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GNU is Not Unix

The FSF's Bradley Kuhn Responds 370

Posted by timothy
from the it's-bearded-at-the-top dept.
Last week you asked Bradley Kuhn, VP of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) questions about working with RMS, his views on software freedom, and much more. He's answered at length below, on everything from becoming a saint to the "web app loophole," perl, and the next iteration of the GPL.

on freedom?
by merlin_jim

How do you view FSF's goal, that stated on their website as The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software ---particularly the GNU operating system(used widely today in its GNU/Linux variant)--- and free (as in freedom) documentation. In particular, how do you interpret what the word free means in respect to software and programmer's rights?

Bradley Kuhn: I believe strongly that all published software should be Free Software. Users should get all the freedoms as defined in the Free Software Definition. Namely, each person who receives a copy of a software program should have the freedom to study, copy, share, modify, redistribute and (optionally) redistribute modified versions of that program.

But that's surely no surprise--if I didn't believe that, I certainly wouldn't enjoy working for the FSF. ;)

As for the other half of your question, "programmer's rights," I certainly think programmers, like all users, have a right to all those freedoms I mention above. However, programmers don't deserve any "rights" that infringe on the freedoms of others. Often in society, we decide that the right to act a certain way should be limited because it infringes on the freedom of others.

For example, in the USA, white people used to have the right to own slaves. As a society, we eventually decided that this right was too restrictive on the freedom of the people who served as slaves. Because of that decision, it is now illegal to own slaves in the USA.

Our society took away the "freedom" to own slaves. Today, no one would even argue that owning slaves is a freedom. People now say that slavery is an inappropriate power that one person holds over another person.

Today, some argue that the "right to choose your own software license" is the greatest software freedom. By contrast, I think that, like slavery, it is an inappropriate power, not a freedom. The two situations both cause harm, and they differ only in the degree of harm that each causes.

Proprietary software is an exercise of power, and it harms the users by denying their freedom. When users lack the freedoms that define Free Software, they can't tell what the software is doing, can't check for back doors, can't monitor possible viruses and worms, can't find out what personal information is being reported (or stop the reports, even if they do find out). If it breaks, they can't fix it; they have to wait for the developer to exercise its power to do so. If the software simply isn't quite what they need, they are stuck with it. They can't help each other improve it.

Discussions of rights and rules for software use have usually concentrated too much on the interests of programmers alone. Few people in the world program regularly, and fewer still are owners of proprietary software businesses. But the entire developed world now needs and uses software, so decisions about software determine what kind of world we have. Software developers now control the way the world lives, does business, communicates and is entertained. The ethical and political issues cannot be avoided under the slogan of "freedom of choice (for developers only)."

The real question we now face is: who should control the code you use--you, or an elite few? We (in the Free Software Movement) believe you are entitled to control the software you use, and giving you that control is the goal of Free Software.

Current copyright law places us in the position of dictator for our code, whether we like it or not. We cannot escape making some decisions for others, so our decision is to proclaim freedom for each user, just as the bill of rights exercises government power by guaranteeing each citizen's freedoms. That is what the GNU GPL is for: it puts you in control of your usage of the software, while protecting you from others exercising their dictatorial power. This is the ethical choice, in a situation where laws give us and others such power.

New term for "Free"?
by abischof

Is the FSF brainstorming any ideas on alternatives to the term "Free"? Unlike many other languages, it seems that English does not have separate words for "without cost" and "having freedom." So, we in the Open Source community end up using phrases such as "free as in beer" or "Free with a capital 'F'" (neither of which are immediately intuitive to the public at large).

Much better, I think, would be to come up with a new adjective to describe such Free software ("Free" with a capital "F", that is). One idea that has been batted about is "liberated software," but that has the connotation of "stolen software" to some people. Of course, this isn't to say that the term "Free" wouldn't be used anymore -- but it would be nice to have an alternative for use at, for example, picnics or family gatherings.

BK: I find it odd that you talk the question in terms of the "Open Source community". The term "Open Source" is typically used to focus the discussion away from talking about freedom. Thus, a question about the drawbacks of the adjective "free" seems strange when in the context of "Open Source". But, nevertheless, I am glad to see an Open Source supporter talking more about freedom! Thank you for doing that.

By the way, I don't think about the "Open Source community" as a distinct entity. There are two movements afoot: the Free Software Movement, whose focus is the political and ethical issues of software freedom, and the Open Source Movement, whose focus is to avoid political issues of freedom, and to talk about the technological benefits of "Open Source". The movements differ greatly because their fundamental philosophies and motivations are different.

However, together we form one community---the same community that started in 1984 when the Free Software Movement started. In 1998, within that community, we had another movement start up with a different focus, but we've always been together in one community. Thus, I hope you'll think of the community as including both the Free Software Movement and the Open Source Movement, and remember that it originally started as the Free Software community. At the very least, please call it the "Free Software and Open Source community", so that Free Software isn't left completely out of the picture.

As to your question about the adjective "free," we in the Free Software Movement have never come across a term that has any great advantage over the term "Free Software."

The term "liberated software", which you mention, has a clear drawback in that it only applies to software that was once proprietary software, and is now Free. GNU Emacs, for example, was never proprietary software, so it isn't "liberated software."

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to clear up the confusion, and make up for English's shortcomings. Many of us say "free (as in freedom) software" when there is ambiguity.

Others say "software libre" or "free (libre) software", using the Spanish word to make things clear. In fact, whenever I am speaking to an audience that I know will fully understand what "libre" is (in Europe, for example), I favor the term "Libre Software".

Also, when talking about the general concept of what we stand for, I always use the term "software freedom". This doesn't change what we call the software *itself*---that's Free Software---and there's really no other good term for it. But, the term "software freedom" gives an easy way of talking about the overall concept that is completely unambiguous.

So, while the term Free Software does have some drawbacks, the confusions are easy enough to clarify, and the drawbacks here are fewer than the other alternatives. Also, using the various methods that I mention here can work well together to help clear up any confusion.

Next big technical effort?
by Lumpish Scholar

Congratulations on the release of version 3.0 of the GNU Compiler Collection. This is the cumulation of a lot of work by contributors to the GNU project from all over the world. What do you see as the GNU project's next big release? Mono and DotGNU? Bayonne? Something else?

BK: You are quite correct that the GNU project is a collaborative work of contributors from around the world. It's the work of a cooperating community---no one person deserves the credit: the congratulations go to the GNU project as a whole. (BTW, I encourage you to thank the GNU project by reminding people that the system so often called "Linux" is actually the GNU system with Linux as its kernel).

As for the next "big" release: it's hard to say. We don't force any sort of schedules on GNU developers---they work as best they can, and put a release out when they see it as ready. So, I might be surprised to find out next week some major project is ready for a big release. So, I cannot make any prediction as to what the next big release will be, as I could easily end up being proven wrong later. (However, FWIW, a project that I know is getting close to a big release is GNU Emacs 21.)

FSF and the cause?
by Lumpy

What is your stance on Software protection? In the FSF stance, what would you do or recommend to be done if (check that if -- WHEN) a GNU program and programmer is attacked in a way that will be very like what we see with Dimitri. Many of the GNU programs and software packages are, as far as I am concerned, in real danger of being attacked or persecuted by large corporations. With laws like the DCMA and other unbelievable laws that are being drafted as bills every day, What do you think can be done to protect this freedom?

BK: We must all act politically and speak out to defend our freedom. I feel as you do that we are about to enter a rough period in the history of the Free Software Movement. Large corporations such as proprietary software companies and entertainment companies now have a financial interest in restricting various software freedoms that many of us currently take for granted.

We might very well have to fight for this freedom in courts in the USA or elsewhere. We are preparing ourselves for this possibility, and we will rise to the challenge if it comes to that. The FSF is saving up money in case we need to fight a legal battle. Eben Moglen is also working with large donors to set up a separate Free Software Legal Fund.

Meanwhile, the best thing we can do is to work hard to get laws like the DMCA repealed. We encourage everyone in the USA to contact their congressional representatives, and explain why the DMCA is harmful.

Another way you can help fight the DMCA is to attend the "Free Dmitry Sklyarov March" on the Federal Building in San Francisco on Thursday, 30 August 2001. The USA government is prosecuting Dmitry, under DMCA, for making a particular program available to the public. Please join the protest---everyone is meeting outside the Moscone center in San Francisco at 11:30 in the morning on August 30th.

On another matter, please make your congress-person aware of the threat of software patents! Software patents are harmful to Free Software, but they also hurt just about any software developer who doesn't work for a big corporation that has access to large patent pools. Let people know the threat that software patents have for small software businesses and Free Software.

If you live in Europe, please help fight the possible EU decision to approve software patents.

At home?
by cnkeller

So, what types of software do you use at home?

BK: I use only Free Software on all computers that are under my control, which include the ones I use for my work at the FSF and my home computer.

I use Official Debian GNU/Linux ("testing" on my work laptop, "stable" on my home desktop machine).

As for specific programs, I spend most of my day using an email client, and I use mutt running inside GNU Emacs' ansi-term. (It sounds weird, but it really works well for me.) I use GNU Emacs for all of my editing, text manipulation, and the like.

I have always been more command-line-oriented than GUI-oriented, so I run a minimal X Windowing System desktop. I use sawfish as my window manager, which I really like, because I can script it so I rarely have to use the mouse.

I use Mozilla when I need a graphical web browser, but also use a mix of links, lynx, and Emacs/w3 when graphics aren't needed.

I use GnuCash to manage my personal finances. I really enjoy that program, as I am pretty pedantic about keeping track of ever penny I spend. If you ever go to dinner with me, you'll notice that I ask for a receipt for everything: that's so I can come home and type it into GnuCash. ;)

Related to that, I'll mention this additional amusing story since someone else asked what my "position" is in the "Church of Emacs". I officially became a saint in the Church of Emacs on 31 December 1999. I had given up nearly all non-Free Software in April 1998, but until December 1999, I still used one non-Free Software program: Quicken running under WINE. I finally got the time to convert my files over to GnuCash, and decided that I'd make a clean break with the new year (2000), and fully switch to GnuCash.

Thus, GnuCash made it very easy for me to move into full sainthood. ;) And, I've never looked back. I feel so much better using and developing only Free Software now.

The one thing I am still missing is a "saint name". At one point, I'd thought of another existing saint whose name sounded good with a "gnu" in the middle (like IGNUcius). Sadly, I didn't write it down right away, and promptly forgot. If anyone has ideas for a saint name, let me know. ;)

But, please keep in mind the the entire idea of a "Church of Emacs" and saints therein is just a joke. Sometimes, people get confused and think that Emacs really is a religion. It's not a religion, even if it is a way of life for some of us. ;)

Apple and the FSF
by imac.usr

Now that Mac OS X and Darwin are out, Apple obviously has a vested interest in supporting the FSF. They have been trying to get changes to gcc for Altivec support and PPC optimization merged back into the tree, and they are showing at least some support for both Open Source and Free Software. Plus, development of more Cocoa software should in theory lead to better support of GNUStep in the future. With these changes, has the FSF's opinion of/relationship with Apple changed since the boycotting of the '80s, or is it still more or less adversarial?

BK: Today, our feeling toward Apple is like our feeling toward most software companies who do both Free Software and proprietary software. We thank them for their Free Software contributions, but still push them to go further in supporting software freedom. We have to judge each action separately. Some things that Apple does are good for the Free Software community, and some things it does are bad Free Software community.

Apple has allowed many of its employees to contribute to various GNU programs, and we are glad that they have done so. But Apple still develops lots of proprietary software and for that we criticize them.

Also, I wouldn't say that Apple "obviously has a vested interest in supporting the FSF". They clearly have some interest in helping certain Free Software projects (such as GCC and GDB), but I don't think they are really dedicated to the goal of software freedom. For them, it's likely only a pragmatic necessity that leads them to support some Free Software projects.

I also should mention that it was only a partial victory for freedom in January 2001 when Apple released APSL 1.2. They came much closer to a Free Software license than the APSL 1.0, but they fell short by continuing to require that "deployed" versions in an organization be published. Thus, they still restrict the important freedom of private modifications.

I hope that Apple will take that final step in the next version of the license and make the APSL into a Free Software license. I urge those of you who use code released by Apple under the APSL to work at convincing Apple to make the change.

How can you get the average person to support FSF?
by ColGraff

How is the FSF going to compete with Microsoft and other closed-source-companies in public relations with the non-tech-savvy masses? Microsoft has legions of corporate and individual clients (and partners in other projects) extolling the virtues of closed-source, and spreading all sorts of vile lies about the Free Software Movement. How do you and Stallman plan to bring the goals and ideology of the FSF to the average person in a way he/she can understand and appreciate? It seems to me that without widespread public support of the FSF, judges and legislatures will tend to support the big corporate interests that (in the case of the legislators) pay for their campaigns in any conflict, such as a GPL violation case or software laws.

So, how will you rally the non-techie public to the FSF and GPL, dispelling the image of both as the product of socialist, somewhat freaky nerds? And how will you pay for such a campaign?

BK: Fortunately, we are fighting for rights of people---the same people who ultimately elect the legislators who represent us. Today, many people are beginning to feel corporate interests encroaching on their rights, and we simply need to empower them with tools to do something about it. We began our efforts reaching out to highly technical people and have been quite successful at creating momentum for Free Software alternatives to proprietary software.

Now, reaching non-technical people is an active goal for us, and we are open to ideas. I am a hacker (in the original, positive sense of the term), so I am much more comfortable talking to those who develop software. However, I am trying to retrain myself to learn how to think as non-hackers, politicians, and judges think, so that I can better deliver our message to them.

Recently, I changed my mode of dress to be a bit more traditional, and I cut my long hair. I did this in part because my fiancee wanted me to, but also in part because I realize that non-hackers are sometimes threatened by the "typical hacker style." This actually wasn't my idea; I got it from Jello Biafra, a social commentator and spoken-word artist (who is most famous for leading the now-defunct punk band "Dead Kennedys"). Jello pointed out that the "Halloween costume" approach (i.e., wearing clothes that seem like a costume to you, but are "normal" to most people) can really work when trying to reach people who don't agree with you. Some people are uncomfortable enough with our ideas, and if our dress, clothing, piercings, or mannerisms turn them off, they won't even take the time to listen to our ideas. Since I was never that attached to long hair and my "t-shirt and jeans," I decided to make the changes, in case it might help to reach such people who would otherwise be turned off. I kept the beard, though, because I really don't want to shave every morning!

That's an example of a superficial change that I've personally done to make myself more accessible to non-hackers. I also think a lot about how our work can improve everyone's life, and I always try to address my points to a person's individual concerns. For example, when talking to teachers, I often point out that proprietary software puts students at a disadvantage. The best way to learn to be a great programmer is to study the historical works of programming and to try to make them better. Only Free Software gives the freedoms required to learn well. Teachers often connect with this point, or at least it raises for them some cognitive dissonance about their school's use of proprietary software.

The point here is that you have to give each person reasons for software freedom that are relevant to her daily life. The best way I've found to do this is to imagine that person's use of software, and express to her how freedom could make her life better.

If you are trying to convince a large group of non-hackers about Free Software, please keep in mind that the FSF has a speakers' list and several on the list are excellent at reaching non-hackers. Eben Moglen, for example, is a law professor and is an excellent speaker on our behalf. Tony Stanco, who started FreeDevelopers, is also a lawyer and is good at reaching non-hackers. We also have Robert J. Chassell, who has been involved with the FSF since its inception, and he is very good at speaking with the non-hacker business community.

But, it's up to each of us to speak out about software freedom when we talk with others. Please help us. If anyone has additional ideas on how we can reach non-hackers with the message of software freedom, we'd love to hear from you.

As to the question of how we will pay for it, this is the reason we are 501(c)(3) charity. Part of what we use our funds for is these sorts of advocacy efforts.

BTW, just as "Open Source" is not what we advocate, "closed source" is not what we're against. The opposite of Free software is proprietary software. We have been working for 17 years now to replace proprietary (non-Free) software with Free software. All closed source software is non-Free, but some open source software is also non-Free.

GPL for web-apps
by webmaven

As both Bruce Perens and Tim O'Reilly have pointed out, it is possible to publicly deploy a web-app that is derived from GPL'd software without having to distribute your modifications.

While I certainly feel that it should be possible to do this for applications that are deployed internally without having the deployment count as 'distribution,' I am less happy about deployments on public websites. I would want web-applications that I create to have an additional 'public-performance' clause in their license that would require modifications that are publicly deployed to be made available in source form.

This is the so-called 'web-app loophole,' and I was wondering what your thoughts on the matter were?

BK: When a web application is run to provide a service to the public, I believe that the service provider has an ethical obligation to make the software available as Free Software to the users of that application.

Of course, we realize that the GNU GPL, version 2, does not require this. But, calling it a loophole is an exaggeration. The GPL does prohibit the worst possible wrongdoing, which is to publish a non-Free version of a Free program. In the case of web services, it doesn't prohibit a lesser form of wrongdoing.

As it turns out, it is a hard legal problem to figure out if a copyright license can even try to make this sort of requirement. This is something RMS and Eben Moglen are working on for the GPL, version 3.

Work on the GPL, version 3, has been on hiatus for nearly two years. First, work stopped so that we could do the GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL). After that was done, GPLv3 work was slowed substantially by personal matters that kept Eben Moglen from doing pro bono work for us during much of late 2000 and early 2001. Work on GPLv3 is just getting moving again.

I should note that it was well worth it to spend the time on the GNU FDL. It has gained adoption, as print publishers are discovering that there is a way to license their books that gives freedom and is profitable. For the first time, we can begin recommending that GNU users buy some books released by the commercial publishers. It's a very short list, but it is growing. (You can see this list on our website).

RMS
by Cirvam

How is working with RMS? If compromise is needed does he give in or does he stick to his line no matter what?

BK: RMS never compromises on matters of ethics. This is, of course, something that makes me quite glad. The last thing we want is the president of the FSF saying: "Oh, well, we might as well permit people to distribute proprietary versions of GPL'ed software." And, fortunately, I agree with the ethical positions that the FSF takes, so I never have disagreements on ethical matters with RMS.

RMS and I do disagree from time to time on matters of tactics, and on practical and technical matters. In these cases, I have found RMS to be strong-willed, but not uncompromising. In fact, when I compare RMS to other hackers that I know, he is among one of the most fair and even-handed. RMS always hears out the point of view of all sides and asks good questions to clarify the data and people's positions.

I have never known him to make a decision rashly, and he always seeks feedback from others before making any major decision. And, if we can prove to him that we have a better way to do something, and can back it up with evidence, he will change his mind.

In short, it's easy to lump "taking a firm ethical stance" together with "uncompromising". I believe these are separate issues, and I would say that RMS takes a firm ethical stance, but is willing to compromise on issues that don't impact an ethical position.

'Raving Lunatic' Image?
by Bilbo

In spite of all of RMS's great understanding of the working of Free Software, and his passion for promoting real Freedom, he has unfortunately picked up this image of a foaming-at-the-mouth raving lunatic pinko. How to you plan to combat this image, without compromising on the real issues behind Free Software, or the passion with which the FSF promotes these ideals?

BK: It's easy to dismiss someone as a "lunatic" if they are the only a few people standing up for a particular point of view. Some people once thought that abolitionists, suffragettes, and union organizers were "foaming-at-the-mouth raving lunatics", too.

For years, RMS stood up firmly for software freedom, and thus some people attacked RMS in that unfair and inaccurate way. He is still standing for software freedom all these years later, but now there are many more standing with him, including me. The best way for us in the Free Software community to combat the "lunatic" image is to stand for software freedom with him. As more people take a strong ethical stance for software freedom, those who use this underhanded tactic will find it less useful.

The ultimate solution is to change USA political sensibilities, so that USAmericans don't immediately label someone as a "lunatic" or "pinko" simply because (s)he puts freedom, community and goodwill as higher goals than the profits of shareholders. RMS has said publicly that he isn't a communist, and he isn't. As for "foaming-at-the-mouth" and "raving", those are just insults designed to turn those who don't know him away from what he stands for.

We responded to that attack by pointing out that our positions are actually in the spirit of what the USA is all about. I wrote an essay about this, and RMS did, too.

You know, when I hear the word "pinko", I can't help but associate it with the first time I ever heard that word. "Pinko" was the word that Archie Bunker always called his son-in-law, Mike "Meathead" Stivic, on the USA television show All in the Family.

It's interesting to me because, as a child in the early 1980s, that character, Mike Stivic, was the first person I ever saw on television talking about the kinds of social change and political views that I believed in. Of course, Mike wasn't a pinko, except in Archie's distorted thinking about the issues. Today, I can't hear the word "pinko" without thinking of Archie Bunker.

Your opinion on Java
by jsse

Your perljvm -- The Perl to Java Virtual Machine Compiler -- is impressive. I believe you've the authority to answer this question.

Sun has its sole control to their Java VM, and the control is extended to other JVM versions. As Richard said, free software build on non-free platform/program is useless to Free World.

We had much expectation on kaffe. However, it has halted its development long time ago, since Microsoft made business deals with Transvirtual. The only free JVM is basically dead now.

I'd like to have your opnion on this: do you have Java in your vision of Free World?

Thanks!

BK: You didn't ask the perljvm question that I was expecting: "Why isn't it done yet?" ;) (The answer to that one is: I've been working so much for my official duties at the FSF, I haven't had time to hack on it!)

But, your question is an interesting one. I certainly agree that we have to watch Sun, or any other company that exerts efforts over a 'de-facto' standard, closely, to make sure we can implement that standard in Free Software.

However, in the case of the Java environment, I am not too worried. I agree that Kaffe development seems to have slowed, but that is likely because the VM itself is quite stable and usable. (I use it as a development environment for perljvm.) I have heard they are pushing to make it compatible with newer versions of the Sun's proprietary software JVM, and I am happy to hear it.

In addition, now that GCJ has been fully integrated with GCC, Java, the language, is a first-class citizen in the GNU system. I think as time goes on, we'll see even more Java support on GNU systems. I recently saw, for example, that the GNOME-GCJ bindings are getting pretty good. So, I think that support for Java in the Free Software World is going to grow and get better, not wane. Eventually, I believe that the installed base of free Java platforms will grow enough that Sun won't be able to make incompatible changes without coordinating with the Free Software community, lest they have an outcry from the user base.

But, with Java, as with any software technology, we must keep watch for proprietary software twists that can leave the Free Software community constantly playing "catch-up". This threat exists for any technology, though, as long as we continue to live in a world with proprietary software.

In practical terms, for users of this technology, this means that we must only use those features of a technology supported with Free Software. If you are a Java programmer, make sure that your software runs in Kaffe and GCJ first, and don't make changes that require the use of a proprietary software Java environment.

Hardware Companies?
by 2400-n-8-1

Do you and/or the FSF support any certain hardware or hardware companies to go with free software?

Does the FSF have anything in mind to deal with hardware issues in the future?

BK: The important issue with hardware is to make sure that it can be controlled completely with Free Software. Some hardware companies are friendly enough to release their drivers as Free Software. Others cooperate enough to give full specifications, so that at least we can write our own drivers to compete with their proprietary ones. Sadly, some hardware companies still work against us, by keeping the interfaces to the hardware secret.

You, the hardware-buying public, have the power to change this situation by not purchasing any hardware that can't be run with Free Software. You can do even more to help by informing hardware companies that you would have bought their hardware if they'd only made a Free Software driver available.

There's a threat to freedom every time a new hardware device is released. We as a community have to watch closely and make sure that each exciting new hardware technology is fully supported with Free Software.

For a long time, we've wanted someone to build a full list of hardware vendors and note how friendly they were and are to Free Software. Compatibility HOWTOs exist, but this would be a list that gave reports of how much a given vendor helped us. If anyone wants to work on this, please let me know.

The Middle Initial
by Emil Brink

So, I notice that you share a middle initial of 'M' with RMS. The natural question then, becomes: what does your 'M' stand for? ;^) Also, for comparison's sake, what does RMS' stand for? I've actually wondered this for quite a while, but my (obviously worthless) attempts to surf it up have all failed. Thanks. BK: As people already noted on the slashdot comments, RMS' M stands for Matthew, or its pun variant: "Math You." ;) My M stands for "Michael," which sadly has no pun variant that I can think of. ;)

Food (ask, he'll understand)
by nowt

Gold Star or Skyline? Aglamesis or Graeters?

BK: I was amazed at how many people referenced my time in Cincinnati in the questions. I lived in Cincinnati for only four years before moving to Cambridge, MA. I lived in Baltimore for nearly 24 years, yet no one asked me my favorite restaurant in Baltimore ;), (which, BTW, is now closed: the Hacienda on Bel Air Road at Moravia).

But back to nowt's question: I never even went into Gold Star, but it seemed like they didn't have any vegetarian options on their menu. (I've been a vegetarian for about nine years.) Skyline had a few vegetarian items, so I ate there occasionally. My friend Matthew really hated eating there, so we stopped going on his account.

I heard of Aglamesis, but never went there. There was a Graeters not too far my apartment (I used to live near Clifton and Ludlow, as a slashdot comment mentioned), and my fiancee really loved Graeters' Chocolate cake with chocolate icing. We made sure we bought one a few weeks before leaving to have it one last time.

The Cincinnati food item that I miss most, though, is Adriatico's pizza. When he visited Cincinnati, RMS tried a piece and liked it too. I like Bertucci's, which is a brick oven pizza chain that started here in Somerville, MA, but I really miss that Adriatico's garlic crust.

Of course, I'll have to give it all up if I go completely vegan, which I've been thinking about doing. (For now, I have just resolved to reduce my dairy and egg intake by about a half.)

"Why do you answer Richard's email for him?"
by Anonymous Coward

Bradley, I've heard that you read Richard Stallman's email and replies to it, signing Richard's name rather than your own with no indication that someone else wrote the reply. In fact, I've gotten a couple of emails from "Richard" that definitely seemed like they were not written by him -- they directly contradicted things he'd said in other emails and did not sound like his style. How can you ethically justify this? Isn't it totally dishonest to sign email with someone else's name?

I do not recall ever posting nor emailing something with RMS' name on it unless RMS himself specifically gave me the text and said: "Send this as me." I do this from time to time, since RMS' network connectivity is sometimes spotty when he travels. Once or twice, I may have made very trivial edits to the text, if I saw a typo or an incorrect URL, but if I did that, I sent the text back to RMS so he knew what change I made.

One of the tasks that I was originally hired to do at the FSF was help RMS handle his huge email spool. The original idea we had was that I'd compose candidate responses, send them to RMS, and he'd decide whether or not to use them.

This ended up not working out, because RMS had to spend time editing the candidates, and it didn't save much time. However, there may have been times that RMS sent a response that was mostly written by me. But, he always saw the text and agreed that he wanted to say that first.

We at the FSF never say something came from RMS unless he approved the text (save a very rare minor typo fix, which we always inform him of after the fact).

Note, though, that there have been a number of cases of people impersonating RMS, particularly on slashdot. I believe that the slashdot staff got this under control, but what you may have seen are RMS impostors.

Most of these impostors do make statements that contradict what RMS would say. However, there's one particular case of an RMS imposter who made good points about software freedom that we agreed with. We tried to get in touch with him, to enlist his help in a non-imposter way to make points about Free Software. But, sadly, we never found him.

BTW, I'd like to note that unless I am in a big hurry or not at my own machine (both of which are rare), I GPG-sign all my messages with my GPG key. Even when I answer a general-contact addresses, such as <gnu@gnu.org>, you'll know that I answered by the GPG-signature.

RMS also has a GPG key, and occasionally he might be willing to sign a message if you are unsure about whether or not he wrote it. But, it's somewhat inconvenient for him to GPG-sign messages, so if people ask for it too much, he will likely not be able to oblige everyone.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The FSF's Bradley Kuhn Responds

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  • by S5o (102998) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:45AM (#2111202) Homepage
    I don't think RMS and Bradley Kuhn understand that there are quite a few of us who cannot make a living by giving keynotes.
  • So, what about Eric Raymond's question he posed to you at LinuxToday today[sic]?

    if you two could get a law passed making proprietary licenses illegal, would you do it?
  • by Fleet Admiral Ackbar (57723) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:53PM (#2114319) Homepage
    ...most of you are sitting there using a system that was designed and coded with the selfless efforts of people you don't even know, virtually relying on a set of tools developed by those "dirty gay hippies", and existing in a world where the Web is not a fearsomely expensive, proprietary protocol, and you have the nerve to whine about RMS and Bradley being "extremist".


    These "extremists" saved your asses. Or maybe you'd prefer having to drive to your local college to use the Internet, or worse yet, using a Windows box.


    Up your a$$, all of ya.

  • Quantum Logic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sdprenzl (149571)
    I'm seeing an "either/or", black-or-white mindset to the issue of free software. True freedom is maximal for all concerned. It's too far of a stretch to insist that when I write software and sell it without the source, I am somehow abridging the buyer's freedom. If I get too big I might someday face monopolist charges, but, for example, Microsoft is not abridging my freedom when it doesn't give me source code any more than Fridigaire is for not giving me the schematics to the refrigerator they just sold me. I'm involved with Linux and free/open software out of choice, which doesn't (in my mind at least) preclude the existence of others being involved in proprietary software. Laws exist to protect us from monopolists, but until I say so, any property of mine belongs to me--with all the inherent karmic ills of property ownership, too. A superior product produced by a superior system will prevail; I personally think the Free/Open software system is the best. Yet one's participation therein should be based on personal beliefs, not external coersion. I've been a left-winger for decades now, and I've seen how lame the Left is at getting anything done. It invariably comes down to holier-than-thou posturing and politically correct moralizing. The Right has long since been de-fanged from any serious moralistic coersion, but in the past 20-30 years the Left has simply repeated their mistakes, i.e., this hair-splitting and infighting is typical non-productive leftist behavior. I've come to a very libertarian attitude about morality and idealism: I have mine and you have yours. I may try to change your mind. I may oppose you and even work against you. But unless you're dangerous and/or truly delusional, I should not disrespect or discount your opinions. People who disrespect and discount others opinions are ramping up for destructive acts. It's a terrible mistake to totally dismiss people simply because they fail a hidden political correctness test. It's done to me all the time, and it hurts. I know a "do what you need to do, brother" attitude doesn't always fit the situation, but always worrying about your own karma first adds civility and even wisdom to life. Again, I'm involved in Free/Open because it squares with my view of life. I don't need to worry so much about what others are doing.
  • by dublin (31215) on Friday August 17, 2001 @12:20PM (#2116482) Homepage
    I believe strongly that all published software should be Free Software.

    It's exactly this sort of intolerance of other licenses and needs that has made me less and less supportive of the FSF and the GPL as time goes on. At least the BSD crowd acknowledges that users' needs differ and doesn't try to impose (and yes, "impose" is> the correct word) its worldview on all software universally. It's interesting that his very first words are so revealing of the FSF philosophy on this point.

    BTW, I encourage you to thank the GNU project by reminding people that the system so often called "Linux" is actually the GNU system with Linux as its kernel

    No, it's not. This is true for most distributions, but many of us prefer real Unix-flavored (usually derived from BSD) versions of the utilities for good reasons: 1) they're more compatible, and work as expected, 2) they are free from ridiculous GNU-isms like the hideous "--" options, and 3) they are also sometimes considerably more stable. I'm getting a little tired of the GNU/FSF folks trying to take all the credit for Linux. It's a crock, and they know it - there is not a single piece of GNU software that is completely essential to Linux - it would be a pain to replace it all (especially the compilers and thier ilk), but it *could* be done. Linux is Linux, GNU is a set of mediocre Unix utility ripoffs.

    Let people know the threat that software patents have for small software businesses and Free Software.

    This is just a flat-out lie. I know patents aren't popular here because so many in the community have learned from the FSF to hate them. The reality is that patents of *any* kind are a huge factor in levelling the playing field with the "big corporations" Kuhn so likes to demonize. A world without patents simply guarantees that companies like Microsoft will have total domination. (I do think that patents in fast-moving technology areas should have a much shorter term, say five years, but eliminating patents is NOT the answer - see my letter to LWN [lwn.net] last year on this subject for a full explanation.)

    Sometimes, people get confused and think that Emacs really is a religion. It's not a religion, even if it is a way of life for some of us. ;)

    I'm not really sure he's joking here, despite the smiley... :-)

    I also should mention that it was only a partial victory for freedom in January 2001 when Apple released APSL 1.2. They
    came much closer to a Free Software license than the APSL 1.0, but they fell short by continuing to require that "deployed"
    versions in an organization be published. Thus, they still restrict the important freedom of private modifications.


    An alternative view held by many would be that Apple has explicitly preserved the freedom of private modifications. In reality, the APSL is less restrictive and more free than the GPL in this regard.

    Recently, I changed my mode of dress to be a bit more traditional, and I cut my long hair. I did this in part because my fiancee wanted me to, but also in part because I realize that non-hackers are sometimes threatened by the "typical hacker style."

    This is very interesting to those of us that have long held that despite their protestations to the contrary, the free software movement is indeed inextricably tied to a communist worldview. RMS and others routinely deny this even though it's the only logical conclusion one can reach upon reading and thoughtful consideration of their positions on the issues. The fact that they are more aggressively pursuing subversive tactics should come as a sharp warning to those that are "a bit uncomfortable" with GPL/FSF/GNU.
    • BTW, I encourage you to thank the GNU project by reminding people that the system so often called "Linux" is actually the GNU system with Linux as its kernel

      No, it's not. This is true for most distributions, but many of us prefer real Unix-flavored (usually derived from BSD) versions of the utilities

      Yes, it is, but that's because what he was describing was literally the operating system that consist of the GNU utilities, plus the Linux kernel.

      Whereas you seem to be taking his statement as if, instead of "the system so often called Linux", he'd said "any system that includes Linux".

      The naming issue has long been an emotional one (and poorly handled, IMO, by RMS, especially early on), but the cold, hard, technical question remains:

      What do you call a system with the Linux kernel plus BSD Unix utilities?

      If the answer is "the Linux operating system", then I suspect you'll find most people find the name relatively useless in practice, since the utilities are what they most interact with (at a CLI level anyway).

      If the answer is "BSD Unix", then you're excluding the importance of the Linux kernel, of course.

      If the answer is "Unix", well, again, that name works just as well for pretty much any Linux, *BSD, Solaris, etc. system. I'm asking for a name that helps distinguish it from a system that shares just the kernel, but little else, with a GNU/Linux system.

      So, are you going to call it "BSD/Linux"?

      Great. That's why "GNU/Linux" isn't exactly out of bounds as a name.

      (And, no, you can't just plug the Linux kernel into a BSD system in the complete sense that it's part of a GNU system, because it's way too dependent on GNU's extensions, some might say breakages, to the C language. For an up-and-running system without kernel recompilation as an important option, though, I don't know why a BSD/Linux system wouldn't be a workable option.)

      Me, I'd rather be working on GNU/Solaris right now than Solaris, though I mitigate the pain somewhat by using XEmacs, even though I find it confusing, since I'm used to GNU Emacs.

      ;-)

    • there is not a single piece of GNU software that is completely essential to Linux - it would be a pain to replace it all (especially the compilers and thier ilk), but it *could* be done.

      Replacing the kernel in a Linux system is not a drop-in solution, but changing the kernel to a BSD kernel with Linux emulation, and pretty much only the kernel, could be done in probably under a day - definetly under a week.

      How long would it take to replace GCC? Even the BSD's still use GCC! To replace the GNU C compiler for ix86 would probably take years of effort; to replace the GCC (with C, C++, Fortran, Java, and Objective C frontends) for every platform Linux runs on - heck, the GCJ frontend alone took several years by a bunch of full-time programmers. Why do you think so many companies use GCC instead of making thier own compiler? Because it's trivial to duplicate?

      Linux is Linux, GNU is a set of mediocre Unix utility ripoffs.

      Linux is just a mediocre Unix kernel ripoff, by that measure - there's many "ridiculous" Linux-isms, for example. I've heard many people say the first thing they do on a new Unix (no *) system is install all the GNU utilities, which many people find vastly improved over the Unix utilities. (I've met a couple compiler crashes, but I never seen any sign of instability in the GNU utilities.

    • (After replying to this post once, I read it again, and realized it was almost certainly a willing attempt at FUD, it contains so many "persuasive", but inaccurate or misleading, statements.)

      I'm getting a little tired of the GNU/FSF folks trying to take all the credit for Linux.

      Despite my concerns over how the FSF and RMS handled the naming issue, I can't recall a single example of them trying to "take all the credit for Linux". Seems like that claim is just extremism in the guise of claiming someone else is an extremist.

      there is not a single piece of GNU software that is completely essential to Linux

      An assertion that is meaningless in context: one cannot tell what he means by "completely essential", since he seems to allow for an arbitrary amount of time to replace that software. (In which case, there is not a single piece of Linux that is completely essential to Linux!)

      This is just a flat-out lie. I know patents aren't popular here because so many in the community have learned from the FSF to hate them.

      I find that hard to believe, given how "so many in the community" reject other statements the FSF makes.

      Instead, I suggest that the reason software patents are so "hated" is that a bunch of people, including myself, actually researched the issue, observed the effects of software patents in practice, and came to the conclusion that, on the whole, granting this particular form of government monopoly has done more to retard progress than forward it; further, that the mere existence of software patents makes developing free software a very dangerous crapshoot, one in which the software author could lose his home, his lifestyle, etc., all because he dared release a GPL'd (or AL'd or public-domain) package that a) became popular and b) was later found to violate a patent that had not existed, or perhaps even been filed (in secret, of course) for, at the time of the software's release to the public.

      (Note that I did read his letter to LWN, and didn't see him address the software-patent issue per se, other than to slap down anyone who thoughtfully questions whether software, aka mathematics and algorithms, should be patentable as engaging in a "knee-jerk reaction". Bradley Kuhn had, of course, referred only to software patents in his post. Perhaps "Dub" is unable to distinguish between a type of patent that prevents me building a factory and one that prevents me from using paper and pencil to compute an equation, but most of the rest of us understand the difference well enough.)

      An alternative view held by many would be that Apple has explicitly preserved the freedom of private modifications. In reality, the APSL is less restrictive and more free than the GPL in this regard.

      How anyone could come to the conclusion that the GPL disallows private modification without distribution, thus allowing modification only if immediately followed by distribution, is beyond me. Perhaps these "many" people who hold this belief could try actually reading the GPL, maybe with the help of a competent IP lawyer?

      This is very interesting to those of us that have long held that despite their protestations to the contrary, the free software movement is indeed inextricably tied to a communist worldview. RMS and others routinely deny this even though it's the only logical conclusion one can reach upon reading and thoughtful consideration of their positions on the issues. The fact that they are more aggressively pursuing subversive tactics should come as a sharp warning to those that are "a bit uncomfortable" with GPL/FSF/GNU.

      Normally I use the term "McCarthyism" only in conjunction with left-wing editorializing and political correctness, but, in this case, I gotta say, "Thank you for your opinion, Senator McCarthy".

      I mean, really, this paragraph got written in response to a statement about how Bradley Kuhn has decided to dress and shave?? In what cave has "Dub" been living for the past couple of decades?

      As a point of comparison, I was recently reminded, upon coming across an old photo ID of myself, that I used to go for a few months at a time without shaving. At all. I.e. not just a beard, but a wolfman face.

      Needless to say, as any thoughtful examination of my web site and /. posts would reveal, I'm about as far from "communist" as one could be. Apparently "Dub" is less interested in joining forces with those of us who value freedom (whether in software usage or life generally) than with those who meet the strict requirements of his "Completely-Clean-Cut Party (CCCP)".

    • Only on slashdot would a complete moron like this be moderated up to +5 insightful.

      Really man wake up red baiting went out a long time ago.
  • Scary implications (Score:4, Interesting)

    by invenustus (56481) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:02AM (#2119292)
    I feel indebted to the FSF for a lot of the software they've provided me and the effect it has had on my personal and professional life. However, I have to take issues with some of Mr. Kuhn's responses....
    However, programmers don't deserve any "rights" that infringe on the freedoms of others. Often in society, we decide that the right to act a certain way should be limited because it infringes on the freedom of others.
    This is a path that leads to less freedom, not more, I fear. Yes, most of us believe that the government should intervene in acts of violence or acts that violate other people's rights to life or property. But Kuhn is implying here that proprietary software should be illegal, and that's dangerous....
    For example, in the USA, white people used to have the right to own slaves. As a society, we eventually decided that this right was too restrictive on the freedom of the people who served as slaves. Because of that decision, it is now illegal to own slaves in the USA.
    Legalized slavery meant that slaves were considered a person's property, and were protected as such by the government. If a slave ran away, the government could force him/her back to the owner. Helping a slave escape was considered theft and punished as such. Abolishing slavery only forced state governments to STOP infringing on people's freedom. This is an important distinction.
    Today, some argue that the "right to choose your own software license" is the greatest software freedom. By contrast, I think that, like slavery, it is an inappropriate power, not a freedom.
    So the alternative is what? The right to choose the terms forced upon everyone who wants to develop software? At the risk of being overdramatic, I'd call that the right to tyranny.

    Can't these guys see what has happened whenever government force has gotten involved in software licensing? You don't have to look too hard. Jon Johansen [slashdot.org] and 2600 [slashdot.org]. Dmitry Sklyarov [slashdot.org]. Edward Felten [slashdot.org]. And most frightening of all, Microsoft's vague threats about what should be done with software that "threatens the American way" [slashdot.org].

    Let Free Software succeed on its own merits, as I believe it will. Don't use the gun. There is no real freedom down that path.

    • by Ridge2001 (306010) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:28AM (#2113395)
      Let Free Software succeed on its own merits, as I believe it will. Don't use the gun. There is no real freedom down that path.

      It is not Free Software advocates who are wielding the gun. It is "intellectual property" holders who are doing so. If you violate intellectual property laws, jackbooted government troops bearing firearms will break down your door and drag you to jail at gunpoint [google.com].

      Free Software advocates want less force-based coercion in society, not more. To claim otherwise is simply Orwellian.

      • I think the confusion is the line between "proprietary software is immoral" and "proprietary software should be prohibited by law". I don't agree with either position, but I have no problem with Free Software advocates who believe the first. However I will oppose those who take the second position, as Bradley Kuhn implied that he did, because that is directly opposed to freedom.
    • by bkuhn (41121)
      Keep in mind that it is government intervention that allows for copyright and patents. Without government-created copyright and patent law, people wouldn't be able to create proprietary software.

      I don't call for complete abolition of copyright and patent laws. I do think we should reevaluate all copyright and patent laws to see if they do what the constitution says they should: "promote Science and the Useful Arts". If copyright and patent laws do not do that, they are not in harmony with the original intent (at least in the USA).

      • Without government-created copyright and patent law, people wouldn't be able to create proprietary software.

        Not true. All that is needed are enforceable contracts. Imagine a world without copyright. I want a piece of software that Bob has written. Bob will sell it to me, but only under the condition that I don't redistribute it. Bob and I sign a contract to that effect, and I pay Bob and get the software. Now if I make copies of the software and start selling them, Bob sues me on the grounds of contract violation. Copyright never enters into the picture.

        I do think we should reevaluate all copyright and patent laws to see if they do what the constitution says they should: "promote Science and the Useful Arts".

        I agree completely. Extending copyrights to life+75 years was not done for the purpose of promoting the arts, but protecting Disney's profits.

    • by mobiGeek (201274) on Friday August 17, 2001 @12:15PM (#2147671)
      But Kuhn is implying here that proprietary software should be illegal, and that's dangerous....

      No he is not. Making something illegal means putting more legal restrictions in place. Kuhn's argument is to remove restrictions that current legal systems have which prioprietary software makers use on their products.

      This is quite akin to the trend in the distribution of CDs and DVDs. I no longer buy the DVD with a copy of its contents for my use; instead I license the contents for my use as prescribed by the license holder (say, by restricting the environment in which I can use said DVD...must run on an approved device using approved software in the region of the world they license it for, etc...).

      So, no, Kuhn is not asking for more laws...he is asking for less!

      • As for the other half of your question, "programmer's rights," I certainly think programmers, like all users, have a right to all those freedoms I mention above. However, programmers don't deserve any "rights" that infringe on the freedoms of others. Often in society, we decide that the right to act a certain way should be limited because it infringes on the freedom of others.
        Combined with
        Today, some argue that the "right to choose your own software license" is the greatest software freedom. By contrast, I think that, like slavery, it is an inappropriate power, not a freedom. The two situations both cause harm, and they differ only in the degree of harm that each causes.
        Means he is against my right to choose how I wish software I produce is to be licensed.

        I cannot, and will not take any action to support him in that. It is unethical in my opinion.

    • Kuhn's quote: However, programmers don't deserve any "rights" that infringe on the freedoms of others. Often in society, we decide that the right to act a certain way should be limited because it infringes on the freedom of others.

      invenustus' quote: This is a path that leads to less freedom, not more, I fear. Yes, most of us believe that the government should intervene in acts of violence or acts that violate other people's rights to life or property. But Kuhn is implying here that proprietary software should be illegal, and that's dangerous....

      You misunderstand. Making a license that puts *everyone* (users, creators, learners) on equal footing is the only way to be fair. This leads to more cooperation and more software and code that is free(as in bear and freedom) for everyone.

      This "fear" of the GPL taking freedom and rights away from authors of code is bizare and unfounded. Why do authors instinctively want and think they deserve "more rights" than everyone else when it comes to the stuff they create to freely distribute? Trying to get more rights for a group of people takes away rights from all the rest.

      The idea that one group can have more rights and more freedom over a thing that is Free is silly. That is more dangerous than you think. Its what keeps all of the players in close software like Microsoft in power.
  • As to your question about the adjective "free," we in the Free Software Movement have never come across a term that has any great advantage over the term "Free Software."
    Unfettered Software.

    Chris Beckenbach

  • by Moe Yerca (14391) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:00AM (#2119800) Journal
    If a fearless reader is fortunate enough to spend any time in Cincinnati, a pizza from Adriatico's is definately on the agenda.

    When I was an undergrad at the University of Cincinnati my physics professor would order in Adiaticos when my small honors class would take exams... that was my first experience with Adriatico's... grrreeeaat pizza.

    Unless you want to spend the evening on the toilet, I suggest you stay away from both Skyline and Gold Star. Cincinnati chili is good, but a bit purging. :)

    • by justin_w_hall (188568) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:29AM (#2154376) Homepage
      You're nuts. Skyline is by far the best cuisine edible on this planet.

      For non-Cincinnatians... Skyline and Gold Star are two competing chili franchises. Skyline's the hometown classic and Gold Star is the upstart. Their main ingredient is Cincinnati-style (less thick, more flavorful and spicy) chili, and they put it on everything. Skyline pioneered the cheese coney, a hot dog with Cincinnati-style chili and cheese, and it's probably the best food ever dreamed up by a person. For more information, check out their website [skylinechili.com]. Gold Star.. ugh.

      I do live in Clifton, though, and I must agree that Adriatico's is the best pizza in the city. LaRosa's is of course a close second. And how can ANYTHING compete with Graeter's?

      On a side note, I used to work for the ISP young Bradley here used when he lived in Cincinnati, and I remember some of the more interesting discussions he was involved in on our local newsgroups. He was just about as... uh.. passionate.. then about free software. One of our systems admins actually wrote a script to place the prefix "GNU/" before random words in his newsgroup posts... Bradley wasn't thrilled, but it was one of the funnier things I've ever seen.

      Feeling good and hungry? It's Skyline time.
  • by pli (8167) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:32PM (#2119962) Homepage
    Open Source Community gets despised by RMS (and fanatics like him) for not urging the "political issues", and in the same breath they want to put their name on and take credit for something made by the Open Source Community. Further, calling it GNU/Linux will give you the impression that a Linux distribution is made out of GNU software and the Linux kernel. This is far from true. A normal Linux distribution contains the Linux kernel, plus software from a lot of different projects like, BSD, Apache, Perl, etc... and GNU. And finaly, Linux is NOT a "GNU variant". Linux was not put into the GNU operating system. Instead, some GNU software (and just as important software ogirinating from other projects) was collected and put around the Linux kernel to form a complete operation system.
    • It's just a way for the FSF to get their project acronym more widely known. The logic behind it doesn't have to make sense. Perhaps the other projects should all do the same, which would totally expose the foolishness here. "Hey, you should really call it Apache/Linux. No, BSD/Linux, no it's Perl/Linux dammit!"

      The FSF doesn't help its credibility with these sort of tactics.

    • Having actually built a Linux system from scratch, I can say without hesitation that the typical Linux distribution is emphatically NOT the GNU System.

      The three biggest components of the Linux OS (and I use the acronym "OS" loosely) from GNU are the build-tool chain, the libc, and the file/text utilities. I cannot consider the presence and use of the GNU compiler to constitute renaming the OS. Otherwise we would have to do around talking about "Mac GNU/OSX" and "GNU/FreeBSD". That's ridiculous.

      The file/text utilities might make a case for the operating environment to be called GNU if the majority of low level utilities in LinuxOS were from GNU. But they're not. The Linux operating environment derives from GNU, BSD, Linux-specific projects, and a multitude of independent projects.

      Finally, glibc. Funny, but glibc 2.0 and above was written specifically *for* Linux. Perhaps it should be called "Linux/glibc"?

      To quote from Ulrich Drepper, primary author of glibc: "I consider none of the code I contributed to glibc (which is quite a lot) to be as part of the GNU project".

      If Linus Torvalds and Company had done what RMS said they did, which was to take an existing GNU System and merely supply the missing kernel, then RMS would be somewhat justified in insisting that it be called "GNU/Linux". But that is NOT what transpired almost ten years ago. Instead, Linus decided to write his own operating system because 386BSD was in court and GNU was far from finished. So he wrote a kernel, a few other components and then a million of his friends stepped in and either wrote additional components or grabbed existing ones from various locations. One of those locations was GNU, but it was not the only source.

      In fact, much of GNU was written to conform to Linux, and not the other way around! It was Linux that make a home for GNU, and now the house guest has the temerity to rename the estate!
  • What is it to be human?

    One of the primary abilities that we humans have is the extension of self beyond our cells. This ability to extend our physical self to more abstract patterns of information and relationships around us makes us quite different than animals and other living things. This extended self includes our ideas and the tools we use to express them. More and more, these tools are being extended from a simple set of words to ones that enable more sophisticated forms of dialogue. When I think of my extended self, I tend to include my expressions that take the form of my creative expressions that end up in digital form on my home and office computer.

    Centuries ago, free speech was illegal. Ensuring it as a human right for all has taken centuries, and it still isn't always available. With the advent of more sophisticated communications tools, we have entered a world in which our rights to free speech may need to be extended to more sophisticated forms of self expression. Free speech for me is a human right. I couldn't imagine a world without it.

    I began expressing myself in the software that I wrote when I was 14 years old. I began by learning software languages that others had written, and by learning to use tools that others controlled. Once I incorporated those tools into my own forms of self expression, I found that I could only fully express myself by conforming to the laws of those previous authors. In effect, my freedom to extend myself through the software that I created was limited by the original authors choice of a license. If the license restricted me from the freedom to redistribute my work, then my ability to free expression was limited.

    Today, thanks to RMS, the FSF, and more importantly, the GPL, I have an institution that fights for my rights to extend myself in the form of software. Now, thanks to a group of idealists, I have a good set of tools that protects me and my liberty and you and yours.

    If my software ends up being used by others to extend their self...do I have any ethical right to control them by restricting their redistribution? According to copyright law and our societies current interpretation of it I do. This is the ethical question that haunts me. I understand the need to make income in a world where money puts food on the plate and shelter over the heads of myself, my wife and my two sons, but I'm concerned that the license that I choose may end up hurting another person by restricting their ability to extend their self to their fullest potential.

    For this reason, I fully support the FSF and the GPL. I would suggest that we each seriously consider that our code can end up being an important component in another human beings image of self. I would suggest that we each seriously consider that the license we choose is the law we are imposing on these others. We cannot escape responsiblity.

    Henri Poole

    "The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves." - William Hazlitt
  • Bradley, black people owned slaves, too. And some of those slaves were white. Slavery wasn't originally a black/white thing. That doesn't make it any better, but you should be factual when you talk about it.
    -russ
    • Again, my apologies for my inadequate knowledge of USA history. Please
      remove the word "white" from the phrase "white people" in my interview.
  • If it's the same chain of La Haciendas we had in Charleston, SC then I wouldn't be surprised if they got raided by immigration. They claimed to have 'authentic mexican cuisine' and they had the best mexican food I've ever found in the states. But they got raided because their employees were illegal immigrants, which explained why the food was so good :). Fortunately they have reopened and I'm assuming they're legal now, but they still have really good food, so I gotta wonder...
  • Just to be pedantic, it was not legal for "white people to own slaves." It was legal (in some states) for anyone to own slaves.
  • by jeffy124 (453342) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:01AM (#2133806) Homepage Journal
    But, it's up to each of us to speak out about software freedom when we talk with others. Please help us. If anyone has additional ideas on how we can reach non-hackers with the message of software freedom, we'd love to hear from you.

    I think the way I found out about FSF and GNU and Linux and all that jazz was best. I heard about it from my nextdoor neighbor in my college dorm. But he did more than just show me it, he got me to install it and practive with it. While I am still in college, Linux has sparked interest in my girlfriend, a hotel management major and total computer illiterate. It's because I use it in front of her, and she sees that I can use the free software for non-technical courses. Now she sometimes uses MY machine for HER work! While it pisses me off sometimes that I cant do my work whie she's there, it means that another person has been exposed to free software and sees you can still reach your bottom line: getting work done and being productive.

    Point is, my neighbor got me using linux and other gnu stuff by showing me it. My girlfriend has started using the apps open-source has produced for actual real life uses, because she saw me doing the same.

    Ideas for others: Teach your spouse on how to use free software, even if the software runs on proprietary OSs. Teach co-workers and friends the same. By teaching others real life uses for FSF/Gnu/OSS/etc software, word will spread to get others on the bandwagon. The story from Largo, FL, can be used as an excellent start.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Friday August 17, 2001 @12:18PM (#2133909) Homepage
    I should note that it was well worth it to spend the time on the GNU FDL. It has gained adoption, as print publishers are discovering that there is a way to license their books that gives freedom and is profitable. For the first time, we can begin recommending that GNU users buy some books released by the commercial publishers. It's a very short list, but it is growing. (You can see this list on our website).

    Their list of free-as-in-speech books [gnu.org] is pretty short. A much bigger catalog is here [theassayer.org]

  • The movements differ greatly because their fundamental philosophies and motivations are different.

    This is complete, total, and utter nonsense, as I've told you repeatedly. Freedom is just as important to the Open Source Initiative as it is to the Free Software Foundation. It's just that we don't clobber people over the head with the insistance that all code must be free, that anyone who doesn't free code their immediately is an unethical software hoarder. That is NOT HOW YOU CHANGE THE WORLD.

    Speaking of slaves, you would do well to follow the instruction of John Woolman. He was a Quaker who convinced, practically single-handedly, the entire Religious Society of Friends to stop owning slaves decades before the rest of America came around to that idea. How did he do it? Not by pounding everyone on the idea with the idea that slavery is immoral, unethical, people-hoarding.

    He did it by convincing Quaker slave owners that slavery was bad for THEM. We have a model for success, and we're pursing it, by quietly talking to software users about the benefits to THEM of the open source process. You, on the other hand, have a model for failure. And as much as I've tried to talk you out of it, you continue down the same path that kept the FSF mired in obscurity (except among programmers, natch) for a decade and a half.
    -russ
    • I certainly agree that some people in the Open Source Movement may have the same philosophy as those of us in the Free Software Movement. For example, in my long talks with you, Russ, I have come to realize that you really do tend to support software freedom more than most Open Source supporters.

      However, I meet many Open Source supporters who think that a mixed model---some proprietary software and some Free Software, is acceptable and even required. We in the Free Software Movement something fundamentally disagree with that.

      To the extent that the Open Source Movement does a good job at convincing business people and others that would not agree with the message of the Free Software Movement, I think that's great. There are many ways to get a job done, and I even refer people to the Open Source Movement if they are trying to convince people who fundamentally disagree with the Free Software Movement.

      What I'm calling for is to keep in mind that this is a big community that includes both the Free Software Movement and the Open Source Movement. Calling the whole thing the "Open Source community" leaves us Free Software folks out of the picture, and that's not really fair.

      I am glad that there are people like you, Russ, convincing people that we don't reach in the Free Software Movement. But, the Free Software Movement takes a firm ethical stance, and we aren't going to change that. You mentioned the Quakers doing a good job on abolition of slavery. But, there were many different abolitionists all using different ways of talking about the issues, and that's what finally ended slavery.

      It takes many points of view, cooperating together, to change the world. When our goals overlap, I call for the Open Source Movement and the Free Software Movement to cooperate, and I am open to any form of fair cooperation on common goals.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2001 @02:14PM (#2154554)

        It takes many points of view, cooperating together, to change the world.
        But what the FSF (and more specifically RMS) advocates is not cooperating with others of differing POV. They advocate their view is the one truth. The only way. RMS has said that if he had the power to force every software developer to release their code under the GPL he would. (emphasis mine) RMS' "vision" is just as Orwellian as BillG's.

        We all need to read between the lines and realize the FSF is not a religion but that it very much stands for communism. The basic premise is that the community outweighs the individual. Communal freedoms overrule individual freedoms. Software is not the property of the individual or corporation that develops it but rather the community that uses it.

        The GPL is a grand thing. I love its existence. The BSD license is a grand thing and I love its existence. Same goes for MPL, Artistic License, etc.

        The point is choice. Where the FSF and GPL provide people with choice, they are beautiful. Where the advocates of same seek to limit choice, they are dictatorial and oppresive.
        However, programmers don't deserve any "rights" that infringe on the freedoms of others.
        If I have a need for a program, I write it. It is mine. If others want to use it, I have the right to choose what terms I will let them use it under if at all. If they do not agree with my terms, they have the right to choose another path...be it writing their own or getting it elsewhere.

        If what I have written is the only program with the functionality desired and they can't buy it elsewhere, they still have the right to choose to pay another person to make a different program with the same functionality or even to develop it themselves.

        If I act in a way that impedes their ability to develop (or pay someone to develop) a separate program with the same functionality, THEN AND ONLY THEN HAVE I INFRINGED UPON THEIR RIGHTS.
        Today, some argue that the "right to choose your own software license" is the greatest software freedom. By contrast, I think that, like slavery, it is an inappropriate power, not a freedom. The two situations both cause harm, and they differ only in the degree of harm that each causes.
        Whatever you're smoking, I'd like some. A slave is a person. A program is a program. It is a bunch of zeroes and ones arranged in a specific order. Likening a person's right to control another human to a person's right to control an inanimate creation of his own design is folly.

        If anything, it indicates your perception that inanimate creations of an individual or group are not that person or group's personal property, should not be considered personal property, and if anything should belong to the whole of society...in other words, that you are a communist.

        If I went around saying that a person who created a fine sculpture in his art studio has no right to sell it because it does not belong to him...it belongs to his community, people would say I was loony. Hence, people often say the FSF and RMS are loony. There is no mystery here.
        The real question we now face is: who should control the code you use--you, or an elite few? We (in the Free Software Movement) believe you are entitled to control the software you use, and giving you that control is the goal of Free Software.
        Aah! Finally a point I can agree with. The person who should control the code I use is ME, not some "elite few" which certainly INCLUDES RMS and his FSF cronies.

        I think the FSF (and likewise the GPL) provides a valuable choice for people who decide to make programs available and want to protect those programs from being usurped by someone bent on using that program AGAINST THE INTENTIONS OF ITS CREATOR.

        But the fact remains, the creator is the one who decides. If I decide to give the same rights I have to the community, that's great. But if I decide I want to eat and have shelter and clothes to cover my butt, I have a right to choose to maintain my rights to my software. And you have the right not to use it.

        • We all need to read between the lines and realize the FSF is not a religion but that it very much stands for communism. The basic premise is that the community outweighs the individual. Communal freedoms overrule individual freedoms. Software is not the property of the individual or corporation that develops it but rather the community that uses it.

          Ok, McCarthy.

          The Free Software movement simply puts forth the idea that copyright shouldn't be extended to software. Nobody's restricting anyone's right to write software, they're simply saying don't think you can control your software after it leaves your hands. If you don't want anyone else to use it, or copy off it, or reverse engineer it, keep a single copy in your safe.
  • Yee gads. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IPFreely (47576) <mark@mwiley.org> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:00AM (#2135988) Homepage Journal
    Today, some argue that the "right to choose your own software license" is the greatest software freedom. By contrast, I think that, like slavery, it is an inappropriate power, not a freedom. The two situations both cause harm, and they differ only in the degree of harm that each causes

    I like freedom too, but this is a bit of a stretch. People have rights, including their own freedom. Software does not have its own freedom, it is a tool used by people. Controlling software is like controlling your own car or your own bank account. It won't do anything by itself. It needs someone to use it. This is not even in the same conversation as slavery!

    Stating arbitrarily that noone should be allowed to determine the outcome of their own work is nuts. Patents are abused heavily, but copyright has its place. Copyright cannot prevent competition by alternative implementation, patents can.

    The best action for Free and OS is to compete with a better implementation, not to take away what the competition (Closed source) has. Taking away their basis for existance is as bad as them trying to take ours through IP, patents and crazy restrictive laws. Its no more right for us than it is for them. Open competition on features/licence terms is good. Restriction on what licence terms/implementation restrictions/legal activities are available is no good for either side.

    • Controlling software is like controlling your own car or your own bank account. It won't do anything by itself. It needs someone to use it.

      Try this on for size:Controlling software is like controlling your own speech. It won't do anything by itself. It needs someone to hear it.

      It puts me of a mind of two things: the key requirement of totalitarian regimes to control speech; the danger inherent in the intentional falacy, the idea that locutor's intention can be relied on in the interpretation of his language. Copyright is only another subtle attempt to legislate this control. Tyrants and fools (public|private) lose because they build on the shifting sand of their dream of control. The wise (programmer|writer) knows that her content is not originary, her intent is unclear and the potential utility of her artifacts is ambiguous.

      Software, like speech, is always already libre. The fight is not *for* freedom, it is *against* fools and tyrants who conspire to impose short-sighted limits and their dreams of control.
    • He is not talking about denial of the rights of the software itself, but denial of the rights of those who would use it. He feels that if you try to control the distribution of software in certain ways, you are violating the fundamental rights of the people who use it. I happen to agree with him.

      I find your attempt to twist the issue to be amusing and annoying at the same time.

      As for determining the outcome of your own work, that is a fundamental right that you currently and always will have. You're doing the work. What is created is under your control, and always will be. It can't possibly be otherwise. Attempting to say that simply because you originally created something, that other people should be restricted in what they can do with it is wrong. Once you let something out into the world, your fundamental control is lost, and the only control you have is a legal fiction who's enforcement both the FSF and I consider unethical.

      • Wait a minute here... trying to control the laughter inside...

        Isn't the FSF implementation *controlling*? I believe the GPL controls me by enforcing in your words "legal fiction". Would not the restrictions within the GPL be "control", it says that there are things "I CAN NOT DO" that sure seems like control to me. You are *CONTROLLING* me by not allowing me to take your code and do what I want with it and put it back out into the work anyway that I see fit. You make like that I am forced to give back to the common good, but you sure the hell are controlling me, and your public code.

        Let's really take a look at your example and put in exactly what should be in there... you let something out into the world, your fundamental control is maintained, and the control you have is a legal enforcement of what both FSF and you consider ethical. If I were able to truely be able to *any* thing at all with the code then your original statement would be correct, but it's not.

        • If copyright didn't exist, the GPL would be largely necessary. Yeah, the GPL turns the idea of copyright against itself. What of it? I'm tired of hearing this non-argument.


          • I really wasn't thinking of copyright.

            I was thinking that if I'm just another Joe on the net, who downloads some code, I modify it & post it in binary only format on my website (don't release the code because he's lazy, just doesn't want to, whatever reason).

            Under the FSF the original coder is "controlling" his public code by not allowing my above example. The FSF *wants* the ability to control code after it's been released (for good or bad). The FSF license requires all others to release their changes also, which again is obviously controlling the code after it has entered to the wild and wooly public space.

            I was just pointing out the incorrectness of your statement, that (paraphrasing) once code is released to the public, no laws govern it anymore and it can not be controlled, and that is what the FSF believe in. Which from the above example shows this.

            I personally really don't care too much either way with licenses, but your statement was so incorrect to the point of being exactly opposite of what the FSF says that I had to point it out (I'm kinda kooky that way), before someone else incorrectly believed it.
    • Re:Yee gads. (Score:4, Informative)

      by rknop (240417) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:29AM (#2154589) Homepage

      People have rights, including their own freedom. Software does not have its own freedom, it is a tool used by people. Controlling software is like controlling your own car or your own bank account. It won't do anything by itself. It needs someone to use it. This is not even in the same conversation as slavery!

      I think you missed his point. His point isn't that those who release proprietary software are taking away the rights of the software. Rather, by releasing software with a restrictive proprietary license, they are taking away the rights of the people who use the software. The FSF sees the rights of users of software as important and fundamental; some others do not. But he's certainly not talking about enslaving software!

      Re: control over your own creations, the FSF does support a sort of control over that. You always have the right not to release your own code or modifications. Indeed, the FSF objects to software licenses that require people to release private modifications. However, once you release your software to other people, the FSF asserts that it is not ethical to restrict the freedom of other people to use that software. It's part of the social contract of free democracies; your freedom only extends so far as it does not infringe on the freedoms of others. The hard part, and the point of disagreement, is where to draw that line. The FSF thinks that proprietary software goes too far infringing on the rights of others.

      Rather than a car or a bank account, a better analogy might be a workplace. An employer who owns the workplace and employs nobody can do an awful lot with that workplace. But once he starts hiring employees-- opening it up to the public-- he's got certain restrictions in what he can do, so as not to infringe on the fundamental rights of his employees.

      -Rob

      • (Surprise) Slashdot is broken again. Well, let's try again...

        You always have the right not to release your own code or modifications. Indeed, the FSF objects to software licenses that require people to release private modifications. However, once you release your software to other people, the FSF asserts that it is not ethical to restrict the freedom of other people to use that software.

        The problem I have with the FSF's position is that their goal is to rid the world of proprietary software -- it's not enough that people have the opportunity to use free software, but proprietary software is off-limits. If they had their way, I wouldn't even be able to let someone have a binary-only release of software for free ... I'd be required to provide sources for it as well. Exactly why should I be forced to provide source for something that I want to give away?

        Sure, we'll have a few companies selling and developing free software (After all, it's certainly proven itself as an effective business model so far. Right.) And everyone else ... goes into support for free software? Maybe everyone in the software industry can get jobs flipping burgers, and develop free software on their off-hours, just like they do now. (Quick check ... can I have a show of hands of how many people here are employed making or otherwise involved in the creation of proprietary software? At the moment, how easy will it be for you to find another job?)

        I like using free software, and I write it as well, but peoples' "rights" aren't infringed by proprietary software. The slavery analogy is terminally flawed, because I can always choose not to use proprietary software. Unless the day comes when that isn't true (and we seem to be moving farther away from it all the time, as Linux becomes better and better), those who create the content are perfectly within their rights to enforce software licenses.

    • Re:Yee gads. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ethereal (13958)

      Not that I don't agree with you, but I'll point out the obvious contradiction: many people in the past felt that slaves weren't intelligent or driven enough to govern their own lives, and that controlling and using them for someone else's good was beneficial to everyone involved. The big difference was deciding that slaves were people and not property; as long as slaves were property then you could make the same argument about a slave that you have just made about software.

      I don't expect that software will become people any time soon (although maybe by the end of my lifetime), so I still agree with you, just for different reasons.

      • by bkuhn (41121)
        ethereal wrote:
        many people in the past felt that slaves weren't intelligent or driven enough to govern their own lives, and that controlling and using them for someone else's good was beneficial to everyone involved.

        Actually, this introduces another interesting part of the slavery/proprietary software analogy. Some people argue that proprietary software is appropriate, because "users aren't intelligent or driven enough" to make use of the freedoms to modify and study the software. This is terribly unfair. Programmers are in the class of users. Some users program a little, some program a lot, some don't program at all. But even those who don't program often know who the good programmers are, and can ask them to modify a program on their behalf. Users deserve these freedoms, and it's wrong to think that they don't under the guise that they aren't smart enough to make good use of software freedom.

        I know it wasn't ethereal who was making this argument, but I thought it was an interesting point to introduce to the discussion.

        • Some people argue that proprietary software is appropriate, because "users aren't intelligent or driven enough" to make use of the freedoms to modify and study the software.

          This is a strawman. Very few people make this argument. It looks to me like you're only bringing it up because it gives you an opportunity to cast supporters of copyright as elitist.

  • by Linux_ho (205887) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:47AM (#2138436) Homepage
    Today, some argue that the "right to choose your own software license" is the greatest software freedom. By contrast, I think that, like slavery, it is an inappropriate power, not a freedom. The two situations both cause harm, and they differ only in the degree of harm that each causes.

    Proprietary software is an exercise of power, and it harms the users by denying their freedom.
    This offends me. If I choose to spend time developing software that I could have spent playing with my kids, it is not MORALLY WRONG for me to demand compensation for my efforts in a way that does not comply with Free Software standards. I am a Free Software developer. I also write proprietary software.

    If people's freedoms are limited by the fact that they do not have access to the source code of my proprietary software, they are in no way harmed. They are certainly no worse off than they were before I wrote it, are they? In fact, the only people whose lives were affected in any way by the fact that I released a proprietary software package are those who benefitted enough from using it that they were willing to pay for it.

    In spending my own available time, energy, and resources to help other people by writing some proprietary software, yes it's true that I am taking some power over the people I help when I limit the way they use my creation. But that is not morally wrong in itself. Comparing proprietary software developers to slave owners is obviously just designed to dramatize the issue, but it's extremely offensive to many of us developers who write both Free and proprietary software. Apparently the FSF has decided that rational argument is not as effective as hyperbole. Well, hyperbole cuts both ways, guys. Here's a little bit of my own:

    If I ran a halfway house for homeless teenagers, you're damn right I would exert power over them and limit their freedoms, in the interest of ensuring that I could continue to provide a service to help as many of them as possible. If I didn't limit their freedoms, the police would shut the place down and all the kids would be completely free again - but without a place to sleep. Is it morally wrong to run a halfway house?

    Limiting other people's freedoms is not inherently wrong - that's what laws are for. Taking away someone's freedom to steal, rape, and kill is a very good idea. The FSF has made a golden calf of "preserving peoples freedoms" without looking any deeper than that. No wonder they are commonly viewed as extremists. They have turned a blind eye to common sense.

    I applaud the FSF and all Free Software developers who have donated their time to the community and have worked to create the wonderful variety of Free software that is available today. But don't tell me that the way I feed my kids is morally wrong.
  • by ethereal (13958) on Friday August 17, 2001 @10:39AM (#2140168) Journal

    Remember, if the posted story looks wrong, you should have used Preview :)

  • GCJ also has a JVM (Score:2, Informative)

    by Per Bothner (19354)
    The original questioner talked about Kaffe as "the only free JVM". This is a common misconception. Bradley in his reply mentioned GCJ, but does not make clear that GCJ does come with a fully-functional JVM, and has for some time. Many people think GCJ is only good for ahead-of-time compilation, but its goal is to be a complete Java system. (When I run Kawa, my Scheme-to-JVM compiler, under GCJ, I depend on the JVM, because when the user types in a lambda expression on the command line, it gets compiled on the fly to a new Java class.)
  • by David Greene (463) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:21AM (#2147495)

    I liked this interview and wish Bradley all the best in his FSF work. However, I must take issue with a couple of his remarks.

    For example, in the USA, white people used to have the right to own slaves. As a society, we eventually decided that this right was too restrictive on the freedom of the people who served as slaves.

    Today, some argue that the "right to choose your own software license" is the greatest software freedom. By contrast, I think that, like slavery, it is an inappropriate power, not a freedom. The two situations both cause harm, and they differ only in the degree of harm that each causes.

    No, they differ in a lot more than just that. The two situations are incomparable. Slavery results in the removal of freedoms from people. Developing proprietary software does not. Users still have the choice of whether or not to actually purchase and/or use the software. Victims of slavery have no choice in their situation.

    Bradley is confusing the actions of the developer with those of the user. Developers can code under whatever license they choose. This does not mean users must make use of the product.

    I still can't believe this analogy was made.

    Others say "software libre" or "free (libre) software", using the Spanish word to make things clear. In fact, whenever I am speaking to an audience that I know will fully understand what "libre" is (in Europe, for example), I favor the term "Libre Software".

    I've always liked this term and its counterpart, "Gratis Software." Using them in combination makes a clear distinction for the receiver. "Free" is just too loaded a term, at least in the US.

    The ultimate solution is to change USA political sensibilities, so that USAmericans don't immediately label someone as a "lunatic" or "pinko" simply because (s)he puts freedom, community and goodwill as higher goals than the profits of shareholders.

    Its ironic that Bradley makes this statement given his wonderful explanation of how to connect with non-hackers about Free Software. This is exactly the sort of statement that turns people off and creates the impression of a raving lunatic rebellious dangerous hacker culture.

    Not everyone who develops or supports the option to develop proprietary software is working in the interests of corporations. Moreover, I'd bet that most people in the USA are quite concerned about excessive corporate power and have been for quite some time, something that Bradley has obviously missed given the above statement.

    Please don't stereotype and generalize. Stereotyping and generalizing is what made Archie Bunker, and makes us, raving lunatics.

    • I certainly see your point that people can often choose not to use proprietary software, and to that extent, it differs in another way from slavery.

      However, that difference is rapidly disappearing. More and more, it's becoming difficult to get a job in the USA that doesn't require the use of proprietary software. For example, I always used to cite "waiting tables" as a profession that never required using proprietary software. The other night, I made that point, and someone pointed out that the restaurant we were at had a proprietary software point-of-sale system. Even in that profession, people are required to use proprietary software when they weren't before.

      In the industrialized world, we are rapidly approaching a day when you cannot work in any field without using software---and in nearly all cases, that software is proprietary software. The difference in the analogy you introduce disappears completely when that is the case. It's nearly disappeared already.

      • More and more, it's becoming difficult to get a job in the USA that doesn't require the use of proprietary software.

        But what freedoms have been removed here? Just because it's hard to completely suit your ideal doesn't mean freedom has been eroded. The POS system does not affect the workers at the restaurant. It affects the business. It was a business decision to use a proprietary software package. The business is equally free to use a Free alternative or to develop one. Choice hasn't been eliminated here.

        The waiters at the restaurant don't have any say about which POS system is used because they're not in charge. It's a matter of hierarchy, not freedom.

        In the industrialized world, we are rapidly approaching a day when you cannot work in any field without using software---and in nearly all cases, that software is proprietary software. The difference in the analogy you introduce disappears completely when that is the case.

        No, it doesn't. You're confused about the identity of the "user." In those cases the "user" is the business as an entity. The individual workers are a part of that business. The people in charge are still free to make use of whatever software they choose. Hence the push to get Free Software into government offices, schools, etc.

        It's silly to talk about proprietary software taking away freedom. Software doesn't take away freedom. Programmers don't take away freedom. Marketers don't take away freedom. Users take away their own freedom by choice.

        Of course, this doesn't cover stupid laws that really do take away freedom. Comparing the two situations only takes away from our fight for the things that really matter.

        I like Free Software. I use it in my daily work because it does what I need and is developed more rapidly than proprietary alternatives. I'm even hoping to contriute some not insignificant code to the collection of Free Software because I believe the benefits of open development make for a good product. What worries me about the FSF's rhetoric is that they want to take choice away from developers and users. The choice of license and the choice of software.

      • I hate to argue with you, but do you know for a fact the software was proprietary?


        They may very well have the full source code to it. They may have the right to make changes to it as well.


        I work with a product which inherently is more usable when the source code is supplied (not providing source makes things much more complicated, even if the customer has no intention of ever making any changes).

        The customer may pay extra for the privledge (depends on the requirements) but they can often get the source code.


        I'm often hired to make changes to software I didn't write. Software that the company I work for didn't write either.


        The only restriction on the software is the customer doesn't have the right to redistribute it. (On the other hand, there are many groups within the comunity which exchange code snippets and patches freely without concern.).


        While none of this software would qualify under the Open Source/Free Software description (not in the general sense anyway) it actually does provide benefits to those who use it very similar to the Open Software movement.


        Interestingly enough, the end users benefit in a similar fashion but some people actually get paid in a fashion that works consistantly.

  • by Wind_Walker (83965) on Friday August 17, 2001 @10:41AM (#2154708) Homepage Journal
    I wish I had known about this interview, because I would have asked him how he feels about Ulrich Drepper simply bashing [linuxprogramming.com] RMS in a recent changelog for glibc.

    If you scroll down to the bottom of that page (or just search for the words "not so nice things") you'll see Ulrich Drepper, a Red Hat programmer, discussing his own personal involvement with Stallman.

    I submitted this as an article and it got rejected, but I really think that it's a good glimpse into the behind-the-scenes power struggles that go on.

    Thoughts?

    • Ego meets ego... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Drepper certainly isn't known to mince words. Here's one example [iu.edu] from l-k. Judge for yourself, who is more/less rational...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2001 @10:47AM (#2144081)
      And now for some not so nice things.

      Stallman recently tried what I would call a hostile takeover of the
      glibc development. He tried to conspire behind my back and persuade
      the other main developers to take control so that in the end he is in
      control and can dictate whatever pleases him. This attempt failed but
      he kept on pressuring people everywhere and it got really ugly. In
      the end I agreed to the creation of a so-called "steering committee"
      (SC). The SC is different from the SC in projects like gcc in that it
      does not make decisions. On this front nothing changed. The only
      difference is that Stallman now has no right to complain anymore since
      the SC he wanted acknowledged the status quo. I hope he will now shut
      up forever.

      The morale of this is that people will hopefully realize what a
      control freak and raging manic Stallman is. Don't trust him. As soon
      as something isn't in line with his view he'll stab you in the back.
      NEVER voluntarily put a project you work on under the GNU umbrella
      since this means in Stallman's opinion that he has the right to make
      decisions for the project.

      The glibc situation is even more frightening if one realizes the story
      behind it. When I started porting glibc 1.09 to Linux (which
      eventually became glibc 2.0) Stallman threatened me and tried to force
      me to contribute rather to the work on the Hurd. Work on Linux would
      be counter-productive to the Free Software course. Then came, what
      would be called embrace-and-extend if performed by the Evil of the
      North-West, and his claim for everything which lead to Linux's
      success.

      Which brings us to the second point. One change the SC forced to
      happen against my will was to use LGPL 2.1 instead of LGPL 2. The
      argument was that the poor lawyers cannot see that LGPL 2 is
      sufficient. Guess who were the driving forces behind this.

      The most remarkable thing is that Stallman was all for this despite
      the clear motivation of commercialization. The reason: he finally got
      the provocative changes he made to the license through. In case you
      forgot or haven't heard, here's an excerpt:

      [...] For example, permission to use the GNU C Library in non-free
      programs enables many more people to use the whole GNU operating
      system, as well as its variant, the GNU/Linux operating system.

      This $&%$& demands everything to be labeled in a way which credits him
      and he does not stop before making completely wrong statements like
      "its variant". I find this completely unacceptable and can assure
      everybody that I consider none of the code I contributed to glibc
      (which is quite a lot) to be as part of the GNU project and so a major
      part of what Stallman claims credit for is simply going away.

      This part has a morale, too, and it is almost the same: don't trust
      this person. Read the licenses carefully and rip out parts which give
      Stallman any possibility to influence your future. Phrases like

      [...] GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free
      Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or (at your
      option) any later version.

      just invites him to screw you when it pleases him. Rip out the "any
      later version" part and make your own decisions when to use a
      different license since otherwise he can potentially do you or your
      work harm.

      In case you are interested why the SC could make this decision I'll
      give a bit more background. When this SC idea came up I wanted to
      fork glibc (out of Stallman's control) or resign from any work. The
      former was not welcome this it was feared to cause fragmentation. I
      didn't agree but if nobody would use a fork it's of no use. There
      also wasn't much interest in me resigning so we ended up with the SC
      arrangement where the SC does nothing except the things I am not doing
      myself at all: handling political issues. All technical discussions
      happens as before on the mailing list of the core developers and I
      reserve the right of the final decision.

      The LGPL 2.1 issue was declared political and therefore in scope of
      the SC. I didn't feel this was reason enough to leave the project for
      good so I tolerated the changes. Especially since I didn't realize
      the mistake with the wording of the copyright statements which allow
      applying later license versions before.

      I cannot see this repeating, though. Despite what Stallman believes,
      maintaining a GNU project is NOT a privilege. It's a burden, and
      the bigger the project the bigger the burden. I have no interest to
      allow somebody else to tell me what to do and not to do if this is
      part of my free time. There are plenty of others interesting things to
      do and I'll immediately walk away from glibc if I see a situation like
      this coming up again. I will always be able to fix my own system (and
      if the company I work for wants it, their systems).
      • Hi,

        I don't know Ulrich Drepper personally, though I am aware he is a well-intentioned man and a uber-hacker. I am glad that he is working on glibc, and that I can enjoy the fruits of his efforts.

        Having said that, I have to say that his anger seems to stem from not anything specific that RMS has done, but the connotations that he assigns to RMS' actions. Reading Mr. Drepper's article, it appears that RMS has acted democratically and ethically at every turn. Mr. Drepper himself admits that there was no effort to displace him from his position. Also, I see no issue with the new license wording: in fact, like Mr. Drepper admits, it seems more "commerce-friendly" than the previous one, thus refuting RMS' anti-commerce image. It seems, at least to me, that Mr. Drepper is guilty in no little way of the same fault he attributes to RMS... the obsessive need to control his environment.

        Magnus.
        • . Reading Mr. Drepper's article, it appears that RMS has acted democratically and ethically at every turn. Mr. Drepper himself admits that there was no effort to displace him from his position.

          Excuse me, were you reading the same thing I was? If so, I'm not sure how you square the assertion above with what Drepper actually wrote, to wit:

          Stallman recently tried what I would call a hostile takeover of the glibc development. He tried to conspire behind my back and persuade the other main developers to take control so that in the end he is in control and can dictate whatever pleases him.
      • This $&%$& demands everything to be labeled in a way which credits him
        and he does not stop before making completely wrong statements like
        "its variant".


        A, the old conflicts just never die, do they?

        That said, I recently installed the full suite of Cygwin tools on my Win2K development machine, and it gave me a slightly different perspective on the Linux vs. GNU/Linux debate. If I could only get rid of my Windows desktop altogether I'd be happy indeed.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          It's Microsoft Windows. I hate to be a stickler about this, but please show some respect to the armies of developers slaving away to produce the system you call "Windows".
        • Most of Cygwin comes from two parts: the Cygwin library (replaces glibc) and gcc. The library was written by Cygnus (and is now maintained by Red Hat) and does not originate with the GNU project. The gcc used comes from egcs (as does modern gcc), which was forked a long time ago after Stallman installed a bonehead maintainer. It is true GNU software, but most of the code is from non-GNU sources. The GNU tools are all replacements for proprietary UNIX versions that are also available under proprietary and BSD licenses.

          If you take out glibc, gcc and gdb (because the sources are not primarily from the GNU project, even though they were donated to it) you find that GNU software actually plays only a minor part in a normal Linux system.

          • > The gcc used comes from egcs (as does modern gcc), which was forked a long time ago after Stallman installed a bonehead maintainer. It is true GNU software, but most of the code is from non-GNU sources.

            EGCS was a short fork that was remerged over a year ago. The GNU project may not have written a lot of the code (any more than the Apache group wrote all of Apache, or Linus wrote all of Linux), but they did the merging and releasing, awesome projects for something as large and complex as GCC. If the FSF had not been there, there would be ten thousand GCCs, with poorly maintained forks for every system out there.

            Also, it's a huge project to get any open-source project started. Whatever anyone else may have done to GCC or glibc or gdb, the structure and framework were built by RMS (for GCC and GDB) or by someone working for the FSF (as in getting paid) (for glibc), and that structure was obviously valuable enough to build on.

    • by miguel (7116) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:48AM (#2156021) Homepage
      Ulrich is telling the truth, which is the scary thing.

      I do not want to work with RMS anymore (for other, but similar reasons). I realized too late that I should have listened from other people who had been burned in the past.

      I will keep writing free software and I appreciate some of RMS's comments and his early vision. But his new vision is now blurred with different objectives that I do not agree with or am sick of.

      Miguel.
      • Free s/w (or open src) is like any other movement.

        The leader during the revolution, is not necessarily the leader _after_ the revolution. Each stage demands different skills/convictions. RMS drove this movement for a long time. It is not at all surprising (nor necessarily valid) to me that he'd be increasingly ignored. Though he may remain the conscience of the movement, his role may increasingly become a symbolic one -- at best!

        But I hope that such a possibility, will not discourage/detract us from the larger goal. Ulrich is right that free s/w is a burden, but it's one that I hope extremely talented individuals -- such as yourself, Miguel, and Drepper -- will not abandon.

      • by Drone-X (148724) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:30PM (#2147682)
        I'm sorry but as much as I'm a GNOME fan and admire your work I don't understand why you're talking dirt about RMS without giving concrete examples (what do you mean new vision?). You're making a lot of people turn away from Free Software here (though going to Open Source possibly) without giving anyone the opportunity to refute your statements.

        As for Ulrich's comments, I don't agree about the remarks he made on the license thing. The addition made to the 2.1 version of the LGPL compared to the 2.0 version is only a clarification, just as RMS said. Also, the upwards compatibility clause is very important, if it wasn't for that a program's license could never be changed (unless every single contributor granted written permission). Upgrading would of course be necessary if a bug was found in the GPL2 or for those cases where the GPL2 isn't clear enough (say Java linking, Bonobo components, etc.).

        As for Ulrich's statements of the hostile takeover, Stallman threatening him as well as for Stallman's so called embrace-and-extend tactics, I'm unsure what is meant. Those whole paragraphs are way to vague to me.

      • Are you saying you prefer the name "Linux" rather than "GNU/Linux" ?

        Is that what this basically boils down to? (I'm just guessing here)

        In all of Ulrich's rant he doesn't explicitly say what issue it is he finds objectionable, or what decision he would like to see made that would satisfy him. (you are similarly ambiguous)

        Its hard to agree or disagree with someone if its not clear what they think.

    • I submitted this as an article and it got rejected, but I really think that it's a good glimpse into the behind-the-scenes power struggles that go on.

      I was going to submit that story too, but figured the queue already had it hundreds of times. It's hard for me to see how feuding over the control of glibc and threats of a Red Hat fork are less newsworthy here than yet another forum for pointless Microsoft bashing taken straight from CNN's front page.

      I thought the most interesting bit was:

      The glibc situation is even more frightening if one realizes the story behind it. When I started porting glibc 1.09 to Linux (which eventually became glibc 2.0) Stallman threatened me and tried to force me to contribute rather to the work on the Hurd. Work on Linux would be counter-productive to the Free Software course. Then came, what would be called embrace-and-extend if performed by the Evil of the North-West, and his claim for everything which lead to Linux's success.

    • Ironically... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by devphil (51341)


      ...this was just touched on yesterday in a slashdot post [slashdot.org]... anyhow.

      Ulrich is only one of the maintainers of glibc; there are many others. All of them (including Ulrich) are very very skilled programmers, and all of them (including Ulrich) are basically decent people.

      I've worked with Ulrich a very little bit before, for the GNU C++ library. Personally, I found him to be a bit abrupt and condescending, but there's no question that he knew what he was talking about.

      I am a little surprised that he would post his rant as part of the glibc release notes, rather than as a separate message. That does seem rather unprofessional.

      Enh... none of us are perfect. I too have ranted in public inappropriately, and I didn't contribute a kernel or system library to make up for it. :-) Those members of the OSS community who perform great service are entitled to some leeway.

  • Rewriting history (Score:2, Interesting)

    by po8 (187055)

    By the way, I don't think about the "Open Source community" as a distinct entity. There are two movements afoot: the Free Software Movement, whose focus is the political and ethical issues of software freedom, and the Open Source Movement, whose focus is to avoid political issues of freedom, and to talk about the technological benefits of "Open Source". The movements differ greatly because their fundamental philosophies and motivations are different.

    However, together we form one community---the same community that started in 1984 when the Free Software Movement started. In 1998, within that community, we had another movement start up with a different focus, but we've always been together in one community. Thus, I hope you'll think of the community as including both the Free Software Movement and the Open Source Movement, and remember that it originally started as the Free Software community. At the very least, please call it the "Free Software and Open Source community", so that Free Software isn't left completely out of the picture.

    One of the reasons I have been hesitant to put my software under the GPL is that increasingly, the FSF seems intent on drawing battle lines between the ``true believers'' and the ``unbelievers'' of the Giving Away Software (GAS) movement[*]. In support of this goal, RMS, BMK, and others seem to be attempting to rewrite history in two important ways.

    First, they claim that the genesis of the GAS movement was the Free Software movement. As someone who was there, I assure you that this is just silly. I suspect I gave away as much software before there was an FSF as I have given away since. In those days, we didn't worry much about software licenses: recall that it's only been since Apple v. Franklin [cwru.edu] in 1983 that has even been clear that copyright applies to binary-format software!

    The second myth being propagated is that the GAS software we use today is mostly FSF, or originated with FSF software. In particular, the FSF would like you to forget that GNU stands for ``GNU's Not UNIX,'' and that this was as much a protest against the UNIX philosophy as it was against AT&T's proprietary kernels (which were in any case distributed to educational institutions under an essentially GAS license). I know the authors of a few of the GNU utilities, and can assure you that their contributions had as much to do with the existence of a supporting umbrella for their work as any deep philosophical ideas about Software Freedom.

    I am unsure what I believe about the idea that ``software should be free.'' But I am sure that those who claim the work of others as their own deserve no respect in an intellectual community. IMHO, RMS and his followers have recently verged dangerously upon the margin of this tactic.

    ---

    * Another unfortunate tactic of the FSF is to take words like ``free'' that are potentially ambiguous but have accepted meanings within the software community, adapt them to their own ends, and then claim that those who ``misuse'' them are in error. The ``Open Source'' movement was in large part an attempt to give a name to the GAS concept inclusive of Free software. Of course, now BMK wants us to distinguish between these two (and give ``Free Software'' the pride of first place, no less), forcing me to change terminology yet again...

  • In other words, he wants programmers to become the Janitors of this world (not that there is anything wrong with being a janitor.)

    If all software can be distributed freely, then there is no money to be had writing software. None. Nada. All you can make money on is support/service, which isn't working so well for Redhat right now.

    I agree with some of what the FSF proposes, but I must also say that individuals deserve the right to dictate how their works are used. If that means under a GNU license, great. If that means for-sale, that's great too.

    Here are the freedoms they propose:
    -The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).- Great! I agree.

    -The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. - Again, I agree. I have no opposition to a law requiring all software to be sold in source-code form, or requiring source to be made available upon request.

    -The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2). - Here is where the problem comes. I'm supposed to spend three weeks developing an application, only to have someone give it away? No thanks -- I've got rent to pay and food to buy. If I choose to program on my spare time and give that away, great. But I shouldn't be forced to.

    -The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. - Again, we have an issue here. This so-called "freedom" actually restricts my right to control what I have created.

    I also thought his comparisons to slavery were a poor attempt to evoke an emotional response. If anything, allowing anyone to distribute any software freely is more akin to slavery... Forcing all programmers to give their work away for free, much as the slaves were forced to work for free. And despite RMS' desire to distance himself from communism, what the FSF proposes is exactly that... except only applied to programmers. It requires all programmers to program only for the good of all of our society, allowing them no personal benefit, and thus removing the incentive to program.

    Corporations will always need some things done, so they will hire programmers on staff to do them. But that puts us back at the mercy of big corporations, who's business is NOT software, which means they do NOT have to answer to my software needs. That leaves my only option to writing it myself and gaining nothing from it, or waiting for someone else on a project funded by people's personal time to develop it, from which they gain nothing.

    Perhaps in an ideal world... but in reality, if all software were of the FSF's vision, or all software were closed/commercial, then it just wouldn't work. The only system that works is the one we have now: a healthy mix of everything from closed-source, commercial to open-source GNU/FSF.
    • Actually, he wants us to become like artists before copyright was invented. That is, we would need to:
      • be independently wealthy; or
      • depend on patronage; or
      • do something else during the day.

      Right now I depend on the patronage of the corporation which employs me to develop software for their own internal use. Nowhere does the FSF claim that in house software should be free.
  • by pbryan (83482) <email@pbryan.net> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:52AM (#2160310) Homepage
    Proprietary software is an exercise of power, and it harms the users by denying their freedom. When users lack the freedoms that define Free Software, they can't tell what the software is doing, can't check for back doors, can't monitor possible viruses and worms, can't find out what personal information is being reported (or stop the reports, even if they do find out). If it breaks, they can't fix it; they have to wait for the developer to exercise its power to do so. If the software simply isn't quite what they need, they are stuck with it. They can't help each other improve it.

    This could just as easily read in the following manner, which hopefully illustrates the fallacy of this position.

    The colonel's secret recipe is an exercise of power, and it harms consumers by denying their freedom. When consumers lack the freedoms that define Free Recipe, they can't tell if the chicken was cooked correctly, can't check for inappropriate ingredients, can't monitor quality control, can't monitor fat content (or lower the fat content, if it's too high). If it gets lost, they can't cook more themselves; they have to wait for the restaurant to exercise its power to cook more. If the chicken simply isn't quite what they need, they are stuck with it. They can't help each other improve it.

    Proprietary software does not limit our freedom. When you purchase and use proprietary software, you, the user, are making an informed decision. You implicitly agree to the limitiations of using such software, and can always uninstall it, and choose an alternative. If no alternatives exist, you are free to develop your own alternative.

    Free (speech) software just makes more sense to users. More and more, the decision to use proprietary software becomes untenable, because of the lack of features, namely, the ability to enhance the product, to find bugs, to sniff out backdoors.

    Let's not confuse features with freedom.

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

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