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GNU is Not Unix

Richard Stallman Audio Interview at Wired 130

MacRonin writes: "Richard Stallman interview Value Your Freedom at Wired." The RMS [?] interview clocks in at 21 minutes, talking about User Liberation, Amazon Boycotts, Hackers Crackers Pirates, and "Advice to Users." The last one kinda sounds like a William S. Burroughs [?] bit.
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Richard Stallman Audio Interview at Wired

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    That a commentary on music piracy is available as an mp3.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Firstly, congratulations to them for choosing mp3 over realaudio or mediaplayer's native format. But when they're just recording voice - why have it at the same bitrate you'd rip some quality Aphex Twin to?

    They're recording people speaking at 128bps... doesn't this seem silly to anyone else?

    Or should we move to a format with no lossyness - 256bit/s speech.. yeah, that'd fucking matter to the dialup public.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Will someone do this jackass a favor and moderate him down just because he asked? Seriously, I'm sick to DEATH of people who beg for karma points with that fscking sentence. "I know this will get me moderated down" or "There goes my Karma".. It's sick. If you have an opinion, don't try to apologize for it, STATE it and see if it will be moderated. If it really IS a troll, it will be properly moderated in its own time, not because you said "Oh no, my poor poor Karma."

    And as for the GPL, it's well acknowleged that GPL code is not 'truly' free, anymore then a person is 'free' to sell themselves into slavery. GPL code is guaranteed to always be free. Always. Once you put that little disclaimer on board, saying your code has been released under the terms of the GPL, your code will forever remain in the realm of the free. Noone will ever be able to take it, modify it, and not give you mention, not give you credit, and only distribute binaries.

    If you want your code to be free in all manners, try the BSDL. Under that license there are very few things you aren't allowed to do with yours and others code. If you want to release binaries only, so be it. This freedom however, comes with the possibility of people not giving back to the community after changing your code. If you don't care about this, then go ahead and use the BSD. People use the GPL to maintain the freedom of their code. It is your freedom he is talking about. The perpetuability of your freedom.

    As for the old Ben Franklin quote, he said that any man who would trade a little freedom for a little security deserves neither. While that may be a nice quote to throw around, frankly it has no place in this discussion. While he was a smart man, that isn't much of a way to look at life. By entering a governmental structure, a structure of laws, even any basic structure of values, we all sacrifice some 'rights' for security and stability. Otherwise, we'd all probably believe we had the 'right' to kill one another on a whim. Or the 'right' to sell ourselves into slavery.
  • So slowly leech the content off and do it right. I'm sure they'd bitch if someone was downloading everything at once, but put plenty of sleep calls in a simple script. Then put it all into a more proper database, and make it 100x better. It would be more interesting to search run searches on all the fields.
  • SOAR [berkeley.edu] (Searchable Online Archive of Recipes) is pretty close to what you propose, only with all food, not just Pizza. And, it's under a pretty free license, basically "copy but don't claim it's your own work."
  • Total freedom, IMHO, disappeared the day the second sentient being was born on this planet. Freedom is as much about everyone's freedom as it is about yours.

    Actually, we all have total freedom. That includes, of course, the freedom to set up governments and systems of laws, and to try and persuade others that those laws should be obeyed.
  • Linux != GNU.

    One thing to remember is that FSF != GNU != RMS, as far as Stallman thinks of it. GNU is the project to create a totally free, open software system, and is larger than the FSF. Labelling this end result as GNU, therefore, is just identifying it all as part of this grand project, not claiming it as FSF's/RMS's work. Linux, on the other hand, clearly (if not by original intent) associates the whole kit and kaboodle with Mr. Torvalds, as one can witness from the press attention.

    That being said, I think it is counter-productive to insist on a namechange now. Stallman may end up helping snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by creating a schism (or at the least, marginalize himself and, by association, his ideas by getting people annoyed at him) by insisting on the change. And clearly GNU is closely associated with RMS and the FSF.
  • The idea that _companies_ *must* give software, with source code, away for free doesn't really make sense. If companies were not going to make any (or much) money off their products, then the product wouldn't even exist in the first place.

    Seems to me that the very existence of Red Hat, SuSE, etc. pretty much puts paid to that idea, I should think?
  • What about all of the free software developers who are not high school/college students, then? Who are you to dictate what other people's incentives may be? Why must everyone be looking for a high paying job?

    Where would software developers find jobs in a world of all free software? Companies still need software written for their in-house IT needs. People would need applications written and would pay for those to be written. The software world would be different, certainly, but it would still exist.

  • It's a spiritual. You're supposed to sing it while you're driving in the keys of the free software you're writing in the hot sun while the sweat pours down your face.

    Ok, Maybe not. :)

  • Is it just me or did this Slashdot article show up this morning then vanish and then show up again this afternoon?
    Anyone else notice this?
  • If you write a good user-type program it should not NEED much support because of your excellent user interface and docs. What you suggest is to encourage developers to make our programs hard to use and needing of constant hand-holding so we can squeeze the users for cash flow. How is that any morally better than just selling the program in the first place?

    Cars are a bad analogy. Cars need regular maintenance no matter what kind of car it is. I have programs that I got years ago that still work just fine today, with never a dollar more of support or docs.

    What *is* so freakin hard to understand? People do NOT want to buy a dozen t-shirts with your program name on them.
  • Well I've been making a living at it for 20 years and intend to do so for another 20 if I don't cash out earlier. If you think big companies are all going to get rid of their programmers because some idiot has posted some source code somewhere you have an exceedingly thin grasp on reality.
  • What he said was:

    Make money on the service, the documentation, the support.

    The better the program is, the less support and doc it needs. He was talking about making money on open-source s/w. That WAS the topic, and the only thing I've ever heard here to answer that question is "sell support, docs, and t-shirts".

    Sorry, wrong answer friend.

    If your program is good enough to not need any support or docs then you make nothing. (And why should docs not go with the program? It costs nothing to drop HTML or text files into the distribution, same as the s/w itself! You write docs for the love of it just like programs, right? That IS the basis for this line of thought!)

    So anyone wanting to make money by this formula on open-source had better sell a ton of t-shirts. That implies that you make the program difficult to use instead of easy so you can sell the support. This is pretty simple logic, and pretty basic human nature.

    I write programs for money. I have no personal use for a system to report adverse drug reactions to the FDA.

    This smarmy "remember it's not about money, it's about software" is a joke. Get a job, get a life, and stop telling other people what to do.
  • The first part of your comment I agree with, but as for patents:

    RMS needs to lighten his stance against Amazon. I think Jeff Bezos's reply to Tim O'Reilly's open letter did a good job of explaning why Amazon had to get the patents it did

    Sure, but not why they used them aggressively.

    There are a lot of other companies that are misusing software patents to a much worse degree than Amazon -- why not boycott them instead?

    The other companies using them are actual software companies, so we do effectively boycott them simply by using Free Software.

  • Funny. The company where I work doesnt even have open capital, yet it somehow turns profit.
  • The point is: GNU was making an OS. In the past few years, GNU had been busy writing and collecting tools to make up a complete Free OS.

    Then from the Linux kernel to a complete OS it is still a big step. But it was easy, because all one had to do was take the collection GNU had been gathering and plug in the new kernel/libc. Presto.

    So it is reasonable to say it is the GNU OS with a Linux kernel. But IMVHO it is not, because of the very spirit of the GPL.

    Let us assume there was already an existing, working GNU OS by that time. Can't I take it, replace the kernel by this new toy from Finland, and call it Linux, Slackware, FnordOS or whatever I damn well want to?

    These are the facts as I see them. I don't have an opinion one way or the other.

  • Actually, you are the 'wanabe', if you are 'going to' make a living from it. Some people here are programmers who do make a living of it, paid by companies with a future such as RedHat, VA, Conectiva, SuSE or whatever.

    If you plan to make a living from non-free softwaer, good luck. You better hurry, in a few years this will not be possible anymore and you will either be working at McDonalds, or working on Free Software like some of us and laughing at the foolishness of your youth.

  • Not anytime in the near future, because mr. Stalin and mr. McCarthy already did a pretty good job of making our civilization completely refratary to these kinds of ideas. (sigh)
  • Yes and no. There are free MP3s encoders that are legal in many countries - just not the US. LAME, GOGO, BladeEnc, 8hz-mp3, and probably more. No clue about the legality of importing them, but I know dozens of people in the US using them.

    As a side note, I remember hearing something about AOL buying the MP3 patent from Franhauffer[sp]... with AOL's recent turn towards (at least some) free software, anyone know what their stance is on all this?

  • Alternatively, if you replaced the GNU tools of a Linux distribution with the FreeBSD tools and libraries (after making appropriate changes to accomodate the kernel differences), you'd have something that you could justifiably call FreeBSD/Linux (that would be a much more constructive use of Tom's time, I think).

    That's exactly what he is doing. I think the project is called something like Demon Penguin.

  • did I miss a link to the text version?

    Here's the text version:

    begin 600 RMS_interview.au
    G4V]R<GDL('1H870@:G5S="!C;W5L9&XG="!B92!P87-S960@= 7`*
    `
    end

    * Yakko is suddenly beaten over the head with a large rubber chicken.

    --

  • Seems to me a good test of Stallman's ideas would be to see a company like RedHat turn a profit.

    I think it would be even better if a significant proportion of the people who wrote the code in the typical Linux distribution would turn a profit.
  • I've yet to hear the Free/Closed software discussion veer in the direction of property in general. Really what's being asked here is whether people have the right to property in general. Software, not being limited in quantity as one can copy it and still have the original, is logically the first item in which property rights is questioned. Once people realize that logically this can be extended to all aspects of life, since humankind left scarcity behind a while ago (when you think about it, technology has put people in a situation where basic needs for all can be met), then real change may occur.

    Of course, it may be that people will always be greedy bastards that want more than anyone else, but I hope not....
  • and what did *you* use to DL your first pr0n?
    (crotchety old man mode)
    When I was your age, I had text-mode terminal program on a 286. Good enough for nabbing a few nekkid ladies off the local "adult" BBS. Xmodem over a 2400 baud modem, uphill, both ways, in the snow, barefoot! And I liked it!!
    (/crotchety old man mode)
  • Perhaps I have been misunderstood.

    Linux is not a commercial product, and would exist regardless of whether or not there were other commercial products in existance.

    I'm saying that companies who currently sell software products, would not be writing them if they did not have the ability to sell, and control ownership, of that product.

    I don't know ... maybe I'm really not making any sense. I really need some sleep. :-)
  • The idea that _companies_ *must* give software, with source code, away for free doesn't really make sense. If companies were not going to make any (or much) money off their products, then the product wouldn't even exist in the first place.
  • I agree with you, but I don't see how this relates to this thread.

    I'm not saying that no software should be free, and all software should be commercial. I'm simply saying that not all software needs to be free ... because if it did, then most of the software available would not be in existance.
  • Nitpick: *BSD uses its own BSD versions of the free tools, although you can install GNU versions obviously.

    Don't you love it when you go between 3 or 4 unices (plural of unix?) in a day and none of the command line options that you expect are there? GNU has become somewhat of a de-facto standard, in my mind at least.

  • Nobody wants to call it GNU/Linux because the kernel was compiled with gcc, or because Linus coded in emacs. It is GNU/Linux because nearly all of the command line interaction is through GNU tools, and the c lib is GNU. It's not like anyone is advocating calling win32 perl MSVC++/Perl.
  • FYI: Linus and company didn't fix the GNU-software to run under Linux, they wrote Linux to be working with GNU-software ;-)

    so long ...

  • Do you really think the majority of programmers work in the commercial software industry? Don't fool yourself. More coders work in house for banks, or hardware manufacturers or things like web-site design, or database design and maintenance. I would be surprised if more than 20% of coders work for companies that actually sell software.

    Don't shovel that old line about free software being equivalent to starving penniless code-grinders. It just don't fly.
  • You've hit the nail on the head. When RMS talks about "free" and "freedom", he is using a different definition than you or I. It's almost like he's using an orwellian GNUspeak. It is absolutely ridiculous to portray users of closed source software as being enslaved, dominated or subjugated, yet that is precisely how RMS portrays them.

    I have heard on too numerous occasions, that one has to restrict freedom in order to protect it, and that's what the GPL is, restrictions on freedom to protect free software. They use spurious analogies like "if there were no restrictions to freedom, then people would be free to murder", or the classic "your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose", indicating that they have absolutely no clue what freedom is to begin with.

    Open Source software has nothing to do with freedom. It has everything to do with defining property rights so that people can excercise the freedoms they already possess.
  • with AOL's recent turn towards (at least some) free software, anyone know what their stance is on all this?

    Yea, visit the Gnutella website....


    --
  • Did you take a look at the "streaming audio" link? It is just a list of urls to mp3s to play. You can just download the mp3s as well. I found it interesting to actually hear Stallman as well as his ideas.

    I was also impressed with how Stallman held it together in the face of semi-informed reporters. I had expected Stallman to rip the reporters apart when they said Linux was not GNU (I can see how rms can become irrate with the fame of Linux but the obscurity of GNU/FSF).

  • This issue has been discussed in the past. The RMS line seems to be that freedom for `the masses' comes ahead of freedom for programmers. This is, for instance, a reason why he is trying to persuade developers not to release LGPLed code [gnu.org].

    Whether you agree with this or not is another matter entirely, but it's clearly his reasoned view, and I doubt it's going to change now.

  • What makes GNU tools the defacto standard when none of the other equivalents use their "extensions"? If they were the standard, the others would add those additional options.

    You obviously haven't spent very much time using proprietary Unices. For example, HP-UX's sed(1) doesn't seem to have been significantly updated since about 1983. Beleagured sysadmins like myself usually just say "fuck this" and install the GNU tools.

    Example, the GNU automake/autoconf generates makefiles that are only usable with gmake.

    The gmake dependencies are there, but only with automake, not autoconf by itself. Really, gmake dependencies are the only real problem that I've ever encountered out of your list.

    Example, shell scripts from GNU are invariably designed for bash and not generic sh.

    I honestly haven't had any problems with GNU shell scripts on any systems with a POSIX-compliant shell. (There are some Unices still floating around with a /bin/sh that is not fully POSIX-compliant). You're more likely to get bitten by differences in the supporting tools.

    People who write shell scripts on GNU platforms do get sloppy with portability, yes, but that's not specific to GNU platforms.

    Example, most GNU software requires the extensions in glibc, and will not work with any other C library.

    Whoa whoa whoa... now that's just patently false. I mean, just consider the fact that the GNU tools ship for a large number of platforms without the GNU library (e.g. FreeBSD, Win32, even VMS ... eep!).

    Even that aside, I've personally built and installed the vast majority of the GNU tools on a stock HP-UX 10.20 system. Everything seems to work fine, and the only caveat was that I needed to build and install GNU make first to build some packages that used automake.

    So, no offense, but at least based on my own experience, I'd have to say that the claim that GNU tools are all dependent on the GNU C library is complete bullshit.

  • Big C or little c, RMS is closer to anarcho-syndicalism which in case you're curious doesn't say that there should be no laws and no order and everyone should do whatever they want. No it says that basically that there should not be large organizational entities be they governments or corporations that hold all of the power and the ability to divest themselves of that power. What you people are complaining about - "This is not freedom since I can't do what I want..." are implying what T. Jefferson a while back "...total freedom implies near total anarchy..." We've gone over this people. Make the code available to all for no charge. Distribute your changes into the distribution. Make money on the service, the documentation, the support. Hell even car dealerships understand this; make almost nothing on the vehicle and most of the profit comes through the serivice and parts desks. What is so freakin hard to understand?
  • Make the code available to all for no charge. Distribute your changes into the distribution. Make money on the service, the documentation, the support. Hell even car dealerships understand this; make almost nothing on the vehicle and most of the profit comes through the serivice and parts desks. What is so freakin hard to understand?


    Well, I'd like to know how those of us who actually develop the software will make a living. As it is, it's the distributors (Red Hat, Info Magic, Cheap Bytes, whatever...) that get money, while the developers get nothing.

    I want to write code. I do it for a living. I don't want to have to do tech support, or write manuals. Now how can I do that in the scope of what you propose? Keep in mind that support sellers can provide just as good support
    whether or not they pay for the development. Which do you think they'll do? (And yes, I am aware that Red Hat pays a small number of developers to develop an extremely small proportion of what goes onto a typical Red Hat CD...)

    Consider also that if the code is free, competing distributors will have access to that code the instant you release it, and can include it in their distro. Instead of developers getting paid for the quality of their work, they're paid only if they managed to get hired by the leading distributor/support-seller. Does that make sense?

    Incidently, I do like free software. I've contributed to several free software projects, and I've been meaning to release one myself in the future. Saying that all software should be free isn't realistic though, unless you can guarantee that developers will be paid for the work they've done. To do that, you have to charge for the software itself, and sadly, the free software community seems to think that software must be free (like beer) in order to be free (like speech). Because of that, most free software developers have to have "day jobs", which means that a very small proportion of our development efforts actually end up becoming free.
  • Wow! I thought that I was running a operating system called "Linux" on my home PCs, and that I got this software installed without paying any money to the developers (I've paid CheapBytes and InfoMagic for CDs, but nothing to Red Hat or other distributors). Thanks to AviN, I now know that I was hallucinating: since the developers did not make money, the product does not exist in the first place.

    CmdrTaco, it looks like we've been called on our joke. Thanks to AviN's impeccable logic, it's clear that we're making everything up: the alleged subject matter of this web site does not exist. Thankfully, you sold out in time.

    Now that the whole thing will collapse, you can take a much-deserved vacation.

  • I guess there wasn't much of a choice. It's either MP3 or RealAudio, and they picked the less evil one.
  • (slightly on topic)
    I work with someone who was in a band, one with a major label contract, and they got totally fscked over; I was in a band for many years, too, and while we never got a contract, we released a few records on our own and toured and gigged all over the country. Same end result; we're both working on debugging a piece of code.

    Maybe thats why I am into free software. The one thing I wanted, when I was in a band, was to have control over my business. Yet I knew, in the back of my mind, that at one point I would have to make the haul to LA or NYC and pitch myself, and my band, as a product. I'd have to talk about sales figures, fan base, and marketability (and boy were we some ugly dudes. I'd have to sell myself to a huge company, since they controlled the means of production and promotion (other than working for less than minimum wage, at triple the hours, which is all we ever managed). I see the two as intrinsicly linked, or at the very least strongly related. MP3 and Napster is a threat not to the musicians, who will make money on tours and web-based merchandising, but on the profits of the media conglomerate. Free Software is a threat to companies that are firmly entrenched in old-school thought. Hell, Microsoft relies on brick-and-mortar, a lot (along with corrupt deals...)
  • While I am only taking my first foray into ambient and electronica, it seems to me that the same rules apply. Go to places. Talk to established DJs and get them to play your tapes. Go with a loss-leader business plan: distribute your music widely, over the internet, until people like to so much they'll pay for it.
  • Well, that business model kept Netscape alive for some time. Also, the idea that mp3 will ruin the artists is just bunk. Every time technology changes, the industry rants and raves, OH, this new technology is going to destroy music (and our jobs). And you know what? It never has, and the industry just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Please explain how THIS particular technological terror will actually be the one that destroys the business and forces the hordes of surly, unkempt musicians (me included) into the streets.

    Not flamebait: I just am waiting for someone to give a reasoned response.
  • rms' position (at least, in part) is that the following two statements:
    1. Linux was created independently of the FSF
    2. the Linux developers used FSF tools
    are mutually contradictory. I would tend to agree with this point.

    Sorry, I would tend to disagree with both of you - GNU tools are, if I recall correctly, distributed free under the GPL. If I use GNU-emacs to write the Great American Novel, does that mean that the FSF is entitled to take credit for my efforts? Who created the Mona Lisa - da Vinci, or the merchant who made his paint brush? Maybe the folks who built my browser should be able to take credit for these comments, eh?

    The FSF makes a number of excellent tools available to the computing community worldwide; I won't argue that in the least. The idea that the FSF should be allowed to take (or share) credit for work done with those tools is ridiculous. The FSF gave away their tools under the GPL; if RMS wanted credit given to the FSF for software built using those tools, he should have added a BSD-style advertising clause. He didn't, though, and the constant litany of "GNU/Linux! It's GNU/Linux!" out of the FSF is starting to sound less like an argument for credit and more like whining for attention.

  • by peterb ( 13831 )
    No, no, no, it's Stallman that can go fuck himself. :-) Sorry. I couldn't resist. At least we should be glad that he didn't start singing "The Free Software Song" [stanford.edu] (gee, "thanks," Jamie Zawinski) in the middle of the interview.
  • [IMHO]RMS needs to lighten his stance against Amazon. I think Jeff Bezos's reply to Tim O'Reilly's open letter did a good job of explaning why Amazon had to get the patents it did.

    I have to disagree here. Bezos ' letter [amazon.com] does condede that patents can indeed be harmful to innovation, but offers no reason for why his patents should stand, other than to say "I don't believe it would be right for us to [relinquish those patents]... even though the vast majority of our competitive advantage will continue to come not from patents, but from raising the bar on things like service, price, and selection." Note that Bezos could have argued that 1-Click (or any of the other patents which Amazon holds) were sufficiently innovative and distinctive to merit their own patents: he did not.

    Stallman's criticism is that Bezos cannot (and, as nearly as I can tell, did not) argue that his patent was acquired for purely defensive reasons. A defensive patent is never used to launch a lawsuit. Protecting your business investment is one thing: suing someone [wired.com] is quite another.

  • The difference is that the power tools are not included in your shelf, but the GNU tools are included in every Linux distribution.
    --
  • I should have clarified. They didn't change ls, grep, more or anything like that. But they did change libc. And they did take stuff and "tune" it for Linux. But the biggest contributors to the LinuxOS as an OS were the distributions. And they used software from a variety of sources, not just GNU. Take out the stuff from BSD and none of the Linux distros will work.

    The point is, no one took an existing GNU System and dropped the Linux kernel inside. That's because there was no GNU System at that time.
  • Remove all the GNU tools and libraries from a stock Linux system, and you'll be lucky if you can get as far as a single-user shell, let alone /sbin/init.

    Remove all the BSD code from a stock Linux system, including the much touted Debian GNU/Linux, and you'll be lucky if you can get as far as a /sbin/init, let alone a boot.
  • BSD uses its own libc. The GNU libc is only needed to compile some GNU software, or running under Linux compatibility mode.
  • You obviously haven't spent very much time using proprietary Unices.

    I'm using Solaris, FreeBSD and Slackware.

    So, no offense, but at least based on my own experience, I'd have to say that the claim that GNU tools are all dependent on the GNU C library is complete bullshit.

    I didn't say "GNU tools", I said "GNU software". Try compiling Gnome on FreeBSD without glibc. The older GNU software will compile just fine, but some of the new stuff is rubbish when it comes to portability.
  • What makes GNU tools the defacto standard when none of the other equivalents use their "extensions"? If they were the standard, the others would add those additional options.

    Example, the GNU automake/autoconf generates makefiles that are only usable with gmake. Example, shell scripts from GNU are invariably designed for bash and not generic sh. Example, most GNU software requires the extensions in glibc, and will not work with any other C library. GNU could easily make their stuff work seamlessly with any Unix whatsoever, but they choose not to. Microsoft could learn quite a bit from the FSF when it comes to embrace and extend.
  • Gee... What knucklehead moderated this down as a "troll"? Please read the moderator guidelines before you click on that magic button.
  • "GNU" means "GNU's Not Unix". GNU is a project started by RMS and the FSF to create a 100% free operating system. The GPL was just one of the licenses they used for GNU software.

    Placing software under the GPL license does not make the software GNU! Aaaargh!
  • Today, companies can pay their employees through revenues A, B and C. But your proposal says that companies can only pay their employees from revenue streams B and C. An elementary analysis says that the average wages of developers must either decrease. I have no problems with Free Software. I have a major problem when Free Software is mandated.

    Speaking of the support option, I wonder how long it will be until there is a hue and cry for Free Support Software? As a user, it is just as onerous to pay $100 for Software and $50 for support, as it is to pay $0 for Software and $150 for support. More onerous, actually, since I might require more support incidents.
  • As a die hard property-rights libertarian I'll let you know that if the notion of property disappears through voluntary means, I will have no quarrel with it. However, I have yet to see any mechanism that can do this that doesn't involve involuntary means.
  • From the article: The result, although commonly referred to as "Linux," is the GNU System

    When is RMS going to shrug off this delusion of his? It was Linus and Company that fixed the GNU software to run under Linux, not the other way around. It's pretty arrogant to incorporate Linus' fixes into GNU then demand that Linux be called GNU as a result.

    Take all the non-GNU stuff out of Redhat, SuSE or Debian, but keep the kernel, and see if it will even boot, let alone be usable.

    Linux does not require the vast majority of GNU software. 95% of userland can be cleanly replaced by non-GNU alternatives. In fact, the only things required from GNU are glibc and gcc. It's pretty uppity to require users of a compiler and library to call their results GNU.
  • The GNU tools are included with every *BSD as well. Should we now be saying GNU/FreeBSD?
  • The BSD ls is not GNU ls. Nothing in their core userland is from GNU.

    But what are you really saying? That the existance of GNU ls in Linux requires that the whole be called GNU/Linux? That's just stupid.

    Even RMS has publically stated that mere use of the GNU tools, even using *all* of them, does not require an OS to be called GNU. His argument is different, in that he considers Redhat, SuSE, Slackware to *ACTUALLY BE* the GNU System. But his argument only makes sense if distributions took the existing GNU System and swapped out the unworking kernel with Linux. This is not what happened.
  • If people starting calling it "GNU/Linux", it would not be Open Source getting publicity, it would be only GNU and GNU alone getting the extra attention.
  • "You have missed a crucial philosophical point: For everyone to have "freedom", you as an individual must give up a little of your "freedom".

    Freedom is the absense of restrictions, true. But you fail to fully comprehend what that means. Freedom is not that condition where anyone can do whatever they want. That is known as nihilism. Rather, it is that condition where anyone can do whatever they want, so long as they do not restrict others from doing the same. The common saying that "your freedom ends where my nose begins" fails to note that your striking my nose restricts my freedom.

    Unfortunately, too many people get all muddled headed about software. Despite recent abuses to IP law, the fact remains that software is property. Freedom means that I can't restrict what you do with your code just as you can't restrict what I do with mine. When RMS talks about software freedoms, he is really referring to permissions. Certainly GPLd software gives out more permissions than the Microsoft EULA does, but that makes no difference to freedom one way or another. Closed source software is every bit as free as open source, in reference to to owners of the software. No one's rights or properties are being restricted by closed source software.

    If you choose to open the code to everyone, you should be empowered to do that. If you choose to close the source, you should have just as much right to do so.

    Bingo! Now you got it!

    BSD style protect is still "free" but doesn't offer the right kind of "freedom".

    Oops. You just lost it again. You need to get off of the notion that software licenses have anything to do with freedom. Saying that the BSDL doesn't have the "right kind of freedom" is just plain inflammatory.

    "em>This [BSD] has the important implication that someday, the project may pull all of the code to close source"

    Not at all! What hat did you pull this out of. Once you have given the users the permission to do whatever they want with your software, you can't take it back. No way, no how. Sure, future releases might be closed source, but there's no way that affects the present. Why is it that GPL advocates always fear a BSD author might possibly close their source up in the future, but they never worry about GPL authors doing the same?
  • Yeah, you're making sense, it's just that no one wants to hear you. Nobody buys Linux. Nobody. Even that measly $2 going to CheapBytes is just a copying fee. Put Linux in a box but don't offer any support, then price it at $80 and see who buys it.
  • Programmers want to earn a living programming. They don't want to earn a living waiting on tables (Mr. Stallman's proposal) then program in the evenings. In order to earn a living through programming, one must be paid by an employer or client. In order for that money to pay you to exist in the first place, there have to be profits somewhere. I've worked for companies that didn't make profits. It's not a joyful feeling to wonder whether you'll get paid this week or not.
  • How long do we have to keep acknowledging him? Every Linux manual credits FSF, GNU and RMS on the first or second page. LWCE made him man or the year. One distro even calls itself GNU/Linux. What more does he want?

    What will it take for him to stop screaming at reporters who inadvertantly mutter "Linux" in his presence? (you would think that reporters attempting to interview him would be acknowledgment enough).
  • I concur with this guy. I've built bash, gzip, zip, and GNU tar on Solaris, IRIX, and AIX using the standard compiler, C library, and make, and I've never had a compatability problem.

    I've built many more packages that use autoconf on some of these platforms, and again, I don't rememember any shell problems, and definately no problems requiring glibc. Some things have needed tweaking when not using gcc, though, but never the official GNU stuff.

    Of course, I'm currently considering standardizing on gmake at work, simply because it is so much more powerful than standard make. I know it's a safe bet because I can compile gmake on any Unix we ever intend to support, and I can even use it under Windows with the cygwin tools. It may be "embrace-and-extend", but it is hardly a vendor lock-in.
  • How is MP3 in any way evil? (outside of the RIAA compound of course).

    --
  • What you suggest is to encourage developers to make our programs hard to use and needing of constant hand-holding so we can squeeze the users for cash flow.

    No, what he's suggesting is you write programs you want to use, and share them, so that others, who can't live without clicky widgets, can add them. Squeezing users is a proprietary tactic, remember it's not about money, it's about software.

    --
  • The better the program is, the less support and doc it needs.

    This is untrue. The less complex a program is the less support it needs.

    And why should docs not go with the program? It costs nothing to drop HTML or text files into the distribution, same as the s/w itself! You write docs for the love of it just like programs, right?

    No, you write docs because you get paid, you right programs because you want to. Or was this sarcasm. That's what people will have to pay for, if they need it, documentation is support.

    This smarmy "remember it's not about money, it's about software" is a joke. Get a job, get a life, and stop telling other people what to do.

    Got two, got one, and follow your own advice. If the only reason you program is because you get paid then we're talking about different kinds of software, and a different revolution, it would seem.

    --
  • And exactly which ls do you think you'll be using? To the best of my knowledge, and I may be wrong here, but the only freely available copies of most of the software that is considered "standard" is the GNU versions. The *BSDs use GNU tools, and all the proprietary vendors (Sun, Digital, HP-UX, IBM, SGI, BSDI, etc) have their own proprietary versions of the tools. So, which tools are these?

    darren


    Cthulhu for President! [cthulhu.org]
  • My personal opinion is that RMS is peeved that Linux is the Open Source poster child and not him.

    I think you may be right. But I don't think he'd be peeved if it was Alan Cox or Bruce Perens, instead of Linus. Linus is firmly in the "Open Source" camp and speaks of open source as a design methodology, not as a political philosophy. The FSF is (rightly) bothered that the public only hear that "Open Source is better", not that "Free Software is a right". When a technically brilliant piece of non-free software comes along, people may fail to see the danger.
  • I run both FreeBSD and Linux. The main difference (other than filesystem layout) is that the [bin|file]utils are different. BSD `ls` is diffferent from GNU `ls`, etc.

    *BSD still relies on `gcc` just as much as Linux, and AFAIK also uses the GNU libraries. (Although *BSD lacks /lib, and /[s]bin is all cleverly statically linked). To me this is the important point. The utils aren't important enough to justify calling a system after them, although RMS has told me he thinks so. A system has three components:

    1) A kernel
    2) A compiler and libraries
    3) utilities

    (1) is non-FSF code under Linux & *BSD. (2) is FSF code under both Linux & *BSD. (3) is FSF under linux and not under *BSD. IMHO, it's just not a big enough difference. Utilities are in no way as critical/important as kernel or compiler. Maybe they might tip the balance, but it's close.

    For a Linux rescue distro, I'd shun the loaded GNUutils and go for some nice asm versions.
  • rms' position (at least, in part) is that the following two statements:
    1. Linux was created independently of the FSF
    2. the Linux developers used FSF tools
    are mutually contradictory. I would tend to agree with this point.

    Also, while the Linux kernel itself is not part of GNU, I would be surprised if there's any Linux distribution out there that doesn't include a boatload of GNU software in key supporting roles.

    So while the Linux kernel is not a part of GNU as such, I don't think that rms is out of line expecting that Linux and Linux distributions acknowledge the debt they owe to GNU and the FSF. Without FSF tools, Linux never would have progressed beyond the "obscure hobbyists' amusement" stage.

    -y

  • Things that make you go hmmmm... Makes you wonder how many people will reply to this stupid post?


    I realized that the possible number of responses was rather small. However, since it was clearly still on the site (via a Slashbox), I had some hope that I might get an answer from one of the Slashdot Ubergeeks.
  • > Freedom means you can do whatever you want
    > and this is clearly something else.

    Somewhere in his novel "Annals of Klepsis" R. A. Lafferty asserts:

    The ultimate freedom imaginable is the freedom to own slaves.

    and it appears that this is the radical sort of "freedom" to which you refer. You apparently would like to be free to grab someone else's source code, modify or extend it, and then resell it as a proprietary, binaries-only product, so you could gather profits, those profits enforced by copyright law.

    Well, that certainly is an extreme form of "freedom." Another similarly extreme form of "freedom" would be if I could readily stroll into the bank vault and stuff my pockets, and if I could shoot any pesky bank guard dead who tried to interfere with my getaway. Or if I were free, when I happened to see an attractive woman walking down the sidewalk, to grab her and...well, you get the point. Alluring as the word "freedom" may be, the whole notion of private property - your private property, that is - is a denial of my "freedom" to grab your goods and make them mine. Do you propose, then, in the tradition of Proudhon and Pol Pot, that society should purge itself of the notion of property altogether?

    Your Franklin quote is irrelevant. Franklin was derogating the notion of a citizen signing away a freedom which he himself currently possesses for security's sake. But no one gives up any freedom at all when he gets hold of someone else's software licensed under GPL, because it isn't his software to start with, so since it was in no way his property to start with - since his original share of ownership of that GPL'd code was zero - he has absolutely no rights to lose. Neither does anyone who comes up with an original program lose any freedom whatsoever if he decides to license it under GPL, because his choice of how to license his original work is entirely a free one.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • Stallman's insistence on seeing the word "gnu" all over the place is rather cloying. But what does the phrase "GNU software" mean, exactly? As far as I can tell, the term "GNU software" would have to mean "software licensed under the GNU Public License". Well, as we all know, Mr. Torvalds's Linux kernel happens to be licensed under GPL, for which generous act we are all grateful.

    So if I interpret the phrase "GNU software" correctly, then your statement

    Take all the non-GNU stuff out of Redhat, SuSE or Debian, but keep the kernel...

    makes no sense at all.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • > forcing free-software = no living.

    Good heavens, did I miss something? Have RMS and his gang seized the U.S. government in a coup d'etat, and are they now dismantling the entire country's commercial software industry by police force?

    Just who is forcing you to release any program you write as "free-software"? For that matter, has "free-software" made such inroads into the profitability of the commercial software industry that that industry is threatened by bankruptcy? Is Microsoft becoming insolvent? Has NASDAQ crashed?

    If you want to talk about a bunch that is destroying the opportunity of small entrepreneurs to get a foothold in the commercial software business, then lets talk about Microsoft and their notorious competition-crushing business tactics. Certainly Microsoft has done more to wipe out the software small-businessman than the FSF ever has.

    Incidentally, this isn't because Bill Gates is uniquely evil (he might be, but that would be irrelevant) or any such nonsense as that. It is just a natural tendency in any capitalist economy, in the absence of government controls to the contrary, that power in any field of business should tend to concentrate in any company with the biggest market share, thus making that market share even bigger, and so on in a feedback loop that leads inevitably to monopoly. Read all about it in Marx's Capital - don't worry, it's just a book, it won't hypnotize you or bite you or anything like that...

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • > Placing software under the GPL license does
    > not make the software GNU! Aaaargh!

    OK, then, suppose I were to write a good enough piece of software that I wanted to license it under GPL. Not very likely, because I can't program my way out of a wet paper sack. What few little halfassed hacks I've ever put out on line - mostly AutoLISP - have been released to the public domain, as anything else would be embarrassingly immodest.

    But let's just suppose, and let's suppose further that I wanted to label it as a genuine, certified piece of GNU software. So what would I have to do? Would I have to sign up somewhere or something? Is there an official roster of "official" GNU developers?

    I saw a post down the way about "Stallmanite purges" but I assumed it was another silly troll. You know, for laughs people like to make Stallman out to be, like, Lenin's grandma or something like that.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • No, no, no! What is with you people? Can't you at all grasp the idea of the possibility of human interactions which are not driven solely by the profit motive? Here Stallman goes on and on about software sans profits, and despite all his talking you still think the validity of the whole concept must be measured in terms of money profits.

    Stallman's idea has nothing to do with any programmers making a profit, much less making a profit for distributors. Stallman's idea is that, by licensing their works under "copyleft," his unique subversion of the copyright laws, people can make a large and dynamically self-sustaining body of programs, all including full source code, so that computer users wouldn't have to be bound and restricted by proprietary licensing schemes.

    No, a real test of Stallman's ideas would be to see if a bunch of volunteer developers could actually create a solid, high-quality operating system, complete with useful applications, the whole mess being under the GPL. And by golly, so they have, so I guess Stallman's idea was valid after all. It's called Linux, [debian.org] or if you want to be linguistically complusive about it, GNU/Linux [debian.org].

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • > I want to become filthy-rich from a program
    > that I will design and sell, with no-source, and on
    > whatever OS i choose.

    Forget about it. Microsoft will squash you like a bug.

    > If I create a killer app for linux, "the
    > public domain" owns it, not me.

    You don't say? Well, I guess that means I can put a copy of WordPerfect 8 for Linux on an ftp site somewhere, because according to my expert lawyer (you) it has now entered the public domain. Won't Cowpland be pissed? Tough luck, Cowpland!

    > the US was built on capitalism, and the only
    > thing open-source will do is destroy it.

    Capitalism sucks, and I think it would be just great if open-source software would somehow magically wipe capitalism out or at least club it down a bit, but of course that's not going to happen.

    > Read up on your history kids, and pay close
    > attention to china and russia.

    If you had read your history, focusing particularly on the nineteenth century when capitalism developed, you'd never have posted such nonsense. But do pay attention to Russia, [eurekalert.org] especially now that they have traded in their sinister old postwar gangster socialism for an even worse gangster capitalism.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • > I really hope this is just the ignorance of the
    > journalist and not RMS trying to take
    > credit for Linux.

    Its neither. RMS is saying something somewhat
    differnt. He is saying yes, linux is NOT a GNU
    project. However, Linux is also NOT an OS.

    very simple... Linux is not an OS without tools.
    The GNU tools are not an OS withotu a kernel.
    Just about every linux dist is Linux kernel+GNU
    tools + other (some BSD tools, etc etc). However
    the main base tools tend to be mostly GNU (ls,
    cp tar etc). So... why does the kernel deserve
    all the credit in the name? GNU/Linux seems alot
    more apropriate.

    > RMS needs to lighten his stance against Amazon.

    I disagree... not just because I hate software
    patents and think this one is REALLY obvious...
    not only that but I swear I saw a website with
    "1 click ordering" quite a while before I ever
    even heard of "amazon.com".

    All in all...his argument (bezos) boiled down to
    "Barnes and Nobel copies everything we did, so
    we had to stop them". Yea so? You see a good idea
    ...you use it. People are on this "innovation"
    kick lately...its the big buzzword if your not
    innovating its "bad". Hey...good ideas exist...
    you see a good idea...you use it. Nothing wrong
    with that in my book. Noone is criticizing car
    manafacturers for "not innovating" because they
    all make round wheels for their cars.

  • I have to agree here...

    I mean, I am listening to the MP3s now (off local
    copies that I saved). Its cool. I LIKE being able
    to listen to mp3s of the interview...however...
    it SHOULD be text also. Sometimes I much prefer
    to read, that way I can skip around better etc.
  • Well...
    The argument is (and I believe) that what you are
    asking for is the freedom to restric others.
    You want to be able to take the free software
    and then make it into something else...and then
    restrict what others can do with it.

    Thats not really a freedom. Thats a restriction
    on the freedom of others.
  • I don't like listening to long interviews unless I'm driving at the time. I would rather read them. Is there any site on the web that you can point to a web-based audio file (Real audio or mp3 or whatever) and provide a babel-quality text translation? Such a site could cache the text for popular audio files.

    The site could market itself to the hearing-impaired, but would likely find more users such as myself who just plain prefer their information as text.

    (What would be the intellectual property rules on this? If the audio is freely available, would an automated (or manual) translation be allowed? I think back to the CNN (or was it Time) instant transcripts for the first portion of the OJ trial ... as a new transcript of a freely-available audio item, they were allowed. Whatever service it was stopped presenting them for an unknown reason about halfway through the trial, but did not remove the earlier listings.)

  • Why must everyone be looking for a high paying job?

    By "everyone" I assume you mean "all programmers", given that the discussion is about software development. Programming is a difficult skill. Not everyone can do it. It takes a lot of effort to become a proficient programmer, regardless if you are self-educated or taught in a classroom.

    The ability to write code is substantially less common and harder to obtain than, say, the ability to flip burgers -- this makes the code-writer's time more valuable than the burger-flipper's. The coder has also made a much larger investment in training than the burger fliper -- this investment must be compensated.

    If writing code was as easy as flipping burgers, you could justify paying programmers minimum wage. Thankfully, programming is substantially more difficult, and as a result, commands a much higher wage.


    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'

  • The Red Hat/Caldera/[LinuxDistroCo] business model -- sell support services for a complex complation of products -- should work well, because an Operating System is sufficiently complex as to REQUIRE technical support.

    This isn't actually so radical or new -- look at the database server market: Oracle, Sybase, etc make MUCH more money on tech support contracts & systems integration work than they do on actually selling licences for their flagship products. In the server market, where Linux is really viable, the REAL money comes from annual support/maintenance agreements, and this has been true for years. By not charging for the basic software, the company isn't giving up a whole lot of $$$ -- and this loss is (at least in theory) offset by the lower cost of developing open-source software.

    However, not all programs are sufficiently complex to require tech support - particuarly in the application market. I don't think you really could make money providing tech support for somthing like a web browser or an e-mail client. Even somthing like an office suite would be difficult to support using this model.

    I like the Open Source / Free Software model for a lot of reasons. I'm working on some programs that I'd like to be able to release open-source; however, I am reluctant to do so without figuring out some way to make my investment of time & effort pay off, either directly or indirectly. The ego satisfaction of contributing somthing to the community would be real nice... but ego gratification dosn't pay the mortgage or put food on the table. Selling T-Shirts & stuffed penguins isn't an option; if I wanted to sell souvineers for a living I wouldn't have busted my ass getting an engineering degree.


    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'

  • Stallman *is* a crackpot, IMHO, but not because he's wrong. It's because he's too radical for most people's tastes.

    It seems to be an axiomatic thing about politics, most visibly demonstrated by the behavior of the US Republican party under Clinton: the more the moderates rule the roost, the more extreme the standard bearers of the wings become. Linus Torvalds has created a system that uses the GPL to its fullest advantage, yet repudiates the ivory-tower extremism of the FSF: give it away or sell it, just don't think you can own it. Companies like RedHat and SuSE are proving that this can work.

    The problem is that this leaves Richard Stallman on the fringe, no longer in control of the philosophical movement he created. So he does the human thing: he backlashes. He tries to force the GNU/Linux issue. He rails against the corporatization of Linux, forgetting that commercial acceptance is critical to its future. He slams the open source movement because it doesn't do things the GNU way (check out his comments about APSL, for example). He has even demoted the Library GPL to Lesser GPL.

    It would be wrong to say that rms doesn't have a point. But I'm not one of those people who agree with the phrase "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice" -- extremism is always a vice as it a) does not allow for the possibility of redefining a position if such proves to be necessary and b) tends to turn off those who you most have to reach -- those darned moderates again. Stallman is an extremist, and therefore (by *my* definition anyway, and that subjectivity should be very much acknowledged here) a crackpot.

    In any case, I've often felt that rms likes to play the same embrace-and-extend game as Microsoft with no purpose other than to lock people into GNU. I've felt that way for a long time, ever since I read the part of the GCC manual that talks about the purpose of other compilers being to compile GCC. The creation of GUILE is another example; IMHO its only reasons for existence are that a) Stallman is not fond of tcl/tk and b) Stallman is a scheme junkie. Not because another tool was needed, but because *rms wants it that way*. The Apple boycott of years past is another thing -- the FSF was punishing AU/X and MacOS users for Apple's behavior, no matter that the Mac people might have as much to contribute as anyone else. In their own way, the FSF is no different from the commercial establishment they're fighting; it's like Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates. The question is not whether one is worse than the other, it's a matter of who's holding the hammer at the moment.

    Actually, just as an exercise I'd like to see someone create a diminished-GNU linux distro. I don't think it would be especially popular, since GNU programs tend to be the best in their class, but someone should try it on principle. The FSF to me has long resembled a child who comes to a party with a game idea, but then wants to take it and go home when other kids start adding rules, the kicker being that they've already given it away! (Though at least the gcc->egcs->gcc split-countersplit indicates they're smart enough to know when there's a better way sometimes...)

    Do I think open-source is a good thing? Yer damn straight. It's made a penguin-lover out of this longtime Machead. Do I think rms should be honored for creating and managing the GNU project? Yes. The movement came before him and will outlast him, but he's the philosophical nexus. But do I think his behavior is a bit outlandish because of his unyielding philosophical positions?

    Oh, yeah.

    See, as I said, Linus has set the precedent for a kinder, gentler open source movement. IMHO it's time for rms to get in line and debate with some flexibility or just shut up and keep writing good software.

    /Brian
  • I, as an Open Source advocate who happens to be deaf, am personally insulted that RMS would choose to make his works unfree by making sure that only the majority (i.e. the hearing folks and their powerful lobby groups) could hear what he had to say.

    It is this spirit of forked-tongue hypocrisy which so typically characterizes the prominent members of the Open Source movement and the FSF. Out of one side of his mouth, RMS chants his "Free for all" mantra, while he hypocritically insures that the message he is transmitting is not, in fact, free for all.

    If somebody out there on /. feels like making the text of this interview available, I would be sure to read it.

    Thank you.

    PS: I am also blind, but can feel my floppy drive moving. Please post your response in the form of a Base64-encoded dd image of a 3.5" floppy disk formatted with ext2fs in such a way as to cause the movement of the disk heads (while reading the first file of the first directory)to yield your message in Morse Code.

    --
  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @11:43AM (#1167843) Journal
    Every time I hear Stallman talking about freedom, I wonder if he really understands what it means. If I download a piece of GPLed code, I am not allowed to change it, compile it and give away only binaries. Where is the freedom in that?

    Under copyright law, the 'default' license is not the public domain. The default license is no license at all -- which is to say, no freedom at all. If I write some code and give or sell you a copy, and I don't tell you specifically that you may copy it and distribute it, then you may not. If you do, you are violating copyright. That is what it means to say that I hold the 'copy-right' (the right to copy) to my work -- you do not, simply because you own a copy of it, have the right to make more copies and distribute them. Only I have that right.

    In that context, GPL is significantly freer for you -- it grants you the right to distribute my work (and your derivative work of my work) under certain conditions. When I license my code to you under the GPL, I grant you rights you would not otherwise have -- specifically, the right to copy and distribute it in certain ways. Compared to not being allowed to distribute it at all (the situation normal copyright leaves you in) you have gained significant freedom.

    You might suggest that I put my work in the public domain instead, thus permitting anyone to do whatever they want with it. The problem with that is that I want to make sure that anyone who gets a copy of my code -- or any derivative work of my code -- will be able to make further derivatives of it. Under copyright laws, after all, I have certain control over derivative works of my work, and I want to use that control to best ensure the freedom of users of those works. I do this by placing my work under GPL (or a similar license).

    By putting my work under GPL, I am not restricting your freedom, because if I did not license it to you, you would have no freedom with regard to it at all, at all. I am not "restricting your freedom in order to ensure someone else's freedom". I am granting both you and the "someone else" freedoms neither of you would otherwise have.

    Again, recall the default situation of no license. If I give you a copy of my code without giving you permission to produce derivative works, and you make a derivative work and distribute it, you are violating copyright, just as much as if you ripped a few dozen copies of Windows 2000 and sold them on the streets of New York City. By giving you permission to produce derivative works, I am expanding your freedom -- and by making sure that your derivative works are also free, I am expanding the freedom of their users as well. You have lost nothing; you and the rest of the world have both gained.

  • by thomasd ( 3336 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @07:00AM (#1167844) Homepage
    There seems to be a growing obsession with the use of audio streams on the Web. Now, I know its justified in some cases, but what are the benefits here? Certainly, it means I will never know what is said (I can't really listen to all 21 minutes at the office, and I don't currently have a connection at home).

    Sure, an occasional recording of the free software song might be fun (at least for some), but I like the Web as a primarily-text medium.

    Audio postings to slashdot, anyone? ;-(

  • by MenTaLguY ( 5483 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @12:08PM (#1167845) Homepage
    FreeBSD isn't a distribution of the GNU system, it's an entirely different system that happens to come with GNU tools extra.

    If you removed all the GNU tools from a stock FreeBSD installation, it would still boot and basically everything would work.

    All current Linux distributions are GNU systems, however. The core system around the kernel is all GNU software.

    Remove all the GNU tools and libraries from a stock Linux system, and you'll be lucky if you can get as far as a single-user shell, let alone /sbin/init.

    Now, Tom Christianson (the Perl guy) had the idea a while back of creating a GNU distribution, but using the FreeBSD kernel. That would be a GNU system, and for that particular system, the GNU/FreeBSD moniker would be appropriate (although I doubt that was his intent).

    Alternatively, if you replaced the GNU tools of a Linux distribution with the FreeBSD tools and libraries (after making appropriate changes to accomodate the kernel differences), you'd have something that you could justifiably call FreeBSD/Linux (that would be a much more constructive use of Tom's time, I think).

    See how it works?

  • So while the Linux kernel is not a part of GNU as such, I don't think that rms is out of line expecting that Linux and Linux distributions acknowledge the debt they owe to GNU and the FSF. Without FSF tools, Linux never would have progressed beyond the "obscure hobbyists' amusement" stage.

    Funny. The fact that the FSF wants acknowledgment of the work they've done, and the fact that the following is posted on their website as part of their argument for free software, seems contradictory:

    Those who benefit from the current system where programs are property offer two arguments in support of their claims to own programs: the emotional argument and the economic argument.

    The emotional argument goes like this: ``I put my sweat, my heart, my soul into this program. It comes from me, it's mine!''

    This argument does not require serious refutation. The feeling of attachment is one that programmers can cultivate when it suits them; it is not inevitable. Consider, for example, how willingly the same programmers usually sign over all rights to a large corporation for a salary; the emotional attachment mysteriously vanishes. By contrast, consider the great artists and artisans of medieval times, who didn't even sign their names to their work. To them, the name of the artist was not important. What mattered was that the work was done--and the purpose it would serve. This view prevailed for hundreds of years.

    That's from Why Software Should Be Free [fsf.org], by Richard Stallman, Copyright (C) 1998 Free Software Foundation, Inc. [emphasis mine]

    I have no problem with them wanting credit for their work, but then they should remove that argument from their website. Of course, doing that would leave a huge hole in their whole argument for free software, so instead they choose to ignore their own hypocrisy.
  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @10:21AM (#1167847)
    Every time I hear Stallman talking about freedom, I wonder if he really understands what it means. If I download a piece of GPLed code, I am not allowed to change it, compile it and give away only binaries. Where is the freedom in that?
    Every time I hear this argument, I wonder if people really understand the concept of the GPL.

    Want absolute, unarguable, 100% philosophically pure freedom? Release your work to the Public Domain. Why bother with licenses at all? After all, a license is just some kind of restriction.

    The system that exists to protect intellectual property, I'm sure, has a noble intent. However, we've seen it abused by business types with the morals of your favorite voracious predator. These people have no appreciation for the hack; they make no considerations towards technical improvement. All they want is financial gain and this is often achieved by hording knowledge. Progress suffers because of this attitude.

    The GPL is a hack of the whole license system. It uses the license to, in effect, eliminate a lot of the abuse that licensing allows. But by its very definition, such a license will involve some kind of limitations on what one can do.

    It'd be nice if we could live within an environment that allowed total freedom. But history has proven that such anarchy ends up with the rule being "might is right". We all know Corporate might has almost forced this rule into being again. We hardly need to strengthen this situation with a call for a return to anarchy.

  • by Mark F. Komarinski ( 97174 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @10:26AM (#1167848) Homepage
    In terms of this "debt" do you mean besides those of us HOWTO authors who send any book profits to the FSF, or the coders that contribute back to GNU software? Perhaps you mean the people that use Linux, GNU, and Open Source Software in the same breath and gave GNU the popularity it deserves. Let's face it, GNU helped Linux with software, but Linux made GNU popular.

    My personal opinion is that RMS is peeved that Linus is the Open Source poster child and not him. Which is probably a valid point, but shouldn't cause him to be this mean towards us Linux users.
  • It should be obvious that someone like Stallman would be against the Amazon patents. The attempt to patent an e-commerce technique goes against everything he, as well as other followers of GNU, believe in.
    The only thing I don't agree with is his defense of free music, and his attack on the music industry. Of course, the reason why I don't agree with this is that at the university I attend, the T-lines become totally saturated during the daytime by people downloading the latest crap by the Backstreet Boys, etc. on Napster. Considering I listen to hardcore/punk/emo, I'd wouldn't bother me too much (at least in terms of bandwidth) if MP3s weren't so readily available. ;)
    In all seriousness, I do agree with Stallman; anyone who grew up in the 80s knows that the music industry used to put inserts on Cassette Tapes that said "Home Cassette Copying is Ruining the Music Industry". These are also the same people that put a damper on DAT. And yet, the industry is still around. What Stallman says needs to be heard...
  • by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @01:47PM (#1167850)
    Rms' position (at least, in part) is that the following two statements:

    1.Linux was created independently of the FSF
    2. the Linux developers used FSF tools
    are mutually contradictory.

    By analogy, that would mean that if I (having no association with the FSF) wrote a book using EMACS & GROFF (FSF tools), RMS and the FSF could claim credit for helping to write that book. Sorry, I don't buy it.

    The GNU tools have been ported to just about every OS known to man. I run gawk, sed, and a bunch of other gnu tools on my NT box -- does this make it "GNU NT"? Gnu has created a bunch of really good, portable tools and released them under the GPL. Linus & crew didn't have to use the GNU tools. They could have re-invented the wheel & rewrote them all from scratch, or used the BSD versions. Instead they chose to honor the spirit of the GPL and take some existing open-source code, build on it, and release it back to the community. The FSF has achieved great things in it's own right -- without GCC, there would be no Linux, Apache, etc. But it is no more right for RMS to claim credit for Linux than it would be for a teacher to claim credit for a student's work. The student's work may be built on the foundation of the teacher laid; but that is true with all things. All progress is built on the achievements of those who came before us.


    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'

  • by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @07:08AM (#1167851)
    I was only able to read the article, and not listen to the interview itself, because the crappy pee cee my employer has provided me with lacks a sound card. However, in reading the article, I noticed one glaring error:

    Linux != GNU. The article states that Linux is the end result of the GNU project's efforts to create a unix-like OS. Linux was created independently of the FSF - the Linux developers used FSF tools and released it under the GPL. I really hope this is just the ignorance of the journalist and not RMS trying to take credit for Linux.

    [IMHO]RMS needs to lighten his stance against Amazon. I think Jeff Bezos's reply to Tim O'Reilly's open letter did a good job of explaning why Amazon had to get the patents it did. Software patents are a Very Bad Thing, I agree; but until the system is fixed they are a fact of life that we have to live with. At least Jeff has acknowledged that the patent system is broken and is advocating change. As bad as the Amazon patents are, just imagine how much worse things would be if Barnes & Noble (or Micro~1) beat them to the punch. Let's see if Jeff keeps his word before we fly off the handle. There are a lot of other companies that are misusing software patents to a much worse degree than Amazon -- why not boycott them instead?
    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'

  • by neo-opf ( 167085 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @07:02AM (#1167852)

    GNP - GNP is Not Pizza.

    Let's take a some dough, eat it alot and get to know it's properties and then make our own dough recipe. I'll work and that. Someone else can work on a recipe for sauce and cheese, etc. Once it gets to the point where we have lots of people supporting our pizza project, let's start a holy crusade against all other food.

    Anyone who doesn't eat our Foodix will be told they are eating inferiour food and because of that, they don't deserve the space they occupy.

    Soon Foodix will be the latest buzzword and it will have all started right here!!!

  • by Rupert ( 28001 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @07:21AM (#1167853) Homepage Journal
    OK, OK, I'm going to feed the troll.

    The freedom part of the GPL is that everyone else gets the same rights as you. The source was made available to you, so you have to make it available to others (if you distribute binaries).

    No, it's not totally free. IRL, you can do pretty much whatever you like inside your house, but once you get out on the street there are things you can't do (drive as fast as you like, on the wrong side of the road, etc.). These limitations are placed on you to protect the freedom (and life) of others. Likewise, the GPL puts restrictions on you to protect others' access to free software.

    Total freedom, IMHO, disappeared the day the second sentient being was born on this planet. Freedom is as much about everyone's freedom as it is about yours.

    Oh, and Franklin was talking about essential freedoms. He probably wouldn't include software, even if you could explain it to him.
  • by Avumede ( 111087 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @06:59AM (#1167854) Homepage
    I remember the good old days when the Internet just had words on it. Now I can't get what Stallman has to say without turning my sound system on. Why would anyone make available the sounds of an interview, when it would be far more efficient and easier for everyone to access as text?

    Is Wired too lazy to transcribe or did I miss a link to the text version?

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