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GNU is Not Unix

Richard Stallman Proclaims Don't Follow Linus Torvalds 965

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the was-he-wearing-the-hat-at-the-time dept.
StonyandCher writes "Here is an interview with Richard Stallman about a range of free software topics including GPLv3 and comment on the Microsoft patent issue. Stallman has a go at Linus Torvalds even suggesting that if people want to keep their freedom they better not follow Torvalds. From the interview 'Stallman: The fact that Torvalds says "open source" instead of "free software" shows where he is coming from. I wrote the GNU GPL to defend freedom for all users of all versions of a program. I developed version 3 to do that job better and protect against new threats. Torvalds says he rejects this goal; that's probably why he doesn't appreciate GPL version 3. I respect his right to express his views, even though I think they are foolish. However, if you don't want to lose your freedom, you had better not follow him.'"
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Richard Stallman Proclaims Don't Follow Linus Torvalds

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  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:19AM (#20570889) Journal
    There goes RMS again, letting his jealousy of Linus goad him into damaging his cause.

    -jcr
    • by genkael (102983) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:22AM (#20570967)
      It's amazing that RMS doesn't see this. Linus isn't at war with RMS, he just doesn't like GPL v3. Unite and conquer, not fight amongst ourselves. Sheesh.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jcr (53032)
        It's amazing that RMS doesn't see this.

        He sees what he wants to see. He'll never forgive Linus for stealing his thunder.

        -jcr
        • its all about hurd (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rucs_hack (784150) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:47AM (#20571425)
          I tried to join Hurd development a couple of years ago. The mailing list was 80 - 90% spam, with the rest being more or less 'I reckon we could do this', comments.

          OK, I'm generalizing, but the thing is I did not get the impression that it was a going concern. Instead what I saw was a dying project that couldn't even keep its own mailing list clear of viagra and penis extension adverts. Needless to say I ejected within a month or two. I suspect I am not alone, there were more than a few comments from people asking if the spam on the list could be stopped. I think the problem that Stallman has is that his utopia has failed along with hurd, and he doesn't like what survived to supplant it.

          Its a shame really. In my day to day work I rely totally on GCC, and I use other gnu foundation products all the time. I think they're amazing coders, but they seem unwilling to admit that the world is changing. Not everyone is filled with respect for someone who can code good C these days. Most of the time they just want to find out how you talk to each other so they can try to sell you penis related products. That and no-one in their right mind uses emacs willingly.
        • by Lord Apathy (584315) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:00AM (#20571713)

          Linus never stole his thunder. Linus saw the lightning, waited on the thunder that never came. So Linus went out and made is own thunder.

          Me grandpappy had a saying, "ether shit or git off the pot." That seems to apply just fine here.

        • by TehZorroness (1104427) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:12AM (#20573151)
          You are a blind idiot.

          The GNU operating system is a much greater accomplishment then the Linux kernel in my opinion. Without it - Linux would be seen for what it is - an operating system kernel. You can swap out the kernel of your system and not notice any clear difference. For example, you can run a *BSD kernel with GNU (or the Hurd, if you're daring).

          Stallman is the one who started the GNU project - to which, Linus contributed. Without his early struggle, we would not have free software as we do today. It seems that now, Linus wishes he had gone with a more lax license. His main disagreement is that he sees nothing wrong with the act of "tivoization." To generalize, he falls into the "Open Source" camp while Stallman falls into the "Free Software" camp. Both of them have made great accomplishments and no one is stealing anyone else's fame.

          Also, if you read the article, you'd have learned that that RMS doesn't try to force anyone to think his way: "I respect his right to express his views, even though I think they are foolish"
      • by Wildfire Darkstar (208356) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:34AM (#20571189)
        The two men have very different goals, though: what, precisely, would they unite over?

        Torvalds wants to produce a decent, *nix-like operating system (or kernel, really), and, for the time being, views the GPL as the best license to work under in pursuit of that goal. If he felt that Linux would be better served via a proprietary, non-Free license, I expect he would advocate a move towards that position.

        Stallman doesn't care about any of that, per se: he's concerned with the philosophy and ethics of software licensing, not one particular piece of code. Currently, his goal is to push GPLv3. Given Torvalds repeated lack of any interest whatsoever in the license, they are not part of the same team. They're not necessarily enemies, of course, but since Torvalds has been openly criticizing the new version of the GPL for many months now, it's in Stallman's interests to respond.

        The two men don't see eye to eye, and since they're both appealing to a different goal, they're unlikely to be able to convince each other to change their positions.
        • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:56AM (#20571615) Homepage Journal
          Torvalds wants to produce a decent, *nix-like operating system (or kernel, really), and, for the time being, views the GPL as the best license to work under in pursuit of that goal. If he felt that Linux would be better served via a proprietary, non-Free license, I expect he would advocate a move towards that position.

          From what I can tell in many ways Torvalds stays with GPLv2 because it offers a compromise between openess of source code and a license that businesses can tolerate. This compromise is having open source running on otherwise closed software. GPLv3 would not permit this and therefore this would hurt the popularity of Linux, especially in th embedded arena.

          RMS has his goals and aspirations, and is also somewhat of extremist in his ideals, IMHO, where compromise is not in the vocabulary. For me a healthy eco-system is about balance and compromise and GPLv2 is offers much of that.
          • From what I can tell in many ways Torvalds stays with GPLv2 because it offers a compromise between openess of source code and a license that businesses can tolerate.

            It's not about "openness of source code". It's about the freedom to run your business as you see fit, without having to bend to the will of the vendors of the software that you happen to be using. The only businesses that need to "tolerate" the GPL are ones who fancy themselves vendors of mass-market proprietary software, or ones who are doing something illegal (e.g. patent infringement, trojan horses, etc.) and want to avoid getting caught.

            RMS has his goals and aspirations, and is also somewhat of extremist in his ideals, IMHO, where compromise is not in the vocabulary.

            Compromise is not in RMS's vocabulary? Are you on crack? W

        • by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:21AM (#20572155)
          "If you neglect the values of freedom and social solidarity, and appreciate only powerful reliable software, you are making a terrible mistake." -RMS
          • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:59PM (#20576255) Journal
            "If you neglect the values of powerful reliable and useful code , and appreciate only freedom and solidarity, you are making a terrible mistake." -- Me

            In other words ... "What good is a phone call, if you are unable to speak".

            The problem with the GPL3 (IMHO) is that it does exactly the same thing all the EULAs and conditional licenses of people like Microsoft employ. RMS doesn't realize he has just put his own stamp and restrictions (not so free) on software.

            The GPL3 isn't about "freedom" anymore, it is about restricting use, the very thing that RMS claims he is against. The code released under GPL3 will end up not being used, and replaced by something less restrictive.

            The problem with GPL3 is that it is filled with good intentions, but they haven't thought out the long term consequences to it. What good is free software if nobody wants to use it. What good is "free" software if nobody CAN use it? What good is "free" software if only the idealists and end users can put all the pieces together to make it work.

            I'm not going to touch GPL3 software with a ten foot pole. Why? It is TOO restrictive. In the end, all the idealism in the world is useless if it is impractical and too cumbersome to maintain. And thus idealism dies, abandoned and alone, and completely useless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR (28044)
        The GPL is RMS's religion, he is it's high priest. If you dare to question the true church you are a heretic. It is the same thing with GNU-Linux. Because Linux uses the GNU user-space programs like ls RMS feels that it should have to carry the GNU name.
        I for one I am not a follower of RMS or a follower of Linus. I don't like GPL V3 because I feel that it is predatory towards Tivo and other Consumer devices that use Linux while allowing "professional" equipment to not follow the same rules.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rabidgnat (923944)
          I simply don't understand RMS' idea of freedom. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in order to be free, we must meet the following conditions:

          - We must use his license
          - The license restricts your rights when you modify // re-release the source
          - No Windows allowed

          It seems to me that in a truly free system (much like we have now, in fact), these are decisions we'd be able to make on our own. RMS' claims that people who don't like his license aren't truly free come off much as those who question the patriotism of an
          • by cching (179312) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:38AM (#20572469)

            I simply don't understand RMS' idea of freedom.
            Yeah, you got that right, you really don't understand.

            - We must use his license
            If you agree that you want your users to be able to use your software in a free way, you can choose to use the GPL for users that agree so that they may enhance and redistribute your software. *You* own the copyrights, it is *your* software, *you*, the owner of the copyrights are not bound by the GPL. You are just allowing others to redistribute your software using the GPL terms to ensure that your software remains free.

            - The license restricts your rights when you modify // re-release the source
            Only if by you, you are referring to someone who has accepted the software under the terms of the GPL. In that case, if that person chooses to redistribute the software, they must abide by the terms of the GPL. If *you* refers to the owner of the copyrights, then, no, *you* are not bound by the terms of the GPL.

            - No Windows allowed
            I'm not sure where you get this *at all*. Do you find the word 'Windows' anywhere in the GPL text? I'd definitely like to see that.

            It seems to me that in a truly free system (much like we have now, in fact), these are decisions we'd be able to make on our own. RMS' claims that people who don't like his license aren't truly free come off much as those who question the patriotism of anti-war citizens.
            Hopefully now you have a better understanding, enough so that you realize this last bit doesn't make much sense. Take care!
          • This is what I've been saying for quite a while, but people really dont want to hear it.
            I mean, look, free software is typically pretty decent, an alternative to what most people use, and pay for.
            Most everyone will like the notion of actually being able to ask for (or implement themselves) a feature or bugfix for applications, games, and utilities they use every day.

            The problem with GPL isn't even necessarily that it restricts proprietary software. That is freedom-limiting, yes, but, *most* of the time, som
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      There goes that jcr again - letting his jealousy of Stallman goad him into making a trollish first post ;-)
      • WMF just noted that JCR has trolled about RMS, who disagrees with ESR and LBT on the best version of GPL to USE for OSS and maybe other FSF. Inquiring minds want to know WTF?

    • Dead on (Score:3, Insightful)

      by faloi (738831)
      All I got out of reading the article is a bunch of hyperbole that amounted to "If you're not with us, you're against us." He may or may not have very valid reasons for believing what he says, but he'd do a lot better to actually state them in the confines of the interview, or at least one aspect of them. He may not quite understand that everybody reading might not be intimately familiar with the details of GPLv3 versus GPLv2 (or other licenses), and the nature of the rhetoric isn't exactly inspiring to do
      • Re:Dead on (Score:5, Insightful)

        by acvh (120205) <geek AT mscigars DOT com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:56AM (#20571627) Homepage
        Funny, I read the same article and didn't get any "with us or against us" out of it. I found it to be a clear delineation of the distinction between "free software" and "open source software", and a rationale of why Stallman is committed to "free software."

        I understand that it's appealing, in a "rubbernecking the auto accident" way, to frame the discussion as a flame war between Stallman and Torvalds, but such an approach does nothing to further either man's position. Stallman is a political creature, and freedom, as he defines it, is obviously important to him. Torvalds is a practical creature, apparently uninterested in the political nature of Stallman's model, and develops accordingly. Fortunately for many of us there is an overlap that allows us to run GNU software on a Linux kernel and reap the benefits of both worlds.

        "Freedom" in Stallman's world is neither easy or convenient. Committing to his approach means rejecting some software that may be useful or interesting or fun. "Freedom" in Torvalds' world is, as noted in the article, is simply a means to an end; the end being collaborative development of useful software. For now, neither could exist without the other, which makes most of the flaming I anticipate in this discussion somewhat ironic.
    • Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Life2Short (593815) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:32AM (#20571151)
      Why does Linus hate freedom?

      Apologies to Fox News...
    • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:05AM (#20571827) Homepage Journal
      The lead makes it sound like RMS was ranting about Torvalds. Actually, the interviewer asked one trollish question on Torvalds' position on GPL3 (certain to generate good copy), and RMS responded just as far as answering the question required.

      RMS is basically saying that Torvalds has different goals than he does, and if you share his (RMS's) goals of software freedom, you had better not let Torvalds' opinion make your mind up on GPL v3.

      I don't know how you read jealousy into this, it seems perfectly reasonable to me.

      Actually, the funny thing is that it seems to that RMS has mellowed over the years and Linus has become a bit more of a firebrand. I think RMS realizes that a softer pitch makes the message louder. Linus seems to have imbibed a bit of the chest thumping American corporate culture; he certainly isn't the self-deprecating young fellow we used to know.
    • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:21AM (#20573307) Homepage

      Ever watch Revolution OS [revolution-os.com]? At some conference (I think it was either LinuxWorld or O'Reilly) RMS was in the middle of giving a speech, and Linus started chasing his kid around the stage directly behind RMS. RMS, on the other hand, was polite, smiled, and continued his speech without even flinching.

      And don't even get me started on all the times where Linus talks about himself as the "practical" one, even though he doesn't seem to care enough about practical issues like copyright law to actually bother to learn something about them (or to consult a lawyer) before blabbering to the media. (The way Linus labels legal issues as "unimportant" smells more like idealism than pragmatism to me...)

      In my opinion, RMS has the physical appearance of a hippie-zealot, and Linus takes advantage of that to mislead people who don't know better. I think RMS has every right to complain.

  • by Megaweapon (25185) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:19AM (#20570909) Homepage
    Instead of whining about Linus how about you get your ass moving on your own kernel replacement?
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:28AM (#20571085) Homepage Journal
      The Hurd is slow in coming due to the extreme lack of developers. There's what? 17 registered developers on Savannah? Compared to how many Linux kernel hackers out there? Despite the previous lack of motivation in developing a kernel, The Hurd has made great strides despite relatively small developer base.
      • by arpad1 (458649) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:54AM (#20571559)
        Reading Stallman's rant, I'm surprised you could find 17 warm bodies that'd put up with his bullshit let alone 17 developers. No doubt Stallman's capable, his accomplishments put that question beyond much doubt but Jeez, the arrogance of the guy undermines him, and everything he believes in, at every turn.

        In the article he says he launched the GNU OS in 1984 and seven years later a kid from Finland blows right past him. What was Stallman doing during those seven years? What's he been doing in the sixteen years since?

        What's Torvalds got that Stallman doesn't?

        Maybe the ability to keep his damned mouth shut when he doesn't have anything worthwhile to say? Maybe the sneaking suspicion that he isn't necessarily the smartest person in every room he enters? Maybe an ability to rein in his ego to move a project along and the realization that every good idea and worthwhile insight doesn't necessarily flow from his mighty mind?

        Although it's pretty late in the game, I wish Stallman would come to appreciate that talking less and doing more will garner more respect then the opposite. Certainly open source software suffers from a perception, sometimes earned, of a lack of seriousness. As a major figure in open source, Stallman's antics don't help to change that perception.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by UtucXul (658400)

          Reading Stallman's rant, I'm surprised you could find 17 warm bodies that'd put up with his bullshit let alone 17 developers.

          I've been working on his website, http://stallman.org/ [stallman.org] for the past 4 years, and despite all the stories you hear, I've found Richard to be a very nice person to work with. He is very appreciative of help and doesn't micromanage at all. So I sometimes wonder if he was hard to work with in the past and people never quite forget old stories or what.

          And before anyone says anything

        • by gbutler69 (910166) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:40AM (#20572541) Homepage
          What rant? I've always found RMS to be completely reasonable and consistent in his lectures, speeches, essays, and other writings and communications.

          Just because you don't agree with him, doesn't mean he is wrong. Also, even if he is wrong, he is not putting a gun to your head and making you follow his way. He just tries to persuade and he does it rather eloquently if you ask me.

          Also, what's the deal with everyone criticizing his personal appearance? What does that have to do with anything? When did "fair looks" become the be-all end-all of everything.

          I think that most people who criticize RMS, from what I can see, are a bunch of hypocrites.

          Have a Nice Day,

          Gerry B.
    • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:35AM (#20571217) Homepage Journal

      The free software movement already has many working kernels. Getting Hurd working is not the most important thing RMS could work on.

      His job is to make sure that the free software movement will last - make sure people value it and protect it.

      Here's a transcript of one of his talks [fsfeurope.org], and there's more where that came from [fsfe.org].

    • by minginqunt (225413) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:37AM (#20571265) Homepage Journal
      Instead of whining about Linus how about you get your ass moving on your own kernel replacement?

      Or perhaps, just perhaps, Stallman has more important things to worry about than yet another Unix-like kernel. Like, oh I dunno, FREEDOM, or some trifle like that.

      That's part of what (clearly) annoys Stallman about Torvalds. Stallman's making this huge principled stand for freedom, and all Torvalds really cares about is his kernel.

      You may not consider freedom important, but Stallman does. And despite his difficult persona, he should be applauded.
      • by R2.0 (532027) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:50AM (#20571503)
        "That's part of what (clearly) annoys Stallman about Torvalds. Stallman's making this huge principled stand for freedom, and all Torvalds really cares about is his kernel."

        And therein lies the rub. You see, from a *practical* standpoint, Linus Torvalds has done more than Stallman did to accomplish Stallman's very own aims - by an order of magnitude. Torvalds, by using the GPL as a tool to assist and promote his pet project, also brought the GPL into much greater prominence. But it was the fact that Torvalds cares primarily about his project that alowed thsi to happen - if Linux wasn't a good and useful idea and execution to start with, it would have gone nowhere. After all, it doesn't matter how "free" a piece of software is - if it is a piece of crap, no one will use it if they have a choice.

        THAT is what really galls Stallman: not that the GPL isn't Torvaldss first concern, but that Torvalds has done so much more than Stallman in promoting Free Software, and it wasn't even Torvalds' primary goal! Imagine how frustrated Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton would be if, when seeking information about poverty and rights, people went to the person running a soup kitchen instead of themselves. Please note that I don't equate Stallman and those 2 clown on a personal level, but an organizational one. He may have had the "vision", but others have done more to promote it than he ever could accomplish, and that must be galling.
        • by minginqunt (225413) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:58AM (#20571663) Homepage Journal
          He may have had the "vision", but others have done more to promote it than he ever could accomplish, and that must be galling.

          I agree with you, but I still think that Stallman's role is hardly negligible. Despite his difficult personality, the man needs to be listened to. Usually, somewhere beneath his frothy ideologue bluster, there's a profound point or two battling to get out.

          And Stallman's stances on, say DRM and SWPat are absolutely unimpeachable. I'm not sure if Torvalds even has a recognizable stance on these issues.
        • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:25AM (#20572225)
          I think it was Linus who lucked into success due to Stallman's efforts. Without the GPL, Linus probably would have just gone with a BSD-style licence. Linux would then have fragmented and dissipated just like BSD Unix. And having not been beat to the punch by Linux, maybe a FSF kernel would have taken the spot Linux now occupies.
        • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:50PM (#20576083) Journal

          I read things differently.

          If the Linux kernel had never been done, we'd still have GNU. It'd just be with a different kernel is all. Maybe a FreeBSD kernel, or Hurd, or Minix, or something else built from scratch, just as Linux was.

          The only reason it doesn't matter how "free" a piece of software is, is that the principles of proprietary software are fundamentally unenforceable. You can use proprietary software all you like, any way you like, as far as your own morals will permit. Owners' ability to dictate terms is extremely limited. Some have campaigned vigorously to tell you what your morals ought to be regarding software, and some of us have at times been brainwashed by this. But if you don't agree with some provision, they often can't stop you from violating it. If they actually could enforce their extreme capitalist/monopolist "one owner per idea, and for every idea an owner" regime, you'd be singing a different tune, perhaps literally as well as figuratively.

          Why do you think Stallman is jealous or galled? I'm guessing he's still amazed, pleased, and stunned his movement has had such success. I also suspect he'd rather have never become a celebrity, but that really wasn't an option. Someone had to speak out. No, he's not worried about Linux "stealing his thunder" per se, he's worried that people will take the results (GNU/Linux) of the freedoms he's been promoting, and dismiss and discard the freedoms that made those results possible, if they even hear of it at all! That's why he's so on about saying "GNU/Linux" instead of "Linux", it's not about him, it's about the freedoms, and making people aware of those freedoms. I don't know that trying to ram this "GNU/Linux" term down everyone's throats is the best way to publicize the freedoms, but he's not doing it to showboat. Isn't his example of putting in years of work on software that you can use and view and change just as you please enough evidence that this is not about him, it's about freedom?

  • Okay. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:20AM (#20570935) Homepage Journal
    So how am I going to 'lose' my software freedom by 'following' Linus? Really, is there some reason that Linus is going to all of a sudden change from GPL V2? Because from where I sit, he probably can't and that's the main reason why there is no one looking to make or fork off a GPL V3 kernel -- because it probably can't be done.
    • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:39AM (#20571299) Homepage Journal

      This wouldn't be a change. Linus already used and advertised BitKeeper, which was completely proprietary software.

      Relicensing the Linux kernel quite possible [fsfe.org], if they want to.

      ...but this isn't a v2 vs v3 debate. Linus has never supported the idea that the freedoms to help yourself and to cooperate with others are valuable.

    • Re:Okay. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by minginqunt (225413) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:45AM (#20571409) Homepage Journal
      So how am I going to 'lose' my software freedom by 'following' Linus?

      Remember BitKeeper?

      Frankly, it's only the GPL and his lieutenants that's keeping Torvalds honest. There's no suggestion that he chose the GPLv2 for any reason other than sheer practicality, unless you know otherwise.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by samkass (174571)
        In many interviews Linus has espoused the advantages of GPLv2 and called it a great license. He likes the idea of sharing code whose modifications others are forced to share back to you. But his religion ends at the code. GPLv2 enforces the sharing and sharing alike of code, so that's the "sweet spot" for Linus.

        GPLv3, unlike GPLv2, attempts to dictate what you're allowed to *do* with the code. Like DRM and DCMA, it puts conditions on the hardware and software combinations in which the code can be used.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bentcd (690786)

          What's more, Linus does not support the idea that every developer should sign over all the rights to all their code to Richard Stallman. Stallman wants everyone to assign copyright to FSF and add "or later" to their licensing clause, thus eliminating all rights the developer has over their creation and assigning them to Stallman. If you have that much trust in any one man (and his heirs once he dies), then great. Linus doesn't, and I don't think that's "anti-freedom".

          Neither of those two are in the actual GPL though, they are suggested as "best practices" but not really forced upon you in any way. This probably means that RMS et al realized that people might find them particularly onerous and so decided to leave them as voluntary steps. With this in mind, I don't see how this can be the source of any kind of animosity towards RMS.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jellomizer (103300) *
        GASP a programmer doing something because it is practical. How unchararistic for a programmer to do so. Most users and programmers really care less on the license just as long as they can get the work done without to much of a fuss. If GPL gives them to much of a fuss then people wont license their software that way. I really hate this Pure and Freedom talk. The reasons why a lot of people went with GPL2 was not for the Ethical Value but for the fact it is a copy and paist license. The developer had no
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cching (179312)

      So how am I going to 'lose' my software freedom by 'following' Linus?

      Presumably you will lose that freedom because the GPLv2 doesn't address patent protection, but GPLv3 does. What that means is someone could come along, get some GPLv2 software, redistribute it and get all the benefits inherent in that and then sue the people they redistributed to for patent infringement (or, better yet, sue those that didn't buy the software from them, sound familiar at all?). This limits the freedom of the people who are sued because they accepted GPLv2 software, but now they possibly c

    • Re:Okay. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by A Commentor (459578) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:00AM (#20572915) Homepage
      Freedom has already been lost with Linux, that is what Stallman is trying to fix. Look at all the new versions of firmware that many different people have created for the Linksys WRT54G Router. That was the intent behind GPL, allow people the ability to control their own products. Linksys did the right thing and this is how it should work.

      Now take Netgear, around the same time, they had a router that also ran Linux, WGT-634U. It had several advantages over the WRT54G, it was twice as fast (108Mbps Super G), has a USB port which supports both external drives and printers. They had the source available for download, just like Linksys, and after a few emails back-and-forth to the netgear 'open source' rep, and getting close to building a driver, I decided to buy the router since it was on sale at Fry's. My next email to netgear was along the lines of 'ok, I have the build tools, it looks like everything is compiling, but I don't see the firmware file that I can load on my router, is there another step I need to do or did I miss it'. Their response just blew me away - (paraphrasing since it was about two year) - 'We don't allow you to build the firmware image, the format is proprietary, the html control pages are copyrighted.' So even though I own the hardware, I have the source, I have (some of) the tools, - I am not able to change and use the program on the hardware I OWN. All because netgear chose to lock it, but they were still able to use Linux to make their product and they were compliant with GPL v2.

      Linus does not care about this issue, Stallman does.

      I think some people have finally been successful in reverse-engineering the format, load process, but this should not be required.

      FROM GOOGLE:

      Results 1 - 10 of about 39,400 for netgear router linux wgt634u

      Results 1 - 10 of about 1,980,000 for linksys router linux wrt54g

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:20AM (#20570939)
    In other news, RMS has revealed that the much anticipated GPLv4 will require anyone who uses or distributes GPLv4 code to refrain from showering.
  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:21AM (#20570945) Journal
    Wasn't there a /. story about how businesses are "wrongly" calling their software "open source", when it doesn't count as "open source", because even though the source is open, it doesn't grant you the Four Freedoms, and "open source" and "free" are supposed to be the same thing?

    But what do I know? I've committed crimes against humanity in the past (i.e. releasing proprietary software).
    • In terms of software, "free software" and "open-source software" are the same (or they're two sets with 99.99% overlap).

      The philosophies, however, are different.

      The free software philosophy is that the freedom to help yourself and to cooperate with others as a community are freedoms everyone should have.

      "Open source" was launched to rename "free software" to hide this ethical line of thinking - because it mightn't go down well with companies who want to publish a little bit of free software while still publ
  • by halivar (535827) <bfelger&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:21AM (#20570947) Homepage
    I believe in "free" as in free-to-choose-my-own-damn-license-and-if-you-don't-like-it-go-write-your-own-damn-kernel.

    Oh... but wait...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by minginqunt (225413)
      I don't think that Stallman is suggesting that one isn't free to choose one's license within the scope provided by law. That doesn't mean he or anybody else has to approve though.

      Anyway, what's wrong with being condescending and elitist? It's part of what makes Slashdot, Slashdot.
      • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:12AM (#20571983) Homepage
        Anyway, what's wrong with being condescending and elitist? It's part of what makes Slashdot, Slashdot.

        Nothing, if you want people to agree with you and because RMS looks and acts like a radical from 1967, many contemporary businessmen aren't interested in agreeing with him.

        What makes Slashdot, Slashdot is different than what makes business, business. People looking to make a buck (who RMS isn't the least bit interested in) aren't interested in ideologies that make it more difficult for them to do so.
  • by kclittle (625128) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:21AM (#20570953)
    I don't think Linus gives a hoot about folks "following" him. That's Stallman's obsession, IMHO. He's the one leading a crusade...
    • In essence that's the problem here: Stallman has always been on a mission to make computers and their software free and accessible, without a lot of restrictions as to what you can do with the software. Linus has just been trying to build on and improve an operating system -- he doesn't put himself out in front, but seems to recognize that people are going to ask his opinion because of his position with Linux.

      • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:53AM (#20571551)
        without a lot of restrictions
        Except for the devlopers. Taking freedom from one group and giving to an other is always dangerious.
      • Maybe at first (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blueZ3 (744446)
        he was on that mission, but as far as I can tell from recent comments by RMS, his mission has become to promote Richard Stallman and the "Only my freedom is really free enough" point of view. Unlike Linus, RMS is all about putting himself out front. His interviews and talks remind me of a four-year-old's "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me" behavior. I don't know what he's like in person, but his public persona is a self-promoting bastard.
  • by skrolle2 (844387) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:23AM (#20570989)
    So, Stallman helps create GPL v3, and then when interest is mild among the big, successful, commercial open source projects, he starts slamming them? My way or the high way?

    Yes, there's a difference between Free Software and Open Source Software, and both kinds will exist, whatever Stallman wishes, and OSS is more successful. That's also not what Stallman wishes, but.. wake up and smell reality. Do something constructive about it instead of this whining.
  • Uncontroversial... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by minginqunt (225413) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:23AM (#20570993) Homepage Journal
    Since Torvalds doesn't position himself as a leader anyway.

    As naive as I find it, Torvalds has always made a big thing about "not doing the politics", so if you're looking to him for anything other than commentary on patches and architectural discussions, you're looking in the wrong place.

    And no, Stallman's not trolling, he's just being Stallman. That's why we love him. Or not, as the case may be.
  • No surprise (Score:5, Informative)

    by redelm (54142) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:24AM (#20570995) Homepage
    RMS has always been a purist/zealot. He has been angry at Linus for years for not pursuing NVidia to release source for their graphics module. It arguably is a derivative work of the GPL kernel. NVidia stub is already released, but the GPU driver is a binary lump. RMS is especially angry because this is exactly the situation he faced with the Xerox printer driver that caused him to start the FSF and GPL.


    Linus belongs much more closely to the "Open Source" movement [ESR] than to "Free Software" [RMS]. Although I hesitate to classify Linus in any way. He does his own thing.

    • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:55AM (#20571597) Homepage Journal
      And if Linus had done, maybe we'd all have that free driver by now.

      The big companies rally everyone to worship Linus, and with the spotlight on, he does: nothing. ...and that's exactly what the big companies will continue to shine the light there.
      • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:30AM (#20572313) Homepage
        Sorry, I disagree. I fully expect that Linus informally asked NVidia and was given satisfactory answers why they wouldn't release their GPU code, compiler, etal.


        I don't know those reasons, and don't expect them to be announced. But I can imagine the NVidia isn't entirely free to release code: for one thing, they might be paying royalties to others and be bound by those agreements. Or they may have tricks they think ATI/Intel doesn't know about. NVidia's managers have an obligation to safeguard shareholder's property.

        For another, the GPUs are incredibly powerful computing machines that could be used for nuke simulations. The GPU mfrs may have an understanding with the US Dept of State that so long as the GPU isn't generally programmable, they escape the ITAR limits on export of computing power.


        Or there may be other reasons. I don't assume pigheadedness. It has to be proven to me.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:24AM (#20571001) Journal
    Stallman's view that you can "lose your freedom" is similar to the argument that "piracy is stealing".

    No matter how much I release derived software in violation of the GPL, your freedom is not reduced any more than if I hadn't. There is nothing I could do to prevent you from taking the current version of Linux and changing it to do what you want.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:58AM (#20571665)
      Stallman's view that you can "lose your freedom" is similar to the argument that "piracy is stealing".

      No matter how much I release derived software in violation of the GPL, your freedom is not reduced any more than if I hadn't. There is nothing I could do to prevent you from taking the current version of Linux and changing it to do what you want.


      Stallman is not (only) concerned about the original developer, his concern is the people that buy your product. The freedoms he is talking about are about your customers being allowed to do as they want with the software they bought from you. You releasing non-free software takes away those freedoms by definition.

      Note: This is the case no matter if you modified an existing GPL'ed program, or wrote your own from scratch. However, in the first case, you'd be illegally taking away their freedom to change the software, in the second case it would be fully legal, and thus he can't do anything about it. Of course RMS knows this, and isn't trying to prevent you from writing your own proprietary software, even though by the *definition* of software freedom, you are still taking away your customers' freedoms.
    • Stallman's view that you can "lose your freedom" is similar to the argument that "piracy is stealing". No matter how much I release derived software in violation of the GPL, your freedom is not reduced any more than if I hadn't. There is nothing I could do to prevent you from taking the current version of Linux and changing it to do what you want.

      Your argument above is like the view that not being able to upgrade one's copy of Windows is in no way a detriment... after all, the OS still does all the stuff

  • by r00t (33219) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:25AM (#20571015) Journal
    GPLv3 seems to prevent measures to block cheaters. Running GPLv3 software on a gaming platform means that the user not only gets the source and gets to replace it, but also means that the replacement must be able to appear on the gaming network exactly as unmodified software would. The user running modified software can't even be flagged as such, to warn the other users.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nymz (905908)

      GPLv3 seems to prevent measures to block cheaters.
      In a discussion about ethics and social values, some people consider their freedom more important than someones inability to imagine and consider alternative ways to play a video game.

  • No shit... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:25AM (#20571033)
    Outside of a narrow range of technical topics, I don't think Linus has much of a clue about anything. This includes legal matters. Think about the Linux copyrights.. instead of assigning them to a single entity, Linus let EACH of the hundreds of contributors keep their copyright. And think of the BK fiasco.

    However, since I believe that going forward, LEGAL issues will be much more important than TECHNICAL issues when it comes to computer code, I prefer to listen to RMS a little more closely. The "pedantry" that RMS displays is exactly what you need in a courtroom, while the "arrogance" of Linus is exactly what you don't.
    • by Nymz (905908) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:16AM (#20572049) Journal
      It's funny (or actually sad) to see people complain every day on Slashdot about Microsoft blackscreens, Sony rootkits, HDDVD/BluRay DRM, and Apple iLockedoutPhones when every single one of these issues is the freedom of the user being usurped by the company that sells it.

      How can these same people now not understand what a lack of freedom is? Why are they so willing to trade their freedom, for a lifetime of complaining on Slashdot about every company, politician, or government, when the only person that is truely at fault is themselves.
    • BK was not a fiasco (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chirs (87576)

      Bitkeeper caused a fairly significant revolution in the way the way Linus accepted new patches. It resulted in fewer patches being dropped, and made it easier for others to see the change history.

      BK was dropped after multiple years of successful use when a coworker of Linus' decided to violate the licensing terms of the free version and BK enforced the terms of the license.

      Because of his experience with BK, Linus couldn't handle going back to the old way of doing things. This was the driving force behind
      • by MenTaLguY (5483) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:06AM (#20573045) Homepage
        But Jeremy Allison wasn't bound by the license! He never used Bitkeeper, was never bound by the terms of its license, and therefore wasn't violating it.

        McVoy was using BK as an instrument to gain control over Open Source SCM for monetary gain, by inserting his SCM in the Linux kernel development process, with a license requiring that anyone who used it agreed not to work on SCM software of their own, in an effort to ensure that there would be no Open Source alternatives. And Linus was content to go along with this, because BK really was a superior solution technically.

        Allison, who happened to work for the same employer as Linus, reverse-engineered the BK protocol _on his own time_, again, without violating the license because he had never needed to agree to it. He did this in order to write an open-source read-only client for BitKeeper, so that people could access the full kernel repository without agreeing to the BitKeeper license. McVoy hit the roof, started spamming Jeremy and Linus' employer with legal threats, tried to get Jeremy fired, and then when that didn't work (they didn't care because he was working on his own time), punished everyone by withdrawing the free BK license. Linus, being bound by the same non-compete agreement as everyone else who had used Bitkeeper to access the kernel source repository, wrote as much of git as he could (stopping short of what actually constituted a fully-functional SCM), and then let Junio Hamano do the rest.

        Whatever other personality issues are in play, this is exactly the kind of problem that RMS is concerned with: Linus was prepared to let a control freak like McVoy try use the Linux kernel project as a strategic wedge to block the development of Open Source SCM software and promote his own proprietary solution, simply because it was convenient for Linus and he was friends with McVoy. Linus has a history of doing whatever is personally convenient, without regard for long-term consequences or the effect it has on others.
  • by mellonhead (137423) <slashdot&swbell,net> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:29AM (#20571095) Homepage Journal
    Is millions of users not uninstalling Gnu/Linux.
  • by will_die (586523) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:33AM (#20571183) Homepage
    Are we going to see Stallman follwers going around carring signs with "Torvalds lied, Wildebeests died."?
  • by cheros (223479) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:34AM (#20571203)
    IMHO, Open Source forms the bridge between proprietary and free software. Very few business people are ready to commit to free software (AFAIK). Linus Torvalds sits in the middle and does what he feels is right and it appears quite a large segment of the planet agrees with his take.

    Richard Stallman has a point and he has proven it too, but he seems incapable of recognising that you can't change black into white in one generation, that takes time.

    Linus and, for instance, Mark Shuttleworth et al are nicely paving the way, but it's taking too long for Richard and I think there's a bit of an ego thing here where Linus gets the nice interviews and press where Richard is barely mentioned.

    Well, life's tough. If he could make things a little bit less fanatic and stressed it could make matters go a long way towards getting some coverage, but the press generally doesn't take very much to people that appear to be frustrated hippies with a message.

    Even if they're right..
  • by Daishiman (698845) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:35AM (#20571227)

    Freedom is not appreciated by owners of mainstream computer architectures and mainstream operating system. Under x86 and a few other common architectures, most stuff is already supported, such as Flash on Linux x86 or the NVidia binary drivers.

    Now, have you ever tried running any of those things under less common architectures? SPARC systems with FreeBSD? Linux on Alpha?

    Sure, your pretty GeForce will run great on Windows, even Linux, but you have to remember Linux is not the end-all of operating systems and x86 is not the end-all of computer architectures. The future has new and better things for us all, and that's where open formats and systems count, preserving our software and documents, making them future-proof. 15 years from now you'll still be able to run Apache on NetBSD on an IBM pSeries (yes, an unlikely software-hardware combo, but I'm making a case here). Probably 25 years from now GCC will still be the premier compiler on the large majority of architectures, and Visual Studio and Borland will be relegated to fairy tales. Who'll remember Flash? Who remembers a large amount of software written for MacOS 9, or the Commodore 64? Already there's a lot of games made for Windows 98 that won't run on Vista. Who will you be crying to when you'll want to retrieve your old data or experiment with older libraries or systems?

    The beauty of Free Software becomes apparent only on those time frames. THEN Stallman's critics will see his point.

  • It's funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spungo (729241) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:37AM (#20571263)
    I've found that a great many of the people who criticize and dismiss RMS are often people who make extensive use of GNU tools -- I think it's worth taking a moment every now and again to consider what kind of FOSS world we'd have right now if it weren't for RMS and his mates. Yes he's an idealist, but you know -- principles are important in life, regardless of how preachy the may seem from time to time.
    • by jamrock (863246) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:39AM (#20572501)

      Yes he's an idealist, but you know -- principles are important in life, regardless of how preachy the may seem from time to time.

      Thank you for that insightful comment; very well said indeed. Principles are absolutely important, and idealists equally so. Like him or hate him, Stallman has stuck unwaveringly to his principles, and the software world would be a much, much poorer place for his absence.

      What is sad is that RMS doesn't realize that he himself is one of the major inhibiting factors in the uptake of FOSS. Rightly or wrongly, a movement is typically defined by its most public face, and his abrasive and combative personality practically guarantees that most average folks won't give FOSS a second look, no matter how worthwhile and valuable it may be to them, merely because they're turned off by the guy. It's just human nature to resist being pushed, I guess. No one likes to be bullied and beaten over the head with principles, even if they're good for you.

  • GPL versions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syylk (538519) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:39AM (#20571295) Homepage
    Wait, wait, wait just a damn minute.

    Now Linus is being the epytome of evil proprietary software defenders?

    I mean, the Linux kernel is *STILL* released under GPL V2, or during my trip to Mars something changed, and now it has a Microsoft EULA attached?

    Until last (boreal) spring, GPL V2 wasn't the best, "freest" license around, according to RMS and FSF themselves? Now that they have to push another product, all of sudden, the past version has become non free?

    You should sound like an pathetic old brat, if you accuse your peers of using the same tool you touted as earthsaver only six months before, instead of blindly jumping on the ideology bandwagon you're at the helm of.
  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:42AM (#20571363)
    RMS can say what he wants, but he is a very lucky in that Linus T. decided to hook up with GNU. I have no doubt that, without that, we would still be waiting for the GNU kernel, and he would have no soapbox at all.
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:51AM (#20571511) Homepage Journal
    Stallman is issuing one of his usual periodic decrees that people whose views differ from his own should not be listened to.

    The people who usually do listen to such will listen to it and say Amen, and those who usually don't, most likely still won't this time either. The world will keep turning in more or less exactly the same way it does now.

    It's things like this that cause me to periodically realise that it genuinely has been extremely stupid of me to get as upset as I have about the FSF in the past. The GPL 3, and Stallman continuing to issue statements such as this, make me realise that it is a problem with its' own solution.

    Sure, he keeps making new followers...but he continues to alienate people as well. Two steps forward and two steps back essentially mean that you stay in exactly the same place.
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:53AM (#20571547) Homepage
    RMS is a zealot. He believes that his path to the goal is the only path. Does anybody else think that's likely?
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:44AM (#20572609)
    OK, personal attacks aside, RMS is absolutely a character. Is he a zealot? Perhaps, but extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue. Linus is a visionless fool who does not see the danger. RMS is the man saying that there is real danger and trying to wake people to realities that confront us. The "freedom" the GPL seeks to provide is the protection from people like Microsoft who will take what open source of free software authors write, close it off, change it subtly, force it out in their monopoly platform, and basically deny the original authors the benefit of their work. Or make patent deals that exclude authors and force users, out of FUD, to pay for licenses they shouldn't need. Or take code modify it, sell it as a Tivo, and use a loophole to the original authors original intentions. RMS sees these as the real threats they are. Linus ignores them. So, bash RMS if you will, but progress is never made by "reasonable" people, "reasonable" people are the "frogs on a hotplate," they don't see the danger until it is too late.

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