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Stallman — 20 Years of Explaining Free Software

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the evolution-of-an-idea dept.

GNU is Not Unix 218

H4x0r Jim Duggan writes "The first recorded talk by Richard Stallman on free software was in 1986, so I've picked from the 2006 recordings and have made a transcript of a recent talk: The Free Software Movement and the Future of Freedom. Those two are the only transcripts of his general free software talk. Others that exist are on specific topics such as patents, GPLv3, copyright, etc. For those who've been reading Slashdot during the gradual evolution of Stallman's pronouncements, it's interesting to see what has changed over 20 years."

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evolution (3, Funny)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525148)

For those who've been reading Slashdot during the gradual evolution of Stallman's pronouncements, it's interesting to see what has changed over 20 years.

Nothing for you to see here; move along.

Truer words never 403'd.

Re:evolution (1)

doti (966971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526360)

it's interesting to see what has changed over 20 years.
One thing I know will never change:
http://rodolfo.borges.googlepages.com/gnu [googlepages.com]

Open Stallman (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525170)

How about posting audio streams/downloads of all Stallman recordings, and accepting publicly submitted transcripts on a Wiki? Let the community decide what Stallman said, including comments by Stallman. Such a project could be completed for cheap, fairly quickly - the open source way.

Re:Open Stallman (4, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525246)

How about just replacing the entire Stallman with a CGI character that reads from a wiki based on public transcripts?

Re:Open Stallman (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525500)

There is a theory that states that this has already happened.

(with apologies to the Guide)

Cue the wiki spammers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528578)

> How about just replacing the entire Stallman with a CGI character that reads from a wiki based on public transcripts?

Why does chibi-Stallman keep talking about how to get a larger pen fifteen? And what happened to the other fourteen pens, anyhow?

Re:Open Stallman (1)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528808)

Nah, it'd never work.... Someone would just start attacking him with giant penises.

Re:Open Stallman (1)

BobNET (119675) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525418)

How about posting audio streams/downloads of all Stallman recordings, and accepting publicly submitted transcripts on a Wiki?

Make sure a Free software license is used, so we have the freedom to edit his speeches to make him say whatever we want, provided we allow others the same freedom on our edits...

Submitter's home page (2, Interesting)

grimJester (890090) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525190)

Here [compsoc.com] , actually seems more interesting than TFA (This is Slashdot; I didn't read TFA). To quote:

I work within the political system of the European Union to ensure that the development and use of free software is not hampered by new legislation. The best known example of a legislative project I worked on is the "Software Patents Directive".

More on the submitter's home page (3, Informative)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17529336)

Here's my post directive review [compsoc.com] of that project. But there's more to do [fsfe.org] .

Something very important this year is GPLv3 [fsfeurope.org] . Here's a transcript of RMS on GPLv3 [fsfeurope.org] , and one of something I said [fsfeurope.org] .

A tear to my eye as I think... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525224)

it has been twenty years and three showers ago since his first speech. Amazing.

Re:A tear to my eye as I think... (1)

Nimrangul (599578) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525304)

Oh come now, you must be exaggerating - I can't believe Stallman's showered three times since then!

Re:A tear to my eye as I think... (2, Funny)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525642)

Two of them were rainstorms that he got cought out in the middle of. =]

Re:A tear to my eye as I think... (1)

Sax Maniac (88550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526838)

So true. Someone who took three showers over 20 years would surely bring a tear to my eye... but not because I'm wistful or sad.

Hard to explain (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525248)

...when RMS chose a word with many meanings like "free" to describe his software.

You see when people adopted the monkier of open source software how things really took off. It's not ambiguous and explains quite clearly it's about source code, not price.

Re:Hard to explain (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525440)

He'd have a good excuse if his first language was Spanish. Software libre is nice and clear, and sounds good too. "Liberty Software" is not ambiguous but sounds like crap, like mutual funds or collectable coins.

Re:Hard to explain (3, Interesting)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525726)

It depends...

"Liberty" sometimes sounds honorable, like something out of the US Constitution. "Free" sounds cheap... like "free soda".

In the business world, it's not unusual to hear something like "Oh, MySQL? Oh, we don't support freeware." The perception is often that "Free" == "Cheap and unsupported". In reality, MySQL is a good product, and support is available in several forms.

Get your free painted Liberty silver dollar here!

I guess that's why some people prefer "Libre".

Re:Hard to explain (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525884)

I guess that's why some people prefer "Libre".

I do prefer libre, and frequently refer to free software as software libre as it's perfectly clear as libre == freedom. It's just it's not English so it's really just as confusing to English speakers as "free software" just in a different way. Just my opinion, but in English both "Liberty Software" and "Freedom Software" sound cumbersome.

The funny thing is that RMS chose "free" in part because it was unclear and would require discussion about the nature of freedom. Ha ha, silly goose, thinking people could handle more than a sound bite description of something before judging it!

Re:Hard to explain (2, Funny)

bdonalds (989355) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526064)

Conversely, if that recent Jack Black wrestling movie had instead been called "Free Nachos", it would probably have drawn larger crowds...

Re:Hard to explain (1)

pairo (519657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527392)

I can't refrain from commenting... MySQL, good product? Ha! Really, picked a bad example.

Re:Hard to explain (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527928)

Please elaborate as to what your problem with MySQL?

I actually prefer it in many ways to T-SQL as it is alot less arsey about hand written SQL statements. But I have only been programming websites professionally for a couple of years and havent used anything like PySQL or whatever the oracle malarky is called.

I did look on your webblog thingy but couldnt find any reference as to why? I did notice you also dont like PHP but didnt go into any reasoning as to why is that just because they are usually used together (sarcasm).

PS - We might as well turn this into a debate about MySQL as talking about RMS has to be the dullest topic ever and will only pander to his already vastly inflated ego.

Re:Hard to explain (2, Interesting)

pairo (519657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17529014)

Well, basically, because it lacks many of the decent features of other RDBMSs (I won't say real RDBMS :-P), some of which are even OpenSource (see PostgreSQL and Firebird), while having quite a few misfeatures (the authentication model is utterly retarded. You have users, identified by user at host. And, you then have users - identified by user AND host - for table privileges. And databases. And columns. Heck, am I the only one that thinks that anything with more than 10 users will give you headaches for the years to come?), performance issues (SELECT * FROM foo is fine and all, but... The first thing that comes to mind is a cron script that runs every ten minutes and ANALYZEs a table, twice. It would refuse to use its index otherwise and take about 50 seconds, instead of half a second. And, let's just say that many a time I've found its locking mechanism getting stuck while trying to acquire a lock. That is, if - and, yes, this does belong in the misfeature bit - it won't give out an exclusive lock to two threads), compatibility issues (SQL is optional for it), and (and this one's actually pretty subjective), being marketed as 'Enterprise', nowadays.

Some of its design decisions (threads v.s. processes, they used to say transactions suck and they won't implement them, lack of focus on features at the beginning) were questionable, to say the least. Some of the way they implemented them is pretty mindboggling. The way InnoDB breaks whenever you as much as blow in the general direction of its huge ass files...

And, uhm, there are many examples I could give you, but I'm off home. :-)

Re:Hard to explain (1)

martinussen (986404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527326)

What about liberal software then? It's still quite unclear what it refers to, but at least it retains the meaning of free without drawing connections to price.

Re:Hard to explain (1)

obender (546976) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527658)

He'd have a good excuse if his first language was Spanish
No, he would not. Go to gnu.org and see that all the localized pages struggle pointlessly to translate Free as in Freedom:
Spanish: Libre, no gratuito
Portuguese: Livre E Pela Liberdade
French: Libre comme dans Liberté
Romanian: Liber ca în Libertate
Italian: Libero come in libertà
Catalan:Lliure segons la definició de llibertat

Re:Hard to explain (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527894)

No, he would not. Go to gnu.org and see that all the localized pages struggle pointlessly to translate Free as in Freedom:

        Spanish: Libre, no gratuito


Heh, that's funny. Basically like saying "Cow as in cow, not orangutan".

Re:Hard to explain (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525476)

You see when people adopted the monkier of open source software. . .

So that Microsoft could exploit the ambiguity of the word "open" to claim that their software is open source? I'm afraid the word "open" is just as open to interpretaion as any other non-technical word.

Of course RMS provided a technical defintion of what he meant by "Free Software."

The reason a lot of people prefer to use "Open Source" isn't because the term "free" is ambiguous (although I recognize the existence of the "libre" crowd); it's because they the disagree with the specificity of the term. The definition of "Open Source" is more, ummmmmmmmm, "Open."

ESR, for example.

KFG

Re:Hard to explain (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528744)

Of course RMS provided a technical defintion of what he meant by "Free Software."

Hah! He has four extremely broad bullet points, then dozens of essays attempting to clarify matters.

"Open Source Software" has a very specific legalistic definition while "Free Software" has a rather loose political and ideological definition, but otherwise they are synonymous. To suggest that people gravitate towards Open Source Software because it isn't as specific as Free Software is silly.

Re:Hard to explain (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17529082)

To suggest that people gravitate towards Open Source Software because it isn't as specific as Free Software is silly.

That's why I didn't say that.

. . .otherwise they are synonymous.

Now that is silly. The whole point of ESR coining the term "Open Source" was to mean something rather different. See the disagreement over the BSD license.

KFG

This is pretty typical of Stallman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525598)

This is pretty typical of Stallman-- he's trying to be clever.

He purposely chose the word "Free" over something like "Libre", because he wants you to think about many of the multiple meanings behind "free" at the same time. Stallman's attitude is "Sure, it's hard to learn; but in the end you've learned 10X as much!"

However, his style is way too complex-- most of us get overwhelmed when trying to learn about all these issues at one time. Learning is an incremental process. Stallman throws this big pile of spaghetti at you all at once.

You just want to learn Linux or use GCC to compile your first C program, but Stallman insists that you learn the evils of software patents and a dozen other issues at the same time at the same time.

When Stallman wrote the Free Software Song [wikipedia.org] , did he write something which is easy to sing, in a familiar tone? No, he chose a song which is in 7/8 time (Hard to keep a rhythym?

Re:Hard to explain (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525886)

Free software is not about source code, it's about freedom.
Source code is a part of that freedom, but there's more to it, like for example rights for distribution, and rights for distribution of improvements.

Re:Hard to explain (2, Informative)

doti (966971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526216)

it's about source code, not price.
No, it's not about code, it's about freedom.
How good is to be able to see the code, if you can't modify and redistribute it?

That Makes Absolutely No Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528472)

No, it's not about code, it's about freedom.

Well, maybe to you or RMS in your mind, but freedom is a concept, not software.

If I download GNU Hurd, am I downloading freedom or code? Thought so. Go back to school, boy.

Re:Hard to explain (0)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528450)

...when RMS chose a word with many meanings like "free" to describe his software.

Not only that, he went on to use a completely new definition for "free" that isn't even in the dictionary! Excuses that English has only one word for "free" miss that point that most other languages only have two. Yet my dictionary has eighteen!

Free as in... ...beer ...speech ...press ...people ...electron ...verse ...silver ...end of a rope ...willy

Pssh... free software (1)

SuperStretchy (1018064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525286)

He sums it up with his talks on pirating. There lies the free software thats worth buying without buying. As to the other free software, spyware and oss dominate. So what do you want? open source, pirated, or spyware-ridden? Each has weaknesses, but the freeware with spyware comes with cool mouse cursors and smileys!

go back to Venezuela (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525316)

Go back to Venezuela [fsf.org] . Fucking communists.

Sorry Richard, (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525324)

but what's the difference between free and open again? Hehe...man, he must be so sick of uninformed journalists and pseudo-nerds asking the same question every friggin month...

It's hard graft alright (1)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528518)

He was asked that in an interview before "How do you continue, re-explaining the same thing over and over?", his answer was "I have a mission, and that's what it takes".

It was on a website that's gone now, I think it was called "Linux Power".

Bleh (-1, Troll)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525376)

Just another ghost. decades living from tales and blah blah blah, but the question is what has HE done? Show me his work (and I don't mean words).

It's very sad to see the "yellow IT press" these days.

Re:Bleh (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525516)

Tried "man emacs" lately? Or used gcc? Just to give two examples of projects he initiated and wrote the original versions of.

Re:Bleh (5, Insightful)

Dik Zak (974638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525524)

what has HE done?
He developed the original Emacs, GNU Emacs, the GNU Compiler Collection, and the GNU Debugger. That's a pretty serious contribution you know.

Re:Bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525706)

And lets not forget about taking on Symbolics single-handedly. And winning.

Re:Bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17526748)

Haven't you ever heard of GNU/Hurd?

You haven't?

Well, nobody else has either so don't feel bad.

RMS speeches (1)

sunny256 (448951) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525434)

And for those that want more RMS stuff, I have stored some speeches (movies and sound recordings) at http://musthave.sunbase.org/Stallman/ [sunbase.org] .

Correct me if I'm wrong... (5, Funny)

Zirtix (443841) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525450)

Wouldn't it be more efficient to just distribute the diff?

--- oldspeech
+++ newspeech
@@ -202905339 +202905339,2 @@
Software should be free.
+Software patents are bad.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525596)

"Software patents are bad" is just function used by "Software should be free"

Will Stallman ever get over this? (-1, Offtopic)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525490)

"However, the confusion of thinking that the entire system was Linux, that it had all been developed by the college student in 1991 has been extremely harmful to the Free Software movement ever since because it broke the connection from our software to our philosophy.

When I'm running a windows box I don't say it's a MS Windows/Firefox/Gaim/Azuerus/etc OS. I don't see how it's any different for running a machine running Linux. Fair enough, credit where credit is due, however all the GNU stuff in the world amounted to nothing until the Linux kernel came along (and in all probability still would not of).

Re:Will Stallman ever get over this? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525638)

Actually, calling the whole OS "Linux" is more akin to calling all of Windows "Mozilla Firefox".

When Linux came along GNU was already *working* on a kernel (everything else that they saw that was needed for an OS was pretty much written). Linux stole most of the thunder from that project, leading to the current dilapidated state of the Hurd, as well as the illusion that the kernel's name is also the OS name.

Re:Will Stallman ever get over this? (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525654)

He did get over it a long time ago, like when he decided that he is not going to sue anyone for (legally) re-using his code and omitting what would be their trade mark. You cannot blame the man just for being vocal. His peewees provide for comic relief, whereas Microsoft's cost a lot of money and cause headaches.

Re:Will Stallman ever get over this? (2, Informative)

LainTouko (926420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525690)

The difference is that Windows is an operating system, Linux is just a kernel. You can do quite a bit with Windows on its own. But there's not much you can do with Linux on its own, without anything from GNU.

Re:Will Stallman ever get over this? (2, Insightful)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525916)

GNU however could be replaced with something else. e.g. the BSD userland/libraries. Would we then be obliged to call the operating system BSD/Linux?

Re:Will Stallman ever get over this? (1)

pinky0x51 (951042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527350)

>GNU however could be replaced with something else. e.g. the BSD userland/libraries. Would we then be obliged to call the operating system BSD/Linux?

For me replacing the BSD kernel with the kernel Linux in a BSD system would still result in a BSD System but if you want to follow the logic of Linus Torvalds it would be a Linux System.
You can take my position, the position of Linus or for example decide that both BSD and Linux are a essential part of the new OS, that both deserves some kudos and call it e.g. BSD/Linux.

Re:Will Stallman ever get over this? (2, Insightful)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527484)

Or you could just do what most of the human population does and call it something simpler. i.e. Linux

No (4, Insightful)

orasio (188021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525758)

He will never get over it.
When mswindows 95 appeared, it wasn't called "the DOS system". It was the Windows system, running on DOS. Okay, that's too much of a stretch.
mswindows nt/2000 was not the "kernel32.exe".
OSX is not "mach + some apple stuff".

An operating system is a lot more than a kernel, in the same way that a car is a lot more than its engine, even when it doesn't work without it. The user doesn't get to interact with the engine, and the car would be the same car, if the engine is replaced. That happens the same way with Operating Systems and kernels. Debian is not there yet, but they have several GNU distributions with varying kernels.

Linux is a good kernel, and plays an important role for the success of free software. Aside from that, when you get for example, Ubuntu, there is a lot more GNU than Linux included in the CD. And the platform is defined by the GNU system, not the Linux kernel.
When people say they know "Linux", for example the "Linux" console, they are talking about bash. When talking about "Linux" programming, it's usually GCC, the "Linux" desktop might be Gnome or KDE, of course, but it's not Linux either.

The guy will never get over it, because, in that particular issue, he is right, and the people who think different from him are just wrong. There's no way he will change his opinion on that issue.

Re:No (1, Insightful)

Rufty (37223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527162)

If Linux Torvalds hadn't got involved in software RMS would have a following of academic lisp gurus numbering nearly in three digits.
If Richard Stallman hadn't got involved in software Linux would have a different compiler.

That should be LT/RMS then. Don't like it? He shouldn't claim the work of others.

Re:No (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527852)

If Linux Torvalds hadn't got involved in software RMS would have a following of academic lisp gurus numbering nearly in three digits.

I doubt it. If Linus hadn't done what he did, I think there would have been another kernel by the mid-90s. Perhaps it would have HURD (I think the availability of Linux slowed HURD development), or perhaps it would have been BSD, or perhaps it would have been something else. Linus' contribution was important, but the kernel is one of the smaller components in a full operating system.

If Richard Stallman hadn't got involved in software Linux would have a different compiler.

And a different license. If RMS hadn't started GNU, Linux would have had a BSD user environment, and probably a BSD license. It's hard to say what the impact of that would have been. It seems clear that a BSD-licensed Linux wouldn't have gotten all of the corporate participation that the GPL-licensed Linux has.

Without GNU, I also think Linux would have been delayed for a few years, because it would have been necessary to either write all the user space tools or wait for the BSD settlement to legitimize the BSD stuff.

Getting back to the question of the compiler, I wonder what Linus would have used if GCC weren't available. What were the options for a poor college student in 1991? I was a student at the time, and I know that the compilers available to me were Borland's Turbo C and compilers from OS vendors, including Microsoft, Sun, HP and DEC. Borland's was the the most accessible to students, because of their education prices, but neither it nor Microsoft's compiler would have run on Linus' fledgling new OS, unless it provided a DOS-like kernel interface. The others were really expensive. The BSD and Minix compilers were around, but I'm not sure if he could have used either of them legally.

Perhaps Linus would have had to write a C compiler as he was writing his kernel? I really don't know the answer to these questions.

Speculating about how Free Software history would have changed with either RMS or Linus removed from it is complex and difficult. There were a lot of interrelated factors.

Re:No (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528516)

The BSD and Minix compilers were around, but I'm not sure if he could have used either of them legally.

I don't see why he couldn't of used the Minix compiler if he had a license to use Minix, which presumably he did (seeing how a lot of the early development was done on Minix).

Re:No (2, Interesting)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528528)

Without RMS, Linus would have used a license which included a non-commercial clause.

Re:No (3, Insightful)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527282)

The guy will never get over it, because, in that particular issue, he is right, and the people who think different from him are just wrong. There's no way he will change his opinion on that issue.

I beg to differ. The term 'Linux' has gained a second meaning as a short form for 'an OS that uses the Linux kernel' which is almost always the GNU system with a Linux kernel. Language and words change so we can talk more efficiently. It happens all over the place in our language: 'refrigerator' became 'fridge', 'windows' instead of 'Microsoft Windows', even the notorious "where's the internet" is short for "where's the icon to open my web browser". Of course, it causes ambiguity and confusion sometimes, I have a hard time talking to new people about windows as in that box your graphical apps open up in, but that's the price we pay for shortening our language. In the end, it's all about efficiency.

I understand that RMS wants the extra publicity, and I think they really deserve it. Unfortunately, it's not going to happen unless you turn GNU/Linux into a two syllable word: people are too lazy.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528004)

How about picking the part of the name that is most relevant and end up with one syllable?

Most programs compile (with or without a minimum of tweaking) on any POSIX system. Some require a specific implementation of the base libraries, such as GNU or a BSD or whatnot. Very few require a specific kernel.

Re:Will Stallman ever get over this? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527198)

Fair enough, credit where credit is due, however all the GNU stuff in the world amounted to nothing until the Linux kernel came along (and in all probability still would not of).

Where were you before 1993? Back before Linux was 1.0, GNU had gcc, g++, Emacs (yes, there was XEmacs too), libc, text utils, and quite a few others that were typically installed on AIX, SunOS, HPUX, Dynix, OSF, DOS (I used grep.exe, sort.exe and uniq.exe quite frequently), and IRIX among others. It was essentially required to have most of the GNU stuff on development Unixes as the standard Unix utilities sucked in comparison.

Credit where credit is due, GNU was everywhere before Linux ever started.

Re:Will Stallman ever get over this? (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527434)

Where were you before 1993? Back before Linux was 1.0, GNU had gcc, g++, Emacs (yes, there was XEmacs too), libc, text utils, and quite a few others that were typically installed on AIX, SunOS, HPUX, Dynix, OSF, DOS (I used grep.exe, sort.exe and uniq.exe quite frequently), and IRIX among others. It was essentially required to have most of the GNU stuff on development Unixes as the standard Unix utilities sucked in comparison.

Credit where credit is due, GNU was everywhere before Linux ever started.


There is no disagreement there. That however does not mean that you couldn't have Linux without all the GNU stuff.

Reasons to be AC, forever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525506)

If someone 20 years from now quotes me, I am going punch them.

But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525520)

Stallman on Linux (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525540)

"He has never agreed with the ideals of the Free Software movement. In fact, he likes to call himself apolitical.

[00:57:44]

But, as often happens when people say they are apolitical, in fact, they are espousing and promoting a particular political point of view and his political point of view is that the developer should have total power, the developer can simply decide whether you have freedom or not and that it's always wrong to disobey the developer. That is, it's always wrong to violate any software licence. That the view he has stated in the past.


If Linus wanted complete control over Linux, why oh why did he release it under the GPL?

Re:Stallman on Linux (3, Interesting)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527868)

Read your own quote "... his political point of view is that ... the developer can simply decide whether you have freedom or not...".

Linus chose to give us freedom, but he still believes that authors have the rights to deprive users of 'the four freedoms', should they want to.
Stallman believes that the user should have the right to those freedoms, regardless of the wishes of the authors. Therein lies the ideological difference.

security (1, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525678)

One thing that really sounds dated in the 1986 lecture is the discussion of passwords at the MIT AI lab. This was back when people were on local networks, and they knew everybody else who was on the network with them. People wrote C code that looked like "for (;*q;) {*p++ = *++q}", and didn't worry about buffer overflows, because hey, what kind of idiot would intentionally crash a program by putting in an unreasonably long input string? Also, in a modern university, some of the hardware and software hacking exploits he talked about would probably result in your being presented with a cardboard box to empty your desk into.

Re:security (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527464)

``People wrote C code that looked like "for (;*q;) {*p++ = *++q}", and didn't worry about buffer overflows, because hey, what kind of idiot would intentionally crash a program by putting in an unreasonably long input string?''

You mean that those days are over?

Not at the FSF (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527552)

``People ... didn't worry about buffer overflows, because hey, what kind of idiot would intentionally crash a program by putting in an unreasonably long input string?''

This line of thinking is not followed at the FSF: they have a policy that programs must not contain arbitrary limits. Not that they always follow this strictly, but at least it's in their coding standards.

Re:security (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528016)

Way to totally miss the point. The purpose of introducing passwords to the MIT lab back in the early 80s wasn't to protect user's content from people hacking into the system over a network. The purpose of introducing passwords was to give administrators control over the use of the computers. It doesn't matter if today we have large networks and buffer overflows and the assumption that every machine contains confidential information. That wasn't the purpose of introducing passwords. That wasn't what RMS, and other hackers of his era, found offensive. The key message to take away from the password incident is that some people don't believe that the person sitting in front of the keyboard should have complete freedom to do whatever they want to do on the computer.. and some people do. If you want a modern version of this message, think about DRM on home computers. Or region coding on DVD players. A computer is a tool. The operator of that tool should have complete control over how it is used. If we don't have control over our tools, we can never be free.

Its a Joy hearing Mr Stallman speak (3, Funny)

ravee (201020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525700)

I have viewed a couple of videos of Stallman's speeches and have transcripted one of them. Listening him speak, I couldn't help thinking that he has all the qualities of a leader. His speeches strike a cord and entertain at the same time. He has very good oratorical skills.

Re:Its a Joy hearing Mr Stallman speak (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526900)

I've heard RMS speak and while he's not terrible, he's not the world's greatest orator either; his speeches tend to ramble a little, as you can see from the 1986 transcript. I won't mention the picking-skin-off-feet-and-eating-it video - you can search for it if you must.

Re:Its a Joy hearing Mr Stallman speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527016)

Too bad your spellatorical skill leave much to be desired.

If only he could count (2, Insightful)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528564)

I appreciate most of what RMS says. I strongly disagree with his numbering scheme for the 4 essential software freedoms. Read people count starting at 1. It's stupid to have the leader of a movement use an inside joke when giving a public talk about something so important. Freedom zero.... How stupid.

Hey Richard, how many freedoms are there?
Four.
What's the fourth one?
There isn't one... Only a zeroth through third.

This nonsense has got to stop. The GPL is fairly readable, but this stupid geekism right there mixed in with the fundamental freedoms is IMHO just adding confusion where none needs to be. I would hope this renumbering will make it into GPLv3.

Creative Commons "Non-commercial Use" (2, Interesting)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525774)

Although it is apparent that he disapproves CC licences in general, RMS didn't seem to touch on an aspect of "non-commercial use" CC licenses that I find troubling. The problem is that "non-commercial" is not clearly defined. Certainly there can be blatant commercial use that is easy to identify, but there are many situations where it is not so clear. Suppose, for example, the material is posted a personal home page, which is provided free by the ISP in exchange for advertisements. Does that constitute "commercial use"? Clearly, the ISP is profiting from the material if it is drawing people to that page and thus the ads. It is easy to come up with many such examples, and it is even hard to come up with examples where the use is disconnected from the slightest taint of a direct or indirect commercial connection. Is a Red Cross advertisement commericial or noncommercial? If the Red Cross paid a magazine for a full-page ad, then the magazine is earning some money from it.

I will usually avoid using "non-commercial use" material in my own work. For one thing, it is incompatible with say GPL-licensed software, since e.g. a CC-licensed "non-commercial use" icon would prevent a commercial entity from using it, defeating the purpose of the GPL.

Forget free software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17525792)

I want someone to explain free beer to me.

Preferably with lots of examples.

Re:Forget free software (1)

Mariner28 (814350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528098)

Free beer is a fallacy loosed on the world by RMS. Beer is really only rented. Everyone knows you always have to give it back. Even if you are not charged for it you have to either return it, or leave it for someone else to worry about.

}:->

Stallman the philosopher (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525808)

Stallman is a philosopher first and involved with software second.

Actually GNU might be the worlds first truly free and secular religion.

I read the whole article and agree with most of his arguments.

However, unless you have a just society, with power controlled by the people it governs, you can not have the 4 levels of fredom. And I am not confident that good will is enough.

Re:Stallman the philosopher (1)

ricree (969643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528280)

Actually GNU might be the worlds first truly free and secular religion. I would argue that this somewhat dubious distinction belongs to political parties.

Re:Stallman the philosopher (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528604)

Political parties are chained by the grip of corruption and bribery.

Re:Stallman the philosopher (1)

ricree (969643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528398)

Actually GNU might be the worlds first truly free and secular religion.
I would argue that this somewhat dubious distinction belongs to political parties.

Re:Stallman the philosopher (1)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528770)

Free software is one part of a just society.

Stallman was asked before what he would do if tomorrow, amazingly, all software users had freedom and it was secured. He said he would work for another charity, a human rights one, but said that he now works on free software because that's what he's effective at.

Free software is not the only thing we need, and it's not even the thing we need most, but it's one of a set of things we need for the future to support just societies. So work on the other things too.

Messenger Killing the Message (1, Flamebait)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17525876)

Stallman is brilliant, and driven.

Stallman is an evangelical nut job.

I try not to think of Stallman when I think of FOSS, because I like to think about freedom instead of socialism, and while not exclusive, the human implementations of either almost always work against the other.

If Stallman were trying to sell me a particular model car, I'd walk off the lot, shake it off, and buy the same model from a different dealer.

If Stallman is the messenger, the message is dead.

Glad You're Self-Aware (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526736)

A lot of people do not realize that they base many decisions (such as car purchases) on quirks of personality, or prejudices against certain people, rather than on the merits of the proposition in question. It's good that you recognize this. It would be even better if you would tried to stop doing it...

Re:Messenger Killing the Message (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527314)

Very well put.

Re:Messenger Killing the Message (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527382)

The problem is, no one is selling the same model car. The instructions are free of charge, but you have to buy the parts and assemble them yourself.* This seems to scare most people from driving what is arguably a better car.



*Ok, nowdays, you can hire someone to assemble the parts for you, but it's the same priciple.

Re:Messenger Killing the Message (0)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528306)

One of the biggest gripes I have with Stallman's philosophy is it's incoherence. On one hand he doesn't want software ownership, but on the other he preaches against putting your software into the public domain. He talks about liberty, but then advocates a tax to support free software developers. He talks about freedom, but wants you to place "copyleft" restrictions on your code. He says the GPL is only triggered by distribution, but then argues that dynamic and runtime linkage trigger the GPL.

Etc, etc, etc.

If I may quote Joe Pesci..(as applied to OSS) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17526128)

"Fuck you. Pay me."

Re:If I may quote Joe Pesci..(as applied to OSS) (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526292)

I wish I had my mod points from this morning.

Quoting any Pesci character should be an automatic +5.

Misses a point (0, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526264)

RMS has good intentions with the FSF but misses one critical point.

It's all good and well to give out free software, but how useful is that if nobody can really learn from it or modify it?

Raise your hand if you're a software developer. Keep your hand up if you can digest the Mozilla code and add new functionality to it within a day. Weekend. Week. Month.

Repeat for GCC, Linux Kernel, etc...

Now granted there are some well commented/documented projects. But if you don't make it part of your core values to not only give out free functional software but also EDUCATIONAL SOURCE CODE then we're not much better off are we?

Tom

Re:Misses a point (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527418)

"Now granted there are some well commented/documented projects. But if you don't make it part of your core values to not only give out free functional software but also EDUCATIONAL SOURCE CODE then we're not much better off are we?"

And the design documents, diagrams, and anything else that would help get potential contributors up to speed.

But perhaps we just aren't up to snuff and the code itself is what is supposed to educate us all on its own.

Mind you, I don't necessarily practice that with the code I have released either so who am I to talk.

all the best,

drew

Mod parent up (1)

akratic (770961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528238)

This is a good point. If a program is released as free software and the source is extensive and hard to read, then it's possible but very costly for users to modify it. For most people, making a change will involve either (a) getting someone on the original development team to make the change or (b) hiring programmers who weren't on the original development team to spend a lot of time studying the code. If you don't have either a lot of money or a lot of time and programming skill, then the original developers of the program effectively have a monopoly on improvement of the code. So much for Stallman's Freedom Three.

Contrast GNU Emacs. It's designed to be easily modified. There is a tutorial [gnu.org] available on how to modify Emacs. There is also a wiki [emacswiki.org] for people to share modifications of Emacs without asking the developers to add the changes to an official release.

If free software developers are seriously concerned about their users' ability to modify the code, they should think carefully about how to do this when developing the programs (e.g., documenting the code, using Guile or another extension language).

He answers this point in TFA (1)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528892)

He explains this in the talk [fsfeurope.org] :

"only programmers can directly exercise freedoms one and three but every user can directly exercise freedoms zero and two - the freedoms to run the program and copy the program - and the non-programmer users indirectly get the benefit of freedoms one and three. They can't use these freedoms directly, because that means programming, but when other people exercise these freedoms, the non-programmers also share in the benefits. So these four freedoms are essential for all users, including the non-programmers, who are the majority of society."

TFA is worth a read.

Is RMS ready to concede he's wrong yet? (1, Insightful)

FallLine (12211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526662)

"Producing a proprietary program is not the same contribution to society as producing the same program and letting it be free. Because writing the program is just a potential contribution to society. The real contribution to the wealth of society happens only when the program is used. And if you prevent the program from being used, the contribution doesn't actually happen. So, the contribution that society needs is not these proprietary programs that everyone has such an incentive to make, the contribution we really want is free software, so our society is going haywire because it gives people an incentive to do what is not very useful, and no incentive to do what is useful."
The emphasis is mine...

But if he's truly judging the value of open source vs proprietary software primarily on the pragmatic grounds of user-adoption, then he should concede that, ~20 years later, proprietary software has been far more valuable for society because it has been much more widely adopted.

Mark me as flamebait if you must, but I do think he's made a dramatic, but quiet shift, in his rationale for doing away with proprietary software. Proprietary software is no longer bad primarily because it isn't as widely used as free software is supposed to be, but because closedness itself...just is (bad). Ok, he touches briefly on code reuse and such... but those certainly weren't his primary justifications and these seem to be his supporting arguments anyways....

-5 Troll (Dogma Violation)

Re:Is RMS ready to concede he's wrong yet? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527524)

But.... You can't really use closed source, proprietary software, because the inevitable bugs will eventually bring it down, and the vendor will refuse to support you. One of RMS's motivations was a closed printer driver that kept him from getting a printer from working.

Raise your hand if you've never had a piece of hardware go unused because of a driver problem and a unresponsive vendor.

RMS' rationale condensed (4, Insightful)

FallLine (12211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527744)

The idea of owning information is harmful in three different levels. Materially harmful on three different levels, and each kind of material harm has a corresponding spiritual harm.

|SNIP|

The first level is just that it discourages the use of the program, it causes fewer people to use the program, but in fact it takes no less work to make a program for fewer people to use.

|SNIP|

The second level of harm comes when people want to change the program, because no program is really right for all the people who would like to use it. Just as people like to vary recipes, putting in less salt say, or maybe they like to add some green peppers, so people also need to change programs in order to get the effects that they need.

|SNIP|

The third level of harm is in the interaction between software developers themselves. Because any field of knowledge advance most when people can build on the work of others, but ownership of information is explicitly designed to prevent anyone else to doing that.
That is it folks. In other words, his argument is closed source software is wrong on pragmatic grounds because:

A) fewer people will use the software (because it tries to prevent people from using w/o paying)

B) the software is less useful to people because they can't modify the original program

C) proprietary software is less valuable because other developers in lateral areas can't learn from it.

It seems pretty clear to me that his arguments failed on these pragmatic grounds and that he's had to shift his anti-ownership rational to far more nebulous and entirely philosophical arguments about "freedom" for its own sake.

The facts are:

A) Contrary to his "first level" of harm: proprietary software has vastly outcompeted open software despite its barriers.

B) Contrary to his "second level" of harm: that most users still prefer closed source software despite the fact that they can't tinker with it and despite the fact that it costs more/has more barriers.

C) Contrary to his "third level" of harm: that proprietary software still appeals more to its end users despite the fact that proprietary developers benefit little from the pool of open source code. This despite the fact that open source developers supposedly have a huge advantage over proprietary developers because they can exploit the GPL and other copyleft code to a level that their counterparts cannot.

In short, he's given up on his pragmatic rationale since they've been proven almost entirely wrong. I'll concede that there is something to be said for the sharing of code in some cases, but we're to choose rationally between no ownership vs choice of ownership (the status quo) that the latter is the only sensible and pragmatic choice given his own (old) arguments and the empirical evidence (or lack thereof) from his so-called copyleft movement.

Re:RMS' rationale condensed (1)

Kiba Ruby (1037440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528428)

Can you point to us the link and its location within the link? [Arugment begin) You're wrong on some level. Just because proprietary softwares is widely spread does not mean it is good. There is nothing about Free softwares that is against paying for softwares. Users don't even care about proprietary versus Free softwares! If you want pragmatic, look to the Open Source movement. Free software is a social movement. Open source is a pragmatic movement. Anyway....can you care to prove me wrong with links?

Re:Is RMS ready to concede he's wrong yet? (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528694)

It has been more widely adopted in some markets, but these markets are guaranteed to fail unless they upgrade their software continually. This could mean buying new licenses, switching platforms when proprietary systems lose support. A proprietary system can't be kept alive for as long as Free software because the businesses behind them always die themselves or kill the product. It's not a product made for the benefit of the client, so the client has to struggle consistently to pay out for proprietary solutions that are "disposable." If a business buys the rights to proprietary software, then they can keep it in house and have it truly benefit them in the long term, but not all businesses can do this. Not all places can afford to develop software in house either.

As you can see, the NET contribution to society is sizeable because society at large has indeed adopted proprietary software, but the GROSS contribution of this software has been severely retarded. While Free software has a lower adoption rate (there is less of it), the contribution made to society as proportionally larger than that of an equal sum of proprietary software.

Is the article icon ... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527050)

... a recent picture of RMS? I thought he was taller.
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