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GNU is Not Unix

Miscellaneous GNU News 206

A new monthly column Brave GNU World has started, with the mission to inform everybody about new GNU software. Apparently dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda does not completely delete the contents of you hard-drive. You should use shred instead. Paul Smith wrote in to plug a Free lecture by Richard Stallman which is going to be held tomorrow - Tuesday 23 March at 7pm at the Commonwealth Institute in London. Finally, jbc wrote in with "In his latest 'Ask Tim' piece, Tim O'Reilly talks about the differences between himself and RMS in terms of how they view OSS/FSF licensing issues."
null -> zero (*blush*)
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Miscellaneous GNU News

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    hi all,

    Here is the main difference:

    BSD-style license gives ppl freedom to exploit you by releasing a non-free modification of your code.

    GPL restricts your and others freedom to let ppl rip you off this way by enforcing all modifications to be free/GPL'ed also.

    Looking at it this way the GPL is not as "free"... but I don't want the freedom to be ripped off, thank you very much. If you are writing new code from scratch you can use any license you like (or none), but if you are going to use my code then it has to be GPL'ed like mine or you can offer me money for it under another license.

    If you are new to open source but haven't read the articles on http://www.gnu.org [gnu.org] then read them right now.

    I'm not religious about the GPL (I'm a Christian), but to me it seems logical why I choose to release my code under the GPL rather than a BSD style license. (This is also one of the major factors why linux is more successful than BSD).

    The reason Tim Oreilly's 'market place' makes him want to support non-copylefted free software is that the market place is always more supportive of licenses where it can rip people off for $$$$$.

    Don't be content with open source, demand freedom of the code. Copyleft your own code with the GPL.

    thanks,
    wayne.
  • Scientists study a universe governed by consistent natural laws. A human marketplace is the exact opposite of such a system. The notion that one should apply Science as it is currently practiced given the state of humans' knowledge of themselves and each other is absurd. To do so would rather be the course of action that would make one resemble 'religious'.
  • > I am simply glad there are people like Stallman
    > who realise money is not all there is, and is
    > not even related to happiness.

    Well said. I may disagree with Stallmanism (and the attempt to turn Linux into `a version of GNU', which it certainly isn't), but at least Stallman hasn't been blinded by avarice the way so many others in the field have.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are three kinds of attackers you need to worry about.

    Group 1
    These people will look in your files. Use the rm command to protect yourself.

    Group 2
    These people will look beyond the filesystem. You can stop them by overwriting everything with the dd command.

    Group 3
    These well-funded people will disassemble your disk, scan it with a magnetic force microscope, and analyse the measurements on a supercomputer. There is absolutely no pattern that can hide your old data. These people can recover several generations of data even, perhaps getting 60 GB of old data off of a 4 GB drive. You should completely melt the disk in a furnace or completely dissolve the disk in acid.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's up to the programmer to decide how he wants to license his code, not all of you. The BSD style licence is for programmers who want to help out the entire community, not just the nerds. The GPL is for programmers who want to help out the free software community. Honestly, I'd rather help out the entire community. You people whine to much.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    > [The GPL] is also one of the major factors why
    > linux is more successful than BSD

    There is no evidence to support this claim. The primary reasons for the greater market success of Linux are:

    1) Timing. Linux was not blocked by lawsuits, and so was available to those without USL licences before *BSD. This was critically important when the explosion of non-academic Internet use began (and *BSD was still effectively blocked from distribution outside universities).

    2) Incompleteness of Linux. Linux itself is just a kernel. In order to make usable `distributions', someone had to provide the service of packaging the kernel with all the userland libraries and tools. This is where the commercial distributors came in, with their (well-advertised) value-added services. *BSD is distributed as a full OS, so there was never a need for commercial packagers.

    All things considered, *BSD does quite well, especially in the server market and in its traditional academic roots. It doesn't get as much press as Linux, and has a smaller user base, but a lot of that is due to the fact that it isn't packaged and marketed by commercial distributors, but rather by developers.

    If you look beyond the BSD/Linux competition, many of the most popular software tools are not GPL'd. This is true of Apache and XFree86, which both use BSD-like licences. None of the GPL'd alternatives have done remotely as well, which is not surpising. Without the USL lawsuit blocking *BSD, Linux would have been redundant; in fact, it probably would not have even been written.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The market is an important part of society, but only one part, and not even the most important one. It does not embody the beauty of art and music, the strength of community and the family, or acknowledge the value of education (as opposed to simple training).

    America and the other Anglo-Saxon countries (at least since the 1980s) may hold the view that the free market is the embodiment of human achievement, but the majority of the industrialised countries do not. The social-democratic model produces a better-educated population, higher productivity, greater societal cohesion, and a more equal society (without the corrosive problem of an underclass). Unfortunately, despite the lower productivity in free-market economies, greater labour flexibility allows real wages to decline sufficiently to more than compensate for it. No matter how productive social-democratic economies become, falling wages in free-market societies will make them more competitive.

    In the short run, global free trade and the free flow of capital mean the social-democratic model can no longer compete with the ruthlessness of the free market. In the long run, I dearly hope something more socially responsible can.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    At Linux Expo last year, there was a discussion on free software licensing issues. The participants were ESR, Bruce Perens, and RMS. I thought it would be an interesting discussion because each of them are (intellectually speaking) coming from very different places. These were all people that I had been paying attention to for several years, and I was very curious as to what would be their points of contention and areas of agreement. I was starting to really question the legitimacy of a lot of the things I had taken as unquestioned Truth over the preceding years: was there really such a thing as the "hacker community", as glorified in the Jargon File? Would we all really be better off in a world of free software (and only free software, as RMS insists)? Was the free software community really blazing a new path, or were they really just a bunch of snotty teenagers and bearded, potbellied middle-aged hobbyists with delusions of grandeur?

    Basically, I had started to question a lot of the things that I had been so idealistic about for the previous 2-3 years. I was hoping that maybe one of the three speakers (ESR, BP, RMS), coming from vastly different backgrounds and beliefs, would talk sense. I hoped that at least one of them would rise above the primordial ooze of free software flaming and dorkiness and bring it all into perspective. I had hoped to find some reassurance somewhere, but unfortunately none of them came off particularly well- each one seemed to have their own particular brand of tunnel vision, megalomania, narrow-mindedness, and, well, just general yuckiness. It was rather disappointing. The audience wasn't much better- everyone seemed either insanely bitter and hostile, or posessed of the worst kind of subservient sheep mentality. It was like spending an hour in a mental institution- *everyone* was crazy. In particular, I'm not sure how anyone could have walked out of that room after an hour and still retained so much as an ounce of respect for RMS- and I mean that on both a personal and philosophical level. It was a very disheartening experience.

    What this whole big long rant is leading up to is this: Tim is one of the very, very few voices of reason when it comes to free software. There are a handful of others: Eric Allman, perhaps Linus (although he makes very few public statements about free software "philosophy"), probably John Ousterhout, Guido (of Python fame), Jordan Hubbard...I'm sure there's a few more out there. Note that none of these people are particularly vocal in "the community" compared to people like ESR, BP, RMS, Alan Cox, Miguel, etc. Most of the widely acknowledged "leaders" of free software seem to have some sort of fatal flaw that prevents them from rising above the muck: they're drunk on their own pseudo-celeb status, they've idealized something or other to the point of ludicrousness ("hacker culture", the morality of software, MS-as-Evil-Empire...), or they're just plain jerks. People you'd go out of your way to avoid if you had to work with them or deal with them on a day-to-day basis. Unbalanced people who just never grew up in one way or another.

    Anway, sorry for the rant. The message is, listen to the Tims of the world, and maybe don't pay so much attention to the {ESR,BP,RMS}s of the world. The Tims might not talk so much or so loudly, but it's usually because they actually spend some time thinking about what to say, rather than just reveling in the fact that people are listening to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The marketplace is properly an integral part of society, and as such contributes much to society. The problem is that some people have sought to separate it from society, putting it above society, and worshipping it as some sort of god.

    Societies which pursue this fanatical view are destined to fail in the long run, just as the attempt to remove the market from society in the Soviet Union ended in tears. Those who take the sensible middle road, seeking neither to deify nor to destroy the market, will triumph in the long run.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 1999 @04:05PM (#1968492)
    So it is that the veils are falling.

    Now that lots upon lots of money are to be made on the name of free software (bastardized as "open source", so as not to frighten CEOs of companies for whon freedom is anathema) the real faces are showing.

    Naturally anyone with an eye in the pagan god called marketplace would prefer anything but GPL. "Let all software be free", they say, ("so that we can hide it later", they complete in their heads). Tim O'Reilly words on GPL can be easily translated into "GPL restricts my freedom to restrict your freedom, so it is not free". Worded this way, it is easy to see the sophism.

    I am really worried now about our fate. It is pretty obvious that there is a character destruction campaign against Richard Stallman. The main goal seems to be to discredit Richard as a communist or a lunatic, to make GPL look like a delusional hippie allucination and to hide all FSF contribution to the present state of things.

    If they have their way, the net result will be a far less happy world (albeit a far more lucrative).

    Am I paranoid? Or, in the end, "money talks" is the only "road ahead"?
  • One of the points of the article is that even urandom isn't good enough. /dev/urandom will cause high frequency static on the drive, when low frequency static is far more effective for wiping information.

    Also, the impression I get is that shred will work on a file by file basis, not just on a partition scale.
  • Because with 36 passes of carfully designed noise, shred appears to be able to thwart even Group 3 attackers without you losing use of your drive. It's point is that there is no one pattern that can hide your old data, but with a properly chosen series of patterns, the data is completely unrecoverable.

    And, it's GPL, so you can make sure your program is free of little routines to ship your data off to the NSA.
  • What did Stallman write the original gcc on? There was no Linux back in '83. The hypocrisy in Stallman's position is that he chose to use closed source OSes to achieve his goal -- publicizing his idea of Free Software by making tools people would want to use; now he thinks it's immoral for the rest of us to work with closed source stuff to achieve our own goals.

    And what was he supposed to write gcc on? His own unix? With what compiler? Richard did not have a choice of whether to use free software or not to develop gcc. RMS never said that it's wrong to use non-free software when there's no choice, only when there is a choice does ethics come into it.

    Now there is a choice, I bet RMS is using either Linux or Hurd to do his work, and look at that, he has a choice of two GPLed OSes to work on, both usin GPLed tools (Xwindows is an exception, but it's almost free and where's the choice?). I see no hypocracy.

  • It's not just you, but I would say there are probably two things that happened:

    1. Many fence sitters got shaken up and settled on how they feel, and are thus more vocal (pretty much like dropping a crystal into a super-saturated solution), and some that thought `Open-Source' is okey got there eyes opened as to what's really going on, and changed their minds.

    2. The die-hared anti-GNU types haven't shown up yet.

  • [XFree86] isn't even restricted by the sort of limitations in the GPL.

    And this makes it better? Not in my (or many others) opinion. I seem to remeber seeing on the XFree86 website a comment that they would have liked to release XFree86 under GPL but couldn't, due to licence restrictions. Hmm, seems XFree86 licencing isn't so unrestricted after all.

    Even if I'm wrong about the XFree86 people's desires, they still can't release XFree86 under GPL.

  • Copyright there is at least partically to do with preventing other people's legitimate efforts/research/et al being claimed as someone else's.

    No, that's honesty you're thinking of. Copyright prevents all copying, properly accredited or not (hence the `fair use' exceptions). See ipnot [ipnot.org] (I just read it myself)

  • Instead, it is co-operation that is the way forward, NOT competition.

    Almost, it's competition and co-operation. Read Earth, by David Brin. That book goes over that meme quite nicely (probably could do with more) along with many others. Otherwise, I agree with you, co-operation is just as important as competition. Hmm, I think Brin stated that you can't have one without the other in a successful system.

  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    Found this interesting: www.az.com/~drysdam/GPL-as-strategy.html
  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    It's not a "zealotry" issue. It's a consistency issue. If I hold a principle to apply to some cases, there has to be a reason it doesn't apply in other cases. In order to abandon my principles I need a better reason than "the ends justify the means".

    As for infringing on the creators rights: Far from it. The creator of GPL'd software has at least as many rights as closed software developers (if not more) with the added benefit of increased usage.
  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    First, the "marketplace" in "let the marketplace decide" is not always economic. It can be the "marketplace of ideas" or something similar. The "invisible hand" of Adam Smith works in other areas as well. (evolution anyone?)

    That said, I agree that capitalism (or worse, consumerism) is an ideology that many would do good to get rid off, although I'm not quite as cynical as your "marketing department" comment makes you sound.
  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    I don't get it. Isn't Gates rich enough already? Why contribute to his BSD codebase any further?
  • O'Reilly caricatures all attempts to advocate ethical behaviour as religious posturing - as if all atheists are bound to act amorally.

    I think the main influence for this argument is creationism and science in general.. religious groups have often considered science and furthering of development to be 'evil' as it detracts from creationism, i.e. that the earth was here a long time before humans were, and that the bible may not be wholly right.

    By saying 'religious' he means someone who is more interested in staying true to their beliefs than looking at the world around them, while by scientific you would think the opposite - someone who is more interested in discovering the world around them than paying attention to what people may strongly believe in.

  • In a true ``marketplace'', humans should be trafficked like anything else: children bought and sold and slaves available on the open market. After all, that's what people want! Cheap labor is important!

    Humans are already trafficked, it's just not normally described so bluntly. Whether it's the transfer of manufacturing capital from the West to the Third World (cheap labor!), magazine publishers' mailing-lists (like the transfer from BYTE to Windows Magazine - the most valuable asset was the subscriber list, rather than the brand-name and archives), or the Nielsen Ratings, people are just marketplace commodities. But the whole thing is so ingrained that we give it little notice.

    I am not a target audience! I am not a number! :)

    (With apologies to Coupland and McGoohan.)

    --

  • I postponed my afternoon nap, so clarity wasn't one of my strong points. I'm slightly more lucid now. Here goes...

    Slavery in the traditional sense still exists - every time I think of the southern Sudan, I (figuratively) hit my knees and pray for them.

    Slavery in a modern sense exists. The difference between a sweatshop worker and a slave (or a corporate Third World farm worker and a slave) is that the escapees won't be hunted down; it's cheaper to hire a replacement. For now. On top of that, toxic work environments (due to either heavy pesticides in the fields or chemicals in the factory) shorten the lifespan of the workers.

    Slavery in any form is heinous and immoral.

    What CMP (and other publishers) did/do is merely cynical and amoral; they're not in the same league as Nike, Disney, United Brands, and the other Big Boys.

    The Nielsens are a tool used by the cynical and amoral; a small number of teenage eyeballs influence the multi-megabuck decisions of programmers and advertisers, though the I Ching might make a more useful tool. Commercial broadcasting is all about the broadcaster "selling an audience" (measured by a ratings system) to potential advertisers. Again, cynical and amoral. And we are, either literally or by proxy, being trafficked, even though we don't suffer the same fate as slaves.

    There but for the grace of God, etc etc...

    --

  • Your slave analogy is both silly and ignorant. What the hell does this have to do with a modern marketplace? Did you just throw this in to support your view of the "evil market" because you have no real knowledge of how the market works?

    Joshua can speak for himself, of course...

    I don't think he (or I) was speaking as someone who is anti-markets.

    The slave analogy is neither silly nor ignorant. It's relevant in that it shows what can happen when the bottom-line concerns of the marketplace crowd out moral issues. The enslavement (and "neo-enslavement", i.e. the cheap labor in the Third World) of peoples, which goes on even today, is one example. The bastardization (YMMV) of the GPL (with all these OSI-compliant "free" and open licenses), and the demonization (YMMV) of RMS (that psycho/utopian/commie/clue-starved Rasputin), may be another example.

    Disclaimer: Smoke-Blowing Mode again.

    --

  • Does Nike really suck?

    Someone from Oxfam told me that Nike were one of the few companies that _don't_ employ slave labour in miserable conditions.

    For this reason I bought Nikes instead of other shoes.

    I've lumped slavery and "neo-slavery" together. Nike's not the worst practitioner - they don't use real slaves, but their history shows a constant search for a Lowest Common Denominator of labor laws. They move their manufacturing from place to place as they find a sweeter deal in another country.

    I use Matthew 7:12 (the "Golden Rule") as my rule of thumb: would you be willing to work in one of the plants that Nike uses to manufacture their goods? Would you want to be paid less than a dollar an hour? Would you like to be exposed to toxic chemicals, ones that might leave you with a serious respiratory ailment when you reach middle age? Would you like being "disciplined" by one of the managers? I don't think you would. Nike does this stuff because they can get away with it, as do dozens of other companies. I don't think there's any valid economic reason to do it - they're just deathly afraid of having to pay a unionized workforce a living wage, and too cheap to deal with issues like workplace safety and payroll taxes on Western (government-regulated) terms.

    As I said in a previous post, the only difference between this and slavery is that no-one hunts down the escapees.

    --

  • Shred is by Colin Plumb, who was at one stage one of the main PGP implementors (may still be) and Knows What He's Doing.
    --
  • Bruce's short comment has received two responses, both of which miss the point.

    Tim isn't merely disagreeing with RMS's precise ethical stance.

    Tim is explicitly disagreeing with the very idea of raising ethical considerations in these discussions. He thinks talking about ethics at all is simply unscientific.
    --
  • Tim O'Reilly's position that morality is incompatible with science is a breathtakingly unpleasant and dishonest position. Science may guide you on the consequences of particular behaviour, but it can't tell you which consequences are desirable or what behaviour is acceptable. O'Reilly caricatures all attempts to advocate ethical behaviour as religious posturing - as if all atheists are bound to act amorally.

    When he argues that free software should be "teted in the marketplace", he doesn't feel the slightest need to justify his belief that this will lead to consequences in the common good; whatever consequences emerge, they will be good simply because they're the ones blessed by the magic market, even if it might seem to those who don't have faith in the market that they require unethical behaviour from the participants. So who's got religion now?

    How he can pretend to imagine that his position and RMS's are not so different when moral arguments are at the heart of RMS's stance is beyond me. It's almost enough to turn me into a fundamentalist Stallmanist.
    --
  • I think it's a good idea to discourage people from raising the Nazis as examples. It's just too obvious and too emotive. I think the people who raised slavery in parts of Africa chose better.

    --
  • >I think the point is that people like Richard Stallman will use `free' (i.e. GPL'd) software, even if it is inferior to `non-free' software.

    What did Stallman write the original gcc on? There was no Linux back in '83.

    The hypocrisy in Stallman's position is that he chose to use closed source OSes to achieve his goal -- publicizing his idea of Free Software by making tools people would want to use; now he thinks it's immoral for the rest of us to work with closed source stuff to achieve our own goals.
  • "However, is this wrong? When looking at it rationally, is Intellectual Property a logical, natural concept, on par with physical property rights?"

    Physical property claims, or at the very least real estate, all derive originally from one person or group taking it by force from another, or, more rarely, from "finders keepers." In contrast, intellectual property is creation from nothing. Is "don't copy" really more objectionable than "no trespassing"?

    >However, I think we're coming to a point very soon where IP law is no longer relevant for
    software.

    True for software geeks enjoy working on, less so for things they don't, or don't have the skills for; I don't see an open source game with the polish of Age of Empires or Starcraft appearing
    soon. And as for media, do you see an open source "Schindler's List" appearing any time soon?
  • >And what was he supposed to write gcc on? His own unix?

    Why not? I worked with a group that basically wrote our own (rather limited) OS for our graphics supercomputer. We did buy a compiler, but then we weren't on a moral crusade. And the consequence for RMS of his shortcutting was that the open-source that followed got named after some other, more pragmatic, individual, much to RMS's annoyance.

    Ignore the moral issue for a moment. You have to admit it's possible that IP laws result in some better IP (do you think Star Wars would ever have been made without them?). If so, if the net result of eliminating IP might mean we have to wait longer for a cure for cancer, or Alzheimer's, or paralysis. Are you willing to tell someone who ends up dying from one of those ailments that it was moral to delay the generation of the cure? Good things can come from pragmatism.

    Now, if you believe that open source will eventually produce all the software we need anyway, then you don't need the moral argument.
  • OK, maybe I was a bit hasty to say the marketplace has given nothing without qualifying that.

    The marketplace has indirectly caused some things. However, it is still individual people who create ideas. Maybe the marketplace can be a reasonable way to motivate people but it is not a principle that should be used as a foundation. The marketplace is not the foundation for something that should be called "science".

  • I'm not so sure about my name and address being sold as trafficking in human souls--there are simply things so much more serious than that taking place that need to be addressed and aren't.
    I certainly wouldn't be among the "we need to fix things at home before we fix the rest of the world". In fact, those people really annoy me, because they are just so deluded as to our role... but...

    The issues of address lists, and more generally advertising as a whole, is a serious one. It's a matter of selling our minds. Now, this is not oppression on the scale that it is happening in most places. But it is insidious and dangerous (that banner at the top of the page included!)

    We are the ones who are the receivers of many of the benefits of oppression. Most slashdotters are clearly members of the international elite (even if a number of us chose not to partake fully in it). If we cannot be clear-minded -- cannot understand what we are doing and why -- than our ethics cannot save us. Advertising is all about muddling our thoughts. From the mundane nature of a banner add that looks like a Win95 window to the spin-doctors that make us think a medicine factory is some chemical weapons production.

    (p.s., Junkbuster [junkbusters.com] will get rid of the banner ads -- fight the Man one banner at a time! I'm not sure if I'm kidding)

  • I think it's absurd to blather on about the superiority of the GPL and GPL'd software when most of the vital GPL'd code consists entirely of unoriginal imitations of original, non-GPL'd, work done by others.
    Stallman has never said (unlike O'Reilly or ESR) that GPL software is inherently superior on a technical basis. He has said GPL software is superior on a moral basis. This moral basis is something he clearly did not copy from proprietary software, though he very openly says he did copy it from earlier CS work (which was all free).

    RMS' motivations for creating free software are very different than O'Reilly's. And of all the things you can accuse RMS of, hypocrisy is certainly not one of them.

  • I agree with you that ethics are very important. But are they really illogical?
    I have to agree with him on this one. Finding a logical basis for ethics is overly optimistic. Our actions can follow logically from our ethics, but our ethics follow from something without logical basis. Even the most rational of philosophical beliefs will eventually lead to belief without logic.

    The question is: what do you believe? What do you want, for yourself and the world around you? The answers aren't obvious and everyone isn't going to answer them the same. But I don't worry about that so much as all the people who never ask the questions or never let their answers become action.

  • He wants a separation between free and nonfree software. He want two sets of water fountains, he wants clear delineation between fronts and backs of the bus.
    Whoa there, time to calm down.

    I agree that RMS wants to force people to make free software. But all those proprietary software companies want to force you not to copy their software (or at least to pay first). The GPL fights fire with fire. The permissive licenses don't fight at all.

    That's okay... you're allowed not to fight. A permissive license does no harm. But can you really blame someone who does want to fight? And don't they have some obligation to try to convince you to do the same?

  • by Ian Bicking ( 980 ) <<moc.ydutsroloc> <ta> <bnai>> on Monday March 22, 1999 @12:40PM (#1968522) Homepage
    To quote from the O'Reilly piece:
    The free movement of ideas always trumps restrictions on ideas in terms of innovation and quality. So let Open Source be tested in the marketplace, not in the pulpit!
    Why do people so obsess over the marketplace? It's as though they feel it embodies everything -- reality, morality, existance. It serves to disempower people. When someone believes that something is right not because it is profitable, but because it is right, they are dismissed by the idea of the marketplace. When a people try to decide what they want from their society and economy (often through the government) they are said to hinder the marketplace, as though it has some higher moral standing.

    The marketplace has given us no ideas, no beauty, no creation. People have given us those things -- often in disregard of the marketplace which can offer only material rewards.

    So, to hell with the marketplace. Even in the most utopian of marketplace ideals, it is dull and dead. Thankfully not everyone has given up on thought and, yes, morallity for the seductive void of the marketplace.

    I know I certainly am not tired of moralizing :)

  • They describe this series of 35 steps to wipe data, and I'd guess shred does that?
  • The economy *is* a measure of human achievement. It DOES embody everything we do.

    Of course, with money being numbers and all, it is an objective system and doesn't keep track of "how" you got the numbers, which does lead to a lot of the corruption and general greed/silliness in the world of business. A system created by impefect humans FOR imperfect humans.

    The free market *is* the embodiment of human achievement. The developed world is centered around the notion of this system. All innovative work in the past two centuries has been embodied by organizations involved in this market: the invention of electricity (Tom Edison's General Electric), the invention of the transistor (Bell Labs), the invention of the computer, microprocessor, etc. The innovation of the *personal computer* (IBM, Xerox and Apple). etc.

    No, the free market system is not perfect, but please don't let your ignorance detract from the achievements that have taken place under that system.

  • The market is not an invisible hand - though that is how Adam Smith described it in the 18th century.

    With today's modern complexity theory, it is very clear that the market embodies OUR actions. We make the market the way it is... We run the eocnomy... and the central bankers of the world adjust things when they get out of hand.

    Your slave analogy is both silly and ignorant. What the hell does this have to do with a modern marketplace? Did you just throw this in to support your view of the "evil market" because you have no real knowledge of how the market works?

    The marketplace embodies *trade* of goods, servics, but above all, VALUE from human achievement.
  • I *do* like Stallman's views, and I do know that money is not related to happiness.

    I *am* saying that if there are any failings of the "marketplace", the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the greed-mongers of our time. In otherwords, the system is an objective thing - it's humans that mess it up. Such will be the case with any system you come up with.. so why don't we stick with what we've got and just try to improve it - it's worked modestly well for two centuries or so, and improved the quality of life for developed countries dramatically in that time.


  • well yeah, there is a poor tendancy to worship the "marketplace". It is, after all, a reflection of what we do with our time and money, so people rightly should analyze it.

    The problem has been to over-analyze it. Customer opinions sway - and often they don't know what they want. So innovation is the only way to counter that. Of course, traditional innovation was based on market research, leading to Microsoft-style "creative imitation"...

    In future, I think we're going to see more "visionary" innovations, because frankly, in a world with little brand loyalty and changing perceptions, that's the only way TO compete. Make the future the way you want it to be, not the way the market wants it "at this second"...
  • looking at copyright law, (RMS has a great essay about this on his website), there's a distinct difference of perception in the business world between cloning "ideas" vs. "words".

    In software, that means cloning the code is copyright infringement, and cloning the ideas is "creative imitation", and acceptable.. This largely is because copyright was designed to protect the written word from competition.

    NOW, copyright is being used to force the public to pay for information they can easily copy. It leads to an interesting conflict: The public doesn't want to give up this right (though they did over two centuries ago, primarily because you wouldn't have a printing press in your backyard so it didn't matter).. BUT companys need economic performance to stay alive.

    Overall, in free software, I think the greatest lesson for the business community will be that protecting information is not as useful as protecting "knowledge" - which only exists in your employee's heads.

    People are the only truly important resource that need to be protected.
  • Well Tim tried to be somewhat diplomatic in his treatment of RMS' views, but his ignorance of RMS' ideological position really detracts from his view .

    Adam Smith's invisible hand is nothing more than a reflection of what "we're doing" in terms of economics & trade... It isn't an end in itself - something too many businesspeople forget.
  • Seeing the morality of "increased freedom" is obvious.

    Seeing the morality of "everything must be free", as Tim says, is a little harder to see.

    Should a creator have a right to keep his source closed? RMS says no.

  • While I agree with the content of that post (everyone is NOT crazy), just two points:

    - Tim *is* a voice of reason. His argument was well spoken, and easy to understand. The major disappointment was his lack of perspecitve on the role of ethics & morality in software development.
    Other than that, he has a point: Should it be "free software because we HAVE to" or "free software because we WANT to" ?

    - The interesting observation of the post above yours was the varied reaction in the audience: it really seems to be hard to get people to agree on things in this community.
  • I should have clarified that.

    I was refering to enslavement in the "developed world", not the third world, where it most certainly, and unfortunately, goes on.

    Free software is largely an ethical issue and will always be. At the end of the day, one can argue that protecting information (i.e. source code) is not as important as protecting knowledge & people - such is the argument of OSI and ESR.

    But, what *really* is the reason behind free software other than to advance the freedom to improve and share technology? It comes full circle back to the ethical argument.

    As I've stated in other messages, I follow RMS' view closely, and the only thing I'm still at odds with is his view that everything "MUST" be free.

    People should have the right to choose, without discrimination over a subjective definition of "morality".
  • First off, I don't equate "free" with "zero cost". I understand RMS' philosophy quite well. Furthermore, I agree that RMS is not "forcing" people to do open their source right now.

    It is, however, his philosophical intention. He believes the copyright law SHOULD be modified such that software does not have owners and everyone is free to copy it. (This is in his essay "Re-evaluating copyright" and also "Why software should not have owners".)

    So no, RMS isn't forcing people right now. Given the opporunity though, his writings indicate he is striving to create a world where free software is not a choice.
  • I don't believe there is a difference (in terms of protection) between tangible and intellectual property.

    Specifically, I believe that copyright (that is, protecting the *content* of your intellectual property, not necessarily the ideas behind it) has evolved to a point that it *is* a right for the creator.

    I read RMS' essay on copyright law, and enjoyed it tremendously, BUT I think the copying policy should be a choice of the creator - not a law. The unfortunate trend towards criminalization of copyright infringment is dangerous.
  • In the short run, global free trade and the free flow of capital mean the social-democratic model can no longer compete with the ruthlessness of the free market. In the long run, I dearly hope something more socially responsible can.

    Indeed, the current system is not socially responsible. However, it is quite probable that future "socially responsible" structures are built on top of our current system, which has worked well in many cases (improving the standard of living, for instance).

  • As for software, I hate to be premature, but I think it's already won. We're
    into the glorious drudgery of finishing up now.



    There are many, many, bright and even ethical people out there that would disagree with that vehemenantly, and not just out of ignorance. Some sincerely prefer to live in a property-driven society, where property includes "intellectual" property. (By intellectual I mean copyright-like property, not the ideas behind it).



    While I think that open source is gaining, there really is a long road to go. Witness the trends of zealous copyright enforcement, the digital millenium copyright act, the surge in patent claims. While the message is getting out there, it isn't reaching many of the people who are working with our society's laws and organizations.



  • Actually, free trade, or in general, the lowering of
    trade barriers & tariffs, has a lot to do with why we're seeing
    a lot less global conflict than in years past...

    The Generally Accepted Tariff Treaties (GATT) from WW2 and onwards
    have had a profound effect on our world's interdependence. That's
    a good, socially responsible action of the economy... a first start
    down a long road.
  • While I think Tim's ignorance of the moral/ethical side of free software is disappointing, he has a point:

    Should it be "free software because we WANT to" or "free software because we HAVE to".

    I want to create MORE free software.
    I want to see MORE progress in technology and community sharing because of this movement.

    BUT
    I do NOT want to *FORCE* people to create free software.

    RMS believes everything "MUST BE FREE". I agree with a lot of his philosophy, but that is one point where I must draw the line.

    If we can find a way of NOT being a property-driven society, then I will by all means accept the view that "everything must be free".
  • [...]
    [the X window System] is an exception, but it's almost free and where's the choice? [...]

    Hmm. Well, the X protocol standards are free, as far as I'm aware. There also happens to be some example implementation code out there, and some other stuff licenced under all sorts of agreements. There's nothing that I know of to stop someone from reimplementing X under any license that they please (although the Open Group briefly tried to take this right away with the Broadway release), but the consensus seems to be that the XFree86 implementation is free enough.

    ObNameFlame: it's not `XWindows', it's `X', `X11' or the `X Window System', blah blah, read the X man page, etc.


    --
    W.A.S.T.E.

  • [...the Broadway licensing debacle...]
    XFree86 has become more important than any of the proprietary X servers, and its implementation would have become the defacto standard.

    I wish I thought this was true. I think you're wrong though. People in the Linux and (to a lesser extent) the remainder of the `Free Software' movement seem to have a rather blinkered view on many X related things. Here are some examples:

    • Motif is the standard X toolkit (toolkits, I suppose). There's no getting away from it. GTK may look nice and be nicer to code, but Motif offers a whole lot more. JWZ [jwz.org] posted a rant here some time about it (back in the days when it was possible to read all of slashdot...), and I think that he knows what he's talking about in this arena.
    • CDE is the standard desktop. Personally I think GNOME and/or KDE stands a fighting chance of taking this crown (ever tried adding an icon to the control panel on CDE? Yuck.)
    • XFree86 is important, but it's not that important. Even amongst Linux/*BSD users AcceleratedX and MetroX are very popular products. Move outside that, and you've got a huge number of different implementations. Neither Sun, Digital^WCompaq nor anyone else is going to be shipping anything `XFree86 compatible' any time soon: they're going to implement whatever the Open Group says is standard.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm not doing down the importance of free software here. I'm trying to inject a bit of realism. Motif is better than you think it is (resources, anyone?). Thinking about it, XFree86 might just have a wider distribution than any other single X server, and I bet it'd be more likely to get upgraded than the rest of the X servers combined: they'll probably only get upgraded in sync with OS upgrades if at all. Nevertheless there is a huge inertia behind the installed base of non-Free X machines out there, and it wouldn't do to get carried away.

    I seem to be rambling now, so I'll stop. Does anything I've said make any sense?


    --
    W.A.S.T.E.
  • It's most ironic that you call your response "Software Darwinism". Mostly because free/open source software is what Darwin really wrote about at work. You see, Darwin was not a believer in what has come to be known as "Darwinism". Sure, the catch-phrase of "survival of the fittest" has become the limit to what most people know about the man's works.

    But in fact Darwin's works show substantial recognition of the intra- and inter-species co-operation that occours in nature, and the importance of this in the evolutionary process. That is, maybe it is true that the fittest does survive. But the fittest is not necessarily the one who kills off everyone else, but rather can be the one who co-operates with others to the fullest extent.

    That Darwinism = competition is just propaganda cooked up by "free market" capitalist appologists who seek to paint their system as the "natural" way.

    Instead, it is co-operation that is the way forward, NOT competition.
  • Seriously. Not for too long though :)
  • The users get a
    guarantee of freedom to see the code in the process but it does take away their 'right' to hide it.


    Err, I meant in the GPL.

    Daniel
  • Huh? RMS' saying that something is wrong doesn't take away your right to ignore him and do it your way. You'll just be wrong. ;-) The GPL is meant to provide the creator of a work with the ability to say something about how it's used. A good description I saw earlier was "liberated software, not libertine software".

    And I'm not even going to mention the piracy troll.

    Daniel

  • It's as if he's saying that ethics are in some way illogical, or that Adam Smith's invisible hand is
    somehow superior to ethics.

    I'd say that ethics are illogical. That's why we need them.

    Daniel
  • I like the way you ignored the rest of my post...

    erm, anyway. What bothers me is the elevation of pragmatism over other concerns and the treatement of ethics and morality as something dirty to be avoided. (IMO, 'ethics' is a better term here) More than that; in taking this stance, people try to present themselves as being 'objective' (and therefore, presumably somehow better) when in fact they have made a decision as well. Denying that an ethical issue exists (even if you are correct) is an ethical decision. To pretend objectivity is hypocrisy of the nth degree.

    On top of that...while I can understand pragmatism in software (it can be easily argued that there are more important moral questions, however much it may impact my life), I often get the feeling that this is part and parcel of a larger attitude of pure pragmatism. I could be wrong of course, it's difficult to judge people based on 5-line posts on /. or O'Reilly's site. ;-) But if you don't understand why some sort of ethical basis for action is necessary..then I repeat my comment:
    I'm sorry.

    [ now that I think about it, O'Reilly is probably not guilty of this..heck I doubt you are either..I'd be quicker to indict random /. ACs on this point ;-) You just got in the way of a rant waiting to happen. ]

    And you *totally* missed my point about users vs creators. The GPL is an assertion of the rights of the creator of a piece of software to ensure that it is used in the way he or she intended. And even in the mindset that this is a moral issue, no-one, even RMS, is going to come around and *force* you to GPL your software (except for some very misguided people)--persuade, argue, cajole, perhaps.

    Daniel
  • To my way of thinking, science is essentially a method of viewing and analysing the world. The
    scientist does not take anything on faith, but rather relies on objective (to the extent possible)
    facts.

    I would argue that this is not the end-all and be-all of science; it just happens to be the correct way to go about advancing the 'greater good' as seen by scientists (deeper understanding of nature/universe/God depending on what time period you're talking about). Obviously not all scientists agree ;-)
    In any event, this approach is very good at getting you the truth but doesn't tell you what to do with it.

    The scientific approach to evaluating free software is to compare the results of projects based on
    totally free software, GPL'd free software, open software, proprietary software, etc. If one sort of
    licence or organisational scheme produces consistently better software (based on objective
    criteria), it can possibly be considered the best way to develop software.


    This gives you a full comprehension of which way is the most efficient way to develop software. Sweatshops are also exceedingly efficient. Free software is too. 'Scientific' correctness is orthogonal to rightness.



    The view taken by Richard Stallman is that GPL'd software is inherently better, simply because
    he believes it is right. Regardless of any evidence to the contrary, he will only use software which
    fits his definition of free, because that is his religion. To his followers, then, he is the prophet of
    the GNU faith. To the rest of us, he just seems a bit of a nutter.


    No, you're confusing him with ESR. Stallman doesn't claim that free software is better than proprietary software (although it often is), he claims that free software is the Right Thing[tm] to do. I personally think that freeness and quality are not related. There's bad free software and good proprietary software. They have different strengths, etc, etc, but the question for Stallman is not whether one is objectively better but which one is right. Whether you agree with him or not, having made an ethical decision--even an unpopular one--does not automatically qualify one as a "nutter". If Stallman said that the GPL was given to him by little pixies, I think you might have a point. ;-)



    PS If the Soviet Union had been levelled in the 1950s, the way Germany and Japan were in the
    1940s, the world (especially Russia and Eastern/Central Europe) would probably be in much
    better shape today.


    To be honest, I don't have access to an alternate-universe machine to find out what would have happened if we had nuked Russia. But I suspect that the results would have included massive destruction within Russia (worse than Germany or Japan), horrendous [Russian] civilian casualties, etc, etc... *Perhaps* they would have rebounded like Germany and Japan, but that still doesn't mean that it would have been the 'Right Thing'.

    btw, was Hitler's only mistake the invasion of Russia? Wouldn't it have been better for Fleming to get a patent on the production of penicillin?

    Daniel
  • by Daniel ( 1678 ) <.dburrows. .at. .debian.org.> on Monday March 22, 1999 @01:01PM (#1968548)
    A couple of..umm..interesting things in that O'Reilly article.

    At bottom, Richard believes that the rights of
    the users of software take precedence over
    the rights of the creators of that software.


    Yes, that's why when a creator puts his or her work under the GPL, it stays free ad infinitum, whereas a BSD license lets any of the users close the source off for their own uses. The users get a guarantee of freedom to see the code in the process but it does take away their 'right' to hide it.

    like to say that Open
    Source is science, not religion. Making source
    code freely available is good not because of
    some inalienable right belonging to the users of
    software, but because it's good for the
    creators of the software


    Um. He must have a different understanding of how science work[ed|s] than I did. AFAIK, science has as a goal the furthering of human knowledge by sharing of information and discoveries. True, it doesn't work that way all the time (ego, greed, etc), but it works well enought that I would suggest that Stallman's position is grounded in a scientific ethic.

    But for me, the choice of proprietary or Open
    Source software is purely a pragmatic one.


    I'm sorry.

    Ultimately, the question you're asking...is one of
    whether free software is a moral issue or a scientific
    one.


    Oh dear. [ using science in the sense of 'object judgement' here: ] I think that it was suggested at various points in the '50s (by Von Neumann and others? I'm getting this from a history of game theory that I read, feel free to thwack me if I'm wrong) that the 'scientific' thing for America to do was to bomb Russia back into the stone age before they got nuclear missiles, and just hope that the effects weren't devastating to us. I would agrue that science and objectivity have to give way to ethics and morality.
    In the case of GNU/Linux, of course, we're lucky that the objective and the moral Right Things to do coincide.

    Daniel
  • The hypocrisy in Stallman's position is that he chose to use closed source OSes to achieve his goal -- publicizing his idea of Free Software by making tools people would want to use; now he thinks it's immoral for the rest of us to work with closed source stuff to achieve our own goals.

    Stallman has said [gnu.org] that he decided early on that the FSF would use proprietary software only for the purposes of developing a free replacement (see the "Donated Computers" section). He doesn't feel good about it, he just realizes that it's a necessary evil.

    BTW: Saying that he thinks it's immoral to work with closed source stuff is a bit of a misrepresentation. I expect he realizes that some people will need to use closed source software to live their life, and that not everyone can work on free replacements. At the risk of putting words in his mouth, I would say that he would consider using proprietary software to be a bad idea, but only because you're hurting yourself. Creating proprietary software is another story.

  • I'll disagree with Tim on this point: the GPL protects the community, not just the users.

    Remember that in a vibrant open-source project, the distinction between the "users" and the "developers" is blurred. After all, developers also use, and the users often take up the developer's mantle when their use is hampered.

    All of the best open-source projects can no longer be attributed to one man or one small group. For this reason, it's hard to identify "the developer" most of the time. In those cases where there is an exception, it seems to be due either to a very strong leader (Linus, for example) or to a very quiet project with few contributors.

    Thus, the question of who "owns" the code (which Tim puts such stake in) is impossible to answer without looking at the community as a whole. In this situation, the GPL is best at preserving the community's best interests.
  • like the way you ignored the rest of my post...

    Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize that I was under some obligation to respond to everything you said...

    On top of that...while I can understand pragmatism in software (it can be easily argued that there are more important moral questions, however much it may impact my life), I often get the feeling that this is part and parcel of a larger attitude of pure pragmatism. I could be wrong of course, it's difficult to judge people based on 5-line posts on /. or O'Reilly's site. ;-) But if you don't understand why some sort of ethical basis for action is necessary..then I repeat my comment: I'm sorry.

    Anytime you want to be less patronizing, I'll be waiting. First off, as you said, there are FAR more pressing issues than deciding the morality of software choices. But you seem to be saying that there are ethics involved when choosing software, and I think you are on crack for saying that. Sounds like RMS in his more zealous moments... There are no ethics involved when choosing software, whether free, open, or proprietary. None. It is not immoral to buy some proprietary software when it is heads and tails above the rest. It is not immoral to buy some proprietary software when it is the worst of the software (that's just stupid.) There just aren't any morals involved whatsoever. It's fscking software, not a debate on the morals of porn.

    And you *totally* missed my point about users vs creators. The GPL is an assertion of the rights of the creator of a piece of software to ensure that it is used in the way he or she intended. And even in the mindset that this is a moral issue, no-one, even RMS, is going to come around and *force* you to GPL your software (except for some very misguided people)--persuade, argue, cajole, perhaps.

    If the GPL is so damned free, and so good, can I, as a creator of a piece of software, remove the software that I originally placed under GPL if I decided to sell it later on? No you say? Not too free then, is it. Does the GPL allow me to sell my software at all (beyond the price of the medium of distribution)? What? No again? I don't really see how it is protecting my rights then...

  • The point of the article is that /dev/zero is not good enough, since it's possible to read what's "underneath" the zeros if you have the right equipment. Writing pseudorandom data is slightly better, and writing multiple passes of random data is even better. However, as someone else once said, the only truely secure deletion method is a smelter. :-)

  • If urandom doesn't do it, you can just leave the drive a little too close to your favourite woofer. Really, though, it seems a little bit extreme. So you sell your drive and the person you sell it to gets your child pr0n, big deal.
  • Well, be careful, Bruce, Godwin's law is just around the corner.

    But, ethics are illogical, or rather, down the path of pure logic and scientific reasoning lies the mindset of the sociopath. That's why science has such strong ethical principles, it's not because they easily derive from science and logic, but because scientists see that their work would be on a slippery slope if they didn't intertwine ethics and science. It might be good for science, but they would lose sight of the higher goal, to further mankind.

    And that might be what Tim O'Reilly has lost, in all his capitalist, market liberalist fury. The sight of higher goals.
  • ...or is the winds turning back in RMS' and GNU/FSF's favour? It seemed just a few days ago that people were falling over themselves to get distance from RMS (even though the refrain has usually been "I'll agree with him this once", over and over again), and everyone was shouting "ESR and Open Source is so much better".

    Yet now, it seems so many more have taken to their senses, and see things with a lot less bias. I'm insanely happy about it. Maybe we can get back to where we were, writing free software, and furthering knowledge and sharing.

  • RMS doesn't want to force people to write free software either. Neither does he believe it all must be free. This is one of the major misconceptions about RMS.

    Rather, he says that "The software that isn't free, is none of my business, I want nothing to do with it, I'm not going to use it". And, often, he sees that some proprietary software fulfills a need, so he sets out to create (or encourage the creation of) a free alternative.

    He's not forcing anyone. However, when you write proprietary software, know that RMS or some other moral soul will come along and make a free alternative to your package. That's fairness.

    Aside from that, you make the basic mistake of thinking "free" means "zero cost" in your last paragraph (as well as, it seems, equating physical and intellectual property rights).

    Creating free software or not is your choice. Ignoring proprietary software is the user's business. Making a free alternative is the moral programmer's business (some feel it's an obligation, but mostly they feel it's their own obligation).

  • Very true.

    However, is this wrong? When looking at it rationally, is Intellectual Property a logical, natural concept, on par with physical property rights?

    However, I think we're coming to a point very soon where IP law is no longer relevant for software. As free software turns out to be better, cheaper, and more attractive to everyone, and increased Internet bandwidth and storage capacity allows piracy to wipe out the ruins of the proprietary software industry, perhaps the battlefield for whether or not IP is a good thing will be in the fields of media and entertainment. Ironic, since these might be some of the only industries even more corrupt and full of artificially inflated profits than software.

    It'll be there, and it'll be fierce. Hopefully, we can emerge with a world where the producer of information is dethroned, and where everybody becomes less of a passive consumer in the process.

    As for software, I hate to be premature, but I think it's already won. We're into the glorious drudgery of finishing up now.

  • I have to hand it to you, Bruce, you shoved some character there. Of course, I kind of thought the problem was evident pretty early on, but still, better late than never.

    Good to see you're back to writing code. I bet ESR hasn't been doing all that much of that lately.
  • by Radagast ( 2416 ) on Monday March 22, 1999 @02:36PM (#1968560) Homepage
    Too bad his position is proven to be what we feared it was. "I fail to see the moral dimension" means that he has no morals in these issues. "A matter of science" is simply misleading. Science has very strong ethical guidelines, first of al, and secondly, it's mostly done for the furtherment of mankind in general, not to (for instance) sell a lot of books about UN*X administration.

    Also, I resent the reference to RMS' position as religious. It's not religious, it's moral and ethical, and it's also consistent and well thought-through. Of course Tim doesn't want RMS to be right, Tim gets all his profits from Intellectual "property" monging, and RMS is staunchly anti-IP, and very good at pointing out why IP is an artificial restriction of people's rights, and has little to do with physical property laws.

    So, Tim has an agenda, and it's all about money. RMS has an agenda too, and it's all about the freedom of the users. You choose which side you're on.

  • by ciurana ( 2603 ) on Monday March 22, 1999 @03:18PM (#1968561) Homepage Journal
    I fully agree with your comments. Let the marketplace, free flow of ideas, and quality speak for what works and what doesn't.

    The marketplace is a wonderful, Darwinian model. Let products, services, etc. flourish. Only the best ones will survive.

    Keep in mind that best can mean a lot of things. WordPerfect has always been a crappy word processor. Yet it had the best customer support and that made it the best-selling program in its class until Microsoft came up with a better one.

    Eugene
    Your mind is your only judge of truth--and if others dissent from your verdict, reality is the court of final appeal. -- Ayn Rand

  • by AMK ( 3114 ) on Monday March 22, 1999 @04:47PM (#1968562) Homepage
    Indeed. I was all for the original creation of the term "open source",
    since it seemed to be a good way to make the idea of free software more palatable to the media and to timid corporate entities.
    But now I'm starting to swing back in the other direction, because people are becoming fixated on "zero-cost", forgetting about the idea of being able to control your computing environment.

    Should write an essay about this...

  • If US Govt. software procurement procedures were amended to favor GPL-ed software over proprietary products, then our taxes would be better spent.
  • by smithdog ( 3152 ) on Monday March 22, 1999 @01:29PM (#1968564)
    Capitalism is an ideology just as is socialism or many of the other *isms. In the US this ideology is so deeply ingrained that most people mistake it for an objective world-view. It certainly is nothing more one of the many ideologies.

    When you read or hear the phrase,
    "Let the marketplace decide."
    substitute the phrase,
    "Let the marketing department with the biggest budget decide for you and I."

    No thanks!
    I value freedom over short-term profits.

    Cheers,
    smithdog
  • but copyright is inimical to the free market. see ipnot [ipnot.org] for an explanation of why.

    it's not surprising that with the force of guns the the government behind them, proprietary software could "beat out" free software.

    by letting the Darwinian model flourish, i hope you don't mean that murder is ok.
    __

  • # RMS doesn't want to force people to write free software either. Neither
    # does he believe it all must be free. This is one of the major
    # misconceptions about RMS.

    What he DOES say is that you cannot mix his free software with yours unless you agree to his terms (i.e., make your software free). He DOES want to force people to write free software in that sense. And this is the primary philosophical differences.

    RMS wants to force people to make free software whenever he can (which is only achieved by the copyleft). He wants everyone to use free software as long as they come into his free software world and don't leave. He wants a separation between free and nonfree software. He want two sets of water fountains, he wants clear delineation between fronts and backs of the bus.

    Me, I just want people to use my software, and to destroy as many barriers to that goal as possible. cf. Artistic License.
  • Nonsense. I don't care what Bruce or Richard would have you believe. For some people and companies -- like Apple and Netscape -- money is an issue. But Tim is defending the Artistic License as much as any in opposition to the GPL, and money is not an issue with that.

    It is not about the money. I don't know why people continue to think that it is. We are dealing with philosophical and religious issues of much higher significance than mammon.

    I am licensing most of my code only under the AL (except code that must be GPL/AL because it may be distributed as part of a larger GPL/AL work) because I do not want to restrict people, period. I want people to use my code. If they want to incorporate it into a pay product, great. Wonderful.

    I don't know how it is reasonable to say this has anything to do with "money talks". And I don't know how the AL resricts anyone's freedom, including the community's.

    You don't have to like the AL. You may believe that all software based on free software in any way should also be free. But this is a religious belief that I and many other people do not share, and it is not about money.
  • Ethics are not illogical. At least, mine are not. I believe only what I can come to logically (to my mind, of course).

    I see with the moral dimension of free software. That said, I have no problem with those who don't. Why should I? I am a Christian, and I do not have a problem with those who don't believe in the inerrancy of Scripture as originally written. I am a Libertarian, and I do not have problem with people who believe that government should take our responsibility away so that government can take care of us.

    Now, I will, of course, argue against opposing views when it is required of me. But people have a right to believe what they want, and they will believe differently. This is one of the constants in life. There is no empirical evidence that shows that Free Software is morally right. It is a philosophical, religious, belief, and one that I mostly agree with.

    But just as Jews and Christians and Mormons and Muslims can get together and do good things in the areas they agree, why is it that we in the free software community cannot do the same?

    I suppose every religion needs its terroristic zealots, but perhaps we can minimize those here in the name of promoting free software.

    I'd rather that RMS, ESR, Tim, etc. just stated their differences and opinions and then we went on our way. To keep drudging up the same disagreements over and again is not, to my mind, useful. Instead we could be promoting the things we do agree on, together.
  • I don't see the morality involved in eating meat. Some people do. I don't see the morality involved in watching TV. Some people do. I don't see the morality involved in driving a gasoline-powered car. Some people do.

    I see the morality involved in abortion. Some people don't. I see the morality involved in free software. Some people don't. I see the morality involved in rooting for the Boston Bruins. Most people don't.

    This is a religious issue. If you resent that, then there's nothing I can do about it. I resent that you say Tim's agenda is all about money. Of course, there's probably nothing you can do about that. :)
  • So because many software companies do what you consider wrong, it is OK for GNU to do the same? Something about two wrongs not making a right comes to mind.

    I think I can blame them for it. However, I normally don't. I just try to disagree and go on my way. You'll notice that most of my comments on the issue are in defense of Tim and non-GPL, not specifically against RMS and GPL. The quote you correctly attributed to me was not meant to be an attack on RMS.

    I notice you did not disagree with what I said, only with the tenor I used. Realize I was not trying to make RMS look bad or attacking him, but only trying to show my perceptions of the reality of his beliefs.

    If you share his belief of free software supremacy, proprietary software bigotry, and separatism of the two, as is your right, then that's fine. I won't vilify you for it (I also probably won't defend you against those who do, but that's OK, plenty of others will). But I want people to understand that the GPL does stand for this kind of separatism and bigotry. If people think that it is good in spite of or because of that, fine.
  • Are you quite finished filling O'Reilly's mouth with words? It sure looks like you've allowed your prejudices to colour your judgement on what is a very innocuous statement to the press.

    While I wouldn't dream of trying to speak for Mr. O'Reilly, did you consider that perhaps his opening statement was merely an attempt to diffuse a potential damaging tone for the article?

    Any reporter calling up O'Reilly or RMS or ESR and asking a question as baited as "focus on how you disagree" is just a few short hops away from a headline like "FREE SOFTWARE COMMUNITY HOPELESSLY DIVIDED" or "PHILOSOPHICAL DISPUTES TO BE THE DOWNFALL OF FREE SOFTWARE?"

    Personal conflicts always make for good stories, I'm sure, and it's a very fine line that these guys have to walk with the press.

    As much as we may try to make this a personal struggle between icons, it's not, and I think it's absurd to try to fault O'Reilly for keeping the discussion in the appropriate arena.

    And for the record, I think his statement is quite accurate. Their beliefs are not as dissimilar as some here would make them out to be.
  • That struck me, too. People have tried to divorce science from ethics - the Nazis, for example.

    It's as if he's saying that ethics are in some way illogical, or that Adam Smith's invisible hand is somehow superior to ethics.

    It just doesn't seem like a very mature viewpoint.

    Bruce>

  • You're not serious. A reasonable person says everyone was crazy, excluding himself alone? I'd think a reasonable person might believe the opposite in that case.

    Bruce

  • I agree with you that ethics are very important. But are they really illogical? Perhaps only if you evaluate them from the standpoint that the inividual is more important than the community?

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • Tim can't see the moral dimension, and he's proud of that?

    Bruce

  • When I write free software, it's because I want there to be more free software. Using a license that would allow someone to take that software private by not releasing their modifications would be counter to that purpose.

    So, I wrote two more GPL-ed programs last week. You'll find them in the "contrib" directory of the next releases of Mailman and Webalizer. How many programs did Tim O'Reilly write last week?

    The BSD license was originaly used because the software was paid for by the U.S. Government, out of our taxes. It made sense for everyone to be able to take that software private. It doesn't make nearly as much sense for my own work.

    Bruce Perens

  • You're not paranoid. It's really happening.

    Bruce

  • I guess you understand why I walked out of OSI, then.

    Bruce

  • I guess a left-handed compliment is better than none.

    I was trying to get Eric to lay off of Stallman for quite a long time, but he acted as if he wasn't really conscious that he was doing it. I tried to get Stallman on to the OSI board, the others opposed that.

    I would never have started to work on Open Source if I'd understood Eric's intentions. Much of his agenda was not stated when he recruited me.

    Bruce

  • by Venomous Louse ( 12488 ) on Monday March 22, 1999 @12:52PM (#1968608)

    He thinks that software should be free, even if its creators don't want it to be. (And so, for example, if you write some piece of software he likes, he thinks it is his right, and perhaps even his obligation, to clone it and make his version free.)

    Is O'Reilly suggesting that Stallman is the only one who thinks we've got a right to clone other peoples' products? I don't think that's the case, because cloning, per se, is as popular among proprietary developers as among free ones. I mean, you'd have to walk an awful damn long way to find anybody at all who'd tell you you don't have a perfect right to clone somebody else's program. (All the way to Cupertino :)

    Hmmph. Given the "And so . . ." there, I was sort of expecting what followed to in some way follow from, or depend on, the first part. The thing is, they're quite unrelated. If Stallman clones proprietary programs, that has nothing to do with making those programs free; he's making clones of those programs free. The original developers can continue to do as they please. GCC or no GCC, a lot of people are making a lot of money selling compilers.

    I'm not quite sure why O'Reilly has this thing going on about Stallman, anyway. [insert standard yeah-i-got-a-shelf-of-O'Reilly-books disclaimer]


    -j
  • Firstly, I'm going to keep an eye on brave GNU world--it looks like another excellent component of GNU's website. gnu.org is now even more a favorite site of mine that it was before.

    Secondly, many thanks to Rob Malda (fear the taco) and Hemos for their recent decision regarding adding moderators. I am pleased I can do something to prevent the USENET effect on /. Once we got over the initial flood of ``gee, I seem to be getting the first post, where is everybody'' the amount of intelligent conversation really seems to have improved (and I'm someone who has my threshold at -99).

    On to the O'Reilly article.

    Some Open Source licenses, such as the Berkeley-style license used by FreeBSD, Apache, the X Window System, and much of the Internet infrastructure software--is truly free. You can do anything you like with it--including building a proprietary derivative that is not free--as long as you acknowledge the copyright of the creator.

    The UC Berkeley licence has a serious problem: it dictates to your marketing strategy. If you intend to follow the licence, you must have a plug to Berkeley in every commercial. Of course, I don't think very many people do; when was the last time you saw it in a Sun commercial? However, I find the BSD licence disturbing because I believe in doing everything as morally and as ethically as possible, and the BSD licence makes that difficult.

    Why do people like O'Reilly like licences such as the MIT licence (or the BSD/Apache/FreeType/&c. licence) which allow you to take formerly open code and turn it into something proprietary and closed? Because it lets you profit from other people's work. Sun Microsystems had a free operating system written for them by UC's bright and young students when they coopted 4BSD for SunOS 2. What did we get back from it? Nothing. In effect, companies, including O'Reilly's organisation, get something for nothing with such licences.

    The GPL prevents this sort of abuse. You're free to take the code, compile it, and sell binaries, but you may not restrict other people's freedom to use what is my code! Likewise, I won't tell you what to do: you don't have to submit patches to me, and you don't even have to follow my dictums for advertising strategy.

    There is also a pragmatic reason (which appears to be O'Reilly's modus operandi for making decisions) for using GNU style licences: it prevents the kind of code forking that's happend with BSD software. Compare SunOS 4.1 and NetBSD: they're quite different and incompatible. The only code fork of which I can think of that has happened to GPLd software is the emacs and xemacs split, which was more due to the different needs of a true X11-based editor and a grid-based text editor.

    Be wary of those who want you to give them something for nothing but who do not give anything back in return. Licence your code with the GPL and rest assured no-one can steal your work or limit your freedom.

    Cheers,
    Joshua.

  • Why do people so obsess over the marketplace? It's as though they feel it embodies everything--reality, morality, existance. It serves to disempower people. When someone believes that something is right not because it is profitable, but because it is right, they are dismissed by the idea of the marketplace. When a people try to decide what they want from their society and economy (often through the government) they are said to hinder the marketplace, as though it has some higher moral standing.

    The marketplace has given us no ideas, no beauty, no creation. People have given us those things--often in disregard of the marketplace which can offer only material rewards.

    I cannot agree more. People have made a god out of the supposed invisible hand of the marketplace. What does opensource have to do with the marketplace? If anything, the marketplace wants GNU copylefted software, not licences that leave you and your code splayed open for anyone to come and take a piece of your software for their own purposes without giving anything back in return. There is much more GPL'd software than MIT-style (or BSD-style, &c.) licenced software.

    The marketplace has spoken. Bow down and do as it speaks. You shall GPL your software. You shall not use BSD licences. The Marketplace Has Spoken.

    If anything, I see a trend away from competitive marketplaces: every large corporation seems to love a lack of competition--witness the recent surge in mergers even though 3 out of 4 mergers by one analyst's analysis are bad for stockholders, the corporation, their employees, and their customers (see recent article in the Journal).

    In a true ``marketplace'', humans should be trafficked like anything else: children bought and sold and slaves available on the open market. After all, that's what people want! Cheap labor is important!

    I do almost all of what I do because I believe it is right--not because I believe it will let me make lots of money or because I believe it will give me an advantage to gain earthly benefit.

    Probably the largest financial transfer in the world--that of parents to their children--takes place outside of the marketplace and is governed only by the law of love. After all, there's no compelling financial interest to feed children, provide them a safe home, spend lots of time with the, give them a good education. &ampc. Why bother? Think about how much more money we could make if we all stopped reproducing!

    I am simply glad there are people like Stallman who realise money is not all there is, and is not even related to happiness.

    Cheers,
    Joshua.

  • Yes, that's true, except that in theory, even if you overwrite as you describe, there is enough residual magnetetic information on the disk that someone who is really determined can still get the information off of it.

    Someone like Drivesavers might be able to do that.

    Using something like /dev/random would be better. Using shred is best. You may want to note that there are actually government standards for erasing sensitive data that programs like shred will often try to meet.
  • tim oriely begins:

    First off, I think that Richard thinks I differ
    from him more than I do.

    How could they differ more - the rest of the article goes on to talk only about the effiency of the open source development model, which RMS attached (quite well) in his critique of the apsl. i think this is just more of the redifining the question to get the answer you want.

Trying to be happy is like trying to build a machine for which the only specification is that it should run noiselessly.

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