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GNU is Not Unix

FSF Appoints A New Executive Director 85

An anonymous reader writes "The Free Software Foundation (which has a new website, BTW) has appointed a new Executive Director. The former executive director, Bradley M. Kuhn, is going to work for the new Software Freedom Law Center as its Chief Technology Officer." Peter T. Brown, who is replacing Kuhn, is currently the director of the FSF's GPL Compliance Lab.
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FSF Appoints A New Executive Director

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  • Good to see ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE ( 697061 ) <almafuerte&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:12PM (#11685065)
    "Everyday it becomes more apparent that the growing success of Free Software threatens established proprietary software and media interests. These interests will continue to see our freedoms as threats, and we fully expect, and are preparing for, further challenges to our community."

    It's good to see that he understands that the fight is not only ion the software field, but also on other subjects, such as books, images, or music. He talks about the new GPL, i would also like to see improvements on the GFDL to make it more suitable to other kind of media, and other kind of books, such as literature (as it's right now, i see it more suitable and focused on tech documentation).

    He seems to have his objetives clear, it's good to see that RMS has lawyal and intelligent people arround, many times people just discards rms's words, just because it's him saying it, and the enormous campaign against him over the last years has convinced many people into looking at him like a crazy zealot, and just not hearing to what he has to say. Maybe having other people saying some things to the media would be a smart move.

    • Re:Good to see ... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm still worried about the "new GPL". I see it as unnecessary and potentially capable to do more harm than good-- splintering the community into "GPL 2" vs "GPL 3" vs "GPL 2 or higher" is unlikely to have good effects, especially considering how difficult it ALREADY is to describe the GPL to people.

      One of the attractive qualities of the GPL at present is that your obligations to the GPL are directly linked to your distribution of GPLed products. The rumblings about the GPL 3 are that the chief elements wi
      • The GFDL does need improvement though, there's a reason Creative Commons is getting so widely used and GFDL gets used by no one.

        Wikipedia is no one?

        But you're quite right that it needs to change. The potential for dead weight inherent in the invariant sections [wikipedia.org] clause and the fact that the GFDL is GPL-incompatible in both directions [wikipedia.org] is seriously sucky.

        Wikipedia specifically avoids invariant sections for this reason, but the licence itself ought to be changed.
      • That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

        especially considering how difficult it ALREADY is to describe the GPL to people.

        After I arrived at my current place of employment, I discovered that none of my IT coworkers understood the GPL. Clearing up every confusion took about five minutes.

        "wait, just by putting this software on our ftp server, we're licensing patents?"

        Or they can just use the GPL 2. IMHO, if the alternative is a GPL 2 project with submarined patents, then they can keep the fucking software. How

    • it's good to see that RMS has lawyal and intelligent people arround, many times people just discards rms's words, just because it's him saying it, and the enormous campaign against him over the last years has convinced many people into looking at him like a crazy zealot, and just not hearing to what he has to say. Maybe having other people saying some things to the media would be a smart move.

      But RMS is a crazy zealot. He is! He is! He is! However, he happens to be right about a lot of things. He

      • He [RMS] happens to have an incredible drive to accomplish what any idiot could have seen was impossible when he started. Absolutely true. But the thing is, Stallman has succeeded in accomplishing some of those "impossible" things. That's why he is a genius but you and I are just idiots.
        • Oh, sorry, I meant that as a compliment. If that wasn't obvious the wording was poor. I meant that he does accomplish what most people would deem impossible when he started. I recognize that as a wonderful thing.

          Kirby

  • by One of the abnormals ( 817423 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:25PM (#11685129) Homepage
    on his website. [ebb.org]

    Wonder what his reaction is?
  • by isolationism ( 782170 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:33PM (#11685167) Homepage
    ... Which is actually a nearly stock roll-out of a rather popular Content Management System called Plone [plone.org]. They added their logo and replaced some icons with the GNU logo and changed the blues to greys. An excellent use of multiple tiers of free software to illustrate their point succinctly; my hat goes off to the FSF and to the Plone team for a job well-done.
    • by joeljkp ( 254783 ) <joeljkparker@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:48PM (#11685236)
      You know, it seems to me that, in theory, websites using the stock (or third-party available) themes for their individual CMSs is a good idea; it saves the creator work, it leaves the art to the artists, etc.

      But whenever I visit a site that uses a theme I recognize, it always makes me cringe. It's like they can't be spared the time to make their own look and feel, or something.

      True or not, that's just the feeling I get when I see such things (not FSF in particular, I didn't recognize its theme).
      • But whenever I visit a site that uses a theme I recognize, it always makes me cringe.

        Sometimes I wonder too, but what makes me cringe worse is when information I want or need is difficult to get. If the information is easy to access, does it really matter?

      • Then again, creating your own "theme" [slashdot.org] certainly has it's share of pitfalls. [slashdot.org]
      • But whenever I visit a site that uses a theme I recognize, it always makes me cringe.

        Well, at least you'll know which ones are Slashdot mee-too sites and can be safely ignored. Why bother adding comments functionality when no one even visits the site? Do the people running the sites break out the champagne when they get a comment after a few months or their server logs its 100th hit?

      • But whenever I visit a site that uses a theme I recognize, it always makes me cringe.

        I completely agree. The first thing I said after looking at the new FSF for all of 10 seconds was "Plone", I scrolled down to the bottom to read the fine print and discovered that I was, in fact, correct.

        I agree with the other poster that it's far worse when a website makes it difficult to find the information you want, but something about using stock themes just screams "I couldn't be bothered to put any effort into thi
      • > But whenever I visit a site that uses a theme I recognize, it always makes me cringe. It's like they can't be spared the time to make their own look and feel, or something.

        Funny: I usually feel the opposite. I think that maybe they spent that extra time enhancing the *content* :-) Or maybe I am just an old fart ?
    • And it's still butt ugly!
    • You know, it's a small step for the world, but it's a big step for GNU...

      Until recently, there were was a pretty strong policy against menus in the FSF web page coding standards. The reason the old FSF main web page had the menu on the right instead of on the left as everyone else, was that otherwise "Lynx users would have to scroll down through the menu text until they reach the actual content of a site".

      For my part, I am relieved about every teeny-wheeny bit of pragmatism sneaking it's way into the FS

  • To our new Free Software Overlord.
    • Re:Welcome! (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Overlord" is not a good name for this position because it only highlights the lording-over aspects of the job. Since one in this position must take advice from many people and integrate ideas from different sources, a better term would be GNU/Overlord.
    • I guess All our GNU/Base Are belong to Brown then.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:35PM (#11685182) Homepage Journal
    The Blog [fsf.org] of RMS is a rare opportunity to see him sum up his views. In this entry he's actually managed to fit his "copyright is no longer a good deal" concept into a single paragraph (whereas usually it takes him 15 pages). For those who don't know it (and couldn't be bothered clicking on a link) RMS basically says that way-back when we gave up the right to republish to encourage people to make works we weren't giving up much cause no-one republished back then, but now, with the internet, we all republish so we need to rethink that deal.

    It's a good argument, and it applies to software, that is, if you're a coder. People who don't code might want to republish software verbatim but most the time they don't. In fact, us coders generally tell them that isn't a good idea because of viruses and trojans. i.e., it's a lot safer to download FireFox from the official web site than it is to grab it off a friend or some shareware website. With that struck off the list, what exactly is the non-coder fighting for Free Software for?

    There's lot of reasons why users of Free Software should support it, but they don't at the moment. We, the coders, need to make sure they know these reasons. The most obvious reason to me is that it is only Free Software that can be fixed by someone other than the original developer. Proprietary software is inferior because if you want it fixed you have to go back to the original developer. It used to be a given that you wouldn't take your car back to the original manufacturer to get it serviced. Now-a-days you get a warrentee with your car that gives you an incentive to go back to the original manufacturer, but you're still free to seek maintainence from a third party.

    Warrentees strike a good balance, they force the original manufacturer to do a good job in the first place to reduce the number of people who claim service under warrentee, and they up front specify a specific date after which the customer is responsible for paying for all future service.

    Maybe if coders were to start offering Free Software with a warrentee (something the GPL specifically advocates) users would come not only to expect high quality software, but to be free to have it maintained by a third party.

    • by DeepHurtn! ( 773713 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @10:43PM (#11685632)
      Very insightful post. I just thought I'd share my perspective, as a non-coder who switched to GNU/Linux last summer (and hasn't looked back!). First, I need to say that it was the rhetoric of the free software movement, especially that of RMS, that persuaded me to switch -- *not* the open source movement. You're a lot more likely to convince a non-coder, I believe, by emphasizing the freedom aspects of it than by technical ones. RMS's right-to-read arguments are what got to me, and I think plenty of people would respond to it.

      For example, I think that right now academics -- particularly those in the arts! -- could use more exposure to that type of argument. I began my grad studies in September, and I was really shocked by how dependent all of the profs were on MS file formats. These people don't like to hear that all of their research and papers might be inaccessible in 20 years -- or that if they are, they might have to give MS money just to read them.

      Anyways, IMHO unfortunately the open source ideals seem to be getting most of the publicity right now, and I think that that argument, in the long run, isn't as powerful as the free software argument is.

      Hope you don't mind the ramblings.

      • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @11:08PM (#11685793) Homepage Journal
        Unfortunately I don't think I'm always very clear on what I mean by "support". When I say that people should "support Free Software" I mean they should pay for it. Be that by donations or by hiring a developer to do maintenance or customizations. It's like a football team. You can paint your face with the team colours and declare them the best but unless you go to the games (and pay the entry fee) you're not really "supporting" them are you? Reporting bugs and doing advocacy is helpful but you can only consider that "supporting" Free Software in the "go team go" sense.

        When I say people should "support Free Software" I mean that in the same sense as when someone says they need to "support their family".

        • Sure, absolutely, but you have to convince people that it's worth their money! I just think that the freedom (not free-beer) focused arguments of the FSF might go farther amongst non-coders than technical arguments. Even large companies should be able to (eventually) see the benefits in supporting -- in every sense of the word -- technologies that doesn't lock all of their information in closed formats.
  • Hypocrites (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They call themselves the FREE software foundation, but I emailed them to see if I could score a cracked copy of Half-Life 2 and they never got back to me.

    Hypocrites

  • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @10:04PM (#11685343) Homepage
    Is it just to make sure they get their own TLA? So, the FSF, started by RMS, appointed PTB to replace BMK... and then probably some reference to ESR.
  • Kuhn is Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @10:57PM (#11685735)
    I'm sure he'll go on to do great things at his new job, but I really enjoyed him as the FSF executive director. His talks were some of the most entertaining and informative, and he had a real way with crowds that RMS never picked up on.

    You really should do yourself a favor and listen to the OggVorbis recordings of his talks on the FSF site. I asked a friend who really had no interest in free software to listen to just one 40 minute speech while going through his daily videogame routine, and he was a GNU convert overnight.
    • It's funny. I went to college with Brad and it makes my chuckle every time I hear this kind of stuff.

      Don't get me wrong. He has done a great job for the FSF and is a good speech maker. It's just that anyone who knows anyone early in life who became "someone" later in life always has such a different perspective :)

      Good news for Brad though.

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