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GNU is Not Unix

BBC interview with RMS 273

An anonymous reader submitted an interview with RMS running over at the BBC. Doesn't really say much of anything that you haven't heard before but it's a nice little interview, and its not like much else is happening today :)
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BBC interview with RMS

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  • "Yeah, we posted this cause it was a damn slow news day" Totally makes my day seem a bit less boring.
  • Peace & Love (Score:2, Insightful)

    I didn't like the tone of the interview; RMS came across as very idealistic, with a very "hippy" view. I know this is not how the whole story goes, but that's the impression this interview gives. I'd have liked to have seen some more concrete discussion of what benefits there are to business users, or home users. I'd have liked to see the word "monopoly" in there and discussion about how much software is costing various users, how free software would affect business models. Better yet, I'd have liked to have seen discussion of how free software has and is affecting several fields - academic, educational, scientific, server-farms. The man in the street doesn't know that other systems exist, some quick pointers to some prominent e-business sites or famous projects would setup association between "free software" and "good" rather than "free software" and what Cartman would call, "tree hugging hippy crap".
    • Re:Peace & Love (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LMCBoy ( 185365 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:16PM (#3277696) Homepage Journal
      In short, you wanted to see an interview of ESR, not RMS.
    • That's the exact impression I get from RMS, though. He's an idealist who is, as he said, only interested in protecting freedoms. ESR, with the Cathedral and the Bazaar, tried to temper that with a more practical appeal, with marginal success. Ironically ESR gets the most press for being kind of "out there," while RMS is (perhaps rightly so) paraded as the hero of open source.

      And that's where most of our arguments lie: ideaology. If not for our core philosophical beliefs, a lot of us would simply throw our lot in with proprietary software vendors and try to make a buck like everyone else. Sure open source (sorry, Free) software has a lot of benefits to businesses and home users, but those are really afterthoughts.
  • by MonkeyBot ( 545313 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:04PM (#3277624)
    Stallman interview
    By uptight British network
    Meant to excite me?

  • I have an uncle who looks outright like Richard, minus 100lbs or so...Is this 'Free Software' idealism a genetic thing or what?

    On another note, we should have an RMS-shirt watch...There's that maroon one again!
  • Words of RMSdom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Seth Finkelstein ( 90154 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:09PM (#3277656) Homepage Journal
    Ponder this, from the article:
    We're going to replace them. To have freedom to live as part of a community, to have the freedom to treat other people decently, you must replace your propriety software with free software, software that lets you have those freedoms.
    It would be easy to dismiss this comment as hippy-dippy-there-he-goes-again. But consider what we are seeing now, with attempts to control people and programmers via the DMCA [chillingeffects.org] and similar ilk.

    Isn't he RIGHT?

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

    • The biggest problem with RMS is that he has said several times that not only does he think all software should be free, but you should be required by law to make your software free. There is no room in his philosophy for people to choose what type of software they want to use.

      you must replace your propriety software with free software, software that lets you have those freedoms.

      When he says "must", he means it as in, "you will be required to use free software."

      Is there anything worse than a zealot who requires everyone to conform to his beliefs in the name of "freedom"?

      I don't have a problem with RMS living his life the way he wants to live it. I have a big problem with his shoving his version of "freedom" down my throat. If I want to use closed source, proprietary software, then dammit RMS stay the hell out of my machine.

      • Re:Words of RMSdom (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Rascalson ( 542863 )
        "The biggest problem with RMS is that he has said several times that not only does he think all software should be free, but you should be required by law to make your software free. There is no room in his philosophy for people to choose what type of software they want to use." Link to a credible interview, or maytbe an article?
      • Re:Words of RMSdom (Score:4, Informative)

        by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gma ... m minus language> on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @03:38PM (#3278725) Homepage
        The biggest problem with RMS is that he has said several times that not only does he think all software should be free, but you should be required by law to make your software free. There is no room in his philosophy for people to choose what type of software they want to use.

        It's an internally consistent philosophical view. Proprietary software doesn't just involve a person or corporation "choosing" to make their software non-free; it also involves a government apparatus that helps them out.

        If I want to use closed source, proprietary software, then dammit RMS stay the hell out of my machine.

        But what gives you the right to create proprietary software in the first place? If I get a hold of your software, why shouldn't I be allowed to do whatever I want with it? It's like if I bought a candy bar, and was told that I was not allowed to share it, or use it in a recipe of my own, but had to open it carefully then eat it in a certain way.

        I think what RMS is saying is that the kind of contracts which limit the free use of software you obtain are inherently immoral.

        Note that I'm not saying I agree with it, but I do understand the position.
        • If I get a hold of your software, why shouldn't I be allowed to do whatever I want with it?


          I agree; absent a real contract (which a EULA is not), you should be able to use legitimately acquired software in any way you want as long as you don't violate copyright. But if I don't want to give you my source code, what right do you have to demand it from me?

      • When he says "must", he means it as in, "you will be required to use free software."

        Bullshit. You're quite right - it would be hypocritical for RMS to dictate the terms of freedom. But of course we have nothing to worry about, since he's never indicated any such desire.

        Since in your righteous indignation, you feel compelled to cast aspersions, please quote, chapter and verse, evidence to the contrary. Your opinions on the matter have not a whit of relevance. Give us some facts.

      • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by epepke ( 462220 )

        I have to shake my head at this kind of reasoning. It's something like this: We have to revile RMS at every possible opportunity, or else he will instantly force us all to live in some hippy commune. Boo, RMS!

        I don't have a problem with RMS living his life the way he wants to live it. I have a big problem with his shoving his version of "freedom" down my throat.

        The chance of this ever happening is miniscule compared to, say, Elvis taking over your brain by shooting zoobie rays from the flying saucer he got from the elves. Come on! It isn't going to happen.

        If I want to use closed source, proprietary software, then dammit RMS stay the hell out of my machine.

        What, did he come to your house, break down the door, and force you at gunpoint to erase all your proprietary sofware licenses? Or are you being just a teensy bit paranoid?

        The best we can hope for is a world in which some free software continues to exist and is not made totally illegal under pressure by the MPAA, RIAA, international media companies, etc. It's like a tug-of-war, and if you're outnumbered, you have to pull the rope really hard. I'm not like RMS, but I'm very glad he's out there and getting interviewed.

        It is good that RMS exists, and it is also good that he has extreme opinions, because they define the arena within which consensus is built. He'll never get his way, but because of him and others, the mega-corporations may not get their way, which would be no freedom for anybody, ever, under any circumstances.

        That's the choice here. It isn't RMS's vision versus a more moderate one. Closed source, proprietary software isn't going away. Ever.

        It has long been said that nobody would have listened to Martin Luther King if the Black Panthers hadn't been there as an alternative. I think this is accurate. Nobody would listen to Linus or ESR if RMS weren't there, either. Consensus-building just doesn't work that way.

    • It would be easy to dismiss this comment as hippy-dippy-there-he-goes-again. But consider what we are seeing now, with attempts to control people and programmers via the DMCA and similar ilk. Isn't he RIGHT?

      "Marge, I agree with you in theory. In theory, communism works. In theory."

      While some of the ideas behind the free software movement may be based in valid principles, as long as software is fundamentally an economy, free software (in either sense of the term) will be marginalized.

      RMS is talking about taking software-- writing it, obtaining it, and using it-- out of the economic model and putting it into something different. A new kind of model that has never been done before.

      And whenever anybody talks about an entirely new model for a system-- one that has never been tried before-- I'm skeptical.
      • [...] A new kind of model that has never been done before. And whenever anybody talks about an entirely new model for a system-- one that has never been tried before-- I'm skeptical.

        It's not an entirely new model, this is how the hacker community used to look like in pre-1980 era.

        • I would suggest that hackerism doesn't scale.
        • Touche, but things were different then. If the environment were the same-- computers used mostly in academic institutions and mostly by enthusiasts-- then the model would work. Except it isn't.

          Grandmothers use laptops now. My boss thinks himself an expert because he knows how to use Windows 98 Internet Connection Sharing. The world is a different place.

          Applying the free software model to a big environment like this one sounds... improbable in the extreme.
          • Touche, but things were different then. If the environment were the same-- computers used mostly in academic institutions and mostly by enthusiasts-- then the model would work. Except it isn't.

            Maybe it doesn't work for you, but it works for me just fine, thank you.

            Grandmothers use laptops now. My boss thinks himself an expert because he knows how to use Windows 98 Internet Connection Sharing. The world is a different place.

            The keyword is preinstalled. Grandmothers shouldn't have to install systems (Windows, Debian, OS X - doesn't matter which one), they should have them preinstalled and preconfigured (by the way, being grandmother doesn't mean being stupid or computer illiterate, you know).

            Applying the free software model to a big environment like this one sounds... improbable in the extreme.

            Grandmothers with laptops or experts on Windows connection sharing (whatever it is) is not that big environment in my opinion... GNU, Perl, CPAN, Python, PHP, Apache, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Linux, Free/Net/OpenBSD, Exim, ProFTPD, X11, BIND, - now, that's what I call a big environment. It's all about the motivations of free software developers. They're not motivated with only numbers of people who'd use different tools, but with their own needs and opinions. It's more important for them to have a great OS's, great text editors, great languages, compilers, development tools, libraries, open protocols and APIs or great Web servers, than to have few other bells and whistles. But don't worry, we'll also see bells and whistles.

    • Re:Words of RMSdom (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hoo00 ( 123566 )
      This post is above normal temperature, but I hope that it doesn't catch on fire, because i have a point to make.

      Many people points out that not only does RMS think all software should be free, but we should be required by law to make our software free. I agree with RMS. People have a right to choose what type of software they want to use. But people have no right to choose what type of license they want to apply. We must replace all propriety software with free software, or at least software that let users have the freedoms to learn, modify, and verify them. Propreity software is the reason why we have spyware and backdoors in the market today.

      RMS is not a zealot but a persistent man. It is not his beliefs but his principles. I don't have a problem with RMS living his life the way he wants to live it too. Besides, I like the way he shoves this "freedom" down people throat. If anyone want to use closed source and proprietary formats, then you better stayed out of my machines and networks. I don't want your virus and cancer and I especially don't like your doc and htm. I hate how you extend and embrace the standard and then claim to be compatible with me. If you are compatible, show me your source.
      • People have a right to choose what type of software they want to use. But people have no right to choose what type of license they want to apply.

        Philosophies like this are all well and good until you realize that consumers need producers a lot more than producers need consumers in the free software world. Unless you make the assumption that all software consumers are fully capable of independently producing their own software - which was probably true when RMS was growing up in academia - but isn't now, particularly if Linux wants to go mainstream.

        You analogy is like saying consumers should set prices in stores, and that producers should be compelled to offer the product at that price. The reality is, any price, or in this case licensing model, must be mutually acceptable, or nothing can happen. If consumers have the right to choose what software licenses they want to accept, then producers have the right to choose which licenses they want to offer products under.

        Besides, I like the way he shoves this "freedom" down people throat. If anyone want to use closed source and proprietary formats, then you better stayed out of my machines and networks.

        You are free to make that choice. The problem I have with RMS is that he is really anti-freedom: an analogy would be invading a country and deposing the government in order to enforce democracy.
  • by terrymr ( 316118 ) <terrymr&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:10PM (#3277665)
    It's a lot less complicated than worrying about proprietary licenses - and if you think license conditions are easy to follow in MS licenses, read this:

    We sat down and tried to figure this out step by step by step by step. We actually looked up the license agreements to ensure compliance. We think we have a handle on this.

    Here's the scenario.

    I'm at my local municipal library, and I want to check my Groupwise address book for a name. So I quick connect to my Citrix server from the library Windows95 machine. Here is the thought process that every user must use to make this legal, and prevent MS from labeling you a software pirate.

    Hmmmm. This machine is a Win95 machine, and the office Terminal server is a Winnt 2000 Advance Server, so because the remote OS level is less than the Terminal Server, I'm going to need to allocate one of my NT server CALs and a Terminal Server CAL (TCAL) to this library machine. I'll have to call the IS guy to make sure the licensing hofix has been applied to the server, just in case it isn't and the license allocation is permanent and unreclaimable. If I already have a TCAL assigned to my primary computer at the office, I can purchase a Terminal Server Work at Home license instead to save some cash. If I've never connected to the Terminal Server from my desk at the Office, then I'll need to allocate a full TCAL for this library machine. Hmmm... maybe I should check with Joe, because I know he connected from here a few months ago, and it's possible that the Work At Home TCAL, and the Office licensing we purchased for this library machine is still valid.

    Because the Terminal Server has Office installed, even though I don't want to run the blasted Office software, I'll also need to verify whether Office is installed locally here at the library. If it is, I can get away with purchasing a Work At Home Office license. Wait. Better check first with the IT guys again to verify that we have not upgraded our Select 3 license agreement which implied home use licenses. I should probably also verify whether the Work At Home license applies if I'm not at home. If we have a Select 4, or 5, or Enterprise 4, or 5, agreement at the Office, then we can purchase and apply a Work At Home license to the connection. In any case, the IT guys should know whether they have more WorkAt Home licenses purchased than they own in full Office licensing, because Microsoft only allows one Work At Home license per full license. If they tell me that we only have an Open license agreement at the Office, Work At Home licenses do not apply and in this case I would need to purchase an entire Office Suite for the library computer so I can find the address in my GroupWise Address book. This is because it happens that the Terminal server has Office installed on it, and every device that connects to the server will also require an equal Office license.
    • That was certainly an interesting example, but I don't think it's a very useful one in context of this discussion. The fact that there are bad-- read "needlessly complex"-- license models out there doesn't necessarily mean that licenses are, prima facie, bad.

      I think, in most circumstances, software licensing works fine. You sort of chose the worst possible example of obtuse licensing to make a point, and I don't think that's helpful in the big sense.
      • You sort of chose the worst possible example of obtuse licensing to make a point, and I don't think that's helpful in the big sense.

        I didn't make the license obtuse - I simply decided to research the licensing on a product that is one of the more useful products that microsoft produce. Windows Terminal server would get a lot more use if people could read thre license and comply with it without spending a fortune on licenses they don't really need.
      • Good comment. It is true that licenses can become needlessly complicated, and they need not be.


        However, with proprietry software, the tendency is to make the licenses as complicated as possible, so as to make it hard for one's competitors. In a 80% free software world, things would go other other way, you would see much less convoluted licensing (maybe just the GPL, BSD, plus say n (

        • However, with proprietry software, the tendency is to make the licenses as complicated as possible, so as to make it hard for one's competitors.

          Speaking as someone who manages the development and deployment of proprietary software, I don't think you're quite right about that. Our end-user license is a page long, with pretty small type. It's complex, but not absurdly so.

          We've (actually, our lawyers) have made it as complicated as it needs to be to define our relationship with our customers, while keeping it as simple as possible. If it's too complex, it'll be ambiguous or obtuse, and it won't hold up legally.

          We're not thinking about our competitors. We're thinking about ourselves and our customers.
    • Does anybody know how to get 60 Minutes or Consumers' Reports to do a story like this? Here's how I imagine it. You find a typical or even sophisticated user who is trying to do an ordinary thing. Preferably it should be someone who is adamant about how bad pirates are. Then you get a lawyer to go over the EULA, find out how much he had to do that was illegal, and explain it to him.

  • Free Software? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dead Penis Bird ( 524912 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:21PM (#3277741) Homepage
    RMS on availability of source code:

    It means that you can see what the program does. So if you are concerned it might have a back door, you can check what it really does. And you can study it to learn how you do those jobs. You can study it to see precisely what it does.

    Yes, it might be free to have, but no one at my job knows Linux or anything else about free software, therefore we'd have to hire a consultant at perhaps $80.00 an hour to analyze the code and solve the problem.

    This is major $ compared to the price of licenses. Sometimes the "free software" argument is grasping at straws, since there is cost to maintaing software, no matter whose software it is.
    • Re:Free Software? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ctid ( 449118 )
      I think you have to compare like with like. If you have closed software, how much does it cost to ensure it is free of back-doors? The answer is nothing of course, as you cannot EVER be certain. You just have to hope that the company from which you have bought the SW is trustworthy. If you ABSOLUTELY MUST know that your software is free from back-doors or other nasties, open source is the only way to go. The cost of the consultancy is neither here nor there, as you'll NEVER find out with closed source software.
    • Re:Free Software? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dvdeug ( 5033 ) <.or.liame. .ta. .guedvd.> on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:56PM (#3278002)
      Yes, it [the source] might be free to have, but no one at my job knows Linux or anything else about free software, therefore we'd have to hire a consultant at perhaps $80.00 an hour to analyze the code and solve the problem.

      This is major $ compared to the price of licenses. Sometimes the "free software" argument is grasping at straws, since there is cost to maintaing software, no matter whose software it is.


      That's a non sequiter. If you don't want to pay someone to maintain the software, or check it for backdoors, then don't. You're at the mercy of upstream, but you're always at the mercy of the upstream with proprietary software you can't get the source to. All free software (and other software that gives you the source and the right to modify it) does here is give you the ability do so if you chose, for example, if you need something the upstream isn't willing to supply.
    • Re:Free Software? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by room101 ( 236520 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @02:03PM (#3278067) Homepage
      Perhaps we should have marked this as "funny"?

      RMS is talking about "liberty", not "cheap".

      With traditional "closed" software, you can't see or understand the code for any amount of money. (sometimes you can, but those are exceptions)

      With "free" software, you are "free" to understand the source as well as you can/want to. So if it isn't worth it to you, don't. If it is, you have the option. With a "closed" system (like M$ code), all you have to go on is a sales pitch on how great it is, with an "open" system, you can find out for yourself, if you want.

      Also, you still have to hire consultants on closed systems to fix most of your problems, but they are more limited as to what they can really do for you. With a typical commertial software package (M$), they aren't going to help you with problems with the software (for free), unless they actually have a bug in the software (if you are lucky). If you are having problems with integration (most problems a company runs into) or something like that, guess what, you hire a consultant.

      Don't believe the hype.

      Also, if nobody knows Linux, either hire someone, retain an integration company (small local consulting shops do this is large cities), or maybe Linux isn't for you.
    • Re:Free Software? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by neo ( 4625 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @02:44PM (#3278370)
      "It means that you can see what the program does. So if you are concerned it might have a back door, you can check what it really does. And you can study it to learn how you do those jobs. You can study it to see precisely what it does."

      Yes, it might be free to have, but no one at my job knows Linux or anything else about free software, therefore we'd have to hire a consultant at perhaps $80.00 an hour to analyze the code and solve the problem.

      This is major $ compared to the price of licenses. Sometimes the "free software" argument is grasping at straws, since there is cost to maintaing software, no matter whose software it is.


      But you need to compare that to the software that Microsoft gives you. Are you telling me that you have authorized developers on site? If you don't you can't even open the code.

      More to the point, since open software is looked at by literally thousands of people, you don't need to hire anyone... it's already been looked at and the information is available online, again for free.

      What Richard is saying is that Free Software allows you to know what the code does, exactly what it does, and perhaps change it. What Microsoft is saying is that proprietary software is fine and you don't need to know how it works and you certainly shouldn't try to change it, and only use it in a particular manner that benefits MS.

      Take the car analogy. What if every Ford care came with a user license that said you couldn't change anything on the car... and you could only have it repaired at an authorized dealer. No oil changes, no wiperblades, no air filters, nothing. Well obviously they wouldn't sell well, because everyone would buy something else. Now imagine that Ford is the only company that can make cars that work on the highways. Ah... taste the monopoly.
    • This is major $ compared to the price of licenses

      It is?

      A web-enabled license for SQL Server on a dual-proc server is somewhere around $40,000. For that amount, you could hire that consultant for a while.

    • It means that you can see what the program does

      This means you personally, but it also means the royal "you", as in all of us. I.E. - you personally don't have to pay high priced consultants to obtain advantages from using free software. Without lifting a finger, you benefit from other people's review and contributions. Truly. Now if you'd like to lend a hand, that's great. But it would be ironic, to say the least, to compell people to contribute.
  • From the article, excerpted by the BBC themselves:

    "Today free software has a general reputation to be powerful and reliable."

    S'funny, I would have said the single biggest criticism of free software was that it doesn't usually measure up to commercial alternatives in terms of power. Most of it is either "good but not great" or "it'll be finished one of these years..."

    • Re:Dubious quote... (Score:3, Informative)

      by ctid ( 449118 )
      I don't know. I'd call Linux and Apache pretty powerful. Emacs is certainly a powerful editor, wouldn't you say? PERL is a pretty powerful language too.
      • open office (is that GPL?) Mozy(soon to be fully GPL) VIM, KDE, Gnome, GCC.

        it almost sounds like this dude thinks powerful = one way to do it, or point and clicky wizards.
        • Yeah, Vim is fine. GCC is a decent compiler, although in a lot of cases a different compiler produces better results. (If your goal is to use the same compiler on different architectures, though, GCC is for you.)

          KDE and Gnome are not as good as the classic Mac OS UI, the Mac OS X UI, or the Windows 9x/NT4/2000/XP UI. This is my opinion, but I believe it's an educated one, and I think many people agree with me. KDE and Gnome are usually acceptable user interfaces, but they're not as good as their commercial competition. Sometimes they're very not-as-good.

          Mozilla is inferior to Internet Explorer on Windows in terms of speed and simplicity. On other platforms, though, Mozilla is as good or better than competing browsers. I think this says more about the sorry state of browsers other than IE for Windows than it does about Mozilla.

          Open Office? Terrible. I'd rather use MS Office, AppleWorks, or WordPerfect.

          Apache (which you didn't mention, but maybe should have) is the best web server available. Sort of the exception that proves the rule, I think.
          • When was the last time you tried Mozilla?

            I won't debate the merits of KDE or Gnome, but I must say that I find Mozilla to be as fast or faster than MSIE for most important things on Win98 and Win2000 (PIII-933 or Athlon XP 1600+ systems).

            Open office certainly isn't equal to MS Office, but it's only terrible if you need some specific little feature OO doesn't have, or if you're too stuck in the MS-rut to adjust to a few small UI differences.

            Anyway, I won't even start on all of the ways Mozilla is superior to MSIE on Win32 feature-wise. I'll just say that for my needs, Mozilla is the best browser by far. Ask my girlfriend - I nearly explode with irritation every time I'm forced to use MSIE on a PC without Mozilla installed. But that's just me...

            Christopher
      • You misunderstood him. He meant, "Except for the powerful free software out there, the reputation is that free software isn't very powerful."
  • One day a friend of mine told RMS in a chatroom interview "RMS! You're my hero!" to which RMS replied: "Bite me, Fanboy." Priceless.
  • Freedom numbness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:23PM (#3277756) Homepage

    Uh, I count 31 instances of "free" or "freedom" in that interview. Is anyone else getting a strange blind spot in their brain when they hear or read those words? The word means so many things to so many people that we're in serious danger of it losing all meaning, and simply becoming a synonym for "good", which is pretty much the way politicians and industry use it already.

    Perhaps the FSF could consider coming up with a new angle. I mean, I'm marching firmly behind the Freedom Flag, but it seems like we're slipping into a weird Braveheart parallel universe when two sides rush headlong into battle, both screaming "Freeeeeedom!" at the top of their lungs.

    There are other words, and other concepts that represent the FSF's ideals. Open. Shared. Community. Perhaps we could embroider some of those words onto our flag for a while, just until the Freedom Fad blows over.

    • Uh, I count 31 instances of "free" or "freedom" in that interview. [...] Perhaps the FSF could consider coming up with a new angle. [...] There are other words, and other concepts that represent the FSF's ideals. Open. Shared. Community. Perhaps we could embroider some of those words onto our flag for a while, just until the Freedom Fad blows over.

      First someone complained [slashdot.org] that RMS is not ESR. Now you're complaining that FSF is not OSI.

        • Now you're complaining that FSF is not OSI.

        I'm expressing reservations about picking one word as a slogan and wielding it as a weapon until you lose sight of the fact that the word isn't as important as the rich plethora of ideas behind it.

        If I have a complaint, it's that people draw a distinction between FSF and OSI based on nitpicking over why "free" is different to "open", when the basic concepts are pretty much interchangeable.

        • Now you're complaining that FSF is not OSI.
          I'm expressing reservations about picking one word as a slogan and wielding it as a weapon until you lose sight of the fact that the word isn't as important as the rich plethora of ideas behind it.

          Freedom was always the most important priority for the free software folks, from 1983 when Richard Stallman announced the GNU Project, to now. In 1998 the OSI launch was announced by Eric S. Raymond, because he "realized it was time to dump the confrontational attitude that has been associated with free software in the past and sell the idea strictly on the same pragmatic, business-case grounds that motivated Netscape."

          My point is that if you don't like FSF because they're "picking one word [freedom] as a slogan and wielding it as a weapon", than just join the OSI and be happy, instead of complaining about FSF having different attitude than OSI (which is quite obvious, otherwise the OSI would have not been founded). You're not going to convince GNU people to stop talking about freedom after 20 years (ESR knew that 4 years ago).

          If I have a complaint, it's that people draw a distinction between FSF and OSI based on nitpicking over why "free" is different to "open", when the basic concepts are pretty much interchangeable.

          How can people not draw a distinction between FSF and OSI based on free/open difference, if that distinction is the very reason why OSI has been started?

          Those definitions (and the motivations behind using them) are the main difference between FSF and OSI. That is why free software and open source software can cooperate so well. I use, write and promote free software, not only because I like high quality software, but because I like freedom in the first place. For me the high quality is a very nice side effect, but not the whole purpose. People who use, write and promote open source software, put the quality and practical advantages over the ideological and ethical aspects. We all can work together, because it's usually the same software released under the same licenses.

          Read the free software definition [gnu.org] and the open source definition [opensource.org]. Compare the list of free software licenses [gnu.org] with the list of open source licenses [opensource.org]. People behind OSI are doing pretty much the same as people behind FSF, the only important difference is in the motivations. And that is why I said that "you're complaining that FSF is not OSI", commenting your:

          Uh, I count 31 instances of "free" or "freedom" in that interview. [...] Perhaps the FSF could consider coming up with a new angle. [...] There are other words, and other concepts that represent the FSF's ideals. Open. Shared. Community. Perhaps we could embroider some of those words onto our flag for a while, just until the Freedom Fad blows over.

          I hope it's clear now.

    • I absolutely agree 100%.

      You will probably find this amusing [salon.com]

      Its about FUD && Propaganda - and RMS knows this, he may seem like a 'broken' record to "us", but he is spreading his meme well. Read some Chomsky [zmag.org] - language is a complex tool.

        • RMS knows [about FUD and propaganda], he may seem like a 'broken' record to "us", but he is spreading his meme well

        Oh, I understand the reasons, I'm just questioning whether the methodology has become more important than the goal. When you start to turn off friendly developers by over politicising your cause, perhaps it's time to ask whether the cost of gaining mindshare in the user environment is really worth it. It might be, I'm certain RMS has thought about it, I'm just pointing out that I'm getting a bit tired of hearing that I'm fighting for the Freedom Army, when I'm really just a developer who's more interested in producing apps that get used on their own merit rather than winning a propaganda and marketing war.

    • There are other words, and other concepts that represent the FSF's ideals. Open. Shared. Community. Perhaps we could embroider some of those words onto our flag for a while, just until the Freedom Fad blows over.

      Yes! Shared! That's it. Let's go for "shared source" instead!

      =)
    • I agree. The only synonyms for freedom I find on www.m-w.com though are "liberty" and "license". It strikes me that "licensed software" doesn't pass muster, and "liberty software" sounds like a trademark for a post 9-11 dot-com. It's also been taken [libertysoft.com] by someone in the Silicon Valley doing Mac consulting. I guess Macs provide freedom from PC's.

      There are more opportunities, however, if we look up synonyms for "free": autarchic, autarkic, autonomous, independent, separate, sovereign. For being completely disassociated with any jingo I've ever heard, I'd have to give my vote to "autarkic". Autarkic software. Wow, that's such a good name, I think I'm going to trademark it and sue anyone who copies my idea. ;)

      it seems like we're slipping into a weird Braveheart parallel universe when two sides rush headlong into battle, both screaming "Freeeeeedom!" at the top of their lungs.

      Or "Terrorist!".
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:30PM (#3277812) Journal
    Not much happening today?!

    This story [theregister.co.uk] is hilarious... I half expected to see it posted so we could get in our usual Microsoft bashing in for the day...

    As I write this, they still don't have that wehavethewayout.com [wehavethewayout.com] web site working yet.

    Also, be sure to check out wehavethewayin.com [wehavethewayin.com] site....

  • Piracy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shadow303 ( 446306 )
    "Fundamentally it means that you are free when your friend says 'hey, that looks nice, can I have a copy?', you can openly and lawfully make a copy for your friend. You are not reduced to doing that as an underground activity in fear."
    Is it just me, or does this statement sound like if a friend asks you for some software, you will automatically give it out whether it is legal or not. I wish he'd be more careful with how he states things like this, otherwise it is going to be hard to shed the reputation that free software users are all a bunch of software pirates.
    • Where've you been for the last ten years? People already do this 90% of the time ;)

      I'm serious- how do you think Windows and Office got so established? How do you think file formats like Microsoft Publisher get established? The data goes around, and woops! Recipient hasn't got the program! No problem *copy*

      Joe Sixpack is ALL about giving a copy of his new game to his drinking buddy. That's the natural tendency. If we had star trek replicators, he'd be doing the same thing with new beers, or funny T-shirts.

      If anything, people need to be more awake to the fact that current conditions are moving towards more of a climate of fear around this activity. For years, things have been so loose that most people just unthinkingly pool and copy their software whenever it's convenient.

    • The other way I heard RMS put it was:

      "If a kid goes into school with some candy, the teacher will encourage him to share it with the other kids. If a kid goes into school with a neat bit of software, the teacher will forbid him from sharing it with the others".

      That sums up proprietary software licences to me.

      Dunstan
  • by xtheunknown ( 174416 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:39PM (#3277874)
    Does anyone have the sneaking suspicion that Richard Stallman is Karl Marx reincarnated? I think Marx would have had the same views about free software that Richard Stallman does. And did you see the picture? Give him a few years and some gray hair and he'll be a dead ringer for Marx. I mean, has anyone ever seen them together? Eerie.
  • I wonder why... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SkyLeach ( 188871 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:47PM (#3277930) Homepage
    RMS and others have not yet brought up the underlying reason that Open Source is so important in the OS and in common large "container" type applications.

    If you view a computers running environment as a software universe, with rules which govern its operation just like the laws of physics govern our physical universe, then it becomes a lot more obvious why closed source is really, really bad.

    Unlike the physical universe, the rules in a computer environment can change. If you can't trust the person who is controlling the properties of the universe (the OS provider), and you can't change the environment yourself, then you are at the mercy of that person, group, or company. Imagine if there were no God, and Bill was controlling the universe. He could and would simply make everyone who didn't agree with him have to breath water instead of air and we would all quickly asphyxiate. The same thing is true of the OS. It is simply too much power to place in the hands of any one company, person, or organization. Thus the solution is to have it be completely open with everyone working together to ensure that no one person abuses the rest of us.

    This philosophy should be extended to all container-model software applications. Apache is better than IIS because it is a container for web services (SOAP, CGI, mod_*, HTTP, etc...) and those services are not directly provided by the container. Just like in the case of IIS, any product that becomes popular is quickly either purchased and absorbed (often by less-than-honest means) by the owner of the container, or choked off and killed because it is a threat.

    This is my problem with Weblogic, IIS, Microsoft's OS and any other system where I am writing code dependant on someone else's proprietary idea of how I should get things done. I simply don't trust anyone unless they trust me first.

    This philosophy can even be extended to entertainment with very little modification. Our real problem with the RIAA and MPAA is that we can't trust anyone with the power to dictate what we are allowed to see and hear because they abuse it. They abused it when they started brainwashing us to listen to their idea of what was good music and by restricting and controlling the artists that produced that music. They are like the OS of the music industry.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Any container model is absolute power over the contained objects. OS, J2EE, Web Services, Entertainment, News and the list goes on.

    Free the source in all cases, not just the OS.

    Of course, when you start applying this to government you get the whole Democratic system and we all know how terrible that turned out... :)

    Imagine if anyone who wanted to could just plug into the kernel CVS tree and change the current distribution source to fit their proprietary purposes. That's why there is a governing body of people with the ability to decide what does and does not belong in the kernel. Thus: a republic.

    So we have come full circle peeps: Let's create a on-line open-source republic with independent governing bodies for every single container system out there, from open source to government.

    Hell, I just solved the worlds problems... time for a coffee break.
  • Did RMS just give them a list of questions he wanted to answer, so he can easily voice his dogma? What about the glaringly obvious question:

    "If software can be freely distributed, how can developers be assured of making money from their software?"

    Also, RMS's assertion that "inertia" is the reason everyone isn't using free software ignores the fact that the bulk of free systems and software packages have lousy usability. But it goes unchallanged in the interview.

    Oh well. RMS continues to live in his little fantasy world, while the real world shrugs its collective shoulders and ignores the true benefits of free software.
  • Nothing? Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by llamalicious ( 448215 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:48PM (#3277933) Journal
    There's [cnn.com] nothing [com.com] else [tomshardware.com] happening [theregister.co.uk]?
  • It is nice to see that open source is getting into the mainstream press. RMS is our usual spokesman, but unfortunately his views are a bit to radical....I mean he almost preaches the evils of closes source. I do not think that that is the view that we want the CEO's and the public to have.

    Perhaps RMS should yield the layman press to someone with more moderate views...perhaps Linus or Alan Cox.

    I am sure there are probably more people with decent public skills who are also moderate OSS activists, unfortunately I do not know their abilities that well....perhaps Bruce Perens
    (all I know about him is that he has some ties with the business world, and he has contributed many great pieces to the community--thank you for efence, it has saved my life many times).

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that we need to find moderate representatives, not radicals. We want to advertise (ughh, bad wording, perhaps promote), not preach or threaten.
    • RMS needs to be radical.
      1st because that's what makes it newsworthy
      2nd as a counter to the corporate control culture
      3rd because he truly believes in his purpose. Going about it half seriously would be worse then appearing sincere but misguided.

      Like it or not, we have too few spokespeople for free (as in liberity) software, and I'll take them all. Even if some of their views differ from mine. As long as the general thrust of the argument is the same. (Actually, I've come around to RMS's view, because I've realized that the alternative is worse!)
    • You're entitled to your opinion but it IS an opinion. It's not necessarily true that RMS is too radical. In some ways he takes just the right tone- certainly has had plenty of practice. I don't forsee him changing course anytime soon.

      Think of it like this: suppose you have a weather report, in ancient Rome. Vesuvius erupts. *BOOOM!*

      If you want to deny that Vesuvius even erupted at all, fine, that's up to you.

      If you acknowledge that Vesuvius erupted, it is NOT PROPER to have the weather report be 'Weather today is gonna be kind of bad', even if that would be the moderate way to announce it.

      Years ago, the news guy Dan Rather was just starting out, and was involved in the first television broadcast of satellite pictures of a hurricane, live. Nobody had ever done this before, and there was concern that the footage (technically possible) would cause panic and hysteria. Rather's take on it was that alerting people was always a problem, and he claims to have used the old army anecdote of whacking a mule over the head with a two-by-four: 'first you have to get their attention'. The hurricane footage was their two-by-four.

      Well, with the DMCA affecting countries around the world, with Fritz Hollings' legislation in the system being chewed over, with every imaginable techie concern going to hell, we have a problem. We have an emergency. And RMS can be our two-by-four. It would be a terrible mistake to try to take a moderate, non-alarming tone when we are faced with an emergency. We have to get 'their attention'. We can be moderate AFTER we have some safety...

  • Not much happening today ... man ...
  • by dario_moreno ( 263767 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @03:44PM (#3278784) Homepage Journal
    I do not know about India, but in Maghreb
    (I think Algeria and especially Libya
    which is more or less out of the world trade
    system anyway) people couldn't care less about
    pirating software. I think there is not even
    a representative of Microsoft in some of those
    countries ! so they end up working with age old
    versions of pirated stuff. That's why indeed
    they should switch to free software, to have something younger than six or seven years and
    which actually works !

    On the opposite, in 1st world countries, the
    price of 1 licence of XP/Office Pro/whatever
    represents maybe 4 hours of pay of an averaged
    qualified worker, including overhead...
    think installation and configuration
    time for some free stuff !

    Some businesses shell out 100K/year on some software to spare one or two workers, so free
    software has really to be competitive in
    performance and stability to convince some
    management to switch.

Every program is a part of some other program, and rarely fits.

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