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GNU is Not Unix Education

Richard Stallman on OLPC 218

memshankar writes "In an interview while he was in Hyderabad, India RMS praises for the One Laptop Per Child Project. He is even contemplating making a switch to XO, the flagship machine of the project, from his "old thinkpad". Stallman went on to say that the OLPC laptop has given people a way to use the free BIOS. He is, however dissatisfied with the wireless networking system used in the XO."
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Richard Stallman on OLPC

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  • by Gori ( 526248 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:38AM (#22320506) Homepage
    Ok, the actual TFA is maybe 3 times longer that the summary. Man, how does this stuff get past the editors...
  • Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:40AM (#22320556) Homepage
    I always thought that the XO made sense for RMS. Find another machine that is open source from the hardware to the bios to the OS to the applications. The XO is the only true FOSS device that I know about.
  • why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theheadlessrabbit ( 1022587 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:45AM (#22320620) Homepage Journal
    I've always wondered about articles like this one.

    Linus says something about an area he knows nothing about.

    Stallman says something a particular product.

    dont get me wrong, they are both interesting people, I have some Stallman lectures sitting on my hard drive, and I've actually watched them several times.

    When these guys are talking about a topic where they are an authority on the matter, I find their comments to be '+5 insightful', but stuff like this is '+2 interesting' at best.
  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:04AM (#22320890) Homepage Journal
    But what he's saying isn't provocative -- praising the OLPC is in. Calling attention to some of the flaws and corruption behind the OLPC project is considered provocative, especially here at slashdot, but praising it just makes you one of the crowd.
  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:18AM (#22321064) Homepage
    The XO's networking capabilities is fantastic. It gets far better range (thanks to its dual rabbit ears), has ultra low power mesh networking, and a bunch of other capabilities.

    But because it uses binary blobs for the driver and firmware, RMS fees it is hopelessly compromised?!

    Does RMS not drive a car built in the past 20 years because you aren't supposed to change the computer running the engine? What about fly in a commercial airliner?

    Also, the XO can never use GPLv3 code. For the US market, they will give the unlock key, but for the third world, this key is the responsibility of the educational ministry, which often needs to keep the software base consistent (among other things, this helps manage theft).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:23AM (#22321152)

    You wouldn't trust a "wise old man" dressed in a slimy western business suit and tie.
    Me? I wouldn't trust a "wise old man" sleeping on a park bench who looks like he hasn't bathed in the last decade. RMS would do himself well to shave that ridiculous beard and buy himself a pair of shoes. Sure, he'd probably lose his current core of a dozen or so flower-child "disciples", but he'd gain ten times as many who actually held some sway, and hence gain that much more of the power he so craves.
  • by Vexorian ( 959249 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:25AM (#22321184)
    Yes, he says proprietary is never good and, you know what? He is right.
  • by AceJohnny ( 253840 ) <jlargentaye@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:45AM (#22321534) Journal
    I admire RMS' unmoving stance on Free. Will I emulate it? Certainly not. I believe RMS places himself, consciously or not, as a role model. He sits at an extreme of the Free/Proprietary spectrum, and will continuously push and pull in that direction.

    For the rest of us who live in the real world and accept compromises to make our lives more comfortable, he's ridiculous. But that's not the point. The point is that he aims for an ideal that won't be attained by everyone, but that can be strived to.

    So the fact that his complaints about the non-free wireless is ridiculous to the rest of us, but it does motivate some to provide a free alternative, and that is his objective.
  • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:48AM (#22321592)
    Stallman says something a particular product.

    You can't blame Stallman, he was asked a question and he answered it. And he said he was going to BUY an OLPC and use it in preference to his ThinkPad, a pretty ringing endorsement. But 90% of the posts seem to be about either his comments on the "unfree" wifi driver, or his beard. Again, not his fault for the weird way he is reported.

  • Actually, I think he is making these remarks in his capacity as the author of and important license, in which case it is quite newsworthy. Or it may be in his capacity as the originator of the "free software" concept, I'm not sure.

    Compiler writer, inventor of free software concept, really, not a bad resume at all. But that's the thing about RMS that makes me respect the socialist. The classic Republican retort, that I've used myself, to liberals that want the government to save the world, is, "if its so important to you, then why not do it yourself". And RMS DID just that. He didn't write a petition web site, he wasn't lobbying congress. He said that there ought to be bunch of free tools and he made it happen. He wrote the original gnu compiler, put a lot into emacs, put together the GNU project and the GPL and a whole bunch of things. He's done more for his cause by himself than 99% of most people do for theirs.

    I may not agree with his politics, but I deeply respect the man, and yeah, I do donate to the GNU when I can, because, sometimes its better to support people that are just willing to work to make the world better in some way, regardless if it jives with your own half baked sensibilities. The work matters more than the politics, I say.

  • by scharkalvin ( 72228 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @12:45PM (#22322262) Homepage
    I've sent emails to RMS at GNU in the past and he actually will reply.
    He can be dogmatic about his views, but he won't flame you for having
    a different opinion. He WILL give you a good argument why HE is right
    and YOU are wrong, but in a VERY polite way. (He's like a true politician,
    he can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to
    the trip!).
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @12:51PM (#22322310) Homepage Journal
    Even to people who don't highly value freedom, his stand on drivers isn't necessarily ridiculous. There is a pragmatic reason to be skeptical about closed drivers: unauditable/unreviewable code is a security risk [kerneltrap.org].
  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @01:13PM (#22322596)
    Why do you focus on the messenger and not the message?

    RMS doesn't care what you think of him -- either you will respect him for his principles, or judge him based on his external appearance. He is smart enough to know which is more important, and assumes you are too.
  • by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @02:10PM (#22323256) Journal
    BSD existed long before GNU. In fact, all GNU did for the most part was hack on BSD tools and release them under a license that effectively forbade the new code from being rolled back in.

    glibc didn't even work on Linux until the Linux hackers made it work. RMS still doesn't give any credit for this, or any of the work that the Linux people put into GNU, which I dare say is greater than all of RMS's total output.

    Writing a compiler is an undergraduate project. Countless people who were not RMS improved gcc. For some years, in fact, they did so in spite of RMS.
  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @02:13PM (#22323278)
    The point isn't that Stallman wrote all of GNU himself, so I'm not sure what your point is. The fact that GCC was forked into ECGS then readopted as the offical GNU C compiler is testatment to the power of the free software model that Stallman created. Stallman is a decent hacker but his real claim to fame is creating the free software project and GNU project and being it's driving force over the years, notwithstanding blow-hards like Eric Raymond trying get credit for it.

    I wouldn't characterize Linus as a brilliant programmer. A brilliant software manager perhaps, but no more than a strong programmer. Most of the Linux kernel has been written be people other than Linux, and the Linux operating system owes 1000% more to Stallman as a driving force than Linus.
  • Yes, he says proprietary is never good and, you know what? He is right.

    Good for whom? The post you replied to (but failed to quote) gives the examples of cars and airplanes. While I'm willing to believe that Stallman avoids riding in cars at all costs (perhaps opting for bicycles instead), there's no way he could go around the world giving speeches without having been in an airplane. And you know what? The vast majority of the software that an airplane (or an airliner, for that matter) uses is proprietary.

    If Stallman is willing to fly around in an airplane using proprietary software, despite his stance that proprietary software is "evil", then it must be because that proprietary software isn't so evil that it is worth foregoing the convenience of air travel that they provide.

    Sometimes having a bunch of hobbyist collaborate on some software is enough (e.g. in the case of Linux). Other times, you need a huge amount of capital, investors, and management to coordinate everything (e.g. almost every industry which open source has not yet penetrated to a significant degree, such as aviation, automobiles, computer hardware, etc.) In these industries, it will always be the underdogs that want to push open source: "Our airplane software isn't quite as good as the other people's, so we have nothing to lose by releasing our software, and if we can somehow trick the others into opening their software, then everyone will be using whatever the best software is, thus leveling the playing field. We don't want to compete on software, only on other things". The top dogs will, of course, resist this: "Our airplane software is better than all of our competitors, and we'd like to keep it that way."

    Whenever you use terms like "never", "always", "good", or "evil", check yourself: You may have an overly simplified view of reality.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @03:04PM (#22323956) Homepage Journal
    The message is: XO free enough for RMS.. I figured that was obvious to everyone.
  • No, he's not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rix ( 54095 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @03:11PM (#22324060)
    Smart people make reasonable allowances for judgments about appearance. We aren't talking about the colour of his skin or a birthmark, we're talking about decisions he's made about how he presents himself. If he isn't capable of basic hygiene, why should we assume he's capable of other common sense things?

    He's right about some things, and I'll judge those things on their own merit and not on the person presenting them, but on the whole he's a nutter. I don't want to be associated with Pan worshiping or nasal sex because I work with Linux or other open technologies. *I* can look past those things, but part of professionalism is recognizing that there are a lot of stupid people in influential positions who can't or won't.
  • by slapout ( 93640 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @05:23PM (#22325772)
    You're assuming that the Linux community would not have created this tools themselves if they hadn't had the GNU ones available.
  • by Rix ( 54095 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @05:48PM (#22326046)
    Professionalism can essentially be boiled down to the art of dealing with stupid people. Stallman simply refuses to do so, and so it's quite fair to label him as unprofessional.

    Here in the real world, what stupid people say is far from meaningless. It has real and direct effect on what happens. Would you really argue that George Bush's opinions over the last 8 years have had no effect? When you join us in the grown up world, you'll have to deal with people like that, and have their decision impact you.

The world is coming to an end--save your buffers!