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RMS Replies to "The Stallman Factor"

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the ongoing-entertainment dept.

GNU is Not Unix 970

Ryan Amos writes "RMS has replied to the article "The Stallman Factor," as posted on Slashdot about a week ago. In specific, his replies deal with the University of Texas SIGLinux naming fiasco and Bitkeeper. As always with RMS, an interesting read."

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bite it (-1)

Yr0 (224662) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557514)

chew it

fp (-1)

u-238 (515248) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557521)

fp w00t

Re:fp (-1, Redundant)

Antonio Banderas (566250) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557707)

you did NOT get fp, so STFU you luser

Some one please lick my balls (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557530)

I will pay 5 dollars for the honor

Your True Colors Are Beautiful Like a Rainbow (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557533)

In the beginning of my reign 20,000 of the Muskayans and their 5 kings, who for 50 years had held the countries of Alza and Perukhuz, without paying tribute and offerings to Ashur my Lord, and whom a King of Assyria had never ventured to meet in battle betook themselves to their strength, and went and seized the country of Comukha. In the service of Ashur my Lord my chariots and warriors I assembled after me...the country of Kasiyaia, a difficult country, I passed through. With their 20,000 fighting men and their 5 kings in the country of Comukha I engaged. I defeated them. The ranks of their warriors in fighting the battle were beaten down as if by the tempest. Their carcasses covered the valleys and the tops of the mountains. I cut off their heads. The battlements of their cities I made heaps of, like mounds of earth, their movables, their wealth, and their valuables I plundered to a countless amount. 6,000 of their common soldiers who fled before my servants and accepted my yoke, I took them, and gave them over to the men of my own territory.

Then I went into the country of Comukha, which was disobedient and withheld the tribute and offerings due to Ashur my Lord: I conquered the whole country of Comukha. I plundered their movables, their wealth, and their valuables. Their cities I burnt with fire, I destroyed and ruined. The common people of Comukha, who fled before the face of my servants, crossed over to the city of Sherisha, which was on the further banks of the Tigris, and made this city into their stronghold. I assembled my chariots and warriors. I betook myself to carts of iron in order to overcome the rough mountains and their difficult marches. I made the wilderness (thus) practicable for the passage of my chariots and warriors. I crossed the Tigris and took the city of Sherisha their stronghold. Their fighting men, in the middle of the forests, like wild beasts, I smote. Their carcasses filled the Tigris, and the tops of the mountains. At this time the troops of the Akhe, who came to the deliverance and assistance of Comukha, together with the troops of Comukha, like chaff I scattered. The carcasses of their fighting men I piled up like heaps on the tops of the mountains. The bodies of their warriors, the roaring waters carried down to the Tigris. Kili Teru son of Kali Teru, son of Zarupin Zihusun, their King, in the course of their fighting fell into my power. His wives and his children, the delight of his heart I dispossessed him of. One hundred and eighty iron vessels and 5 trays of copper, together with the gods of the people in gold and silver, and their beds and furniture I brought away. Their movables and their wealth I plundered. This city and its palace I burnt with fire, I destroyed and ruined.

He can't be serious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557539)

Stallman wouldn't speak at a user group because they were a Linux User Group and not a GNU/Linux User Group?? This guy is a nutbar and this is one reason I've always admired Linus's approach of "the right tool for the job, not some (often fanatical) ideology." This article really left a sour taste in my mouth, but hey, he's not coming to my Linux User Group.

Frozen poopsicle (-1)

anonymous cowfart (576665) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557542)

Mmmm, that's good eatin'

Holy fucking shit! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557549)

Stephen fucking King died yesterday fucking morning! I guess that fucking guy was a fucking prophet! Yet again Slashdot leads the fucking way! Fuck yeah!

Re:Holy fucking shit! (-1)

Yr0 (224662) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557594)

there are standards for death announcments.

1) cite your source:
2) where was he found dead?
3) state that even if you didnt appreciate their work, acknowledge their contribution to whatever area they were famous for.
4) state : truly an american (or country of origin) icon, they will be missed
5) end on a sad emoticon :( to show sincerity.

for example:

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon. He will be missed :(

Ok, so he sounds like a bit of nutcase (3, Insightful)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557557)

But he has revolutionised the world of computing.

He has a fair point - and if you don't want to have the argument, don't invite him to speak.

No, he really is JUST a nutcase (0)

psychopenguin (228012) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557605)

No, he's just a nutcase... really GNU/Linux? Get off it! His stupid bit with that has become worse than the whole pronunciation arguments that used to go on. Who cares really? Shouldn't it be enough that people are really starting to get behind open source whether it's GNU, Linux, or BSD? They all benefit one another.

If he wants to keep getting public attention so bad, then maybe he should really contribute something useful rather than trying to start stupid semantic wars.

Re:No, he really is JUST a nutcase (2)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557636)

No, he's just a nutcase... really GNU/Linux?

I'm not defending his arguments. But they are hardly new, are they? Everyone knows that's what he thinks - so what's the fuss about?

Funniest geek joke evar! (0)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557692)

Why can't Nerds tell Halloween from boxing day?

Because 31(hex) == 25(dec)!

Re:Funniest geek joke evar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557715)

Too bad Boxing Day is 26 December. Asswipe.

Re:Funniest geek joke evar! (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557732)

that's 31(oct) and Christmas, you m0r0n.

Re:No, he really is JUST a nutcase (2)

Vryl (31994) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557643)

You show your ignorance of the issue. It is *not* 'open source' in Stallman's mind. It is, and always has been, 'Free Software'.

You can have 'open source' software that is not Free.

As for 'something useful', one would presume that a set of standard utilities, a compiler and a text editor/IDE would do for a start.

Go away troll ...

Re:No, he really is JUST a nutcase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557699)

Wrong on two counts. The standard utilities are simply copies of other people's work, and Emacs is a steaming pile of shit.

I heard there is no dark side of the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557620)


I heard there is no dark side of the moon -- it's all dark, really. Whenever I hear or read "Stallman", that's what pops in my head. He's ... sort of evil, I think.


Re:Ok, so he sounds like a bit of nutcase (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557665)

what if the whole system was named magicpooOS? Would he have a problem with that? Is it just that a name other than GNU is there? Or would it have to be GNU/magicpooOS? This guy is such a typical zealot slash hippy asshammer. He makes me laugh.

Dumb question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557561)

m'kay I am a lunix newbie. BUT if he is so annoyed by SIGLINUX omiting the GNU part, why does he refer to 'linux' throughout the bitkeeper section rather than refer to it as 'GNU/LINUX' there as well?

What be I missing?

Re:Dumb question? (2, Informative)

Nutcase (86887) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557579)

He is talking about Linux, the kernel component of GNU/Linux. When talking only about the kernel, the correct name IS Linux, because thats what the kernel is called. The entire OS is the Linux kernel + a bunch of low and high level apps.. many of which the GNU project created. Hence the argument that the OS should be called GNU/Linux instead of just Linux.

Re:Dumb question? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557582)

because he was talking about the kernel - not the whole system.

Where was Stallman in 1991? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557562)

Where was Stallman in 1991? If the name was such a big issue, why wasn't he there in 1991 pushing for GNU/Linux way back then? Apparently it wasn't a big deal until Linux became mainstream.

Re:Where was Stallman in 1991? (1)

C_nemo (520601) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557721)

that was the naming of the kernel called linux, the kernel is called linux but the whole OS with glibc+++.. is what he is talking about. he makes some valid point's since many of the things in a GNU/Linux distribution comes from the GNU project. hence he thinks that the GNU project should get some credit for what is commonly refered to as linux(the name of the kernel) which is realy kernel + GNU

Personally... (5, Insightful)

Copperhead (187748) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557563)

I think RMS has a point. While I'm sure everyone knows this, it's important to repeat. RMS (and the rest of the GNU team) wrote all the GNU applications... that is, all the applications that we're used to running on the Linux Kernel. The kernel really makes up a small (though important) part of the distribution as a whole.

Of course, RMS' argument becomes even more valid when we talk about distributions. We call them Mandrake Linux and Red Hat Linux and Gentoo Linux and SUSE Linux, even though the Linux kernel has nothing to do with their distinctions. The difference lies in the tools, packaging, installation, etc., most of which are GNU tools.

RMS is in a lose-lose situation. Either he's going to confuse people, or piss them off.

Exactly! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557634)

Linux has nothing to do with the distinctions.

Linux (tm) has to do with the similarities.

If you buy a Ford coupe, a chevy coupe, or whatever, the coupe has nothing to do with the distinction, the coupe has to do with the fact that it has two doors.

Linux would exist without the GNU tools. RMS is full of himself.

Whether or not it would be as big as it is, I don't know, and think probably not, but Linus would have picked up Borland, or Turbo, or some other ANSI C compiler.

Remember, he didn't write this to be a global icon. He wanted to do this as a lark. The icon part came much much later.

Re:Personally... (2, Insightful)

aziegler (201013) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557635)

RMS had nothing to do with XFree86, which is arguably as important to Linux today as the command-line tools. Similarly, there are other parts of the system developed by others (Mozilla) which are not part of the GNU Project.

RMS's request that the be called 'GNU/Linux' is and always has been moronic and mere zealotry, because while GNU tools have been an important part of the total Linux experience, it isn't the total Linux experience. GNU's contribution certainly isn't enough to deserve equal mention in the name of the operating system.


One word (was Re:Personally...) (5, Insightful)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557673)



Re:Personally... (5, Insightful)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557649)

So what? He wrote the applications, big deal. Without Linus, we'd still be waiting for THE HURD and still be running Xenix or something. (well, there's always BSD). I see GNU tools on BSD, why isn't he demanding BSD being called GNU/BSD? Because Linux has more marketshare and more eyes. His fragile little ego has been shattered into a million itty bitty peices, poor poor Richard.

Richard: YOU chose the license. You did NOT make any instructions regarding the use of your tools in the creation of an operating system regarding it's NAMING CONVENTION. Suck it up. If Linus doesn't want to call it GNU/Linux, then deal with it. Remember your line about not speaking at a function? Why? Because they don't have a *right* to you. You don't have a *right* to Linux, only to the *software* that you wrote that runs on Linux.

Re:Personally... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557720)

Lots of people have CONTRIBUTED to GNU applications. Where would emacs be today without Lucid's fork? Where would gcc be without cygnus? How many completed applications were donated to the GNU that "GNU" had nothing whatsoever to do with? Look at CLISP. It is "part of GNU" but why? Originally they weren't. They used readline in a way they thought was compatible with the GPL. RMS came down on them and told them they were breaking the law and gave them the choice of licensing under the GPL or removing that part of their code.

What does the "GNU team" have to do with such "GNU software" as Sather, dylan, SmallEiffel, kawa, or zlib (which isn't even licensed under the GPL)?

Yet all of those things are listed as GNU software on the FSF website. Were the people who wrote that code consulted as to whether they wanted projects using their software called "GNU/Project"? Or is it the FSF that decided that? Then shouldn't it only be code that the FSF themselves have written that counts when making that decision?

Re:Personally... (5, Insightful)

bgarcia (33222) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557730)

I think RMS has a point.
I think he does to. I think he has a great message, great ideas, and has done more than anyone to further his ideals.

But why he attempts to advertise the GNU project by insisting that everyone use the term GNU/Linux when talking about a linux-based operating system escapes me.

This (in itself) does NOTHING to promote software freedom. All it does is piss people off.

Yes, these "linux" systems would be nowhere if it wasn't for the GNU project. Yes, I would love for the GNU project (and its ideals of freedom) to get more recognition and to get its message out to more people.

But insisting that everyone use the name GNU/Linux is not going to bring this about. Instead, it causes more people to think of Stallman as a kook. And that's a shame, because he really does have a great message that everyone should hear.

RMS is great, but... (3, Insightful)

march (215947) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557564)

There is much marketing that has to be done for (GNU/)Linux to "make it".

RMS can stand on any soapbox he chooses, but the term "linux" will remain a much more catchy phrase than the term(s) GNU/Linux.

Our goal, and I assume RMS's goal too, is to make the free, OSS project we call "linux" work. You have to make concessions sometimes to achieve your goals.

But I do understand where he's coming from...

Linux is short for GNU/Linux (4, Insightful)

distributed.karma (566687) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557596)

Adobe Acrobat is commonly called Acrobat.
GNU EMACS is often called simply Emacs.
Microsoft Windows is known as Windows.

Hence, there shouldn't be a problem if someone calls GNU Linux simply Linux.

Re:RMS is great, but... (4, Insightful)

Nutcase (86887) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557602)

Devil's advocate: If you make concessions, RMS's ideals for GNU/Linux no longer work.

The second you make one concession regarding your freedom, you are no longer free. Or something.

Re:RMS is great, but... (1)

march (215947) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557626)

Agreed, hence the catch-22. It ain't easy, but people do live on both sides of the fence. Figuring out when you should be on one side or the other makes you a winner.

Re:RMS is great, but... (1)

Nutcase (86887) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557656)

I suppose jumping back and forth helps you navigate the waters, so to speak.. You will be able to play the system to your benefit... but at what cost?

But if you value Freedom above all else, as RMS clearly does, jumping the fence will just dilute your point. Hence his sometimes frustrating insistance on what he sees as right, regardless of how mundane it may be.

Quite honestly, I admire that he /doesn't/ jump the fence, even when it would be the easiest thing in the world.

Gnulix? (1)

Steve Franklin (142698) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557700)

What *is* the Lojban word?

FSF fumbled the ball on the GNU / Linux name (5, Insightful)

docbofh (246777) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557565)

RMS would have every right to insist on GNU/Linux if the FSF had actually adopted Linux as part of the GNU project. Because of their pride and insistence on the Hurd, they rejected linux. It is fitting therefore that Linux users do not start tagging Linux as GNU/Linux now that RMS has changed his mind.

Re:FSF fumbled the ball on the GNU / Linux name (2, Insightful)

blancolioni (147353) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557623)

RMS would have every right to insist on GNU/Linux if the FSF had actually adopted Linux as part of the GNU project.

How on earth does that follow? If I write a novel, and you bind it, don't I have the right to be a bit miffed if you run around calling it docbofh's book? Whether or not I adopt your binding technique for the official version has nothing to do with it.

Mind you, Blancolioni/Docbofh's book is a bit of a mouthful. But that just goes to show that RMS is better at picking names than I am.

Re:FSF fumbled the ball on the GNU / Linux name (5, Insightful)

docbofh (246777) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557725)

Once upon a time, a bunch of Linux developers went up to the FSF and said: "Hey guys! That GNU stuff you've written is waaaay cool, but we see you're missing a kernel for it. How about using Linux? It's Free, GPL'd and all."

And the GNU folks did turn upon the Linux gurus and said "Linux is monolithic. Uuurgggghhhh. We think we can make a better microkernel. Linux shall NOT be an integral part of the GNU project."

So we have a precedence: Linux uses GNU, but GNU (in its purest sense) does not use Linux. In which case, the name Linux/GNU would be justified, but very definitely NOT GNU/Linux.

Yes, Linux has benefited greatly from GNU, but it's very arrogant of RMS to now say "Oh yes, we didn't want to ruin the good name of GNU by including Linux, but now Linux has turned out to be much bigger and better than we thought, so we want to cash in." He can't have it both ways- if Linux is good enough to be labelled GNU it should be the GNU kernel, otherwise leave it alone.

Community Editing (2, Informative)

BoBaBrain (215786) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557571)

In other words:

Ryan Amos writes "RMS has replied to the article 'The Stallman Factor', as posted on Slashdot [] about a week ago. Specifically, his reply deals with the University of Texas' SIGLinux naming fiasco and with Bitkeeper. As always with RMS, this is an interesting read."

copyright of the article... (5, Funny)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557573)

Copyright 2002 Richard Stallman
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved.

These look like BSDish terms to me :-)

Neither BSD or GPL (2)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557704)

VERBATIM copying....entire article.....provided this notice is preserved.

He is not allowing distribution of edited versions of the article because the result wouldn't be his words or a willing collaberation. However a would be twister of his words could still take "fair use" excerpts of the article out of context.

This just goes to show that even RMS knows that the GPL isn't appropriate for everything.

Stallman is a fucking ass (0, Flamebait)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557580)

There is NO inherent right to anything *I* create. Just as there is NO right to demand Stallman to speak at a function, there is no right to one line of my code. Not one. You do not have the "right" to my source code. You do not have the "right" to use my software. If I want to release the source for whatever reason, whether it be to improve my developer base, or "the many eyes" argument, or just for shits and giggles, then that is *MY* right and *MY* right alone. If I want to charge a BILLION dollars for MY software or keep it locked up on my harddrive, it is MY RIGHT. NOT YOURS. GET IT THROUGH YOUR FUCKING HEAD, STALLMAN. Just because you lost your support group when "commercialism" took over MIT doesn't mean ANYONE HAS TO SHARE ANYTHING WITH ANYONE! Understand? You don't have a RIGHT TO SOURCE. You dont' have a RIGHT TO SOFTWARE. If you don't like it, write an alternative (which you seem to have done, but you still don't get it).

Furthermore, your reasoning for calling linux "GNU/Linux" as a proper "social convention" is absolutely ludicrous. Linux put the last peice in, he can call his system "FuckYouFSF" if he wants. If you don't like your tools being distributed with Linux, then change your licensing. No where in the GPL does it say "This software must be mentioned in the name of the software" or whatever. This isn't BSD (the advertising clause is what I'm referring to, which if my memory serves correct, is no longer there?).

Now, on to more serious matters:

I appreciate the FSF for it's fine tools. gcc and bash are BY FAR the most useful tools I've ever used. I'm glad that you and your "employees" have released them for my use. When people ask what compiler and shell I favor, I never hesitate to ADVERTISE your software. But I'll be goddamned if I'm going to change my name to GNU/Shane. I'll be goddamned if I change my software to be GNU/whatever. I know I know, that's not what you're asking, but IT IS. LINUX is not YOURS. You may have contributed, just like all those hapless kernel hackers that contributed to it. If anything LINUX has done MORE TO FURTHER THE CAUSE of GNU than anything previously. Just think, Mr. Stallman, everyone who runs linux (well, most) KNOWS what GNU is, knows what the GPL is, knows the difference between free and "free". Your software is running on MILLIONS of computers world-wide and is arguably the most popular. And that's not enough? Quit with your ego and see a psychologist because you need a reality check.

Kiss my ass, Richard Stallman. It's people like YOU who almost make me ashamed of Linux and "Open Source."

Re:Stallman is a fucking ass (1)

march (215947) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557611)

RMS was the right person at the right time. It's just not that time right now...

He helped a lot when there was no one else. Not everyone is good at everything and they should know when to step aside or at least tread lightly.

But "fucking ass" he is not... (except when he sings! :-) )

Re:Stallman is a fucking ass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557629)

Ok, deeeeep breaths...

Re:Stallman is a fucking ass (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557667)

HOw is this flamebait?

WHy not answer my accusations? because you *can't*.

Why does Stallman think he has a right to "source code?" Where is this proven? Where does this come from? Had you read his biography, you can clearly tell that he develops this attitude AFTER he can't get some printer source and AFTER his buddies leave him stranded at MIT.

and ETC.

what ami missing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557584)

m'kay I am a linux newbie. BUT if he is so annoyed by SIGLINUX omiting the GNU part, why does he refer to 'linux' throughout the bitkeeper section rather than refer to it as 'GNU/LINUX' there as well?

What be I missing?

Re:what ami missing? (1)

david-currie (104829) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557632)

Because he's talking about the Linux kernel specifically, not the operating system as a whole.

according to RMS (-1, Troll)

Pave Low (566880) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557587)

War is peace.
Slavery is freedom.
Linux is GNU/Linux.

got it?

Re:according to RMS (1)

Pave Low (566880) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557618)

whoops, damn my dyslexia, that should read.
War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Linux is GNU/Linux.

Many people will remember Linux instead. (0, Redundant)

cecil36 (104730) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557588)

We'll call it Linux only because that name has been referring to an open-source UNIX derivative operating system since Linus Torvolds first developed it in the early '90s. RMS, if you wanted it to be called GNU/Linux, then you should have said something back then.

I'm with Barr on this one... (1, Flamebait)

ipmcc (466386) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557591)

I'll try to ignore the fact that Stallman is obviously whoring for credit here and try to be intelligent.

Especially offensive here is this "free Linux" vs "non-free Linux" based on firmware for drivers. I admit that this is an issue, and even respect that its one that is really important, but if the community allows Linux to be splintered like that to the point where we have to start excluding mainstream hardware because something doesn't measure up to the "Stallman yardstick-of-freedom" wont we just be hurting the very cause we purport to embrace? Wouldn't it be better to approach the problem from the other side? This appears to be Stallman's recurring pathology. Instead of finding a way for him to accept more people, concepts and things he tries to come up with a way to force more people, concepts, and things accept him, by taking the moral high ground. It just doesn't work like that; at least not for long. The person who never makes any sacrifices or concessions for their friends is a lonely man indeed. I hesitate to say this but it seems like RMS can't see the forest for the trees.

Re:I'm with Barr on this one... (3, Insightful)

killmenow (184444) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557724)

Instead of finding a way for him to accept more people, concepts and things he tries to come up with a way to force more people, concepts, and things [to] accept him
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw

RMS is an unreasonable man. And he is working diligently for progress, whether you believe in his politics or not.

But then, Shaw was a socialist, so...uhhh, no...I won't go there.

Re:I'm with Barr on this one... (4, Insightful)

Vryl (31994) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557731)

You totally misunderstand Stallman. He is *not* about accepting more people, concepts or things. He is about securing Freedom. He will not acccept people, concepts or things that jeopardize freedom.

In his opinion, allowing non-Free code into a (now suspect) Free kernel puts in serious jeopardy the freedoms that he holds dear.

The Bigger the Ego, The Bigger the Hypocrite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557592)

I have sitting next to me an Apple computer. It says on it one thing: "Apple." Now, if I had time to waste like Stallman or perhaps even had in some way been responsible for the manufacture of any of its, no, I still wouldn't sit there and bitch about how my computer doesn't say "Hitachi/Motorola/nVidia/IBM-Apple"(I apologize to the many chip-makers, power supply manufacturer, case-maker etc. whom I missed). Very little was actually built by Apple. Egads! These are corporations! They should have more of a stick up their butts than some open-source zealot. Aren't they looking for a way to get their props like Stallman? No. Everyone knows that Motorola is a key player. The Taiwanese chip manufacturers are plenty happy to take their $$ cut without credit on the label. If Stallman fears people are not aware that many of the components necessary for linux are not widely known to fall under the gnu umbrella, maybe he she take out an ad in the New York Times. Better yet, why doesn't he sue IBM who in their ads say "linux" and only linux? Fight it out in court, lose, and be done with it. Feel "free" to decline speeches RMS, but don't force any "free" project to your rigid standards.

Sidestepping the "Linux vs. GNU/Linux" issue (2, Insightful)

Stephen Williams (23750) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557598)

Personally, I call it "Debian".


RMS. PeTA. It's all good. (4, Insightful)

inkfox (580440) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557599)

Even if you don't fully agree with RMS - though I'll admit I do a lot - it's good to have the people with the extreme views about. Having someone with that rigid a mindset means it's tougher to "sneak one by." Public relations departments and lawyers will play all manner of game to try and get something extra for a company without giving anything back, just by reframing something's appearance.

Without RMS' type around, GPL wouldn't exist in the first place. And even if someone else had invented GLP, we'd likely see GPL having been circumvented by a hundred and one different iffy technologies; compiled to intermediate pseudo machine codes, source distributed in human-unreadable shrouded form, sold at high cost, and so on. Having someone with such conviction and with an eagle eye point out every danger, no matter how small, means that nothing gets missed. And if businesses and individuals are afraid to deal with someone who gives off the air of a raving, screaming fanatic, others will carry on the real work once the points are raised.

I support the extreme view of free software for the same reason that a large portion of my charity giving goes to PeTA. Same deal. They overstate most every case, but at least they provide visibility so people can make more informed decisions and spring to action when the events call for it.

Re:RMS. PeTA. It's all good. (5, Insightful)

kafka93 (243640) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557702)

Absolutely. We need more people who are less lukewarm, one way or the other. When Barr mentions that "You cannot force people to share your beliefs, especially a community that values freedom as much as the Linux crowd.", he is entirely missing the point -- the Linux crowd often does *not* value freedom in any meaningful sense; it professes the desire for freedom right up to the point at which 'freedom' means something other than 'freedom to use other people's work for free' or 'freedom at the expense of convenience'.

Just as, to use your example, there are 'vegetarians' who eat chicken and fish, or people who give money to save cute fluffy animals while wearing leather jackets, there are countless Linux users who will, time and again, sacrifice their freedom for the sake of a 'better' technical product, or who will steal free software for their closed-source products. We absolutely need people who are passionate about their beliefs -- if only so that those beliefs are clear and in the open so that they can be questioned. I don't believe RMS is afraid of debate; he's more than able to support his philosophical stance because, unlike most of us, he has one. And that's an important thing.

GPL kills the programming profession (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557729)

> Without RMS' type around, GPL wouldn't exist in
> the first place.

Yeah, and so RMS successfully worked to destroy our beloved profession.

I like Linux a lot, but I NEVER recommend Linux when a more closed source solution is at least as good.


Because the more open source catches on, the less programmers will be paid.

Why can't we be like mechanical engineers, or doctors, who don't go arround destroying their own trade?

Go ahead, mod me down as troll, but sincerely, that's what I think.

I agree.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557738)

people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are good too, because they are rigid in their views and stop people from "sneaking one by". Like the homosexual agenda, multiculturalism, and secular humanism.

Now, how does your argument sound coming from the other side?

PeTA is a terrorist organization, having carried out physical threats and throwing blood on people because of their choice of coat.

GNU/Linux my a$$ (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557604)

Yes, we all know that the majority of the utility programs on a linux system are GNU. Who cares? Do you call your work machine a windows box? Or do you call it a windows/intel/creative/ati/western digital/a-bit/lg/sony machine?
The software can't run without the hardware... why not give them the credit too?

Veiled threat? (4, Insightful)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557608)

From the article:

The presence of these binary-only programs in "source" files of Linux creates a secondary problem: it calls into question whether Linux binaries can legally be redistributed at all. The GPL requires "complete corresponding source code," and a sequence of integers is not the source code

Reading between the lines, most Linux distros are not free (speech). Most Linux distros violate the GPL. Most Linux distros are in violation of the FSF's license. Most Linux distros could be hauled into court by the FSF...but they're not. I think that speaks volumes of Stallman.

I am reminded of the writing of Jonathan Edwards. Non-free code is as loathsome to Stallman as a poisonous spider, and he dangles it over an open flame. But RMS is a gracious genius,and does not drop the spider into the fire.

I think he's right on the money, though, when he says that we must be very careful or we'll lose our new-found freedom. Legislation could easily place large economic burdens on free software development (liability, for example) that would not outlaw it but would make it disappear. The corporate world can afford to buy laws; we can't. We have to work to retain our freedom.

No the FSF can't (5, Insightful)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557662)

The FSF does not AFAIK own any copyrights on the Linux kernel itself. Just because something is GPLed doesn't mean that RMS has Godlike powers to dictate terms over it. The FSF is protective of the GNU tools which they do own the copyrights on and they can indeed haul people into court over those. Making something GPL doesn't make it a part of the GNU project.

Re:Veiled threat? (1)

ajcpi (201360) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557682)

Not sure, but I don't think FSF owns the copyright on Linux. Only the copyright owner/holder can sue for violation of the terms of the copyright. Therefore, only the copyright owner can sue for distributing linux with un-free code.

Presumably, anyone who has contributed code to the kernel under the GPL would have that right.

Let's not confuse using the terms of the standard GPL license, with having FSF own the copyright. These are entirely different things.

SuSE for instance (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557719)

I was just about to argue the point, then realized that SuSE is a perfect example.

In SuSE, in particular, the kernel distributed in binary doesn't have a corresponding source distributed, or downloadable. I found this to be quite annoying. I couldn't download patches for the kernel I had. I would have had to patch the source I had, which was already a couple minor revisions behind the binary they distributed.

But also, remember, they don't need to distribute the source, only make it available. If they have a download available somewhere, then they are in compliance.

Anyone wonder... (1)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557612)

... how many times RMS is going to repeat the same GNU/Linux thing, over and over?

Perhaps somebody should put Linux kernel in the BSD userland. Should it also be called GNU/Linux?

Re:Anyone wonder... (2)

quigonn (80360) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557745)

Actually, there are a few people helping the original author with dietlibc [] and embedded utilities [] so that their system is not a GNU/Linux anymore. :-)

The only problem that stays is the compiler. Today, also the *BSDs use gcc. *sigh*

He seems to be attacking Linux... (2, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557614)

He whines for the entire article about stuff about Linux that he doesn't like -- the name, the use of Bitkeeper, the "non-free" parts of the kernel... if he's so down on Linux, then why doesn't he get the FSF in gear and finish up the HURD? Then he can wander off into his fantasy world and leave us alone.

Oh, I also found it amusing that he complained of the "silly excuses and straw men," and yet failed to address the two most important reasons (IMHO) not to say "GNU/Linux": that (1) the operating system isn't all GNU, and by his logic everyone should get a mention, and (2) it sounds incredibly stupid.

Re:He seems to be attacking Linux... (3, Insightful)

peddrenth (575761) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557741)

"if he's so down on Linux, then why doesn't he get the FSF in gear and finish up the HURD"

Oh that's a good idea. Since we the community have all sold out to non-free software, why not just go the whole way and ignore it completely.
Go whining back to the FSF, and ask the people who write the entire GNU project to write another operating system for you, you ask? Why? Because you think linux should be non-idealogical, and you're not prepared to put in any work yourself to keep it free?

If "share and share alike" is the mantra of the free-software community, where does that leave people who take the gift of GNU and try to twist it into something proprietry for selling?

S.T.F.U. about hurd -- if you're going to use GNU tools, then share some of your own stuff by working to keep linux free. Otherwise you may as well go and use Novell or Microsoft software, and stop fooling yourself about how worthy your O/S is.

Slashdotted already (-1)

Big Dogs Cock (539391) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557615)

(LinuxWorld) -- Since Joe Barr's article criticized my dealings with SIGLINUX, I would like to set the record straight about what actually occurred, and state my reasons. Sasuage.

When SIGLINUX invited me to speak, it was a "Linux User Group"; that is, a group for users of the GNU/Linux system which calls the whole system "Linux". So I replied politely that if they'd like someone from the GNU Project to give a speech for them, they ought to treat the GNU Project right, and call the system "GNU/Linux". The system is a variant of GNU, and the GNU Project is its principal developer (me), so social convention says to call it by the name I chose. Unless there are powerful reasons for an exception, I usually decline to give speeches for organizations that won't give me proper credit in this way. I respect their freedom of speech, but I also wish to kill them.

Subsequently, Jeff Stunk of SIGLINUX tried to change the group's policy, and asked the FSF to list his group in our page of GNU/Linux user groups. I told him that we would not list it under the name "SIGLINUX" because that name implies that the group is about Linux and not about me. Strunk proposed to change the name to "RMS Cocksuck", and our webmaster agreed that would be fine. (Barr's article said we rejected this proposal - wanker.) However, the group ultimately decided to stay with "SIGLINUX".

At that point, the matter came to my attention again, and I suggested they consider other possible names. There are many names they could choose that would not call the system "Linux", and I hope they will come up with one they like - providing it credits me as master of the universe. There the matter rests as far as I know.

Is it true, as Barr writes, that some people see these actions as an "application of force" comparable with Microsoft's monopoly power? Probably so. I admire Bill Gates. Declining an invitation is not coercion, but people who are determined to believe that the entire system is "Linux" sometimes develop amazingly distorted vision. To make that name appear justified, they must see molehills as mountains and mountains as molehills. If you can ignore the facts and believe that Linus Torvalds developed the whole system starting in 1991, or if you can ignore your ordinary principles of fairness and believe that Torvalds should get the sole credit even though I was all me, it's a small step to believe that I owe you a speech when you ask.

Just consider: the GNU Project starts developing an operating system, and years later Linus Torvalds adds one important piece. The GNU Project says, "Please give our project equal mention," but Linus says, "Don't give them a share of the credit; call the whole thing after my name alone!" Now envision the mindset of a person who can look at these events and accuse the GNU Project of egotism. Me? Egotistical? It takes strong prejudice to misjudge so drastically.

A person who is that prejudiced can say all sorts of unfair things about the GNU Project and think them justified; his fellows will support him, because they want each other's support in maintaining their prejudice. Dissenters can be reviled; thus, if I decline to participate in an activity under the rubric of "Linux", they may find that inexcusable, and holds me responsible for the ill will they feel afterwards. When so many people want me to call the system "Linux", how can I, who merely launched its development, not comply? And forcibly denying them a speech is forcibly making them unhappy. That's coercion, as bad as Microsoft!

Now, you might wonder why I don't just duck the issue and avoid all this grief. When SIGLINUX invited me to speak, I could simply have said "No, sorry" and the matter would have ended there. Why didn't I do that? I'm willing to take the risk of being abused personally in order to have a chance of correcting the error that undercuts the GNU Project's efforts.

Calling this variant of the GNU system "Linux" plays into the hands of people who choose their software based only on technical advantage, not caring whether it respects their freedom. There are people like Barr, that want their software "free from ideology" and criticize anyone that says freedom matters. There are people like Torvalds that will pressure our community into use of a non-free program, and challenge anyone who complains to provide a (technically) better program immediately or shut up. There are people who say that technical decisions should not be "politicized" by consideration of their social consequences.

In the 70s, computer users lost the freedoms to redistribute and change software because they didn't value their freedom. Computer users regained these freedoms in the 80s and 90s because a group of idealists, the GNU Project, believed that freedom is what makes a program better, and were willing to work for what we believed in.

We have partial freedom today, but our freedom is not secure. It is threatened by the CBDTPA (formerly SSSCA), by the Broadcast "Protection" Discussion Group (see which proposes to prohibit free software to access digital TV broadcasts, by software patents (Europe is now considering whether to have software patents), by Microsoft nondisclosure agreements for vital protocols, and by everyone who tempts us with a non-free program that is "better" (technically) than available free programs. We can lose our freedom again just as we lost it the first time, if we don't care enough to protect it.

Will enough of us care? That depends on many things; among them, how much influence the GNU Project has, and how much influence Linus Torvalds has. The GNU Project says, "Value your freedom!" Joe Barr says, "Choose between non-free and free programs on technical grounds alone!" If people credit Torvalds as the main developer of the GNU/Linux system, that's not just inaccurate, it also makes his message more influential--and that message says, "Non-free software is ok; I use it and develop it myself." If they recognize our role, they will listen to us more, and the message we will give them is, "This system exists because of people who care about freedom. Join us, value your freedom, and together we can preserve it." See for the history.

When I ask people to call the system GNU/Linux, some of them respond with silly excuses and straw men. But we probably haven't lost anything, because they were probably unfriendly to begin with. Meanwhile, other people recognize the reasons I give, and use that name. By doing so, they help make other people aware of why the GNU/Linux system really exists, and that increases our ability to spread the idea that freedom is an important value.

This is why I keep butting my head against bias, calumny, and grief. They hurt my feelings, but when successful, this effort helps the GNU Project campaign for freedom.

Since this came up in the context of Linux (the kernel) and Bitkeeper, the non-free version control system that Linus Torvalds now uses, I'd like to address that issue as well.

Bitkeeper issue
The use of Bitkeeper for the Linux sources has a grave effect on the free software community, because anyone who wants to closely track patches to Linux can only do it by installing that non-free program. There must be dozens or even hundreds of kernel hackers who have done this. Most of them are gradually convincing themselves that it is ok to use non-free software, in order to avoid a sense of cognitive dissonance about the presence of Bitkeeper on their machines. What can be done about this?

One solution is to set up another repository for the Linux sources, using CVS or another free version control system, and arranging to load new versions into it automatically. This could use Bitkeeper to access the latest revisions, then install the new revisions into CVS. That update process could run automatically and frequently.

The FSF cannot do this, because we cannot install Bitkeeper on our machines. We have no non-free systems or applications on them now, and our principles say we must keep it that way. Operating this repository would have to be done by someone else who is willing to have Bitkeeper on his machine, unless someone can find or make a way to do it using free software.

The Linux sources themselves have an even more serious problem with non-free software: they actually contain some. Quite a few device drivers contain series of numbers that represent firmware programs to be installed in the device. These programs are not free software. A few numbers to be deposited into device registers are one thing; a substantial program in binary is another.

The presence of these binary-only programs in "source" files of Linux creates a secondary problem: it calls into question whether Linux binaries can legally be redistributed at all. The GPL requires "complete corresponding source code," and a sequence of integers is not the source code. By the same token, adding such a binary to the Linux sources violates the GPL.

The Linux developers have a plan to move these firmware programs into separate files; it will take a few years to mature, but when completed it will solve the secondary problem; we could make a "free Linux" version that doesn't have the non-free firmware files. That by itself won't do much good if most people use the non-free "official" version of Linux. That may well occur, because on many platforms the free version won't run without the non-free firmware. The "free Linux" project will have to figure out what the firmware does and write source code for it, perhaps in assembler language for whatever embedded processor it runs on. It's a daunting job. It would be less daunting if we had done it little by little over the years, rather than letting it mount up. In recruiting people to do this job, we will have to overcome the idea, spread by some Linux developers, that the job is not necessary.

Linux, the kernel, is often thought of as the flagship of free software, yet its current version is partially non-free. How did this happen? This problem, like the decision to use Bitkeeper, reflects the attitude of the original developer of Linux, a person who thinks that "technically better" is more important than freedom.

Value your freedom, or you will lose it, teaches history. "Don't bother us with politics," respond those who don't want to learn.

Copyright 2002 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is not permitted without royalty in any medium.

Stallman is right (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557617)

He may be a pain in the ass, but he is right.

even if Stallman is crazy (2, Interesting)

orb (9170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557619)

Even if Stallman is completely off the wall here, even if he is completely unjustified and wanting people to call their systems GNU/Linux, even if he is just asserting his ego and trying to catch some publicity for GNU software and the FSF - I have a proposal.

Why not simply do it out of deference to Stallman for the huge huge contribution that the GNU project (and Stallman in particular) has made. If anyone deserves the right to make a wacky, imposing request on our community, isn't it RMS?

In the past I've been somewhat neutral on the issue. I think GNU deserves credit for creating the system I use every day. At the same time, I don't have a real problem referring to a system by it's OS only (linux) or by it's distro. (redhat, debian, etc..) However, the more I hear RMS the more I think maybe we should give him what he wants (even if it may seem a bit unreasonable) as a token of appreciation.

Re:even if Stallman is crazy (1)

ipmcc (466386) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557684)

This would be a good idea, if it would have the net effect of making him go away, but it wont. The whole reason we're discussing this issue in the first place is because he (and several others like him) are so tenacious to begin with. I think stallman is an annoying, petty weener, but I appreciate his work and his cause. But even if everyone in the world dropped everything and started calling it GNU/Linux, that will just free him up to complain about the next transgression of the Stallman philosophy by the Linux-using public. Hell, he's already started with this BitKeeper issue. I think the fight is half the fun for Stallman, and sadly the rest of us are a part of that, wether we like it or not, and no matter how many towels we throw in, at the end of the day all we'll have is RMS standing on a pile of towels ranting and raving that we should throw in some more.

My complaint about RMS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557622)

Maybe I'm naturally oversensitive, or maybe someone just slipped me decaf coffee this morning, but RMS's cronies have an inadequate grasp of acceptable scientific method and data interpretation. I would like to start by discussing Stallman's invectives, mainly because they scare me. The thing I'm the most frightened about is that gnosticism appears to have triumphed. More often than not, I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke him to smear people of impeccable character and reputation. As it turns out, just because you can do something does not mean it's okay to do it. Whatever happened to community standards?

Like I said, Stallman would have us believe that human life is expendable. That, of course, is nonsense, total nonsense. But Stallman is surrounded by irritating raucous pettifoggers who parrot the same nonsense, which is why his detractors are correct in their observation that the conflation of reckless psychics and saturnine self-deceiving purveyors of malice and hatred in his rejoinders is either dramatic hyperbole or a fatal methodological flaw. His prophecies are not the solution to our problem. They are the problem. Some day, I want to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable in our society -- the sick, the old, the disabled, the unemployed, and our youth -- all of whose lives are made miserable by RMS.

But you don't have to wait for that. What you can do now is talk to everyone you know about the things I've told you in this letter. Use every medium available to you. Use the Internet. Use your telephone. Use radio and newspapers. And whatever you do, never be afraid to speak out against the evil that is RMS.

Credit where credit is due (3, Interesting)

dmiller (581) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557624)

"the GNU Project starts developing an operating system, and years later Linus Torvalds adds one important piece"

Stallman convieniently ignores the contributions made by X11, the BSD people and the many others who have worked to create the operating system I conveniently call "Linux".

This mad grasp for recognition cheapens all the other good work that the FSF and the GNU project have done.

Re:Credit where credit is due (1)

jasonrfink (193522) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557663)

And to add to your statement, you do not see the other contributors in rant mode, actually, if you look at the BSD License ranting of this nature is counterproductive.

Distorted Facts (3, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557625)

His whole rant about Bitkeeper is just wrong. According to Linus himself you DO NOT need bitkeeper to track kernel changes. Lnus has made every effort to make life easy for non bitkeeper users, in fact, several top level contributers don't bother with it and send the old style patches.

Re:Distorted Facts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557672)

No serious work is being done outside of Bitkeeper - if you can't see it in the LKML you're blind.

Bitkeeper sends the wrong message to aspiring free software authors. Even Microsoft has a "eat your own dogfood" policy with regard to their software tools. Too bad Linux does not do the same.

He's absolutely right. (5, Insightful)

kafka93 (243640) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557627)

You can believe that RMS is pedantic about the entire GNU/Linux thing - even though the point he's arguing is a very fair one, since credit should go where it's due. You can question his politics, his sense of humour, or the wisdom of his tastes in facial hair. But it's ludicrous to equate Microsoft's "coersion" with the refusal to speak at an event that wilfully tweaks its nose at the FSF.

Now, RMS' views on the naming of GNU/Linux are well-known, and often derired. But it *is* an important point that too much emphasis is given to the kernel, and that too many people believe Linus Torvalds was somehow responsible for the entire system. Who can blame RMS for feeling a little bitter about it - if not for his sake, then for that of all the other GNU developers whose work and effort is often trivialised? How many of us would enjoy seeing our efforts appropriated by others without due credit being given, and particularly without our beliefs - central to our reasons for developing the software in the first place - being given proper consideration?

Far from being derided, RMS should be given respect and encouragement. It takes a certain stubbornness to stand up for what you believe in, yes, but it also takes courage and self-sacrifice. Too many people play lip-service to "free software", using it where it serves them and then forgetting about it it's convenient for them to do so. Too many people do, indeed, believe that short-term technical merit is more important than long-term freedom -- which is itself often a means towards long-term technical prowess. Give RMS his dues - he's trying to help all of us, and getting a lot of grief for it. How many of us have spent our time dealing with abuse for the sake a true moral goal, rather than personal satisfaction?

Re:He's absolutely right. (-1, Redundant)

Antonio Banderas (566250) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557737)

STFU u luser

Stallman is very persuasive (2, Interesting)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557631)

Here's the direct link to Stallman [] , although you should read the first story first.

The French have a saying that goes roughly, "Those who refuse to play politics usually die by politics."

There are many reasons to hate the strictures of the GPL. It's very unforgiving. But it also has the effect of binding a number of people together into one coherent group and coherent groups are the only ones who have power in a democracy.

This coherency is even more important than ever in the face of the new proposed laws for curtailing the power of personal computers. Some say that the content companies like Disney would like to turn every PC into a set-top box controlled from Hollywood. There's plenty of truth to that. The GPL, for better or worse, to serve as the one ring to bind them all.

That being said, I have profess some confusion about BitKeeper. Although I haven't looked at the product or the license lately, I was pretty impressed by the logical conundrum created by Larry McVoy. The default mode of the product FORCES all of your development work to be free. You have to pay cash to take the project proprietary. That's a pretty clever notion, if you ask me. It seems like something that's even more likely to encourage and enforce free software than the GPL. Okay, RMS will disagree with that statement. I'm not even sure I believe it. But cash is a powerful force.

Can I propose an alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557650)

The Linux(TM) Kernel(C), now including the GNU(TM) Toolkit.

Stallman misses a chance... (3, Insightful)

_bug_ (112702) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557653)

Stallman should have simply gone and given a speech on this very topic to the SIGLINUX people. Instead he turned down yet another opportunity to spread his own views.

I think he needs to learn that in some cases, you need to accept what is so that you can bring the change you want later.

An Architecture of Freedom (2, Interesting)

afferoman (572026) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557659)

While we're here bickering over people's personalities, we're loosing our freedom.

If the greater technical community had any vision outside of the inside of a machine, we would do whatever we could to make sure that a future of open standards would be secured. Instead, we pick apart a genius because because he is passionate about ideas that aren't technical. If RMS was normal...we wouldn't have GNU/Linux and we wouldn't have the GNU-GPL and we wouldn't have an opportunity to keep freedom of speech alive.

RMS is right, the system should be called GNU/Linux because we need to keep in mind the philosophical architecture that forms the foundation for our open world.

Lessig said "GNU/Linux for those who want to keep the contributions in view". More of us need to give credit to the GNU project because without focusing on the ideals behind the architecture...we'll loose this great open place. The scary thing may already be too late.

Oh no, not again! (5, Insightful)

jht (5006) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557670)

Most folks seem to agree with the basic premise that without the GNU toolset, there would be no Linux. But given that the HURD has been coming "real soon now" for around a decade or so, without Linux there would be no GNU system, either. Linux isn't about politics for the most part. It's about a technically superior OS that relies on being Free to help it be the best it can be. Free Software is both a technical and a political cause. Software is better when it's Free, but there are two separate reasons why it's better. Only one is the political side that the FSF stands squarely behind.

The people who package the Linux kernel with the GNU system and all the other tools and goodness to produce a distro are free to call it whatever they want. Some call it GNU/Linux, some call it Linux. Whatever. Some use only Free code in their distro, some use non-Free, and the marketplace of users can use whatever they want. Nowadays, of course, much of the code in a distro has no direct connection to GNU anyhow (Xfree86 and KDE aren't the GNU system, and that's where a ton of code lies). But that's besides the point, I guess.

Of course, all the BSD's use pretty much the whole GNU system as well, and you don't see him whining about calling them GNU/BSD. This is yet another reason why I think RMS is, deep down inside, just being pissy about Linus' kernel having become the kernel of choice instead of the masses' waiting for HURD.

If RMS and the FSF want to use the name so badly, build an "official" FSF GNU/Linux distro. Heck, save time - use Debian.

Summary and prediction (5, Informative)

ctid (449118) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557685)

A summary of this issue:

  1. Stallman is invited to speak at a user group
  2. He declines and explains why he declined, namely the issue of calling the OS Linux or GNU/Linux
  3. He gets called to task by Joe Barr for his explanation, not for declining to speak at a particular location.
  4. Stallman responds to Barr's article and cites the Bitkeeper situation as an example of the difference between people in our community who see things like him and people who are more pragmatic

    And a prediction:

  5. Furore on Slashdot

I drew up this list because I know I'm going to get annoyed at the RMS-bashing that will surely follow. Many of the bashers won't even bother to read the article, because it is long and requires some effort to follow. I present this summary so that people understand that it is not just about RMS seeking credit. He makes a cogent and logical distinction between his point of view and (eg) Linus's point of view, and gives an example of why he thinks his own principles are important. You don't need to agree with him, but simply insulting him is unacceptable if our community is to continue to move forward.

Why not GNU/XFree86? (5, Insightful)

rknop (240417) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557688)

Sure, many of the tools and core libraries we're running on top of our Linux kernels are GNU based.

But look at anybody running Linux today. What's the first thing you see on their screen? An X sesson; maybe it's running Gnome or KDE, but there's an X session there enabling your desktop. XFree86 is a seriously nontrivial bit of code. So why should the kernel, or the system libraries and tools, be annoited over X? If we're gonna call it GNU/Linux, we also need to call it GNU/XFree86/Linux, to be fair.

Of course it doesn't stop there. You go ad absurdum.

Let's face it. It's a giant collaborative effort. Each individual piece is a giant collaborative effort, indeed, but no one of those pieces lives without any of the others.

Why do we call it Linux? Because that was the cruical bit that allowed it finally to stand alone. Many of us were running lots of GNU tools on Solaris and other OSes before Linux (because we liked them better than the default versions). But that OS was still called Solaris, not GNU/Solaris. The true phase change came about when we could ditch Solaris alltogether because of this new Linux kernel thing. That is historically why we call it Linux. Is it completely fair? No. But that's what it's called.

While RMS's arguments are right, I think that they are very unwise. He would get a lot more mileage out of just embracing the name "Linux", and then trying to help ensure that it stands for what he wants it to stand for. I'm with him on the worries about nonfree software in the Linux kernel; that's the kind of politics that I'm not ready to turn a blind eye to. But his spitting and fussing over the naming makes him look like a spoiled kid in the sandbox who wants everybody to remember "even if you play with it, this toy is MINE!!!" instead of somebody who is trying to push forward the important arguments.

RMS: stick to your guns (or your gnus) with what's important. A name is not important. If it's not too late, embrace and extend the name Linux.


Woody solves all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3557689)

The pending release of Debian Woody GNU/Samba/MySQL/vim/Apache/Linux 3.0 stable should appease the academics. I just can't figure how I'm supposed to fit all that on the CD-R label when the iso's finally go gold.

RMS needs Dale Carnegie (1, Flamebait)

Ledge (24267) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557701)

Eventually, users will grow tired of the ravings of this half-wit savant and find new tools and a license without a megalomanic behind it to power the system.

I guess (1)

PaddyM (45763) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557705)

A good solution to the Microsoft anti-trust trial would be to force everyone to call it "Microsoft/Windows", because Windows is only a part of the whole software package that Microsoft wrote.

Give RMS his right to refuse and preech. (4, Insightful)

dhanav (313625) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557709)

I think equating RMS to M$ for him refusing to speak to a group of users with whom he disagrees is very wrong.
We may not disagree with his ideas on totally free systems and his desire to use only free software. It may also not be possible for most of us professionals to use totally free software all the time, but we must also take care to respect RMS's views and his freedom to speak or rather refuse to speak and his right to have and preech his ideas.

my opinion (1, Flamebait)

quigonn (80360) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557710)

RMS again proved his absolute gayness. Although I am member of the "Foundation for Furthering of Free Software in Austria" (an associate organization of the FSF Europe), I absolutely hate RMS because he thinks he alone and the GNU project created free software. This is absolutely not true, e.g. there are the fine BSD operating systems around, with an even better license (e.g. you can fork the whole project and relicense it to e.g. GPL) and technically much better than the GNU software (at least the userland). The GNU userland is so damn bloaty, all the GNU libraries also (ever tried statically linking the GNU userland against glibc? Have a lot of fun with your 0.7 MB tar binary and your 2 MB bash!).

He should also shut up about Linux. In 18 years the GNU project was not able to produce a usable operating system kernel (heck, even The Hurd uses _Linux_ drivers from the 2.0.x series!), so he absolutely has no right about complaining that something in the Linux development process is wrong.

Yeah, mod the down, I have loads of karma to burn!

he's right (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557712)

Nowadays, Freedom is becoming more and more important than technological achievements, we must afford to preserve it if what we want to offer is a human structure.
Calling RMS a nut is a lack of tolerance as we've always known his positions regarding Free Software. Whatever he wants to achieve he wants to do it a given way which is what Free Software stands for.
Know, after reading this article I accept to consider Linux (as not in GNU/Linux) as alternative software, not as Free Software and this is this point that hurts him.
If you want RMS to deal with your Freedom and to help you getting rid of software patents, you'd better contact your software editors and ask them to open their APIs so that you can develop Free alternatives to what they sell.
Wasn't this here that I read some B. Franklin quote about security and freedom ?
Well, RMS message is similar, if you even remove a bit of Freedom from Free Software, it then becomes "not-so-Free software".
If you just want to race technologically against billion-earning companies that just want Free Software to be considered as passive terrorism, then you fight on another front because this is not what RMS discusses about and he shouldn't be attacked on his ethical views because your technological considerations hinder them.
Let's discuss about it and agree on which ethical model is the best.
and here, no doubt : RMS has started thinking about it, has made choices way before most of us actually began coding for the first time, he has too many years of experiences to be called a nut.

Some good points (1)

sPaKr (116314) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557717)

While I disagree with RMS on the nameing problems with linux (gnu/linux) As it makes little differnce as distros are allowd to rename themselfs as they like..and the distro is where the GNU tools/code lies. I do agree with some of his new points. While I have never used BitKeeper, but I do use CVS daily.. I always prefer open tools. Often I find bugs.. which I can fix in open tools.. I also find bugs in documenation wich are supported on exzamination of the souce code.

Here is my score card.
  • (GNU/)Linux nameing thing is lame.. non issue
  • Using BitKeeper troubling.. why cant someone just beat linus over the head with cvs.. and script that up for him? have perl will travel
  • Firmware as part of device drivers very bad. alot of new peices of hardware require some firmware to be downloaded into the device ( 1gb ethernet cards come to mind) There are BUGS in this code.. but as its delived as byte code there is little we can do to fix it. Letting Hardawre Mfgs slide by and pass off this byte code will be the downfall of the kernel.

    • As always RMS does a good job of ignoring the critics.. and pointing us to the real evils.. As much as I hate it Im tending to agree with him more and more.

Time to move on.... (2, Interesting)

gnalre (323830) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557722)

Firstly let me say I admire RMS for his contributions to the computing world we have today and his principled stands. However don't you think it time we moved on a bit. GNU/Linux is know much bigger than it's component parts and much to umportant to be still squabbling over a name.

Names are funny thing. just by saying a thing is called such and such often makes little difference in the end, the user decides in the end and I'm afraid Linux is shorter and easier to say. I'm sure a lot of people do not know the origin of the name and those who do know probably know the role GNU had/has in its creation.

As for bitkeeper, Well I understand why the FSF cannot be seen to be using non-free code. However there is no monopoly on good applications and maybe someone should write a free software competitor. As the old salavation army saying goes, why should the devil have the best tunes/software?

RMS... (2, Funny)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557723) an asshole, but he's *OUR* asshole. You can't really hate your asshole, right? The man has done a lot for OSS, but not everything, and not even the majority. He is pushing the "more damage than good" edge.

IIRC, Linux did not name Linux and didn't even want to use that name.

What is really a hoot is RMS talking about Linus's ego!

Re:RMS... (1)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557740)

Linux did not name Linux

Linus damnit! Need...more...caffine...

really amusing.. (5, Funny)

phunhippy (86447) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557734)

So hes complaining(possibly rightly, thats a whole other issue) that its not called GNU/Linux and declines to speak to groups not using that...

But the article he writes in response is posted on a site called and not

I find that amusing..

It's this kind of thing... (-1)

Grape Smuggler (569838) | more than 12 years ago | (#3557743)

that scares the mainstream away from Linux. Zealots and fanatics, one in the same, and all fucking anal. Must I always remember to call it *Microsoft* Windows, or is Windows ok? How about *Apple* OSX?

RMS: Get a life, you fucking psycho. Go play a flute and stare at some butterflies.

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