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Will Stallman Kill the "Linux Revolution?" 741

Posted by Zonk
from the penguin-vs-penguin dept.
frdmfghtr writes "The October 30 issue of Forbes Magazine has an article speculating that Richard Stallman's efforts to rewrite the GPL could threaten to 'tear it apart.' The article describes how the GPLv3 is expected to be incompatible with the GPLv2, causing trouble for Linux vendors such as Novell and Red Hat. The article wraps it up: 'And a big loser, eventually, could be Stallman himself. If he relents now, he likely would be branded a sellout by his hard-core followers, who might abandon him. If he stands his ground, customers and tech firms may suffer for a few years but ultimately could find a way to work around him. Either way, Stallman risks becoming irrelevant, a strange footnote in the history of computing: a radical hacker who went on a kamikaze mission against his own program and went down in flames, albeit after causing great turmoil for the people around him.'"
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Will Stallman Kill the "Linux Revolution?"

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  • Linux is going to stick with GPLv2 regardless of what the FSF does with GPLv3. That has little to do with Linus disliking GPLv3, and much do to with not being able to track down all the contributors and get them to agree to a license change. GPLv3 is not going to cause any trouble for Linux vendors. It's certainly not going to "kill the Linux Revolution". There is nothing in GPLv2 or GPLv3 that prevents a Linux distribution from containing various programs under various licenses, just as Linux distributions today contain code under GPLv2, BSD, MIT, and other licenses. And GPLv3 doesn't make Stallman himself any more or less relevant that he's been in the past. The only point of bone-headed sensationalist reporting like this is to try to sell more copies of the magazine. Next month they'll tell us the GPLv3 will contribute to global warming, and the following month that it will promote slavery.
    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:26PM (#16540694) Journal
      Next month they'll tell us the GPLv3 will contribute to global warming

      You mean, because you cannot pirate a GPL3ed work, and we need pirates to prevent global warming?
      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:16PM (#16541126) Journal
        This is Forbes magazine.

        The consequence of Richards vision is plenty for everyone and no capacity for hoarding, depriving, controlling and trading.

        You think global warming holds a candle to something like this? He's a dangerous athiest among the flock.
        • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:04PM (#16541460)
          Precisely. Forbes should stick to pork belly futures. It would be humourous to revisit Forbes' predictions about GPL v1 and v2, had they even been aware of such things at the time.
        • by shades66 (571498) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:02AM (#16543592)
          >This is Forbes magazine.

          No it's worse than that.. It's Forbes magazine with an article written by Dan "SCO is going to win, Linux users are terrorists etc.." Lyons.

          • by jeril (88660) on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:06PM (#16548392)
            I knew something was wrong with this, besides it being Forbes.

            From the article:

            Richard M. Stallman is a 53-year-old anticorporate crusader who has argued for 20 years that most software should be free of charge. He and a band of anarchist acolytes long have waged war on the commercial software industry, dubbing tech giants "evil" and "enemies of freedom" because they rake in sales and enforce patents and copyrights--when he argues they should be giving it all away.


            From The GNU Free Software Definition http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html [gnu.org]
            "Free software" is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of "free" as in "free speech", not as in "free beer".
            ...

            "Free software" does not mean "non-commercial". A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important.


            This is pretty much part of the foundation which has built the GPL, and continues to be part of the philosophy created by Stallman.

            GNU/Linux will persist, this process is an important part of finding a definition we eventually will find a good fit. Mixing licences has always been a balancing act that Distributions and users have had to deal with since the beginning.

            Articles like this are to keep the technology specualators happy that the flow of cash will continue. They get laugh and point at the silly commies bumbling around -- sit-coms for suits.

            jer
      • Ramen (Score:3, Funny)

        by ameline (771895)
        Ramen brother.

        Arrrrrrr. (Just doing my bit to fight global warming :-)
    • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:28PM (#16540710)
      Exactly. Personally I think that Stallman is a visionary and Linus is too pragmatist in a sense, as Stallman clearly wants to avoid the DRM/"Trusted computing" trap with GPLv3 and Linus can't see medium/longterm about this. Also, he doesn't seem to be really understanding the v3, since he claimed things like digitally signed repositories like apt-get would be not allowed with v3, while Stallman clearly established that it's not the case.

      I think Linus is a good coder and project manager, but we shouldn't expect him to "show the way" in issues of principle/vision. He's an engineer, not a "freedom fighter".
      • by tm2b (42473) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:44PM (#16540840) Journal
        Also, he doesn't seem to be really understanding the v3, since he claimed things like digitally signed repositories like apt-get would be not allowed with v3, while Stallman clearly established that it's not the case.
        Unfortunately, Stallman only gets a say in the legalese as it's generated - he doesn't get a say in how the legal language of the GPLv3 is interpreted after it's finished. If attorneys say that this is a concern, then Linus has to worry about it - no matter what Stallman says.

        Or do you seriously believe that Linus hasn't consulted with attorneys on this?
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:11PM (#16541084) Journal
          Or do you seriously believe that Linus hasn't consulted with attorneys on this?

          I wouldn't be at all surprised. Considering how he's managed the Linux trademark, and the general lack of understanding of the GPL he's publicly displayed, I'd almost be surprised if he even knows any IP lawyers. In contrast, RMS has had Even Moglen [wikipedia.org] on board from day one.

          • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:43PM (#16541324) Journal
            I know, traditions and all, but after all, legal rulings are often called "opinions". Why does there need to be "interpretation"? When you make a law (or write a license), would it be so hard to tag a sentence or two in plain vernacular about the "intent"? Why wouldn't that have any weight, legally? I mean, if it is from the original author of the clause in question, why would it not have standing, even if clearly different from the exacting legalese? Seems like we have the author of GPLV3 explaining himself already! Couldn't the intent be part of the license?

            To take a really off topic, but simple, example; When they said; A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. They knew what them meant. Would it have been so hard to add a sentence? Either By this we mean a well regulated militia is one that is under state control or The intention of this is to prevent the state from usurping the rights of individuals, so this to means all citizens of good standing can bear arms.?

            Makes a big difference, and not subject to later interpretation.

            • by mkoenecke (249261) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:59PM (#16541408) Homepage
              The framers of the Constitution *did* think the Second Amendment was clear when written. And no one much questioned it for nearly 150 years: that's pretty darned good. 220 years of hindsight and court decisions have added an unbelievable amount of nuance and interpretation to what is simply the most carefully and expertly drafted political document in human history. How many other such documents have stayed around and had to be altered so little for such a long time? (Other than Germany's Rheinheitsgebot, that is.)
              • by bursch-X (458146) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:35PM (#16542086)
                Let's see:

                Ten commandments?

                I'm not religious, but...

                "Thou shalt not murder"

                Is pretty clear to me. Although apparently it wasn't to Christianity. Then again this wasn't an issue of not being clear rather than the people this is and was addressed to, putting their fingers in their ears and singing "LA LA LA LA LA LA I can't hear you LA LA LA!!"...
              • by ignavus (213578) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:52AM (#16543776)
                Let me see ... how many Ecumenical Councils were there? So the Nicene Council around 325 - oh, wait, the Nicene Creed was amended a little at the later Constinopolitan Council ... so it has only been unchanged in the last 1500 years. Besides the creed itself, they passed a whole lot of provisions of canon law. Then there were the provisions of the other councils, and the later Orthodox and Catholic Councils that still have force as canon law. The laws of England include provisions going back to the reign of Edward III (1300s) that are still in force (or were until recently). Hmmm Magna Carta - now there is a document to make your Constitution look like a juvenile.

                History wasn't invented in America. Some places have been around longer, and have a longer tradition of unchanged principles. Jewish law goes back, in some matters, over 3,000 years. America is just a Johnny-come-lately in the world of legal history.
            • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:11PM (#16541502) Homepage Journal
              None of the symbols we use to communicate are immutable.
              The opinions of the dudes who wrote the Bill of Rights were not constant, either.
              Why is this [imdb.com] dark vision so resonant?
              Because the increasingly complex legal system, far from being a means to the end of regulating society, is more a means unto itself.
              One wonders what a graph against time of the legal costs spent on software by all companies would be. Frightening, I'd expect.
              Your wish for an immortal law doesn't fit the legal business model and, ultimately, is just not quite real. ;)
            • by NoTheory (580275) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:13PM (#16541516)
              First, language is not immutable, meanings change, grow, shrink. Second, a person's intent never extends to the full consequences of an issue. This is why we have a judicial system in the first place. If things were simple (i.e. there weren't fuzzy or complicated cases that defy easy categorization), we could simply write laws and everything would fall neatly into the buckets we'd carved out. Also, Stallman isn't a lawyer, although his intent is well and good, does he really understand what the consequences of his intent are? Should we have to shoe-horn previously decided case law into the framework of Stallman's intent?

              Regardless of whether Stallman or other's think he's leading us into the bright new future, there's all this legacy baggage out in the real world that needs to be squared properly. And that's what judges are supposed to do.
            • When they said; A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. They knew what them meant.

              They did indeed. However, word meanings and connotations change with time. Today many people think the "militia" is synonmyous with the National Guard (when in fact, the Guard has been part of the Army since 1933), and "well-regulated" means "operating under a large set of rules"; but at the time, it was clear to the authors that "militia" meant "every able-bodied man young enough to fight", and "well-regulated" meant "prepared and trained in military skills" [guncite.com].

              The meaning of "arms" has also changed: at the time, it was understood to mean the sort of weapon carried by an infantryman. Heavier weapons would be refered to as "cannon"; so Amendment II doesn't mean you have a right to a howitzer on your front lawn. But people arguing against the Second Amendment today often attempt a reductio ad absurdum which includes WMDs under "arms".

              (Some people evidently also seem to think that "shall not be infringed" somehow means "can be limited by the government", but that's a linguisitic drift that's harder to account for.)

              Anyway, point being that what is absolutely clear and precise to one audience, can still be interpreted differently by another (especially if the two group have different motivations).

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Millenniumman (924859)
              Why would allowing a government controlled militia be in the Bill of Rights? First of all, the Bill of Rights is there to ensure the people's rights, not the governments functions. Second of all, why would a government deny itself an army? As far as I'm aware, the founders hadn't had problems with Britain being extremely pacifistic.
            • Ok, Fine. What counts as arms? a .22 pistol? A tank? A basement full of C-4? An F16? and what counts as a citizen of good standing? Someone who hasn't been convicted of a felony? Someone who has no criminal record? Does this include traffic violations? Even your clarifications must be further clarified. It's a never ending cycle that can never be fully codified.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:12PM (#16542318)
              To take a really off topic, but simple, example; When they said; A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. They knew what them meant. Would it have been so hard to add a sentence? [etc., etc.]

              If you are familiar with the history, it's obvious that, at the time, it very clearly referred to an individual right to bear arms.

              That's what instigated the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and hence sparked the American Revolution. The British soldiers based in Boston went to collect caches of weapons from known or suspected agitators in the countryside. The British-American colonists felt their rights were violated, and it led to open combat, a fighting retreat, and the colonists successfully besieged Boston. All because the government wanted to collect weapons from citizens.

              The problem is that, when man-portable automatic weapons were developed, the Constitution was not changed. Practically everyone recognizes that, if private individuals are allowed to own fully-automatic AK47s, there will be serious problems enforcing civil order. They were made illegal some time around 1900, but no one could be bothered with amending the Constitution to make such a law possible. So ever since that time, we have been subjected to the bizarre construction of 'oh yeah, it refers to ownership by militas, not to private ownership'. This only led to still more bizarre things like the creation of the 'Michigan Militia'.

              Anyway, the problem is not that the second amendment is unclear. It's that it was outdated by late 19th-century technology, and we have been suffering under legal kludges ever since. All that we need is to pass a new amendment to say "people generally have a right to own handguns and rifles, but deadlier things can be prohibited".

              But considering the trouble Congress has with even considering any modification at all (liberal or conservative) to Social Security, my hopes are not high.
            • by sydneyfong (410107) on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:01AM (#16542660) Homepage Journal
              Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.

              > I mean, if it is from the original author of the clause in question, why
              > would it not have standing, even if clearly different from the exacting
              > legalese

              Because of the requirement of legal certainty.

              Say you have a license agreement (or contract). Both parties read the terms and agree to it. All is happy. Now one day the drafter of the agreement (who isn't one of the parties) comes up and says "nevermind what I wrote, I actually meant *this*!". If this was accepted, then the parties are now bound by terms that they didn't agree to.

              Note that (AFAIK) in common law, the court will put some weight on the intention of the parties of the agreement or contract. But this is different from the case where the contract or agreement or license (eg. GPL) was drafted by a third party (eg. RMS). RMS's intentions are not relevant (unless, of course, the parties had RMS's personal interpretations in mind when agreeing to the terms, then maybe that would be relevant)

              Anyway, the bottom line is: the law expects you to read and (argh) understand the legalese, and it doesn't expect you to find out what the drafters of the document have to say about their intentions. What you agree to is the terms expressed on the document, not the drafter's intentions. In fact, the drafter's intentions are probably even more irrelevant than the parties not involved in the drafting: (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contra_preferendum [wikipedia.org] )

              Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.
              Another disclaimer: the above is a very rough approximation of the law. It is not accurate by any means.
              Another disclaimer: I live in a common law jurisdiction, but the law in the US and my jurisdiction can vary.
            • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:20AM (#16543086)
              I know, traditions and all, but after all, legal rulings are often called "opinions". Why does there need to be "interpretation"? When you make a law (or write a license), would it be so hard to tag a sentence or two in plain vernacular about the "intent"? Why wouldn't that have any weight, legally?

              Because your "plain language" is plain to you but not to everyone else, and especailly not to an determined lawyer.

              I live in Hong Kong, where your "intent" idea has sadly been put into effect. When Hong Kong was handed back by Britain to China in 1997 the laws of Hong Kong were determined by the "Basic Law", in effect a constitution, as enacted by the PRC after negotiation with the UK. However, some years later when the governement wanted to enact laws that went against the "obvious" interpretation of the Basic Law (relating to elections mostly), the rulings of Hong Kong's High Court were overridden by the government by appealing to the "intent" of the laws, by asking members of the committee that had drafted them what they had been thinking about. Thus the government is able to retrospectively change the effect of laws without even having to pass legislation.

              So as much as we all hate lawyers, having judicial oversight that follows the strict letter of the law, and not its "intent", is a much more democratic system. If governments want to change laws, they can make new ones and let the legislators openly argue and vote on them.

        • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:43PM (#16541316) Homepage Journal
          Or do you seriously believe that Linus hasn't consulted with attorneys on this?

          See, now that's funny. Linus is the guy who claims that a device driver isn't a derived work of the Linux kernel if it was originally developed for a different operating system and then ported to Linux. This, of course, is not based on any legal principle.. it's just his opinion, but it doesn't stop people from quoting Linus like they're referencing case law.

          What's more funny is that when Linus added the "userland exception" to the Linux kernel he was absolutely clear about what he wanted.. he wanted people to be able to write proprietary apps that can run on the Linux kernel. He didn't want people to be able to write proprietary extensions to the Linux kernel. Now he's changed his mind because his "pragmatism" is telling him that graphics card manufacturers will never open source their drivers and he really wants all those pretty 3d games.

      • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:09PM (#16541070) Homepage
        RMS isn't specifically against DRM in so much as he's against the tivovization. That is, using GPL software, but not allowing it to run modified on the hardware.

        Sure he's against DRM, but he's more against stoping hackers :-)

        Tom
    • by Ether (4235) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:41PM (#16540810)
      Yes, it is largely fud w/r/t to the kernel; but there is the issue of the rest of the toolchain (gcc, binutils, etc.) that the GNU foundation owns the copyright on, in addition to the large body of code licensed "GPL v2 or Later." Sure, the commercial vendors could fork or use the BSD tools, but then you have two different branches: the commercial branch, and the branch with code that the community chooses to license under GPL3. If the final GPL3 contains terms that would make impossible to provide to enterprise users, then some vendors could not provide that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Eric Smith (4379) *
        but there is the issue of the rest of the toolchain (gcc, binutils, etc.)
        So what if the next release of GCC or Binutils is under the GPLv3? That won't prevent Red Hat (or anyone else) from including it in a Linux distribution, or from using it to compile the binaries for that distribution.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ether (4235)
          Consider the purely hypothetical clause: 'This software cannot be used in the production or use of closed-source software.' (Ignore for the sake of argument that GNU hasn't suggested this clause for V3.) No commercial vendor would distribute code under the GPLvN or contribute under that license. Now that we have established that there is a clause that could cause this problem, it is possible to consider a situation where RMS, given his stated opinions on software freedom, would include a poison-pill clause
    • by BeeBeard (999187) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:42PM (#16540816)
      I heard that GPLv3 kills puppies. Just what I heard. Seriously, if you're the FSF and you have a stated agenda that you would like to promote, wouldn't it be in your interest to tailor your fast and furious new license to complement the efforts of developers working on the most significant, most widely-used existing projects? I don't mean to downplay Stallman's or FSF's historical importance, but the future of free software is not with those players. It is with Linux, and Firefox, and so on--the software projects that Stallman and a ton of other people helped make possible.

      Adoption of free software by non-nerds does not happen because of a Stallman speech about the software industry's problems, or because of GPLv3. Rather, it's the result of something as unassuming as a web browser that is more resilient to viruses and spyware than IE, and that provides a better browsing experience. That's really all that people care about.

      I am not personally a fan of Stallman's--I think he's made his share of missteps that have hindered the free software movement. But overall, the net good that he and FSF have accomplished has already outweighed the bad. We have seen the open source movement burgeon and grow well beyond the ability of any one entity to kill it, hinder it, or even significantly influence it.

      Does that mean we should dismiss GPLv3 as moot? No. Even if GPLv3 is 10 or even 20 years away from widespread adoption, or is just dismissed altogether as "aspirational", at least it's still out there. Out there to be used or out there to be used as a model for public licensing agreements yet to be drafted. There is no downside.
      • Adoption of free software by non-nerds does not happen because of a Stallman speech about the software industry's problems, or because of GPLv3. Rather, it's the result of something as unassuming as a web browser that is more resilient to viruses and spyware than IE, and that provides a better browsing experience. That's really all that people care about.

        Recent Free Software gains in India were due to Stallman visiting and making a speech. He promised the locals freedom to adapt the code to their needs, and to be free of licensing free imposed by Western companies. Maybe in the United States all people care about is a better browser, but Stallman's globetrotting shows that a lot of people in disadvantaged places see value in the philosophy, not just the features.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:18PM (#16541142)
      I think the real point is if GPL2 and GPL3 are incompatible with each other, and a whole bunch of open source projects move to GPL3, that's going to cause huge issues for distro makers. So you'll end up with a world where almost every open source project has two different forks, one for GPL2 and one for GPL3, each of which is maintained separately from the other.

      I'm not saying that will happen. But to dismiss this article as if there was no relevance isn't helping anything. There is a real potential issue here.

      As for Stallman becoming irrelevant, my personal opinion would be "thank God!" The sooner that wacko retires to Argentina or somewhere, the sooner people can start treating the open source community with a little bit of respect and dignity. And maybe they can get a spokesman who doesn't have a hissy-fit every time someone asks him to wear a namebadge at a conference.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:47PM (#16541338) Homepage
      That has little to do with Linus disliking GPLv3, and much do to with not being able to track down all the contributors and get them to agree to a license change

      Well, if they all saw it as a major advantage, they'd probably check how many were willing to relicense, and how much would have to be rewritten (where they can't be reached or otherwise). They did do a poll in the kernel core though, and all but one (which was netural) of them was negative to the GPLv3, some of them strongly.

      There is nothing in GPLv2 or GPLv3 that prevents a Linux distribution from containing various programs under various licenses

      No, but the libraries might. Take for example Trolltech, which holds the copyright to all of Qt. If they say "GPLv3 is a disaster - we're going GPLv2 only" then suddenly you could have quite a few problems. Or if projects don't agree on whether to use the "and later" clause, maybe someone starts a GPLv3 fork and others get pissed and create a GPLv2 only fork - which are now incompatible code bases. Suddenly you're rather screwed if you have an application, but want to use one GPLv2 only library and one GPLv3 library. What's nice about the GPL is that there is in practise only one GPL (I don't see the first version anywhere) and it's all compatible.
    • FUD? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by WalksOnDirt (704461) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:03PM (#16541454)
      I really don't see any FUD here.

      Fear?: Fear of what? The GPL software movement is splitting. This may be annoying, but hardly anything to fear.

      Uncertainty?: There is little uncertainty, the split is now almost certain.

      Doubt?: Doubt of Linux's survival? Anyone paying the slightest attention should have no doubt about that.

      The article is filled with what I consider to be libelous comments about RMS: I don't think he is an anarchist, anti-corporate or against the sale of software. That sort of reckless disregard for the truth has no place in such a major publication, and I think Lyons should be fired.
    • Well Duh... It's Forbes! Forbes seems to hate everything about the Free Software movement, mostly since they haven't figured out how to profit from it yet. I guess that you can't blame them... When was the last time you saw Debian or MySQL buy full page ads in business magazines like Microsoft and Oracle do every month?
    • by karl.auerbach (157250) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:25PM (#16542010) Homepage
      GPLv2 contains the following language in paragraph 9:

      If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

      This provision gives the option of deciding whether to follow V2 or V3 to the person making a copy of V2 code, not to the author.

      There is a serious ambiguity - if that person adds or changes some of the code, can that person convert the entire module to V3 or is the module now fragmented? And if the latter, how is anyone supposed to keep track of what statement of code is under what license?

      Personally I have abandoned publishing code under the GPL - I now use the less restrictive, non-viral MIT/BSD style licenses.

      There is another situation that few have discussed - The rules of copyright in the US are defined by statutes enacted by, and changable by, Congress.

      There is a chance that Congress could amend the US copyright law to deny the right of enforcement to anyone who has made only a partial or small contribution to the totality of the work or if that contribution has been subject to several intervening layers of further contributions. (It would be a bear to define these things, but the Congress critters would be getting a lot of help from the IP and non GPL software industry.)
  • by Rix (54095) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:25PM (#16540686)
    It would be nice to have everything under compatible licenses, but it would also be nice to have all DRM proponents sent to PMITA prison.
  • There's always BSD. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:32PM (#16540756)
    Many of us have already moved away from Linux to BSD. Besides the many technical advantages of FreeBSD, the portability benefits of NetBSD, the extreme security of OpenBSD, and the massive scalability of DragonFly BSD, we don't have to deal with unreasonable licensing nonsense.

    If somebody wants to take BSD code, modify it and not release those changes, then so be it. It doesn't hurt the rest of us, as we still have FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and DragonFly BSD to use. Beyond that, such use may make somebody else better off. Thus, there's a net benefit overall. We lose nothing, yet others gain.

    And I'd be very happy if Microsoft were to use more BSD code in their products. Doing so would result in a vast increase in the quality of their codebase. That, in turn, will result in fewer infected Windows systems that send terabytes of spam to my mail servers. The less spam my servers have to filter, the more money I save in bandwidth and processing costs. I may even be able to reduce the number of mail servers I have.

  • by acvh (120205) <geek.mscigars@com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:34PM (#16540766) Homepage
    GPL 1 and 2 were developed far from the public eye. V3 is being debated and written under intense scrutiny. It would be hard to avoid the controversy being generated now.

    The Linux kernel may not switch, but that will not doom V3, nor will it doom the FSF or Stallman. There is much that has happened since V2, and the attempts to address things like DRM and patents have and will continue to shed light on the ugly underbelly of modern software licensing. This, I think, is good.

    "Free software" means something different now. It's not just being able to tweak a text editing program, or encourage community development and review. It's about who will control the millions of PCs in the world. The more that Microsoft and the RIAA/MPAA continue to try to lock down the PC, turning it into nothing more than a delivery system for DRMed content, the more relevant the FSF becomes.
    • by jmv (93421) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:44PM (#16540838) Homepage
      The Linux kernel may not switch, but that will not doom V3, nor will it doom the FSF or Stallman.

      That's not the issue. The problem is that it's becoming likely that GPLv3 will split FOSS software in two, with half the people going with GPLv2-only and the other half going with GPLv3-or-later. This means no possible exchange of code between the two pools and possibly lots of forks, especially for libraries. I hope the worst case scenario doesn't happen, but GPLv3 has potential for doing much more damage than any gain it can provide (even it you think it's good in itself). As far as I'm concerned all the (L)GPL software I write will be GPLv2-or-later, making GPLv3 useless, but mitigating the incompatibility problem.
  • A cantankerous and finger-wagging freewheeler, Stallman won't comment on any of this because he was upset by a previous story written by this writer.
    Right, because all this writer does is spout vitriol and spread fear, uncertainty and doubt all in an apparent attempt to garner page views. It's no wonder RMS doesn't have time to respond to such a writer. [In fact, I've discovered that I don't have time to finish reading this article either.] One wonders why McVoy even bothered to respond.
  • Footnote? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nijika (525558) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:41PM (#16540808) Homepage Journal
    Say what you will about Richard Stallman, footnote he will never be. That's like saying the Wright brothers are a footnote in aviation.

    And as far as any possible splinter goes, this will separate the wheat from the chaff in both directions. It may be painful, but good will come of it.

    • by Latent Heat (558884) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:23PM (#16542404)
      The Wright Brothers were first in flight excepting some spurious claims. They were for a long time number one in controlled flight -- when a left turn would send competitors augering in, they were not only flying but doing figure-eights and impressive maneuvers up in the air. But they were also wedded to a control-surfaces-in-front and other features that perhaps they could fly maneuvers but could they train anyone else? All I know is that after flight training in low-wing Pipers with asymmetric ailerons that you don't even have to know what the rudders are for, the thought of getting checked out in a Wright Flyer is something I don't want to contemplate -- probably something beyond helicopter training in developing a new set of reflexes and balances.

      Given their lead, they had visions that they owned aviation through patents. They had the idea that flight was going to be bigger than anyone could imagine, but their idea was of themselves being a Microsoft rather than the aviation industry being Open Source. They made some money from it, but they didn't realize their dream of becoming personally rich beyond imagining. An engine maker called Curtis-Wright had their swan song in the form of the TurboCompound radial engine that powered the DC-7, Lockheed Constellation, P-2 Neptune (did they have one in the Skyraider?). But in the age of Boeing and Airbus, they are a historical footnote.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:46PM (#16540850) Homepage
    This has happened before. A while back I tried without success to convince Richard Stallman that continuing to promote a license (the GNU Free Documentation License or GFDL)
            http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html [gnu.org]
    which was incompatible with the GPL was a bad thing. :-)
    See for example some reasons at:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentatio n_License [wikipedia.org]
        http://home.twcny.rr.com/nerode/neroden/fdl.html [rr.com]
    My particular interest was to use information from the GFDL-licensed Wikipedia in GPL programs. I'd go further and question the very reasons the GFDL was created in the first place -- just to make dead tree book publishers' lives easier? Where is the emphasis on freedom there?

    I think it is easy for any technologist to underestimate community issues and then to see a license as a program for individual behavior instead of a constitution for a community. The GPL works. It has problems, sure, but it works well enough as a constitution for cooperation. More variants of licenses mainly just make more problems IMHO.
  • Is Forbes Credible? (Score:5, Informative)

    by femto (459605) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:53PM (#16540932) Homepage

    I find it hard to take Frobes seriously when they start out by misrepresenting the postion of the person they are talking about (Stallman).

    "Richard M. Stallman is a 53-year-old anticorporate crusader who has argued for 20 years that most software should be free of charge. He and a band of anarchist acolytes long have waged war on the commercial software industry, dubbing tech giants "evil" and "enemies of freedom" because they rake in sales and enforce patents and copyrights--when he argues they should be giving it all away."

    • Stallman does not argue that "most software should be free of charge". The GPL, which he wrote, specifically says one is allowed to charge for GPLd software.
    • Stallman doesn't argue that "they should be giving it all away." He does argue that they shouldn't have a monopoly, which is very different to "giving it all away".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:55PM (#16540954)
    C'mon, people! This is a Dan Lyons article. He's been writing anti-Linux FUD for years. Groklaw and /. have eviscerated this guy's credibility on this subject repeatedly (do a search, you'll see). Quoting him on this subject is like asking Bill Gates if he thinks Linux is going to beat Windows in the marketplace: you know the answer before you ask the question.
  • Problems.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalhermit (113459) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:56PM (#16540960) Homepage
    Here's part of the problem:

    Stallman doesn't believe in compromising his ideals. His life's work is Free Software.

    We can call him a weirdo, mad, an ass, but without his conviction we would all be locked into proprietary products. Unlike some things that happened because the world was ready for it (cell phones, computers), I don't believe that Free Software would exist if not for Stallman. That is, without him, I don't think another person would have dedicated his/her life to the cause.

    Corporations don't compromise. Look at Microsoft's business tactics that were either outright illegal or bordering on the illegal. If they had their way we would not be allowed to write our own software, not be allowed to trade software with the original authors, not be allowed to listen to our own music. And this nightmare world is happening.

    Sure, there has to be regulations, but not those imposed by corporations. Look at the radio broadcast spectrum, the automobile industry, etc.. for parallels.

    So here is Richard Stallman. He's probably closer to the end of his years than to the beginning. His life's work is almost happening but Linux, for good or bad, is not at all what he envisioned. He's trying to fix it while he can. If I were in his position, I'd probably do the same thing (if only to be an ornery bastard).

    Stallman is not compromising, but neither is Microsoft.
  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:32PM (#16541242) Homepage
    The article is from a Daniel Lyons talking about "restricting business"
    though the real point of GPL v# seems to be is to keep free software from
    restricting users (at the expense of shady business lock-in practices).

    Lots of FUD about how this will hurt the (business) economy, etc. A
    lot of the gist sounds like a push to privitize the previous work of
    the community.

    Also a bunch of exploitave tabloid-style character attacks on Stallman.

    Seems Daniel uses this simliar muck raking style with other platforms:
    http://www.forbes.com/2006/03/22/vista-microsoft-b allmer_cz_dl_0322mi [forbes.com]...

    Some people have written about the author:
    http://www.thejemreport.com/mambo/content/view/174 [thejemreport.com] sounds like he
    equally pisses off eveyone he reports about.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) * on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:39PM (#16541290) Homepage

    When I read stuff like that, I recall a lot of the same things were said about Stallman and the GPL back when it was coming out. The GPL would drive companies away from open-source software, it was said, because the terms were too radical. Well, businesses didn't like the terms, it was true. But the main thing about the GPL businesses didn't like, the fact that it prevented them from taking GPL'd code and exploiting it for their own profit without letting others do the same, attracted developers in droves. And the result was software that was just too attractive for businesses to just ignore.

    I'll go out on a limb and predict that GPLv3 will follow the same path that GPLv2 and GPLv1 did. And it won't include dying.

  • Lyons Again (Score:3, Informative)

    by mmurphy000 (556983) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:39PM (#16541292)

    The author of the piece, Daniel Lyons, has a history [groklaw.net] of not exactly being friendly to Free Software and open source.

  • Ironically... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rhythmx (744978) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:48PM (#16541346) Homepage Journal
    Ironically, TFA displays a blantant lack of respect for intellectual property and copyright. While it is busy smashing RMS for "demanding that the big tech outfits crack open their proprietary code whenever they inserted lines from [GNU/]Linux", it fails to realize that the FSF owns that code. Stallman and the FSF have just as much a right to enforce open source as Microsoft does to enforce closed source. Yet another case of confusing "free" and "freedom".

    This author is completely ignorant of the issues surrounding Open Source/Free Software. He just realized all his favorite Fortune 500 companies were investing in a "socialist" operating system and let the FUD fly to make himself feel better.
  • by psykocrime (61037) <mindcrimeNO@SPAMcpphacker.co.uk> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:55PM (#16541372) Homepage Journal
    I got as far as this part:

    M. Stallman is a 53-year-old anticorporate crusader who has argued for 20 years that most software should be free of charge.

    and realized that the author of TFA has no fucking clue what he's talking about. Stallman and the FSF are fine with people
    charging money for software... The author clearly does not grok the difference between "free as in beer" and "free as in speech."

  • by grahamkg (5290) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:07PM (#16541480)
    So how many of you actually read the latest draft of GPLv3?! Here it is:

    http://gplv3.fsf.org/gpl-draft-2006-07-27.html [fsf.org]

    The reality is that businesses run Windows and Unix environments. Linux isn't the cheap panacea once touted to be. Sun isn't completely out of the game yet, and IBM still has AIX. Apple is also very much a player in the computing world. Sure you can download the latest version of Debian, but a corporate compute environment is more likely to use Red Hat or SuSE Enterprise.

    Were I Apple or Sun, I'd be pushing my own version of Unix on the corporate world, letting them know they won't have GPLv3 worries to litigate in the future. Were I IBM, I'd make absolutely certain AIX is on every CIOs tongue.

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:40PM (#16541686) Homepage Journal

    but calling him "a strange footnote in the history of computing" is just idiotic.

    Anyone who polarizes people to such a large degree, has generated so much passion, and has served as the point man of the free software movement deserves to be regarded as a towering figure in the history of computing. Whether GPL 3 succeeds or fails, Stallman has already left his mark. Again, it doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with him; he's no footnote.

  • Balderdash... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by borgheron (172546) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:57PM (#16541806) Homepage Journal
    The GPL v3 doesn't need to be used by anyone who doesn't want to use it. The FSF could come out with GPL v3 and everyone could simply go about thier business and continue to use v2, if they want to.

    The fact is, however, that v3 clarifies many things that have been concerns in v2, since v2 is somewhat old and doesn't adequately address such issues as patents and DRM.

    Also, Linus and crew are making a huge deal about making lots and lots of noise when Eben Moglen has asked them to PLEASE be a part of the process instead of simply complaining.

    GJC
  • by Charles W Griswold (848651) <charlesgriswold@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:06AM (#16542708) Homepage

    An interesting article, but it shows a remarkable lack of knowledge, both on the part of the author and on the part of some of the people that he quoted. He seems to think that if you distribute software under the GPL, that it gives Stallman control of said software, or that it gives Stallman a right to sue people who (mis)use the software. That simply isn't true. The copyright owner (i.e. the person(s) or company that actually wrote the software) controlls it, and is responsible for suing those who infringe on the GPL.

    "In recent years Stallman and the FSF have been cracking down on big Linux users, enforcing terms of the existing license (GPLv2, for version 2) and demanding that the big tech outfits crack open their proprietary code whenever they inserted lines from Linux."

    If said companies broke the terms of the GPL, then they're in the wrong, aren't they? I mean, hey, if I broke the terms of the license for, say, MS Windows and Microsoft found out about it, they'd be all over me like stink on you-know-what. But when the big corporations are called on *their* (alleged) copyright violations, suddenly it's Stallman that's in the wrong.

    And then there's the fact that it goes on paragraph-after-paragraph describing Stallman in the most unflattering terms. I mean, hey, Stallman is no saint, and he is a bit bizarre, but what does that have to do with the GPL? What does hair in soup have to do with copyright law? What does bad singing have to do with finance? Forbes *is* a finance magazine and not a celebrity trash rag, right?

    "A cantankerous and finger-wagging freewheeler, Stallman won't comment on any of this because he was upset by a previous story written by this writer."

    Ah, I see. Daniel Lyons said bad things about Richard Stallman, so Stallman snubbed Lyons, so Lyons is in a snit. Grow up, guys.

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