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GNU is Not Unix

RMS on The Connection (NPR show) 44

fiji writes "RMS is on the NPR show The Connection. If you are in Boston the NPR station WBUR is 90.9 and the show is on now (from 11AM-Noon) and again this evening 9PM-10PM. You can call in if you want to this morning and you might get on the air. As soon as the show is finished this morning it will be available online "
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RMS on The Connection (NPR show)

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    His biggest contribution was the GPL itself. After that... let's see, we get:
    • gcc 2.8, known for it's many bugs. The project got so messed up that developers left to start projects like pgcc and egcs. Cygnus does most of the work on egcs now, as they had done on gcc before bad management at the FSF fucked up the project.
    • glibc, known for gratuitous incompatibility. Linux has used the SysV signal() for years and, like SunOS, had a perfectly fine llseek() function. For SysV shared memory and semaphores, we had a struct that was compatible with real UNIX systems and BSD. Glibc breaks all that.
    • Emacs, designed to cause carpel tunnel syndrome while eating resources like M$ Word.
    Then we have a multitude of projects that are GNU only by name.
    • GNOME - mostly Red Hat and Debian Linux users do this.
    • Ghostscript - what a riot! This is totally developed by a corporation that releases a free version (after it is one year obsolete) just to prevent competition.
    • The Gimp - started by a pair of college students and now maintained along with GNOME.
    • GNU/Linux - oh wait, it is actually just "Linux" but RMS wants to tag along on such a successful project.
    Then of course we have
    • X11R6 - not even GPL
    • Network tools - same deal
    • Wine - same deal
    RMS sure looks like a loser to me. I'd respect him a bit if he'd stop trying to name my OS after his long-dead project.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Linus made, with help from many others, quite a fine kernel. The GNU project (not RMS himself, but him and the rest of his project) provided the rest. Not only that, but his GNU project inspired the computer scientists at UC-Berkeley who made BSD. No GNU project = no BSD.
  • Here's just one of what I'm sure are many errors:

    RMS started the GNU/Hurd project, in response to Linux.

    The GNU project was a going concern long before Linux was even started. HURD was in the works long before Linux started. Go read the Linus vs. Andy Tannenbaum discussion of Linux and Minix: one of Tannenbaum's arguments is that Linux needs a big, expensive 386, and that by the time everyone has machines that can handle that, we'll all be running HURD anyway. Also note that one of the shortcomings of Minix was that it couldn't run GNU tools like gcc and all the rest.

  • Well, I don't think it was his intention. (And, while I'm still in a paranoid mood from the "MS to use Linux defense" thread, I didn't meant to imply you implied such an implication :-)

    Anyway, if this is National Public Radio, I guess you can hear it without using proprietary technologies. Like AM or FM :-).

    ---

  • One of the main reasons RMS opposes software property rights is because of the difference between physical objects like audio gear and non-material, mathematical entities like a computer program. You can reproduce a program infinitely (well, maybe not infinitely) without a major expenditure of energy. You can't do the same with physical objects. If a program can help your fellow humans beings, since its reproduction will not cause you any real loss (and not `loss' in the proprietary-vendor interpretation), then by all means you should share it.

    Anyway, in http://www.gnu.org/, under the `Philosophy' section, RMS explains it better that my hurried discussion up there...

    ---

  • And some of us have them but don't think they're useful :-)

    ---

  • RMS started the GNU/Hurd project, in response to Linux.

    False. GNU was started in 1983/84. The Hurd sometime in the late 80s, I guess.

    Then in 1998 when Linux started getting on CNN and RMS saw his own GNU/Hurd project failing, he blew a fuse and started the GNU/Linux naming business.

    Wrong. This goes back before 1998. The FSF article by RMS on this is copyrighted 1997-98, but I think the issue is even older than that.

    Actually, searching the Debian mailing list archives, one can see `GNU/Linux' used as far back as 08/96, about as far back as the archives go, so its use should go back even further...

    Now it's gotten to where he's taking credit for initiating Linux first.

    Care to give an actual RMS quote to support this? You're basing yourself on a poster's quick recap of what RMS said, which might or might not be accurate...

    Who the fsck is RMS?

    Founder of the GNU project, which provides many of the most important system utilities in Linux-based systems. Author of gcc, the compiler used to write the kernel. Author of Emacs, editor better than vi ;-) (/me ducks for cover)

    How many issues of Forbes magazine has RMS been on?

    Ah, let me count... Zero. Oh well, I guess that if he's in that group, he should be in good company. Lots of fine people have never made it into Forbes.

    Come to think of it, I think the Forbes article on `Open Source' mentioned him, probably even quoted him. Actually, go read the damn article [forbes.com]. There's 9 paragraphs about RMS.

    Not that I think it matters.

    As a means of gaining popularity, if you can't milk Linux, rename it.

    RMS is not renaming Linux. Linux is a kernel. What RMS wants to be called in a different manner is OS distributions. You might agree with him, or you might disagree with him. Any path you choose, you better get your facts right.

    I thought one of the virtues of the GPL was fame, recognition, and the ancillary employment opportunities it opens up.

    The GPL is not about anything you say above. The GPL is about keeping Free Software free for all of its users, and thus, about cooperation and sharing among programmers and computer users. You might be thinking of ESRs `The Cathedral and the Bazaar' or `Homesteading'.

    f I GPL a program, spend $40,000 of my own money developing it, and it causes RMS to feel ignored, it's suddenly RMS's creation. In 1991 if RMS knew where Linux would be in 1999, Linus would still be in Finland teaching undergrads how to load floppies. Transmeta would have looked at his resume and said, "Oh, but that's GNU/Linux. RMS wrote that, not you."

    I hope your little fantasy makes you happy.

    ---

  • 2) RMS made it sound like the Unix compatable "GNU" operating system (we know it as linux) was his idea. [ Linus has yet to be mentioned. ] [note: HURD was not what he is talking about]

    This is actually true. The GNU operating system is an idea of RMS that dates back to the early 80s. The GNU Manifesto [gnu.org] carries a 1985 copyright date, and he clearly states his intent to write a free Unix-like OS called GNU.

    See also this page [gnu.org].

    ---

  • But there are several issues to sort out here. And my BSD history knowledge is not so hot, so let's see if you can help some.

    Was the BSD project at Berkely aimed at making a free Unix from the very start? While I doubt the correctness of the original poster's claim that GNU inspired the free BSDs, still it would be interesting to settle the issue of the who wanted to make a free OS and since when.

    Also, IIRC, the initial BSD work was patches to AT&T Unix. If that is the case, RMS gets at least the credit for starting to write a free Unix from scratch.

    Also, looking at the licenses on the software from both camps, I see a difference. GNU is clearly out to be "free for all of its users", by imposing restrictions on its distribution (the GPL). This is another thing in which, AFAIK, one must credit RMS.

    ---

  • Yep. Sounds quite nice but ... what do we do about movies, songs etc... ? I don't see much difference between software and movie - do you?

    I've thought about this, and yes, it is a complication. But I think I can come up with two kinds of answer:

    • Programs, opposed to movies/songs, do useful work. What should compel society to make software free is not only that they can be reproduced at almost zero cost, but also that they do work. Since songs, videos, etc. don't do work (in the most literal sense, of course), society might not be compelled to make them free.
    • All our ideas about authorship of songs, video, works of literature, art, etc., are not by any informed criteria natural or exclusive: in fact, historically they began to appear in the late Medieval Ages/Rennaisance. Before that, people happily worked anonymously. Think of how many works of medieval art do we don't know the authors for. And people freely copied from one work of art into the other. Of course, it was hard, physical copying, and not copying like one can copy a recording now, so the example doesn't transfer to recordings.

      The point is that art and artists can still exist in systems different from the one we have today. I haven't looked into your question very deeply, but I think there must be people out there who have.

      Anyway, think of this: large record companies are parasitic behemoths that generally give musicians a minuscule portion of what they make. They frequently ignore very good musicians just because "their music is not marketable". When smaller labels start having hits with artists who play in a new style, they "embrace and extend" that style, pumping out dozens of mediocre soundalikes (witness "alternative" music in the early 90s). Frankly, I would be quite happy if those companines went to hell. I'd just look for the local talent.


    ---

  • This is pretty sad, then :-(.

    ---

  • Well, then RMS can encode his voice in another format if he wishes. Hell, he can make a nice speech that's twice as long as the NPR broadcast and encode that in whatever format he wants. Now where is that Free RealAudio-like protocol again? And does it support as many platforms as RealPlayer does?
  • This was broadcast on National Public Radio. To my knowledge, no non-free software is necessary in order to listen to the radio.
  • I suppose a 24kbps mp3 would be OK, though not nearly as good as using Real's G2 stuff that adjusts the quality to your available bandwidth. And you'd have to stream the audio...I suppose shoutcast [shoutcast.com] would work, but that still requires Windows (Winamp [winamp.com]) to send the stream, AFAIK. And no, HTTP streaming is not the answer.
  • This early A.M.'s replay of this show on WNYC had some dork talking about "radical marketing" and someone called in about linux, but the guy dis'd it as something that would probably just go from free to being boxed up and forgotten, and said "oh, this sort of thing has happened before" while admitting that he's never really looked into it.

    The host, however, perked his ears up and tried to shut up the guest to get more answers about linux. I guess he found the source of all this linux and associated stuff and is going to put him on the air. Whoopee!

    -Peter
  • The free software foundation is a not an academic organization. It is a not for profit corperation. RMS draws no pay - he does outside consulting to pay for food. I suspect he gets fed by friends alot too.

    PBS and NPR are completely seperate enteties. IMO They don't get enough of my money. Personally I'm more upset about those huge socialist institutions Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Mitre - all of whom exist because of government subsidies, none of whose products I can use or even agree with. I only wish more of my money went to schools.

    -Peter
  • by Eccles ( 932 )
    I assume you are annoyed with Alanis "Isn't It Ironic?" Morrisette, then...
  • The program offered under that heading (Wednesday, 11:00) is still the one from the previous week. As of 3 pm CST.
  • If RMS knew that the equipment in the studio that he was interviewed in used COMMERCIAL audio gear, COMMERCIAL AUDIO GEAR I TELL YOU! in the name of Linus Torvaldus!, mother of all things big and small, he'd shoot the producer. I won't develop a free audio codec until critical listening environments are free!
  • This all started with RMS feeling bitter about the death of academic funded programming. Then in 1997 he started ranting about being pushed into a closet, forgotten, ignored, left behind by fame of Linux.

    RMS started the GNU/Hurd project, in response to Linux. GNU/Hurd was going to be the free-free dream UNIX that didn't allow loading commercial drivers and would make the world bow in hommage to the one and only RMS for saving them from commercial tyrany.

    Then in 1998 when Linux started getting on CNN and RMS saw his own GNU/Hurd project failing, he blew a fuse and started the GNU/Linux naming business. www.gnu.org even had a quip about GNU/Hurd being dead last year. If he couldn't revive his popularity from scratch he would now look to someone else's work for his popularity.
    Now it's gotten to where he's taking credit for initiating Linux first.

    Linus thinks some commercial products are good and RMS knows it. RMS's problem with Linux is more the Linus part than anything else.

    It's not like this all happened the instant Linus took the GPL. This naming and crediting business has correlated directly with the Linus to RMS popularity ratio. Linus accepts commercialism. Linus is popular as hell. RMS despises commercialism. Who the fsck is RMS? How many issues of Forbes magazine has RMS been on? As a means of gaining popularity, if you can't milk Linux, rename it.

    I thought one of the virtues of the GPL was fame, recognition, and the ancillary employment opportunities it opens up. RMS is more and more crediting himself with developing Linux. If I GPL a program, spend $40,000 of my own money developing it, and it causes RMS to feel ignored, it's suddenly RMS's creation. In 1991 if RMS knew where Linux would be in 1999, Linus would still be in Finland teaching undergrads how to load floppies. Transmeta would have looked at his resume and said, "Oh, but that's GNU/Linux. RMS wrote that, not you."
  • The RealPlayer for Linux is available for free (beer-style) from Real Networks. Any Linux user should be able to get a hold of the player and hear it if they want.
  • ...but the GNU operating system was first conceived in 1983, as the crowning achievment of the GNU project. So, yes, RMS did think of it first - when Linus was still in grade school.

    Not to slam on Linus; he did come up with mostly the same idea independently. It's yet another case of "great minds think alike". But Linux is possible today because of the pioneering work done by RMS & Co.

    HURD was supposed to be the last step in the progression, but for some reason the project faltered. Linus and Linux stepped in to fill that last gap, such that Linux (or, at least, Debian GNU/Linux) is the fulfillment of that goal.
  • Isn't it ironic that one has to use non-free software to listen to someone advocating free software?
  • Anybody have this in MP3, au, or some playable format? RealAudio isn't available on most Linux platforms.
  • Silly? SILLY? No, VALID!

    I cannot listen to it because RealPlayer is not free software, plain and simple. There is no RealPlayer for AlphaLinux, PowerPC Linux, SparcLinux, etc. Nor is there any RealPlayer for many other platforms. If RealPlayer had source available, it would be trivial to compile it on these platforms.

    Free software is bad. RMS is right.
  • You really should talk to someone about all these feelings of hatred you have for RMS. It's not healthy. You'll only give yourself an ulcer. If you feel unable to tolerate RMS' point of view, I suggest that you simply ignore him. No amount of bile from you will change his belief system, or, indeed, anyone elses. Your energies would be better utilised writing free software.
  • I couldn't have said it better myself.
  • He uses his voice to express ideas, and by his philosophy, ideas should be free (like speech, not beer :). If somebody wishes to encode a copy of his ideas in a proprietary format, well, that is their right. It is our job to make non-proprietary formats that are just as good if not better, so we can encode ideas in those formats as well.
  • Commercial and proprietary are very different, just so you know...

    --
  • If Stallman et al lie awake at night worrying about things like this, they must not get a lot of sleep. Think about all the *other* computers that they come in contact with that use proprietary software!
  • I am in boston, listening to the Connections program. Running Summary:

    1) Interviewer likes to hear his own voice far too much. Knows reatively nothing and admits it.
    [RMS opens with source code versus recipe analogy.]
    2) RMS made it sound like the Unix compatable "GNU" operating system (we know it as linux) was his idea. [ Linus has yet to be
    mentioned. ] [note: HURD was not what he is talking about]
    3) He is plugging GNOME a great deal.
    4) He is listing free application types that are being developed. (Word Processor, Power Point like, encryted mail, etc)
    5) Caller to show: Says he uses free software (BIND, SENDMAIL). Caller says he differs with the extemism of RMS. Discussion follows... Caller is plugging quality of free software (written by users to be useful) and proprietary software (written to be sold and make money).
    6) New Caller (Gary): calls RMS "a national treasure".
    -=-=-=-
    6) continued: Discussion of microsoft, monopoly. RMS points out all proprietary software companies, not just microsoft, are bad.
    7) RMS compares copyright software laws (some as proposed by Clinton) to the old USSR information policies.
    -=-=-=- Commercial break -=-=-=-
    (Interviewer talks alot)
    (7-15 million people use the "GNU System")
    8) distracted side discussion on DOW high.
    9) RMS (not exact quotes): Free software is neither for nor against business. Lends itself to support business. Mentions other kinds of companies dealing with free software.
    10) RMS makes elegant example on how free software helps one get bugs in software fixed.
    11) Caller (Matt on car phone): Uses gcc, meantions "Linus Torvald's Linux". Matt writes both free and for profit software (for his living). Says there is a place for both types of software. (e.g. says proprietary compilers are better due to huge $$ investment). RMS defends by saying in 1991 gcc was better.
    12) Caller (Jodi - libertarian capitalist): Challanges the judgementalism of RMS. RMS compares paper compaines pouring poison into a river to the pollution from the lack of good will due to proprietary restrictions (very very paraphrased). RMS discusses how he made money while writing free software.
    13) Another Gary calls in: Incoherent run on first sentence. Cites flight simulator? Cannot understand his point in 10 words or less. RMS finially says "GNU/Linux system".
    14) "Free speach, not fee Beer" emphasied again.
    15) Back to copyright system in general in the USA. RMS points out the constitional wording on copyright, and its historical context (only people with printing presses were really restricted at the time).
    16) Caller (Lisa - linux user (redhat), but not a programmer) : Interviewer asks if she is a genius (He mentioned this point before, you must be really smart). Lisa mentions it crashes less. [RMS plugs GNOME again]. Lisa mentions Linux runs faster. RMS corrects her, she is using "GNU/Linux".
    17) www.gnu.org mentioned
    -=-=-=-=-=- End of program -=-=-=-=-=-

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