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Comment Proprietary malware is nothing new. (Score 1) 555

No proprietor can be trusted, that's what the free software movement has been telling us for decades. It's not at all surprising that a company which has been distributing proprietary malware for a long time continues to do so. Only people who think they know an OS by running it for a long time or want to believe that a proprietor-supplied control would truly protect one's privacy from the proprietor would believe otherwise.

Comment Let's not conflate RMS's views with the FSF's. (Score 1) 39

Just to be clear: The questioner asked if the "FSF will endorse TPP opponents" and the parent response answered in the affirmative them went on to describe how Richard Stallman (RMS) did this. But RMS is not the FSF and vice versa; RMS endorsing candidates isn't the same as the FSF endorsing candidates. I've never seen the FSF endorse a candidate and I don't know of anything that would lead me to believe the FSF will endorse a candidate for a political race anywhere. I'm pretty sure this separation between himself and the FSF is important to both the FSF and RMS, and why RMS maintains his own website and posts some articles there expressing his own views including the text "This is the personal web site of Richard Stallman. The views expressed here are my personal views, not those of the Free Software Foundation or the GNU Project." on the front page of

Comment Don't like GPLv3? Write your own implementation. (Score 1) 311

So if "[e]ven when there is a permissive license, it's still incredibly difficult for a new file format to gain any traction" then there there would seem to be nothing lost by licensing the reference implementation under the GNU GPLv3 despite your vague claim that the GPL hinders "broad adoption". You say "If the ultimate goal is to promote this file format, this is not the best way of doing it" but you say nothing about what "the best way" is or what constitutes "best".

"FOSS" means free and open source software, software released under a license approved of by both the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative; there are many other such licenses. It's unclear what you mean by "FOSS/GPL" as being somehow distinct from the "GPL" (meaning the GNU General Public License), a term used for decades which requires no qualification. Perhaps you're confused by the term "GNU/Linux" which is the GNU operating system in combination with the Linux kernel (as opposed to, GNU/HURD or GNU/kFreeBSD, to name a couple of examples, which are the GNU OS with the HURD or FreeBSD kernels respectively).

For being moderated as insightful I see a self-contraction, unclear use of confused terminology, and a complaint hinting that something far better should be done without any explanation of what that is.

Comment Copylefted free software is needed (Score 1) 166

Even if the software source code isn't necessary for the emissions testing out of the tailpipe it is necessary for car owners to make the car do what they want. This is an opportunity for the public to get the car that is completely under their control. There's plenty of other fraudulent behavior that is under the control of the car software which can't be fixed except by changing the software (radio emissions and input via car remote controls, for example). Car owners deserve to be able to control their owned objects completely while complying with reasonable laws. Therefore we need strongly copylefted free software to achieve this in order to grant and secure the necessary freedoms for the foreseeable future.

Comment Accountability & prevention: AGPL3 or later (Score 1) 494

We need accountability and prevention. Accountability should come in the form of corporate death penalties (as in the corporation's assets are seized to pay debts and the corporation no longer exists), and prevention in the form of publishing complete corresponding source code to all cars sold in the US as a part of the car. When you buy a car, you should own the car including all software installed on that car. Other countries would be wise to follow suit to protect their citizens and the environment from apparently malevolent multi-year fraudsters who wish to dodge ecological regulations.

The Free Software Foundation was right: all published software must be free. But since this situation highlights how fraud and abuse can be hidden in nonfree software, we can defend ourselves from this with strongly copylefted free software (right now that means AGPL v3 or later). I don't want anyone taking any car in for any work and coming out with nonfree software thus reintroducing this problem. You cannot have safe computer software without software freedom. And a strong copylefted free software license plus multiple freedom-minded contributors who are willing to pursue lawsuits will help defend against proprietary derivatives (as such legal work has done for the Linux kernel). As I said in the recent VW thread on this: I don't care about upstream copyright excuses should VW claim to have built their software on nonfree upstream code. Our individual and collective safety is far too important. This, like virtually everything else we do, is a matter of political will to do the right and just thing.

When people come around to seeing how an increasing dependence on computers (namely, putting computers in everything) means risking our lives, our civil liberties, our health, our freedom to move without being tracked, and more, we can easily justify pushing for more strongly copylefted free software.

Comment Number of lines of code is a distraction. (Score 1) 618

I read the "single line of code" editorial as a distraction away from what matters: accountability and prevention.

Accountability can come in the form of lawsuits from affected car owners and those who can show the subsequent environmental harm caused a problem for them. Letting VW negotiate its own fate is ridiculous and, if the government's action with GM is any guide, unlikely to result in more than a slap of the wrist.

Prevention must also be dealt with, and strongly copylefted free software licenses will help here. Whether this was the result of a mistake (VW's years-long negligence) or planning (VW's years-long fraudulence) is a detail as far as prevention goes because either way VW should be freeing the complete source code to the cars and providing complete specifications for any code it cannot provide so as to allow the easiest possible reverse engineering. Any cost of purchasing code for freeing should be borne by VW.

VW is not in a position to dicker here. I don't buy the excuse of uncooperative upstream providers VW depends on for their code and the public shouldn't either. The stakes (our health) are too high to settle for less than complete corresponding source code under a strong copylefted license so that any published improvements are also free. Keep in mind, this is code car owners should have had from day 1 under a free license so they can fully own their own cars, taking code to experts they trust just like many take their car mechanisms to garages they trust to get fixed. Trusting the market got us where we are now, the market apparently will not grant us the freedom to let us help ourselves and our air-breathing neighbors by fixing the defective VW cars already out there since 2009 (over 480,000 of them). Not buying VW reaches the same conclusion. Not recognizing software freedom for its own sake and the preservation of that protection in copyleft will increasingly become a matter of life and death as we entrust more of our daily functions to software.

Comment Privacy is a prerequsite for liberty (Score 1) 316

Hacking free software continues to prove fruitful. In fact, some people use it and rely on it for their freedoms (such as Edward Snowden). But proprietary software is long known to be untrustworthy by default, no matter who the proprietor is or what excuse they (or their water carriers) have for denying users software freedom. So there's no gain to be had in a capitulation view. Privacy and other freedoms are worth fighting for and there's plenty of good to be had in the fight. Some of those fights take the form of saying "no" to a convenience or trend on the grounds that one values one's privacy more.

Comment "User privacy" coming from a proprietor? How naive (Score 1) 70

Based on what evidence do you conclude that "Apple is pushing for user privacy"? Even if the software ran on one's tracker, the transcript or audio of any call could easily be uploaded wherever a proprietary software developer and distributor wants without the user's awareness or informed consent. Voice transcription is an important part of better indexing people's calls, which better serves multiple interests including targetted retrieval of the kind Snowden has told us organizations have been doing for some time now.

Comment The future of reading before posting? (Score 1) 359

You're unlikely to get the answer you seek because you've framed your question in terms of a movement Stallman is (rightly) opposed to, and in ways that he's already explained many times (even the /. summary points to one of the essays on this) -- why Stallman objects to the open source movement (older essay, newer essay also pointed to in the /. summary). He recommends against using Facebook (and has started every talk in the past year or so with an explanation of why posting pictures of people in Facebook/Instagram is a bad idea). I hope he will point out to you that you don't need these things to avoid "losing connection with the rest of the world" and you should value things the open source movement was designed to never talk about, and privacy these services are designed to deny every user of the web. One can hardly "benefit the users" while advocating against copyleft (as the open source movement does), never talking about software freedom (as the open source movement was designed to do), and maintaining a monstrous search engine (as is at the heart of Facebook). You could have done the slightest bit of research and found any of these things I pointed to.

Comment Re:The Anti-Stallman Brigade rears its head again (Score 1) 75

Slashdot seems to me to be a proponent of the open source movement, the software development methodology that Bradley Kuhn rightly called "greenwashing" (another copy) the free software movement by talking about much the same software and licenses but without the freedom talk in order to placate business interests seeking to proprietarize software. Consider the case in this thread—defending copyleft—this clearly shows the difference between the two movements. The older free software movement wants to preserve software freedom while the younger open source movement was built to not discuss software freedom at all. Kuhn's personal blog post on this topic describes the situation very well and with no punches pulled.

When you come across someone who talks and works to defend software freedom, such as Richard Stallman, in a forum whose participants are (be they a proprietor's shill or genuinely describing their own view) devoted to supporting the kind of power over the user that strongly copylefted licenses, such as the GNU GPLs, were built to withstand you're going to find people using whatever namecalling and misrepresentative tactics they can come up with to try and malign Stallman (as if that would somehow reflect badly on software freedom). The complaints get weaker over time (remember when people used to complain that the GPL wasn't defensible in court?) so the objectors have to find other avenues to try and distract people into not thinking in terms of software freedom. It wouldn't matter if software freedom were proposed and initially championed by someone wholly objectionable; that wouldn't make software freedom a bad thing. Talking about Stallman instead of talking about software freedom is doing that distractionary work because the facts on the ground fail to back the case that we're better off without software freedom.

Comment Critical distinction between HW & SW: user fre (Score 3, Interesting) 193

If the same blob was included in chip's ROM, nobody would think it's different from before right?

Yes, we would think it's different because it is different. When the functionality of that blob is in a ROM chip or circuitry, nobody can update it, including the proprietor, without hardware modification or hardware replacement. When the functionality is in software or any kind of reprogrammable device, the question becomes who is allowed to run, inspect, share, and modify that code. This is an important ethical distinction that the developmental philosophy of the younger open source movement was designed to never raise as an issue because that movement wants to pitch a message of cheap labor to businesses.

All the questions of software freedom enter the picture because you're dealing with software now. All the issues that the open source movement was designed not to raise (older essay on this topic, newer essay on this topic) the older free software movement raised over a decade before the open source movement began.

If this code were distributed as Free Software to its users, this could be great news for all of us (even the majority of computer users who will never fully take advantage of these freedoms because they're never going to become programmers). Programmers can accomplish wonderful practical benefits like putting in interesting features, fixing bugs, learning from the code, all while being friendly with others by giving or selling services based on improving that code, and helping to keep users safe from malware all along the way.

If this code is distributed as non-free user-subjugating software (a.k.a. proprietary software), the proprietor (Intel in this case) is the only party who can inspect, share, and modify that code. And users (regardless of technical ability) are purposefully left out of controlling their own computers, which is unethical.

Comment An inarticulate defense of Apple won't help them. (Score 1, Flamebait) 260

"Apple bashing"? How inarticulate and ultimately blindly supportive of a known repeat bad actor to keep their customers from controlling the iThings they buy. It's hardly far-fetched to see how the company receives bad press. They've made an ugly history for themselves rife with mistreating workers, users, and harming the environment. They found they could get away with non-freedom in software also exploits app developers "mercilessly" as Richard Stallman put it on his reasons why one shouldn't do business with Apple. Apple also uses digital restrictions management on eBooks which is set up so that those eBooks won't work on jailbroken iThings, stuck users with a U2 album and made it hard to delete, censors bitcoin apps for iThings, deauthorized a Wikileaks access application, banned an erotic novel from iTunes because of its cover, left a security hole in iTunes unfixed for 3 years, and more.

Comment Freedom is important in its own right. (Score 1) 321

People should keep that in mind when they argue for non-free browsers over Free Software browsers such as Firefox, GNU IceCat, and others. Being free to control your Internet experience is critical, being free to decide what you want to take in is never totally in your hands when you run non-free (proprietary, user-subjugating) software. The proprietor always has the upper hand even if they don't use that power right away or in ways you don't see or understand.

Comment Re:Corporate media doesn't act in public's interes (Score 1) 113

What you call "the slow way" is called journalism. Journalism, like scientific work or any other work worth doing, takes time to do. There are plenty of examples of independent journalism being done well, some have already been shared in this thread by others. Here are some more that come to mind: Democracy Now!, NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal were both quite well done and worth watching reruns/archives (moreso the Journal), CounterPunch, Harry Shearer's weekly Le Show, and The Real News. All of these focus on issues of importance, get more deeply into those issues via interviews with those who have studied the topic in-depth via investigative journalism and those who work in the field, and leave you with pointers to more information you can study yourself. I'm sure there are so many more examples of this work being done well I didn't list but don't let that stop you from trying various sources and reading books (paper books, not DRM'd proprietary-driven computer-based readers that track you, threaten to cut off your reading, or deny you the other freedoms paper grants). You won't agree with everything you see, hear, and read but the point isn't to manufacture your consent, it's to get you thinking critically about the world outside the allowable limits of debate so often featured in mainstream coverage.

Comment Corporate media doesn't act in public's interest (Score 1) 113

But the corporate media (including repeaters like /.) are designed to hew closely to the "firehose" reportage which includes drawing conclusions quickly so people stay focused on what's coming next, and anything undesirable that somehow gets reported doesn't stick around in the reported consciousness for long. This is inherently incompatible with real life where, as you say, real change takes far longer to be seen. Adherents to the firehose approach implicitly say their take is a good thing (obviously few would argue they're actively promoting something bad) despite the foreseeable adverse impact on the public's welfare.

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[We] use bad software and bad machines for the wrong things. -- R.W. Hamming