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Richard Stallman Answers Your Questions

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the listen-up dept.

GNU is Not Unix 394

samzenpus (5) writes "A while ago you had the chance to ask GNU and Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman about GNU, copyright laws, digital restrictions management, and software patents. Below you'll find his answers to those questions."RMS: By way of explanation, I launched the free software movement; what I say about software issues is based on our values of freedom and community for the users of computers. We classify programs as either "free" or "nonfree".

A few of the questions asked about "open source software" in such a way that, responding to them directly, I'd be classifying programs as "open" or "closed". That I will not do, because those terms presuppose a different philosophy based on different values.

Rather than give no answer to those questions, I modified them to say "free software" instead, and answered them that way. (Square brackets show these changes.) I hope the answers to these modified questions are of interest to readers. They are rather different from what an open source supporter would say.



NSA/GCHQ
by click2005

What are your views on the recent NSA activities and how do you think it will change free software & the internet?

RMS: Nonfree software is likely to spy on its users, or mistreat them in other ways. It is software for suckers.

Awareness of this is spreading, which helps us make the case for free software to people who are not computing experts.

As for the internet, it has been turned into a spy network. A considerable fraction of the massive surveillance (but not all!) applies to the internet. Most use of the internet involves web sites that snoop on users, which is poisonous. That's in addition to the snooping by ISPs themselves.

Massive surveillance of people in general endangers human rights and democracy; but we should remember that US snooping agencies do this mostly by piggy-backing on businesses that massively collect data about people.

Therefore, it is not enough to legally limit the government's access to the digital dossiers about us. We must prevent those dossiers from being made, either by business or by government. We must legally require digital systems to be redesigned so that they do not accumulate data about people in general.

Here is my full position on massive general surveillance.



Opinion?
by Anonymous Coward

What is your opinion on cryptocurrencies?

RMS: In general, I am in favor of ways to pay each other cash on the Internet without going through a payment company that keeps track of all payments. I would like to be able to pay an on-line service with cash the way I pay cash for all the things I buy today.

However, Bitcoin payments are not anonymous. To serve this need requires anonymity at least for the payer. People are working on trying to improve Bitcoin in that way.

I am not an expert on encryption, and I can't judge the security of any particular cryptocurrency. What I do know, and what is illustrated by the recent collapse of several exchanges (banks, in effect) due to robbery, including MtGox, demonstrates that, here as in any field, the security of a practical activity that uses encryption is a very different question from the mathematical validity of the encryption system or the correctness of the software. It may take years to develop cryptomoney exchanges we can have confidence in.

These currencies raise economic issues, too; but not necessarily the way many people think. The number of bitcoins is capped, but new cryptocurrencies can always be created, so that the total number of Xcoins for all values of X has no particular limit. Does this mean that the value of all cryptocurrencies will inevitably tend towards zero? Not necessarily; that depends on how much people accept various other cryptocurrencies -- a sociological question, not an economic one.

I don't enjoy risk, so I will not do speculation in cryptocurrencies any more than I do in other commodities. I may use them for payment if and when it becomes possible to use them anonymously to buy something that I can't get with cash. To resist surveillance, I do buy goods with cash in a store, so that no data base knows what I bought -- therefore, I don't pay over the internet. But I would use an anonymous cryptocurrency to pay for services and downloads.



Cell phones
by Anonymous Coward

I read a little on your website about your take on technology that uses non-free software. Do you still not own a cell phone?

RMS: I certainly do not! A cell phone is Stalin's dream: its movements are tracked, and it can be converted (through the universal back door) into a listening device.

AC: If not, I'd love to hear your perspective on life without one these days, where its just assumed that people own one.

RMS: Please help teach everyone that this assumption is false!

There is a way to make a cell phone acceptable _for occasional communication only_: put a one-way pager in the phone, so people can page you if they are trying to reach you. That way, you can keep its radio connection off most of the time. When you get the page, you can decide when and where to reveal your location by connecting the phone to the network.

Of course, the software in the phone's main computer should also be free, but that is a separate issue. In other words, nonfree software in that computer is one assault on your freedom, and the phone system's location tracking is another.

The software in the baseband (phone radio modem) processor can't be free, at least not as things stand now. So the phone needs to be designed so the baseband processor can't talk to anything (peripherals, antenna, etc) unless the main processor permits it, and so that the baseband processor can't change the software in the main processor. Ideally the software in the baseband processor should be immutable, so we can treat it as a circuit.

AC: As a follow-up, where exactly do you draw the line concerning [freeness of software] and whether or not you use software. For example, do you toast bread in a toaster that runs proprietary code? Obviously we're talking about different things here, but I'm curious to know at what point you say "no thanks!" when it comes to locked down technology.

RMS: The case of the toaster is very clear: we can't tell, except by taking it apart, whether it has a processor and software or a special-purpose chip. Since that we can't tell the difference, it makes no difference: therefore, a program that will never be changed is equivalent to a circuit. I don't care whether a toaster or microwave oven contains software.

A very common design approach nowadays is an appliance or peripheral that contains software that could be changed, but normal use does not include changing it. I think we can still disregard that software, as regards the ethical issue of free vs nonfree software; it is just a short way into thr gray area. However, such devices can be a terrible security threat, because a corrupted computer can install malware in them that will propagate. Devices which have this problem include USB sticks, microSD cards, disk drives, and the cameras that go in computers.

Where is the other side of the line? If the device has an "update firmware" button, that firmware is software meant to be changed, so it is unacceptable.



GTK future?
by Anonymous Coward

Dear RMS, I for one am very interested in what your view is concerning the future of GNOME and specifically GTK. In the past there were concerns over licensing between GTK and Qt and there seems to be a rise in uptake of Qt. My question is whether you see there being a future in GTK and should developers consider moving their projects to Qt?

RMS: I can't see the future, because nobody can. I hope that GNOME and GTK will be very successful. Please help make it so.



GNU/Hurd
by mrflash818

Please share your vision for where you would like to see GNU/Hurd, and GNU software over the next 25 years, and what people would be doing with it.

RMS: I regret to say I have no response. I never try to think about what computing might be like 25 years from now; it would be a waste of time, since I know that I don't know.

I can tell you something about free software 5 years from now: most of it will be the same as today. Free software does not change rapidly. (I think that is a feature; our society teaches people to overvalue innovation so as to distract them from more important things such as freedom, democracy, and giving everyone a comfortable life). Most of the GNU/Linux system in 5 years will be the same as what we have now; some components will be new, but they will be a small change compared with the system as a whole.

The GNU Hurd kernel (and the GNU/Hurd system, which is GNU/Linux with the Hurd instead of Linux) is not a high priority for us any more, because it would be a replacement for the free parts of Linux, and we don't need to replace those. Volunteers continue to work on the Hurd, because it is an interesting technical project.

The parts of Linux we need to replace are the nonfree parts, the "binary blobs". But replacing those has nothing to do with the GNU Hurd. The main work necessary to replace the blobs is reverse engineering to determine the specs of the peripherals those blobs are used in.

That's a tremendously important job -- please join in if you can.



Free hardware? Why not?
by jkrise

In my experience; it is far easier to obtain; install and work with Free Software than with Free Hardware. I asked you about this in person 2 years back; but you brushed it aside saying hardware is not trivial to copy. Recent events have proved me right; I feel. We simply do not have access to Freedom Hardware at low cost - even the Raspberry Pi has proprietary components in its hardware.

RMS: When you say "free hardware" I think you mean hardware whose specs are known, so we can develop free software to run it. I call that "documented hardware". When I say "free hardware", it means to transpose the concept of free software to hardware. This means People are free to copy and change the hardware; if it is made from a design, that design must be free, with the same four freedoms that define free software. But that is mostly an issue for future technology. Documented hardware is what we need now.

The scarcity of documented hardware is indeed a tremendous problem. In general I don't see any way we can fix it except by reverse engineering to figure out the specs.

jkrise: Why can't the FSF pool resources; license technology from ARM Holdings; and build a truly Free Tablet, Free Cellphone and Free PC running Free GNU/Linux instead of the pseudo-free Android? I am sure the community will pay any money to buy truly free Hardware from the FHF.

RMS: This would cost millions of dollars, and we have no skills or experience in hardware manufacturing, so we couldn't do it.

We could try to raise funds to pay for reverse engineering of the VPU in the Novena laptop -- if we could find skilled reverse engineers ready to take the job. Can you introduce me to any?



Shorter copyright
by oneandoneis2

I believe you're in favor of much-reduced copyright terms - a few years rather than the endless decades of today. If copyright were reduced to, say, five years, then the vast majority of GNU code would become public-domain - copyleft depending on copyright as it does, this would mean anyone could create a [proprietary] fork of, say, emacs. How do you feel about that?

RMS: For this very reason, I oppose shortening copyright to 5 years without making some other change to prevent this harmful consequence. See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/pirate-party.html.

With the 10-year copyright term I propose, this problem would not be significant.

People often identify proprietary software with copyright; there was a time when I did, too. However, that's a mistake. The two principal methods used to make programs proprietary are (1) EULAs (a legal method) and (2) keeping the source code secret (a technical method). Two secondary methods are (3) copyright (a legal method) and (4) putting the executable in a tyrant device (a technical method, see below). Patents are used too, but only to reinforce the others.

To defend our free software from being made nonfree, the only one of these four that we can use is copyright.



People like apps
by thetagger

There is an entire generation of people out there for whom mobile apps, mostly on iOS and Android, are the way in which they do their computing. The more successful apps are usually very well-designed with incredible user interfaces, an area where free software has not achieved much success, and sold at very low prices and,

RMS: These "advantages" can seem impressive to those who don't see what they cost in freedom. The most basic thing we must do is say, "I'd rather have nothing than have that," and then act accordingly.

thetagger: in many cases, also monetized through stolen personal data.

RMS: Please don't use "monetized" to mean "make money from". That word stinks of the attitude that "Profit justifies anything". See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html.

Besides which, the word's correct meaning is "to use something as a currency."

thetagger: It appears to me that the GNU project is mostly ignoring this important area - I am aware of Replicant and F-Droid but these are well behind their proprietary counterparts at the moment. What should we do? Ignore mobile and hope it goes away,

RMS: I personally will ignore it, because there is nothing about it that I want. Even if we assume it is has no phone radio connection, so it is not Stalin's dream, a computer with a small screen and no keyboard is so inconvenient as to be useless for me.

However, we need to try to bring freedom to mobile computer users. We must not ignore them.

thetagger: try to get onboard with Replicant and F-Droid,

RMS: If you want to use mobile computers, please contribute in this way.

But we will never have, in the free world, the sort of "social" snooping apps that so many internet users spend their time in. We can't compete in terms of the misguided values that our adversaries promote in order to ensnare people, and if we did, we would be doing wrong. We have to set an example of rejecting those values.

thetagger: try to bring in a new generation of free software developers that is native to the mobile environment,

RMS: If this is meant as an alternative to the previous two, I don't understand what it means. We welcome people of any and all generations in everything we do.

thetagger: or avoid the mobile "ecosystem" completely

RMS: In general, I avoid the word "ecosystem" in connection with computing because of its amoral premises.

In this case I'm at a loss for what it means. I don't understand how this option differs from the first option, "Ignore mobile and hope it goes away."

thetagger: and try to work on the hardware side and try to make free hardware that is not inherently trackable/centralized and then run free software on top of that instead?

RMS: When you say "free hardware", I think you mean documented hardware. (See above.)

We can in principle make our own documented hardware, but the only way that would directly help is by avoiding the need for reverse engineering to figure out how to run the peripherals. In practice, though, I think reverse engineering is probably easier.

However, preventing the tracking is another matter. The only way I can envision to prevent the tracking of geolocation of mobile phones is if you have them disconnected from the network nearly all the time. (Well, in theory it might work to carry a parabolic antenna so you can communicate with just one tower. Maybe that would prevent the use of triangulation to figure out where you are located. I don't know whether this could be made to really work. Does anyone want to try it?)

Fundamentally, privacy-preserving computing has to be done mainly in your own computer. We have to reject the dependence on servers that the proprietary world is pushing people into. Freedom requires local application programs, rather than "web apps" or server-backed "mobile apps".



Do you foresee a viable Free Car OS?
by Medievalist

Automobile user interfaces have become increasingly complex and de-standardized as computerization reaches into the driver's seat. The major vendors don't seem to care about possible legal liabilities of designing inherently dangerous UIs. Google has enticed Honda, GM and Audi to join the Open Automotive Alliance, but that project seems more oriented towards selling android and nVidia products than providing an objectively better car OS. Do you see a future where a real Free (or at least Open Source) car operating system is a reality, or do you think the car makers will just continue to create unsafe and unstandardized vehicle UIs indefinitely?

RMS: I don't see the future, so I can't tell you what will happen. I can comment on the problems I know about now in the automotive field, but I can't tell you whether we will win, because that depends on you.

It will be a hard fight to free the software in our cars, but it is essential for drivers -- and not just those that might wish to soup up or customize their cars. The issue affects everyone.

Proprietary software is an injustice in itself, but it also leads to further secondary injustices, such as malicious functionalities. In the case of cars, those can include surveillance and back doors, as well as DRM in the entertainment system.

To exclude those malicious functionalities, the users need to have control over the software. In other words, if you want to have even a chance to make sure that the only back door in your car is the one that lets you reach into the trunk, the software must be free/libre. Anything less is inadequate.

The question asks whether open source software might be almost as good as free software. The main difference between open source and free is in the values they are based on: free software raises the issue as a matter of right or wrong, while open source studiously avoids saying that. However, what's relevant to this question is the practical extensions of the two criteria. Those are _almost_ equivalent; nearly all programs that are open source are free software.

Source code that is open source but not free is rare. On GNU/Linux you will probably never encounter any. In a car, however, you really may find programs that are open source but not free. The main case of nonfree open source programs today is when you can change the source but you can't change the executable.

How is that possible? In such cases, the source is released under a free license; it is free software, and it is open source. You can change this source, but that doesn't do you much good, because you can't run your changed version. The executable comes signed by the manufacturer, and the processor it runs in is designed to reject any executable not signed. (We call such processors "tyrants".)

In the cases I know of, this program is a version of Linux, and the reason they can make its executable nonfree is that Linux is distributed under GNU GPL version 2. If it were under GPL version 3, the seller would be required to give you the signature key to sign executables for your car.

Android uses Linux (but not GNU; the only thing in common between the Android system and the GNU/Linux system is the kernel, Linux). If Android is used in a car, its executable is very likely to be made nonfree in this way.

Of course, tyrant processors can contain software whose source code is nonfree, even secret, and this too occurs in cars. However, those programs are not open source either, so they are not a difference between free software and open source.

What this shows is that we must insist that car software be free/libre; open source is not good enough. It is not enough to be allowed to play ineffectively with source code.

See here for more explanation of the difference between free software and open source. See Evgeny Morozov's article on the same point.



Projects not being done
by mwvdlee

Ignoring preference of [free software] license for a minute, the [free software] landscape has lots of software to satisfy a wide range of users. What piece of software is still sorely missing from the [free software] landscape that isn't yet being seriously attempted by any project? Short version; what [free software] projects still need to be started?

RMS: The most important missing programs are firmware for various peripheral devices, to replace the "binary blobs" found in the vanilla versions of Linux. Linux-libre deletes the blobs, and all the free GNU/Linux distros use deblobbed versions of Linux; that gets us a totally free system but it can't operate those peripherals.

It is also important to develop Gnash enough to handle the current version of Flash. People like to imagine that Flash is dead, but reports of its death are premature.

Look here for other things we would really like people to do.

free software into law?
by paulpach

You argue that it is unethical for someone to distribute software in a way that limits any one of the 4 freedoms to users. If you had the option, would you make it illegal to do so? In other words, if you had the option would you make it so that software developers were forced by law to use a free software license? or would you leave the option to the developers and try to convince them (without coercion) that it is the right thing to do?

RMS: In an ideal world, there would be no nonfree software. I think it is possible to get pretty close to that. But I don't propose to make nonfree software illegal under today's circumstances, because it is a leap too far; the public is not ready for it. Most users do not think that nonfree software is an injustice. A law that does not have public support is going to meet resistance.

What I advocate, for today, is to ban some egregious practices found in many proprietary programs, including digital restrictions management (see DefectiveByDesign.org), censorship of applications (jails) or works that can be viewed, or requiring code be signed with a key the user does not have (as in Restricted Boot; see fsf.org/campaigns).

Of course, there are other measures governments should adopt to recover computational sovereignty and lead society towards freedom.

We should also ban the practice of asking users of digital works to agree to contracts (EULAs) that give them less rights than copyright law allows to users.

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The Unasked Question. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929735)

Is he the father of Snooki's baby?

Wow. What a jerk. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929747)

RMS: By way of explanation, I launched the free software movement
 
Uh, no Stallman, you didn't. Get over yourself.

Re:Wow. What a jerk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929827)

RMS: By way of explanation, I launched the free software movement

Uh, no Stallman, you didn't. Get over yourself.

He did lunch from his toes.

Re:Wow. What a jerk. (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46929855)

Its nice that he redefined the questions to ones that he wanted to talk about instead of answering the question as it was given.

Re:Wow. What a jerk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930167)

Its nice that he redefined the questions to ones that he wanted to talk about instead of answering the question as it was given.

I don't really understand if you are sarcastic...

Re:Wow. What a jerk. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930287)

All he did was correct errors like "open source". He answered the actual questions.

Re:Wow. What a jerk. (4, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 months ago | (#46930797)

He defined questions to have specific meanings when their original meanings were not necessarily specific enough for someone as pedantic as he is.

He has good reasons to do so if you understand such things.

Re:Wow. What a jerk. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929895)

Free Software Foundation chartered in 1985, GNU GPL v1 published in 1989.

Bell Labs was distributing source code for UNIX to universities for extension and modification in the 1970s. The University of Calfornia was being sued for giving away BSD while you were still wringing your hands about how to include other people's stuff in the GNU project.

Sorry, Stallman; you came late to the party.

Re:Wow. What a jerk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930727)

BSD Unix and other such releases were singletons; the key word in his answer is "movement", which correctly indicates that the FSF was the first organization to promote free/libre software generally and the legal structures to support it.

Re:Wow. What a jerk. (3, Interesting)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 5 months ago | (#46930819)

Did he? I'm under the impression that the notion was simply not formalized. Like "I don't care", "I didn't think about it, here's some BASIC listings / floppy / tape / 300 bps download". A theoretical and legal foundation was to be made and the randomness of History made it so R.M.S. Stallman did some of that.
I wasn't around for the 1980s university computing and home computers with audio cassette, I lived through the 90s instead when Internet access was very rare or a US thing. It was the DOS/Windows era of freeware (and shareware) : "here's some binaries".

I miss the freeware somewhat on Linux. There were tons of little cool games and apps, which were the work of a single author. Things were simpler : the application didn't need to be maintained to work, it had no concept of networking, there was no modern "app store" - but the stuff had to be bundled on magazines's CD or go through floppy sneakernet.
Free software (in opposition to freeware) really took off when there was affordable Internet access (i.e. DSL) and the general public got networking capabilities similar to the US university campus in the 80s (minus USENET, at the time it was on the way out and behind paywalls). It got more obviously and ever incrementally useful, e.g. when running Windows you could run Mozilla or Firefox to not get infected, then there were stuff like Media Player Classic (to escape Windows Media Player 7, which was a memorable "WTF?" moment to me), open source codecs, and some various stuff. All things that a lone wolf coder couldn't do anymore.

The linux thing (and BSD and whatever) had been going on already, but nobody had spare computers worth a shit or just a spare hard drive to install even a bare command line Free Software OS on, outside of some very narrow geek circles.
I did install linux from a magazine's CD in 1997 or such : installer was straight-forward and allowed me to resize the Windows 95 partition (great!, but probably easy since it was just FAT) but after installing and reboot.. Linux was unbootable, Windows 95 would boot in under a minute all the way through showing the full desktop then hang with the mouse cursor unmovable and nothing working. I got some flak for that. We deleted fucking everything (formatting the quarter-height 5.25" hard drive). That was the experience and I can't tell what was the distro (only I don't remember it was Slackware or Debian).

wait what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929795)

did RMS just admit to having a hard time finding skilled reverse engineers?

Um... (3, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 5 months ago | (#46929817)

RMS: Nonfree software is likely to spy on its users, or mistreat them in other ways. It is software for suckers.

Yes, because insulting people who make or use proprietary software is a surefire way to convert them, right? The FLOSS community as a whole could use just a little bit of tact overall (RMS chief among them).

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929891)

"The FLOSS community as a whole could use just a little bit of tact overall"

Yes, because we know how peacefully and delightful MS has acted since their inception.

I swear, the tentacles of MS are everywhere.

Grow up.

Re:Um... (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#46929955)

Tact is like political correctness. Avoiding calling someone a dumb idiot doesn't make him any smarter.

Re:Um... (-1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46930021)

Funnily enough RMS has political correctness as one of his beliefs. He mentions his list of politically incorrect words here:
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/... [gnu.org]

Re:Um... (5, Insightful)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 5 months ago | (#46930313)

Words to Avoid (or Use with Care) Because They Are Loaded or Confusing

So now "loaded" or "confusing" is == to "politically incorrect". Isn't that a bit of a stretch?

English is ambiguous - when writing it's important to remove that ambiguity, definitely when you are trying to put a complex subject like Software Freedom into the proper context you are trying to convey.

Re:Um... (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46930801)

So now "loaded" or "confusing" is == to "politically incorrect". Isn't that a bit of a stretch?

Not at all. "Loaded" is exactly the reason why you're not supposed to say "nigger" for example. And "confusing" is only according to the distinctions that matter to RMSs politics. None of those words and phrases are genuinely confusing.

English is ambiguous - when writing it's important to remove that ambiguity, definitely when you are trying to put a complex subject like Software Freedom into the proper context you are trying to convey.

It's not that. It's the same activity as when right wingers say:
Don's say "public option" say "government option".
Don't say "anti-abotion" say "pro-choice".
Don't say "denier" say "skeptic".
Don't say "teach intelligent design" say "teach the controversy". etc.

Re:Um... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#46930539)

That looks more like he's adverse to having people play Bullshit Bingo rather than people using politically incorrect language.

Re:Um... (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46930667)

The opposing political beliefs always look like "bullshit bingo".

Re:Um... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 months ago | (#46930821)

You don't seem to understand the words he uses, this would be precisely why he defines things so strictly for you.

Political correctness means something completely different from what he espouses there.

Re:Um... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930045)

In my experience, when someone is calling someone else an idiot they are more interested in talking up themselves than solving a problem.

Essentially, if you call me an idiot you aren't having a discussion with me, you are using me as a tool to communicate with others.
It is very common among politicians and when someone does it I immediately assume that the person is a dishonest jerk with a hidden agenda.

Re:Um... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 months ago | (#46930849)

If that's what you're telling yourself, maybe you should wonder about your own defense mechanisms rather than wishing people wouldn't call you names.

I don't like being called an idiot either, but a wise person once pointed out that the things we like least being said to us are most likely to contain nuggets of truth.

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930565)

[blockquote]Tact is like political correctness. Avoiding calling someone a dumb idiot doesn't make him any smarter.[/blockquote]

But it sure makes you happy we're not calling you that. Right?

Re:Um... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 months ago | (#46930591)

Touting how libre software solves all of your security concerns right after everything that wasnt IIS just got their private keys stolen because of libre software, is a bit ridiculous.

Im sure he would be quick to explain how wonderful Tor is and completely ignore how ineffective it probably is towards the NSA; but then, as far as I can tell its not about reality for him, but the ideology. I would hope that eventually Stallman will realize that we do not live and work in a vacuum, and that in the real world compromises must be made, and that you have to recognize the flaws even with the thing you are promoting.

I dont think I've ever seen him acknowledge a single issue with libre software (like its massive beauracracy a la GNU Hurd, or its funding issues, or the problems with vetting random contributors a la the IPSec kernel bug several years back); that in itself is indicative of him living in an echo chamber.

Re:Um... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46930779)

Tact is like political correctness. Avoiding calling someone a dumb idiot doesn't make him any smarter.

But they sure as hell wont listen to reason when you reasoned argument begins with "Listen, you're an idiot for the following reasons..."

Linus needs to take this to heart as well.

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930789)

And at times, silence is golden. And at other times, a word or two or more can be golden too. Isn't it all about the time? :>

Re:Um... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930001)

So... rather than refute we pester? I wager you have nothing to disprove what RMS says.

You should be marked troll or flame bait, imo you offer nothing to the comments but a pissed on hornet's nest.

Re:Um... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930409)

I think RMS has an autism spectrum disorder. It explains how he can be so brilliant and yet completely people-inept.

Re:Um... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 months ago | (#46930721)

I read an interview with his mother once where she talks about his youth and other things...the symptoms were there.

But....of course he's autistic spectrum...it's as obvious in reading his writings as the beard on his face! He writes like Tepples! (and myself to a certain extent)

Re:Um... (4, Informative)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 months ago | (#46930455)

Not only that, but he acts like "free" software wasnt just hit with some of the most massive security holes in the last decade, over the last few years--
  * the OpenSSL bug hitting everything thats not IIS
  * the SSH random number bug which required everyone to regenerate their keys
  * the IPSec kernel flaw some years back strongly suspected to have been added by an intel agency (cant currently find source or date, it was ~2008-2010).

Thats not to mention the uncountable critical flaws that have been patched in the kernel over the last several years. If stallman is making the case that libre software magically solves the NSA problem, hes out of his mind. But then hes a fanatic, and seems unable to accept that there could ever be any benefits to closed source software, ever-- even in situations like with BestCrypt, where it continues to be the only trustworthy software source that can do whole disk encryption for all major OSes out there right now (Truecrypt cannot handle GPT Win8 disks, and is somewhat short on the trust factor).

Re:Um... (1, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 months ago | (#46930867)

Having bugs is an inevitability what with how software is written by fallible humans.

How those bugs are identified, handled and fixed is the issue. In proprietary software, the OpenSSL bug might not have even come to light as it did, and a fix certainly wouldn't have been released as immediately as it was.

You misunderstand the value of F/OSS. It is not that our software is bug-free and theirs is buggy, its that we can see and fix our own bugs and not sit on our thumbs waiting for a fix. ... cf http://nakedsecurity.sophos.co... [sophos.com]

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930655)

I know folks that had to work with him back in his academic days. None of them have nice things to say about dealing with him. Even on maters that had zero to do with free software.

Re:Um... (2)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 months ago | (#46930811)

Would you say any less to someone who willingly worked for a tyrant, or allowed their government to be tyranical? Being a sucker is being a sucker and while most people seem to prefer not having their nose rubbed in it, that simply makes them part of the problem.

Re:Um... (2)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 5 months ago | (#46931025)

You could refute this point with "People advocating for the use of the GPL are likely to discourage the use of other licensing models through the use of FUD."

Because that's exactly what RMS just did. Commercial software has been around for decades, without being "likely to spy on it's users".

Extra Answer (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929821)

http://interviews.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4836163&cid=46347549 [slashdot.org]
> Mr. Stallman, do you ever play computer games (video games)?
> If so, which ones?

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: Slashdot ask RMS what you will
Date: Tue, 06 May 2014 02:46:49 -0400

The answers will be published soon, but the questions I got did
not include anything about what video games I play.

I won't have nonfree software on my computer, and that includes games.
But in fact I would not have time to play video games even if they are
free.

Re:Extra Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929939)

Emacs Dunnet is crazy awesome [wikipedia.org] . An action figure of Stallman is a item in the game.

Re:Extra Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930947)

It might just be that he tries to live by his word, and in this software/technology scenario it is perhaps wise to be strict. Otherwise this world might never have technology that lives up to what the founders would have wanted it to be. Just a thought..

Foot eater (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929859)

Why didn't my question of what he was eating off his foot in that video get asked?

alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (0)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 5 months ago | (#46929881)

RMS supports some form of copyright. I still think copyright is an idea that is long past its time, if it was ever a good idea. Copyright and patents should be killed off, preferably by Constitutional Amendment. More specifically, the monopoly exclusion part of copyright and patent law should be repealed. No more exclusive rights.

I think what RMS is really interested in is one effect of copyright, not the whole package. That good part of copyright is, in my opinion, not worth the vast harm of all the other effects of copyright law. Is there no way to defend the freedoms of free software without copyright? Perhaps an EULA? Or if not that, how about a new law? For instance, I certainly don't want plagiarism to be legal. We can outlaw plagiarism without outlawing copying. Should be possible to outlaw other undesirable behavior without a blanket ban on all forms of copying.

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46930063)

More specifically, the monopoly exclusion part of copyright and patent law should be repealed. No more exclusive rights.

So what's the incentive to create works? How is an author paid? No technical support needed for a book, you that red-herring can't be used.

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930803)

Can you scientifically prove (i.e. no baseless speculation, no "Well, how else would it work!?", no referring to societies that are or were vastly different from our own in other ways, etc.) that copyrights and patents are effective?

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#46930085)

I actually fail to share his fears. So someone creates a proprietary fork of emacs. Erh... ok. So? Let's be blunt here, such petty things never stopped proponents of CSS to simply rip off OSS and pretending they didn't. Try to prove they did, you're not going to see the source.

And if you think of the few router makers that got caught red handed, I can assure you that they're little more than the tip of the iceberg. A lot of OSS is being used in proprietary projects without ever being mentioned, let alone following its license and releasing the changed source code. If you think copyright protects OSS, think again. Nobody who wants to abuse it gives a shit about that license.

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930621)

I actually fail to share his fears. So someone creates a proprietary fork of emacs. Erh... ok. So?

Your proprietary fork of Emacs is intriguing to me, and I wish to add features to it. So I want your source code. You already agreed to give me your source code, now don't make me sue you.

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930307)

Of course RMS supports copyright. Copyleft uses copyright to outlaw plagiarism without outlawing copying. More importantly, copyleft uses the legal force of copyright to require that free software remains free. Public shaming is not enough to stop people from taking free software, making some changes, and then refusing to release their source code.

If you dislike copyright, you have the freedom not to use copyrighted works, including the freedom not to use free software. There is a public domain for you.

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930707)

If you don't want to get molested by the TSA, you can ride on a private jet.

But none of this changes the fact that copyright infringes upon free speech rights (depending on the copyright) and private property rights. This is unacceptable, and the existences of 'alternatives' doesn't make it any less unacceptable. Government-enforced monopolies over ideas are just absurd, and should never happen in a country that's supposed to be 'the land of the free' (though anyone who pays attention knows that we're far from free).

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930921)

The Supreme Court has consistently upheld your freedom to walk.

Copyright infringes upon your free speech? You mean it stops you from claiming others' speech as your own. So, no.

Copyright infringes upon your private property? You mean it stops you from selling others' property for your own private profit. So, no.

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (0)

Assmasher (456699) | about 5 months ago | (#46930577)

Of course, just like he's interested in only one aspect of 'freedom.'

Truly free software would not require you to do anything.

RMS is all about forcing people to do things. It's not evil/bad/whatever depending upon your outlook, but it certainly isn't freedom, it's highly restrictive.

Re:alternative to (C) that protects freedoms? (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#46930617)

The purpose to copyright is not to prevent plagiarism. That's a separate issue entirely. The copyright issue is this:

1) Author A publishes a successful book.
2) Publisher B wants a cut of the profits and so makes a run of the books with their own cover art. However, they put the author's name on the cover. They don't sign a deal with the author or give him any money.
3) Movie Studio C wants a cut of the profits and so makes a movie based on the book. They don't sign a deal with the author or give him any money.
4) Gaming Studio D makes a game based on the book. They don't sign a deal with the author or give him any money.

How do you prevent 2-4 from happening or give the author legal recourse if it does happen? This (specifically #2) is what originally spawned copyright.

Of course, the problem then becomes giving someone a permanent hold on items like this locks up parts of our culture. So there's a trade-off. Society grants the author a temporary monopoly on the work. In exchange, the author gives it up to the public domain after a set period of time. When this was 14 years (plus a one-time 14 year renewal), things worked well enough. The problems began when the media companies realized they could essentially keep the "temporary" monopoly forever and not give the items to the public domain by lobbying Congress to extend the amount of years that copyright lasted.

If we reverted copyright to 14 years plus a one time 14 year renewal, most of the problems with copyright would go away. Add in a splitting of penalties into commercial infringement (e.g. burning copies of DVDs and selling them on the street corner) and noncommercial infringement (e.g. downloading from a P2P application), keeping the penalties for the former as is and tying the penalties for the latter to a multiple of the market value of the item (e.g. 10 * the cost of the DVD) and virtually all of the rest of the copyright issues would go away,

Of course, given that we're up against the big media companies who want copyrights to last forever and who want penalties to be higher, not lower, I'm not holding my breath.

Die motherfucker, die! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929883)

Just kick the fucking bucket already you fat retard! I'm surprised you're living this long after eating your own toe jam in front of others. I expected to see you under a bridge already as a homeless nobody.

captcha: condom, which your father should've worn when having sex with your mother

Re:Die motherfucker, die! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930345)

Classy.

Interesting (3, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 months ago | (#46929921)

RMS points out, in regards to paid apps:

These "advantages" can seem impressive to those who don't see what they cost in freedom. The most basic thing we must do is say, "I'd rather have nothing than have that," and then act accordingly.

the when asked about developing free hardware says:

This would cost millions of dollars, and we have no skills or experience in hardware manufacturing, so we couldn't do it.

To me , those two comments gets to the crux of free softwares challenges:

Without tangible rewards that allow people to do thing they like to do many things would not get done nor would we get many new innovative things. Sure, some people will code for the fun of it but that doesn't mean they will develop as complex and useful systems as the for profit world generates. Free software is nice and a lot of it is useful and as polished as non-free apps but a lot isn't. In the end, it is neither a better nor worse solution, just a different one.

Re:Interesting (1, Flamebait)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46930119)

Free software is nice and a lot of it is useful and as polished as non-free apps but a lot isn't. In the end, it is neither a better nor worse solution, just a different one.

Any software with a UI tends to be worse when it's FLOSS.

And then there's the other problem that FLOSS software tends to be copied from commercial software. Without commercial software, computing would stagnate. RMS even seems to accept that FLOSS is far slower moving in one of his answers.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930881)

You always misunderstand him. He doesn't care if FLOSS is far slower, is less polished, or is outright worse. Propietary software is just not to be considered because it always has many disadvantages.
And most research actually creates free software. "Without commercial software computing would stagnate" is a complete lie.

Personal Hygeine (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46929931)

I recently saw Mr. Stallman give a talk. He has lost a little bit of energy over the years, but it was still pretty good. He has done something amazing, and he has changed the world. He is also a spokesperson for a movement that he helped create, and he is willing to take on that role.

At the end of his talk he took off his socks (he was not wearing shoes), and he started to apply a lotion to his feet and hands. I know it is petty to try to impose personal habits on other people, but it reflects badly on him and hence the movement. Earlier in his talk he complained bitterly about people using non-free software because it is inconvenient. Yet, he is not willing to forgo a small amount of inconvenience to hold to basic societal norms. If he wants us to accept a small amount of inconvenience, then he should be willing to make the effort to make the very small effort to keep his feet covered and give some small though to his own appearance and habits.

Re:Personal Hygeine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930065)

A high school friend went to work for RMS way back in the early 1990s. He came back with beard that showed the past 2-3 previous meals eaten, perhaps leftover storage. Just the ick factor alone almost turned me off from F/OSS until I met similar-minded people on the cypherpunks list, and the Linux/386BSD (Jolitz's BSD) newsgroups.

A spokesperson for a movement needs to at least dress the part. If I were going to talk with a politician, I'll at least dress the part and be clean shaven. This is part of the reason why the Tea Party got into office, while Occupy just was a bump in Corrections Corporation of America's stock prices.

Re:Personal Hygeine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930733)

He created the movement, not you. You are the one who should be expected to dress the part, not him.

Political correctness (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46929983)

RMS mentions his list of words to avoid, with political reasons to avoid them, and sometimes alternative words.
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/... [gnu.org] .

Libertarian political correctness?

Re:Political correctness (3, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 5 months ago | (#46930349)

Libertarian political correctness?

No. Political correctness is about aboiding potentially inoffensive things because that tends to be bad politically.

RMSs list is about avoiding terms which are loaded, ambiguous or misleading. His list is merely a suggestion to avoid such terms in discussions.

You've already brought this up several times in the thread. It looks to me like you're starting a smear campaign.

Re:Political correctness (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46930629)

Political correctness is about aboiding potentially inoffensive things because that tends to be bad politically.

That's a rather poorly phrased explanation of why the left use political correctness. But at the end of the day political correctness is listing things that can't be said for political purposes, and offering acceptable alternatives for some of them.

RMSs list is about avoiding terms which are loaded, ambiguous or misleading. His list is merely a suggestion to avoid such terms in discussions.

All also true of the left's political correctness.

You've already brought this up several times in the thread.

This is the first time I mentioned it. Then I saw someone else mentioned political correctness, so it was worth a mention in that context. Two is not "several". Are you also trying to redefine the meaning of words?

It looks to me like you're starting a smear campaign.

You're about as intelligent as Clippy.

Can we just ignore him please (2, Insightful)

SocietyoftheFist (316444) | about 5 months ago | (#46930003)

He is like a Tea Party supporter or a vegan PETA member, far off the mainstream and living in a fantasy world.

Re:Can we just ignore him please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930209)

As soon as we ignore 3D printing "end of scarcity" cornucopians and the "for the species!" space doomsday nutters.

Re:Can we just ignore him please (3, Funny)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 5 months ago | (#46930341)

If you want to ignore him, then WTF are you doing posting in this thread?

Re:Can we just ignore him please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930527)

I also like the way he used the term "we", as if his opinion includes you, me, and everyone else on slashdot. He'd make a great politician, that's for sure.

Re:Can we just ignore him please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930641)

because many shills are here.

many intellectual geeks and nerds have moved on a long time ago to places like hacker news, Reddit, etc.

the pro Microsoft posts coupled with the removal of the borg icon just about says it all.

Re:Can we just ignore him please (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930379)

Nope, you are. Computer world would be totally different without him...

Re:Can we just ignore him please (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930419)

He is like a Tea Party supporter [...], far off the mainstream and living in a fantasy world.

Actually, he is more like someone from the original Tea Party, far off the mainstream which decided to shit on the visions he managed to turn into reality and on values which he managed to actually make count in spite of a game loaded against him.

The mainstream considers the American Constitution an embarrassment to wipe one's ass with, and Free Software a fantasy. It begs its politicians to spy on the populace for security from "terrorists" trying to abolish the U.S.A., and it begs its manufacturers to spy on its users and hijack its devices for "security" from "software pirates" and "hackers" trying to abolish the U.S.A.

I definitely wish that we could live in a world where Richard Stallman had nothing worthwhile to contribute. At some point of time, he'll no longer be able to teach people where to look.

Re:Can we just ignore him please (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 5 months ago | (#46930443)

He is like a Tea Party supporter or a vegan PETA member, far off the mainstream and living in a fantasy world.

He's even more annoying than those clowns because he has the tendency to be proven right eventually.

Can we just ignore him please

At your peril.

Re:Can we just ignore him please (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 5 months ago | (#46930607)

He talks about "What we lose in freedom" as a cost, and assumes it exceeds the benefits of mobile apps. Honestly, the cost of freedom is high for me: obtaining an app's source code, understanding it, modifying it, and re-deploying it carries an immense burden. Typically, the desired functionality is not worth the effort from me, and therefor a proprietary app for $2 is a huge economic win over an open source app that will require $2 (at $37/hr???) for me to update.

Reading is not agreeing (3, Interesting)

Dareth (47614) | about 5 months ago | (#46930737)

I read what he has to say because I have respect for his accomplishments regardless of his point of view. I do not have to agree with everything he believes in. I want software that works. I am as likely to use a blob (non-free) driver if it works as to use a free one that works.

I personally benefit more from having a mobile phone than I fear being monitored or tracked by it. I am aware that having this phone does allow for this to happen. I was joking about "TV watching us" more than 10 years ago. It was actually funny, and I got "picked on" for saying it. That joke isn't funny anymore these days.

Re:Can we just ignore him please (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 months ago | (#46930825)

Not a fantasy world, but the past of computing paradigms. He doesn't use computers in the "modern way" so he really doesn't understand the realities of "modern computing". His brand of activism isn't helping as much as he thinks it is.

Simply put, programmers need to eat, they can't all be guys who get paid to talk who used to squat at MIT. They make apps and proprietary software to live.

Thanks RMS (5, Insightful)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 5 months ago | (#46930165)

Well I came late to the party and it's already filled with Trolls and the flames are rising.

Call it karma whoring or whatever. I don't have enough mod points to make the AC's disappear so at the risk of it turning into ash in this thread I'll just simply say:

Richard, thanks. You are a big part of why I became a GNU/Linux user.

I still won't use emacs though! :-)

I use it in spite of him (1)

SocietyoftheFist (316444) | about 5 months ago | (#46930213)

So I have that going for me. I don't subscribe to ideologies, they are too confining and dividing.

Re:I use it in spite of him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930469)

Oh wow, you're SO awesome!!!!

Teach me your ways, oh insipid one!

Re:I use it in spite of him (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 5 months ago | (#46930637)

Who said anything about ideology? I just like the software I use and I believe Richard deserves some credit for that. When I found Linux it's because I was trying to move up from programming in the $200 VB environment I bought at a computer trade show. VC/C++ was too much so I tried finding a free C compiler. In 1994 gcc and GNU/Linux were what I found. I've been a fan and user ever since...

Re:I use it in spite of him (0)

Rinikusu (28164) | about 5 months ago | (#46930715)

I use it with complete indifference to the ideology behind it. If it works, it works, and let the market decide.

Re:Thanks RMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930279)

Have you look into any other fanatical religion? If you care much for this preacher, you'd likely find good front figures in the theistic religions.

Re:Thanks RMS (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 5 months ago | (#46930507)

Well I like Star Trek, read way to many comic books and followed the Grateful Dead around for about five years of my life. Do any of those count?

Re:Thanks RMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930525)

Well I came late to the party and it's already filled with Trolls and the flames are rising.

Fuck you, Sean. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and not everyone thinks your idol is so great. Others see him as a FUD spreading, paranoid zealot who needs to lose some weight, shave, and stop eating his own toejam.

I don't have enough mod points to make the AC's disappear...

Aww, you can't abuse the system to bury posts you don't agree with. You poor, tortured soul.

Richard, thanks. You are a big part of why I became a GNU/Linux user.

He can't read that. He doesn't surf the Internet because he fears being tracked and being defiled by contact with non-free software.

Re:Thanks RMS (4, Insightful)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 5 months ago | (#46930769)

OK, fine, fuck me. For the record I don't have a problem with the posters disagreeing with RMS and his opinions. It's the Die you fat retard and the constant reference to the toe thing that bothered me when I posted. I like a good healthy debate on Free vs. Open vs. Proprietary and am often forced to pause and reevaluate my opinions by thoughtful posts from those that don't share those opinions.

But calling me a zealot, telling me to fuck myself and basically doing the same thing to RMS is not part of a healthy debate.

And I'm fairly certain he'll read some of this although given the childish nature of most of the replies it also will not surprise me a bit if he doesn't.

Re:Thanks RMS (3, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 months ago | (#46930785)

He has done a lot of great things, but his general set of ideas is only workable for the sort of person who is allowed to reside for free on campus at berkeley. Someone who thinks apps are terrible because they justify their existance through profits, and doesnt connect the dots to why a truly free phone cant happen (its not profitable), isnt living in the real world.

The things he pushes for are great. I love free software, I love that there is that pressure out there for commercial software to succeed. I even love that people like him are enthusiastic about it. But I think Stallman takes it way over the edge and sees free software as the end, not the means. Software that is free but does not meet my needs does me no good; a cellphone that is free but I cannot buy (unaffordable, never makes it past prototyping) is useless. Sometimes truly smart people like Stallman take their ideology so far that they make the good the enemy of the perfect.

Re:Thanks RMS (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 5 months ago | (#46930899)

I absolutely agree and appreciate the tone of your post. Thanks for not pointing out his hygiene or body weight and focusing on what you like and dislike about his message.

If I had put a little more thought into my post it probably would have come across more like yours but I knee jerk reacted to all the personal attacks.

As you said it's hard to agree with everything he says and does and a lot easier for him given his chosen lifestyle to stand firm on his ideals than it is for most of us.

But that also doesn't mean I don't appreciate the contributions he's made over the years. Thanks again for the perspective!

Dumber and more arrogant than a middle-east cleric (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930207)

Begone already.

It's a shame that OpenSSL debacle not discussed... (4, Interesting)

Glasswire (302197) | about 5 months ago | (#46930347)

.. but I assume questions were given before it occurred. I would have like to have asked RMS, what happened to his assertion hat source code transparency will protect us from very bad code, because many people's eyes are on it. But everybody could look at OpenSSL source for years and see the potential for Heartbleed and it never got caught until it was too late.

Re:It's a shame that OpenSSL debacle not discussed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930595)

ssl? nothing when compared with MS patches which fixed 'remote exploits' which could take over the entire system if exploited.

Thanks, RMS! (5, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 5 months ago | (#46930355)

Thank you for taking the time to reflect on and respond to these questions. In a world consumed with pragmatism and acquisitiveness, it is inspiring to see a person put so much thought and effort into reconciling his principles with his actions.

Boring and repetitive? (4, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 5 months ago | (#46930433)

I have always been a staunch supporter of RMS against those who attack him just because he holds so strictly to his values. You may not agree with him, but I think you have respect his tenacity in sticking to his position and the personal sacrifices he makes to do so.

That being said, how absolutely boring it is to read essentially the same message ("all software should be free and you should refuse to use any software that isn't free") repeated about 15 times with 15 minor variations. Surely RMS isn't this one-dimensional. I wish there had been some more interesting questions that weren't just prompts to repeat the free software mantra over and over again.

I met Stallman in 1999 or so, at a conference and went along with him and a bunch of his 'cronies' (people who seemed to know him well and defended him like rabid dogs) to dinner. I was honestly surprised to learn that he wouldn't use passwords on any of his computer accounts (somehow this topic came up when someone else asked him a question); I never learned exactly his feelings on the matter because when I tried to ask for some clarification I was immediately shouted down by his cronies who thought I was trying to hassle him or something (I assure you, I wasn't; I just wanted to understand his position better since I had never heard of someone refusing to use passwords and didn't understand why).

Now 15 years later I read his responses to these questions and it all feels very much the same. He's apparently super paranoid (worried about the government eavesdropping on your cell phone calls and tracking you? Wishing for a pager so that you could perfectly control how much tracking information you give when you answer your phone? Jesus christ, get over yourself!) and thinks everyone else should be too.

Honestly, my opinion of RMS was knocked down a notch or two by this interview. I can still appreciate in a sense someone who is so true to their values, but this level of one dimensionality is disappointing. Perhaps the questions are to blame though, they didn't give him alot of opportunity to talk about much else besides the FSF party line.

Re:Boring and repetitive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930697)

"Honestly, my opinion"

Honestly, I don't care.

Re:Boring and repetitive? (4, Interesting)

Dixie_Flatline (5077) | about 5 months ago | (#46930833)

I think, honestly, that he IS that one-dimensional, and that's exactly what proselytizers kind of need to be. Any variation in his message stands to weaken it.

I don't actually believe in much of what he says, but I feel that, like many extremists, that he serves a really useful purpose from the perspective of philosophy. Most people won't adopt his views, but he serves to pull the middle over to his direction a bit and create a space where more of us can work. GNU/Linux wouldn't be the same without him, and he keeps the whole community a bit honest.

As he gets older, he'll be even more set in his ways. He can learn new tricks, but only within the confines of his philosophy. Fundamentally, I don't think he knows that trading freedom for convenience is something that people always do, in every society, and always have. Without that acknowledgement, he thinks that it's reasonable that perhaps everyone would rather go without a phone instead of give up a bit of theoretical freedom.

Re:Boring and repetitive? (0)

BiIl_the_Engineer (3618863) | about 5 months ago | (#46930871)

worried about the government eavesdropping on your cell phone calls and tracking you? Wishing for a pager so that you could perfectly control how much tracking information you give when you answer your phone? Jesus christ, get over yourself!

Apparently, caring about things such as privacy and freedom means you need to get over yourself. Are you one of those cretins who subscribes to the historically-incorrect "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear!" philosophy?

RMS tends to only talk about the FSF party line. (4, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | about 5 months ago | (#46931003)

He's got decades of this under his belt. Ask him about whether red sauce or green sauce is better for drive-through tacos, he'll talk about freedom and oppression the same confounding ways.

As for myself, I'm much more in the Torvalds camp. Substantive freedom is a practical freedom as well as a prophylactic one; it's the freedom not just *from* things but *to do and participate in* things.

Sure, I want the freedom to protect my data or change my software. But I also want the freedom to buy and use a device that I think is great, or to participate in the mobile ecosystem (sorry, RMS) because I find it to be useful.

RMS can't distinguish between the two, or between the different kinds of restrictiveness at issue—the commercial software restrictiveness that is certainly annoying and terrible for our world, but also the FSF-styled restrictiveness that shoots itself in the foot and ends up being exactly the same.

In both cases, the end result is that I can't do what I want with my software/hardware. The commercial interests are at least open about it: we don't want you to do that because it would hurt our profits. The FSF is less open about it: we're not responsible for this, it's their fault—you're free to do your own thing.

Yes, maybe in theory I could rewrite the entire GNU codebase from scratch or get a world of developers together myself to do my own thing, but substantively speaking, in terms of actual opportunity structures available to me right now, today, or next week, or indeed for most people *as themselves, during their regular lives*, there is about the same amount of substantive freedom and restriction involved.

If I want to do X with my tech, and company X won't allow it with their toolchain, and the open computing world won't support it for ideological reasons, the net result is still that *I* am *practically* unable to do X with my tech.

Part of the FSF problem is that they often delegitimize X. RMS's answers about, say, "cloud" computing or the mobile ecosystem are instructive here, and mirror common answers in free software developments from techs. "That is not a real thing, it's just marketingspeak, you are a victim of ideology, and no, we won't help you."

Operating under the Thomas theorem and using the well-respected argument made by Rawls, I'd say that RMS fails to distinguish between summary rules and rules of practice. For RMS, there are only summary rules—things that we decide or don't decide to do, and espouse for utilitarian reasons. All of his arguments are utilitarian in nature (though often convolutedly so). Even when they involve other people or "society," his arguments boil down to rational self-interest calculated according to a very narrow range of values and goods, discounting the rest.

He ignores the dimension of rules and practices that are oriented toward social life—toward behaving in ways that others understand and that enable one to substantively participate in public and group life by virtue of conceding them as ordering principles for "how the world works right now."

The FSF vision of computing is, ironically, radically individualist and lonely in this regard—it is all about "what I can accomplish on my own." The only "we" that it acknowledges is one that is made up entirely of people that have precisely the same ideological outlook, goals, desires, and summary rules as the self. All other forms of "we" are reimagined as secretly selfish people that *claim* to be a public, but are in fact actually seeking to dominate one another. For RMS, "we" hasn't happened yet and he is trying to bring it about through summary means—as a rational self-interest calculation.

But a world of identical "free-people" in which the "we" finally comes about by virtue of the universal embrace of FSF values simply doesn't and won't exist—people are different, desires are different, and that which is in one person's self-interest is never necessarily in everyone's self-interest.

To believe in the existence of the group and participate with the group on group terms as an end in and of itself—to acknowledge and concede that different people have different forms of self-interest, but that we can all establish norms of practice and collaborate nonetheless in intelligible and useful ways, while *at the same time* also taking care, in a different way, to nurture our own self-interests within this framework—is beyond RMS.

I don't think he's just willfully antisocial, I think he actually doesn't get it. Everyone, to him, is purely a rational utility maximizer in a very simplistic way—it's about money and control, not values, not social life, not interests, not identity, and not long-term planning or life balance.

As for me, I'm happy to "allow" the phone networks to surveil me so that I can receive calls from my daughter more often, and when I do this, I see myself as participating in a very real, normal thing—communication, as it is normally done today, with understood concessions that (if and when the time is right) may have to be adjusted. This simple understanding is totally beyond RMS as far as I can tell.

"Universal Back Door"? (1)

Bazman (4849) | about 5 months ago | (#46930437)

I think the assertion of a mobile phone listening device "universal back door" requires a citation. Anyone? Google only finds sensationalist journalism and not any real research, eg http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2006/12/can_you_hear_me/ from 2006...

Re:"Universal Back Door"? (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 5 months ago | (#46930741)

Only evil phones can track you, a one way pager in your phone would never track you.....

It's closed source, but like a circuit, so you know nothing evil is in there.....I hope his toaster and microwave are NSA listening devices.

Re:"Universal Back Door"? (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 5 months ago | (#46930991)

I hope his toaster and microwave are NSA listening devices.

Why? Do you really have to dislike him so much and wish ill upon him just because you disagree with him?

Re:"Universal Back Door"? (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 5 months ago | (#46931027)

Who says I dislike him? Maybe I just want to wish ill upon him because I'm evil.

RMS has become the male software developer version (-1)

aussersterne (212916) | about 5 months ago | (#46930459)

of the crazy hippie cat lady who quotes randomly from every eastern religion, is afraid of the aura vibrations of electricity, and won't cook broccoli because "letting the soul out of the vegetable means that it can't protect you any longer, and that's the first step toward THEM getting YOUR soul, and that is the first step toward them getting Gaia's soul, and that's their plan to rule the Astral plane like STALIN did." [pets cat]

Free Hardware? (2)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 5 months ago | (#46930505)

Why did he keep assuming that the free hardware questions referred to "documented hardware" and not free hardware as he stated? When I think of free hardware I think of free designs that I can build myself with the right tools. In effect, it is documented hardware by default. Why assume the commenter didn't know what they were talking about? It seemed kind of mean-spirited.

Re:Free Hardware? (2)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 5 months ago | (#46930713)

Same reason he had to tell us he can't see the future multiple times when obviously the poster was asking about his opinion on the direction technology is heading. It's not like any person on the planet thinks he can actual see the future. If he could I doubt he'd spend all his time doing his insane preaching.

He's an asshole who uses language as a tool to feel superior.

the power of replacespeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930731)

Lots of good, important, clever, nice, etc people do share RSM's tendency to ignore a question, make up a somewhat similar question and mis-attribute it. But really, they're decent *despite* doing that, not because of it. Which should be made very much clear when someone does it while championing their horrible mix of prehistoric deontological and virtue ethics, since it only serves to make them even worse.

RMS is the big reason to get into BSDs. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46930761)

This guy and his followers just irk me so much I'm about ready to give up the flexibility of Linux and just move to BSD. Some more pain, but gains too.

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