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Transcript of Talk with Richard Stallman 220

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-read dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This is the transcript of the talk with Richard Stallman, the father of GNU in the background of the 4th International GPLv3 Conference being held at Bangalore where RMS is a prominent delegate. He answers questions related to GPLv3, DRM and a couple of other queries."
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Transcript of Talk with Richard Stallman

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now, this is something I do not get: are Linus, Richard Stallman some kind of Gods ?

    Everytime they just say something, it appears as if it was God in person speaking...

    No matter what they did (I mean: how many people wrote their own kernel ? be it Un*x or not), I don't understand why they always appear as Gods...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis (446163)
      Misplaced hero worshiping. Also the more you prop up the celeb-de-jour and try to be a part of the scene the cooler you are by association.

      Like if I'm a linux nazi, and I praise Linus in all his glory, then obviously I'm "with it" for being a linux nazi. Basically these people have to realize that you either are or are not cool. You can't make yourself cool by association.

      Well that and people should REALLY take a look at who actually works on Linux and GNU software. It ain't Linus nor RMS.

      Tom
      • by IflyRC (956454)
        I guess thats why Tux, a penguin, was chosen as the face of Linux. Penguins remind us of the polar regions and cold temperatures giving those that use Linux and love Tux a feeling that they, themselves are "cool".
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Guaranteed (998819)
        I suppose if you set aside the fact that Linus wrote the base for Linux in the first place and that Stallman wrote Emacs and the GNU C compiler you're right, they haven't worked on Linux at all....
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tomstdenis (446163)
          Tell you what. You go pick up Linux 0.95 and GCC v1 and tell me how useful they are.

          Sure they had the fortitude and forsight to stick with and bring to life the projects.

          *golf clap*

          But they are NOT the reason the respective projects are of any use today. That'd go out to the COMMUNITY. If you want to praise anything, praise the scene. Without the 1000s of developers involved in free software we'd still be using WinXP as the only kernel.

          Tom
          • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @12:15PM (#16016532) Homepage

            There is no need to be parsimonious with your gratitude. You say that as if we must choose between giving thanks to both the community and RMS and Torvalds. By the standard you endorse we end up essentially saying "what have you done for me lately?" instead of valuing both the community including both men for their work in the past and their continued work on things that matter.

            After all, even by the silly logic of valuing what is and not what was, Torvalds and RMS both deserve thanks; Linus Torvalds is still involved in Linux kernel development, despite not writing all of the code in his fork of that kernel. Richard Stallman is the author of the most widely used free software licenses—the GNU GPL, the GNU LGPL, and the free documentation license the GNU FDL. And when it comes to the GPL [fsf.org] (the subject of the talk at the heart of this /. thread), Eben Moglen says "there is no other copyright license in the world that is so strongly identified with the achievements, and the philosophy, of a single public figure".

            • My point is that poser wannabe asshats idolize them for all the wrong reasons.

              It takes smarts, courage and persistence to go counter-culture. For that, I praise the two.

              However, they are NOT why the scene is so cool. Look at Hurd. mmm dead duck. How many people work on that? Right. And yeah, LT may maintain the master 2.6 branch but he's not the one contributing the neato features that make Linux worth knowing about.

              I think being ignorant and just [incorrectly] blabbing that without LT or RMS that the
          • by mjm1231 (751545)
            That's kind of ignoring the fact that if they hadn't made their projects open source, the COMMUNITY wouldn't have had any free software to contribute to.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Now, this is something I do not get: are Linus, Richard Stallman some kind of Gods ?

      Everytime they just say something, it appears as if it was God in person speaking...

      No matter what they did (I mean: how many people wrote their own kernel ? be it Un*x or not), I don't understand why they always appear as Gods...


      O Lord Stallman, forgive this unbeliever for his foolish words of blasphemy. We, your true believers, will shun him and send him out from our fold. Once he could visit Slashdot and bask in
    • by babbling (952366) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:36AM (#16016187)
      They are the leaders of a large community.
    • I understand what you mean in general and I've seen some blatant hero-worship in the Free Software Community over the years.
      But how did you get any of that out of either the TFS or TFA? I felt that that was a very down to earth chat with RMS and, although I didn't really learn anything new, felt refreshed after reading it.

      I could see maybe the initial writer who introduced the article being slightly guilty of what you speak of but it seems to me you are taking the worst examples of people's, for lack of a b
    • ...are Linus, Richard Stallman some kind of Gods?

      Perhaps demi-gods, but not Gods. In response to this and other posts, yes we thank Linus and Stallman for their many contributions, but who and where would they be if not for the efforts of Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Doug McIlroy, and J. F. Ossanna at Bell Labs?

      Temper your hero worship with some perspective...

    • by hey! (33014)
      Well, RMS, whether you agree with him or not, or whether you like him or not, is one of the most influential thinkers of our age. It doesn't mean that every utterance he makes needs to be hung upon, but it does mean he often makes interesting statements. He occasionally makes some that are very worth paying attention to and thinking about, even if you disagree with them.

      In this instance, the first two questions covers territory that the /. crowd is not only familiar with, but is familiar with RMS's position
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrCopilot (871878)
      Now, this is something I do not get: are Linus, Richard Stallman some kind of Gods ?

      I prefer to use the term Gnods.

      And No they aren't. They are incredibly bright, well educated programmers. They are leaders of very important software projects. RMS is also the founder of FSF. Creator of GPL, Head of the Church of Emacs, and several other things. I've heard both of them described as assholes, but I tend to think they are both not.

      When they speak Concerning GPL issues or Linux , like EF hutton, people l

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Reziac (43301) *
        "I prefer to use the term Gnods."

        [struggles manfully to find meaning in acronymity]

        Gods Not Odiferous Dweebs ??

  • Why a blog? (Score:3, Informative)

    by shreevatsa (845645) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <todhsals.astaveerhs>> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:26AM (#16016092)
    The original interview (which the blog has just copy-pasted, inexplicably introducing errors) is here [hindu.com]. There is also another interview (another newspaper, another Indian city) here [financialexpress.com]. Both of them are short and say the usual things, and not much info on GPLv3 itself (naturally, as they are newspaper interviews).
  • by buffoverflow (623685) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:27AM (#16016101)
    Just a heads up. The article contains nothing new, interesting, or provocative (which many of RMS's interviews tend to be). It's very much a fluff piece.

    Although, I was interested to see how an interview that takes place outside of the mainstream tech media unfolded. There was no discussion of a FSF/RMS vs. Linus Torvalds/Linux headbutting. Nothing at all about why there is much contention of v3. That being said, I found it admirable that he did not take the opportunity to express his opposing views in this one-sided piece. Many would take such a chance to bash the oppositions arguments.
  • My HERO (Score:2, Funny)

    by xiando (770382)
    Richard Stallman is, in my humble opinion, A HERO and even a true american patriot.

    He has been protesting evil surveillance technology such as RFID for years. And there are few other people who have contributed more to free software and humanity in general as he has.

    Take a look at his past speches: http://www.fsf.org/events/past-rms-speeches.html?b _start:int=0 [fsf.org]

    And remember his protest at the UN Summit: http://www.secureidnews.com/weblog/2005/11/21/rich ard-stallman-protests-at-un-world-summit/ [secureidnews.com]

    (a
    • Re:My HERO (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WankersRevenge (452399) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:45AM (#16016268)
      Is it just me, or are other people getting a bit wearied of people distilling this rather complex world into the rather simplistic ideas of good and evil? My god - the world is not a comic book.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      What makes the goal of one world government evil? In todays envirmonment it may be about impossible to bring about, but the end result of a unified single world governement is probably the best chance of world peace our messed up specices has.
      • by qray (805206)
        Then why are people so against Microsoft's monoply? Wouldn't the same happy nervanna happen in the computer world if there was only one OS.
        --
        Q
        • What is there currently competition? Can I decide I like the Cayman Islands tax structure and social programs better so I want to partake in those instead (without moving my entire family all over the worl of course)? Goverments are already a monopoly! Your point is possibly the worst attempted analogy I've yet seen on /.
          • by qray (805206)
            If I decide that I like Canada's government better than mine, I can apply for citizenship. I know people who have moved out of the US due to the US tax structure. They didn't have any problems doing it.
            --
            Q
            • If the criteria for not being a monopoly is simply if possible to avoid it, then there probably never has been and never will be a monopoly. Its certainly possible to avoid Windows. Heck many people could write thier own OS about as feasibly as they could move to another country.

              Besides getting side tracked on a monopoly tangent, what specific part of a single world government is evil? Now obviously any such arrangement would have to be a fairly loose arangement like the US originally was (but even mo
      • Who rules it? There enlies the problem.

        I'll not digress into the problems inherent in ruling heterogeneous cultures, which became apparant after the misguided nation-making-by-crayon that took place after WWI. I'd say the best chance for peace is to separate the various cultures geographically and give them self rule.

        • Who rules the US? Have a similar structure where everyone rules it (certainly not the current UN structure where its really just 4-5 countries who run it). As I stated elsewhere, each country would still have a great deal of autonomy similar to the original structure of the US but probably even more so (at least initially). A great deal of self rule is certainly required, but the main problem with tons of COMPLETELY seperate nations is every one needs its own military to protect it from the others. The
    • by DG (989) *
      I agree with you about RMS being a hero, but you're completely off base about the UN.

      The UN isn't evil. It isn't about world domination or any other such tin-foil-hattery.

      It is, however, a HUMAN institution, run by real people - which means that it is far from perfect, and not everything it does is optimal.

      There is much room for reform in the UN, but "evil"? No way.

      DG
    • Never really checked out the TorrentChannel before. Here's a gem:

      New World Order and the Alien Agenda -
      http://torrentchannel.com/new_world_order_and_the_ alien_agenda [torrentchannel.com]
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Oh please. Let's take a look at what RFID is:

      1) Badges at corporations. Let you unlock doors, pay for your cafeteria lunch without cash, etc.

      2) Replacement for bar codes in businesses. Greatly speeds up the inventory count.

      Which of those uses is "evil" again? Oh wait, neither of them. It's just a handy new technology that's useful for a lot of things.

      Anybody who is opposed to RFID as a technology is a wacko. Can it be abused? Yeah, potentially... so can serial numbers and bar codes. To remove all th
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:34AM (#16016168)
    Quoted from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/10/15/the_bofh_q uestionnaire_how_geeky/ [theregister.co.uk]
    2. You're locked in a room with Richard Stallman and Bill Gates and have only a gun with two bullets in it (which you normally secrete on your person in case you ever get locked in a room with Richard Stallman, Bill Gates, etc). They both clear their throats to speak. What do you do?

    A. Shoot Bill, hoping he hasn't got a tablet device (or the XP Security Vulnerability notes) crammed up his blazer
    B. Shoot Richard, hoping he hasn't got the notes for his speech in front of his heart
    C. Shoot Richard AND Bill and take your chances
    D. Shoot yourself, twice, for getting into such a contrived situation
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      E. You shoot Stallman for the good of mankind, then you threaten to shoot Bill Gates until he gives you a wad of money and a means of escape. You use part of the money to buy the best defense team and get yourself transferred to Texas, where you can use the famous He needed killin' defense. You're declared innocent of any crime, and Bill is so impressed by your stunning ingenuity that he hires you at Microsoft for a fat paycheck. You ride the gravy train for the rest of your life.
    • by VAXcat (674775)
      Shoot Gates, then shoot Stallman. Then wipe your prints off the piece, and put it in Gates's hand. Murder-suicide - what could be simpler?
  • by debilo (612116) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:36AM (#16016180)
    You may find this disturbing, but I actually read the interview and I find this tidbit quite revealing:

    Q. There are a lot of misconceptions about free software. What kind of an economic model does an entrepreneur look at when he starts out with free software ?

    RMS: I want to ask you why that question is worth asking. First of all there are many people who don't have to make money. Importantly even if a person has to make a living, he doesn't have to make a living from everything he does. [snip]
    To me it seems like RMS totally dodged the question. What is "...there are many people who don't have to make money" supposed to mean in this context? I'm sure there are people that don't have to make money, but most people do have to make money, and I wonder why RMS is so opposed to economic acceptance. It seems that he believes F/OSS's noble goals will be corrupted if Linux gains momentum in the corporate world, but don't we have the GPL to prevent just that? Ultimately, corporate support will help secure the foundation of F/OSS -- I'm thinking of IBM and Sun, and the corporate support behind OpenBSD and FreeBSD.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      He dodged the question because he, like so many others of us, are tired of being asked to explain how FOSS can be used by businesses.

      Why on earth anyone feels like it is up to the FOSS community to provide them with some kind of framework for building a successful business around FOSS is beyond my ability to comprehend. FOSS does not need to support business models, it does not exist to do so, and most of us do not care if anyone is ever able to turn a profit using it in any way at all. We are all tired o

      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        The simple fact is that if you want the mainstream world to join your movement they need to be able to make money at it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stewby18 (594952)

          The simple fact is that if you want the mainstream world to join your movement they need to be able to make money at it.

          What makes you think that mainstream acceptance is what people who are part of the FOSS "movement" want? I've done open source software development, and I couldn't care much less about whether it goes "mainstream". I like the software more than the other options out there, so I got personal satisfaction out of working on it. As an added bonus, I knew that other people were benefitin

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            What makes you think that mainstream acceptance is what people who are part of the FOSS "movement" want?

            What makes you think I'm stupid enough to think that everyone who is part of the FoSS movement (which, by the way, includes myself) has the same opinion?

            Anyway, clearly RMS wants mainstream acceptance, which is why he continues proselytizing to the mass media, and as such your comment is incredibly arrogant. I wasn't talking about you. (You're so vain, you probably thought that comment was about yo

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I wonder why RMS is so opposed to economic acceptance...

      Because he knows that's a road to failure. If people have to depend on free software for money, then the whole thing will eventually collapse, because there just won't be enough money to pay enough people to support a software industry based on free software.

      Given that, he has to push a (pardon the use of the word) Communist model based on unpaid volunteers.

      It will be interesting to see if in the future people will grow weary of their work bein

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Moofie (22272)
        How do you exploit somebody without coercion? If Free Software somehow goes all Darth Vader and "alters the deal", people who disagree with the alteration will stop volunteering.

        How do you get from "People freely choose to contribute effort to this project" to "COMMUNISM!"?
        • How do you exploit somebody without coercion? If Free Software somehow goes all Darth Vader and "alters the deal", people who disagree with the alteration will stop volunteering. [...] How do you get from "People freely choose to contribute effort to this project" to "COMMUNISM!"?

          Communism is not based on coercion. It only ends up that way. But if you look at the theoretical goals of Communism, it's very close to the Free Software model.

    • by Peter La Casse (3992) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:58AM (#16016368) Homepage
      To me it seems like RMS totally dodged the question. What is "...there are many people who don't have to make money" supposed to mean in this context?

      I believe that Stallman believes that making money by doing bad things isn't acceptable. To him, morality (remember that Free Software is a moral issue to him) sufficiently justifies a Free Software approach.

      I wonder why RMS is so opposed to economic acceptance.

      I don't see evidence that he's opposed to economic acceptance as a whole any more than antislavery folks are opposed to economic activities as a whole. They're only opposed to economic activities that they consider morally wrong.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Agreed. It's not a matter of RMS disliking capitalism or making money on Free Software. If that was the case the GNU project would not have gone out of it's way to state in their documents that it is perfectly OK, actually encouraged, to sell Free Software. IIRC RMS made his initial living after leaving MIT by selling tapes of GNU software for a nominal fee.

        It's just not what's important to him at the moment. My guess is that had the interviewer pressed the issue he would have expounded on his philosophy fu
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662)

      To me it seems like RMS totally dodged the question.

      RMS is the wrong person to ask such a question, Free Software never was about money and never will be, its about Free Software and little else. Its a philosophical concept and not an economic model, especially not one that could make you more money then closed sources. Its kind of like asking a free speech activist how to make a profit from that kind of activities, which is however simply not the goal of such doings.

      The OpenSource movement started wi

    • How should he have better conveyed that the question was unimportant and how should he have better conveyed why it was unimportant?

      Most people already know how to make money and they do it without programming computers. People already know that not every activity they take on needs to make them money. When computing was young, people in computing made money by selling their expertise just like plumbers, mechanics, electricians, and carpenters do (just to name a few expert professions). I can see how you
    • Rich people (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NineNine (235196)
      The fact is that RMS is loaded, and he hangs out with other such people (you know the kind.... they come up with a concept, hype it to venture capitalists, run the company into the ground or simply never produce a product, but they walk away with millions), and he is completely and totally out of touch with those of us poor souls that (God forbid!) have to WORK in order to earn money and pay our bills. Not all of us can be a blowhard that gets paid for spouting nonsense like "First of all there are many pe
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by replicant108 (690832)
        The fact is that RMS is loaded, and he hangs out with other such people (you know the kind.... they come up with a concept, hype it to venture capitalists, run the company into the ground or simply never produce a product, but they walk away with millions)

        RMS might be a pain in the arse sometimes, but is not loaded.

        He also makes a point of avoiding the kind of people you describe above.

        If you ever met him you would realise that he doesn't give a crap about money (which might be part of the problem).

        he is co
    • by jrumney (197329)
      It's a stupid question though, so I you can't blame him for dodging it. The question has as manuy answers as there are people using free software. It doesn't even define whether its talking about developers or end user's building a business on using or selling free software, for example.
    • by mugnyte (203225)
      Coporate support of free software misses the point. I've written this before, but I believe the FOSS mechanism for growth is irrelevant to corporate use:
      1. Hobbyist creates tool. User Groups merge/blend via the internet. Hobyists create a large, working library of software for all kinds of tasks.
      2. General users find they can use such software without tweaking or knowing the internals = FOSS hits a new type of audience. Word of mouth helps spread usage, and rough edges are smoothed out for this audience.
      3. Busin
    • Ah, the power of non free propaganda. People's heads are so filled with stuff that is at odds with their own experience. They might as well have asked, "How do I make money with a computer?" Of the bazillions of ways to do that, only one of them is the non free way and very few people really make money that way. Really, ask yourself, do you or anyone you know make most of their money writting non free code? Why is it that so many people feel the need to support a model so few people are involved with?

      • by jb.hl.com (782137)
        Really, ask yourself, do you or anyone you know make most of their money writting non free code?

        I'd wager that a fair proportion of Slashdotters either work for such a company or know someone who does.

        By the way, "writing" only has one T in it.

        http://www.blinkenlights.com/classiccmp/gateswhine .html

        Ah yes, the Bill Gates letter. Gates complains that people aren't buying the product he has for sale and instead are copying it, meaning his financial investment is not being recouped; free software advocates cla
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:38AM (#16016200) Homepage Journal
    FYI, President APJ Kalam [wikipedia.org] is quite literally a rocket scientist, who was formerly with the Defense Research and Development Organization [wikipedia.org]. He's met with Richard Stallman a number of times to talk about OSS, particularly with it's importance to a developing country like India, and stressed it's importance to domestic software organizations a number of times.

    A collection of miscellaneous links about OSS developments in India.

    Indian President Advises Open Source Approach [slashdot.org]
    President Of India Advocates OSS [slashdot.org]
    Indian President Advises Open Source Approach [slashdot.org]
    Stallman Goes to India (and meets the President) [slashdot.org]
    and finally, more recently...
    Indian State Logs Microsoft Out [slashdot.org]

    I'm hoping to see more active participation in OSS development from India, as more of it's educated masses come online. Computer and internet usage has surged among the middle-class only in recent years, with improvement (albeit gradual) in infrastructure.

  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @12:06PM (#16016443) Homepage Journal
    From what I hear from a lot of people who attended the actual GPL v3 conference, the audience was quite uninformed and rude (RMS also lost his temper, but what do you expect). Here's the blog [livejournal.com] of somebody who was on the DRM panel.

    This is neither the time or place for people to ask a Why? to RMS about free software. Sure, it was a place to ask a Why GPL v3 or about DRM licensing or patent protections, but the questions that were asked was almost total bullshit. Yet again, I'm not speaking from personal presence there - I've just talked to people on irc and read their blogs.

    Was one of those weeks when I wasn't in Bangalore ... but RMS was in Kerala (where I am now) and the discussions here were more practical than those quoted from Blr. The ones here were really about the freedoms and mostly by students or political decision makers versus the armchair activists from the software industry.

  • (I (was ( (Score:2, Funny)

    by niceone (992278)
    (I (was (expecting more) (brackets (in (that transcript)))))

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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