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LinuxDevCenter Interviews RMS 321

Posted by michael
from the red-pill dept.
prostoalex writes "LinuxDevCenter interviews RMS. Interesting that Stallman supports the free software projects ported to proprietary operating systems: 'Porting free applications to nonfree operating systems is often useful. This allows users of those operating systems to try out using a few free programs and see that they can be good to use, that free software won't bite them. This can help people overcome worries about trying a free operating system such as GNU/Linux. Many users really do follow this path.'"
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LinuxDevCenter Interviews RMS

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  • Cygwin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:34AM (#11176747)
    Question is, does he support projects such as CygWin?
    • It's one thing to support the notion of GPL, but to suggest that all proprietary software is unethical, well that's just obnoxious.

      So now coders hired to do proprietary work are unethical too?

      He cites ingredients on food packaging -- but he knows perfectly well that a mere list of ingredients cannot be used to duplicate the food. It's misleading.

      And now he's also open to the idea that the government should force all software makers to publish their source code? That's creepy.

      Also, he should just ack

      • by gnu-generation-one (717590) on Friday December 24, 2004 @03:26PM (#11178018) Homepage
        "but to suggest that all proprietary software is unethical, well that's just obnoxious."

        Uh, that's the whole point of Free Software. You think it's somehow more ethical to sell someone software they can't use properly, or to lock them into updates and support, or to damage their business when they find the application they depend on is now unsupported, or just to put them through activation sequences, time-bombed software, spyware, proprietary formats, software audits or even harassing lawsuits just because you feel like being annoying to your customers.

        Giving people freedom to use their software. Now that's ethical.
      • but to suggest that all proprietary software is unethical, well that's just obnoxious.

        You are begging the question. Prove he's wrong don't just assert it.
  • by Anml4ixoye (264762) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:36AM (#11176755) Homepage
    I am extremely glad that I was able to try open-source apps on Windows. By trying out Mozilla, and then Thunderbird, and then apps like The Gimpe and OpenOffice, I felt confident enough to make the switch. And once I had my primary files running in the software (like mail in Thunderbird on Windows) making the transition was almost flawless. And because the stuff I was using was already familiar, being productive on Linux helped overcome the learning hiccups.
    • At work I'm required to use windows for a few apps that havn't been ported to linux yet. So having Firefox and Openoffice for windows is nice. Then when I go home I have the same apps on Linux.
    • by ergo98 (9391)
      You touched on the most important aspect of the F/OSS movement - free as in beer. Many of the adoption of apps like OpenOffice, Linux, and GIMP, have occurred because they're monetarily free (yeah Redhat charges a couple of people, but the installed base of these apps is astronomically greater than the number of payers). I use GIMP not because I care about OSS, but because I'd rather shell out that $50 for the new deluxe collector's edition of The Lord of the Rings - A Journey Too God Damn Long than for a c
      • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:31PM (#11177036) Homepage
        You have just described why price is not the most important aspect of free software: proprietors are willing to distribute their software at zero price in order to get you to pay later and restrict what you can do when you get the non-free software.

        When this happens (when Microsoft insists on not losing a sale, so they distribute Windows and Office to a big customer at no fee), if there is no mention of software freedom, the proprietor will get what they want. Focusing on price instead of freedom is a trap because you are tossing aside the only thing free software can compete on for something that plays into the hands of proprietors.
      • by Lachek (584890) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:37PM (#11177074)
        I can't really tell by your post whether you have a problem with this development or not, but let me remind you: what used to be a hobby turned into a profession before it once again morphed into a hobby. In the beginning of time, the only way to make money off of writing software was if you wrote specialized software for one or perhaps a couple of enterprise sites. All other software, including much of the software developed by IT giants, was free-as-in-beer. People thought the notion of paying for software was ridiculous, before it was commodified.

        Now, finally, the hobbyists and enthusiasts have started to catch up with those who made billions by commodifying what's essentially nothing but pancake recipes, and get booed as by the masses as economy-shattering un-American commies. There was never a viable business model in cranking out fancy text editors in VB and charging $9.99 for each installation to begin with, no more than there was a viable business model in "developing web-driven eTailing and interactive marketing solutions" in the 90s.

        I have nothing but respect for software developers, but if someone can do something as well as you - except for free, and in their spare time - you have no right to complain while you are in a market-driven economy. There are plenty of business that will pay good money for an in-house system developer, to do the sort of work that software people got paid to do before commodification took place.

      • How is this informative? "That's what India is for?" You seem to think that exploiting foreign workers is a better alternative to "free" software. Microsoft gave away Internet Exploder and continues to give away "free-as-in-beer" software. So how can F/OSS offer mplayer, xine, firefox and not be better than free MS alternatives?
    • While I can understand that logic, I can also understand the contrary logic of "doing nothing is easier than doing something" where users merely become more used to running non-free software because their computer came with non-free software and their friends are running non-free software, so they stick with what they "know". If more free software is better than less free software, then running The GIMP, OpenOffice.org, or Firefox on Microsoft Windows would be better than exclusively using their proprietar
  • by flosofl (626809) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:39AM (#11176767) Homepage
    I know this is OT. But I thought of a way to give RMS a stroke (or a facial tic at the vary least):

    Me: Boy I sure like my Linux system

    RMS : That's GNU/Linux!

    Me: Yep, brand-spanking new

    RMS: No, no, no! That's GNU G-N-U. GNU/Linux..

    Me: GNU/Linux? What's that?

    RMS: GAH! It's what you have installed!!

    Me: Oh, you mean Linux

    RMS: GNU/Linux!!!

    *** Repeat ad infinitum :)

    Bonus pts if you actually say Linux OS by the Red Hat people :)

    Merry Chr.. er .. Happy Holidays
    • ...just what he has explained one thousand times in everyone of his conferences.

      Quoting and interview by Federico Biancuzzi [linuxdevcenter.com]:

      FB: Today Linux is just a kernel, so you still have direct control over other parts of the OS. That's why the name GNU/Linux for the complete OS.

      RMS: That isn't what the name GNU/Linux means; it has nothing to do with that. The name GNU/Linux means that the system started out as GNU, with Linux added.

      Nowadays, the system includes thousands of packages developed by thousa

      • by MythMoth (73648) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:11PM (#11176933) Homepage
        I think it's a shame that RMS insists on pushing this point, because it makes him look pretty stupid. Language is essentially democratic, insisting that it's being used "wrong" looks and sounds like pedantry.

        And nobody likes a pedant.
        • Language is essentially democratic

          Except when it comes to trademarks and commerical use of names.

          Call that Canon copier a "Xerox machine" and the fine folks at both Canon and Xerox will insist you get it right. No different here - though "GNU" isn't, IIRC, a trademark, "Linux" is.

        • Actually, I take a slightly different view of why RMS is "wrong", and one that he would probably agree with.
          When you refer to GNU, the image brought up is that of a complete system run by free software, and encourages the use of free software on top of that system. Whereas Linux carries the connotation of having a free toolchest to act as a base, that anyone can use however they see fit. Kind of like having a bunch of free land available, but people can build private houses on that land.
          This kind of carri
      • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:26PM (#11177012) Journal
        In Canada, we have two official languages, English and French.

        The good part of this is that its an active sign of respect for others background and culture. Language is an important of a person's identity.

        The bad part is that there are insane laws that nitpick on what a person can and cannot do, in the name of protecting the French language. An example of thi is fineing a business if the French part of the signs is not so much larger than the English. It got to the point where common sense and respect for another got forgotten. The whole issue started to be about the motivation and maturity of the people involved.

        This is the same with the term "GNU/Linux". People over look your message and just see how immature you are at nitpicking.
    • Re:Stroke for RMS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by D. Book (534411) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:07PM (#11176913)
      RMS : That's GNU/Linux!

      Me: Yep, brand-spanking new


      GNU is pronounced with a hard G. If you listen to virtually any RMS speech on software freedom, you'll hear him explain how the name originated and a specific request that people not to call it the "new" operating system, as that may cause the type of confusion that you used in your joke. Part of being a philosopher king like RMS is having thought through pretty much everything, from the seemingly trivial to the profound.
      • Re:Stroke for RMS (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fuzzy12345 (745891)
        So he thought through using a word that few know how to pronounce? Name any other words in the english language where the 'g' is pronounced in 'gn'? Aside from 'eggnog', I say there aren't any.
        • You, sir, are an ignoramus. For another example, consider "gnostic".
          • Not any more! But my dictionary says gnostic sounds like nostik and gnu like nOO - so is Stallman really blaming people for not knowing that they're supposed to mispronounce the word that appears next to the animal of the same name on the GNU website? What an idiot.
      • Apparently, 'twas not always thus -- many moons ago, the word 'gnu' (meaning a type of antelope) used to be pronounced with a silent 'g'. I gather that The Gnu Song [lyricsplayground.com] by Flanders and Swann [wikipedia.org] a few decades back was one of the major factors in changing the pronunciation.
    • All kidding aside (Score:4, Informative)

      by pherris (314792) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:08PM (#11176918) Homepage Journal
      An explaination in RMS' [gnu.org] own words.
  • by suso (153703) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:39AM (#11176768) Homepage Journal
    My wife actually is using Gimp under Windows now because she prefers its interface to Photoshop. ;-)
    • Does she have any sisters?
    • she prefers its interface to Photoshop

      Everyone does. Except for some self-enlightened, 14 year old hypocrites on slashdot who cant code hello world, let alone a complex program like GIMP.
      • Except for some self-enlightened, 14 year old hypocrites on slashdot who cant code hello world, let alone a complex program like GIMP

        And those that have never heard of virtual desktops [kde.org] maybe. Stay tuned though, Microsoft is scheduled to innovate that in its next release. ;)
    • Er, are you using the same port of Gimp that I am? On my Windows machine the Gimp has like 5 little separate windows, and whenever I maximize another program it covers all of them and I have to click 5 times to bring them all back to the top. Very annoying. And the program is generally inconsistent with the rest of Windows, with everything being done by context menu, etc. I'm not sure how anyone could prefer its interface in a Windows context...
      • and whenever I maximize another program it covers all of them and I have to click 5 times to bring them all back to the top.

        Why don't you put the GIMP on a separate workspace? (Or does Windows still lack that simple feature?)

  • Tides of change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tedgyz (515156) * on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:44AM (#11176791) Homepage
    When I first read RMS' comments 15 years ago, I thought he was a crackpot. I worked for a large computer vendor (Wang) and could not comprehend the concepts he espoused.

    Now I have aged and benefitted first hand from the freedom of software. Now I comprehend what he is trying to say and I recognize the benefit of open source software.

    With that said, he still come across as a crackpot who is so entrenched in his views he will not budge. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Without gcc there would be a lot less free software.
    • by mankey wanker (673345) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:17PM (#11176961)
      I love RMS!!!

      Do pay attention. Across the span of years assholes like Gates, Jobs, and Ellison will be mere blips on the radar of history. RMS will be considered one of the cornerstones of computer technology.

      Far from being a crackpot, RMS stands for exactly what is needed in terms of free software. The steadfast nature of his resolve is with a view to all possible attacks from within and without the free software movement.

      The things that RMS says are sort of like the Bill of Rights. People try to mess with it, to rewrite it, to mess with it in a thousand ways - and RMS has always been right on the first try.

      It's a pity that more do not see that plainly. In my view, RMS sees things with startling clarity. He already sees what you have not even begun to anticipate.

      I apologize for being cryptic, but it's one of those things that you either "get" or you just don't.
    • Re:Tides of change (Score:4, Insightful)

      by falsified (638041) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:46PM (#11177140)
      FB: What do you think about proprietary software? Does it have low quality? Is it unsecure? Does it restrict freedom too much? Is it unethical?

      RMS: Proprietary software is unethical, because it denies the user the basic freedom to control her own computer and to cooperate.

      Here's the problem. Not many people care about controlling their computer in the sense that he's blabbing on about. They want to use it. Stallman and others find it more fun to ignore that fact. If a person wants to control their computer, they can bang out code and get the results they want. The computer isn't some mystical realm in which we must adhere to philosophies and Lockeian ideals of natural rights because it's simply irrelevent. People freely choose what goes on their hard drive and it shouldn't be put upon programmers to freely release their code if they don't want to. Even entertaining the idea of forcing code to be opened is disgusting. Should we then ban secrets? Along with freedom of speech is the right to remain silent and the right to maintain your livelihood as long as it doesn't harm others. That right is stronger than the right to know about buffer overflows in your email program.

      • Not many people care about controlling their computer in the sense that he's blabbing on about.

        So how many users care that they aren't allowed to just grab software from their favourite P2P application and use it whenever/however they choose? Should I be morally opposed to that behaviour any more than the proprietary crowd is about free software?

        I'm fairly unopinionated when I see people running eMule, and stealing other peoples work. That doesn't mean it isn't wrong, just that I don't really care.
    • Now I comprehend what he is trying to say and I recognize the benefit of open source software.

      While both those may be true, if the later is derived from the former, then the former is not true. RMS promotes Free Software, not Open Source Software.

  • Ingredients? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Icarus1919 (802533) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:44AM (#11176795)
    FB: Would you accept a federal law in the United States to enforce the distribution of source code with every type of software?

    RMS: I am not calling for such a law as of now, but I think that would be a valid consumer protection measure--like requiring food products to publish the list of ingredients.

    Of course, some software companies would object to this, just as some food companies resisted the requirement to publish the ingredients and nutritional information. The question should not be up to them.


    I don't think it's the same at all. Publishing ingredients in food is a lot different from publishing source code. Publishing the sourcecode is like sending someone the blueprint schematics of your new machine, practically inviting them to make their own; whereas the ingredients label doesn't list in what quantities the ingredients were mixed in at, or what time, etc. I know Stallman simply made a poor analogy, but I think he truly believes it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ingredients:

      Assignments - 30%
      If statements - 30%
      For statements - 20%
      While statements - 5%
      Dodgy pointer accesses - trace
    • Re:Ingredients? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by belmolis (702863) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:48AM (#11176813) Homepage

      Agreed. A closer analogy to publishing food ingredients is probably publishing APIs and interface specifications.

      • Not exactly. Even with the ingredients listed it is still not easy to guess the exact recipe and the preparation methods, so the food company doesn't really lose its 'copyright' when it prints ingredients. With software I imagine ingredients would be packages, libraries used to 'prepare' the code. But of-course just like during preparation of food the ingredients change, and where there was no hydrogenated oil in ingredients it can become part of food after preparation (boiling oil would do that,) so are
      • Luckily, we still have the option not to buy products that do not give us the attributes we want.

        I really like the project to produce an entirely open-source accelerated video card. If ATI and NVidia see their cards being passed over for this upstart "open" card, they will open their APIs in an instant to try to get the customers back.

        It really surprises me that hardware vendors don't open their APIs, because for them software is a cost. If they can have developers refine the software (and support it!) fo
    • He is correct however in one aspect. The question wether they should ship all programs with code shouldn't be up to the vendors.
    • "Publishing ingredients in food is a lot different from publishing source code." Agreed, but you're analogy is no better. For bridges and buildings, the blueprints must be published and become public record so they can be reviewed by town/city engineers and others responsible for saftey. I think RMS's problem was the lack of good examples for transparency in American public life. Does "Truly beleives it" mean that the question of consumer protection should not be up to software developers? Should complete
    • As with *EVERY* analogy, there's some way in which it is different. (otherwise it wouldn't be much of an analogy, "a box of chocolates is like a box of chocolates," duh)

      But the part of the analogy which *is* valid is the "consumer protection" aspect. If you had the source code to IE, you could patch it weeks before Microsoft fixes it, or if you aren't allowed to patch it, you can at least not use IE (same with food, you can not eat food that you're allergic to, or you can at least know that the soup is 16
  • Having people use Mozilla, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, and other applications prior to switching/trying Linux has halped me convert more than a few to a more stable OS. Being able to do the basics and be comfortable doing those things, (surfing the net/email/irc) makes for a much happier and productive Linux newbie.
  • by trybywrench (584843) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:48AM (#11176811)
    The mindset that porting open source software to proprietary operating systems is Bad(tm) is rediculous.You can't give something wings then chain it to the nest.
  • by Bob_Robertson (454888) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:50AM (#11176820) Homepage
    RMS is one of the strongest people I have heard of. He stands firm, not even allowing an allusion to get past his quest for accuracy. When he corrected the interviewer, who said "free" but meant "gratis", I smiled and thought, "Way to go, Richard. Never let people get complacent."

    That said, I disagree with him that all software must be libre. I don't like being told that I may not release my own work as I see fit. At the same time he is welcome to not use it as he sees fit.

    Bob-

    • That said, I disagree with him that all software must be libre. I don't like being told that I may not release my own work as I see fit. At the same time he is welcome to not use it as he sees fit.

      And I don't like being told that I may not use software as I see fit. Including making modifications and releasing them. It is simply not your right to take away those of others.
    • That said, I disagree with him that all software must be libre. I don't like being told that I may not release my own work as I see fit. At the same time he is welcome to not use it as he sees fit.

      I can't speak for RMS, but maybe you can read his view as: "all drinking water in this world should be clean and safe for consumption". That would be the optimal situation. At the same time you realize, it will never happen (at least not any time soon), and you can't force the rest of the world to make it so.

      M

    • That said, I disagree with him that all software must be libre.

      I believe he'd disagree with him as well...

      What I mean is, he's never said (to my knowledge) that all software must be free software.
      • He has, actually. Sorry to ask you to take my word for it, but I don't have the citation.

        Do note, however, that he considers a law requiring all software to be "libre" to be the same thing as product labeling, a law with tremendous public support. It's difficult to find anyone who will argue that the law is an infringement on the rights of the producer to label their product as they see fit.

        Keep in mind that RMS is not a "libertarian", he fully believes in the use of government force for things he likes,
        • What you are stating indicates that he *wants* all software to be free software, and that he won't do anything to *support* proprietary software. That's a far cry from him stating that "all software must be libre".

          The way I see it, is he believes proprietary software to be morally bad, and that he wants people to choose the morally good mechanism of free software. But I've never heard him say that you should not have the right to choose non-free software, and I believe the reason you don't have a citation
  • by IO ERROR (128968) * <error&ioerror,us> on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:50AM (#11176823) Homepage Journal
    RMS: The Hurd runs, but not reliably. The developers are working on it slowly now, although one is arranging to get funds to work on it a substantial fraction of his time. The developers have concluded that Mach is unreliable as a microkernel and that they need to transplant the Hurd to L4 instead. But this requires substantial rewrites.

    I was going to make a comment on the Hurd, but rms beat me to it.

    • Rumor mill (Score:3, Interesting)

      The developers are working on it slowly now, although one is arranging to get funds to work on it a substantial fraction of his time.

      Interesting. Which developer is hoping to get funding? Is it one of the current Hurd contributors like Marcus Brinkmann, Neal Walfield, Ognyan Kulev or Michael Banck? What would they want to work on? The port to L4 [l4hq.org]? Who's sponsoring him? Is it the g10code [g10code.com] people? They've collected donations [gnufans.org] for Hurd development in the past. How close is this to happening? I haven't

  • I like freedom... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by agraupe (769778) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:51AM (#11176829) Journal
    but I find RMS a bit militantly Free. I mean, I don't like the idea of having to use binary drives (for nvidia graphics cards, for example), but I would still prefer to have binary drivers than no 3d support at all. I think RMS should take the stance "I support only Free software, but users should have the choice". The fact is that some companies will never open up their driver source code, so users shouldn't be punished for it.
    • That is your opinion. You can't say, RMS should have this opinion. That is something you can not change.
      • He can try and persuade him though, if he thinks that that is a better position. If people's opinions were unchangeable, what would be the point of debates?
    • For someone to start a movement against such well-funded interests, takes a militant attitude and at least a bit of arrogance. Google Stallman's personal experiences with Symbolics Inc.: Stallman gave up a lot of money to champion his "free software" ideals, and he takes his crusade very personally. Many people find him abrasive, but his pig-headedness is exactly what got "free" software to progress as far as it has.
    • RMS (and Theo, and others) have gotten companies to change their policies, by being militantly free. SCSI and Ethernet docs are being published, specificly because Theo hounded the companies, and got them to open up the docs. I applaud their efforts, and support them the best I can.

      The users choice includes not purchasing hardware that requires unfree drivers.
    • I think that's a false dichotomy--use binary drivers or have no 3D support at all. I have 3D and free software drivers because I choose video cards for which the 3D support works. Maybe it's not as technically sophisticated as your binary drivers, but I play 3D games and use 3D charting programs that depend on OpenGL just fine with my Radeon cards (9200se, 9000, and friends of mine use more advanced cards) all with X.org.

      As for what video card makers will do, power concedes nothing without a demand. Whe
    • I think RMS should take the stance "I support only Free software, but users should have the choice".

      That *is* his stance.
  • by christian simpleman (752938) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:54AM (#11176843) Homepage
    In the grand equation, our champions must, by definition, be absurd. Over time, this is the only possible way to nudge the median. RMS catches a lot of flack for his "purist" views, but stop and think how our shared mindspace would look without his a-priori input. If all people are endowed with an inalienable right to benefit from, and particapate in, our shared human technology, then the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We have been choked, screwed, and robbed by a greedy marketing monster, and are sorely in need of champions. "If no one tilts at windmills, the damn things will take over the world!"- christian simpleman
  • FB: What is your opinion on the fact that Linux (the kernel!) supports binary drivers without too many problems? I'll make an example: the OpenBSD project didn't support Atheros wireless chips because they require a binary HAL provided with an incompatible license for their goals and policy. They act consistently. Do you think that Linux (the kernel!) should try a similar rigorous approach?

    RMS: Yes! And so should the developers of GNU/Linux distributions. This is very important.
    • The kernel people take the position that they won't do anything extra to support binary stuff, but they won't make it deliberately difficult either. To my mind that's a pretty consistent policy. It's what RMS originally did with glibc after all.
  • by Laxitive (10360) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:57AM (#11176858) Journal
    Quote:

    Some GNU utilities such as df and du do not follow the POSIX spec unless you set the environment variable POSIXLY_CORRECT. Normally GNU df and du print disk space figures in units of k. POSIX says to print disk space figures in units of 512 bytes. If you set POSIXLY_CORRECT, GNU df and du do that. (My original plan was to name it POSIX_ME_HARDER.) I would guess that very very few users set POSIXLY_CORRECT.

    Good to see RMS has a sense of humour. I got a nice chuckle out of that comment :)

    -Laxitive
  • by Paiway (842782) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:02PM (#11176886)
    A few years ago, before i started using Linux seriously, I started building an almost free/open Windows XP system. Here's the basic breakdown of the so-called free system:
    Shell: http://www.bb4win.org/ [bb4win.org]
    Burning prog: http://www.burnatonce.com/ [burnatonce.com]
    DC client: http://gempond.com/odc/ [gempond.com]
    Graphics: http://gempond.com/odc/ [gempond.com]
    IM: http://gaim.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    Browser:
    Mail: http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird/ [mozilla.org]
    Office suite: http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org]
    et cetera...
    But then it dawned on me: All these programs are avaliable under GNU/Linux.

    That day was the day that i switched to Debian. I haven't looked back.
  • by bheading (467684) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:06PM (#11176910)
    There is nothing surprising in reading that RMS supports the use of GNU tools on non-free kernels. Outside of the kernel, much of the original tools were developed on platforms such as Solaris. This was pretty necessary at the time because Linux wasn't yet mature and the Hurd was, well, pretty much where the Hurd is now.

    If RMS criticized this idea he'd be a hypocrite.
  • True (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:09PM (#11176923) Homepage
    Many users really do follow this path.

    That is so true. Seen it happen over and over again. Use Firefox and Thunderbird to move them into OSS tools for the internet. Then introduce OpenOffice and pretty soon the underlying OS is immaterial.

    It's odd that it seems to take time to sink in that part of the value in OSS is that it comes bundled with all those goodies and there's no need to buy anything else. For instance (these are retail prices):

    • XP Pro $120.00
    • Office XP Pro $320.00
    • Norton Antivirus $39.95
    • McAfee antispyware $24.95

    OEM pricing may vary as will the prices to big buyers. But even counting that where's the value? You still have to spend an insane amount of time keeping everything updated to combat the threat of the day and even that won't stop all the crap. It's insane. Get off Windows.

    • Re:True (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DogDude (805747) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:18PM (#11176966) Homepage
      You still have to spend an insane amount of time keeping everything updated to combat the threat of the day and even that won't stop all the crap. It's insane. Get off Windows.

      As opposed to the insane amount of time learning and dicking around with Linux trying to get it to work properly? Or what about the tens thousands needed to pay programmers to develop Linux based apps that simply don't exist yet?

      Your assumption that every (or even most) computer users simply email, surf the web, and print up pretty documents is wrong at best. Linux is not even remotely a possiblity for me and my business because we use apps that are not available (or even good counterparts) for Linux.
      • Re:True (Score:4, Insightful)

        by McDutchie (151611) on Friday December 24, 2004 @03:11PM (#11177961) Homepage
        As opposed to the insane amount of time learning and dicking around with Linux trying to get it to work properly?

        Which is different exactly how from the insane amount of time learning and dicking around with Windows trying to get it to work properly?

  • by fuzzy12345 (745891) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:12PM (#11176938)
    Yep, it's great that RMS sez we can port GNU stuff to the operating systems we have now, rather than having to wait until GNU Hurd thunders into view. Or does it only run on the Itanium?
  • by merc (115854) <slashdot@upt.org> on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:12PM (#11176942) Homepage
    I work in a large corporate environment that uses VMS, Tru64, AIX, HP/UX and large scale IBM mainframe systems such as MVS. The corporate policy is basically that open source is strictly forbidden, but only as far as being installed as a system tool--only "supported" products can be installed.

    However there isn't a policy regarding what tool sets individual shell users can install. It's interesting to browse various /home directories on the largest of the UNIX servers and see 500 people with their own individual copies of emacs, vim, bash, etc.

    The point is, at least with mainstream IT people most already see and understand the value and quality of open source or free software.
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by jdavidb (449077) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:18PM (#11176968) Homepage Journal

    As I said the other day [slashdot.org], Stallman himself is the perfect example of using free software on proprietary OS'es. That's how the GNU project started, and today they still make reasonable efforts to keep their software portable.

    A lot of people dismiss and mock RMS, but he already asked and answered a lot of these questions himself many years ago. Maybe it would help some people to periodically read through some of his writings. (I know reading things you don't agree with or like is unpopular with many around here.) RMS has made intelligent decisions on a lot of these issues.

    Another thing that comes up all the time around here is selling free software, which seems to confuse a lot of people but was handled by RMS a long time ago [gnu.org], too.

  • Hmm. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oGMo (379) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:41PM (#11177110)
    Many users really do follow this path.

    I was slightly skeptical about this, until I realized that I actually followed this path, more or less. Back in the day when OS/2 was still around, I was using that over DOS/Win3.1, and eventually NT, as I couldn't afford a box that would run that, but it turned out for the better. I had tried Linux once, and found it too hard to get anything done with (remember this was like 92-93, and I had never used anything *nix before): it was interesting, but I wasn't familiar with any of the applications, so I couldn't do much.

    Of course, if OS/2 is remembered for one thing, it's the overflowing of native applications, by which I mean there were few. So eventually, I started using "EMX" (iirc) ports of *nix applications: emacs, gcc, (La)TeX, bash, ghostscript. After awhile (and putting up with some deficiencies), I realized that I was no longer really using OS/2. I was trying to use Linux. So, I got that infomagic set of "modern" distros (like redhat 4, debian something ancient, slackware, and a copy of sunsite and tsx). I've never looked back.

    It's been interesting over the years to see the application base grow by leaps and bounds; the open culture for Free Software is really what Linux has created, and what has in turn driven its success. OS/2 never had it. HURD was too idealist to gather momentum. The BSD's seem to have a different focus. All the other OS's drive a purely commercial culture: Windows, MacOS, PalmOS, Symbian, the commercial Unices, etc.

    So perhaps... perhaps... if you transform the other OS's into a semblance of Linux (or other "Free" OS, I guess, but let's be realistic here), once people are familiar with the software, you can switch the OS and give them the full experience, and not only will they fall right in, they'll be happier, because everything works as it should.

    This, I believe, is what Microsoft should truly fear.

  • by cpeikert (9457) <cpeikert@NospAM.alum.mit.edu> on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:52PM (#11177180) Homepage
    From the interview:

    FB: Would you sign and promote a petition or an initiative for free access to hardware specifications?

    RMS: I'd endorse any sort of nonviolent democratic political activity to promote such a law.


    Of course, such a law (like all laws) would have to be backed up by violence -- don't obey it, have your freedom or property taken away. I think it's disingenuous for RMS to claim the high road of "non-violence" while advocating exactly the opposite.

    Except for this, I think his stances are in general very admirable.
  • by xpyr (743763)
    Well according to stallman, even if a program is completely useful to you but is proprietary, he won't use it. If the equivalent program of it is free, but is so buggy/useless to you, he'll still advocate to use it simply because it is free.

    In other words, to him it doesn't matter how useful a program is, if it's not free, he won't use it. The big example is using a proprietary program to control the source code of the linux kernel because according to Linus it allows him to be more productive and get th
  • by BigPoppaT (842802) on Friday December 24, 2004 @02:29PM (#11177748) Homepage
    I respect rms, and believe that he has done some very important things for the software world (creating the GPL is at the top of a long list). But his ideals are only slightly about 'freedom' and his constant questioning of everyone else's ethics is tiring. He cares about the freedom of the consumer, but not the producer - he wants to force producers of software to play by his rules. The Open Source movement, for all that rms flames their ethics, is actually much more concerned with freedom - they try to support the freedom of software consumers, but recognize that software producers should be able to do what they want with their creations, including keeping the source to themselves (dumb as that may be technically). Personally, I prefer Open Source for technological reasons, but at this point there are things that I cannot do with it (pro-quality music apps are lacking at this point, for example). Would it really be more free for me to not use my computer for these things because GPL software isn't available yet? Some of you will now suggest that I write these programs myself - is it more free for me to spend time on that rather than just using programs that already exist? What the FSF people forget (and the OSI seems to remember) is that, for non-programmers, computers are tools, used to accomplish a job (other than programming). Comparisons to free speech vs. free beer miss the point. Does rms believe we should all have free hammers?
  • by mdavids (143296) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:52PM (#11178658) Homepage

    Back in '96 ("the year of the Intranet") I accidentally ended up getting paid to do web development work with Perl on Windows. I wasn't then, nor am I now, really a programmer (still less a hacker); I just happened to be a little better at abstract reasoning than anybody around me at the time.

    I had never heard of the free software movement or the GPL, and the term "Open Source" hadn't even been coined. It's hard to imagine now how different the IT world was less than a decade ago. I chose Perl because it was free as in beer. At the time, it hadn't even occurred to me that you could apply the other meaning of the word "free" to software.

    Then one day, while avoiding work, I was browsing through the documentation for Perl, and came across the following:

    The licenses for most software are designed to take away your freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software--to make sure the software is free for all its users.

    At the time I was a union delegate in a big multinational company, so I knew in intimate detail the awful nature of the institution. I hated my job, didn't know anybody who didn't hate theirs, and despaired of ever finding a vocation that I wasn't ashamed of.

    Reading the GPL, and then going to the GNU website [gnu.org] and devouring everything there was a life-changing experience. RMS demonstrated that it was possible to make a living without compromising on ethics, and for the first time in my life I felt that there was a place for me in the world, if not as a genious hacker, then at least by applying the same moral principles to whatever field I had an aptitude for.

    I stopped using proprietary software myself. Over time, I stopped installing proprietary software for my friends, and now I run a business supporting free software.

    It all started with running a free program on a non-free operating system. If the free world had enforced strict border controls, on the dubious logic that more people would migrate if they weren't allowed to visit, I wouldn't be a part of it now, and my life would be a lot poorer for it.

    At this time of the year it is worth stopping to remember this crazy guy with long hair and wild ideas about helping your neighbour, and how he changed the world.

    Thanks RMS!

  • Lousy questions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wayne606 (211893) on Friday December 24, 2004 @07:04PM (#11178942)
    Why do all the RMS interviews (seems like one every week is posted to slashdot) have only questions like "Do you think Linus is bad for disagreeing with you in some way?" - why not ask him (and other smart technical people) questions like "What are you working on now or wish you had time to work on?" or "Where do you see the software industry going in the next 10 years?" or "What should people work on who want to make a difference?"

    And this whole question of whether free software is good or not is such a waste of time. When somebody invented automatic door openers did people say "think of all the doormen who will be out of a job"? No, they said "isn't it great that these people are now free to find better jobs that contribute more to society". That's what I would say about people who used to spend all their time reinventing the wheel because all the previously invented wheels were proprietary. If Linux succeeds (i.e. is better than Windows and people switch) then the programmers at Microsoft will get to work on new and different things that haven't been done before (and maybe make money on them for the few years before the open source alternatives catch up).

Entropy isn't what it used to be.

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