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GNU is Not Unix

Journal spellraiser's Journal: Stallman 2

I went to see Richard Stallman give talks here in Iceland yesterday and the day before. The first lecture was about the Free Software movement and the philosophy behind Free Software. The second one was about the issue of software patents.

I must say that I was greatly impressed, both by the man's ideas and his presentation of those ideas. He is obviously a man who thinks things thoroughly, spending a great deal of time on building his opinions on sound logical foundations. On top of that, he is a man of principles - he has basic philosophies of life, and does not compromise them for any reason.

I am fascinated by the community-minded aspects of the whole Free Software philosophy. No wonder Steve Ballmer and his lackeys have compared it with communism. Although that's surely a ridiculous and typically simian comparison, it does have a slight grain of truth to it - Free Sofware is about building communities and contributing to society as opposed to making a profit through divisionism and monopoly.

Also, Stallman's analysis of the software patent situation was, as far as I could tell, spot on. If I thought software patents were a bad idea before hearing Stallman lecture on them, I am totally won over now. Broad-ranging software patents on algorithms or some vague ideas are harmful to software development in general. It is the software itself as a whole that has a value, not the various ideas that it uses. Stallman likened the current situation to a 18. century Europe where composers could get patents on general musical ideas, thus stagnating the whole music scene.

Well, Stallman said it all better than I can. Maybe I should just finish with a link to the fine fellow's page.

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  • You know, I believe that there are probably software iedas worthy of a patent somewhere. However, I've yet to see one. There are so many false hits that I think it's time to get rid of the concept.
    • Yes, probably some truly patentable ideas are hiding somewhere, maybe inside them black holes or sumthin'

      But like you said, they way these patents are being applied, and how truly inane many of them are, it's detrimental on the whole. We can only hope that the rest of the world does not follow the United States in adopting these kinds of patents, and that they will be repealed there.

      I'm crossing my fingers for good luck.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10