Part of the goals of education is to make sure that it does not just take 100 fascists to run a fascist state relying on people "just following orders" because the alternative might involve a sacrifice of intellectual laziness. In later stages, foregoing convenience, privacy, freedom, peace and ultimately the security that served as an excuse for the whole erosion of individual rights in the first place.

Now admittedly the U.S.A. is a total failure regarding a freedom-defending citizenship, but still: whoever agrees with letting himself be used as a weapon against freedom is condoning the abolishment of freedom.

Re:Goes too far (1)

FPhlyer (14433) | about a year ago | (#44984465)

"Part of the goals of education is to make sure that it does not just take 100 fascists to run a fascist state relying on people "just following orders" because the alternative might involve a sacrifice of intellectual laziness."

Funny.
The goal of public education is to teach students to follow directions without questioning authority. Students are placed in an extremely authoritarian setting. Deviation from accepted norms in punishable. Schedules are rigid and inflexible. Students are often taught not to speak out of turn without requesting permission. They often aren't even allowed to use the restroom without permission from a figure of authority. "Just following orders" is the name of the game.

Re:Goes too far (5, Interesting)

Halo1 (136547) | about a year ago | (#44984415)

Every time I read an RMS opinion, it seems to start at a good position and consistently attempts to be more and more idealistic to the point that he seems to be arguing a strawman.

RMS definitely is radical, but I've never known him to use strawman arguments.

I know he defines Malware differently from the common way (he considers DRM as malware, for example),

I guess he's also talking about backdoors for law enforcement (aka "legal interception") and other purposes.

but democratic values are less likely to be transmitted if I use Office? Proprietary developers want to punish students? I guess he means the corporations

His explanation indicates why he does mean proprietary developers rather than just corporations: e.g. in the US definition of core democratic values [classroomhelp.com] , there are aspects like personal freedom (e.g., modifying software) and the common good (e.g., sharing things with others). Note that he's not arguing here that it should be illegal for others to write proprietary software, i.e., he's not arguing to impinge on other people's liberty.

- and again, they don't generally give their source for modification, so they might be preventing students from modifying other people's work. Is that punishing them?

It limits the possibilities for expressing their creativity. Schools should be places where encouraging creativity is one of the highest valued goals. I know that is generally not the case [ted.com] right now (amazing video, btw), but this is a (small) way in which the situation can be improved.

I won't even claim to understand what the social mission of schools are supposed to be - prepare students for functioning in society?

I'm obviously not RMS, but I'd argue they should be prepared for functioning in society, for critically thinking about that same society (and anything else), and for contributing to a society that they consider to be better than what it is today.

Prepare them for jobs? Prepare them for college? Prepare them to develop free software?

I'd say: prepare them to become the best they can be. That can include a particular kind of job, being an artist, college (about which you can have very similar discussions as about school), developing free software or any combination of the above and many more things.

Prepare them for ignoring copyrights?

Now that last part is a great a strawman on your part: encouraging students to use Free Software, which they can share and modify freely according to the copyright license terms of that same software, is by no means the same as preparing them for ignoring copyright. It mainly teaches them that there are also alternatives to software whose business model depends on artificial scarcity. They will get to know MS Office and other popular products anyway, and if you can work with OpenOffice or LibreOffice, the jump isn't that great in any case. Maybe one of the primary things schools should teach are transferable skills (of which creative thinking is probably the "übervariant").

Re:Goes too far (1)

Dialecticus (1433989) | about a year ago | (#44984437)

Proprietary developers want to punish students? I guess he means the corporations - and again, they don't generally give their source for modification, so they might be preventing students from modifying other people's work. Is that punishing them?

I'm guessing you've never read and understood the various EULAs that you've agreed to through the years. They generally prohibit reverse engineering and modification of the code, which, contrary to popular opinion, can be done without access to the source code. I've done it myself, back in the days before EULAs. For example, I once modified a popular 16-bit compiler so that it would utilize 32-bit native integer multiplication and division opcodes, thereby greatly speeding up the code it generated, at the cost of making it require a 32-bit CPU.

There is nothing special about this. I just saw a problem and I fixed it, as I'm sure many people did. However, such benign activities cannot legally be done anymore without running afoul of the software's EULA. These restrictions are absolutely put in place by "proprietary developers", bringing the force of law to bear against their own customers out of nothing but paranoia. They are control freaks, born of a culture of control, and that control should rightly be ceded to me the moment I pay them money for it. But it'll never happen.

I won't even claim to understand what the social mission of schools are supposed to be - prepare students for functioning in society? Prepare them for jobs? Prepare them for college? Prepare them to develop free software? Prepare them for ignoring copyrights?

It's to prepare them to be good and fully-functioning adults. By killing kids' curiosity and generosity by wrapping them in fear of retribution, they are sabotaging that effort. Teaching students that they should just keep their heads down and avoid doing anything that might annoy the software companies is ultimately counterproductive to society.

Re:Goes too far (1)

ray-auch (454705) | about a year ago | (#44984507)

Every time I read an RMS opinion, it seems to start at a good position and consistently attempts to be more and more idealistic to the point that he seems to be arguing a strawman

.

Malware is common in services and proprietary software products

Ironic given that possibly the most prevalent and insidious malware that exists _in_ other products (as opposed to existing in itself and using other products as a vector) would now appear to be the backdoors placed in encryption algorithms by the NSA et al. Malware emplaced in open, free standards and widely implemented in both free and proprietary software. Free and open software spectacularly failed to prevent or detect that - as you say, it's a strawman.

To teach use of a non-free program is to implant dependence on its owner, which contradicts the social mission of the school.

Schools should _never_ teach a single _anything_ - to do so is to foster a dependence and an inability to learn. Not just "one" word processor, programming language, operating system, processor architecture, or method of multiplication. Learn one of everything and be blinkered, learn two or more of everything and the ones that come later in life you will have no problem with. Schools should teach people to learn. See Asimov's "profession" short story from way back.

Did free software anticipate walled gardens? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984339)

The biggest threat to computing today is walled gardens and web appliances which build their walled gardens on top of free software. Apple's iOS, Google's Chromebook, and others take free software and build a crippled platform on top of it to create a locked-in walled garden. Did anyone in the 80s even imagine such a thing was possible? There should be some way to stop free software from being exploited like this. Apple, Google, and others are using free software to create the very thing free software is meant to prevent.

GPLv3; Chromium OS (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44984459)

GPLv3 anticipates tivoization and requires distribution of "Installation Information" that allows use of a particular program with its intended platform. As for Chromebook, I thought Chromium OS was free software and that the hardware gave the end user the power to reimage the device and and unlock its bootloader.

Re:GPLv3; Chromium OS (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#44984771)

Yup. Main issue with GPLv3 is that nobody uses it, because, well, they like their walled gardens.

Also worth nothing that most of the software on the walled gardens tends to avoid even GPLv2 for the same reason. About the only thing in Android that is GPLv2 is the Linux kernel.

Re: Did free software anticipate walled gardens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984517)

You mean they build on FreeBSD an Linux, that might also be their undoing. Walled gardens provide much needed fragmentation and competing 'platforms' which is a good thing for the software market in general.

No solution given (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984425)

>Because freedom means having control over your own life

Cool. Then I want to be a software engineer, make something cool, and charge everybody who wants my product to pay a certain amount of money for my time and effort. Real money. I don't want to sell t-shirts to 1% of the users.

Oh wait. I have to live in poverty.

Personally, I'd like a Star Trek like society where money is irrelevant and everybody is cool. I want it, I want it! --- Dreaming child. Dreams are so cool when you don't have any solutions and ignore the collateral damage.

Re:No solution given (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984535)

Cool. Then I want to be a software engineer, make something cool, and charge everybody who wants my product to pay a certain amount of money for my time and effort. Real money. I don't want to sell t-shirts to 1% of the users.

Oh wait. I have to live in poverty.

Personally, I'd like a Star Trek like society where money is irrelevant and everybody is cool. I want it, I want it! --- Dreaming child. Dreams are so cool when you don't have any solutions and ignore the collateral damage.

Federation citizens do live in poverty, or hadn't you noticed? Sounds like you'd prefer to live as a Ferengi.

In real life, you can buy plenty of hot Earl Grey tea on the dole.

Re:No solution given (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44984599)

Re The collateral damage?
Not sharing a codebase with purveyors of fine DRM? Not helping the big brands who decrypt for govs without a court order, users bulk plain text just given out.
People will be looking into ideas like the Loongson processor, the quality of OS code and software they select to use. Not seeing much "collateral damage", just good quality code on well understood CPU's.

Losing the battle (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44984427)

While proprietary software won't always do things the way you want them for normal applications you could always restrict their permissions, firewall their network and most importantly unless you had a very serious leak built in the data stayed on your own computer, it might be locked up in a proprietary format with software that has forced obsolescence but I always felt the hyperbole was a bit thick. If you buy a CD you buy the mix the artist wanted you to have, you don't get the raw tracks to remix it the way you wanted it to be. Likewise when you buy a closed source game you get the game experience they wanted you to have, not all the source and assets to remake it the way you wanted it to be. All other things being equal it'd of course be desirable, but it's doesn't make it worthless or immoral to buy it without that possibility.

With "Service as a Software Substitution" as RMS calls it or as web services and the cloud as I'd call it you've got no control at all of neither the software nor the data. You can't even do the slightest change in how it works. When they want it to change, it changes and there's nothing you can do to stay on an old version the only thing you could do is to go nuclear and stop using it at all. Getting the data out and over to a competing service is often far worse and more locked up than a proprietary format. And again, they control your data. I'd be far more concerned about all my documents being on a Google Docs server somewhere than in a MS Office document on my disk under my control.

The worst part is really the way you're tied not technically to their service though, but legally. When the iTunes app store tells me they've updated their Terms of Service and asks me to answer yes or no, it's basically "Would you like to continue using your phone as normal or totally cripple all access to new software and updates?" I don't even bother reading it, it's accepting at gunpoint anyway. And I really don't feel it'd be much different with Android and the Play store. It didn't concern me much when it was primarily so I'd have a phone to play Angry Birds on (see above) because I totally don't care where my scores go, but as you start wanting to use it for more serious things it matters but there's really no opting out.

The stupid thing is that I really do like advantages of cloud syncing, I'd just like it to be against my own private server or at least in a local colo of my choice. I don't want to route it through Apple or Google or Facebook or any of the other big megacorporations. But what we need is a solid alternative, not the wailing song of RMS. He could have complained about the lack of a free kernel forever but as long as HURD wasn't an alternative it just didn't matter much until Linux came along and became usable. Give us a real alternative, based perhaps on AOSP or Ubuntu Touch (ugh) and maybe we can turn the tide. P.S. There was a poll here, 90% wouldn't change their online habits one bit after the Snowden revelations - don't assume the general public is with you.

Fire (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984433)

http://xkcd.com/1228/

Principle and practice (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | about a year ago | (#44984495)

The free software principle is sound but the implementation leaves something to be desired. The issue as I see it is one of resources and the ability effect change. Without a complete plan to deal with the pressures outside the scope of free software it is sand castles and it ignores the larger issues which are integral in maintaining any advance made. It is more a statement that describes a vector direction without the means to generate force toward the goal.
Stallman offers no solution to the core problem which is that any system must be able to be at least self supporting or generate more energy than it consumes to be effective and grow. The principle of shared technology works better if you start with the ability to collect and apply energy.
An army marches on its stomach and a general that calls you to battle without a plan to feed the troops is just asking you to bring what food you have and join them in a battle against opposition that is well provisioned and has first considered that they must eat if they are to continue to fight.
Car analogy: great map, great engine, no gas.

Re:Principle and practice (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44984677)

The ~Loongson ~CPU exits, the OS and surround application code exists. People have a place to start, they can build on and give back.
Where did growth get average users via the big trusted global brands? The ability to generate plain text for govs after a user selects/wants to encrypt.
After all the years of 'growth' 'passion' 'art' 'fun' 'funding' 'wealth' and all the other generational buzzwords of closed brand name software, free software still shines with the simple reality of been: fit for purpose.

another thing to consider (1, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | about a year ago | (#44984629)

if the NSA/CIA/FBI forces companies to put backdoors and hand over master-keys to encryption methods for both internet connections and locked files & disk drives then if the Government can get in them i am sure criminals can find them and break in too
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