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GNU is Not Unix

Richard Stallman Interview 235

Richard Bottoms from LinuxSoft wrote in to say that "Our interview with Richard Stallman is up for those interested in his thoughts on Free Software and freedom. " Its actually one of the better RMS pieces lately. Check out Jay Salzberger's interview if you haven't already as well.
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Richard Stallman Interview

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  • The GNU way would be, if you don't like Richards attitude, simply fix the bug and release the source, because it's 'open'.

    Supplant another GNU spokesman in RMS's stead? Just how feasible is that?
  • He really isn't. Plenty of people, in his time, were writing code and releasing the source for use on the Internet.

    All Stallman did was get on the bandwagon, codify it a bit, formalize the process a bit, and then direct the energies of a bunch of people (who were doing it anyway) towards creating a free Unix.

    Sure, that's a commendable contribution to the computer using community. But on this basis alone, I don't find any reason to accept Stallman's inability to prove the success of his dogma in a business world.

    I think he's gotten on this soapbox because he's lazy. If he were actively writing code and organizing new and exciting projects for the greater good, I'd have an easier time appreciating his perspective.

    For example, if he'd gotten involved in the GNOME or KDE projects, or something similarly needed in the "Liberty Unix" world, then it'd be a hell of a lot easier for a productive person to appreciate his views.

    But as it stands, he's not producing anything other than controversy. In my view, he's the "Dennis Rodman" of the software world, riding whatever controversy he can stir up in order to prolong his 15 minutes of fame and get more face-time in the corporate scope.

    Calling him this doesn't demean the community as a whole. His own free radical inability to communicate his ideals and demonstrate success of his principles of free software ultimately confuse the perception of the free software community in the eyes of investors, marketers and strategists - a lot of whom this industry could actually use.

    Thus, this community need to replace RMS with a re-write.
  • My point was that RMS is, right now, being promoted as a figurehead for the Open Source movement - in magazines and other media, usually in the context of "Linux as a tool for business" or "Linux as a product to invest ___ in", where ___ is either money or other resources.

    And the problem with this positioning of RMS is that he's unable to function in that environment as a reliable and safe source of information.

    It takes but a simple misuse of "Linux" over "GNU/Linux" in an interview to set him off on what is being perceived (and, in alarmist reporter fashion, being *reported*) as a lunatic rant against a product *NAME*. Rather than focussing on what Linux can do as a tool, the media take the easier route - to report about how mad RMS is as a 'leader' of the Open Source revolution.

    This is a tack that requires less study and understanding on a reporters behalf because its about human emotion and reaction, not protocol implementations or reliable performance spec comparisons, etc.

    As a point-of-contact for media types, RMS should not be allowing the media to have the option of taking that easy route - he should be promoting the benefits of the Open Source cause and making headway in terms of establishing 'mindset' in the realm of those being reported to - the readers of the media he's being interviewed by... That's the role of a figurehead/leader type in this modern media-fed world.

    RMS' hissy fits and temper tantrums are not exactly the best way to get the word out there and promote the pro's of Open Source as a movement and tool for business.

    If you're going to be in a position of figurehead, then learn how to play the game of being a figurehead for the cause, rather than being a figurehead for ones own self or ones own moral and philosophical beliefs, which is how RMS comes off 80% of the time. Either that, or create a band of similarly inclined folk, give them a title, and head off in that direction...

    But to presume that anyone in the OSS noosphere these days automatically agree's with his own ideals, and therefore it's acceptable for him to vigorously and millitantly promote them as part of the general OSS "movement", is ludicrous on RMS' part.

    I'm a software developer too, and I have a strong philosophical background myself, with my own set of equally valid and strong morals, but I don't greedily use face-time with reporters in order to propagate those beliefs - I use it to promote my products in order to gain market share and stronger product penetration, to attract more interested parties to the area that my software is attended to address (music/media software tools) - which ultimately results in my philosophical views being represented by the use of those products in the marketplace.

    RMS' over-promotion of his philosophical and moral approach to GNU overshadows the true work that needs to be done - to explain and enlighten the media (and thus, the 'masses') on the pro's of using Linux as a tool for whatever endeavours it fits the role.
  • Yeah, he's really going on and on about how he doesn't think he (er, that is, GNU) is getting the credit they deserve for "so-called Linux".



  • RMS seems like a really smart guy until he opens his mouth.

    Then he starts sounding like that one guy we all knew (gnu?) in high school who seemed really smart about everything except any sort of social interaction. You know, the guy who could code really well and program mandlebradts into his TI-81, but to whom even the geeks wouldn't talk because he was such a pain in the ass?

    Like that guy, Stallman needs to lighten up, maybe talk to some girls or something. I understand that he feels underappreciated for the work that GNU put in before Linux came on the scene, but that's still no excuse to act like a total smeghead.


  • Sure, he can say whatever he wants.

    Just like we can form the opinion that he's turning into (well, has been forever, I guess) an arrogant whiner.

    I don't think that anyone said that we ought to gag RMS to make him shut up, we're just pointing out that he's actively digging his own grave 'o obscurity. Who wants to listen to a crackpot?


  • The cost of SAP, PeopleSoft, and Oracle Financials are dwarfed by the consulting fees that purchasers pay out to consultants to install and configure it. Also, the fact that huge corporations are willing to pay for the software, doesn't mean that it cannot be free. An industry consortium could collectively fund the development, with the result being free software.
  • While Richard Stallman doesn't control Debian, I would like to point out that the Free Software Foundation (which he is the president of) did provide early funding and support for the Debian project. In light of this, I think saying a "user and nothing more" is not warranted.

    The Free Software Foundation also runs other free operating systems besides Debian GNU/Linux on their machines. For example, NetBSD. So they are not exclusively Debian users.

  • Your own belief in free speech apparently does not extend to allowing Richard Stallman to say what he thinks.

    More importantly, Richard Stallman is not aiming to take away your freedom to call the system whatever you want. He is simply making his argument in an attempt to convince you do see things his way and to call it GNU/Linux voluntarily. This is a far cry from how proprietary software vendors operate.
  • You seem to think that freedom also equates to not having to listen to opinions which make you uncomfortable.

  • Linux is not an OS. Linux is a kernel. Your analogy is correct - you say "I run Mac OS X" or "I run Windows 95," not "I run win32" or "I run Mach." Calling the GNU/Linux OS "Linux" would be as preposterous as calling Mac OS X "Mach."
  • Read it again. He did not mean "taking" as "stealing," he meant it exactly as it is written. The various GNU/Linux OS makers did take the GNU system, combine it with the Linux kernel, and release it as a complete OS. They took it, but did not steal it.
  • Why is an obvious flame and ad hominem attack, with very little real content, promoted to 4? I thought moderation was supposed to be based on the content of the posts, not the bias of the moderators.
  • Bruce Perens's Open Source Definition (and the nearly identical Debian Free Software Guidelines) are perfectly fine - they are completely in concurrence with the ideals and goals of Free Software. The problem arises when licenses which are clearly not Free Software, such as the first version of the APSL, are certified as Open Source. If the APSL is indeed Open Source, it is still not Free Software, so it does a good job of highlighting the difference between the two terms.
  • It is the GNU System. The GNU project has been developing it since the mid-80s, and the only portion still not finished in the kernel. Since the kernel is still in the development stages, you can use the Linux kernel together with the rest of the GNU OS to get a stable, working OS today. Either that, or you can wait for the GNU OS to be completely finished, and just use that.
  • Just finish HURD! Drop this "Name The OS" crap! Let it go!

    I still luv RMS, but this has gotten out of hand. Too many people take this "controversy" as some sort of license (no pun intended) to tee off on the old guy. It's time for us to move on. That includes you too, Brother Stallman.


  • Everything is politics-related. Just because everyone is apathetic doesn't mean "political BS" wasn't involved - it just means they've tuned out the BS and harbor the delusion that the status quo merely landed on their doorstep. Maybe it came by divine fiat or something.

    Businesses explicitly buy into the BS when they're offered goodies by pols - payroll tax cuts, for instance, or a look-the-other-way ethos towards regulation, as some US locales (and many Third World countries do). They buy into the glorification of business by politicians; they even shell out campaign bucks to the pols who brown-nose the best.

    If you think "People and businesses don't buy political BS", then you've probably swallowed a truckload of it. Your little piece of folk "wisdom" only shows that you don't have the wherewithal to pursue the causes and the effects. You must be an American.


  • Why does the average computer user need free software? By his definition, free software is freedom to customize the software to do as you wish.

    It means the software is free, as in wild horses.

    This means source code must be modified. Since when is programming a simple skill that anyone can learn, or would want to? The average computer user needs to be able to do their email, web browsing, word processing, and maybe some accounting. As long as they are not restricted by the capabilities in the current choices for these programs, RMS is wasting his breath and our time.

    The average user doesn't exist in a vacuum. There might be a case where that user's neighbor, cousin, barber, or priest is savvy enough to make sense of the code; there might be a desire, a year or two down the road, where that user might want new functionality for a piece of software. In the proprietary model, he/she would have to buy an upgrade or a competing product, and still not be satisfied. If the desired new functionality were just something that could have been hacked (by the barber) using the existing code, it would come faster and in a made-to-order fashion.

    So there's one impromptu example of the usefulness of sharing the code. As far as "RMS wasting his breath", he only wastes it when he obsesses about the name of Linux. His other efforts seem more oriented towards keeping those wild horses free. It's not necessarily about winning popularity contests or gaining acceptance from a hostile audience. It's about the horses.

    Disclaimer: I really need my nap :)


  • >I personally like not having to worry about restrictions being placed on me by other people.

    But you mention working. Doesn't your employer place restrictions on you, basically requiring your butt be on a chair at their place for ~40 hours a week? Doesn't he/she specify what you must working on during that time? In exchange, you get something of value (salary), just as you get the use of the software in exchange for agreeing not to distribute it and paying a share of the development costs.

    If you don't like the deal, don't take it.

    And ever see "No trespassing" signs? Physical property (real estate) imposes a heck of a lot of restrictions on freedom for all of us.

    P.S. I wonder how many IP-haters would change their mind once it became apparent that movies like Star Wars would no longer be made without IP laws...
  • >I'm starting to think that Richard actually hates Linus so much that any word that sounds like Linus is repugnant to him. Either that, or this is another hoax.

    I doubt it's so much hate of Linus as it is vehement disagreement with Linus's publicly stated position on intellectual property. I could see that it would be rather galling if you spent years on a project that in large part was meant to spread your philosophy, and then the other fellow comes along, provides a key component to the project, is the person most closely associated with the project -- including the name tie-in -- but he doesn't buy in to your philosophy.

    I must admit that Richard is consistent with his philosophy: no job, no kids, few possessions -- none of those things that restrict the freedoms of most of us at some point in our lives.
  • >In the spirit of April 1st questioning everything ... Are you sure Linux isn't what he had in mind all along?

    Even if was, it's irrelevant, since Linus was perfectly within his rights to name the kernel whatever he wanted. Naming the whole system after the kernel was a shortcut taken thereafter.

    Subsuming Linux into GNU, however, seems like *intentionally* trying to transfer the credit the other way.
  • >GCC and G++ may be the main C/C++ compilers available for Linux right now, but who's to say that Imprise/Borland won't port over C++ Builder one day?

    Metrowerks CodeWarrior for Linux is already in beta. If it's as good as their Mac compiler, it has better template handling than egcs.

    Also, a compiler is a tool for building an OS, not an OS itself. You use hammers to build houses, but a hammer is not part of the house. Likewise gzip and tar are tools for installing an OS, again not part of the OS itself.
  • One thing that few people have commented on is the fact that some software just won't ever be free. If free software comes about because it scratches a developer's "itch," as ESR puts it, then what developer in the world would have the "itch" to create a totally free supply-chain management application on an IBM S/390?
    Not everything has been created because of an itch. There has to be some motivation, but it isn't always an I-need-to-have-this-software sort of motivation. GNU is the most prominant example of this -- a lot of software written under the GNU name is boring software that no one was itching to write. But people wrote it anyway because they believed in the ideals of GNU. That's why the GNU contribution has been so important.

    OTOH I couldn't care the least if no one volunteers to make corporate software. And so SMP support in Linux doesn't excite me, nor do the Big Databases.

  • My point is RMS has no right to hoard all the credit anymore than anyone else does.

    Does RMS ever ask anything to be named after himself? He wants GNU to get some of the credit it deserves, as well as let new and potential users understand that GNU is a significant part of Linux. GNU is a lot of people, most of which seem to be pretty quiet. But most of them worked for the GNU ideal, and that ideal deserves a bit of credit, a bit of publicity.

  • If you want to be legalistic about it, I suppose there isn't a difference. But the emphasis on legalism distracts from the real point.

    There is a big philosophical difference between the two. For Free Software the license issue is largely solved -- GPL -- but for Open Source it's a constantly renewed question.

    So, if I was going to make a list of criteria for a Free Software license, it would be: It should be the GPL, or LGPL if there's a compelling reason. So simple, leads to little confusion, will not cause dillution...

    Of course, that's just me.

  • I have heard from RMS that the FSF encourages individual people to hold the copyrights of software so that if the FSF was sued or some such thing then the software would not be in danger as no one person held the copyrights - you can't sue the masses.
    The opposite, actually. The FSF asks that anyone contributing significantly (10 lines of code?) to a project distributed by GNU/FSF assign copyright to the FSF. Of course, you don't have to do this. But they are pretty strict about not distributing your patch/fix/extension unless you do assign copyright.

    They do this because they feel they can better defend the license if they hold complete copyright over a piece of code -- i.e., if someone inappropriately uses some GNU GPLed code the FSF can sue them and they don't need to collect all the original authors for the suit. It's strictly for legal, not philosophical reasons.

    ...after all the first word in the license is GNU.
    Actually GPL stands for General Public License.
  • Still, I can sympathize with RMS feeling that Linus is getting all the glory, and certainly he could publically share a little more credit.
    I don't think I've seen RMS ever mention a problem with Linus, but rather with Linux. And though he has at times wanted a bit of credit, he's never asked for his name to be used anywhere -- only GNU. There is real political issues here, and GNU is the most political of all the various Free Software groups.

    Wouldn't you be annoyed if you and a group of other people worked long and hard, doing as much work as the Linux kernel people, the distribution people, and all the other people who brand Linux, but the name of your group never showed up anywhere? Might almost be enough to make you wish you had a BSD license... :P

    (And to his credit, Linux was named after Linus, not by him)

  • RMS needs to stop using the word free in his interviews. The word free hangs over every one of his interviews. They should be the Liberty Software Foundation. He should say that the GNU System, his new way to railroad Linux's name, is a libery OS. It guarentees your freedom. I usually don't like his interviews. He tends to focus on the name. Now he is attacking the freedom/free beer problem. I think he is doomed until he changes the word.

    (Of course, when I first saw the story, I wanted to know what the joke was.)
  • Lets say you buy a license for a piece of software
    that has an expiration date
    and every year you need to renew the license
    Then the company that makes the software
    goes out of business or you forget to renew the license

    What are you stuck with now, bits that do nothing.

    This happened recently at my work
    The compilers, f77, f90, cc all had the licenses run out
    People using those programs very quickly got extremely unproductive (and annoyed too)
    While other people using GNU free alternatives did not experience this problem

    I personally like not having to worry about
    restrictions being placed on me by other people

  • Check out the reports of interviews & appearances. He interrupts to "correct" those who say "Linux," and refuses to answer questions when someone doesn't use his version.
  • Note: I am *not* writing this to knock g77.

    g77 still relies on gcc and c optimization. Also, it is incomplete. It seems to me that it is missing support for parts of f77, though I forget which. And it only has tidbits of f90, missing showstoppers such as operations on full matrices, WHERE, and other things that new fortran work is likeley to use on a daily basis.

    Current projects that don't need either the modern fortran features or hard-core optimizing are unlikely to choose fortran for the language. Part of Fortran's ability to optimize come from what is left *out*, allowing the compiler to make assumptions that would range from invalid to fatal in c. Dynamic binding of functions, arrays of pointers (though f95 got these), and the like.

  • Not answering questions can be classified as simply bizarre/eccentric/whatever.

    Interrupting another speaker is not free speech, but the interference with the other speaker's speech.

  • If your application really calls for fortran, gcc is not a substitute in that usage, nor are any of the free fortran-like programss (g77, f2c . . .). Fortran is generally used for it's numeric optimizations; while a good c compiler can sometimes produce comparable performance, this only happens after hand-optimization.
  • Perhaps you should put a little (US) next to liberal, too.

    In the US, it has come to mean dogmatic moral relativist (which itself sounds pretty silly, which explains quite a bit), in Europe it's closer to what you're calling "anarchist / libertarian socialist"

    And, "Libertarian (US) / anarcho-capitalist" don't really have anything to do with each other unless you're Ayn Rand. The idea of anarchy / capitalism is a bit of an oxymoron. In order to have capital, the establishment of what capital is (Laws pertaining to property rights) are required. And, in order to maintain individual liberty, it needs to be protected.

    I think they should draw a box:

    <-- (economic freedom)
    2 1


    5 4
    (social freedom) -->

    6 Oustide the box
    7 I'm a bitter little ball of flaming and whining

    2 is economic freedom,
    4 is social freedom,
    5 is no freedom,
    1 is both economic freedom and social freedom,
    3 is centrist (let's all just compromise!!),
    6 is anarchist (laws are evil, leave me alone),
    7 is self-explanatory. :)

    Click on which most closely matches.

    (you'll have to use a bit of imagination on the box part.. I tried to draw one, but it just didn't want to be formatted nicely.)

  • (And to his credit, Linux was named after Linus, not by him)
    In the spirit of April 1st questioning everything ... Are you sure Linux isn't what he had in mind all along? The name Freax brings to mind the product naming meeting in Dilbert's tv launch. "No, your choices are always real.. " ;)
  • He twists the definition of "freedom" to mean that "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" just like Karl Marx.

    His attitude is "power to the proletariat" as long as he is the Premier.
    Nowhere in his writings or interviews have I seen the comment that everyone should be forced to code (or write documentation, or spout propaganda) as much as they are able. Cooperating for free does not make communism.

    When early settler farmers in the US got together and built barns, they did not have a MacroBarn Corporation. Perhaps if Bill Gates had been around, he would have been able to pull something off where he built all the barns, had it made illegal to modify them, or to share the design with a neighbor who wanted to build his own.

    Instead, they, the farmers, worked together to help make their own. This from what has been hailed as the Free world. The anti-communism. Notice that no one was forced to help, and no one was forced to give up anything to use the Barn for as long as it stood upright.

    Regarding the "personal glory" aspect, RMS has gone to *great* lengths to codify his philosophies along with detailed explanations of *why* he believed in them.

    Contrast this to ESR, who writes eloquently, but has a wheeling-dealing tendency.. And when criticized, instead of fighting reason with reason, talks about resigning, and calls into question the public discussion of the matters at hand. This isn't meant as an attack on ESR, but to show a concrete example of how RMS has gone to lengths to document what his ideals, instead of "The rules today are what I say they are"

  • If RMS were truly interested in free software and not in shameless self-promotion, he'd be less interested in what it's called, who wrote it and who gets credit for it than whether or not it's free software.
    If Studmonkey were truly interested in RMS's intentions, he would notice that in order for large free software projects to be self-sustaining, they need users, developers, and the guarantee that the code will stay free. GNU thus far has been demonstrably successful at this.. but in order to remain so it needs to be noticed, not just pushed under an opaque layer of freedom-subtracting add-ons that do their best to make people never realize tha freedom is possible.

    RMS is doing his best to keep momentum going in the free direction by keeping attention focused on it. I do agree with you that that saying "G-noo slash Linux" is silly, and generally not worth the all the fuss it has been stirring up. I consider it taken somewhat in desperation over the turn things have taken lately, and even as such, not something that even comes close to cancelling out the huge benefits GNU has bestowed upon us. And, the price of freedom *is* eternal vigilance...

    I think the "We include credit for ..." postings that had Linux implicity including credit for GNU have the right idea. Then you can see that as the boiler-plate prepended to every single intro article "The free unix-like operating system written by a college student in finland ... In order to work its magic, it uses the potent reagents of GNU, XFree86, and <insert your project of great importance here>"

  • Although the kernel is GPL'ed, the FSF does not own the copywright. The FSF insists on owning the copywright for all the code. You can get it straight from the horses mouth here [gnu.org].
    Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.
  • On the contrary. Linux is not an OS; Linux is a kernel. The kernel by itself won't even boot you up to the point of being able to log in. You need utilities, libraries, and so forth in order to make up a usable OS.

    A distribution is an OS. Debian GNU/Linux is an OS. Red Hat Linux is an OS. Slackware Linux The fact that these OSes have the word "Linux" in their names does not mean that Linux itself is an OS.

    By way of comparison ... Turbo Pascal for DOS is a development environment. Pascal is a language. Pascal by itself isn't a development environment. In fact, even a Pascal compiler by itself isn't.

    The most famous part of a system does not equal the whole system.
  • OS: Operating System.

    I take this to mean a system with which I can operate my computer--more generally, a small set of code chunks which together will allow me to bootstrap an operating system onto my computer. In the case of Linux, this probably means the kernel, shellutils and fileutils, getty and login, gzip and tar, and probably ftp, along with some system-specific stuff (mk*fs for example). [ actually, the programs might be statically linked so there would be a little libc in all of them and we could drop it ;) ] This set of code is certainly not a bare kernel and probably has a significant FSF contribution, not to mention GNU. It's certainly not just Linux. Linux by itself doesn't let me operate a computer at all, unless you count turning it on and saying "It runs!". :-) The other option is to take everything on the computer and cram it into the OS; I don't like this but it makes sense then to call it Debian. In fact, we have three levels of size here--distribution, OS, kernel. Debian GNU/Linux.
    The three levels just happen to be separate here (as opposed to how things work in proprietary systems and *BSD), so it's not surprising that people get the term "operating system" mixed up with the other two. (probably the earlier MS-DOS versions were just operating systems and kernels..they came on a few floppys, as I recall, and provided a minimal set of utilities--copy, dir, etc. These days, Microsoft is basically producing a distribution)
    That said, I call the whole mess Linux just because the GNU/ part is not significant for compatibility (since all systems are GNU), the Debian part is only slightly significant, most people look blank if I tell them I use GNU or Debian, and Linux is shorter. :-)

  • <cynicism>

    I can see you haven't grasped the most essential point of human interaction:
    Stallman's ideas are unpopular. Therefore it is perfectly legitimate for people to attack and discredit him in any way that they feel necessary so that they don't have to be bothered with him any more. Blatant misrepresentations of his statements and flat-out character assasination are perfectly legitimate.



  • That owuld work better if those were non-intersecting groups (eg, militia seems to be a subset of libertarian, while communist would be a subset of socialist and socialist would be a subset of liberal, and those are only the easy cases..)

  • I'm sorry, but are we supposed to pray to him to not lead us into (Oracle) temptation, and deliver us from evil (corporations/proprietary code/calling Linux Linux)?

    Hmm, where have I heard that before.... religion class! I think they called it "The Lord's Prayer". Am I the only ex-Catholic who noticed this?

    Doesn't this seem a little, well funny for a rational person? Why yes, Bob, in any other human being, you'd say it was a Messiah complex. But RMS is different they say. How? He has integrity, and is willing to live his life that way. So do cannibals. There are plenty of functional nuts who believe in what they do. It doesn't make them RIGHT. Logic is NOT just for CODE, people.

    Do you need to wait until he sticks his hand in his jacket and annouces he's invading Russia for somebody to see he's off the bloody deep end?

    Substitute "Bill Gates" for RMS and "competition" for philosophy and the posts that defend him uncritically would sound like a ZD Talkback forum where people root for "MS ability to innovate".
  • It seems to me most of the people (including myself) who disagree with him actually take pains to point out that they're appreciative of the work he's done. He is clearly getting plenty of recognition; if he wasn't he wouldn't be the subject of so many interviews, would he? Isn't that recognition? What definition would you use?

    He deliberately uses terms such as slavery to demean people/companies/concepts he doesn't agree with. Do you think anyone who's experienced REAL slavery would equate it with using Oracle? Oh sorry, I forgot you can actually make a living doing Oracle admin - at $90/hr! Some slavery huh?

    While calling him a crackpot doesn't help anything, you can't expect people to listen to what amounts to an insult of your intelligence without getting something of that back. Y'know, like instant karma gonna get you.

    What moderately intelligent adult is worried that Oracle will "tempt" him or her into buying it? What is this, Eve with an apple? We shouldn't be allowed to make that choice? If it's not crazy, it's certainly not freedom, either.
  • I don't NEED to be free to modify Oracle. I need to be free to decide whether or not I can use it, and if you accept their terms, fine. If not, fine, you're free to wait for a "free" alternative. I don't need anyone to keep "the temptation" of using it from me. I can make the decision based on my own needs. That's freedom.

    If you want to be a slave to passion and develop a free Oracle clone the existence of a non-free Oracle shouldn't stop you, because that version doesn't exist for you.

    Oracle isn't denying anyone's freedom by not releasing their source. This concept is simply wrong and is used to justify a desire to remove the options (sometimes know as freedom of action) from people who don't agree with your political viewpoint because you don't actually have much faith in the process you espouse. If you did, you wouldn't worry that the existence of "non-free" apps would "naturally" create complacency. Why "naturally"? Your acknowledgement of that strikes at the heart of the argument. It's natural for people to not want to do work that's already done, or we'd all still be busy inventing wheels.

    As for Oracle and your "hacker" (can't anybody just be a programmer anymore?), simply put you have no right to demand other peoples property! It's theirs to give you or not. Enforced virtue is no virtue at all. It's like the Jon Katz thing, if you don't like his content or terms just don't follow the link, or don't buy his book. If it's not about money, then just tell the Oracle folks you'll buy their stuff if they provide the source or tools you want. If they get enough people doing this, they'll give it up. Or they'll be free to decline your business.

    Besides, the whole concept is a moot point for anyone outside the small subset of computer users who are competent programmers. So this "freedom" is only for us high priests; the vast majority of users will never know it anyway. Why deny them the opportunity to buy what they want? What kind of freedom is that?
  • Re: point #1: You said no one would have the "itch" to write a Free ERP package. An announcement is all that is needed to disprove that. The fact that there is no code is irrelevant.

    Re: point #2: is a question which asks me to engage in conjecture, not a statement with which I can agree or disagree.

    Re: point #3: As to the fact that the announcement says that they are targetting small to medium sized companies is irrelevant. You are trying to narrow your original definitions.

    Also, there seems to still be some confusion between "Free" and "free". "Free" means that users are not restricted in what they do with the software. "free" means for no remuneration. As I said, I write Free software that is not free.

    Finally, thanks but this this not my project. When I read your original letter I thought "that can't be right" so I went to Dogpile and searched for "GPL" and "ERP". The project announcement was the first item that came up.

    By the way, the first two people I mentioned this project to develop banking software during the day and have already written at least one general ledger. They are both enthusiastic about the possibilities and asked me to send them copies of the announcement.

    Why are they interested? Because they see an opportunity to collaborate with others for "free" to produce a base package they don't have the resources to complete themselves which they are then "Free" to customize for paying customers.

    The reason that the customer will be willing to pay for Free software from a small company rather than SAP/BAAN/PeopleSoft is that for the comparitively small price of some custom programming (and as you pointed out, all ERP packages require customization) they meet their needs and have complete control over their futures.

    The fact that they have the source code frees the company from being at the mercy of a vendor. For example, support cannot be used as a lever to coerce them into pointless and expensive upgrades. Instead, the company can play one consulting firm off another to get the best deal.

  • See http://acsys.anu.edu.au/~tpot/hypermail/cola/1334. html for an announcement of a free ERP project.

    Also, "Free Software" doesn't mean "no charge software". All the code my company writes is Free Software but we charge for it.

  • Sorry to be such a Marxist about this, but slavery has nothing to do with compensation. It has do with free will and the absence of, yes, freedom.
    Oracle is non-free. Administers of Oracle may recieve high salaries, but few of them have the freedom to modify Oracle and distribute those modifications. To deny a hacker the freedom to modify and create programming tools, is to deny her freedom.
    Oracle is positioning itself as a standard-- a closed standard. Such a standard in the Linux world will naturally create complacency and draw resources away from efforts to create a free alternative.
    A lot of people have turned to Linux for purely selfish reasons-- Linux was and continues to be more stable than its major competion: Windows 95/98/NT. These same people could care less about the philosophy of free software.
    To those who insist on equating slavery with iron manacles and the middle passage: many philosphers have talked of "being slaves to passion," and "slavish devotion" is not an uncommon turn of phrase.
  • RMS must not believe in free speech since he disagrees with others who are exercising their free speech right to call it just "Linux".

    How does disagreeing with others who are excercising their free speech right, makes him not believe in free speech? In other words since when disagreeing means prohibiting free speech? Think about it.
  • If RMS wants a GNU distribution, he can do one. But for him to insist that all other distributions be called GNU, not Linux, is beyond reason. Why not GNU/Solaris? Why not GNU/Freebsd?
  • If you were to make a listing of the criteria required by a free software license, how would it differ from the Open Source Definition? If you can't answer this question, then you have no reason to claim that Open Source differs from free software.


  • What gives him the right to make a statement like that?
    Free speech. Please read my post before responding to it.
  • Haha because that would cover all of about 3% of the GNU/Linux users. I guess I could say I use the used-to-be-Slackware-about-a-year-ago-before-I-cle aned-everything-off-and-borrowed-stuff-f rom-about-4-different-distributions-and-wrote-my-o wn-software operating system, but it's even harder to say than GNU/Linux I'm afraid.
  • Isn't part of freedom the freedom to call a given piece of software whatever the hell **I** want to?
    Yes, he's many times before that he doesn't want to, and can't, force people to call it GNU/Linux. He's aggressive, but he's not forcing you. It would seem odd that you would have a problem with *him* calling it whatever he wants, though. In this interview, there was *none* of his infamous "call it GNU/Linux or I won't listen to you" talk, but rather he simply called it what he wanted to call it. Just because you don't agree with him, doesn't mean you can force him to call what you want.

    Oh gee doesn't this agrument sound familiar.
  • It's colonel, as in Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.

  • i agree. personally, i think he's right. he did get shit on. i couldn't do what he did, which is basically starve so that we could be free, so i can't take anything away from him. i'm enjoying the benefit of his work and i ain't done shit!

    "The lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincingly hidden between two truths."
  • I'm told he had a grilfiend once.
  • Okay, what's the problem with g77? It is a native compiler from (fairly standard) Fortran 77 to native code. It's not a converter to C.
  • If you think that, you _still_ don't get RMS's point.

  • One reason why a single company cannot make an OS as well as applications for their OS.

    Because if their operating system becomes ubiquitous, then they can use their knowledge of the operating system to shut out competitors that encroach upon them.

    What it really comes down to is that no one company should own the operating system that most people use. It should be owned by the community. That is the only way to avoid a monopoly, because the lines between what an operating system is and what its applications are can get very blurred.
  • > The term "software piracy" is considered
    > inappropriate because illegal copying of
    > software is not comparable to robbery of a ship
    > at sea.

    > Using propriety software, however, is comparable
    > to "slavery".

    Note that the former metaphor is implicit, the latter is explicit (a simile, really).

    What's so insidious about the former is that it is the normal term used in this case. Anyone using has to incorporate the implicit metaphor into their mental framework, and it DOES colour your thinking.

    As for the latter, even RMS doesn't use "slavery" as a normal term for proprietary software. There, even he uses the (relatively) neutral term.

    Explicit metaphors influence people's thinking too, of course, but they sink in at a much more conscious level, giving you a better opportunity to think about it and say, "hey, that really isn't right..." (as you did)
  • Perhaps it is slightly "better" to give than receive, but both of these words imply a kind of disrespect of others, a kind of something-for-nothing shell game. I prefer a third alternative, one that respects the rights of all those involved: free, voluntary trade of value for value.

  • Just call the whole thing "NotBob"

    (BTW, anyone know where I can get a copy of Bob?)

  • I think by calling RMS a crackpot or a crazy only serves to demean our community as a whole.

    Right on. If there is anybody the Free Software community, or society as a whole should be paying more attention to, it's RMS. This recent bashing makes me think people are forgetting what this whole big thing is all about, and how much non-free solutions hurt people.

    It's simply due to short-term thinking, a problem that is affecting not only Free Software, but everywhere in society. Everybody wants what suits them best, right now, everybody and everything else be damned. Selfish, is what I call it.
  • All the site was designed to show was, how much of a typical Linux system is actually GNU code. Because Stallman claims that more or less all the important stuff save for the kernel is GNU.
    Now, it seems to me they didn't do a bad job of showing that there is a lot of other code there that has nothing to do with GNU. They weren't arguing what Linux should be called; just that the justification for Stallman's claim was off-base.

    I don't think one can argue that GPL'ed code becomes part of GNU. The GPL is just what it says, a license. Am I wrong in thinking that FSF = GNU, and vice versa? Anyway, the kernel itself is GPL'ed, so by that logic, we should just call it GNU.
  • I recall seeing an analysis of an actual Linux system not so long ago, that displayed the percentage of programs orginating from each code base -- GNU, BSD and so on. What struck me was, that while some of the most important stuff was GNU, it was by no means even the largest %. Anyone see this too? Got a URL maybe?
  • If Studmonkey were truly interested in RMS's intentions, he would notice that in order for large free software projects to be self-sustaining, they need users, developers, and the guarantee that the code will stay free.

    And promoting Linux as a free, open source project would serve exactly that purpose. Insisting that it be named GNU/Linux simply because it makes use of GNU software (even heavy use of GNU software) makes GNU look like a collection of egomaniacs who want credit for writing software, not a community of revolutionaries who truly believe in free software.
  • If RMS were truly interested in free software and not in shameless self-promotion, he'd be less interested in what it's called, who wrote it and who gets credit for it than whether or not it's free software.

    April Fool's or not, this stupid GNU vs. Linux argument is really getting on my nerves.

  • Not all ERP systems needs customizations,I have installed several unmodified systems to customers. Most of them are satisfied with using the standard since it makes it easier to later upgrade (financials needs to be up to date they say :) )

    To write a Free ERP is a task that will be what you makes it to be. You could writte for just a specific market or try to make a new SAP R/3 (which I don't recommend *s*)

    One major problem with a Free ERP is that I think very few corporations are willing to take a chance with a new ERP system, not tested or anything else. Nad you can't sell a ERP system and don't have all parts working by the time.

    ERP isn't easy ,it takes a long time to develope and test.

  • "The same thing that gives you the right to state your opinions. If you can work out what that is, just recognise the same rights for him."

    Hmmm... /. posts seem to have an interesting way of obscuring the meaning of one's words. I never said he can't state his oppinion. If it seemed that way, my mistake. However, this is really far from the point I was attempting to make.

    "But of course he insists that he's right and that people who disagree with him are wrong - by definition his views are the ones that he considers to be right. Just like you insist that you're right and he's wrong. "

    Quite true. But I am not going about telling the world they should be calling a product something else. I'm not calling everyone else down for not calling it what *I* think it should be called. I'm just saying that I think it should be called "Linux" for a number of reasons that are important to me. I am also saying he can call it whatever he wants, but should afford that same right to others instead of correcting them every time they say "Linux" rather then "GNU/Linux" or "The GNU System". As has been reported here and in other places. I have never spoken to him myself, but the GNU press releases and various interviews have him consistantly acting in this manner.

    "Do you seriously believe that Linux / Free Software / whatever you believe in is in danger from it being found out that people in the movement (even prominent people) act like humans? "

    There is a difference between acting like a human and acting like a spoiled, petty, child. To have a professional disagreement is one thing. To run about causing all the noise RMS has is another. This is, of course, my oppinion and you may feel differently.

    As to the bit about Linux/Free software being in danger. It is, if the goal is mainstream acceptance. If the goal is free software for the sake of free software, then I doubt it will ever be in real danger. It's a matter of perspectives. I would like to see free software and Linux become accepted in the industry at large. Perhaps so far as to be the "standard". I have purely selfish reasons for wanting this, like being able to work on STABLE systems for a change. NT is driving me crazy.

    "Like i said, i think he should give up on the name because "Linux" has too much momentum as the name for the system, not just the kernel, for him to succeed. but important as he and the FSF are to the movement, I think the idea that the movement will be wrecked by his views on the name is totally implausible."

    Fans of OS/2 didn't see it getting marginalized at it's peak either. A few key mistakes by IBM killed it, as a mainstream product. It was "implausible" to us that a great product would be basicly killed by a few mistakes. It was.

    And it's not his views on the name I'm concerned with. It's his behaviour regarding his views on the name. I don't think it matters what anyone calls it, if you want to run arround calling it "StupidiX", fine. But to cause this uproar over such a silly, petty, thing as the name, makes us all look bad. Remember, the people making the decisions on what software to deploy are PHBs. They know only what they read in the papers. To see this going on sends the message that we can't even figgure out what to call the damn thing, how could we write decent software?. This damages the credibility of Free Software and Linux in thier eyes. Those who know the benefits of Free Software and Linux are not the people we need to convince. It's the people that sign the checks, the PHBs.
  • I don't recall the poster saying that RMS can't call it whatever he wants. He objects to RMS spouting off about it to the press. It doesn't help that he is saying stuff like: "The GNU system, whether you call it GNU or whether you think it's Linux". THINK it's Linux?? The world has been calling it that for YEARS. What gives him the right to make a statement like that? This is basicly saying that it's not Linux, and nobody should be calling it that.

    Now, that said, I will be the first in line to praise RMS for what he has accomplished. All the GNU tools are great, I use them and like them. And if he wants to reffer to Linux as GNU/Linux or "The GNU system", then more power to him. I object to his insistance that the rest of us are wrong and HE is right, that HE should set the name for this system.

    At this late satge of the game this type of thing is dissasterous. Regardless of your stance on the name issue, this infighting makes all of us look like petty, stupid children. The press is going to pick up on this and it could deal a nasty blow to the Linux momentum. I can see the M$ FUD now, "Linux is going to splinter just like the old UNIX systems, then you will have to worry about all kinds of incompatibilities. With M$ software you don't have that problem, we control it all."

    If RMS wants to kill the free software movement, this is a damn good way to start. If he really wanted it called GNU/Linux or whatever, he should have said something in the begining, before we started gaining market acceptance. It's too late now. We need to project an image of unity to the outside world. We need to show them we can avoid the problems that created all those different, incompatible UNIX systems, and to some degree the different flavors of BSD. Or we lose.

    Is the goal here Freedom? "World Dommination"? If we are to get there, we need to be able to grant everyone the freedom to call it what they want. If Debian wants to call it GNU/Linux, fine. But those who want to call it that need to grant the same right to those of us who preffer "Linux". There is room for everyone. But this petty squabling needs to come to an end.
  • I want to say "gunnew" because if you say it
    "gnu" it sounds like "new" which doesn't really
    help the cause (the OS is MATURE.) But
    GUN-NEW sounds STUPID in my dialect of English.
    I just don't like it for Aesthetic reasons, not

    Mr. Stallman, do you want FREEDOM, or do you
    want CONTROL? I don't think you get both in the same word.

  • Another thing, RMS is right when he says free software has nothing to do with money. You mention purchasing a FTP program for $100. Well you still can purchase a free software FTP program for $100. If I create a GPL FTP program and you wish to buy it and I ask for $100, you either have to give me the money or you don't get the software. Even if this software is around on the internet, or whatever (and you still for some odd reason want it from me). Even if I have an internet connection and I could let you download it in 5 minutes. GNU does not impose rules against software distribution cost. But, it does give freedoms when you receive my software. Once I give you my FTP program for $100 and (provided its GPL) you can redistribute it over the internet, modify it and give it to friends, etc. You can even charge a distribution cost from the software I created (this is what Red Hat does.. but they also provide tech support as an extra service).
    Also, I must allow you access to source code when you give me the $100.

    That is all nice and well in an ideal world. The question I'm wondering about though is this:

    Supposed you do sell your GPL'ed FTP program. You sell it once. What on earth is stopping the rest of the world from getting it from the first buyer - without you ever seeing a $ again? The GPL allows this and it's one of its strengths, no doubt. But to actually expect being able to make money from selling GPL'ed code (I mean from selling the code itself, not from distributing, supporting, etc.pp.) seems slightly naive to me (or let's say: idealistic). Nonetheless - I'm glad GPL/GNU exist, that's for sure, but I'm not so sure if GPL can realistically be seen as not related to the money problem at all.

  • Funny that - judging by the German "Liberal Party" (F.D.P.), I'd think "liberals" to be extreme capitalists - nothing could be further from communism of socialism...


    P.S.: Where were the "Greens" in the poll list?!

  • On the interrupting, you obviously have a different notion of free speech to me. Do you seriously feel that freedom of speech is violated every time someone is interrupted?

    Most certainly yes! If somebody consistently interrupts me to correct me, (s)he is obviously trying to change what I'm saying - thus curtailing my right of free speech.
    Mind you: Constantly interrupting somebody to "correct" someone is a hell of a lot different from letting the person finish and then saying something along the lines of "I think it should be... , but ..." and then answering, don't you think? The latter, while probably annoying over time, is free speech, the former is a rude attempt to limit someone's free speech.

  • by atw ( 9209 )
    You are very wrong, claiming after being brainwashed by propaganda as making YOUR choice?
    The whole point is that in the modern world it's extremely easy to use zomby techniques on people, as a result you will do something THEY need, and consider it as YOUR desicons, that what the GNU fellow was trying to tell you and other dudez who thins they do their own desicions.

    In the modern world, your only true desicion is whether to make a pi-pi.

    http://www.investigatio.com [investigatio.com]
  • Lx writes:
    "Do Linux users actually follow the philosophy that once you use proprietary software, you're somehow 'enslaved' to the company that made it? Somehow I'm prevented from throwing the software away and using something else?"

    Yeah, right.

    You didn't read the recent essay by SF writer Neal Stephenson (on /. yesterday), did you? Read (or re-read if you did) the bit about how MS Word held all his older work "hostage" in its proprietary file format.

    Or consider for a moment the small- or medium-size company that has its transactional database systems built for it around Vendor X's RDBMS -- and its proprietary X-SQL dialect. The system is built for them by consultant A... is further developed for them by consultant B... new functions are added for them by consultant C... And after a few years they have such a mess of X-SQL procedures that they can't migrate to another RDBMS without a massive (and costly; possibly *prohibitevely* costly) re-write.

    Yes, people (or companies) can very easily become "trapped" using proprietary software -- it is often NOT as easy as "throwing the software away and using something else".

    Lx goes on:
    "The guy can't figure out that people want software that works well, and that its freeness is just a perk."

    And then, at the end of his post:
    "Those are just my thoughts. Maybe I'm just one of the unwashed masses that 'don't care about freedom.'"

    Yeah, well... I think you've answered that already.

    Christian R. Conrad

    Christian R. Conrad
    MY opinions, not my employer's - Hedengren, Finland.
  • Let's see: Solaris 2.6 along with gcc, emacs, gimp and lots of other components I can't remember off the top of my head. Therefore I must be using GNU/Solaris and just calling it plain "Solaris" is insulting.

    Uh huh.

    Is it just me, or does there seem to be a lot of bitterness in the top end of that interview?

  • Silly rabbit, tricks are for prosti....
    RMS is quite the serious fellow from what I've read about him. I don't agree with him on alot of things and I don't think I'd want to hang around him either, but he's done some great work.

    By the way when people see my computer screen and ask "Whats that?" I just say Linux. Its difficult enough to explain what Linux is to normal Joe or Jane, let alone explain GNU, Linux the kernal, ect....
    Linux the kernal? Sounds like a puppet from the Muppet show.
    Beaker rocks!
  • Kernel is spelled with two E's right? No A? sorry for the misspelling in my above comment.

  • If you read the FreeBSD FAQ item 1.3, you will find that some of the FreeBSD codes are licensed under GNU GPL. In other words, if it is not because of Richard Stallman and the GNU, FreeBSD may not be as well developed as it is today.

    Maybe. But you don't hear RMS bitching and crying about calling FreeBSD GNU/FreeBSD, do you?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Most of the replies to this article said something about RMS trying to get "recognition" or all hes doing is "self-promotion", etc. I think all of you are missing what RMS is saying. Hes not talking about getting recognition, hes talking about remembering freedom.

    A little scenario:

    Microsoft is gone. Linux is THE OS for computers.
    Five years from now Red Hat will be selling a Unix-like operating system called _Linux_. People by the millions will be purchasing Red Hat Linux. An unknowing company will use Linux, but will add on a closed source proprietary software package for whatever reason. This company is not aware of freedom of software. One of you (the knowledgable free software users of today) will have to work at this company. The proprietary software is a database library which the company hired you to develop a interface for. Everything is fine--until you run into your first bug. This bug is in the proprietary library. Its nothing you can fix. It gets worse--this library is no longer being sold and has no upgrades. Your interface has to have the bug fixed because it depends on the certain bugged function to work properly. You just lost 13 months of development time and a job--all because you thought a guy back in 1999, named Richard, was a greedy bastard who only thought of himself.

    Please read and _understand_ what Mr. Stallman is saying--instead of commenting on what you imagine he is saying.
  • The man is a bulldog, once he sinks his teeth into something, he never ever lets it go - and it seems that this whole "It's not Linux! It's GNU!" thing is _really_ under his skin.

    Oh Richard, are you there? Isn't this supposed to be about *freedom*? Isn't the fact that Linux is Free Software more important that what it is called? Isn't part of freedom the freedom to call a given piece of software whatever the hell **I** want to?

    The funny thing about leadership is that you have to "lead by example" even/especially when it may run counter to your own personal best interests. You can't just preach freedom when it benefits Richard Stallman, you have to preach freedom whenever it is Right.

    And Richard, this whole "GNU/Linux" thing is not Right.

    I wish you could see that.

  • Geez, all I'm seeing here is criticism of one of the most important people in free software. For a community that supposed to be all about peer recognition, we certainly aren't giving Stallman his fair share.

    Without FSF and GNU there simply wouldn't be any Linux system to speak of. Linus most likely wouldn't have even started if gcc wasn't available. In fact, Linus himself (I believe) said that the most important thing on any platform is it's compiler, and nothing beats a free compiler.

    The only reason I don't call my system GNU/Linux is because I call it Debian (or Debian GNU/Linux). However I think that RMS definitely has a point when he asks people to acknowledge the FSF contribution to Linux. (After all, Linux by itself wouldn't be very interesting at all).

    Of course, then comes the obvious question of "If we're going to call it GNU/Linux, then why not BSD/GNU/Apache/Artistic/Linux?" I think the real reason is because those other groups haven't asked for the recognition, whether they deserve it or not.

    I think by calling RMS a crackpot or a crazy only serves to demean our community as a whole. May tend towards outspokenness, but he is still created some of the most important software that we all use everyday, and I for one thing we should give him the recognition he deserves.

  • I am not aware of any plans to change the name from "Debian GNU/Linux". Additionally, Richard Stallman does not control the name of the Debian system, though the Free Software Foundation did provide early funding for it.

    Debian is currently building a variant of the GNU system using the Hurd (the GNU project's kernel) in place of the Linux kernel. This will be called Debian GNU/Hurd.
  • Just because you give up a freedom voluntarily (in a legal contract, in this case) does not mean that you aren't less free as a result.

    To be honest, it rather disturbs me that a lot of people don't seem to understand that.
  • Its very interesting to see that this new weighted ranking puts anti-RMS comments above pro-RMS comments.

    That ranking and the previous GNU/Linux vs Linux poll show that the majority of /. readers are not ``followers'' of the Free Software movement, but instead are here because they like cool/quality software and technical gadgetry. They also like the convenience of ``Open Source'' (of which free software is a subset).

    These /. readers are not interested in social issues such as human rights - giving people the same rights that you have - which is what the Free Software movement is founded on. Free Software is all about helping each other. It is about serving software users, so that users are not oppressed by selfish software writers who are trying to make their own lives better than everyone elses'.

    Some people realise that the only way to make this world a better place is to help each other. That is the philosophy of Free Software, but if a lot people are allowed to take advantage of other people, society becomes corrupt. That is the danger of propriety software; it corrupts our Free Society.

    We are starting to see this happen with Oracle and Apple worming (pardon the pun) their way into the Free Software community. Their goal is not to help the community, but to take advantage of the community so as to increase their wealth.

    This is why I see RMS as one of the most important people (if not the most) of this century and the next. He is the voice that keeps people focused on the GOALS of the GNU project. He is the reason I quit my job (a very good job) in the top electronics company of my country (New Zealand), so that I could create software for the good of the community, rather than working against the community. I now have very little income to support my family, but I am much happier because I have freedom to help my (Free Software) community.

    To help promote my community, I'm not going to call my computer system Linux or even GNU/Linux. Im going to call it ``GNU''. This name promotes Free Software, and, in my opinion, it is more aesthetic and catchy than Linux.

    Long live Free Software.


  • When I got into linux around 0.99pl4/SLS not as much software was GNU as you'd think. Yes the libc was an offshoot of GNU libc, yes GCC was of monumental importance, but there was a heck of a lot of BSD code in there as well. Almost all the inetd services were BSD, much of the networking stuff was hand-rolled and/or BSD based. Does GNU even have a vi clone in the GNU project? Just offhand I can think of ps, w, vi, finger, last, login, getty, kermit, elm, mail, smail, and xc, which were all BSD ports, existing non-GNU Open Source, or hand rolled programs some of which were vitally important to the operation of Linux. As Linux became a more popular OS, and started to become the predominant GNU system more stuff became GPL'ed and more GNU code was brought in for it's functionality, but the early days it was take what you can port, and GNU's code spaghetti was not always the easiest thing to get working.

    My point is RMS has no right to hoard all the credit anymore than anyone else does. While RMS was still concentrating on HURD before he started blabbering about credit there were alot of other programmers making incredibly important contributions to Linux and ultimatly the Open Source movement as well. If he wants to assume credit he'd better be willing to share it with everyone else who gave his GNU software the kernel and low level utilites ultimately leading to it's success.

    Dont get me wrong, I'm not anti-GNU, as I said GNU was paramount to the existance of Linux. But so was BSD. So was Linus, So were the folks involved in MCC. So was Peter MacDonald with SLS. So were alot of people other than RMS.

  • I don't think this was an April fool, at least
    I didn't find it funny. RMS did make an
    important point which is lost in a lot of the
    GNU/Linux debates. Which is that fundamentally
    adding the prefix GNU isn't about crediting the
    FSF (though that should be done) but to restore
    the political context in Linux. Linux is just an
    OS like Solaris, *BSD etc and people who dislike
    the FSF promote is a just that, a better enginneered
    OS because of the magic of open source, GNU/Linux is a political statement about freedom
  • those people put everything else together with Linux, didn't realize what they were doing was taking the GNU system, nobody knows that now

    RMS is flat wrong here. This is so obviously incorrect as to make me question either the man's intelligence or integrity.

    Question to those who created Linux distributions: did you realize you were including GNU software?
    Question to the assembled masses: did you know you were using GNU software?
    Question to the suits: have you ever heard of GNU?

    I believe that RMS is actually worried about question three here. It's too bad he's not articulate enough to say so. Freedom is good, and I support him 100% on that, but he reminds me a little of Hitler (the military strategist, not the whacked-out genocidal dictator), who thought it would be a bright idea to attack the Soviets. Richard's battle should not be with anyone else in the open source / free / liberated software movements; it should be with the suits. Make sure THEY know about GNU. Make sure THEY know that while Linux is the brain heart of the system, GNU is the lungs and heart and muscle of the system (not to mention the liver, kidney's and spleen :) Don't go around telling them we're going to make free versions of their software and run them out of business (I've read quotes from RMS that amount to this). Instead, teach them how to make money selling, serving, and supporting free software.

    The battle is not here, it's out there.

  • From the interview:

    If you're using a non free program, you've given up your freedom, your freedoms been taken away

    Taken away? Huh? If I buy a licence for proprietary software I know what I'm getting into. Nope can't have that, people entering into legal contracts and all that..
  • When somebody asks me what I run on my system at home, I say Debian, not Linux, not GNU, and certainly not GNU/Linux. When they ask what Debian is, I say it's a unix-like operating system. If they ask "Is that linux?", I say "It uses the linux kernel."

    Why can't we just say we run Debian, Redhat, S.u.s.e, Slackware, or whatever? My system has a lot more on it than just Linux and GNU. It would be inaccurate to call it anything else but Debian.


  • 1) An announcment is vastly different than a working app. Not even an alpha exists.

    2) ERP installs are eventually totally customized to the business's needs. Many features and improvements people might contribute to the system over time would be a reflection of a business's proprietary processes, revealing their competitive advantages. How many companies would allow their internal processes and competitive advantages to be contributed to a free (speech, not beer) code base?

    3) The announced system is specifically targetted to "small and medium sized businesses." Still nothing for Boeing, which uses Baan, or GM, which uses Peoplesoft (nevermind MS, which uses SAP). Somebody would still need to be building systems capable of supporting their needs, and I contend that it would be impossible to do so on a free (no charge AND no restrictions) basis.

    It's an interesting idea, and if you can get other backers than more power to you. As a final point, though, I'd point out that most Linux contributors today (with the exception of some of Red Hat's staff a few others) aren't paid for their contributions, and don't need to be. They do it because it's fun, helps them solve a problem they're facing, or fulfills some other type of desire/need they have. How many developers will want to spend their time worrying about the general ledger effects of an accrual accounting style on a complicated, industry-specific supply chain?

  • by MinusOne ( 4145 ) on Thursday April 01, 1999 @07:25PM (#1952848)
    Two quotes:

    > "The GNU system, whether you call it GNU or whether you think it's Linux, right now offers you an alternative with freedom."

    > "People should take a look at www.gnu.org. and they'll find out the reasons why the so called Linux operating system exists. It's not just a matter of engineers having fun doing engineering, it's a political force that actually has an idealistic cause, that has actually had practical results. "

    Well, on the first quote - from the way he phrases it, Stallman is not even willing to admit that the other side of the argument even exists, much less that they have a point! I can call it GNU, or I can think (erroneously, it is obvious from context) that it is Linux. It is exactly that attitude that really bugs me - that I am too dim to really figure out the truth according to RMS. I am quite willing to admit that GNU utilities run on my Linux system, that without GNU utilities it would have been much more difficult to develop the Linux kernel, and that the availability of the GNU utilities made a complete OS package happen that much sooner. But to insist that I adopt a nomeclature dictated by RMS is really asking much more than is appropriate. If he had wanted the right to name the whole system, he should have put it in the license. I think that if the GNU utilities had NOT existed, there would have been something developed to replace it. The development model that Linus popularized (maybe even invented - I don't know) would have helped build the critical mass to make it work. It would have put the development effort back several years, but I believe that it would have happened.

    On the second quote - its not the 'so-called linux' bit that bothers me, its the whole thrust of the quote. Once again, it assumes that he knows the motivations of the developers better than they do themselves. My experience with the Linux community in the last four or so years is that people have contributed their time, code and other resources is not because of some particular political goals. It is because they were engineers who enjoyed doing engineering. I installed Linux because it was FUN. I worked to get a device driver for my SCSI card because it was FUN, and when I got the driver going I could have MORE FUN. I have never had ANY political purposes or motives. If what I did had political side effects, well so be it - I don't disagree with those effects. But I knew why I was doing it when I did it. Maybe in RMS's mind we all are deluded, or ignorant, or whatever, and don't understand what our motives really are, or ought to be. I find that attitude incredibly condescending and insulting to those whose motives are different than his.

    In a way, I think this second quote can show the two camps in the disagreement clearly - The GNU camp, that insists that it is more than just an OS, more than just a pile of programs, it is an entire political agenda you must buy into. On the other side, are the 'engineering for engineering's sake: or the "I like it cause it does what I want" or whatever camp, who contribute just as much or more, but don't feel the need to toe RMS's line of 'this is politics, not just engineering'. They just want to build an OS, because they like the control they get from it.
  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Thursday April 01, 1999 @02:52PM (#1952849) Homepage Journal
    Very good interview. It's definitely one of his best.

    But not one mention of GNU/Linux. Instead it's referred to "The GNU System." He's dropped the word Linux altogether. I thought that the real GNU system was supposed to use the Hurd kernel. Will Debian 2.2 be called "Debian GNU System?"

    I'm starting to think that Richard actually hates Linus so much that any word that sounds like Linus is repugnant to him. Either that, or this is another hoax.
  • by tomk ( 20364 ) on Thursday April 01, 1999 @03:04PM (#1952850) Homepage
    Every time I read an account of RMS's thoughts, my belief that he is a crackpot, is strengthened.

    "The so-called Linux system", as he puts it, is not "so-called", but it actually exists. I know that is hard to comprehend for someone who failed to complete his own OS, but why must he constantly malign Linus' (and hundreds of other developers') accomplishments??

    RMS claims he believes in freedom, but apparently that doesn't include freedom of speech, for Linus call an OS kernel which he designed, whatever he wants. Not to mention that the GPL is more restrictive in some respects than some commercial licenses.

    God bless GNU, for without them, Linux would have taken longer to develop, but I'd wager money that it still would have been developed. Or how about the BSDs? Complete, fully functional, free operating systems without all of the GNU BS^H^Hbaggage.

    In short: RMS, grow up.
  • by DonkPunch ( 30957 ) on Thursday April 01, 1999 @03:40PM (#1952851) Homepage Journal
    The term "software piracy" is considered inappropriate because illegal copying of software is not comparable to robbery of a ship at sea.

    Using propriety software, however, is comparable to "slavery".

  • by Jerky McNaughty ( 1391 ) on Thursday April 01, 1999 @03:37PM (#1952852)
    This was a pretty good RMS interview. Whoever transcribed it did a good job (aside from the grammatical and spelling errors, I digress). I could almost hear RMS' voice. The style was quite typical of the way RMS speaks.

    I've been sitting on the fence about the whole RMS/GNU/Linux issue, but this interview really pushed me over to the "ahh, go to hell, RMS!" side.

    Don't get me wrong, I respect RMS' work on Emacs, gcc, gdb, and his vision to create a free UNIX-alike. He's an incredible coder and I truly appreciate the work he's done. But the comments he made about "so-called Linux" and "the GNU system, but they're calling it Linux". Perhaps I get pissed about this because I see how humble Torvalds is about having created Linux---he always plays his accomplishments down. RMS on the other hand is trying too hard to get the credit he deserves and it comes across as though he's being egomanical.

    I feel that RMS should be quite proud of what he's done, and I'll be the first to stroke his ego by saying that I use his software on a daily basis and praise him every chance I get.

    Begging for recognition and playing the ego game just isn't something I thought I'd ever see RMS do, and I've been reading his Usenet postings and compiling his software for every UNIX machine I get near for many, many years. I'm very sad to see RMS get so excitable about this---it's just a name.

    As ESR said, ego is part of what drives the free software movement. Getting recognition for your work is what makes us write and give away more software. I think it's important to feed RMS' ego as much as anyone else's in the movement, but when he distorts things in this way, it rubs me the wrong way.

    To me it's just Linux, but I know that without RMS, Linux probably wouldn't be on my computer.

    A pat on the back for RMS for a job well-done, but it's really time to calm down about the name issue. I'd like to see RMS stick to his freedom ideology, that's where he really shines!
  • by Dast ( 10275 ) on Thursday April 01, 1999 @03:24PM (#1952853)

    These people don't care about freedom. It's not surprising they don't care about freedom because nobody ever talked to them about freedom.

    That is basically saying that the only people who disagree with you, are those who have not been educated in your ways. That is utter crap. Some people really just want to browse the web. They don't care what they use to do it.

    So we've succeeded. We've produced the GNU system. Even though people call it Linux, they still have the benefit of freedom when they use this system.


    The GNU system, whether you call it GNU or whether you think it's Linux...

    (Bold tags added by me.)

    Boy, it is a good thing we have RMS around to take credit for everything. We wouldn't want him to be left out of the spotlight would we? No body could possibly disagree with him. If they do, they just don't understand.


    Sorry about all of the sarcasm.

    I sure hope the call the HURD kernel Linux/HURD, since from what I understand, HURD uses parts of the Linux kernel.

  • by Mynok ( 16117 ) on Thursday April 01, 1999 @04:40PM (#1952854)
    It's truly a shame that RMS has such an abrasive manner. Part of it is certainly due to his passionate belief that software should be free of proprietary constraints. The fact is, he is fighting for something that can be nothing but *good* for both the software industry and for users.

    Linux *is* a GNU system whether anyone admits it or not. The GNU project has always been about gathering free software together into a cohesive, free OS. Linus provided the final piece, giving us the first complete operating system by the GNU project. Few of us use this particular distribution.

    Distribution? Yes, absolutely. GNU/Linux is simply another distribution of "Linux". Other distributions have much in common with the actual GNU/Linux (Debian being the closest), but all add non-GNU pieces to the puzzle, and thus create their own versions of this Linux-based OS.

    The unfortunate reality is that this multitude of versions dilutes the message of the GNU Project and RMS. Open Source has actually become a rival to the FSF in the fight for media attention. The ideology of the FSF has for the first time in its life a sibling movement promoting freedom in software--but not the same freedom.

    RMS sees this very clearly, as do others of us who have been around long enough to appreciate the persecution (not all of it undeserved) that the FSF has received since it was founded. He is terribly afraid that his hard-won freedoms will be taken away, and his fears are not totally unfounded. Not because there is a conspiracy to morph free software into something a little less free (the slippery slope problem), but because the rapidly growing base of free software users are no longer dependent upon the FSF for major pieces. Dilution is occuring, and RMS is fighting hard (and not always in a wise manner) to make sure his message is at least heard if not heeded.

Scientists will study your brain to learn more about your distant cousin, Man.