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RMS Responds To Allchin's Comments 398

Thanks to Dan Gillmor for pointing out RMS' response to the commentary from Microsoft's Allchin recently. The comments are pretty normal for RMS - the delineation between Open Source and the Free Software Movement, and what the differences are, as well as his non-opinion of "intellectual property". I've been notified that this response was a draft of RMS' - we'll update it with the final when it's ready.
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RMS Responds To Allchin's Comments

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  • The term 'pro-choice' has no semantic meaning. With no context it is impossible to determine what on earth "choice" is supposed to mean. It is really nothing more than a euphemism.

    A far more accurate description is "abortion rights supporter." However for semi-political reasons you will only rarely see this term in the (non-quoted) text of a news article in the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, ... you get the picture.

    Now, what I am about to say here will probably offend you. The following analogy is not meant as a persuasive argument, only a tool so that you can better empathize with those who want to restrict some (or all) abortions:
    In the US during the 1850s slavery was not only permitted, it was endorsed by the Supreme Court. The majority opinion in the infamous Dred Scott decision declared that black people were not human beings. This enraged abolistionists.

    However, the slave states as a whole said that the northern states obviously had no right to interfere. They were free to prohibit slavery in their own states, but who were they to tell the Southerners what to do in their own territory?

    The pro-slavery side used many euphemisms. The most famous is the term "the Peculiar Institution," which refers to the system of American slavery.

    If they had the benefit of our clever modern phrases, I have no doubt that they would frame this question as a "pro-choice" and "anti-choice" matter. Or to use another catchy phrase, if you don't like slavery, then don't keep a slave.

    The fact is, the southerners did use this basic argument. You can see it in the Dred Scott decision, the Missouri Compromise, and so on.
    Fortunately we live in a more enlightened age and have at least some recognition of basic human rights, and more to the point, that all people deserve rights and respect. So "pro-slavery" cannot be called "pro-choice" since it destroys all the choices of the person being enslaved.

    Some people believe people deserve basic human rights even before birth. That is why they object to the term "pro-choice" -- because to them abortion destroys the choices of a human person.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to convince you anything about abortion. I doubt that I could. But what I do want you to understand is that both "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are inherently biased terms. Neither one makes any sense when viewed from the other side.

    And if the history is of any interest: the two sides of the abortion question were almost universally referred to (in the media) as pro-abortion or anti-abortion until 1977, when Gloria Steinem wrote an influential op-ed in the New York Times complaining that "pro-abortion" was an inaccurate description, and that "pro-choice" should be used instead. It was then that the other side started pushing the term "pro-life." Of course neither term is particularly meaningful. It seems that the only effect is to further divide.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You're missing the point.

    First, why did you say that: RMS's highflautin rhetoric is the specter haunting the cause of Open Source. RMS is Free Software not Open Source. You obviously don't actually read what he's written.

    RMS is against Open Source. Or at least, not for it.

    Also, what ever happened to principles? Ethics, morals, etc? Are we no longer to live by principle, but by the almighty dollar alone? That's really not the kind of world I'd want to live in.

    I used to write off RMS just like everyone else. But then I started to actually listen to what he was saying, and realized that he's right.

    Try to think bigger than your next paycheque. The ideas of "common good", "public weal", "good of mankind" etc. actually do mean something. RMS is fighting the good fight, and people laugh at him, are embarassed by him, write him off.

    I've been a programmer for the last 23 years. 13 of those have been professional. Yet I write free software, and will continue to do so. I have personally profited immensely through the use of and the examination of free software. I'm going to try to give back as much as I can.

    The old saying 'tis better to give than receive' really rings true, especially if the only cost to you is time.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If MS is so benevolent with their "RFC-complaint changes", why did they threaten to sue slashdot [] when they first released information about these changes? They are only available online because slashdot told them to get lost and Microsoft eventually backed down.

    RMS precisly shows the hyprocrisy of Microsoft's/Allchin's arguments: GNU-style Freeware is bad, because Microsoft can't easily steal (aka embrace-and-extend) it.

  • For this reason, I find it dispicable that companies, such as Microsoft, Sun, etc. would take an open source piece of software and release a proprietary version, often without even providing credit to the original developers. THis practice is plagerism, plain and simple and is a far greater threat to intellectual property than the GPL. But it is legal without the protection of the GPL.

    I like the GPL too, and I am no fan of any company taking an open source program and releasing a proprietary version. But you speak too harshly here. You say that this is legal without the protection of the GPL - no, it is only legal if the author of the software specifically chooses to license it thus, e.g. by using a BSD license. This isn't a choice I personally would make, but it is a valid choice, having advantages and disadvantages over the GPL.

    e.g. a protocol is far more likely to be widely adopted if there is a reference implemention licensed so liberally (BSD and TCP/IP, for instance) - advantage. But other people, even people that you heartily disapprove of (Microsoft for the /. community, for instance) can profit from your work without ever sharing their improvements with you - disadvantage.

    But it's not plagiarism if you clearly say "here, take this source, do what you like with it!". People are using the BSD license to give away code - that's their choice, and you have no right to complain if corporations that you dislike choose to take that which is freely given.

  • said that. (your sig)

    Christ, have some class.
  • apparently it was JFK. oops... pot, meet kettle.

    FDR spouted the "only thing we have to fear" line.

  • Actually, that's why Linus released the kernel under the GPL in the first place: to thank RMS for gcc []. Just for gcc, actually.

    Before that, Linux was under a much more restrictive license. Therefore, either RMS hasn't done his research, or he's an ungrateful bastard, or still just pissed that HURD wasn't finished sooner.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • Don't presume that I'm a "UNIX youngster". You'd be wrong.

    If you were hacking on UNIX kernels back then, then you'd know that a huge amount of the BSD code base implemented innovations which significantly improved Unix's capabilities. You would also know that the BSD code base was widely distributed and included source from a wide variety of sources. As such, it had to employ a source code licensing model consistent with the BSD license. The only problem was the AT&T code base that lay underneath, as it was still restricted.

    I'm very familiar with Timbuktu. It came out well after the X/Windows system did, and it's capabilities are not the same as X/Windows. Timbuktu gives you remote access to a local GUI, which is not the same as as network GUI. If you're remotely familiar with how X/Windows works, you'd know the difference. For example: you can't, and never could, buy Timbuktu Display Servers.

    As for your comments on GCC, am I to assume that by your statement that there have been no innovations in C compilers since the orginal work of Kernigan & Ritchie? That seems rather limiting. As far as GCC being developer-facing... I guess you think developers don't use computers or something. ;-) I guess it depends what is meant by "user-facing", but I presume it means that users directly interact with the software (Microsoft I'm sure would acknowledge that there are tons of network server innovations which were done without closing the source code base). As for GCC being antiquated by today's standards, it still seems to be able to generate very efficient code compared to it's commercial competition. (Indeed, Be's decision to switch to GCC was entirely driven by performance improvements.)

    I didn't slap GUI's, I'm just saying it's unfair to suggest that they are the only way to go. I just said that there are lots of TeX people who argue it's a better way to go than with traditional word processors you see today. I'm trying to point out that presuming that software has to have a fancy GUI to be an innovation is exteremly close minded. Come to think of it Emacspeak is a stunning exmaple of this ;-)

    I guess you didn't look very hard doing your TeX research. I did a quick check on Amazon and found that Knuth's *2nd* book on Tex [] was published in 1986. As I recall, his first book, "the TeXbook" was published a couple of years earlier (Amazon shows the date it was reprinted). Presumably, Knuth would have had to convince the publishers that there was a sizeable user base before he published the book. Of course, this wouldn't have been too hard because the TeX Users Group [] had been existence since 1980. Knuth started working on TeX shortly after publishing Volume 3 of "The Art of Computer Programming", which was originally published in 1973. While TeX did take a lot of time to finish, like all good software projects (particularly proprietary software), there were several usuable versions of TeX around for years before it was "finished". (I believe he finished it before he wrote any more books, so that must have been some time around 1982-3.)

    Taking some license to rephrase what you said: This is one of the odd things about Macintosh users. They declare themselves to be revolutionary, but they are in fact reactionary. They have a set of tastes laid down 15 years ago and have not moved forward in any significant way since then. In the meantime, mainstream computing and even the popular taste have passed them by.

  • Okay, so just so that I'm clear on this. The BSD code contributions were made freely by volunteers, who were not compensated for their contributions, nor did they hold on to the source code. (Indeed, as your own quote clearly states, BSD was never distributed without source code.) BSD was built off of the AT&T source code and for most of it's early history the developers never seperated the BSD code from the AT&T code, and a consequence, you needed the AT&T source code license to get it. This is all consistent with what I've said before.... so I'm not sure I understand what your point is.

    The BSD distribution certainly included many, many innovations over the original AT&T code base. Nobody paid for those innovations, and the innovations were distributed in source form without requiring the source be kept proprietary. Certainly, the AT&T source code license didn't include a license for the BSD code.

    I think it's a pretty good counter example to Microsoft's argument that innovation will not occur without the benefit of being able to keep the source code proprietary.

    Please reread my posts. I never claimed that GCC was the living embodiment of the latest compiler theory. If your going to apply that kind of criteria there really isn't any software in the Windows or Macintosh world at least that qualifies as "innovative". As I've said before, GCC was one of the first cross-platform compilers, and later iterations included the innovation of being a cross-language compiler as well. On top of that, despite being so old and unsophisticated, GCC still manages to generate more efficient code than the most popular compilers out there. (I seem to recall the Metrowerks compiler has been hailed by the Macintosh community as innovative several times, yet GCC generates far more efficient code.) If you're going to continue to just say, "that's not innovative," I'd like to suggest you present the innovation that supports your point.

    You say my statements about Timbuktu and X/Windows are unsupported, but you have not provided any supporting data. You're consistently stating that I'm making false, and yet you're making claims that you are not even sure of yourself. As I said before, I am sure of my claims about Timbuktu. I was there when it first came out.

    So, let's review that one. First, Timbuktu is the same kind of technology as X/Windows. Timbuktu allows remote control of a GUI desktop. X/Windows' key capabilities aren't about remote control (although one could implement remote control using it's capabilities). X/Windows is a cross platform network GUI.

    Now, since you couldn't be bothered to check up on X/Window's history, but it in fact was first developed at MIT in 1984. It was developed to solve problems they were facing with Project Athena. There was a lot of interest from the outside world for a standardized/hardend/freezon release. In 1988 MIT released version 11 release 2 to the general public. You can find documentation of this here [].

    Timbuktu was of course not developed in 1984. Indeed, it's resource requirements were far too much for the original Macintosh. I was unable to find any clear documentation about the origins of Timbuktu remote. However, rather than assuming that your claims are false, and despite the fact that I distinctly remember that X/Windows existed when Timbuktu came out, I checked for some kind of documentation. I finally found version 1.0.1 winning a 1989 Eddy award []. I guess the product wasn't quite as early as you'd imagined.

    So, to review, you're wrong about both when X/Windows was created, and when Timbuktu was created. You're also missing the point about the differences between X/Windows and Timbuktu.

    Now on to the TeX link. I'm surprised that someone who's been around in the business as long as you would not know anything about Donald Knuth (author of The Art of Computer Programming). He's the original author of TeX, and he very much always intended it to be available to anyone who wanted it, source code included. He started work on to assist with his development of The Art of Computer Programming books. He took a 10 year hiatus from working on it after publishing volume 3 of the series, during which time he focused on the development of TeX (and Metafont). Check his CV []. I noticed while looking at the CV that he actually published a book on TeX in 1979.

    I also can't believe that you think that the first sentence on the home page of the TeX user's group would being in error about when the group was formed, particularly given the fact that you have no evidence to suggeset this was wrong.

    Again, the specific date of TeX's development really doesn't matter anyway. TeX was (and still is) very innovative in the field of typesetting. So much so that it continues to be used today despite the fact that Knuth hasn't done much work on it since the 80's.

    Finally, a comment about flames. Let's review your own postings. Despite your apparent ignorance of the history of computer science you are consistently claiming I'm making false statements (without providing any evidence to suggest your claims). When I do provide evidence, you seem to be either ignoring it, or in one case claiming it is incorrect (again, without counter-claiming evidence). For whatever rason, you seem to be clinging to your own revisionist history where software innovation has only occured in proprietary software; this is an increadible claim considering all the innovation that occured in the software industry both before the concept of source code existed, let alone the notion of copyrighting source code and providing binary-only licenses. On top of all that, you write a paragraph treatise about the tastes of the open source development being for 20 year old technology, while simultaneously disputing that any of the technologies I've brought up existed that long ago.

    In short, you are flaming.
  • I did zero research, as I said, however, neither apparently did you. Apparently you also didn't read my post clearly. I can't help it if you're not familiar with this stuff. I really don't have the time to research this for your benefit.

    BSD software was developed under the BSD license. Source code was distributed, and you free to make changes. While the FSF took issue with the original license's attribution requirement, that is irrelevant with regards to Microsoft's claims. Indeed, Microsoft's Winsock library is derived from that code base, as is basically every implementation of sockets. The reason this is the case is nobody had to pay to get a source code license.

    I did indeed name two chess clients: xboard & winboard. If you good to ICS or similar places you'll find the history of these things.

    I never said X/Windows was the first GUI. It was innovative because it was the first cross platform network GUI. That's something that Macintosh still doesn't do.

    GCC is much more than a clone of CC. The original version of GCC was one of the most impressive cross-platform compilers around. It has scores of innovations that allow it to generate very efficient code (indeed, for quite some time gcc generated faster SPARC code than Sun's own compiler... that might even be true today) and doing so while supporting a wide variety of platforms. I think you'd be hard pressed today to find a compiler which supported as many different platforms (or as well). GCC has since been improved to also support a wide variety of of language front ends as well as back ends. It is the closest thing that the computer industry has to a Rosetta stone.

    Just because something doesn't have a GUI doesn't mean that it's not innovative. There are those who would argue (particularly those in the TeX camp) that most GUI wordprocessors were a regression. Innovation just means that you've done something different from what was done before. Regardless of that, I believe TeX existed in 1980 (I have no idea when it was actually created, but I believe work started on this sometime in the 60's). I think you'd be hard pressed to suggest the GUI revolution had occured before that. Irregardless, for the longest time TeX had the most sophisticated typesetting algorithms inside it (indeed, TeX has been used and continues to be used for book publishing to this day, so it must be usefull to someone).
  • Actually, the BSD license has now been changed and as such it now addresses concerns raised by RMS. Either way, the advertising clause is certainly not relevant to Microsoft's claims about innovation.

    BTW, I believe a good chunk of that stuff was either available under GPL, X license, or similar licenses which the FSF would be happy to dub "free" software license.

    Limiting yourself to the GPL is unfair though, as the GPL really just seeked to recreate conditions which had existed earlier in computing history. The GPL didn't even exist until 1985 I think, and it took it a while to get much momentum (think for a minute... what did Microsoft "innovate" in it's first 15 years of existence?). However, the concept of doing software development and releasing the source code alongside it was basically how programming was DONE until the late 70's.
  • As for privatly funded OpenSource, I guess it depeneds on your definition. To me Open Source=Developed by people for free, and made free.

    Well, as long as your reinventing the meaning of terms here I guess we can define "innovate" as "make money". ;-)

    Seriously, Microsoft's arguement is against the government funding development of GPL'd software. So "people doing work for free" isn't relevant. The whole argument presupposes that someone is being paid by the government to do the work.
  • IMO Intellectual Property is a socialist invention. It is a restriction on free trade invented to protect the rights of the workers (artists, authors, etc...). In this sense, it serves a similar role to unions, restricting rights to perform certain actions (like copying stuff) to a select group, in order to protect their ability to earn a living from unfettered competition - which in information age reduces natural price of everything to zero.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with that - but the problem is that capitalism works as an efficient mechanism for the distribution of scare resources. When the resource is information, the only way capitalist model still works is by enforcing artifical scarcity of information.
  • > I have never heard any coder so frquently
    > invoke the mythological heroes of the American
    > nation.

    Gee, what do you expect from a man being accused of commiting un-American activities? _Of course_ he is trying to show the similarities with his positions, and the historical people who defined America.
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    If you've a GPLed specification, then derivatives of that specification CANNOT lawfully be NDA'ed.
  • Relax, the Free Software Folks will always have one advantage over the BSD license folks. That advantage is that Free Software folks can borrow BSD code, modify it, and release it under a GPL-like license.

    BSD advocates don't mind when commercial companies do this, because commercial projects don't effectively compete with Open projects for volunteer developers. But Free Software projects do. All it takes is one dedicated hacker to change a BSD style project to a GPL style one. Of course, the improvements on the GPLed branch have to be significant enough to entice people towards the GPLed version, but that's not as hard as it sounds. There is a large body of GPLed work available. All you would really have to do is borrow some code from another GPLed product and integrate it with the BSD code.

    The PR battle has already been won. Nobody is going to believe that Sun, IBM, HP, and Intel are all un-American, and all of these companies have released software under the GPL. Even the folks at the government will understand that. Especially when they realize they are getting more for their software dollar. Besides, most of the nifty new technologies available for the Free Unixes these days are GPLed. Mozilla, OpenOffice, MySQL, and QT are all examples of this. I almost feel sorry for the BSD advocates when I think of the desktop. The only set of tools that is available under a license that allows the creation of proprietary GUI applications is the LGPLed Gnome libraries.

    It has really got to rankle them that their only choice for proprietary desktop applications is the FSF's Gnome. Of course they always could spend money and buy the commercial license of QT.

    It's a funny world.

  • I agree with you completely. RMS's words are probably doing more harm than good to the cause.

    Jim Allchin's original diatribe [] that open-source software is un-American was written in short words which any red-blooded hick could understand: free software is dangerous for business. His argument may not make sense, but we're not the intended audience. The people who make most of the PC-buying decisions for corporate America aren't necessarily people who understand how PC's work, and Jim Allchin's words could probably spook a great many of them into being skeptical of open-source software. There's enough misinformation out there already; people who don't read Slashdot seem to think that free software is like the free love movement of the 1960's.

    Richard Stallman's response didn't help matters any. He focuses on how the GNU GPL is different from the "open source" license, and how GNU/Linux is different from Linux... huh? Who cares? More importantly, anyone who didn't already understand the distinction isn't going to pick it up from RMS's article.

    What RMS doesn't understand is that this battle won't be won all at once. The free software comunity needs to coexist with the proprietary world, and wean users gradually off proprietary software by offering superior alternatives. If RMS insists on stubbornly making it an all-or-nothing deal, he's most likely going to end up with nothing.

    By the way, the correct name of the operating system is "Linux," not "GNU/Linux." It was named "Linux" by Linus Torvalds. The only person I've ever seen call it "GNU/Linux" has been Richard Stallman. Yes, much of Linux is based on GNU software, but what happens when we use GNU software on other computers? Does Solaris become GNU/Solaris, and do we rename Windows 2000 to GNU/Windows 2000? How much GNU software must be present on a computer before Richard Stallman decides the operating system must have a GNU prepended to its name?

  • Actually it should be attributed to Rousseau. He said it FIRST (I think) sometime in the 1700's

    Thanks for pointing this out... I'm finding several vague attributions of that quote to Rousseau, including a couple that explicitly state that JFK was quoting Rousseau, but I can't seem to find the original source.

    (I'm posting this somewhat useless reply to get your information to a Score: 2, so people will see it.)

  • *| Ask not what you country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. -- anonymous |*|

    You can attribute that to John F. Kennedy. It's from his inaugural address [].

  • "The standard, free software version of Kerberos cannot communicate with Microsoft's modified Kerberos server."

    If you had facts, you would present them.

    These facts would dispute my claim that Stallman is lying with the above statement.

    These facts would show that my ability to authenticate to a Windows 2000 domain controller on a DECstation running NetBSD 1.5 and the "standard, free software version of Kerberos" is a figment of my imagination.

    So far, you have not.

    At least FUD has some bearing in truth. The above statement goes beyond FUD and is out and out blatant lying.

  • Look back at Richard Stallman's commentary and he specifically states that the GPL is not Open Source, but rather Free Software.

    Yet basically all of the examples you have given are ones of Open Source innovation.

    I think it's intellectually dishonest to on one hand distance Open Source from the GPL when it's not convenient to be associated with Richard Stallman, and then turn around and try to link the GPL with Open Source when it seems advantageous to promote the views of Richard Stallman.

    To me at least it is especially clear that the two concepts are greatly different. We need to begin talking about them as separate entities and not as part of the same.

    Thus the question really is, What innovations has the Free Software Movement created?

    As near as I can see from looking at the list of GNU software, every one of them is a cheap ripoff of the innovations of some other product.
  • Ok, it's pretty clear you either can't read or DON'T UNDERSTAND THE ARGUMENT.

    Richard Stallman stated: "The standard, free software version of Kerberos cannot communicate with Microsoft's modified Kerberos server."

    Richard Stallman never claimed that given some specific instance X in conjunction with instance Y when the moon is in the house of Pluto that free Kerberos would not communicate with Microsoft's implementation.

    He said that it didn't work, period.

    You defend Stallman for what he didn't say, I attacked him based on what he said. How am I possibly wrong?
  • Both parts.

    1. Microsoft's Kerberos and MIT Kerberos are 100% interoperable.
    2. The RFC-complaint extenstion to Microsoft's Kerberos are only useful in a Win2K environment, so there's no incentive to migrate from MIT Kerberos to Microsoft Kerberos for non-Windows users. Without this incentive, it's clearly not an attempt to embrace and extend.
  • CargoCult has already said it well, but it bears repeating. The often-cited Microsoft Kerberos interoperability issues are a myth.

    Windows 2000 and MIT kerberos 5 are completely interoperable, and Microsoft's changes are well-documented and "legal" according to the kerberos spec.

  • Did you read _why_ he said that? It's because "intellecutal property" covers too many issues to be dealt with under a single term. HE DID NOT SAY THAT YOU SHOULD AGREE WITH HIM ABOUT HIS OPINIONS, he just said that there are too many different issues to comment on them sanely as a group. Copyright, Trademark, and Patent issues are so disparate, that trying to talk about them together under the term "intellectual property" is wreckless and almost absurd.
  • "Well, didn't Allchin state that he meant exclusively the GPL license?"

    Yeah, we don't really mind the FUD as long as you're precise about it.

  • > Who here has even HEARD of Zero Wing before this rediculous fad caught on?

    So that's where this odd bit of dialogue comes from.

    > I mean, just because some jackhole
    > pulled out his Genesis a few weeks ago, and realized how poorly the game was translated, doesn't justify MAJOR
    > over use of this (double-plus-un-funny) joke.

    Well, I'll defend it in this case. I find it funny because it makes Allchin sound like some script kiddie too clueless to even know how to properly use l33t sp33k.

    And Allchin has definitely been clueless thruout this whole contraversy.

  • he is simply asking that the contributions of the GNU project be acknowledged when people talk about Linux as an operating system (as opposed to a kernel).

    If he wanted recognition, he should have released under the BSD license. I don't have to recognize his contributions, and I choose not to. It's Linux.
  • it makes sure all changes are released under the GPL. It turns copyright on its head, forcing any change to be released to the community.

    Software should not have owners.

    New worlds are not born in the vacuum of abstract
  • So, what's it called then when a company takes something public and starts charging everybody for it, doing everything possible to hide the fact that it's a public resource?

    Perhaps stealing isn't the right word, but it seems to me like a slimy, shady, underhanded practice that I'd like to stomp out.

  • And in what way is it worse? As far as I can tell, it is in all ways much more permissive than the Microsoft EULA.

  • Uh huh. So companies should be free to steal from the public domain and sell it back to you? I suppose you support going into the rainforest and beating up the natives until they pay the patent fees on the plants they've been using for generations too. Same thing really.

  • And is it not true that that specification had a big fat field in it for vendor extensions? And that Microsoft, as the vendor, used that specified vendor extension field, to hold the extended mapping they needed (the user sid) to get it interoperating with NT? And that Unix vendors had done the same sort of thing with that field in the past?

    As far as I can tell, Kerberos was used in a totally legitimate way in ActiveDirectory. The bullshit was that Microsoft published the docs for their vendor field under "public NDA" and then threatened to sue certain discussion boards for reproducing the information.
  • The Windows 95 kernel (a flexible protected-mode launcher that can use DOS drivers as well as provide it's own) is explicity a reaction *against* the OS/2 design, which was thought to be very heavyweight back in the early 90s.

    On the other hand, the Windows NT (OS/2 NT) kernel was an opposite reaction against the OS/2 kernel because OS/2 was thought to be too monolithic and far too dependant on i286/i386.

    I think it's safe to say that Microsoft felt that the OS/2 kernel (which they helped design and build) was a gigantic clusterfuck, and so they came up with a 2-pronged strategy to do a better job.

    As for Microsoft Word, it owes it heritage to Apple/Claris MacWrite far more than WordPerfect (none of the above invented the idea of word processing). I think you'll find that modern versions of both Word and WordPerfect have a lot more in common with Word 4.0 for the Macintosh than they do with WordPerfect 4.2 for DOS.
  • Thanks for the kick-assed post. Hopefully a moderator will notice late in the day.

    There's nothing preventing a Win2K client from authenticating against an MIT Kerb realm instead of a Win2K domain server. I know this because I'm currently logged into an MIT realm in exactly the way you describe is impossible.

    I am kind of curious how this works, because in my limited understanding, it would seem that you would need to have ActiveDirectory somewhere, or replace the NT Gina. Do you know of any pointers explaining interop for 2000 logons?
  • Yes, the ends justify the means because they reach different goals. And the implimentation is entirely different. I think that calling the GPL an "embrace and extend" strategy is pointless because - for embrace and extend to work in a neferious way you have to have a trade secret behind it.

    This is simply not the case with the GPL, so yes, the ends justify the means and the means aren't as neferious as you suggest...

    There is simply no comparisson. There is no lock-in with GPL'ed products. You're free to use the code as reference but not to redistribute under another license. There's a big difference here.

    I never said the goals of the GPL were nefarious. On the contrary, I said they "may be noble and selfless". Nevertheless, there is lock-in with GPL'd products -- you're locked into using the GPL! The technique is different (trade secrets vs. licensing terms) but the effect is much the same, is it not?
  • Huh?? Given that GPL code is necessarily open (if distributed), anyone can determine the protocols it uses, write new code "clean-room" code using those protocols, and produce proprietary code that is compatible with GPL code.

    Certainly it's possible. And it's easier to write specs from source code than from object code. But you still need clean-room techniques. And if there is any way that RMS can claim that your reverse-engineered code is derived from the GPL'd code and therefore subject to GPL licensing, do you doubt he'll try? RMS is no less zealous in propagating the GPL than Microsoft is in protecting its monopoly profits...
  • No it isn't. It's much closer to a "If you're not for us, your against us" tactic.

    That too. Of course, the GPL even punishes kindred spirits. (Witness the number of open-source licenses that are incompatible with the GPL.)

    It says, "you can use our stuff, and make more stuff out of our stuff, but only if you lisence any resulting stuff the same".

    The GPL is very much of a "my way or the highway" approach to "cooperation". Microsoft isn't much different either. You can use Microsoft's stuff, and make more stuff out of their stuff, but only if you use Microsoft's platform. How is this so different?

    Embrace and extend is like "we'll get our stuff to support your features and play nice with your system, but then well add more features to ours that you can't use", thus meaning that if you want to use the fancy new stuff you gotta use the extended and the extended ain't shared with the original authors.

    Are you trying to deny that GPL'd software tries to do exactly this? Try reading the GNU web page, Why you shouldn't use the Library GPL for your next library []: "However, when a library provides a significant unique capability, like GNU Readline, that's a horse of a different color. The Readline library implements input editing and history for interactive programs, and that's a facility not generally available elsewhere. Releasing it under the GPL and limiting its use to free programs gives our community a real boost. At least one application program is free software today specifically because that was necessary for using Readline."

    How is that different? "You can use our fancy new features -- but only if you play the game our way." The same statement could be used about the GPL (our way == use the GPL for your code), or for Microsoft API's (our way == use a Microsoft platform for your code).

    So like I said, it's quite different.

    It's not at all different. You're hung up on the fact the one side wants to share with you and the other side doesn't. Both sides want to force you into a path of doing things their way, because that furthers their objectives. Sure, the objectives differ, but the approach doesn't.
  • But even Stallman freely [sic] admits that Free Software was around long before he started promoting it.
  • > So what you're saying is that becuase Microsoft hasn't innovated much of anything, it's OK for open-source to follow the same route?

    No, he's pointing out that the pot was calling the kettle black.

    Try reading in threaded mode now and then.

  • > The chief claim made by Allchin was that free software and open source (FS/OS) do not innovate.

    Of course, if he had come right out and said it he would have been proven wrong immediately, so instead he couched it in an incoherent rant about patriotism and government-funded software.

    He should hire a speech writer. That would let him make his "chief claim" clearly in the future, as well as shield him against saying things that show him up as an idiot.

    > No thread participant could provide an example of a new user-facing product category that had originated in the FS/OS world.

    I like that "a new user-facing product category" restriction. Why is "user-facing" the only arena where innovation matters, and why do you have to create an entirely new "product category" to qualify as innovative? Could it be that you thought you had a better chance of winning the argument if you redefined it on your own terms?

    And what are you going to say next year? Narrow the argument still further?

    BTW, how many product categories are there? Is "game" a product category? Or "strategy game"? Or "wargame"? Or "wargame covering WWII"? What does it take to qualify as an innovation?

    Also, please tell us how often any given company creates "a new user-facing product category"? When I walk into CompUSA, I see hundreds of games, but it looks like they're all clones of about 5 trendsetters. And even those trendsetters are manifestations of categories that have been around for years (or decades, in some cases).


  • for the unenlightened, can you explain the differences between static and dynamic linking? i don't know since i don't do high level languages.

    Get thee to a programming class! ::grin::


    Static = linked once when the program is compiled, so that the library is incorporated into the final executable.

    Dynamic = the final executable dynamically links to the library (the *.so on Linux or *.dll on Windows) when it executes in order to access the routines in it.

    Advantage of Static over Dynamic is that you don't need to worry about what version of the library is installed on the target machine, you already have your own version included in your program.

    Advantages of Dynamic over Static (and the main reason it is used) is that it decreases the size executables take up (if 5 programs use the same library, you only need one copy), and it allows you to update a library without having to recompile all the programs that use it, provided the interface remains the same, giving the benifit of bug fixes easily for commonly used routines. (If the interface or expected behavior changes wildly then things get bad because one system might expect a certain version of a library, and another program might expect a different version with a different interface, hence the expression "DLL Hell" on MS Windows.

  • No, they weren't.

    Mac Emulators have existed since at least 1988 - and were not public domain.

    Sinclair Spectrum emulators first came out in 1992 - and were not public domain.

    In fact, most emulators aren't public domain. The only one I can think of is MAME.

  • Well, the web started out in the FS/OS world- remember that Mosaic was the original basis of both Netscape and IE- or is that still too old for you?

    Mosaic wasn't open source. In fact, Netscape were sued for stealing the code. Try again, sparky.

  • The open source technology movement pioneered software itself. There is absolutely no discussion on this matter. Without open source there would be no software at all - propreitry software came after open source (or free software, or whatever you want to call it) - not before.

    No 'movement' pioneered software, unless you're trying to claim that the early computer scientists working at Bletchley park and other places around the world were a part of the "open source movement".

    Given that Babbage designed a computer which used software (based on punchcards, no less), I suppose he invented software.

  • The software industry itself isnt innovative in its nature. Its evolutionary. Movement forward takes place by filling needs and slowly evolving products. You find few leaps. Sometimes there may appear to be 'inventions' like the internet (where free software played the major role), but that's usually because years of evolution happen outside the public eye and then theres a critical mass reached for mass market adaption.

    Neither side 'innovates' to a large extent (which is a serious objection to the existence of software patents). Both sides appear to be 'copying', but that is because one sides users identified useful features, and reimplementing similar features will be reassuring to both users, easier for developers and good for marketing.
  • If you have no property rights, you have no human rights. If you do not own your own body, then you are subject to enslavement. If you do not own the food you eat, you are a slave, begging for scraps at your master's knee. If you do not own the land you live on (and yes, renting is a form of ownership -- not of property, but of a right to occupy), then you are a slave.

    Lincoln should NOT be a hero of people who love freedom. At least not the thoughtful ones.
  • If I write my own additions to a GPL'ed program, and I share the binaries, the GPL requires that I share the source to my additions also. My own code was not "freely given to [me]".
  • I didn't say he was consistent with himself.

    I said that it's clear that he doesn't want people to have the freedom to refuse to share their code.
  • An agreement is an agreement it really does not matter what you are agreeing to that much (as long as it's not criminal or unconstitutional).
  • It never occurred to me before that the GPL is also an "embrace and extend" strategy. While RMS and Bill Gates seem to be polar opposites, they both play the game the same way -- Microsoft prefers that Microsoft code only play nice with other Microsoft code and RMS prefers that GPL code only play nice with other GPL code.

    Huh?? Given that GPL code is necessarily open (if distributed), anyone can determine the protocols it uses, write new code "clean-room" code using those protocols, and produce proprietary code that is compatible with GPL code.

  • ... something along the lines of "it's exhilarating to stand up to an evil empire."

    Oh, well.

    - - - - -
  • The FSF created gcc, ls, cp, mv, emacs, pretty much all that stuff in the /bin /usr/sbin /bin /usr/bin dirs. The Linux kernel isn't anything without those tiny little apps and those tiny little apps aren't all that useful without a kernel running. Don't for a second undervalue the FSF's contribution. RMS can be an ass IMHO but he did a real good job in this article with just a touch or his true personality coming out with the bit about 16 characters. In his defense, if I were him I'd probably cop an atitude too. He despises the Open Source Movement but he seems too impatient. The social climate can't change nearly as fast as he would like.

    If it weren't for the FSF there wouldn't be a Linux or any of the xBSDs. Linus and co. write the one part of the OS that most end users never realy see or care about. The FSF write or GPL-ify most everything else. It's actually kind of ironic that Linus gets all the credit. His work is the boring behind the scenes stuff whereas we actualy interact with FSF software all the time. Understand I'm NOT dishin Linus, he's a seriously cool guy. It seems like the Hurd should be further along by now though.

  • Software should not have owners.

    It shouldn't? My friend, this is what makes GPL software possible. When you release a product under the GPL and then give up ownership, you essentially wind up putting it in the public domain.

    After all, if Linus did not own Linux, who would there be to enforce his ownership and the kernel's GPL license if Microsoft decided to secretly integrate some of the kernel code into Windows 2001? (But were sloppy about it?)
  • I hereby sentence you to a month of forced Barney video watching. Then we'll see how you feel about sharing.
  • RMS really should try to practice writing more briefly and to the point.

    In his letter he rambles to great lengths about semantics of the "free software", which the Microsoft official or Allchin didn't even mention in their statements. Then he continues rather incoherently, speaking about some American "freedoms" and "human rights", which are not really relevant, because Microsoft isn't arguing for restricting any rights, but asking creators and users of GPLed software to consider its wider implications for economical and technological progress.

    RMS's comments on Microsoft's "embrace and extend"-strategy are of course a very good point. He made a small mistake by talking about Kerberos "software" and not the protocol, which is what Microsoft actually embraced and extended.

    I bet RMS has gathered, over the years, a vast number of concise arguments for using GNU GPL in software business. He probably has read many other people's arguments too. Just choose the central arguments for the particular case, and adapt them intelligently. And forget the non-relevant ones, as much as you'd like to advertise them.

    But, it does look like Microsoft would love to have the Committee of Unamerican Activities still around... RMS RUN! QUICK!!!

  • The great abolitionists of the 19th century used their wonderful oratory to combat slavers, whose crude cuss words and uncouth bribes beat the orators every time. They had to fight a war to work it out.

    Actually, the primary argument put forth by the slavers was anti-Federalist. Slavery should be a state's issue. That way, we can keep our slaves.

    You can notice our current US Supreme Court has made a history out of placing items they disagree with on the state's chopping blocks - like abortion.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK Microsoft extended the protocol and put those extensions under trade secret. While everything still remains interoperatible, this enables Microsoft to extend the client in a way which limits them if they had to use the non-extended protocol... that's where people will prefer the more feature rich (another term is 'bloated') server from Microsoft.

    That's the essence of 'embrace and extend'... something they already did with Java for example.

    Windows 2000 and MIT kerberos 5 are completely interoperable, and Microsoft's changes are well-documented and "legal" according to the kerberos spec.

    It's completely irrelevant how well the changes are documented if the documentation is not freely available.

  • It just struck me that RMS' views mirror a lot of what annoys me about the recording industry, especially his obsession with the GNU/Linux thing. Part of his argument is that Linux is the kernel, but not the operating system -- we will all agree with this. However, to say (or at least imply) that GNU forms the rest of what is popularly known as "Linux" is absurd. There are plenty of utilities considered standard on the platform that aren't derived from anything Mr. Stallman and his cohorts have developed.

    The frustrating part is that the major record labels have the same attitude regarding Napster. This whole attitude of "collect money from your users and give it to us, the recording industry" has been central to the debate for some time, but they always neglect to mention the smaller labels that have chosen not to participate in the RIAA. The majority isn't always all that matters, and when RMS ignores the important contributions other programmers not associated with GNU have made to Linux, it's a slap in their face.
    Josh Woodward
  • by X ( 1235 ) <> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @11:11PM (#408859) Homepage Journal
    I think Microsoft is basically making some assumptions about copyright that don't add up. Let's take a simple scenario: the government develops some software, and releases it under the GPL.

    Now, if the government made it, they own the copyright, and as such can sell the code to interested parties such as Microsoft under a different license. Alternatively, Microsoft can get the code under the terms of the GPL gratis.

    If instead the government had released the code under a traditional proprietary license, then Microsoft can still license the code if they want to "extend" it. They just don't have the option of extending it under the terms of the GPL.

    Now, of course, if people make GPL'd contributions to the government's code, and the government incorporates those changes without getting copyright, then the "proprietary license" option disappears to a certain degreee. That being said, those are improvements that wouldn't exist at all under the traditional proprietary license, so I still don't see how this can be seen as a problem.

    So, can someone tell me the scenario under which the GPL would give Microsoft, or any other "innovator" fewer options than if the code was released in the more common manner?
  • by madprof ( 4723 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @09:58PM (#408860)
    The criticism that the GPL harms innovation is obviously silly but what strikes me is that the Microsoft comments are heavily leaning towards portraying the GPL in a generally negative light.
    They're probably hoping people won't realise you don't have to use it.

  • Why is it that all the people in this thread defending what Stallman said and damning Microsoft have clearly never actually used Kerberos in their lives and certainly have no practical experience with Win2K/MIT Kerb interoperability.

    I couldn't give a good god damn less what you may or may not vaguely recall reading when this was a hotly-debated issue on slashdot several months ago.

    My actual experience trumps your fuzzy recollections every day of the week.

    For what it's worth:

    • There is no click-through anything on the microsoft kerb interoperability documentation. Perhaps there was at one time, probably the result of a misguided lawyer, but it's not there now and hasn't been there for a long time. For whatever reason, Microsoft has apparantly realized that their previous position was untenable and they're doing the right thing now.
    • MIT Kerberos and Win2K's kerb implementation are 100% interoperable
    • Microsoft's use of the vendor auth space in the kerb spec is RFC-compliant and their use of the space in the protocol is exactly the type of use that the protocol was designed to support
    • There's nothing preventing a Win2K client from authenticating against an MIT Kerb realm instead of a Win2K domain server. I know this because I'm currently logged into an MIT realm in exactly the way you describe is impossible. (or, rather, that you "can't remember which" but sort of recall people saying)
  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:53AM (#408862) Journal
    Here's how it was explained on previous episodes of Slashdot versus Microsoft:

    Kerberos is designed to be an Authentication protocol. Which means it can verify who you are.

    It does not attempt to be an Authorization protocol, which means it has no ability to tell the system what rights you have.

    A Unixy example of this is that Kerberos can tell your system that you are in fact a user named 'root'. What it can't tell the system is that you have a UID of 0 and therefore have Superuser rights. (MS is of course using their SID concept instead of UID/GID.)

    Now, if you've had any experience with NDS or LanMan Domain security, you'd know that the primary purpose of directory systems is to centralize authorization management: mapping a single user list to a various ACLs and other privledges on hundreds or thousands of boxes around the world. So a non-extended Kerberos would have been useless to Microsoft, or anyone else trying to sell a directory management system to corporate america.

    On the flipside, your company probably wasn't using Kerberos for anything unless you had some different system for mapping authentication to authorization in place. What sucks, is that right now, there is no mapping between the MS authorization system and any other system you might want to use. But you can see the possiblities -- a single login system that gets you Local Administrator on your NT box and wheel access on your Unix box.
  • by Jules Bean ( 27082 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @01:57AM (#408863)
    Mosaic: Once again privatly funded research. NCSA Mosaic i belive.

    NCSA? Private? That would be the national centre for super computing applications, would it? At the university of illinois at Urbana-Champaign?

    That's not what I call private funding ;-) It was a publically funded, open source (before the term was coined) project from the start.

    Similarly, of course, NCSA httpd, which started apache.

    In fact, you could reasonably say that the web was invented in a free software environment. I'd call that a significant innovation.

    I think ssh counts, too. Not open source now, of course, but the first versions were, and as far as I can remember, it was the first secure telnet thing. Maybe that was stelnet though (but that's open source too), or a kerberised telnet (oops, open source as well).

  • It should be clear from this paragraph that RMS is only interested in his own freedom, not your freedom. In particular, not your freedom to refuse to share.

    It is not just his freedom, but the freedom of users everywhere. But, even ignoring this, he *does* respect your freedom to refuse to share. As you know (I know you know because I've seen your comments here before and I'm on your FSB mailing list), you can take a piece of GPL'd software, hack it to hell, and not distribute it. You can use it for whatever. What the GPL prevents, as you well know, is preventing people you give copies to from sharing.

    So, your comment should read, "It should be clear from this paragraph that RMS is only interested in his own freedom, not your freedom. In particular, not your freedom to prevent others from sharing" (emphasis added). Now, proprietary software companies are founded on the basis that this is a true freedom - in particular, Microsoft (or at least Allchin) believes it to be so key to their business that other ways of doing things must be stomped out at all costs. But, RMS does not believe in a freedom to prevent others from sharing. Please don't misrepresent him.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @08:10AM (#408865) Homepage Journal
    Excercise for the reader: try to make a comperable list of innovations that Microsoft has made.

    All right...

    MS Bob(tm): Innovative attempt to introduce user friendliness to computing. So user friendly, if you typed your password incorrectly 3 times, it would offer to change it for you.

    MS Ergonomic Keyboard: Combines a keyboard with breasts. As close as many geeks will ever get to touching breasts.

    MS Wheel Mouse: May be an actual innovation. Seeing as how Microsoft defines innovation differently from the rest of the world, this one must have slipped through somehow.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @08:19AM (#408866) Homepage Journal
    1) Several billion dollar companies have looked quite closely at the GPL. I think it says something that none of them have dared test it.

    2) Even if they did and won, they'd have to go to the original copyright holders and ask permision to use the code or risk being sued for copyright violations. And they can't use any of my code if they don't accept the GPL. Period.

    3) Many of these companies use the same tactics in their own licenses, but instead of granting you additional rights above and beyond copyright (As does the GPL) they take rights away. And they've pushed for legislation to strenghten their ability to do this. If the GPL falls, their EULAS would fall into question. They don't want that. The GPL is much more likely to stand than your run of the mill EULA.

  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @12:23AM (#408867)
    All the GPL being outlawed (which wouldn't happen, it would be more subtle), we wouldn't lose much. We'd rerelease it under the GPL. Very little is actually GPL'd because of the GPL. It is much more common for people to avoid the GPL because of it.

    The Open Source community cares little for Free Software, but makes different demands.

    If I announced that I was part of the "community" and would sell GPL licenses (which I can do, I just can't stop you from redistributing), you'd al flame me, while I'd be legally in the right.

    The right to a downloadable ISO, web site, and ftp site, is NOT a right that the GPL ennumerates.

    Why is this a war. RMS has the right idea. He didn't go and talk Netscape into open sourcing Navigator. He didn't talk AT&T into openning Unix, he went and wrote his own.

    We need more coding, less Slashdot ranting. The goal isn't world domination. If you want the freedoms that the GPL provides, only use GPL'd (or less restrictive, a la BSD) licensed sosftware. If you want global domination, go grab your dice and a war game and play, otherwise stop with the mental masturbation.

    RMS gets credit for many things. He is an idealist and DID something to make his ideals work. ESR is an opportunist who wrote an completely preposterous essay and tried to steal the thunder of someone actually doing something.

    The whole "open source" process fails for large projects. All the significant projects are run by a small group. While Linux has many "contributers" the core team is small, and Linux's development is slowing because of the management issues.

    The best free software (Emacs, Apache, Perl, Samba, GCC, etc.) are ALL small teams or individuals writing great code. Even if they get contributions, the direction is set by a small group. The "Open Source" projects that ESR talks about are among the weaker links (Mozilla is the prime example, but I'd argue that Linux falls in here... all the stability arguements are in contrast to Windows, which by engineering tradeoff has more features and less stability, not against other Unixes. Does anyone here REALLY feel that Linux stacks up against HP-UX, Solaris, AIX, or BSD 4.4 Lites in stability? I mean the kernel, not the mess of software).

    The Mythical Man Month holds...

    Open Source is the trojan horse to destroy Free Software. By focusing on the convenient instead of the ideals, once the Millions of Eyeballs theory falls to the Mythical Man Month, then Open Source becomes passe.

    Show RMS some respect... y'all run his code, use his license, and piss on his work because it isn't convenient to placate your corporations?

    What the hell?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @10:11PM (#408868) Homepage
    Many people are missing the point here. Allchin said "I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat." That's what this is all about.

    Governments (US and otherwise) might choose to encourage free software by, for example, requiring software developed in academia with government funding to be distributed under the GPL. US policy was close to that until the Reagan years, when it switched to encouraging commercial exploitation of intellectual property developed in academia.

    Governments might also choose to use GPLd software, with mods and extensions done by government employees coming out under the GPL. That's scary for Microsoft. Suppose, as a cost-cutting measure, the US General Services Adminstration made a decision that all government web sites would run on Apache, implementing it by ruling that higher priced (non-free) software could not be procured with Federal funds. That's what this is all about.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:23PM (#408869) Homepage
    No thread participant could provide an example of a new user-facing product category that had originated in the FS/OS world.

    Well, the web started out in the FS/OS world- remember that Mosaic was the original basis of both Netscape and IE- or is that still too old for you? Of course the counter point is that nobody can come up with a new, user-facing product category that originated at Microsoft, either. Everything they do is copied from somebody else. Their implementations may be nice, but they're still copies of others' technology.

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @12:30AM (#408870) Homepage
    Netscape were sued by the NCSA for the use of the name Mosaic, not the actual source, see here [] for details.
  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:51PM (#408871) Homepage
    Unix, apache, sendmail, Mosaic (where both Netscape and IE sprang from) to name just 4. There is no one true path to innovation, it just irks me that the great imitator throws the word about as if they've had one original idea in the whole of their existence (unless you count Microsoft Bob or the dancing paperclip, I suppose).
  • by Slashdolt ( 166321 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:19AM (#408872)
    If a group of people donate their time to build a house, does this hurt the home-building industry?

    When doctors donate their time to help people (for free), is this a threat to doctors who just want to make money?

    If I give a cup of sugar to my neighbor am I undermining the super-market?

    Heck, if I grow food and give it away (which I do), I'm REALLY hurting people! Geesh! And I thought I was just being nice!

  • by JCCyC ( 179760 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @10:33AM (#408873) Journal
    RMS has always said his intention was to develop a GNU operating system and he started with the tools and would then develop the kernel (I find this unbelieveable, I mean, who wouldn't start with the kernel).

    No, it is completely believable, because you omit a crucial part of the GNU goal: create a Unix-compatible operating system. With such a goal, it became possible for him to "eat the problem slowly by the sides", so to speak, for that way he could start working on existing, proprietary Unix systems. Make a little utility to replace cat -- trivial. Make a little utility to replace ls -- easy. Make a not-so-little utility to replace grep -- not so easy but totally doable... you get the point. If you make them with portability in mind, it makes total sense to attack the problem "outside in".

    I'd also say the fact Linus' kernel fit so perfectly in that missing slot WITHOUT IT BEING LINUS' INTENTION speaks a lot for the wonders of portability.

    Put a sticker on the distribution - "Contains GNU tools" if you like. After all, there isn't all that much stuff in your average Linux distro that couldn't be replaced with a non-GNU version.

    Do you know of any free (as in speech) non-GNU C or C++ compiler? How about all those gazillion classic-Unix command line utilities?

    Having said this, RMS is an extraordinary individual and people should have respect for what he has achieved.

    Amen to that bro.

  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:52AM (#408874) Journal
    He's done a lot for the Linux community and he wants to be recognized. So let him ask that he be recognized

    As a note - I see RMS as a very principled person, I dont believe he wants to maintain the "GNU/Linux" moniker simply to get credit for himself (and I don't see your comment as stating this succinctly, I just want to provide some clarity on what I believe to be the nuance of his purpose)

    He wants to maintain the clarity in the Meat Space in order to keep focused on Free Software - which is undoubtedly his loftier and very amiable goal.

    Allot of people believe RMS to be an egotist, based on his writing, but I see him as being more pragmatic - he is sticking to this 'GNU/Linux" point in order to reinforce and maintain the profile of his true goals.

  • RMS claimed that MS stole MIT's implementation and used it in Windows.

    Where does he say that? The exact quote please!

  • by SpitefulBen ( 201793 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @09:43PM (#408876) Homepage
    By the way, thanks for saying that the system's real name is GNU/Linux. However, it really helps to make things clear if you refrain from abbreviating it to "Linux". Then you can distinguish between GNU/Linux, the whole system, and Linux, the kernel. That would only have required 16 more characters in this article--and you could have won most of them back by replacing "usually known as just plain Linux" with "often called `Linux'"

    This has always seemed to me to be one of the stupider things that RMS always harps on. I wish he would just give it a rest. Sure, GNU/Linux is technically more correct, but the world has standardized on Linux.
  • by update() ( 217397 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:01AM (#408877) Homepage
    Think about it: are you free? What freedoms do you enjoy? Are these freedoms _real_ or just percieved? What freedoms do you lack? Which freedoms are significant? Are you able to think _beyond_ current laws and legal principles and think about what is _morally_ better?

    Well, let's see:

    • I can vote for the officials who are going to govern me
    • I can practice my religion openly, in contrast to two of my grandparents who were literally the only members of the families to survive the Nazis
    • I can criticize the government without fear of retribution
    And here's what I can't do:
    • Buy one copy of Quicken and install it on two computers
    • Make my own carbonated beverage and sell it as Coka-Cola
    • Break into computer systems I'm not supposed to be in
    • Cause everyone else to vote for Ralph Nader
    Yes, on the whole I think I'm way ahead of people in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia or China.

    You remind me of the Ask Slashdot where the questioner was waxing enthusiastic about life in countries that dodn't belong to the WIPO, like Afghanistan. Know what? If the right to warez is so important to you, go live in Afghanistan. Of course, the Taliban won't let you own a TV.

  • by delcielo ( 217760 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:56AM (#408878) Journal
    The only thing that really bothers me about RMS is this little thing of: If you don't absolutely agree with me, you're not a "thinking" person. He seems to think that anybody with a different opinion is unintelligent. At the same time, he seems to spend more time arguing semantics than anything substantive. Maybe I'm just popping off because I'm a little tired of it; but does anybody see RMS ever so slowly slipping toward irrelevance? That would be a shame. He's given a lot, and has a lot to offer.
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @07:27AM (#408879)
    Richard Stallman writes: "The standard, free software version of Kerberos cannot communicate with Microsoft's modified Kerberos server."

    I have a DECstation 5000/133 at home which was running NetBSD 1.5. (I'm now back to Ultrix 4.5)

    I also have a Windows 2000 Server running Active Directory that I wanted to use as a Kerberos authentication server.

    So I downloaded the latest Krb5 software from MIT's distribution site. I compiled this under NetBSD and installed the various binaries, etc.

    I then went to Microsoft's site and read this document: nn ing/security/kerbsteps.asp

    Which describes how to configure your Kerberos client to authenticate with a Win2k domain controller.

    I sat back, opened a telnet session to the NetBSD box and successfully logged in to the box using my Win2k password.

    This works, it works very well.

    I'm planning to set my Sparcstation up to authenticate the same way, as well as my DECstation now running Ultrix.

    Richard Stallman is wrong. The free kerberos can communicate with the Microsoft server.
  • Interesting. It never occurred to me before that the GPL is also an "embrace and extend" strategy. While RMS and Bill Gates seem to be polar opposites, they both play the game the same way -- Microsoft prefers that Microsoft code only play nice with other Microsoft code and RMS prefers that GPL code only play nice with other GPL code. Both hope to eventually conquer the entire software industry through network effects. The GPL uses viral licensing while Microsoft uses proprietary secrets, but it remains the same game, and Microsoft has been more successful at the game.

    Does this make RMS hypocritical for criticizing Microsoft's "embrace and extend" practices while essentially playing the same game? His goals may be noble and selfless, but do the ends justify the means?
  • The Open Source Movement is content to co-exist with proprietary software--that is why I do not support it. The Free Software Movement has a more ambitious goal, to replace proprietary software with free software that respects your freedom.

    It should be clear from this paragraph that RMS is only interested in his own freedom, not your freedom. In particular, not your freedom to refuse to share.

  • by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:54PM (#408882) Homepage
    The Kerberos community was incensed when they saw this, but they had no way to stop it. Kerberos had been developed at MIT, and released as free software--but not under the GNU GPL. The lax license used for Kerberos was no bar to Microsoft's plans. If the Kerberos developers had released Kerberos under the GPL, Microsoft could not have undermined it in this way.

    This doesn't make sense at all--Kerberos is an open protocol (RFC 1510), so how would GPLing one specific implementation prevent embrace-extend tactics? The worst that could happen is that Microsoft be declared non-compliant, but even that didn't happen because Microsoft was simply using bits specifically reserved for implementation-specific use.

    This seems like such an obvious error, am I missing something?

  • by Pinball Wizard ( 161942 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @12:21AM (#408883) Homepage Journal
    Chuck really seems to have his trolling down pat. Let's see we have - a fairly observant lead in with a good argument. The purpose of this is to keep you reading. "They're the responses of someone who's been spouting the same party line for the last twenty years" Can't really argue with that, other than if Stallman didn't repeat himself so steadfastly he wouldn't really be the RMS we all know and love.

    Then, he throws the obligatory intentional misstatement: Why focus on the distinctions between open-source and free software? Allchin didn't address the distinction.... Pretty much guaranteed to draw a bevy of people screaming how Allchin explicitly drew the distinction between GPL and non GPL code and explained how it was only the GPL code that was Un-American.

    Then, he employs the standard technique of quoting out of context, ala "I have no opinion 'intellectual property rights,' and if you are thoughtful you will have none either." Read the rest of that statement in the original story and you'll see what I mean.

    The final part of Chuck's troll demonstrates his knowledge of the community he is trolling. In this case, he knows the /. geeks don't have much respect for the mental capacity of marketroids so he suggests Stallman, a mental giant, is not up to going toe-to-toe with marketers and executives.

    I'd have to say, Chuck - you pulled out just about every trick in the book. And judging from the response, I'd say you succeeded.

  • by Cliffton Watermore ( 199498 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:30PM (#408884) Homepage
    The Microsoft IntelliMouse is the only thing that springs to mind. Their product range since the early years of the company has mainly been based on stolen or imitated products. Microsoft BASIC was stolen from DEC Labs when William Gates was working there. That was their first product. The MS-DOS product was based on a system written by Tim Patterson known as the "QDOS" - Quick and Dirty OS. Their Office products were blatant imitations of existing products (WordPerfect, Lotus 123, etc). Their Windows product range introduced "innovations" into the OSes that other OSes had had for years. Propreitry standards do not count as "innovation", either. The Microsoft .DOC format and .XLS formats were only invented to prevent open document standards...Microsoft didn't want to allow you to be able to read a .DOC with a non-Microsoft product. Sorry, but your argument holds no water. You claim " I must agree with Allchin that free software and open source primarily clone existing user-facing commercial products rather than innovating in that space. "

    and yet you simply ignore the fact that cloning existing products has basically been Microsoft's game plan since 1975. Oh, that and "innovating" proprietry standards in order to create a stranglehold on the market - I don't know if that actually counts as innovation though. Perhaps the only innovative thing Microsoft has produced has been a marketing and legal team second to none.

  • by tim_maroney ( 239442 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @09:53PM (#408885) Homepage
    The chief claim made by Allchin was that free software and open source (FS/OS) do not innovate. That issue was discussed in this /. thread []. No thread participant could provide an example of a new user-facing product category that had originated in the FS/OS world. (In addition, absurd claims were made that open source projects had invented skinning, virtual memory, and so on; and that a command-line network software installer was somehow an innovation.) Stallman does not provide examples either, nor did the Red Hat CTO.

    Although it pains me to agree with an M$ representative who is speaking in his company's commerical interests, I must agree with Allchin that free software and open source primarily clone existing user-facing commercial products rather than innovating in that space.


  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:54PM (#408886)

    You know what? I hold RMS in the highest respect. If I had to choose one reason, this would be it: the Free Software Foundation is not a "pet-project" to him that was interesting for a few days and then faded to the back of his mind. He believes strongly in something, and he does what he believes. Ten years later, he is still doing what he believes.

    I can't believe anyone would complain that:

    Only RMS would insist on dredging up the same tired argument and same tired distinctions on such a matter.
    I'd like to know, if the distinction between two philosophies is a "tired argument" then what exactly is Microsoft's argument? Every single sentence that comes out of that company includes the word "innovative." Well, if Microsoft is so innovative, why do their products suck so much? Why, in order to increase their profits, do they have to send lawyers after a free software community? This is, after all, what this story is all about. They want to damage the community in such a way that will benefit them. Is that what you call innovation?

    Let me tell you what I believe. Innovation is finding out what is better for the consumer and then delivering a solution that satisfies all involved parties. Innovation is raising yourself by climbing higher, not by pushing others down. Microsoft actually never rises. They only push others down and step on them harder and harder. They constantly destroy the software industry for their own benefit. In my opinion, if anybody is spouting a "tired argument," it is Microsoft claiming how innovative they are. They aren't.

    Richard Stallman, I salute you for your efforts. Keep up the fight and never give up.

  • To think intelligently about copyrights, patents or trademarks, you must think about them separately. My views about copyrights are too complex to fit in this article, but one general principle applies: they cannot justify denying the public important freedoms. As Abraham Lincoln put it, "Whenever there is a conflict between human rights and property rights, human rights must prevail."

    I have never heard any coder so frquently invoke the mythological heroes of the American nation.

    orwell's 1984 would call this doubleplusgood duckspeaking, i.e. lots of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    It makes a lot of open sourcers and free software folks feel good about themselves and their movement, when, at least in a small part of their souls, they should be at least somewhat concerned that Allchin's offhanded, unprepared commentary got such widespread press coverage.

    The great abolitionists of the 19th century used their wonderful oratory to combat slavers, whose crude cuss words and uncouth bribes beat the orators every time. They had to fight a war to work it out.

    RMS has to directly take on Microsoft et al. I work with a third party [] and I will tell you, high-faluting speech about abe lincoln will not win that war. What will win that war is systemic, on message and practical stuff about pertinent American values- in this case, free enterprise.
  • by X ( 1235 ) <> on Friday February 23, 2001 @12:40AM (#408888) Homepage Journal

    I have no idea why "user-facing" has to get thrown in there (like it's not innovation if it's not facing the user), but let's go with it.

    • X/Windows was a pretty innovative concept of a cross-platform network GUI
    • I think PEX was one of the first 3D network GUI's.
    • The Zephyr instant messaging service predates AIM
    • Almost any software written before the 70's
    • Nethack
    • Xconq (one of the first turn-based strategy games)
    • The first NNTP/News readers
    • The first e-mail clients
    • The first web browser (CERN's line-mode browser)
    • The first SNMP viewers
    • I could be wrong, but I believe Andrew was one of the first systems that allowed live object embedding in a document editor
    • Fractal renderer's. ;-)
    • Then there's the whole TeX typesetting system
    • Network chess clients
    • PGP
    • The first telnet client
    • The first ftp client
    • The first secure remote shell
    • The first gopher client
    • While it wasn't the first compiler, gcc was pretty innovative
    • Many of the GNU and BSD implementations of those little services that come with Unix tend to be significant improvements over what was part of the original proprietary Unix services.

    Excercise for the reader: try to make a comperable list of innovations that Microsoft has made. ;-)

    A really imporant point here is that the growth and improvement of Unix during the 70's is directly attributable to it being made "free" software and then incorporating free patches.

    Now, I think what Allchin was focusing on was all the "GUI innovations" which have been done by proprietary software vendors. Now, most of those GUI innovations occured somewhere between the mid 80's to mid 90's. Guess what, that just happens to coincide with the times when proprietary software was most dominant in the industry. It stands to reason that most of the innovations from that time would be embodied by proprietary software.

    The bottom line is that the "GUI" era far from covers the bulk of innovation in the computer industry. More importantly, I'd argue that the amount of effort necessary to come up with innovations like "menu bars" is not comperable to say coming up with quicksort.

  • by Nugget94M ( 3631 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @11:59PM (#408889) Homepage
    You are wrong. :)

    Everything you need to know in order to fully understand the RFC-complaint changes that microsoft made to their Kerberos implementation can be freely found online or in the MSDN materials. A good place to start would be here [].

    The changes microsoft made were to make kerberos understand the more flexible security model and ACL scheme in Win2K, and are not at all an attempt to embrace and extend. If you're running Win2K, the changes are crucial. If you're not running Win2K the changes are irrelevant, so they're not going to entice people to migrate away from the MIT implementation.

  • I could leave it at that, but RMS is so condescending it makes me retch:
    "I have no opinion 'intellectual property rights,' and if you are thoughtful you will have none either."

    Just because he's against them doesn't mean he has to presume that we'd agree with that position. And to frame our disagreement in the language of thoughtfulness/thoughtlessness insults the hours of philosophical and moral debate we have invested in arriving at our own conclusions, be they contrary to his or not.

    This is a misreading of what he said. He did not say he was against them. He said he had no opinion at all on them because the whole term is too encompassing for one opinion to cover all the things the term covers. He's right beyond a shadow of a doubt here.

    I would say this one attempt to misread what he said casts a great deal of doubt on your ability to make even the vaguest stab at objectively judging his opinions.

    I will agree with you that he trotted out the whole 'Open Source' vs. 'Free Software' thing again, and it wasn't particularily relevant in this case. A few of the things he said are relevant though.

  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @11:00PM (#408891) Homepage
    He mentioned their decision to embrace and extend Kerberos in Win2000. I thought that this was a particularly good choice because it showed:

    An example of free software so innovative that Microsoft wanted to use it (scratch the "Free Software stifles innovation")
    How a BSD-style license, which Microsoft advocated, let them take it and
    How Microsoft then turned around and screwed the people who had written the software in the first place by deliberately destroying interoperability

    I'd like a large serving of evidence and proof please.

    Having hacked around the binaries of the MS Kerberos implementation, I can find no evidence that they've used any of the MIT implementation of Kerberos.

    So what makes RMS so sure that it is using their source code? After all, the spec is out there online for anyone to implement for free. Why does he think they didn't do that?

    Pretty strong claims to be making in public. Well, here's one in return -- Richard M. Stallman, You are a LIAR -- Back Up Your Claims.

    Heck, I'll even challenge him to a one-legged arse kicking contest if he's interested.

  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:08PM (#408892) Homepage Journal
    I'm reading his responses, and they're not the responses of someone who wants to engage Allchin in a dialogue about Allchin's salient points.

    What salient points do you want RMS to discuss?

    Microsoft: We'd like to embrace and extend GPL software but the GPL prevents this.

    RMS: That's the point.

    As RMS never grows tired of stating, he is a representative of the Free Software Movement which is about freedom at all costs, while most people including yourself are members of the Open Source movement which is willing to compromise with closed source developers.

    They're the responses of someone who's been spouting the same party line for the last twenty years and who will gladly and graciously take any opportunity to do the same anew. This isn't a criticism of the free software movement.

    Yes, it is. You're so called tired party line is the ethos of the Free Software Movement. People like you and ESR are members of the Open Source Movement which RMS keeps pointing out in the article (did you read it all?), he is not a part off. The Free Software Movement is not about compromise it is about "Give me freedom, or give me death".

    Finagle's First Law
  • by borud ( 127730 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:14PM (#408893) Homepage
    I think Richard Stallman is being very helpful. For almost two decades, people have gotten his message wrong and he has patiently corrected them and tried to explain what he means. Still, journalists and the majority of the open source hang-arounds have no idea what Stallman is all about. They haven't even bothered to read the GPL and think about what it _means_, and they certainly have spent no time learning the difference between what RMS says and what ESR says.

    Richard Stallman has to repeat his message because people are too daft to understand it. that Allchin doesn't get it is not very surprising, but that the open source hangarounds don't get it is downright disappointing.

    if I were RMS, I'm not sure I would be so patient. I would probably blow up every now and then, when people don't bother to make the mental effort to understand exactly what he is talking about.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:06PM (#408894) Homepage

    One very nice aspect of Stallman's commentary is that he provided a solid example of Microsoft's behavior relative to Free Software. He mentioned their decision to embrace and extend Kerberos in Win2000. I thought that this was a particularly good choice because it showed:

    1. An example of free software so innovative that Microsoft wanted to use it (scratch the "Free Software stifles innovation")
    2. How a BSD-style license, which Microsoft advocated, let them take it and
    3. How Microsoft then turned around and screwed the people who had written the software in the first place by deliberately destroying interoperability

    Having a nice solid example is a big step up from the generic rantings so popular on slashdot. Instead of "Microsoft wants a license that lets them swipe free software for their own ends", Stallman has shown that Microsoft has used more permissive licenses to swipe free software and screw existing users.

  • I could leave it at that, but RMS is so condescending it makes me retch:
    "I have no opinion 'intellectual property rights,' and if you are thoughtful you will have none either."

    Did you actually read what he said, or were you just looking for a nice quote that you could use out of context to give you an excuse to say something nasty about him? If you had a shred of honesty you would have noted that the full context was:

    I have no opinion "intellectual property rights," and if you are thoughtful you will have none either. That term is a catch-all, covering copyrights, patents, trademarks, and other disparate legal systems; they are so different, in the laws and in their effects, that any statement about all of them at once is almost surely foolish. To think intelligently about copyrights, patents or trademarks, you must think about them separately.

    He's not saying that he's against IP rights generally but that they're such a diverse issue that treating them as a monolithic concept is stupid. I'd say that's a very fair comment and shows that he has probably thought about the issue a lot more than most talking heads who blather about the necessity of protecting intellectual property in the media.

  • by Twistor ( 174197 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:27AM (#408896)
    My problem with this is that GNU claims ownership of other peoples' projects. RMS has always said his intention was to develop a GNU operating system and he started with the tools and would then develop the kernel (I find this unbelieveable, I mean, who wouldn't start with the kernel).

    ...well actually it is believable, and, you make the mistake of assuming that the outcome of the linux development was foreseen:

    to use the "Rebel Code" book mentioned elsewhere on yesterday's /.:


    "Though unwilling to release Linux, he [Linus Torvalds] was ready to mention its existence. On Sunday, 25 August 1991, under the subject line "What would you most like to see in minix?" he wrote in the comp.os.minix newsgroup:

    ...I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since April..."

    It was the Linux development process that was revolutionary... Linus released early and often, kept the other developers directly involved, inviting folks to freely add in anything they wanted (sometimes reworking the entire kernel rather than just bolting a feature on), and to fix bugs, etc. No other project (free or otherwise) moved/moves as quickly (even the long wait for 2.4 was not even close to "long" when compared to other project's dev. cycles, only "long" when compared to other Linux kernel releases...)

    About the absence of a kernel for GNU, RMS was working (though not like Linus!) on the Hurd kernel at the time Linux was starting (again, the process was what made the difference... Linux kernel beat Hurd kernel because Linux was done first-- and done very well.)

    Again, from Rebel Code:


    "Linus also pointed out something that would have been obvious to any hacker of the time, but which has become obscured as Linux has become more widely known. 'Sadly,' he writes, 'a kernel'-- which is what Linux is and always has been-- 'by itself gets you nowhere. To get a working system you need a shell, compilers, a library, etc.' He then pointed out that 'most of the tools used with linux are GNU software and are under the GNU copyleft,' an early indication of the symbiosis of the two systems."

    RMS started his kernel last because he first wanted tools that worked (or could be easily ported) on his machine, tools that you need to do any programming... his machine chip (and its assembly instuction set, and it's OS (!)) was already settled, so it made sense to battle AT&T (and Tanenbaum, for that matter) by first writing the tools that would allow a kernel to be written later.

  • by Cat Mara ( 211617 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:18AM (#408897) Homepage
    Almost nothing you cite is open source. Almost everything you cite is the work of private initiatives or corporate consortiums.

    <takes deep breath; exhales loudly> What's this got to do with anything? What part of "open source" don't you get? The source code of these programs is openly available and open to modify! Hence: Open. Source. Hello?! McFly?!

    I figure you've got this mental image of "open source" as being the product of the übergeeky, hunched over their machines into the small hours, surrounded by a debris of fast food wrappers and mouldy styrofoam coffee cups. Open Source has nothing to do with this stereotype.

    That these programs were developed by "private initiatives" and "corporate consortiums" (sic) is irrelevant. Whether these programs were written by the weird on extreme coffee jags or by 9-to-5 MIS minions in suits is irrelevant. Whether these developments were funded by large corporations or done on one's own dollar is irrelevant. The point is, they've made the source code publically available. These "corporate consortiums" have given something back to the community. They have put their money where their mouths are for open standards. They have not locked up their source code behind NDAs and attempted to pervert open protocols and justified this antisocial behaviour by claiming the right to "innovate" like Microsoft have done. These organisations should be applauded for their public spirit, not sneered at.

  • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <> on Friday February 23, 2001 @12:32AM (#408898) Homepage Journal
    I feel that if I make money from some one else's work, I owe them something in return, period. This is essential of any constructively capitalist entity, for without it, any positive values of capitalism are quickly lost.

    For this reason, I find it dispicable that companies, such as Microsoft, Sun, etc. would take an open source piece of software and release a proprietary version, often without even providing credit to the original developers. THis practice is plagerism, plain and simple and is a far greater threat to intellectual property than the GPL. But it is legal without the protection of the GPL.

    Copyright laws do not exist to make Bill Gates, Steve Balmer, Jim Allchin, Larry Elison, and others as much money as possible. They exist for the purpose of encouraging expression of ideas. When code is copyrightten and kept secret, this is a serious misuse of copyright law and in some ways threatens the entire system. (Patents are another story.)

    The GPL is about returning copyright law to its original intent-- the intent to share expression, and this ideal, I believe is one of the things that RMS referrs to in his article.

    The software industry is still in its infancy, and this is why companies like Microsoft continu to profit on the upgrade cycle and why cusotmers continue to buy the products. Very profitable but not very sustainable.

  • by Catharsis ( 246331 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:59PM (#408899) Homepage
    Has anyone considered the possibility that RMS might just be an email bot with a web spider hooked up?

    I mean, how hard could it be?

    Grep the file for "Linux" and if there's X amount of "Linux"es in a certain context, fire off a slightly randomized rant about proper use of GNU/Linux.

    Check for certain key words in any discussion FSF or open source, and then fire off a rant.

    It couldn't be *that* hard.

    Hell, I'm surprised there's no perl script out on the net which lets you auto-create an RMS response to any given statement.

    If you release it under the GNU license (wait... he likes the GNU license, right?) he could even use it himself (assuming he exists at all) and save himself all *KINDS* of effort...

    Hey, RMSBOT?
    I am pro open source Linux, because it should be FREE as in beer, not free as in french revolution.

    I like beer. I don't like guillotines.


God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"