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GNU is Not Unix

Thus Spake Stallman 539

Posted by Roblimo
from the prophets-don't-mince-words dept.
On Monday, April 17th, we requested questions for Richard M. Stallman. Here, at last, are his answers. Warning: The interview below contains mature concepts and strong opinions. It may not be suitable reading for easily-angered readers whose views conflict with Mr. Stallman's.

Q: Lets assume for a moment that free software becomes the way business happens. Every company, if it wants to keep shareholder value anyway, opens up the source, makes their softwre free. What's next? Where do you go from there? What do you do for an encore? Or is that the "end of the war" and at that point, GPL protecting our freedoms, you go back to coding?

RMS: Non-free software is not the world's only problem. I undertook to work on this problem because (1) it dropped in my lap (I could not be neutral except by leaving my field), (2) I had an idea for how I could tackle it effectively, and (3) nobody else was even working on it.

It's clear that other problems such as religious fundamentalism, overpopulation, damage to the environment, and the domination of business over government, science, thought, and society, are much bigger than non-free software. But many other people are already working on them, and I don't have any great aptitude or ideas for how to address them. So it seems best for me to keep working on the issue of free software. Besides, free software does counter one aspect of business domination of society.

If in my lifetime the problem of non-free software is solved, I could perhaps relax and write software again. But I might instead try to help deal with the world's larger problems. Standing up to an evil system is exhilarating, and now I have a taste for it. I could volunteer my time to the ACLU, Amnesty International, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, or ZPG, if I'm of any use to them.

(In 1988, George Bush called Mike Dukakis a "card-carrying member of the ACLU", in effect comparing the Bill of Rights with Communism and its defenders with Communists. This insult to the US Constitution inspired me, as it did many others, to join the ACLU. Let's hope the Shrub will not be president; one Bush was too many.)

Or I could work on winning for other kind of published information the freedoms that are appropriate for them. These could include dictionaries and encyclopedias, textbooks, scientific papers, music, and other things.

Q: Are there any good case studies of large corporations opening up proprietary in-house source code?

RMS: It's appropriate that you've used the terminology of the Open Source Movement for this question, because this is the sort of question they would be most interested in. That movement, founded in 1998, argues that "open source" is good because it is more profitable for software developers. They collect examples to justify that claim, and might be able to help you.

I am not the best person to ask for this kind of help, because I focus on something else. Rather than trying to convince IT managers that it is more profitable to respect our freedom--I don't know whether that is true--I try to convince computer users that they should insist on software that respects their freedom.

I am not affiliated with the Open Source Movement. I founded the Free Software Movement, which has been working to spread freedom and cooperation since 1984, and is concerned not only with practical benefits but with a social and ethical issue: whether to encourage people to cooperate with their neighbors, or prohibit cooperation. The Free Software Movement raises issues of freedom, community, principle, and ethics, which the Open Source Movement studiously avoids.

What the Open Source Movement explicitly say is right, as far as it goes; but I'm very unhappy with what they leave out. By appealing only to practical benefits, such as developing powerful reliable software, they imply by omission that nothing more important is at stake.

The Open Source Movement seems to think of proprietary software as a suboptimal solution (at least, usually suboptimal). For the Free Software Movement, proprietary software is the problem, and free software is the solution. Free software is often very powerful and reliable, and I'm glad that adds to its appeal; but I would choose a bare-bones unreliable free program rather than a featureful and reliable proprietary program that doesn't respect my freedom.

Eric Raymond said publicly that if "open source" isn't better (he means, more profitable) for software developers, it deserves to fail:

"Either open source is a net win for both producers and consumers on pure self-interest grounds or it is not. If it is, you cannot lose; if it is not, you cannot (and *should* not) win."
(Quoted in Salon, September or October 1998.) Implicit in this position is Eric's belief that proprietary software is legitimate, and his rejection of the idea that free software is imperative for freedom, ethics or social responsibility.)

Imagine someone saying, "If an uncensored press is not better for publishers as well as readers, it cannot (and should not) prevail." This would show that person does not understand freedom of the press as an issue of liberty. For people who value civil liberties, such views are ludicrous. (This example is not entirely artificial, since corporate media owners and corporate advertisers increasingly exclude certain issues and views from press coverage.)

Although I will not join the Open Source Movement, I agree that they do some useful things. They might be the best ones to suggest something useful to say to your IT manager.

Q: Today everyone is hearing the critics about how open source is also hurting the community. All that aside did you ever in your wildest dreams at the very start of the "crusade" think that open source would be a "movment"?

RMS: I thought of free software as a movement years before the GNU Project. I learned about free software as a way of life by joining a community of programmers who already lived it. My contribution, the place where I took things a step further, was in thinking in ethical and political terms about the contrast between our way of life and the way most computer users lived. I made free software a movement.

But I never imagined that the Free Software Movement would spawn a watered-down alternative, the Open Source Movement, which would become so well-known that people would ask me questions about "open source" thinking that I work under that banner.

If we in the Free Software Movement are lumped in with them, people will think we are championing their views, not ours. For this reason, I don't want to discuss my work or the ideas I advocate under the rubric of "open source". If people seem to be lumping me in with them, I have to correct that mistake. The work I do is free software; if you want to discuss it with me, let's have the discussion using the term "free software".

Q: What would happen, in the hypothetical case, where you litigated the GPL, and lost? Do you have a Plan B?

RMS: It would depend on the precise details of the decision. Perhaps we would change some words in the GPL. Perhaps we would just say "Too bad, copyleft can't be done entirely right in that particular country or state." That would be unfortunate, but not necessarily a disaster.

For example, there are companies in China that distribute versions of the GNU/Linux system in China, and violate the GPL completely, by not distributing source code at all. As a practical matter, we cannot enforce the GPL against violators in China, because China does not enforce copyright law very much. (That policy makes perfect sense for China--the US likewise did not recognize foreign copyrights when it was a developing country.) But I don't think this means that the GPL is a failure in general.

Q: Have you ever thought of taking a more conciliatory attitude to things? Does the phrase "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" (I'm thinking of the "GNU/Linux" thing) have any resonance at all with you?

RMS: The reason I continue asking people to use the term "GNU/Linux" for the combination of the GNU operating system with the kernel, Linux, is that it's an important little detail. It makes a big difference for the GNU Project's effectiveness in spreading the philosophy of the Free Software Movement.

Calling the whole system "Linux" leads people to think that the system's development was started in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. That is what most users seem to think. The occasional few users that do know about the GNU Project often think we played a secondary role--for example, they say to me, "Of course I know about GNU--GNU developed some tools that are part of Linux."

This leads users to take their philosophical lead from Linus's "apolitical" views, rather than from the GNU Project. They tend to adopt the goal of boosting the popularity of "Linux" (what Linus jocularly calls "world domination"), rather than spreading freedom. Ironically, these users of the GNU system love the system so much that they cast aside the freedom for which we developed the system, in the name of the system's success. You might call this "success" for GNU, but it is not success for freedom.

Businesses that distribute "Linux" are actively urging people to adopt success as the goal, and sacrifice freedom for that. See http://www.zdnet.com/filters/printerfriendly/0,6061,2552025-2,00.html for a clear-cut example in a recent speech by the CEO of Caldera. They can do this more more easily and effectively when their audience does not connect the "Linux" system with that inconvenient, idealistic, uncompromising GNU Project. The ability to avoid calling to mind issues of freedom, by using the term "open source", is also convenient for them: they can ask people implicitly to give up their freedom, without explicitly acknowledging this implication of the conduct they recommend.

As businesses get more involved with free software, they will be faced with a choice: whether to do business in a way that contributes to the community, as Red Hat mostly does, or base their business on proprietary add-ons, as Oracle does and Corel mostly does. It will be up to the public--the community--to make business respect our freedom, by rewarding the businesses that do. The future of our community depends above all on what we value. If people adopt the value of popularity or success, we will end up with many people using a system that is based on GNU and Linux combined with lots of proprietary software.

I ask you to call the system GNU/Linux so you can help inform the system's users that it exists because of the GNU Project's idealism. Users who know that will probably take a look at our views, and some of them will agree. Later on, they may stand up for freedom.

Q: Are there any things that you sort of care about, but not very much?

RMS: Sure, plenty--but I don't argue about those things.

Q: What sort of things do you do in your spare time, and do you approach them with the same amount of intensity that you have for free software?

RMS: I like reading, music, eating delicious food, seeing natural beauty. I also like to dance, mostly Balkan folk dance, but an ankle problem means I can't do it any more. I also like sharing tenderness with someone I adore, but I only occasionally have a chance to do that.

Q: How applicable do you think the GPL is to these other areas? (As in, the concepts embodied in the GPL). Also, what are the essential aspects of any license that wishes to convey the same kind of freedom the GPL conveys?

RMS: I don't have a simple answer for this. The ethical issues about copying and modifying works depend on the kind of work and how people can use it. There is a certain basic similarity between all the kinds of works that can be in a file on a computer: you can always copy them, unless someone has gone out of his way to obstruct you. There are also differences. Novels, musical recordings, dictionaries, textbooks, scientific papers, essays, and software are not all used the same ways.

So I don't have the same views for all these different kinds of works. Textbooks and dictionaries should be free in the same strong sense as software: people should have the freedom to publish improved versions of them. For scientific papers, I think that everyone should be allowed to mirror them, but I see no reason to permit modified versions (that would be tampering with the historical record). For some kinds of works, such as novels, I am not sure just which kinds of freedom are essential.

However, a certain minimum freedom is essential for any kind of published work that is in a file on a computer: the freedom to occasionally make copies for other people. To deny people this basic freedom is intrusive and antisocial, and only Soviet-style methods can enforce the prohibition.

Q: I'm currently attempting to persuade a hardware manufacturer to provide unobfuscated source code and hardware documentation to free driver writers.

In your opinion, what is the best and/or most effective way to go about this? The court of public opinion? Economic arguments? Pointing out the higher quality of free drivers? Or should I just advise people to move to more enlightened hardware manufacturers.

RMS: I think it is best to use a combination of approaches:

  • Informing them that people who want freedom will have to buy the other hardware for which free drivers are available (which is not quite a threat, because we would be doing this not as a punishment but in order to do the job with free software).
  • Saying that the community is encouraging people to do reverse engineering to write free drivers (thus, obstinacy may be futile).
  • Offering them the community's good will and commercial patronage if they cooperate.
  • Asking them what their concerns are, and creatively suggest ways they can cooperate enough to enable us to write the free software soon, while still partly achieving those concerns.
I would like to have a page on www.gnu.org which lists hardware products and states whether they are supported by a wholly free GNU/Linux system. (Covering *BSD as well would be welcome.) Writing and updating this page would be a substantial job. If you would like to take the initiative to develop this page, please send me mail.

Q: (from Bruce Perens) - I'm concerned that GPL restrictions on derived works haven't kept up with software technology.

RMS: I am working on GPL version 3, but this is not something that should be rushed. I put it aside for most of a year to work on the GNU Free Documentation License, but now I plan to get back to it.

Bruce: The most pernicious example is CORBA, which lets us create derived works from components that aren't in the same address space at all, yet work seamlessly as if they were. I'd rather not see my GPL work end up in somebody's proprietary program, simply because it's been server-ized to avoid my license restrictions.

RMS: If people can write non-free software that makes use of free CORBA components, that is bad in one way: it means that their non-free software can build on our work. But using our free software through CORBA does not make our programs themselves non-free. So it is not as bad as extending our programs with their non-free code.

I think it will be hard to claim that a program is covered by our licenses because it uses CORBA to communicate with our code. Perhaps in cases of particularly intimate coupling we could convince a court of that view, but in general I think we could not.

Bruce: A more common problem is dynamic libraries that are distributed separately from the executable. You say that a court would hold those to be devices explicitly used to circumvent the license restrictions, but that's rather chancy, and no substitute for explicit language regarding what is, and what isn't, considered a derived work in the GPL.

RMS: We have no say in what is considered a derivative work. That is a matter of copyright law, decided by courts. When copyright law holds that a certain thing is not a derivative of our work, then our license for that work does not apply to it. Whatever our licenses say, they are operative only for works that are derivative of our code.

A license can say that we will treat a certain kind of work as if it were not derivative, even if the courts think it is. The Lesser GPL does this in certain cases, in effect declining to use some of the power that the courts would give us. But we cannot tell the courts to treat a certain kind of work as if it were derivative, if the courts think it is not.

I think we have a pretty good argument that nontrivial dynamic linking creates a combined (i.e. derivative) work. I have an idea for how to change the GPL to make it clearer and more certain, but I need to see if we can work out the details in a way that our lawyer believes will really work.

Bruce: There's also the problem of Application Service Providers, who make a work available for people to use without distributing it, and thus would be under no obligation to make the source code of their modifications available. Do I have to see my GPL work abused that way as well?

RMS: I too feel these servers are not playing fair with our community, but this problem is very hard to solve. It is hard for a copyright-based license to make a requirement for these servers that will really stick. The difficulty is that they servers are not distributing the program, just running it. So it is hard to make any conditions under copyright that affect what they can do.

I had an idea recently for an indirect method that might perhaps work. I'd rather not talk about it until our lawyer figures out better whether it can really do the job.

Bruce: It seems there's a lot of new technology that the GPL isn't keeping up with.

RMS: You make it sound as if solving these problems were only a matter working hard enough to change the GPL. But the GPL can only use copyright law as it exists. The recent changes in US copyright law to "keep up" with technology, in the DMCA, were commanded by the software privateers, and they were designed to help them restrict away the users' freedom, not to help us protect users' freedom. They allow copyright owners to restrict the mere running of a program--but only if some sort of hard-to-bypass license manager or access control enforces the restrictions. The freedom of free software means that even if we did put such artificial restriction into a program, the user could easily bypass them--and that's a good thing! But it means that new legal power is not available for use for copyleft.

The DMCA is a perfect example of the harm done when business dominates government and society. One part of the law explicitly says that only commercially significant activities are considered important (to legitimize a program which is often used to bypass technological means of controlling the users)--showing explicit prejudice against educational uses, recreational uses, communitarian uses, military uses, and religious uses.

Q: What kind of a position do you take on applications such as Napster?

RMS: Napster is bad because it is proprietary software, but I see nothing unethical in the job it does. Why shouldn't you send a copy of some music to a friend? I don't play music from files on my computer, but I've occasionally made tapes of records and given them to my friends.

Q: In particular, I see GTK Napster carries a standard GPL. I'd just like to know what happens when someone like Metallica wins a lawsuit against Napster who has a GPL'd counterpart such as GTK Napster? Can they touch it at all?

RMS: I don't know who will win those lawsuits, but I don't see anything that would give free programs any special protection from this kind of suppression. It seems to me that if they win against Napster, they would probably win against any program doing a similar job.

If they do not win using present-day law, we can expect to see the record companies purchase new laws they can use to suppress these programs in the future--and trot out famous musicians like Metallica (only famous musicians get much of their income from copyright) who will say that copying music is like killing their baby.

We can also expect to see fierce attempts to catch individuals who use Napster and imprison them. The War on Copying will become more vicious.

The War on Drugs has continued for some 20 years, and we see little prospect of peace, despite the fact that it has totally failed and given the US an imprisonment rate almost equal to Russia. I fear that the War on Copying could go on for decades as well. To end it, we will need to rethink the copyright system, based on the Constitution's view that it is meant to benefit the public, not the copyright owners. Today, one of the benefits the public wants is the use of computers to share copies.

Metallica justifies their lawsuit saying they think it is an outrage that their music has become a "commodity". Apparently they think music is a commodity when shared between fans, but not when large companies sell copies through record stores. What hypocritical absurdity!

Such drivel is normally laughable. But Metallica is presenting it as an excuse to attack our freedom, and that is no laughing matter. I encourage people to write letters to periodicals that cover this story, stating disgust for Metallica's lawsuit and rejecting their views.

Q: The battle over CSS has been about whether people have the right to use software (I consider DVDs software because they are programs read by a computer chip) when it is controlled by the content control system CSS, even after they've bought it. I hope they'll lose in the courts, but it is unclear at this point whether they will, however, my question is on another, related topic.

Suppose very strong, nearly unbreakable encryption were used on traditional Software DVD (i.e. stuff like M$ software or other companies software, just in a DVD format) and a DVD CCA for software were set up saying, "You aren't allowed to access the content of any DVDs unless you use our licensed DVD decryption software. Oh, and our DVD decryption software contains a legally enforceable (under UCITA) software license which states that you cannot reverse engineer any content you have decrypted using our decryption software." How would Free Software handle it?

RMS: With laws like that, there would be no lawful way to solve the problem. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act comes close to what you imagine, and it may be enough to prohibit free software for this job. (I don't know for certain, and I think the answer is not known yet.) It may be necessary to develop this software in countries which do not have these laws.

Q: Does there now need to be a Free Hardware philosophy which states that "Hardware which exists tied to a proprietary software system must be replaced by Free Hardware standards" or something similar?

RMS: I agree--but it will be hard to get the movie companies to release movies for that hardware. Fundamentally, the only solution will be when enough of the public believes in freedom to change the laws that are the basis for denying our freedom.

Q: I've been reading your opinions for some time now, and while they make sense in and of themselves, they beg certain other questions. What interest me most are your meta-ethical notions.

You often speak of notions such as right and wrong as if they were objective things; do you hold them to be so?

RMS: I think of right and wrong as based on how what we could do affects other people--the implications of imagining ourselves in the situation of the people our actions affect.

People can come to different conclusions about the implications. I don't believe in relativism; I don't believe that any conclusion is as valid as any other. If I and someone else disagree, at least one of us is wrong. Unfortunately, there's no way to place to get complete certainty about what's right and what's wrong. We can only try our best to figure it out.

The generalizations that we get from our consciences are our values. Our specific conclusions about ethics derive from these values; arguments about ethics depart from them. So my arguments about free software, or anything else, start from the values I believe in. They are addressed to people who at least partly share these values. When people persistently reject these values, there is nothing I can say to them. But sometimes people will start to share my values when I point out to them the situations the values are based on. They may then imagine the same feelings I felt or imagined.

Q: Are there "natural" rights, and what is the nature of their existence?

RMS: I think there are natural rights, natural in the sense that people are entitled to them regardless of what governments say about them. Freedom of speech is a good example; I think people are entitled to freedom of speech, and censorship is wrong. That is one example that I think most people reading this would agree with. I also believe that the freedom to share software and other published information is also a natural right.

There are also artificial rights, rights that are not natural. I agree with the US legal system, for example, in the view that copyright is an artificial right, not a natural one. It can be reasonable to have a limited kind of copyright system for some kinds of works, but this is a concession made to benefit the public, not an entitlement of authors and publishers. This system should be limited so that it doesn't seriously conflict with other people's natural rights.

Q: If so, how does this fit with your atheism? If not, do you feel that ethical claims have some basis beyond personal taste?

RMS: Religious people often say that religion offers absolute certainty about right and wrong; "god tells them" what it is. Even supposing that the aforementioned gods exist, and that the believers really know what the gods think, that still does not provide certainty, because any being no matter how powerful can still be wrong. Whether gods exist or not, there is no way to get absolute certainty about ethics.

Without absolute certainty, what do we do? We do the best we can. Injustice is happening now; suffering is happening now. We have choices to make now. To insist on absolute certainty before starting to apply ethics to life decisions is a way of choosing to be amoral.

----------------

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Thus Spake Stallman

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  • I thought about that, but I was getting a phone call every other minute and wanted to get the piece up at 11 a.m. and ran out of time. :)

    - Robin
  • It's unfortunate to see Stallman mentioning issues about which he does not appear to be terribly informed in a message about free software. I'm referring specifically to his points about overpopulation, environmentalism, and the ACLU.

    First, by associating himself with left wing causes such as these, he immediately alienates those who might not share his views on them. Interestingly, he once criticized a free software paper of mine because it used a gun control analogy. The disagreement was not with the issue per se, but rather that a controversial topic simply creates un-necessarily creates division where none should exist. (It's also worthy of note that many people consider Stallman himself a type of religious fundamentalist!)

    The second problem is substantive. Overpopulation is not nearly the problem that the doomsayers claim it is. In fact, the biggest problem facing us by the mid-21st century will likely be underpopulation. We already see in the US the affect of a large aged population with fewer working people to support them. This problem will only get worse if population flattens or declines. This is likely to be a particular problem in China, where the long run affects of the one child policy have yet to be seen.

    A posting such as this simply cannot do justice to the matter of population. I highly recommend that everyone concerned about this issue read the Overpopulation FAQ [overpopulation.com] and also read Julian L. Simon's tour de force "The Ultimate Resource 2". By all means also read the other side of the issue from Paul Ehrlich or the Club of Rome. But please do read Simon with an open mind, consider the arguments, and reach your own conclusion.

    I won't even go into the complicated matters of the environment or the ACLU!
  • While I don't know about 'a substantial core' of Linux being BSD licenced (not that it isn't, I'm just not familiar enough with a list of the core programs and what licences each is under) you bring up a good point. Calling the system GNU/Linux dismisses the other licences that make the system a useful whole. Calling it Linux, which is a made-up and license agnostic name referring to the system's general heritage as a UNIX derivant and the brainchild of Linus, takes the discussion of licenses out of it. If I were to take Mr. Stallman's way of doing things my system at home would have to not only be called GNU/Linux, it would have to be called GNU/BSD/X/Apache/Artistic/MySQL/other/Linux, which is more than I want to say when I'm asked what OS I run.
  • I like seeing different sides to people and while this interview was typical Stallman for the most part, the thing that stuck out for me was when he said:

    I also like sharing tenderness with someone I adore...

    Jeez, I'm a pretty romantic guy but I don't think I would have thought to put something this sappy on an interview for a site like Slashdot. Just shows me that Stallman isn't afraid to tell what he thinks, even when it doesn't involve Free Software. Keep up the good work Mr. Stallman.
  • As many times as he wants to: think about it.
  • No, because the only reason books would not be available there is if the library did not wish to purchase them - this would not be the publisher's fault. There is no way for a publisher to legally prevent their books from being purchased and lent out by a library. Unfortunately, this is not the case with software.
  • Please demonstrate how alcohol prohibition did work, then.

    Did it stop people from drinking (and the associated societal ills you talk about)? No. There was plenty of alcohol to be found, all over the country.

    What it did accomplish was to create a large black market that was governed by violence rather than brand competition. We still suffer the consequences of that prohibition. Now, we have added another prohibition and another class of criminals determined to make "easy" money from a demand that isn't going to go away because we wish really hard that it would.

    As far as your argument that there is a relationship between stupid people and alcohol...do you seriously believe that the kind of lowlifes that end up in the criminal justice system wouldn't be there if it weren't for ? I really have a hard time swallowing that argument. People like that would drink after shave if they had to.

    Man has always wished to intoxicate himself, and always will do so, no matter how hard some try to prevent it. The question is at what point do we try to mitigate the harmful effects of the do-gooders?

    --

  • I would happily accept drug legalization as long as people are still held responsible for their actions when they take the drugs.

    Has anyone suggested otherwise? I mean, isn't it kind of obvious that people would/should be held responsible for crimes committed, drug-related or not?

    Isn't that really the whole point...that people who do not commit an act of force or fraud against another person shouldn't be in jail?

    I don't see how there could not be a decrease in the prison population if you decriminalized prohibited drug possession.

    Prohibition doesn't work; we had a lot of crime last time we tried it, too.

    --

  • For the most part, we're in agreement then. I still think that there are quite a few people in prison (mainly federal prison) purely for possession-type crimes, and that the release of such people would not increase other crimes, resulting in at least a small decrease in the prison population.

    --
  • Oh no. He's different. Get rid of him.

    He's made it clear that he's part of a separate movement. If you read that article and thought he was part of an "Open Source" movement, then you don't know how to read.

    Also, gcc seems to compile code rather well, and I hear emacs can even be used to edit text!

    So... just because someone doesn't fit in with your idea of a developer, they don't need to be deposed by some mainstream linux mafia. And RMS has one helluva track record for his quality of results.

    The reason Linux is GPL'ed is out of respect for gcc. Think about that.

    (For example:

    I hate the GNU/Linux fiasco as much as the next guy, (in part just because RMS is being an asshole here, Linus has acknowledged the FSF's contribution from the very beginning) but I still don't hold it against Stallman, especially if Linus doesn't.
    (don't be an involved third party when the first two parties don't care == none of your business))
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • by rlk (1089)
    The only problem I have with RMS's view of this (and why I tend to think of him as an Ivory Tower academic with little real-world experience) is the fact that as an academic, he is able to live in a middle-class environment without having to deal with the "real world" of corporations and putting food on the table except in the abstract.

    RMS isn't an academic. The MIT AI lab still lets the FSF use some space (I think), but RMS isn't on the MIT payroll. I don't know if he draws a salary from the FSF, but it would be modest at best. He did get the McArthur fellowship grant a number of years ago, but he basically plowed the money back into the FSF.

    He used to make money by consulting when he needed it. I don't know if he still does it. He doesn't live "middle class" beyond the fact that housing alone in the Boston area demands middle class resources for even a 1-bedroom apartment.

  • I have to say that one of rms's comments on religion seem odd to me. Specifically the comment, "...any being no matter how powerful can still be wrong." While, I acknowledge that I have a tough time conceiving of the idea of a being who never makes mistakes, the fundamental basis for many western religions defines a god in those terms.

    Now, I'll accept the fact that such a being is impossible for most people to imagine, but at least in a Christian context this is concidered OK, because it's accepted that God cannot be fully conceived and fully understood by us mere mortals. Indeed, the expression "God moves in mysterious ways" stems from this concept.

    Now there are lots of religions in the world where the gods are far from infallable, but I'm shocked and surprised that rms seems oblivious to these variations. It doesn't fit with my existing experiences with the guy.
  • by X (1235)

    In all seriousness, I had no idea that RMS was so ideologically aligned with the far-left in this country.

    I think your seeing your own demons here. Ideologies are funny things. In a lot of ways, RMS supports the notion of fewer laws, which in theory is a fundamentally right-wing concept. I think mapping ideology onto an independant thinker like RMS is a bad idea in general. RMS has his own ideology, and I think it deserves to be evaluated independantly, rather than likened to any others. Certainly, I think I could argue that he's a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Communist, or Fascist with about equal ease (and duplicity ;-).

    Furthermore, the attacks on the "War on Drugs" and conservative politicians in general were completely unnecessary in this forum.

    The door was opened by the questions he was given. People were clearly interested in hearing more about RMS than just his work on GNU. Based on the rules that Slashdot operates, if people are interested, then it is an appropriate forum.

    He attacked ONE conservative politican (well, two if you count his son) in a very specific context, which, btw, had nothing to do with the "War on Drugs". He was describing what drove him to become a member of the ACLU.

    painting the ACLU as the Grand Defenders of the Bill of Rights omits a pretty important detail.

    I think there is little doubt the ACLU works to support issues enclosed in the Bill of Rights. Sure they have specific interpretations of those rights, ones which you might not agree with, but even casual examination indicates the ACLU's work involves defending specific sections of the Bill of Rights. RMS's comments didn't suggest anything beyond that, and only your interpretation of his comments describes them as the "grand defenders" you refer to.

    Perhaps Stallman should come down from his throne and spend a few months actually working in law enforcement. Perhaps he should see the kind of cruelty and callousness exhibited by elements of our society. Perhaps then he wouldn't be so quick to complain about high rates of imprisonment in the U.S.

    Don't presume to know what RMS's experiences with law enforcement are. RMS comments about imprisonment rates were with respect to the impact the war on drugs has had on rates of imprisonment. Any time you outlaw an activity that a sizeable portion of the population want to do, and you enforce it rigourously, you're going to have that happen. It's also unlikely to be an effective action. Any Christian who knows their history can look back on Roman times to understand that.

    Your statements, by implication, suggest that all the people locked up in prison on drug charges are exceptionally callous individuals. It's arguable whether you're right, but beyond that, you have to ask yourself why the U.S. has so many of those types of people compared to the rest of the world (or are you suggesting that countries like Canada and Saudi Arabia just have tons of free exceptionally callous individuals roaming around?). It's fair to say that SOMETHING in the US is making this happen, and it may very well be possible that there's a way to avoid it that isn't being explored.

    He simply doesn't see the big picture with regard to social issues.

    Actually, I think that is terribly misrepresentative. RMS perhaps doesn't see your big picture, but I've read a lot of material on the GNU website that looks very much at the big picture side of social issues. Indeed, RMS's most compelling argument about free software has always been about the kind of society one creates with it versus without it. That's entirely a big picture issue.

  • RMS made comments about religious fundamentalism, not about Christianity. One could argue that there are a lot more fundamentalists out there who aren't Christian than otherwise.

    "Dogma" is actually seperate from fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is about imposing a very literal interpretation of basic principles. Perhaps the Open Source movement can be characterized like that, I don't know. However, RMS is not associated with that movement (as he tried to point out in his comments). I think RMS's behavior suggests his views and rigorous support of those views are based on what he perceives as overal good for the society, not some literal interpretations of anything.
  • Strong adherence to first principles is not the same as literal interpretation of first principles. Indeed, THAT is the key difference that defines fundamentalism.

    While everyone has some basic assumptions upon which they base their beliefs, there is a difference between this and fundamentalism. Your comments almost seem to suggest that anyone is a fundamentalist who has strong commitment to a set of beliefs. I would argue many leaders of the various Christian churches are not fundamentalists based on the true meaning of the term, even though I would never suggest they were not devout or uncompromising in their beliefs.

    It's not possible to make a literal deduction from that very vague and intangible statement. Your quote of RMS's "first principles" is him basically saying that he thinks right and wrong should be evaluated based on what the consequences are for the general public. That's basically a definition of ethics, and doesn't imply any kind of a belief system (indeed, those first principles can be applied to anything from Christianity, Nazism, Communism, Democracy, Anarchy or Objectivism --which one is RMS? ;-). It is not anything that indicates a literal interpretation of first principles.

    Fundamentalism, particularly with religious texts, is indicated when the meaning of those texts is taken literally from the specific words and punctuation in the text, rather than the context in which such words were written. I can't even think of an instance where RMS has even QUOTED a source in the kind of authoritative terms necessary to be considered fundamentalism.
  • His clear and principaled stance on free software is needed in this muddled world.

    I have published software under the GPL, and had to remind those porting it to Amiga and Archimedes (hey it was a while ago!) to make source available.

    The whole concept of sharing had never occured them before. I felt that the GPL had accomplished something then.
  • While I can't speak for ESR, in my experience a lot of libertarians don't take great pains to respect differences of opinion. Anyone who suggests that there are obvious benefits to some level of government regulation is derided as an economic neanderthal, usually with the dreaded dismissal, "Well, then, you're obviously a liberal."

    It seems people on both the poles that RMS and ESR represent placidly ignore that America has done very, very well throughout the 20th century with a mixed economy, a market with imposed rules. It boils down to whether the model for "competition" you want the market to use is the competition of a game, or the competition of warfare. Personally, I'm more comfortable with the former than the latter.

    Having picked my nit, I agree with the generalities of your post; it seems obvious to me that people should be compensated for their work if they so choose. If there is a way to do that within the definition of "Free Software," great. But RMS' underlying assertion is that using software I do not have the freedom to both copy and modify is an immoral restriction. A restriction, perhaps, but I have always had the freedom to use or not use software as I see fit, to learn enough to write my own applications if I don't like what's out there (for reasons practical or philosophical), or to throw away my computer and use a typewriter. If I were not free to try to sell my own products without being forced to subsidize competitors, this would seem a more serious restriction on my freedom.

  • ...that RMS seems to base his philosophies off of the same "copyrights are wrong" idea that excites the "information wants to be free" dorks around Slashdot so much. At least Stallman is distinguished from all the warez dudes by actually having created valuable information himself, but that just makes it especially ironic, since he protects that information (both software and his writings) with a (lenient) copyright himself.

    Frankly, if you don't like the fact that you can't press a thousand Metallica CDs for a few hundred bucks like you can with GPLed software, the solution is simple: use GPLed software, don't listen to Metallica. This is the same thing Slashdot tells clueless companies who bitch about how "restrictive" the GPL is when they're trying to treat free software like a candy pinata: if you don't like the terms an author sets on the use of his creation, don't use it. It's just as applicable in either case.
  • You chose to consider yourself as an "easily-angered reader" and then took offense. This is rediculous. You evidently identified your self correctly.

    I believe his point was if you don't like Stallman, don't read this. No particularly offensive. Quite living in highschool, grow up.

    Troy Roberts
  • How about this:

    Give people massive tax breaks for not having any children, or for only having one child. It's not violating anyone's civil rights, it's not imprisoning anyone, and it's humane. It appeals to the one thing that drives most people: their wallets. This is a totally biased solution on my part, though, since I never plan to have any kids.

    The big drawback is sheer time it would take to succeed, and it would probably only work in countries where taxes are fairly high to being with. Oh, well...
  • >I'm becoming more convinced by the day that >humans (at least Americans) simply don't truly >want freedom Sadly, I'd have to agree with you on that one. It seems like people needing their freedom swings like a pendulum - it's well known that in many arenas of politics the pendulum swings from one extreme to another. First, you've got a totally leftist radical culture, which gradually swings to a more centrist approach to more issues, which gradually swings to the conservative end of things. When people find out how much it sucks being in a despotic state, they start swinging back to the left, and eventually you start over with a revolution and leftist ideals abounding. I don't think americans want their freedom either, and that really is sad. Sometimes it takes people dying, and people being silenced and being thrown into prison before people realize that it truly is better to be uncomfortable and have to listen to that KKK member talk than it is to be stripped of your freedom of speech or other freedoms, and have to sit there and take it without having the ability to say anything. So maybe what linux users need is to get MASSIVELY FUCKED before they realize which sacrafices are appropriate and which are merely sellout attempts at popularity. I saw one post that ranted about how RMS was cramming "GNU/Linux" down everybody's throats, and how the poster thought that was evidence that RMS was hiding something or somehow inadequate as a hacker, because real hackers didn't have to hide behind terminology to see their software succeed. If that were true, then there wouldn't be an open source movement, hackers would realize that the temptation of popularity from a businessman isn't worth pursuing. If your software is good, they will come to you even if your software is free. We don't need a "rebranding" campaign, a "remarketing" campaign, or anything similar. People think that "Free Software" and "GNU/Linux" are terms that are "crammed down people's throats.". I say it is what it is, take it or leave it. If your code is GPL'd, then it is "Free Software". It happens to also be open source at the same time, but it is primarily free software. (If you doubt me, read your own license :). If you're using the SCSL, then you may have open source, but not necessarily Free Software. Enough rambling...
  • The problem is, as RMS says, there are no scientific reasons to believe Open Source is a better business model. After all, Microsoft is far more profitable than Red Hat. Lacking such reasons, the only real reason to support Open Source is if it is congruent with one's own personal philosophy. I happen to support it myself, but I admit my feelings are merely ethical in nature. I suspect you and ESR are really idealists at heart but, like Bogart's Rick in Casablanca feel that you have justify your feelings economically
  • You don't even know you're being oppressed, and that sucks. If you were black and living in 1950, would you say that same thing? Female, in 1890? Do you really not understand that no one is making this 'erosion of freedom' suff up?

    If I were black in the 1950's, I would have been a founding member of the black panther party.

    If I were female in the 1890's I would be party like it was 1899.

    I'm a white guy in America in the year 2000. I think that in the here and now, things are not too bad. Blacks and Females have the same rights/protections under the law as I do. Sure this is debatable, but that is the ideal.

    Our rights _are_ being taken away. I wonder daily when my pistol with be made illegal. I wonder when I will be named in the DMCA suit for having a copy of DeCSS. BUT-- I have a life that I enjoy too. I send my weekends on the lake, weeknights in front of my computer and spare time watching good television programming (Example. not Springer).

    The point is, quit feeling so guilty. You can't take on all of the worlds problems. Solve the problems within your sphere of influince.
  • Yup, apparently the DMCA covers such trivial things as the Serial Copy Management System, which is simply a copy/don't copy bit that could easily be ignored, and built-in Macrovision defeaters (such as in Go video decks), which are $5 at Radio Shack.

    (On a side note, I've heard that this has already hampered free software to some extent, with Matrox unwilling to release specs for their TV card because someone could just flip a bit and turn off MacroVision.)

    I'm not sure how this would be implemented, but I could imagine that your software could contain some sort of "GPL Licenced" signature that must be encoded in the binary. Removing the signature would be trival, but might be considered a violation of the DMCA. Although, perhaps Stallman would rather have folks work to overturn/subvert the DMCA than figure out a way to implement it.
    --
  • Some of us older farts remember Stallman's plans to deliver a complete "GNU System" long before the Linux kernel had been invented. It was generally considered impossible or quixotic.

    So, now his dream has been realized and millions of copies of the "GNU System" are all over the Internet and your local CompuJunk store. The problem is that what people are buying/downloading is not the philosophical "GNU", but a product "XYZ Linux". I don't think that Stallman is looking for credit so much as he is looking to change the approach people take to the system - a philosophy or a product?

    I have to admit that I'm part of the problem here - I use Linux OSes because they work well for what they do. While I admire the goals of the free software movement, the bottom line is that Linux is a product that works great and the price is right. If it were not the case, I'd be using something else non-free. I'd guess that's the case with many Linux users, the product (a free unix that runs on your hardware) outweighs the philosophy.
    --
  • Get rid of the radicals? Did you just get here?!

    The whole concept of open source is radical (in today's world).

    If getting linux (and open source as a concept) into the mainstream means ignoring our ideals and forgetting how we got here, then it IS NOT worth it.

    The way to 'go mainstream' is to beat the proprietary software using OUR rules, by producing better programs. This is already happening and soon the software industry will not be able to ignore it. Then we will have won on our own terms, using our own tools.

    Besides, how do ou propose to 'get rid' of someone who is responsible for most of the code in any given linux distro?

    Finkployd

    Finkployd

  • Hm, so you *are* certain of the worth of "millions of dollars?" That the pursuit of money is unquestionably valuable?

    No, I'm certainly not. However, that wasn't my point (after rereading my original post, I realized I hadn't made my point clear at all). The point is that money *is* valuable to most people (if it wasn't, it wouldn't *be* money). Given a good enough reason, most people will give up money. In the absence of such a reason, people will choose to have money and the things (comfort, power, etc.) that go with it.

    Sidenote: I really gave RMS too much credit in my original post. He may have sacrificed the comfort that comes with money, but not the power.

    Anyway, my point is just that an ethical system whose greatest promoter is uncertain of is probably not a good enough reason to convince people to give up their money.
  • And besides, aren't you advocating throwing away *billions* of dollars on an ethical standard (close private corporate tyrannies) which we are quite *certain* is WRONG!?

    *You* may be certain, but RMS isn't. He claims that you can't be certain.

    I think you are the one misunderstanding his argument. I think Free (and Open Source) Software is a good thing. I do not want to be tied into proprietary solutions. That certainly could result in throwing away billions of dollars. However, RMS's point was that the utility of using Free Software isn't the issue, and is the point of the Open Souce movement, rather than the Free Software movement. If RMS's view, utility is unimportant. The ethics are all that matter. My point was just that that seems to be a silly stance to take (and most people..especially the people whose descisons matter most... *won't* take it) when you claim that you cannot be certain of the ethics.
  • I get your point (I don't agree, but that's another issue), but you don't get mine. Mine was not about whether or not morals exist, it was about RMS's statement that:

    Even supposing that the aforementioned gods exist, and that the believers really know what the gods think, that still does not provide certainty, because any being no matter how powerful can still be wrong.

    And why I think that statement is ridiculous.

    You can't suppose that the "aforementioned gods exist" by claiming they don't exist. (And if absolute morals don't exist, gods who give us absolute morals don't exist either.)
  • ...and not a very good one. The thing is, his beliefs...etc, all come down do his philosophy.

    Let's see: The Free Software Movement raises issues of freedom, community, principle, and ethics, which the Open Source Movement studiously avoids.

    Compared with:

    Whether gods exist or not, there is no way to get absolute certainty about ethics.

    Oh, yes. I read his little disclaimer at the end. However, are you willing to throw away millions of dollars to adhere to an ethical standard of which you aren't certain? RMS apparently is (or at least on a smaller scale), and I do admire him for that, but I'm not, and most others aren't.

    Oh, yeah. And the belief that gods can't be certain about ethics is one of the silliest things I've ever heard. If morals exist outside our heads, then they have to come from somewhere. If, as many religions do, we call the source of those morals "God," then how can "God" be uncertain? I admit I'm fuzzing over the diff between ethics and morals here, but if that same God created the universe and all its laws and inhabitants, then ethics would present no difficulty as well.

    RMS is taking a stance that says, "This is the most important because it is right. Sacrifice everything for it," but he then goes on to say, you can't be sure what is right! Not only is he a bad philosopher, but he is incredibly naive about human nature.
  • and so are you.

    You have no idea how correct you are. I'm one of those insane people who hates the idea of having my every purchase planted into a database in order to 'make my next purchasing decision easier.' I don't own a television. I don't listen to the radio. I throw away mail advertisements unopened. I don't buy plastic if I can avoid it. I recycle. I drive a small, crappy car that gets good gas mileage - when I drive. I pick up other people's garbage.

    Yep, that's me, obviously fucking insane because I give a shit about the planet I leave behind. Thanks for reminding me how good it makes me feel to be a raving lunatic.

    We can think and decide for ourselves what is good. We don't need a spokesman.

    You don't even know you're being oppressed, and that sucks. If you were black and living in 1950, would you say that same thing? Female, in 1890? Do you really not understand that no one is making this 'erosion of freedom' suff up?

    No, you're right - the status quo is OK with everyone. Forget the fact that there are millions of people suffering over absolute bullshit, and allow me to apologize for being so selfish.

    --
    blue
  • The main thing that you must realize with GNU as an organization is that the leader is strong-minded when it comes to the position on how all software should be, however, many of GNU's contributors and supporters just don't agree with him to that extent. And that's perfectly fine. Personally, I think that supporting the free-ing of all software everywhere is like supporting total pacifism or communism. They are very good ideas, and would be cool... if it actually worked. Every one has _way_ to many inherent flaws, because this is an imperfect world.

    To clarify, you'll want the most vehement racist at the front of the KKK, and you'll want the most bleeding heart liberal out there to fight gun control (poor people just can't pathom the idea that it's not the guns but the people who kill people). You'll also want the biggest die-hard free software advocate to run GNU.

    Thankfully, the GPL doesn't include a clause that say you have to agree with free software idealism in order to use it. Otherwise, RMS would be alone in his quest for free software, and GNU and it's software as a whole would be painfully undeveloped.
  • Once again the common error is made that RMS is a "socialist." Not at all, from what I can tell from his fairly voluminous writing, at least not by any rigorous definition. He may be a "social democrat" (as I consider myself), a term that has no context in the American political scene but is basically a centrist position in the European mode.

    What RMS definitely is: he is a classic liberal, meaning a follower of Locke, Hume and Adam Smith. "Classic liberalism" (a badly made phrase, but it will do) gave rise to both modern liberalism and modern conservatism, although it doesn't resemble the modern forms all that much. Instead, it takes a deliberately philosophical (in the old-fashioned pre-modernist sense) view at a time when politics, economics and philosophy were considered basically branches of the same type of thought.

    This focus on first causes is what distinguishes RMS. I'm struck by the parallels between his career and that of Dr. E. F. Codd, who developed the concept of the relational database based on predicate calculus at IBM in the late 1960s, and has spent 30 years ever since complaining about the actual implementation of his framework that went on to take over the database world :)

    Like RMS with Open Source, Codd believes that Structured Query Language (SQL) is at best a pale and fragmentary implementation of the mathematically sound approach he developed. Like RMS, he is considered grumpy and retrograde by a good many practitioners in the field he pioneered. All the same, it's possible to respect his purism and continue to use and like the relatively impure byproduct.

    And thus I type post this to Slashdot, which uses Perl under Stallman's GPL and MySQL developed from the concepts of Codd's calculus of relational data.

    --------

    I prefer freedom over "innovation" that means making sloppy software more complicated, so it is STILL true:
  • Q: Are there any good case studies of large corporations opening up proprietary in-house source code?

    Mozilla [mozilla.org], surely :-)

    RMS said:
    any being no matter how powerful can still be wrong

    So, if you postulate a God (who would be the most powerful being in the Universe, rather by definition) and then say he's wrong, who is he wrong compared to? Surely such a being would be right by definition, particularly if they were omniscient.

    Gerv
  • I don't agree with many of his views, but as a person who firmly stands up to defend his ideals and who has spent decades trying to change the world, he should be respected. One must realize, though, that he is an extremist, and because of this many people might never see things his way.

    Many people mistakenly believe that the reason RMS insists on using GNU/Linux is his seek for fame; that he wants people to give him credit for his work. This is clearly false, as may be seen from his interview. The difference between GNU/Linux and Linux is the same one as between saying free as in "free speech" instead of free as in "free beer" - and it is very important distinction. Even though he may not crave for it, he does deserve recognition, because the free software movement probably wouldn't exist without him.

    Like I said, some things he says make me just want to shake my head, and others - well, there are infuriating ones, like his take on Napster. It is rather interesting how he manages to dismiss the whole Napster case as seeing "nothing inethical" in it - but like I said, it's just his steadfast ideology.

  • You're scaring me!
    I knew I shouldn't have left my cave...

    PS. read the one sentence caspule review for "Where The Heart Is" on Toronto.com [toronto.com]
    Do ya think he reads segfault or slashdot?

    Pope

    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • if I prefer one kind of tea over someone else I don't think either of us is "wrong" in any meaningful sense - it truly is relative.

    Stallman said "If I and someone else disagree, at least one of us is wrong. " If you say "My tea is best" and I say "No, my tea is best," I would assert that both of us are incorrect.

    And a careful reading of your statement suggests this: "I've tried Darjeeling, one kind of tea, and I've tried Al Gore, who is someone else. I prefer Darjeeling over Al Gore."
  • Hmmm...after rereading the original post, I couldn't find any mention of doom, or wishing anything of the sort on anyone.

    but I agree. I wouldn't wish doom on anyone. The sprite graphics, the low-res textures, the 3D-no-wait-they're-2D maps...I could go on, but you get my point.
  • > No one *wants* to have a business-free computing environment.

    You misunderstand the point, at least as some of us would have it. What some of us want is to be free of is the leaches, the overcharging middlemen, the upgrade treadmills. While ditching those would be a serious blow to the software industry, it would be an even more serious blow for the rest of the world's industries, which just want to get their work done and would like to be able to use computers to do it without being milked poor by the aforementioned highwaymen. For us, the attitude isn't anti-business, it's anti-rip-off.

    > but in the fan-boy computer biz people want multi-million dollar corporations developing toys for them: Pentium III, Athlon, GeForce, Voodoo 5, Soundblaster Live, optical mice, 72GB hard drives, etc.

    Nice list of hardware there. Did you deliberately neglect to mention MMD corporations developing software toys for us?

    The important difference between free/open software and that peddled by the big software companies is that for the most part free/open software is intended to serve the user rather than the vendor. Development is usually cumulative, with incompatibilites introduced for technical reasons rather than marketing reasons. Upgrade when it pleases you, not when the vendor needs to make a good showing for a quarterly report. If you're using two incompatible packages, hack them to make them play rather than throwing one out and paying for an otherwise unneeded replacement.

    I'm all for businesses when they operate by providing a good value for the price. The problem with most commercial software other than games is the fact that once you start using a product, the exclusive vendor of that product has you by the yang and cannot, in general, resist the temptation to take advantage of the situation.

    --
  • > 2) I worked in a hospital as a tech, my mother
    worked in a hospital for 25 years, she tried and was unable to find a doctor who has a problem with
    cannabis use.


    Folklore has it that RR hand-picked a committee to study MJ and dig up the medical poop on it for once and for all, and their report concluded that the biggest healt hazard of smoking pot was an increased tendancy to smoke tobacco later in life. Funny, if true.

    > Actually what you should ask is WHY are we fighting a "War on Drugs"?

    Speculating aloud...
    • It harvests a big crop of votes.
    • Lots of politicians or other influential parties are in on the take from the smuggling business.
    • Any politician who started a serious movement toward stopping the drug war would be targeted for assassination by the cartels, as a threat to their business model.


    --
  • > Would you have felt the same if the relilgion involved was Hindu, Islam, Jewish, or Taoist.

    What's going to be funny is when conservative Christians finally get their School Prayer Amendment, and someone stands up at graduation and offers a prayer to Allah, Wotan, or RMS. If you think they're complaining now....

    --
  • Socrates was a stonemason.

    He spent his adult life wondering around Attica, irritating the powers that were by challenging people's assumptions about everything.

    He was finally condemned in a political court for introducing false gods and corrupting the youth.

    He had opportunity to avoid the death penalty by fleeing the country, and was urged to do so by his followers, but elected to stay and die for his principles instead.

    He had a "last supper" with his disciples (though he didn't share the cup around!).

    Of course there was one very important difference between him and Jesus: when Jesus got into a debate he destroyed the opposition with a single pithy quip, whereas Socrates wore down the opposition with a veritable avalanche of words.

    A second important difference is that the saying of Rabbi Hillel were never attributed to Socrates (as they were to Jesus).

    The legendary Jesus was, it seems to me, patterned (in part) on an apotheosized Socrates.

    The above is, of course, merely one possible take on the subject. Take a survey course in Classical Greek literature and afterward you'll find nothing in the life of Jesus that is marvelous.

    --
  • Because the license expressly says that if the software is running on more than one computer at once. It still has to be 'installed' on your machine. THere is still a 'copy' made in memory on your machine. Hence, distribution. ASP's provide things through their own java/web style interfaces.. under which there is no transfer of actual software.
  • Great interview! The change from biz-speak droids (like Augustin turned out to be) to speak-your-mind RMS is like a breath of fresh air.

    Maybe I should mark the below as offtopic, but...

    The problem isn't religious fundamentalism. It's religious fundamentalists. I have (and presumably RMS has) no problem with people who want to handle snakes, or whatever. The problem comes in when they try to force you to do the same. I assume RMS's comment was shorthand for this.

    The other item was the end comment about atheism. "No being no matter how powerful can be certain about ethical matters." (emphasis mine and this was paraphrased.

    I'm not a "believer". However, even I can see that if you define Entity E as "omniscient" then clearly they must be certain about ethical matters--by definition.

    I wouldn't make such a big deal about a logical nicety, except that RMS seems to be basing arguments on this fallacy.
    --
    Have Exchange users? Want to run Linux? Can't afford OpenMail?
  • Q: Are there any good case studies of large corporations opening up proprietary in-house source code?

    Mozilla, surely :-)

    I think they were talking about the source to in-house applications - the business support apps the most large businesses have.

    This is a very interesting question, because lots of these apps incorporate business rules that the companies would consider highly confidential.

  • ****Warning: The interview below contains mature concepts and strong opinions. It may not be suitable reading for easily-angered readers whose views conflict with Mr. Stallman's****

    Was this meant to be funny? It really strikes me as strange that you would say that. RMS agrees to do an interview and you put this warning garbage on the main page...maybe I'm over-reacting here but it seems..well...strange. Sure a lot of people don't like his opinions but so what, to each his own.

  • So answer this: why do the other 25% think it is a good idea? Doesn't this come down to a tyranny of the majority, where the larger group coerces the smaller group into adhering to the larger group's ideology? If someone claims it is a natural right to copy information freely, how can you prove otherwise?
  • I looked for that at Bible on the web [bibleontheweb.com] and I couldn't find it. There are (depending on the translation you use) 130+ entries for the word faith, and about 8 for evidence. I could not find your quote. Could you point me at the exact verse, and tell me which translation you're using?

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • Hmmm. But don't you think that just because something cannot be seen doesn't mean it cannot be experianced?

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • How then would you respond to people who say they have had a personal experiance with the devine? I know that God has acted in my life, on more than one occasion. I am certain that I am here only because God still has a plan for me. Do you think my experiance was all in my head? I'm not trying to be snide, I know it could look that way. I'm asking because I want to know what you think...

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • The largest difference here is that I'm NOT saying I personally met with, and spoke to God - who then spoke back, in English no less, to tell me what to do. I'm saying that things have happened in my life that I simply cannot explain. Good things, at that. I don't buy that it was coencidence, etc. I have faith because of my personal experiance with the devine.

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • One can always come up with something that is both simple and wrong. Occum's razor comes to mind.

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • Yes, I think the Razor is an excellent example of false logic. Just because something is more simple doesn't make it the right answer. Let's face it: Science doesn't have all the answers either. Einstien even said that he thought God was a part of the universe.

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • One could argue that it is the basis of many people's logic, and makes false assumptions.

    Anyway, this has become far afield of the original discussion on faith. :-)

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • Faith is belief without reason

    NO. That is called BLIND faith. A better definition of faith would be that you have a belief based on personal experience.
    Go read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. You'll get a better understanding of what faith truly is.

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • Our generation (Generation Net or Generation /.) sees software and digital media in a completely different light.

    I prefer Generation Why. There's a half-assed paper about it on my site somewhere...

    --
  • Let me make my bias clear. I think RMS rocks. Yea, he can be a stubborn, thick-headed asshole, but I think this question defines that side of him the best.

    Q: Are there any things that you sort of care about, but not very much?

    RMS: Sure, plenty--but I don't argue about those things.


    Some other highlights.

    I am not affiliated with the Open Source Movement. I founded the Free Software Movement, which has been working to spread freedom and cooperation since 1984, and is concerned not only with practical benefits but with a social and ethical issue: whether to encourage people to cooperate with their neighbors, or prohibit cooperation.

    1984 [wahcentral.net], what can you say...hehe. Funny that one of the things will make make sure we don't have a totalitarian regime in the future, was started the same year that totalitarian regime was supposed to take over.

    Does the phrase "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" (I'm thinking of the "GNU/Linux" thing) have any resonance at all with you?

    followed by a paragraph long explanation on why you should call it GNU/Linux, hehe. He does have a sense of humor.:)

    The DMCA is a perfect example of the harm done when business dominates government and society. One part of the law explicitly says that only commercially significant activities are considered important (to legitimize a program which is often used to bypass technological means of controlling the users)--showing explicit prejudice against educational uses, recreational uses, communitarian uses, military uses, and religious uses.

    couldn't have said it better myself, and I've tried (click user info)

    So I'm starting to think the guy gets in, but then I realize he's still learning...

    I don't play music from files on my computer,
    but I've occasionally made tapes of records and given them to my friends.


    C'mon d00d, Keep the music flowing! [wahcentral.net] hehe.

    We have choices to make now. To insist on absolute certainty before starting to
    apply ethics to life decisions is a way of choosing to be amoral.


    amen, brother.
    --
  • Furthermore, the attacks on the "War on Drugs" and conservative politicians in general were completely unnecessary in this forum. The same drug policies have continued for eight years under Clinton's administration -- does that make them ok? The high rate of imprisonment in this country continues under a Democratic administration, yet the implication is that it's the fault of Republicans.

    Perhaps you should reread him and reconsider your opinion. Nowhere does he mention Republicans or Democrats or even Conservatives or Liberals. There's not the slightest whiff of a suggestion that one party is better in this respect than the other, or that one ideological wing has been more morally pure on this issue than another.

    RMS is an interesting figure, because he's kind of a touchstone. People tend to read what they will into what he says, and react accordingly. Like a Rorsach test. This is ironic that this should happen to RMS of all people because he is particularly forthright and clear in the way he expresses himself. Perhaps this tendency to read him this way is because he is not really aligned with any forces in contemporary politics. We struggle to pinpoint him on some axis that he is idependent of. It's also too bad, because what his ideas deserve attention in their own right.

    In any case, he's completely right about the War on Drugs. This war, which we all know has been waged and supported now by generations of Democratic and Republican administrations and congresses, has spawned many egregious injustices. Oh, people are going to jail all right, but not the right people to get the war won. Which keeps the war rolling on for the politicians, left and right, use for political posturing and for the personal gain of their cronies.

    In this context, having a proportion of our population imprisoned so large that it can only be compared to dysfunctional and authoritarian societies is nothing to be proud of. Is prison body count the right metric to guage progress?

  • They refuse to use banners, though. They are two-line text ads.

    They had a questionnaire a little while ago and I said that I wouldn't mind ads, but don't like banners or popups. Appareently, I'm not the only one who responded that way.
  • Try this:

    Delete glibc.

  • Before I get flamed, I should explain that by "religious fundamentalism", I am describing the beliefs of about half a percent of people of faith, and am not attempting to describe or characterize "mainstream" religious belief.

    Actually, much of "mainstream" religious belief is quite fundamentalist in nature. It's just lost most of its shock value through overexposure.
  • Time to go get an alpha an a copy of DEC's compiler (or compaq, whatever)...

    ...or you could just be a good boy and write everything in nasm (or an equivalent).

    I suppose the easiest way would be to delete linux and install Mickeysoft Windoom - that hardly solves ethical problems... and certainly qon't let you run your linux apps very well...
  • by Paul Komarek (794) <komarek.paul@gmail.com> on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:06PM (#1099737) Homepage
    "What RMS is really talking about is mandatory disclosure and a fixed $0.00 price tag on software."

    I don't see where you get this from Stallman, and I don't think he'd agree with it. Mandatory disclosure, possibly. The right to reverse engineer and share, certainly. But a fixed $0.00 price tag has never been part of his philosophy, as far as I can tell.

    These are subtle issues, so we need to be really careful when discussing them. Where RMS says, roughly, "if someone rejects my values, there's really nothing we can argue about," he is roughly describing any axiomatic system--for instance mathematics or formal logic, where an axiomatic system is used for clarity (well, some people think it is a religion, sullied by human issues such as clarity). I think he had such a well-thought-out answer for the 'values' bit because he is a careful, thoughtful, deliberate person.

    So--mandatory disclosure doesn't jive with freedom, so I don't believe he'd advocate that exactly (IANRMS?). After all, the GPL doesn't propose to force full disclosure for Microsoft's code, unless this code is derived from GPL'd code (which is where copyright law comes into play, deciding what is a derivative, and whether the copyright holder has any power over the derivative). My right to analyze and share publicly distributed information, whether or not I paid to receive that information, is very much about my freedom. And the price bit is a red herring--the GPL doesn't require 'gratis' software.

    RMS is trying to analyze and solve a really hard problem, accomodating freedom within a social structure. I don't think anyone has really solved this yet, especially the USA with it's rather inhumane economy (I am a US citizen, and I feel I can adequately justify this statements).

    -Paul Komarek
  • by rlk (1089) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:01AM (#1099738)
    I've had a few run-ins with RMS myself. He's blunt and outspoken by nature, and it's easy to have disagreements with him. However, I'm not particularly ashamed to admit that he's been proven right over time much more often than not, and even if I didn't care for his style I'd be foolish to to ignore that fact.

    If you read that interview carefully (and also pay attention to what goes on), you will note that he does not reflexively take the positions that one would expect. For example, when Corel decided to distribute their Linux beta only to people age 18 and up, he jumped in, all right -- squarely on the side of Corel (Corel is not obligated to distribute their Linux to anyone they don't want to, and they weren't restricting downstream distribution). I think he's actually quite careful and measured in what he says. I won't claim that he's diplomatic, just that he thinks carefully about what positions he takes and is very precise in his language.

    I won't say that it's "fair" or not to have a low opinion of free software because of personal distaste for RMS, but I think it's very superficial to do so.
  • by X (1235) <x@xman.org> on Monday May 01, 2000 @01:36PM (#1099739) Homepage Journal
    There is a big difference between saying that the GNU project "exists" now because of Linux and that it is "so big now" because of Linux. GNU basically owes it's existence to RMS and whatever forces consipired to inspire him to form GNU. To suggest that something which came in to existing 7 years later could be the cause of it's existence is disingenuous in the extreme. Certainly Linux is probably the best poster boy that GNU has to herald the concepts of free software. However, there were other projects before that (gcc in particular comes to mind) which were also quite huge, and indeed without which it's quite possible Linux would not have happened.

    That being said, the real contributions of GNU to the Linux kernel are a) all the handy pieces of the Unix puzzle which were made available to Linus and the world at large, and b) the GPL, the use of which even Linus believes was probably his smartest design decision with regards to the Linux kernel. I think it's not hard to argue that those two pieces of the puzzle EASILY represent a more signficant contribution to the movement than the kernel itself.

    To suggest that if the "early Linux users had not found GNU they would have hacked their own tools." shows blatant disregard for the magnitude of the situation. For starters, GNU tools were used to BUILD Linux, so there wouldn't be a Linux for users to use without them. Additionally, without those tools, there would not have been a whole lot that that users could do with just a kernel to stare at. One could point to the BSD code base but for the fact that at the time it's "freedom" was severely tainted and people didn't want to come near it. Finally, I think both the BSD and the GNU guys would point out that the extensive set of tools that they built represents signficantly more work than an OS kernel. Indeed, the last time I checked glibc alone was signficantly larger than the Linux kernel.

    Finally, you are missing your point about the whole GNU/Linux controversy anyway. The whole point is not to get people to trumpet GNU's horn. The GNU project's work was always meant to be a tangible mechanism to talk about free software, and GNU is trying to keep it in that role. Currently, people easily talk about Linux without talking about free software, and THAT is why GNU is trying to trumpet the GNU/Linux name scheme more than anything else. Indeed, I think the majority of GNU code is actually not RMS's, so it's hard to describe it as his work.

    I do agree that it's likely a doomed effort because it's not achieve the kind of grass roots support which is necessary for that to happen.
  • by jht (5006) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:29AM (#1099740) Homepage Journal
    Maybe RMS should move on to the other causes he thinks he could be of benefit to. His time as the leader of Open Source is over.

    Methinks you miss the point. RMS has never been the leader of the Open Source "movement". He's not interested in that. What RMS advocates is Free Software, and that's a different animal (though they look the same on the surface)entirely. To put it simply:

    Free Software is, by definition, open source. It also gives you full usage and reproduction rights, and prevents those rights from being taken away.

    Open Source software is not necessarily Free. The source is available to StarOffice - it's Open Source software. But try downloading the code, changing a few text strings, then selling it as "FooOffice". Sun's lawyers would slap the taste right out of your mouth, you'd be hit so hard. And rightly so. Were StarOffice Free Software, this would not be an issue. Sun would not have the right to stop you from doing that.

    Open Source is definitely a Good Thing, and useful. I'd rather see Open Source software with commercial restrictions than see closed commercial restricted software. But Free Software is the ideal that RMS has always been striving for - and Open Source is, at best, just a step in that direction. Remember, with people like RMS and his ideals out on the "fringe", it turns ESR and the rest of the Open Sourcers into the mainstream. And that's good for us all right now. Just a couple of years ago, Open Source itself was the "wacky fringe". How far we've come in just a short time!

    - -Josh Turiel
  • by mattc (12417) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:44AM (#1099741) Homepage
    Well, this post is probably a troll, but I'll reply anyway.

    There is a finite amount of resources on this planet. If we don't kill ourselves off with pollution first, we will eventually run out of space. This is a simple fact.

    Also, most people would like to preserve some wilderness. Whether it be for recreation, aesthetic reasons, ethical reasons, or all of the above... It is hard to preserve natural areas on an overcrowded planet.

    In addition, you say "more goods and services" are a good thing, however if this were true rich people would be the happiest people, and I don't find this to be true.

  • by phred (14852) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:08PM (#1099742)
    Why, I'm glad you asked that. Right here in Portland, Oregon, the ACLU has been defending conservative Christian streetcorner preachers who loudly declaim at the corner of Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. The management of the square, a non-profit with a sort of exalted city-blessed status, shooed them away from time to time and even had a couple of them arrested. The local ACLU has been helping defend them in court. I applaud this as an ACLU member. Their speech is annoying and foolish, but it is wholly protected and the square is public space.

    -------

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday May 01, 2000 @02:16PM (#1099743) Homepage Journal
    Troll? Someone moderated this as a troll? Ha!
    Did it frighten you for someone to question your assumptions like that? Was the cognative dissonance making your head rattle?

    No has yet given a satisfactory rebutal, only given reductio-ad-absurdum examples that are irrelevant to the axioms that I'm questioning.

    I'll rephrase: assuming natural rights are real and not a fiction invented to justify that which is arbitrary, how is the right to share information less valid than the right to have ownership of information? Are either of these "natural rights", and can you support that arguement?
  • by Hizonner (38491) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:11AM (#1099744)
    The DMCA seems like a reasonable and fair document if you actually read it...

    Trust me, I've read it. I read the drafts of it. I argued with a bunch of lobbyists about it. It's not as disastrous as it might have been. It's still a horrible law.

    First of all, no, users do not "still have the right to crack software they have lawfully purchased". Not in general. They can do it to reverse engineer for interoperability, they can do it for certain research in cryptography. They can't do it just for their own convenience.

    Secondly, even the permission to do it for interoperability is screwed up. Take DVDs. You can analyze CSS to figure out how it works, for the purpose of creating a DVD player app. You cannot actually distribute the app... the exception applies only to your own circumvention, not to the separate provisions on distributing tools. Not only that, but you can't actually use your crack to watch DVDs... you can only try to figure out interoperability.

    As I've mentioned elsewhere, the anticircumvention provisions are also bad in that, once you've put in place a measure to protect your copyright, you can start using it to enforce other restrictions that break fair use. Take CSS again. It's illegal to crack it because it prevents copying. It also enforces region coding. DVD producers have no legal right to tell users where they can play the disks... but, under the DMCA, users can't bypass region coding, because that requires bypassing the CSS, which is also a copy protection scheme, and is also protected.

    There are lots of other practical problems with the DMCA... like the fact that it outlaws trying to reverse the encryption on a virus to figure out how it works. These things often look "fair and reasonable" until you actually think about how they can be applied.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday May 02, 2000 @12:21AM (#1099745) Homepage
    (In 1988, George Bush called Mike Dukakis a "card-carrying member of the ACLU", in effect comparing the Bill of Rights with Communism and its defenders with Communists. This insult to the US Constitution inspired me, as it did many others, to join the ACLU. Let's hope the Shrub will not be president; one Bush was too many.)

    Umm, what? This had nothing to do with the question at hand and can be considered a blatant political plug. He wasn't asked about his political affiliation or what his views were on Bush; he was asked what he would do once, if ever, software was all open sourced and he had the opportunity to enter into another career path.

    Not to be a face in the croud, but slashdot does seem to be getting more and more political. Naturally, it'll happen with a large body of people, but with politics and religion come hostilities. That's not desired.

    -------
    CAIMLAS

  • The War on Drugs has continued for some 20 years, and we see little prospect of peace, despite the fact that it has totally failed and given the US an imprisonment rate almost equal to Russia.
    Has Russia's been locking people up like mad since the fall of the USSR? I know that in the early 90's, we had the highest prison population in the world, both in raw numbers and per capita - and that was with only a bit over one million people in jail. We're now at about two million people behind bars.

    I have to agree with RMS about the possibility of a "War on Copying" - in fact I used that very phrase just a few days ago in another discussion. And I'd anticipate that strong anti-copying laws would be even less effective that the anti-drug laws that are violated by about thirty million Americans per year.

  • by Zorikin (49410) <(zorikin) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:48AM (#1099747)
    > All he did was spew a cultlike agenda the way all good cult leaders do.

    Let's review the facts here.

    From the skeptic's dictionary:
    "Three ideas seem essential to the concept of a cult. One is thinking in terms of us/them with total alienation from them."

    RMS has publicly admitted that ESR/OSS does some good things, thereby creating a gray area. Every member of FSF knows and regularly associates with people who are not members of the FSF.

    "The second is the intense, though often subtle, indoctrination techniques used to recruit and hold members."

    Text is not intense, no matter how big the font.

    "And the third is the charismatic cult leader."

    RMS is not very charismatic. ESR is more charismatic than RMS. And Linus is a nicer guy than either one, though I think ESR is more charismatic, and has a more dangerous agenda than RMS, though that's a different post.

    What makes some people prefer GPL over OSS and proprietary is not that they like the guy that drafted it, but that it appeals to the morals and ideals that they already had even before learning about GNU.

    Simply because my ideals are not a subset of your ideals, assuming perhaps prematurely that you have any at all, doesn't make me a 'lemming'. Maybe instead of calling me foolish without justification or qualification, you should raise a question on the specific way in which you think RMS is duping people.

    Or maybe you should go troll somewhere else. :)
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:54AM (#1099748)
    As usual, this has gotten out of hand.

    One shared point between Free Software and Open Source software has become more commmonplace in recent years: the releasing of source code to at least certain types of applications. Yeah, Microsoft doesn't give out the source to Word or Excel, but you can get the source to Quake, Descent, an entire OS, C compilers, window managers, device drivers, etc. And that's a good thing. Other times, software is given away in a "free as in beer" way, and that's also a good thing, though some people get very down on it. A student who has to use Windows and would like to work on some projects on his own can get Borland C++ free of charge. That's better alternative than any of the "free" compilers available for Windows (gcc and lcc variants).

    Then we get into the whole "We need to be saved from evil businesses" line. The Free Software guys are very extreme about this. The Open Source guys are less so, promoting the collaborative development side of things. There are two things that jump out here.

    The first is that, overall, free/open software has been out-done by non-free/closed commercial efforts. I know, I know, the Linux kernel is cool. Ditto for Apache. But in general, gcc is destroyed by Metrowerks and Borland, XWindows interfaces are beaten by Microsoft and Apple, The Gimp doesn't begin to approach Corel Draw or Photoshop, and nobody's come even close to developing a compelling or innovative free/open game (unless you consider a zillion Tetris and Asteroids variants to be compelling). Some halfway decent stuff comes along occasionally and many people fool themselves into thinking they've outdone mighty corporations, but they're scattered victories from skewed perspectives.

    The second is that no one has even begun a good attempt to create a business-free computing environment. Wait, that's too wishy-washy. No one *wants* to have a business-free computing environment. There's much hoo-hah about MP3s and Napster and the big bad music industry--stick it to the man--but in the fan-boy computer biz people want multi-million dollar corporations developing toys for them: Pentium III, Athlon, GeForce, Voodoo 5, Soundblaster Live, optical mice, 72GB hard drives, etc. As a result, much of the ranting about GPL and so on is pointless, because nobody wants to get rid of businesses any more than they want Hollywood to stop making movies.
  • by imac.usr (58845) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:46AM (#1099749) Homepage
    I'm not much of a software developer (mostly homemade things that mostly work), but it's where I'm planning to take my career next -- tech support just doesn't hold the same level of interest it once did, which wasn't much to begin with. Now, I would like to earn money from my code to pay for things like a nice car, more and faster computers, the next Rush album, and other happiness toys. But I'd also like to write useful programs that the world at large can utilize in new and interesting ways. If I were to write the next Photoshop, I would probably try to sell it and make money from it. If I were to write the next ATi driver, OTOH, I would probably be inclined to give it away as free software or open source, depending on what license I wind up preferring.

    I suspect most developers feel this way; not everybody is an 8-hour-a-day code monkey, just in it for the paycheck, but at the same time, you gotta eat and pay for the DSL line and the AirPort Base Station serving it to your machines. (Er, in some cases.)

    RMS is content with remaining on the frontline of the free software fight, and I can't help but admire his ability to remain committed to what many consider a pointless fight (I can't even commit to what I'm going to have for lunch -- pisses off the people in line behind me daily). Other companies (Microsoft, NVIDIA, Sorenson, etc.) prefer the money-making at the expense of personal freedom and satisfaction, i.e. being able to look through the code for a neat hack and saying, "oh, so that's how it's done!" I plan to try and walk a line somewhere in between. I gave to the EFF and complained to my state's leaders about UCITA (MD passed it anyway, bastards), but I could no more get rid of my Macs and their proprietary software than I could quit my job supporting them and live off the land. Anybody else feel they're in a similar position?

  • by kniedzw (65484) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:09AM (#1099750)
    RMS may not be the most ... diplomatic ... individual alive today, and his viewpoints are far from popular. His diatribes may indeed drive the mainstream users and corporations away from the FSF and away from Open Source as a movement, both as users and contributors.

    ...but he does fight for what he believes in, unabashedly and boldfacedly. In doing so, he's winning a few friends and more enemies, but he's also pushing for political and social change for what he perceives as the greater good.

    I don't agree with everything that Stallman says, and I don't believe that he's taking the most reasonable path to his goal (or even pushing for moderate change), but in being inflexable and combative, he's pushing for freedoms and benefits which benefit us all, ultimately. ...or at least the proletariat, as it were.

    I think that RMS is extreme and abrasive, but I'm damn glad he's there, fighting for what he believes in. If he weren't doing it, then I might have to. ...or one of you. Pragmatism shouldn't always take a back seat to principles.
  • by reptilian (75755) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:27AM (#1099751)
    I was talking about this today, before the interview came up. You see, I was a CS student a while ago, and had to stop going for various reasons. I grew up wanting to be a computer programmer, but as I approached college, and finally entered, I changed my mind. I'm not comfortable making software for profit or personal gain. I realized I never had been. It doesn't sit well with me at all. Yet, I still loved programming (though as my education progressed I fell in love with math and will probably major in that instead when I do go back to school). What was I to do? I could never work in some proprietary software house and feel comfortable with it. I decided to teach. Teaching is the perfect way to go, IMO. You can still make money (though teachers aren't that well payed), you have the satisfaction of knowing you're doing good for others, and you can still do whatever else you want. CS teachers in particular must have great lives, so it appears to me. I won't have to give up my idealism to survive, and that's the most important thing to me.

    It should be noted I'm not a Free Software zealot. All this happened long before I was intimately acquainted with Free Software at all.

    Things never do work out the way we want; I am going to have to give up my ideals (unless I can find some kind of job in Open Source, which is too much to ask). I can satisfy myself by saying it will only be temporary, but I'll still have to live with a profound sense of guilt.

    I believe my situation fits in with what you're saying, even though my philosophies and ideals are independent of those of RMS and Free Software for the most part; it's still in the same league.

  • by zantispam (78764) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:09AM (#1099752)
    Thanks for the reply. :-)

    I thought it kind of odd that the replys were set up that way. I mean, of course I could go back to the original interview and look over the posts easily enough (in fact, I remembered almost all of the questions and could peg about three people to their comments without looking), but I digress...

    I consider the differing format an experiment that maybe didn't work out as well as had been hoped for.

    May I make a suggestion? Provide a link with each question to the original comment in the original story. That way, I can see who made the comment and what kind of discussion it sparked.

    I can also give credit where credit's due :-)

    Thanks

    Here's my [redrival.com] copy of DeCSS. Where's yours?
  • by thePsychotron (106943) on Monday May 01, 2000 @12:08PM (#1099753)

    No. Freedom is me getting to do whatever I want with my code, including selling it to whoever I want at whatever price I want with whatever conditions I want.

    Yes, freedom means that you can do whatever you want with your code, but it doesn't meant that you can tell someone else what they can and can't do with that software. Ownership of intellectual property is an illusion, a byproduct of living in a capitalistic system. Like RMS and the US legal system say, Copyright laws protect an artificial right. The original intent of copyright law was to encourage creativity in a capitalistic system by allowing authors to profit from their work for a limited time, not to uphold some sort of fundamental ethical belif.

    The problem today is that copyright law has been abused to no end. It is now a tool for those is power to try to control and own information. That is wrong. They have launched propoganda campaigns in an attempt to convince us that violation of copyright law is "theft" and "piracy" and is the equvalent of a felony. That is just untrue.

    Right now I would also like to state that I consider the GPL a necessary evil. Yes, it does force restrictions upon the use of the work, but it is our only weapon against those who would try to take ownership of the work. In a perfect world without copyrights and licensing, everything would be in the public domain and we would not have to protect ourselves from those who would try to own thought.

    However, I do sympathise with you in that RMS's approach is quite radical and idealistic, and unfortuntely doesn't do much to help those working in the "real world". That, I feel, is the gap that Open Source fills. While RMS is right in saying that Open Source alone is not what we should be ultimately striving for, it is a step in the right direction. Free Software is not applicable to the current economic situation like Open Source is, but one also has to realize that RMS is not trying to address economic issues. RMS is concerned primarily with ethical issues, and that is a Good Thing(TM). Whether or not we can follow his philosiphies today is not as important as recognising that his belifs are fundamentally good. Only then can we hope to see a world where there is no need for copyrights.


    thePsychotron
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday May 01, 2000 @10:36AM (#1099754) Homepage
    It's sad, and a bit pathetic, to see Stallman portrayed as a "dangerous radical". All Stallman does is write software which he gives away under restrictions that prohibit anybody from making it less free. All Stallman says is that this is a good thing, and others should cooperate in this endeavour. Everything Stallman does is legal; he's definitely working within the system.

    One could take much more radical positions. For example, Lawrence Lessig [harvard.edu] proposes that copyright law be changed to make copyrights on software expire much sooner, perhaps in five years. Now that's a radical position. In some quarters, it would be viewed as a blatant taking of private property by state action. Stallman is nowhere near that radical; he just wants to give away stuff he, and people who agree with him, create.

    What scares people about Stallman is that he's effective. He's a good programmer, and people use his free software. He's figured out a way to make his world of free software slowly expand, by carefully engineering the General Public License. With the rise of Linux, multibillion dollar companies find their market share threatened by products that sell for nothing and can be worked on by anybody. Stallman has found a way to change the world for the better, and some people don't like that because it threatens their profits. Tough. Closed-source vendors can compete with free software, but their stuff has to be better and cheap. They hate that.

  • by jbarnett (127033) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:13AM (#1099755) Homepage

    For Linux to get mainstream we must get rid of the radicals and focus on the quality of the results.

    1) I don't think GNU/Linux would be where it is today without the radicals that helped develop/code/test/push/hack/smash the system. do you think all the kernel hackers out there are "non-radical normal people"? The more a person belives in something, the more a person cares about something, the better job he is going to do.

    2) The quality of the results will increase in ALL software once it is Free (as in speech).
  • by gonerill (139660) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:42AM (#1099756) Homepage
    Stallman's answer to this question Q: Are there any good case studies of large corporations opening up proprietary in-house source code? deserves to be read carefully. If what he says is roughly right, we're watching a very interesting change right now. What's happening is that a movement based on particular principled ends (of the kind that Stallman advocates) is getting repackaged and sold to companies as a new and effective means, ie a better way to turn a profit. It's interesting that RMS is now typically criticized for being past his time, etc. There's a predictable pattern to many social movements of this sort: they begin with prophetic characters like Stallman who have a radical agenda, and then gradually become co-opted and assimilated to existing institutions like corporations and the market. A key moment in this shift is when people stop arguing for an innovation like Open Software on principle and start arguing for it in terms of self-interest. Like Gresham's law, the bad arguments drive out the good, and pretty soon what seemed like an additional benefit of a principled idea becomes the main reason for supporting it. It'll be interesting to see in 15-20 years whether anyone argues for Open Software from a principled position, as Stallman does. My money says it'll become integrated into how corporations and markets work, and justified as a more effective way to make money. I get the feeling that many Open Source advocates (like Eric Raymond) aren't aware that this is happening.
  • They allow copyright owners to restrict the mere running of a program--but only if some sort of hard-to-bypass license manager or access control enforces the restrictions. The freedom of free software means that even if we did put such artificial restriction into a program, the user could easily bypass them--and that's a good thing! But it means that new legal power is not available for use for copyleft.

    It's all in the interpretation of the DMCA. In fact there are provisions already in place within the very sections that prohibit "circumventing a technological measure", that take into account 'fair use' when refferring to a users freedom...

    For example: `Sec. 1201. Circumvention of copyright protection systems

    `(a) VIOLATIONS REGARDING CIRCUMVENTION OF TECHNOLOGICAL MEASURES- (1)(A) No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title. The prohibition contained in the preceding sentence shall take effect at the end of the 2-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this chapter.


    Lower there are provisions to allow the copying of these works for nonprofit archival, preservation, and educational purposes; etc in sections C.

    In fact in section (f) which you don't really hear about that often because people are yelling about how evil the DMCA is, it says:

    `(f) REVERSE ENGINEERING- (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(1)(A), a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.

    The DMCA seems like a reasonable and fair document if you actually read it, it *already* takes into account most of the things people mercilessly bash it for not having. It seems like from what I've read users still have the right to crack software they have lawfully purchased and I see nothing wrong with having to pay for a product. I'm not really sure if giving someone a copy of software is fair use though, if you let someone borrow a book you no longer have the book, software can be reproduced indefinately with exact copies.

    Anyway here are the offending sections. [loc.gov]
  • by TraceProgram (171114) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:18AM (#1099758) Homepage
    "we can expect to see the record companies purchase new laws...". This whole thing (open source vs. sell-your-soul source) is looking to become the next revolution. Personally I can't wait, we need something to shake things up. Society needs a fundamental shift in its view of things. Only a true revolution can bring that about. It goes along with what Stallman is saying about morals as well. They are defined by the society in which they are constructed (whoa I think that was circular logic there). Our generation (Generation Net or Generation /.) sees software and digital media in a completely different light. Open source seems, IMHO, to be a positive step in the right direction. It's just gonna be scary, for some people, accepting that as the new way of looking at things. That whole fear of the unknown thing.
  • by kels (9845) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:53AM (#1099759)
    Well, I think you've killed that straw man dead.

    Note that nowhere does Stallman advocate "mandatory disclosure and a fixed $0.00 price tag on software". He does not speak of laws to "do away with the markets". You've fabricated this out of thin air.

    What he is advocating is that users of software do what is in their own best interest (which RMS believes is to use Free Software). This is in fact using the free market (by boycotting non-free software), nowhere close to trying to legislating it out of existence.

    A point that he did not directly make is that companies are users of software, too. Most companies use a lot more software than they produce. And so, by his argument, it would follow that it is in the best interests of most businesses to use free software as well, so that they could have control over its use and freely modify it as necessary. So free software could be good for the economy as a whole, even while bad for software compaanies themselves.
  • by killbill (10058) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:11AM (#1099760) Homepage
    I did a quick search...

    From the following case:

    A DEWAYNE OLDHAM v. THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION FOUNDATION OF TENNESSEE, INC.
    No. 3-93-0472
    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE, NASHVILLE DIVISION
    849 F. Supp. 611; 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4974

    An excerpt from the Judges ruling:

    "[*613] In early May, 1993, the ACLU sent a letter to Tennessee public school officials. The letter stated, in part, that the Supreme Court's recent decision in Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. , 112 S. Ct. 2649, 120 L. Ed. 2d 467 (1992), precluded all speakers, including students, from leading prayers at graduation ceremonies. The letter further stated: "Please understand that if your school system does sponsor prayer at its graduation ceremonies and we are contacted by students and their families, we will most likely pursue litigation." Exhibit No. 1 to second amended complaint (filed October 25, 1993; Docket Entry No. 38). "

    Granted, there is a lot of wiggle room here based on what "sponsors" and what "prayer" are meant to say. There were a couple of other cases in the news local to Cincinnati here where student led prayer was challenged by the ACLU.

    I am not trying to slam the ACLU in general. I think they do for the first ammendment what the NRA does for the second ammendment, and I think both organizations are extremely important to our nation. I _want_ them to be a little nutty on defending the extremes, just to protect the middle.

    I just wish they would treat conservative Christians with the same extreme views with which they treat everyone else.

    I would be happy to listen to any counterexamples. Surely there is a case somewhere where the ACLU defended the rights of a conservative Christian to share their personal belief system in a highly public forum...

    Bill
  • by octover (22078) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:45AM (#1099761) Homepage
    I've got a bone to pick with:

    Calling the whole system "Linux" leads people to think that the system's development was started in 1991 by Linus Torvalds.

    and later on

    I ask you to call the system GNU/Linux so you can help inform the system's users that it exists because of the GNU Project's idealism.


    IIRC the GNU's website has an entire page (actually it is several screenfulls) arguement for Linux being called GNU/Linux, and these statements are sort of contradictory to that. On a side note I would call it GNU/Linux if it had spread from the community and not RMS shoving it down everyone's throat. How could anyone deny that Linux was started in 1991? The GNU project and Linus were not working together. According to your own arguement RMS, people started using the kernel Linus built and then they wanted tools so they could use it everyday, and it was not accident that they found the GNU project. Previously and until HURD is ready to be used prime time, the GNU's only obstacle was a kernel. The GNU project exists (well is so big now) because of the Linux kernel, not the other way around. If the early Linux users had not found GNU they would have hacked out their own tools. But I think everyone can agree that downloading source and compiling is a lot easier than roll your own. I think you need to stop shoving "GNU/" down the throats of everyone (BTW it should be Linux/GNU since the kernel is before the programs) let GNU stand on its own feet, I think you'll be suprised at what happens. Everyone (well the smart ones) know that the smart hackers, coders, aren't out blowing their horn all day (maybe to their friends) to the world, only the idiots do. The idiots have something to hide, their skill is not good enough to deserve praise. Well I think the GNU movement is a good one, but hell if I'm going to give it to you if your trying to force it on me.

  • by Hizonner (38491) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:17AM (#1099762)
    RMS sez:
    They allow copyright owners to restrict the mere running of a program--but only if some sort of hard-to-bypass license manager or access control enforces the restrictions. The freedom of free software means that even if we did put such artificial restriction into a program, the user could easily bypass them--and that's a good thing! But it means that new legal power is not available for use for copyleft.

    I think this is a misreading of the DMCA. The protection measure does not need to be "hard to bypass". People think that it does because the DMCA talks about measures that "effectively protect" rights of copyright holders... but if you look at the text more closely, you'll discover that "effectively protects" is redefined to mean nothing that any rational person would recognize.

    A measure "effectively protects" something if, in the course of its normal operation, the measure enforces some kind of policy. It doesn't matter how trivial it is to bypass the measure... it's still effective by this definition.

    I think (IANAL) that you could very probably enforce the DMCA against anybody who tried to bypass (say) a makefile hack that e-mailed any modified source to the FSF whenever it was compiled. It's that broad.

  • by MillMan (85400) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:16AM (#1099763)
    Perhaps Stallman should come down from his throne and spend a few months actually working in law enforcement. Perhaps he should see the kind of cruelty and callousness exhibited by elements of our society. Perhaps then he wouldn't be so quick to complain about high rates of imprisonment in the U.S.

    Yes, there is something wrong in America, but it is not a legislative problem as much as it is a social one. Parts of our collective culture have given up the Golden Rule. It's not a religious issue (I happen to be an atheist, too), it's a common-sense rule for a society to function.


    I always find it interesting when people point out the lack of "morals" in our society, usually referring to those who are poor and or do "bad things". It's interesting because this lack extends from the top all the way to the bottom, which most people don't realize. A wealthy businessman can do nearly infinitly more damage with his pen and a contract than can any number of drug dealers with a gun. It's simply much harder to see. A contract is just a piece of paper, it's effects aren't immediatly obvious. A child laying dead in a pool of blood from a driveby shooting is a clear source of anger and disgust.

    Did the poor create this world? Of course not. It was those on top, wealthy, or with political power, or both. That doesn't let anyone off the hook "morally" but one poor person doing drugs does way less damage than, say, the CEO of nike who likes to brag about how cheap they can make their products overseas in their slave labor shops.

    At least RMS tries to do something positive that helps everyone. Apparently this is some sort of liberal (or, obviously communist) conspiracy. That word "community" is just too clse to the word communism! No, I think you miss the big picture of social issues. RMS's view is academic compared to yours, as people like you limit your view to whats on the street, whats on the surface. In law enforcement though this doesn't really suprise me, thats how the job works. Law enforcement has as much to do with the bad conditions in many parts of this country as the drug dealers and others do, from corruption and oppresion to a nearly fascist police state. In that respect, our problems are very much legislative related as much as they are social.
  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:16AM (#1099764) Homepage
    > Furthermore, the attacks on the "War on Drugs"
    > and conservative politicians in general were
    > completely unnecessary in this forum.

    I disagree.... slashdot is a discussion forum, not
    a purely technical one (not even a mostly
    technical one). Discussion of politics and social
    issues are definitly relavent...especially in an
    interview.

    > The same drug policies have continued for eight
    > years under Clinton's administration -- does
    > that make them ok? The high rate of imprisonment
    > in this country continues under a Democratic
    > administration, yet the implication is that it's
    > the fault of Republicans.

    Which, in my mind, goes to show that there is very
    little, if any, real difference between the
    Republicans and the Democrats. Lately, I have been
    refering to them, collecitvly, as the
    "Republicrat Party", which is split into 2
    factions, which hate eachother for no real reason.

    As for the war on drugs, I have to agree with the
    people who have said it is a "religous war". It is
    the only context in which it makes sense. Any
    practical view of it shows that it is an utter
    failure. It has not reduced use, or supply in
    any real way. In fact, current day drug
    prohibition, is a failure in ALL of the same ways
    as Alcohol prohibition of the 1920's.
    In fact, in an interview, the head of the DEA
    advocated bringing back alcohol prohibition, and
    stated that he believed it could be done within
    "the next 10 years".

    However, I digress. yes, there are social problems
    here in america. Our legislative problems just
    amplify them. You can't legislate away a social
    problem, yet time and again, our society tries
    to do just that. (the war on drugs is just 1 set
    of examples)

    -Steve
  • by Roblimo (357) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:43AM (#1099765) Homepage Journal
    "Why was Bruce the only person who received credit for his comments? Does this stem from the Katz-book thing? Can we expect to see only famous people owning their comments?"

    It was the way RMS formatted his replies, taking one question at a time in informal dialogue fashion instead of replying to multi-part questions in one big lump. I left Bruce's name in because Richard did, and because they're both high-profile people in this particular area.

    Besides, I get bored using the same format for every interview and thought doing it a little differently -- just once -- would break things up.

    The choice had nothing to do with the Hellmouth book thing (which I had *nothing* to do with, BTW). I didn't even think about it while I was formatting this interview.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. :)

    - Robin
  • by killbill (10058) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:40AM (#1099766) Homepage
    RMS complaining that one of the evils of the world that should be fought is religious fundamentalisim? Heee Heee...

    RMS is the strongest religous fundamentalist I have ever had the pleasure of hearing speak, and anyone who does not see the dogma in his open source philosophies has not thought them through(IMHO).

    I have plenty of respect for RMS, though I don't agree with much of what he has to say. I have plenty of respect for C.S. Lewis also. They are both religious fundamentalists, with different belief systems.

    I would love to join the ACLU, but not until they stop their bigoted prejudices against people of faith. If a validictorian senior wanted to quote Nietzce in her speech, the ACLU would be defending her to the death. If she wants to quote the New Testament, they would have her for dinner. I believe she should have the right to quote either.

    Anyway, Christian Dogma, or Open Source Dogma, I don't see much difference in methods, and I think both should be afforded the same constitutional protections.

    As a side note, when RMS spoke in Cincinnati, he spoke at the beginning of his speach spoke of how women are unfairly repressed both professionally and by the institution of marriage. Half way through the speach, when he was handing out M&M's to the audience, when he got to an attractive woman he made her eat them out of his hand if she wanted them, while everyone else got to grab them from the bag. The whole thing made me feel very uncomfortable, I can't imagine how she felt.

    This kind of behaviour would get you fired under existing sexual harrasment guidelines in any US company. Apparently, his personal behavior is currently at a lower standard the US legislated laws. RMS is welcome to do whatever he wants in his public speaches, but I am just as allowed to call him on it in public forums.

    These are just my opinions based on first hand experience. Feel free to post your own opinions based on YOUR first hand experience. I am not looking for a flame war, believe it or not.

    Bill
  • by Blue Lang (13117) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:21AM (#1099767) Homepage
    In some post long ago, someone called RMS a 'kook' for standing up for freedom. I replied that maybe he is crazy, and maybe I am too, and that if standing up for freedom means being crazy, then that's fine.

    I hope those of you who seriously detract from Stallman's ideals do so only out of some bitter need to put other people down, or for pure trolling fun - you MUST understand that if you don't stand up for yourselves, or support the people who stand up for you, you will lose. You will lose everything from the right to pick what brand of peanut butter you eat to the right to call Stallman a whacko.

    If commercials on television don't revulse you, if you can't see the social conditioning inherent in modern advertising, if the idea that someone might tatoo themselves with the NIKE symbol does not make you ill and sad, then you're already lost.

    --
    blue
  • by Nickbot (15172) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:50AM (#1099768)
    This Stallman guys is off his rocker! What's next, a big building full of books that people can borrow for FREE?!? That would instantly make all publishers go out of business!

    And what other crazy ideas does he have? I'm sure that if he had his way, scientists would actually _share_ things they discover with other scientists! Don't you know that that would lead to?!? Lifesaving medical advances and the technology to reach the stars! Do you want to live in a world like that?

  • by schporto (20516) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:31AM (#1099769) Homepage
    The last set of questions about morals was a very good one. I believe this points directly to RMS' beliefs and why so many agree/disagree with him. I think (I may be wrong) that RMS has a very strong definition in his own mind of what right and wrong are and these beliefs revolve around a "do good unto others" belief. I believe others (Eric Raymond perhaps) have their own views on this along the lines of "do no harm unto others". Mind you "harm" and "good" are definitions dependant on each individual. The points seem to be the same but lead to markedly different approaches to life. I believe these are age old philosophical points. While, in relative terms, using these arguments in software is new, the points raised are old. I don't think these arguments will ever be settled. And I think a student of philosophy would do a great deal of good to contibute to this discussion. I am not a philosopher, but I can recognize the need for one in here.
  • by DonkPunch (30957) on Monday May 01, 2000 @09:34AM (#1099770) Homepage Journal
    Thank you to everyone who replied to this post. There were some very valid, well-reasoned points made. I would like to clarify a few of my statements.

    First, I am glad that the mention of the Second Amendment did not immediately generate into a pro-gun/anti-gun flamefest. I only intended it to be an example of the ACLU's "selective enforcement" of the Bill of Rights. My own view is that we NEED organizations like the ACLU and the NRA who are known for no-compromise, even extremist stances. When rights we DO care about are threatened, these groups become our friends.

    Second, I am neither suggesting that Stallman is a Communist nor that Communism itself is evil. It is a system of government. That's all. It happens to not be the system of government which the United States has chosen. From a pure political science standpoint, the US is a representative democracy with some elements of socialism (i.e. welfare). Furthermore, I do not take the breakup of the Soviet Union as proof that Communism cannot work. One could argue that the system which the Soviet Union employed fell short of the Communist ideal. China also aspires to a Communist system and is still around.

    I should point out that my degree is in political science with a minor in criminal justice. Before finding my true calling in software development, I did work in the criminal justice system.

    As a result of my experiences, my view on these matters is different from the opinions Mr. Stallman expressed. From my perspective, Stallman is, frankly, a little naive.

    The statement about more people being imprisoned in the United States than in communist Russia means very little by itself. We are supposed to draw the conclusion that the US system is therefore more repressive than communist Russia. There is no real evidence on which to base this conclusion, however. You are comparing two very different systems of government with very different levels of individual freedom. Communist Russia was known for "re-education" of people who disagreed with their political philosophy. At various times, people who opposed the people in power were simply executed (rather than imprisoned). Prison conditions in Russia were nowhere near as bearable as they are here.

    Having worked with these "repressed" imprisoned individuals, my own conviction is that we have too many people breaking laws in the United States. This is not the fault of the laws, but rather the people. There is a subculture in this country in which going to prison is expected -- kids grow up visting their dad on Tuesdays and their uncle every other Thursday. They expect to be on the other side of that plexiglass themselves someday.

    One may argue that we should change the laws to make fewer things illegal. Again, having been there, I am convinced that the majority of people imprisoned SHOULD BE.

    (Or, as Richard Pryor once said after visiting a penitentiary, "Thank God we got penitentiaries!")

    Regarding drug laws -- I am not in any way convinced that legalization of drugs will reduce imprisonment numbers. While alcohol is legal for many, a huge number of people end up commiting harmful acts as a result of their alcohol consumption. The same applies to currently illegal drugs.

    I would happily accept drug legalization as long as people are still held responsible for their actions when they take the drugs. If you commit a murder on PCP, you get locked away for murder. Under such a system, I very much doubt that we will see a net decrease in prison population. The increase in drug use will very likely cause an increase in other punishable offenses. This will offset the decrease in possession/distribution offenses.

    (Side note: FWIW, I think marijuana is a less dangerous drug than alcohol. Drunks want to fight. People who are stoned just want to eat and be your friend.)

    Again, I highly respect Mr. Stallman and think he has done as much for software developers than any single individual. I just can't align myself with his social views. This is based on my own life experiences and probably doesn't mean anything to anyone else.

    Sorry for the length of this post.
  • by DonkPunch (30957) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:36AM (#1099771) Homepage Journal
    In all seriousness, I had no idea that RMS was so ideologically aligned with the far-left in this country.

    I agree completely that there is no shame in supporting the efforts of the ACLU to preserve the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights. However, the Second Amendment is one of those freedoms and the ACLU chooses to ignore or "interpret" it in a such a way that it becomes meaningless. Therefore, painting the ACLU as the Grand Defenders of the Bill of Rights omits a pretty important detail.

    Furthermore, the attacks on the "War on Drugs" and conservative politicians in general were completely unnecessary in this forum. The same drug policies have continued for eight years under Clinton's administration -- does that make them ok? The high rate of imprisonment in this country continues under a Democratic administration, yet the implication is that it's the fault of Republicans.

    Perhaps Stallman should come down from his throne and spend a few months actually working in law enforcement. Perhaps he should see the kind of cruelty and callousness exhibited by elements of our society. Perhaps then he wouldn't be so quick to complain about high rates of imprisonment in the U.S.

    Yes, there is something wrong in America, but it is not a legislative problem as much as it is a social one. Parts of our collective culture have given up the Golden Rule. It's not a religious issue (I happen to be an atheist, too), it's a common-sense rule for a society to function.

    I respect the work of Stallman. I use and will probably continue to use the GPL. After reading this, though, I see the point of those who criticize him as a stereotypical ivory-tower liberal academic. He simply doesn't see the big picture with regard to social issues.

    Thank you for the GPL, Mr. Stallman, but I can't in good conscience align myself with your view of the world.
  • by pq (42856) <rfc2324&yahoo,com> on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:30AM (#1099772) Homepage
    So "overpopulation" is a good thing and should be encouraged. The more people we have on the planet, the better.

    Huh??? Maybe you would like to spend a couple of years living in a village in Bangladesh, or in a slum in Bombay? (I think not.)
    I guess I'm not used to seeing blatant trolls starting at +2...

  • by Wellspring (111524) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:30AM (#1099773)

    In some post long ago, someone called RMS a 'kook' for standing up for freedom. I replied that maybe he is crazy, and maybe I am too, and that if standing up for freedom means being crazy, then that's fine.

    I hope those of you who seriously detract from Stallman's ideals do so only out of some bitter need to put other people down, or for pure trolling fun - you MUST understand that if you don't stand up for yourselves, or support the people who stand up for you, you will lose. You will lose everything from the right to pick what brand of peanut butter you eat to the right to call Stallman a whacko.

    This isn't meant as an attack, though I am sure it will read like one. I just don't think many people understand the principles that RMS and ESR are standing for. It doesn't help that RMS characterizes everyone who opposes him as an agent of evil-- hopefully, this will be food for thought and not a troll.

    RMS calls free software an issue of freedom. But think about this as a person who wants to keep the fruits of their hard work. Or wants to see it used right. What RMS is really talking about is mandatory disclosure and a fixed $0.00 price tag on software. Is this right? I don't think so, but many do. Is this 'freedom'? No. Freedom is me getting to do whatever I want with my code, including selling it to whoever I want at whatever price I want with whatever conditions I want.

    It is easy to just say "it's us or the corporations". But let's get all the critiques on the table, then, and see who is for freedom and who isn't.

    If commercials on television don't revulse you, if you can't see the social conditioning inherent in modern advertising, if the idea that someone might tatoo themselves with the NIKE symbol does not make you ill and sad, then you're already lost.

    OK, so to promote freedom, would you ban these commercials? Or just put out restrictions on what can or can't be said on TV? Or on their shirt? 'Social Conditioning' as used by anti-business zealots, could mean virtually any kind of persuasion. So while RMS is to be loved for advertising his development model, Nike should make people ill and sad for doing the same thing?

    Free for RMS, then, means I am free to tell you what to do with the fruits of your creativity. At least until another tyrranical majority finds someone else to pick on. Because if we aren't pushing Open Source on the basis of the better value and lower cost it brings to the end users, we'll get stomped on by the marketplace. Of course, RMS would do away with the markets-- how? Laws, of course, which ultimately boils down to the use of force to make end users' decisions for them, and more laws to tell coders that their creativity belongs to someone else.

    ESR is doing a great thing. What everyone should realize is that he and others (including the people at Valinux and RedHat and the other 'evil sellout corps') are the ones fighting for freedom. Open Source is a better choice for the consumer. People don't need it shoved down their throats-- they are willing to pay money for it. That is the reason for the movement's success. Better products at lower prices.

    Prevent people from getting better products at lower prices, and you are restricting freedom. Telling a programmer that he must release his source and charge nothing for it is wrong. If it is the better way to create happy endusers and programmers, then it'll happen anyway.

    That word 'freedom' is one of the most important words we have. It is also one of the most easily abused. Take a good look at what people are propagandizing for. If you think RMS is right, fine. There are tens of thousands of people like you. But don't call telling other people how they should do their job freedom.

    Previewing this, I guess it is a little more of a rant than I intended. But it really annoys me that people have so much hate in them. ESR and other classical liberals (or economic conservatives, or libertarians, or whatever the label is this week) always take great pains to respect differences of opinion. Then they get trashed by zealots who call them either stupid or evil.

    Agree with the above, don't agree, whatever. But at least take a minute to try to understand what both sides are all about. Even if you decide that RMS is right and this post is crap, at least realize that the only thing you do by demonizing those you don't agree with is blind yourself. In the end, (and I don't mean Blue here, I mean it in the general sense) you only fool yourself.

  • Not so sure about the lack of relativism: if I prefer one kind of tea over someone else I don't think either of us is "wrong" in any meaningful sense - it truly is relative. I believe the same holds for less trivial examples of differing opinion.

    I also believe strongly in the underlying battle for fundamental civil freedoms and rights behind GNU, and certainly see the distinction between that and Open Source.

    Unfortunately, while I rage against the machine (and donate generously to the ACLU and the Libertarian party), I also see it as an inevitably losing battle - I'm becoming more convinced by the day that humans (at least Americans) simply don't truly want freedom - they want to be bounded and "safe". Folks say they want freedom of speech until some KKK member says something they don't like - then it's all about how we need new laws limiting hate speech and whatever else they don't want to hear. Folks like property rights until their neighbor parks some trashed pickup in their front yard - then it's all about how we need new laws restricting what people can do with their property.

    It's really not about big business, though I wish it was. It's really about fear people have that somebody else will get a better deal than them, and how to stop that from happening. You could blame the record companies for the rash of new lawsuits and restrictions on freedom, but frankly they can do that because most people just don't care. Freedom is just not an important issue for most people, those of us for whom it is a big issue tend to stand out on some lunatic fringe.

    The Open Source movement, while emasculated from a moral/ethical/rights point of view, is at least crafting a message that is getting heard by more folks because it caters to their greed rather than a hope that they will care about freedom and what a lack of it might mean to them in the future. But, it's certainly not the same message that RMS is trying to convey - which ultimately is a far more important message.

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