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Comment: RMS's ego isn't as big when one examines evidence (Score 4, Interesting) 165

by jbn-o (#49323921) Attached to: RMS Talks Net Neutrality, Patents, and More

Looking at the kerfuffle around LLVM/Clang you can find more of the same attitude from RMS—he doesn't have the ego invested in the work as his detractors claim he does (often without examples cited at all, sometimes as with the grandparent poster with wrong examples cited):

For GCC to be replaced by another technically superior compiler that defended freedom equally well would cause me some personal regret, but I would rejoice for the community's advance. The existence of LLVM is a terrible setback for our community precisely because it is not copylefted and can be used as the basis for nonfree compilers -- so that all contribution to LLVM directly helps proprietary software as much as it helps us.

Those aren't the words of someone who places ego above the good of the project or the public. For software freedom seekers, software freedom and defense of software freedom is the goal and good for the public.

Comment: Software freedom for all software. (Score 2) 120

by jbn-o (#49293235) Attached to: Persistent BIOS Rootkit Implant To Debut At CanSecWest

Firmware is software and computer users still need software freedom for all published software. This hasn't changed since Richard Stallman reached conclusions about the ethics of software over 30 years ago. Changing what device the software is loaded into or the form it takes when loaded doesn't change any of the underlying issues that all have to do with how people treat each other. This is also not an issue to be properly understood by "open source" focus on convenience, caving into business desires, or developmental methodology.

Comment: Placating consumerism leads to loss of freedom. (Score 1) 214

by jbn-o (#49288419) Attached to: The GNU Manifesto Turns Thirty

If you want to say that RMS's position is pedantic, that's fine. Just understand that RMS has slightly different values than open source advocates and he works to keep those values. RMS views open source as dangerous to the freedom to have all changes made available because open source does not make any guarantee about it. Others, like ESR, aren't quite as concerned about that as long as some version of the source is available. Thus, you get open source. Free and open source software are not exactly the same thing though.

Open source advocates think that proprietary software is acceptable and free software advocates don't think proprietary software is ever acceptable, as RMS points out in his essays and talks dating back many years (1, 2). I'd hardly call that difference pedantic—being overly concerned with formal rules and trivial points of learning like a pedant. And the preservation of software freedom copyleft makes real can sometimes be okay to forgo but only after careful consideration. But the open source movement doesn't distinguish among licenses based on copyleft because that would draw attention to the very thing that movement was designed to silence and distract discussion away from talk of—software freedom.

Comment: The Intercept has interesting & important Q&am (Score 1) 216

by jbn-o (#49288221) Attached to: France Will Block Web Sites That Promote Terrorism

Glenn Greenwald asks a more interesting and important question than /. encourages its readers to consider when Greenwald asks "What's Scarier: Terrorism, or Governments Blocking Websites in its Name?" and then he answers it, "More damage has been inflicted historically by censorship than by the "terrorism" used to justify it.". Considering how little of a threat terrorism is in the US relative to other known dangers ('Terrorism Still Less Deadly in US Than Lack of Health Insurance, Salmonella', 'Gun Murders vs. Terrorism by the Numbers') one has to wonder about other western countries such as France.

Comment: The case against e-readers? DRM. (Score 1) 261

by jbn-o (#49133187) Attached to: The Case Against E-readers -- Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading On Paper

I'm uninterested in DRM'd e-readers or any e-reader that reveals my location, refuses to let me copy, quote, print, and do other things I do with books. I'm unwilling to sacrifice my rights because some publisher wants a rent scheme on books or wants me to constantly feed them information on my whereabouts, what I'm reading, logging my name with what I read (which even my local library only does as long as the loan), and other privacy violations that simply aren't possible with books. Calling DRM "digital restrictions management" is right and proper because that frames the debate where it belongs—around user's rights.

Comment: No punishments means the laws don't matter. (Score 1) 186

by jbn-o (#49133121) Attached to: Jury Tells Apple To Pay $532.9 Million In Patent Suit

I'm not so sure that's true because the relevant laws are set such that the penalties are so light for the wealthy violators and virtually non-existant for the most powerful participants in the system. First, the organization with the most patents is not in a position to "feel pain" as you say; IBM's power is (as they've said long ago) in cross-licensing. They said they get an order of magnitude more benefit by leveraging the power the patent scheme was built to exert (which is also part of the problem of calling organizations "patent trolls" as if leveraging that power is somehow not to be expected, or an abuse of an otherwise upright system, when in fact that power is just part of the system operating as designed). As a result, losing patent infringement lawsuits is not common for IBM. Richard Stallman laid out how this works in his patent talks many years ago:

IBM got two kinds of benefit from its 9000 US patents. I believe the number is larger today. These were first, collecting royalties and second, getting access to the patents of others. They said that the latter benefit is an order of magnitude greater. So the benefit that IBM got from being allowed to use the ideas that were patented by others was 10 times the direct benefit IBM could get from licensing patents. What does this really mean?

What is the benefit that IBM gets from this access to the patents of others? It is basically the benefit of being excused from the trouble that the patent system can cause you. The patent system is like a lottery. What happens with any given patent could be nothing, could be a windfall for some patent holder or a disaster for everyone else. But IBM being so big, for them, it averages out. They get to measure the average harm and good of the patent system. For them, the trouble of the patent system would have been 10 times the good. I say would have been because IBM through cross-licensing avoids experiencing that trouble. That trouble is only potential. It doesn't really happen to them. But when they measure the benefits of avoiding that trouble, they estimate it as 10 times the value of the money they collect from their patents.

With regard to Apple specifically, it's not that difficult to see that they get by in part by violating government-granted monopoly and they're wealthy enough to be able to afford to do it repeatedly. The people who run Apple now ran NeXT years ago. NeXT infringed the FSF's license (GPLv2) in NeXT's initially unauthorized GCC derivative in which NeXT added Objective-C support. NeXT and the FSF settled out of court when the FSF got them to comply with the terms of the GPL (lesson learned here: stand up for your strong copylefted free software licenses and the bullies will meet your terms). Apple would again violate the GPLv2 later by distributing an infringing copy of VideoLAN Client. VLC co-author Rémi Denis-Courmont wrote critically of Apple's choice to let the program through it's app store saying "Those terms are contradicted by the products usage rules of the AppStore through which Apple delivers applications to users of its mobile devices." Apple infringed upon 3 Chinese writer's copyrights and were ordered to pay 730,000 yuan ($118,000), hardly a sum that would stop Apple from doing this again. But the pattern seems clear: Apple violates laws it doesn't like and never really meets a punishment that will make the leaders of the organization question whether to do it again. Apple isn't unique in this but that is a detail; we need punishments for the wealthy and powerful that make them take the law more seriously. But most importantly for endeavors practiced by the general public, such as computer programming, we need to fight in an organized and political way to end software idea patents. Mere patent reform is a delaying tactic that benefits the powerful.

Comment: Stumping for proprietors on /. (Score 1) 201

by jbn-o (#49085355) Attached to: After 30 Years of the Free Software Foundation, Where Do We Stand?

Ah, the flames from someone without much finesse: Premature declaration of failure to discourage further examination ("The masses have spoken..."), misidentification of fault ("If Apple could have continued using gcc...", "[The FSF] should have gone into the hardware business..."), citing trends with no backing and overvaluing business interests ("...then corporations wouldn't have run away from any GPLv3 software..."), and outright lying about intention and execution ("...weighing the costs of the walled garden (censorship etc) vs the benefits (no viruses)...", "...the attempt to take over the Linux kernel by renaming GNU/Linux..."), your post has so much flamebait to choose from it's almost as if you were taking instruction from an open source proponent who is eager to convince licensors to pick non-copylefted software licenses so they see their work become charitable contributions to software proprietors.

If there's so little interest in protecting oneself from international spying, malware, and other forms of user abuse Glenn Greenwald and other journalists would find it hard to get articles on the Snowden revelations published anywhere, world leaders wouldn't be holding meetings about the Snowden revelations, and people/organizations around the world wouldn't care about encryption. Don't confuse a non-technical user's inability to do better than running proprietary apps from a walled garden with not caring about these issues. They get both no software freedom and plenty of malware in their choice. Most computer users are weighing options where freedom is not available; they're suffering from the myth of choice where all of the readily-available options they know about deny them loyal computers.

Speaking of proprietors, Apple is no victim here. Apple wasn't forced to switch to LLVM and Clang, they chose to because they're proprietors eager to rob users of their software freedom in derivative works. If any organization with the means can be accurately accused of not writing their own stuff, it's Apple not writing their own compilers but instead relying on other compilers. This goes back to NeXT which was the first big GPL copyright infringement case (according to Brad Kuhn, former Executive Director of the FSF which holds the copyright on GCC in his discussion on his OggCast "Free as in Freedom"). NeXT got caught distributing a proprietary derivative of GCC which contained code to compile Objective-C. When Jobs spoke with the FSF about the matter, the FSF informed him that they would enforce their license (GPLv2). Jobs never liked that and never forgot. Apple doesn't mind the GPL they just don't like to be in a position of equality with their users unless they can pull out of that relationship when it suits them (see Apple's purchase of Easy SW which originally developed CUPS).

The FSF never tried to "take over the Linux kernel" and isn't doing so now by properly identifying Linux as a part of an operating system. They have said for years and continue to say they would like the GNU Project to get a share of the credit (1, 2). They also acknowledge that there are systems that don't include GNU and therefore should not be called "GNU slash" anything. No doubt, it would be equally unfair and erroneous to call GNU/kFreeBSD or GNU/HURD a "Linux" system when Linux isn't a part of that. This has nothing to do with capability of writing a kernel; a Linux kernel without the blobs is available so there's no pressing need for a fully-free system to have its own original kernel written by the FSF or the GNU Project. The core of the issue was and is a "greenwashing" (as Brad Kuhn aptly put it) open source movement not bringing to mind a user's software freedom (mirror) and the intended effect (older essay, newer essay) that has on people not understanding what software freedom is for its own sake.

Comment: Strongly copylefted free software + enforcement (Score 3, Interesting) 201

by jbn-o (#49085237) Attached to: After 30 Years of the Free Software Foundation, Where Do We Stand?

See Brad Kuhn's talk about the future of copyleft (mirror) for the cure to non-copylefted free software—to keep software freedom in derivative works, license with strongly copylefted free software licenses (the AGPL version 3 or later being the best choice now) and then enforce the license.

Comment: Jailbreaking doesn't grant software freedom (Score 1) 201

by jbn-o (#49085223) Attached to: After 30 Years of the Free Software Foundation, Where Do We Stand?
Jailbreaking a device doesn't mean one has software freedom, a critical factor in making sure the device is loyal to its owner. It's good that you donate to the FSF and EFF despite your disagreeing with their goals to let people control their devices. I think people are rightly concerned about global spying and I encourage more learning about software freedom for freedom's sake. People were quick to dismiss the free software movement from the beginning, talking about how it wasn't (to use your words) "realistic or even a good idea" to have software freedom and that we'd never have a completely free OS. We have a lot of free software now (more than anyone can inspect on their own) and we're all better off for it. History shows the doubters were wrong to be dismissive of such concerns back then too. Holding every product to a standard that allows people to fully control their devices is a prerequisite for making software freedom the default in people's lives.

Comment: Re:Try understanding Free Software goals first (Score 1) 551

by jbn-o (#49056079) Attached to: RMS Objects To Support For LLVM's Debugger In GNU Emacs's Gud.el

You should explain what you mean lest people read something into your hit-and-run argument that you don't mean. As it is, yours is an inarticulately defended counterargument which suggests you're not aware of the problems of arguing against software freedom by claiming that if one is free to become a slave, one isn't really free. That merely tries to turn freedom into paradox wherein proprietary software (the software that restricts your freedoms) are equivalent to respecting a user's software freedom. It's not a good argument.

In fact, nobody is restricting you from choosing non-free software or non-copylefted Free Software. The point remains with what you choose—what freedoms are you getting from your choices? With Free Software, particularly strongly-copylefted Free Software, the choices you are free to partake of are a lot more clear and beneficial to you, even if the strongly-copylefted Free Software program doesn't currently implement what you want. Because adding the missing functionality is an option and you don't have to fear that you trade away valuable freedoms in return. Convenience is simply overvalued to the point of giving up on liberties and that's a major problem.

Comment: Re:Try understanding Free Software goals first (Score 1) 551

by jbn-o (#49056027) Attached to: RMS Objects To Support For LLVM's Debugger In GNU Emacs's Gud.el

I believe you're making a gross assumption by picking apart a minor error in my post. Most people use IP as shorthand.

No, I am responding to what you actually said. I do recommend avoiding the term "IP" no matter how popular it is precisely for the reasons I linked to if you wish to avoid the confusions that term raises.

I'm sure we're all grateful for your past and ongoing contributions to our software freedom (I certainly am) but nobody should get a pass for evidenceless assertions such as:

  • "The issue with the FSF is that it is a political organization and doesn't give a crap about the quality of the software they release."
  • "What RMS doesn't want is a threat to what he sees as his privileged place in the community."

When I hear an RMS talk I hear him give examples of real-world instances to back up his points. He writes with links to news stories to back up his claims. I don't see any pointers to that kind of information in what you write, just your opinion on matters that really need some backing up.

Consider your point about RMS's alleged egotistical involvement in this LLVM issue:

I can't help but hear a note of jealousy in RMS' tone when he fights against tools which are already free for the sake of preserving the FSF's position. The FSF has, quite frankly, sewn the seeds of this for many years by taking the policy that it did with GCC and other projects and making them inferior in order to keep them free. This position BEGS another group to come in and do it right. Some people may argue that he has a problem with the license.... I suspect that even if it were LGPLv3+ or GPLv3+ he would still have an issue since it is NOT gcc. If you make a more useful tool... people will flock to it. This is a lesson that I hope the FSF learns well and takes away from this experience.

I recall RMS saying something to this point:

For GCC to be replaced by another technically superior compiler that defended freedom equally well would cause me some personal regret, but I would rejoice for the community's advance. The existence of LLVM is a terrible setback for our community precisely because it is not copylefted and can be used as the basis for nonfree compilers -- so that all contribution to LLVM directly helps proprietary software as much as it helps us.

In fact much of that post to the mailing list would be relevant to reply to this story today. And RMS published that post about a year ago.

Comment: Stop using non-Free Software (Score 5, Insightful) 166

by jbn-o (#49055847) Attached to: Vint Cerf Warns Against 'Digital Dark Age'

Quite right, in fact most of what gets posted to /. including this story could be responded to with a phrase Eben Moglen has been saying for years in his talks: "RMS was right". Richard Stallman had it right years ago and, equally importantly, for the right reasons. Not "Open Source" (the younger movement Brad Kuhn rightly points out is built to greenwash proprietary-supporting non-copylefted Free Software (copy 1, copy 2) but strongly copylefted Free Software released and developed for freedom.

The Affero GPL version 3 or later will keep software Free as in freedom and meet the needs of the future. Users will undoubtedly want to know how things work and benefit from software written by programmers allowed to understand how things work. This will help us avoid the very trap the grandparent post referred to (and you wisely advised against).

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.