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RMS transcript on GPLv3, Novell/MS, Tivo and more 255

Posted by Hemos
from the years-of-adoption-and-version-battles-predicted dept.
H4x0r Jim Duggan writes "The 5th international GPLv3 conference was held in Tokyo last week. I've made and published a transcript of Stallman's talk where he described the latest on what GPLv3 will do about the MS/Novell deal, Treacherous Computing, patents, Tivo, and the other changes to the licence. While I was at it, I made a transcript of my talk from the next day where I tried to fill in some info that Richard didn't mention."
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RMS transcript on GPLv3, Novell/MS, Tivo and more

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:48AM (#17000654)
    He might sometimes tend to "overkill"..

    But I deeply admire that since I (finally) understood that overkill is necessary to avoid doing things twice.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:02AM (#17000786)
      The things that matter to Stallman at one moment in time will only become really important to the rest of us in 10 years or so.

      Right now, software patents aren't being used against free software in any serious way, and DRM problems are localised to a few specific types of software. But that's all going to change with "trusted computing" and the inevitable war that corporations are going to wage against people who want to use free software on their machines.

      Stallman is fighting back. Even if you think he's over the top, a free software fundamentalist who has gone too far in his preaching, you should still listen to him. He's talking a lot of sense, on behalf of you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shakrai (717556)

        Stallman is fighting back. Even if you think he's over the top, a free software fundamentalist who has gone too far in his preaching, you should still listen to him. He's talking a lot of sense, on behalf of you.

        I do think he's over the top (GNU/Linux? C'mon....) but reading this transcript has given me more respect for him. His opinions on 'Tivoisation' are quite interesting and probably my opinion and where I stand on the issue.

        Ciarán O'Riordan's thoughts about the Linux developers needing to t

        • Changing the licence would require much more than finding all the contributors. It would require one of two extra things:

          1) Everyone agreeing to a particular licence at the same time
          2) Everyone agreeing to give someone (Linus? FSF?) the copyright to their submissions.

          That is NEVER going to happen. Seriously. There are too many groups within linux kernel development to ever get everyone to agree on that kind of thing. The FSF has a long habit of taking copyright from submitters, but that isn't the kind of th
          • by Shakrai (717556)

            That is NEVER going to happen. Seriously. There are too many groups within linux kernel development to ever get everyone to agree on that kind of thing. The FSF has a long habit of taking copyright from submitters, but that isn't the kind of thing you can add on later.

            I didn't say it was going to happen or even that it was possible. I merely said that it raised a couple of interesting points. What happens if the GPL V2 is thrown out? Where are projects like the Linux Kernel then?

            • What happens if the GPL V2 is thrown out? Where are projects like the Linux Kernel then?

              If the GPL v.2 is "thrown out" (presumably you mean "ruled invalid by a court"), the situation reverts to basic copyright law and all distribution is illegal.

              Then, of course, the copyright holders would have to get together and agree on a new license in order to start distributing again (or they could make it public domain, but that would be their sole decision to make -- not the court's).

          • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:12PM (#17002426) Homepage
            Changing the [Linux] licence ... would require one of two extra things:

            1) Everyone agreeing to a particular licence at the same time
            2) Everyone agreeing to give someone (Linus? FSF?) the copyright to their submissions.

            It's not really that hard. I wouldn't be surprised if 80% of the code was written by 20% of the contributors. Plus, some of the code in Linux is already GPLv3-compatible, since it's either taken from the BSDs, or it's licenced under GPLv2-or-later. Additionally, older code tends to be replaced over time. If a switch to GPLv3 became popular among today's kernel developers, and Linus imposed a policy of only accepting GPLv2-and-GPLv3-compatible patches, then I suspect that in 5 years, it would be fairly simple to replace the little bit of GPLv3-incompatible code that remains, and drop GPLv2 compatibility.

            It could probably also be done in less time and/or without Linus' cooperation, but with substantially more work required.

            Would it be a pain? Yes, but I'm very skeptical that it's the impossible task that you claim it to be.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:39AM (#17001092)

        That's right... many of the people commenting on his views of DRM simply haven't thought through the real implications. They think that DRM is about stopping some kids from copying music and video.

        DRM is about forcing you to run particular EXACT code, and either not running at all or refusing to talk to you if you are not. This also happens to be the essence of DRM too... so it's a happy coincidence for the pro-DRMer within the technology companies.

        Treacherous Computing is hardware that is meant to allow person X to set their hardware up to refuse to run (or not cage) software that is not digitally signed by them. As you can imagine, this COULD be extremely valuable for security. HOWEVER, the collection of companies making up the Trusted Computing Group (most of the tech companies) decided that the capability to TRUST should be reserved for them. You do not get to override it. This "trust" (only running approved code) starts with the BIOS, moves up to the kernel and in stuff like Vista it then moves into the media subsystem. In a few years, it will move into applications like web browsers, or word processors. Not running Microsoft Word? No you can't open that document, sorry. Add into this nasty mix, the ability of Trusted Computing hardware to execute code IN SECRET, and you have a control freak's wet dream. Not only can you not change what your computer does, you cannot even know what it is up to. The instructions are/can be encrypted.

        Imagine it this way: a prison is very useful for keeping criminals in. It's not so good if YOU are the convict. In trusted computing as it is formulated today, YOU ARE THE CONVICT. You do not have the keys. Don't let them treat you like criminals. Demand the right to control your own PC -- you paid for it.

        Trusted Computing is a political issue because it is a massive power grab by the technology companies. People may think Stallman is over-reacting, but I assure you that he is not. Look into the implications properly.

        • by s20451 (410424)
          As you can imagine, this COULD be extremely valuable for security.

          There is a huge number of crucial systems that are handled by computers connected to the internet -- including, but not limited to, power generation, banking, finance, telecommunication, and health care. Given that, prior to the proposal of DRM, there has been no systematic way to ensure that these critical systems are secured (and, in practice, security has been relatively lax), I think you underestimate the importance of security. The ris
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I think you misunderstand the nature of the problem. Neither I nor Stallman have any issue with someone deciding for themselves that their machine will only run software signed by them... or indeed, DECIDING to trust software from X. My machine could be setup to refuse to run software unless it has been digitally signed by me, and there would be no problem.

            It's when that choice is taken away from you... as it is with Trusted Computing hardware as it is designed today. The owner of the machine has his choic

            • by s20451 (410424)
              It's when that choice is taken away from you... as it is with Trusted Computing hardware as it is designed today. The owner of the machine has his choices taken away -- his trust is forced.

              To be honest with you, I don't have a problem with taking power away in principle, for the same reason that I think it's a good idea that drivers have licenses. You can't have a secure network that relies only on the good will and competence of the users.

              Not everyone needs nor should have the power to do anything with th
              • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:43PM (#17002870)
                To be honest with you, I don't have a problem with taking power away in principle, for the same reason that I think it's a good idea that drivers have licenses. You can't have a secure network that relies only on the good will and competence of the users.

                No, you don't understand. Treacherous Computing takes away power from you, the administrator (or owner) as well! The users won't be root, but neither will you. Microsoft will be root.

                Let's use an analogy: say you're renting a house. Is it reasonable for the landlord to control the keys? I'd say yes, and I think you'd agree. Now, imagine that you own a house. Is it reasonable for the builder to control the keys? I'd say no. Do you agree?

          • by araemo (603185)
            "Given that, prior to the proposal of DRM, there has been no systematic way to ensure that these critical systems are secured"
            WRONG! there has been one, highly recommended and well known systematic way to ensure that these systems are secured:

            Unplug the network cable and lock them in a closet/data center that only authorized people can get into.

            If it doesn't NEED to be internet connected, why connect it to the internet?

            Why do power generation and health care computers have to be internet connected?

            Power
            • by s20451 (410424)
              Unplug the network cable and lock them in a closet/data center that only authorized people can get into. If it doesn't NEED to be internet connected, why connect it to the internet? Why do power generation and health care computers have to be internet connected?

              I agree, but remember Murphy's law -- the real version: "If there's more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way." If you're shipping control software that runs on commodity boxes (
          • I would like to know whether RMS has a proposal for securing the internet, or if he considers it an important problem.

            I think the answer is probably yes and it's probably an OS like GNU/Hurd (made of independant API servers) built on top of a mathematically proven microkernel like Coyotos.
            http://coyotos.org/ [coyotos.org]
            http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Computer _security&oldid=89887507#Techniques_for_Creating_S ecure_Systems [wikipedia.org]

            As for TCPA/TCG/TPM being such a securing proposal, the answer is no.
            You can't open
          • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:38PM (#17002784)

            You know what? Treacherous Computing could be "fixed" by the addition of one thing: an "owner override." In other words, a mechanism to allow the owner of the machine to maintain control by having the ability to instruct the TPM to lie on his behalf. It would still allow all the nice "securing the critical systems" applications you mention, while making it useless for the totalitarian things like DRM.

            So, does the specification for Treacherous Computing include an owner override? NO! Why? Because the purpose of it is not for your noble cause of "securing critical systems," but for enforcing DRM. And that's why it's evil.

            • by s20451 (410424)
              So, does the specification for Treacherous Computing include an owner override? NO! Why? Because the purpose of it is not for your noble cause of "securing critical systems," but for enforcing DRM. And that's why it's evil.

              I half agree. I would be in favor of an override if and only if any person enabling the override became legally and financially responsible for the results.

              Without that liability, you stick in an override, and anybody who fancies him/herself a "computer expert" will disable it.

              There is a
              • "Without that liability, you stick in an override, and anybody who fancies him/herself a "computer expert" will disable it."

                Seems like this is the reason the owner-override idea is superfluous. You can presently implement some voluntary "trusted computing" stuff on your machines if you want to. 'Cause you're the owner. If you don't do such a thing, it's the same as if you override one that came with the box.

                Treacherous computing is about changing where the buck stops. Changing the owner of the machine.
              • I would be in favor of an override if and only if any person enabling the override became legally and financially responsible for the results.

                The person enabling the override would necessarily be the owner (or the owner's appointed agent, in the case of a company IT department, for example); nobody else would have sufficient access. And yes, typically owners are responsible for their property.

                And to be fair, you would have to go up the chain as well, and make software companies legally responsible.

                No, yo

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by s20451 (410424)
                  No, you wouldn't. The owner of the machine is the owner of the machine, and that's it. There's nothing else to consider.

                  Then why aren't we currently holding users civilly liable for damages inflicted by their poorly configured machine? Maybe we should be.
        • by kestasjk (933987)
          Demand the right to control your own PC -- you paid for it.

          Right. I paid for it; crypto processor, DRM, and all. If I don't like them I won't pay for it.
        • by Z34107 (925136)

          DRM is about forcing you to run particular EXACT code [...]

          "Digital Rights Management" is a euphemism for a number of controls on copying and using data. DRM isn't about "forcing you to run EXACT code", it's about limiting what you can do with any given "something."

          It all depends on exactly what the DRM is protecting, and what exactly it limits. Last time I checked, the iTunes DRM didn't keep me from running Linux - that's different than Palladium/Trusted Computing/whatever has people scared now.

  • The "cure" proposal (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:56AM (#17000728)

    There was a bit in there about a way of handling GPL violators who want to be able to redistribute again. According to Stallman, this is because when you redistribute without following the terms of the GPL, you lose any further right you have to distribute it, even if you comply with the GPL later on. In the article, he says he's not sure where the idea originated, but I suspect it's somewhere in the KDE camp, as this is where the idea that you need "forgiveness" from the copyright holder was first seen [linuxtoday.com]. The "cure" proposal would be a way of granting that forgiveness automatically.

    • by fotbr (855184)
      Interesting link, but it still comes across as more of Stallman's 'my way or the highway' attitude about free software. And he's rightfully entitled to act that way.

      I'm just curious if the man has ever said anything good about ANY software license other than GPL.
      • by Cruise_WD (410599) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:03AM (#17001404) Homepage
        Yup - several times in that articles in fact. The Mozilla license, the second BSD-license, the Apache license and the Eclipse license are all recommended or commended for various reasons.

        It appears GPLv3 is trying to pull the best bits from other licenses into as generally applicable license as possible, rather than being specific to one software program. I doubt anyone will ever agree on how well it succeeds, but it's a good idea to try, I feel.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by fotbr (855184)
          Ah, missed that -- only had time to give it a quick look-through.

          Mea Culpa.
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:06AM (#17000816) Homepage Journal
    a conspiracy of companies to restrict the public - to restrict the public's access to technology. Such conspiracies ought to be a crime. The executives of those companies should be tried, and if convicted, sent to prison for conspiring to restrict the public's access to technology. However, that sort of policy would have required leaders that believe in government of the people, by the people, for the people. What we have today is government of the people, by the flunkies, for the corporations.
    For a thought experiment, it would be fun to force RMS to run a company producing some hardware for a while.
    There would need to be an incentive, say, the threat of being forced to use vi on Windows, or no technology at all, if he didn't dedicate himself sincerely to protecting shareholder value or expanding the market for the product.
    Because, while I find myself admiring and agreeing with RMS quite often, I also feel that he fails to appreciate the merits of any opposing viewpoints. Experience beyond his catbird seat as chief agitator of the FSF might temper the fellow nicely.
    • by sequence_man (97765) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:27AM (#17000976) Homepage
      In the quote given, RMS isn't critizing the companies. He is critizing the government. So yes, companines should try to maximize share holder value. But the government should protect the "people" since that is how they represent. Of course, it is us people that need to keep the government in line. So, I think he is smart enough to view his critism as being directed at people like me--those how don't vote. :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by muellerr1 (868578)
      I agree completely, except that I think he should be punished by using emacs on Windows.
      • For normal people, that would work. Unfortunately for you, RMS wrote Emacs -- he would be immune to its destructive power!

        (Note: I have nothing against Emacs, actually, although I use GNU Nano myself.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tokul (682258)

      For a thought experiment, it would be fun to force RMS to run a company producing some hardware for a while.

      Chaintech - old motherboards are not supported. No video drivers for builtin 7AIV S3 ProSavage video card. Last VIA KM133 drivers cause black screen on Win98.

      HP - HP Deskjet 1125c. Windows XP drivers are not available, because Windows XP includes drivers for this printer. Included driver sucks when compared with Win2k HP drivers and users use win2k drivers on winxp even when these drivers have q

      • Sir, you missed my point entirely.
        I've had my share of scanners "go brick" because the driver fell out of currency.
        The point is that the demonization of companies would have more weight if, to pick from your list, RMS had actual executive experience running a company like S3.
        The GPL makes wonderful common sense, hence the existence of OSDL.
        And I agree that, as a customer, it sucks to have hardware requirements unmet by the vendor.
        However, I don't think my own "baby with a full diaper" arguments constit
    • You make the assumption here that a company must "protect shareholder value" (ie profiteer in an amoral manner) and "expand the market for the product".

      That's true of most public companies. However, it's quite possible to write a corporate charter that limits such things, introducing issues of social responsibility and ethical behaviour. You just need to do it early and make potential shareholders aware of the rules. Few people are willing to do this, since it removes their excuse to profiteer in the name o
      • by NDPTAL85 (260093)
        1. Charters can be changed at any time.

        2. What would the charter restrict anyway? Also how would it possibly be effective in a world where said company would have competitors? If I saw a company that had a charter I'd jump for joy because that would mean it would be very easy for everyone else to get rich at its expense by merely pursuing the business opportunities that it would explicitly forgo.
        • Charters can be changed at any time ... if and only if you can get your shareholders to agree to it. It's quite likely you'll have to buy back a lot of shares to get a vote to pass. Starting out with a charter written to suit your goals avoids that problem.

          What would the charter restrict anyway?

          Most importantly, it'd need to expand the definition of shareholder responsibility to allow for ethical behaviour and social responsibility to protect directors against lawsuits by shareholders unhappy that the chanc
      • Re:Assumption (Score:4, Informative)

        by Artifakt (700173) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:22PM (#17003388)
        I am most definitely not a lawyer, but I'll bite on this one anyway.

        The whole "protect shareholder value" bit is vastly over-rated by the general run of small investors as a legal excuse. Name a successful suit by shareholders against a corporate management that didn't do something to maximize profits because it was unethical or illegal. The majority of shareholder suits lose, and that includes more vaguely reasonable ones such as the Disney severance pay to Eisner lawsuit.
        I just did a simple Google lookabout for currently as yet unsettled shareholder lawsuits. Nothing fancy, just typed in "Shareholder lawsuits", and then looked to see if the case appeared still in process. There were none mentioned on the first four pages (which is where I quit) that did not involve the board having allegedly either restated earnings and projected profits (always with a big decline in projected earnings) or incurred SEC fines. There's not a single one I could find this way that is even about a board simply having picked a bad business approach, so long as they did so openly, let alone one about not having entered any ethically 'gray' areas that could have led to profits. There are no shareholder lawsuits over such decisions as not laying off personnel in a decline, not selling non-exportable tech to nations on prohibited lists or other such actions revealed (at least in this search) either. I've heard of both such cases before, and am actually surprised that I couldn't find such a gase in the quick search. Still, I think this says something useful about how uncommon such cases are, at least.
        In many states, the only way a court will even proceed with any shareholder lawsuit is if there is a SEC related decision first, and in some states, these decisions have to result in fines of various minimum values. In such cases, violating the law to maximize profits is the only way to become vulnerable to lawsuits over shareholder profits. That's right, in many cases, you have to break the law in an attempt to increase profits before you can be sued for the attempt failing! There, boards that use this as an excuse are saying, in effect, they had to give in before a threat that only becomes a threat if they give in! Amazing!

        In over half of lawsuits of this general type, the shareholders sueing didn't do the most basic steps required before the court would even hear the case. For one example, many consistently failed to either try to get the board of directors to act on complaints before resorting to lawsuits, or to show the board was in some way biased or not sufficiently disinterested before proceeding to litigation. Of lawsuits that make it past such hurdles, most of the remainder failed automatically when the petitioner in effect asked the court to ignore that a violation of criminal law would be required for the board of directors to be in civil compliance. This frequently resulted in the suit being dismissed with prejudice.
        A few years ago, a major shareholder in the pharma industry sued over just such an issue, claiming a corporation should have violated U.S. law by bribing Chinese (PRC) officials, since the fines would have been less than the profits. The arguements advanced got his lawyer disbarred, his own LLC dissolved and him convicted of racketeering so he could never form another one (at least in most jurisdictions).
        That's doubtless an extreme case, but it shows the real problem here. Some people will sue over absurd, totally meritless claims, and concoct the most bizarre legal justifications. Some people will even go to civil court and argue their own case in such a way as to make it abundantly clear they are committing criminal acts, all the while thinking they are going to win big bucks. Some people will do the equivalent of shooting their parents and then absolutely demanding that the judge must show them mercy because they are an orphan.
        • Thanks for your very interesting comment. I'll have to do some digging myself, as I realised that I don't in fact have specific examples ... and need to confirm that they do exist. While I acknowledged that the threat of such lawsuits are often just an excuse to do what the board want to anyway, I've claimed that there are real cases too, and should've had the evidence on hand to back that up.

          Spurious lawsuits can be a proplem, as you pointed out. I find it interesting that some US states have some level of
  • I always wondered how Tivo could use GPL'ed software that technically didn't violate the license but certainly tramples all over the spirit of it. If RMS feels so strongly about it, why didn't he (or anyone else, for that matter) go after Tivo?
    • by AusIV (950840)
      Tivo distributes hardware capable of running the Linux kernel. Like the Xbox, it is hardware sold below cost in order to promote other services. If Tivo didn't restrict what kernel could be run to those signed by Tivo, people would buy the Tivo box, install a vanilla kernel and use it as a cheap computer. I'd hope most people can see why Tivo objects to that.

      By releasing the source that they are required to release, they are allowing people to use and learn from their code, even if they cannot put it back

      • Re:Tivoisation? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pegr (46683) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:51AM (#17001224) Homepage Journal
        I understand that Tivo would like to make money on their investment. If you are suggesting that they should be permitted to misuse GPL software in that pursuit, I would have to disagree with you. If Tivo doesn't like the idea of people running whatever kernel they want on their hardware, let them write their own kernel and not subvert GNU/Linux. (Like that would stop experimenters...)

        Disclaimer: I own two Tivos and a home-built MythTV box.
        • by AusIV (950840)
          I disagree that they are misusing the GPL. The GPL is a software distribution license with no authority over hardware. As Linus Torvalds has pointed out, he signs every copy of the kernel he releases. If a hardware manufacturer decided to check for his signature before loading the kernel, then it is not Torvalds implementing the restrictions by signing the kernel, and the GPL only covers the distribution of the kernel, not the hardware that runs it. As I stated in my earlier post, people can still learn fro
        • by dfghjk (711126)
          "If you are suggesting that they should be permitted to misuse GPL software in that pursuit..."

          Tivo didn't misuse GPL software. Even RMS recognized in the speech that Tivo was in compliance with the GPL. RMS said:

          "The Tivo contains a small GNU/Linux operating system, thus, several programs under the GNU GPL. And, as far as I know, the Tivo company does obey GPL version 2. They provide the users with source code and the users can then modify it and compile it and then install it in the Tivo."

          So RMS recogni
      • How about when the argument is reversed?

        The Linux kernel developers distribute a kernel capable of running on many platforms and which may be easily ported to others. Like many Free Software projects, it is software provided under the GPL. If the kernel developers didn't restrict what people could do with their code when they distributed it under the GPL, people would take the Linux kernel, install it on hardware that restricts what can be run on it and benefit from not having to develop all the code them

      • by bogado (25959)
        If tivo wants to be non-free then tivo should develop their system from the ground up. The use of the kernel and possibly other gpl software, I don't own or know tivos well, against the idea of the GPL, even if there is a loophole is a treason to the people who worked in those programs.

        Neuros is doing the thing right, as far as I can see, it is launching an open-source toolkit and allowing people to hack their hardware to do what ever they want. They make money on the hardware, not bleed their customers eve
        • by pegr (46683)
          They make money on the hardware, not bleed their customers every month with a service that would not be necessary at all if the hardware wasn't closed.


          That is an excellent point. The Tivo Service that I pay for every month really isn't worth the cost, as I get a virtually identical service free with my MythTV box. What I pay for is really the whole "Tivo Experience", which is really becoming worth less and less as time goes on. When my MythTV box becomes as easy to use (for the family, not me...
      • Re:Tivoisation? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Strolls (641018) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:36PM (#17003584)
        If Tivo did not use GPL Linux then they would have to develop their own operating system to run on their hardware, or buy one from someone else. They have chosen to use Linux because it is cheaper for them to do so and because it gives them an edge in a competitive market.

        The whole point of the GPL - see the printer driver story [blogspot.com] - is that end-users should be able to modify AND USE software released under the license. The deal is "if you use this software in your product, you're expected to give users that right.

        Tivo have taken advantage of the benefits of Linux and found a legal loop-hole with which to weasel out of their responsibilities over the code. The cost of using GPL software on your hardware offerings is that users SHOULD be able to replace it on the hardware, regardless of how you feel about that. The Xbox is irrelevant in this case - it's fair enough that Microsoft deny Linux installations on their hardware, because they haven't benefited from the GPL in the first place.

        The sum of the software I've released publicly amounts to a few Bash scripts, but if I were a Linux kernel developer who had purchased a Tivo I would be LIVID that my work had been used in this way, preventing me from modifying & using my own code, now resold to me installed on hardware I'd PAID good money for!!

        Sure, the GPL v2 permits Tivo to restrict what kernel can be run on their hardware, but it's an unforeseen loophole - certainly against the original spirit of the GPL - and the contract should be changed.

        Stroller.

  • Free Systems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:25AM (#17000960) Homepage Journal
    ``There are two basically free operating systems: GNU/Linux and BSD. Unfortunately, nearly all the versions that people use include non-free software, but basically they are free systems.''

    Is that actually true? I don't use any non-free software. I know other people who don't, and other people who do. I know people who use mostly non-free systems. But what about the percentages? Time for a Slashdot poll?

    How free is your software?

      - Mostly free (some proprietary)
      - Completely free
      - Mostly proprietary (some free)
      - Completely proprietary
      - CowboyNeal hasn't written an OS yet

    PS. The first part of the statement (There are two basically free operating systems: GNU/Linux and BSD) isn't right, there are more than two. Syllable, Haiku, ReactOS, FreeDOS, ...
    • by Scarblac (122480)

      Well, I have a Flash player installed, so it's not entirely free. And doesn't mplayer include proprietary libraries? And depending on how your definitions are, is any mp3 player free? I think not. Also, nVidia drivers on one box, ATI drivers on another... Sigh.

      I think many people using a free OS on the desktop have at least things like that on there, possibly without being aware of it.

      • From your listed email address, you seem to be in the Netherlands. MP3 codecs were legal for you to use and redistribute, last I checked...
    • by yankpop (931224)

      Well, if you consider that even the kernel provided by Debian includes non-free firmware, and those few distros that satisfy RMS's free standards are currently marginal (Utoto and Gnewsense), I'd guess most users of GNU/Linux are in fact using mostly free systems, not 100% free.

      You can, with some effort and supported hardware, run a distro that satisfies the Debian Free Software Guidelines, but that will still include non-free firmware.

      I run Debian, so I don't know if other distros provide completely fr

      • Debian Linux is completely open source (or "Free", if you insist). The only reason it's not on the FSF's list is because the official debian servers have proprietary software (it's not inlcuded in the distro).
    • by cfulmer (3166)
      I think his point is that if you look at many of the Linux distributions, most include some software that's covered by a license other than ones that RMS would consider "Free." Recall that RMS distinguishes "Free" and "Open Source" software. So, if your favorite Linux distribution includes a copy of the Java VM, you no longer have a completely free OS. Another way this happens is when a hardware manufacturer distributes binary-only drivers.

      I'm interested in how you get along without any proprietary softw
    • by JohnFluxx (413620)
      While it would be nice to do a poll, I wonder how many people even realise if they are using some proprietary wireless or graphics card driver?

      These days distros can install them automatically. (not a move I'm against. In fact I voted for it (successfully) in Ubuntu, as long as the user is clearly told and informed about non-free)
    • Don't forget, RMS probably thinks if you have Apache on your machine you're running non-free software. So, it's a matter of degree.
      • Apache is Free Software, just not GPL compatible. I doubt RMS has a problem with it, especially as both gnu.org and fsf.org use it. Quoting GNU Licenses [gnu.org]:

        Apache License, Version 1.0

        This is a simple, permissive non-copyleft free software license with practical problems like those of the original BSD license, including incompatibility with the GNU GPL.

        Apache License, Version 1.1

        This is a permissive non-copyleft free software license with a few requirements that render it incompatible with the GNU GPL.

        We urg

        • Ah, good catch - I wasn't up on the Apache License v2/GNU Project love.

          OK, so pick another project with a license most people consider OSS but RMS considers restrictive and MadLib my previous comment.
    • by petabyte (238821)
      I think your average Linux/BSD user is going to be in Mostly Free. My desktop has the Nvidia Driver and flashplayer to make things run. I just ordered a new Dell Laptop and it will need Ndiswrapper for the wifi. The OpenSource drivers are coming (broadcom chip) but even then I have to use some binary firmware.

      I also have Flashplayer on the system and (the real killer), Vmware with a Windows XP installation for times when a work app just needs windows.

      Your average Windows user is probably Mostly Proprieta
    • by asuffield (111848)

      ``There are two basically free operating systems: GNU/Linux and BSD. Unfortunately, nearly all the versions that people use include non-free software, but basically they are free systems.''

      Is that actually true?

      RMS is a little perverse about this, because to be otherwise would be to contradict his historical statements, and he's nothing if not stubbornly self-consistent (regardless of how appropriate that may be in any particular case).

      His position is that you're using a system that "includes non-free softw

  • ``The basic idea of GPL version 3 is unchanged: to protect the four freedoms for all users, but the details have to adapt to today's circumstances.''

    IANAL, but the software developer in me says: if you want to ensure that the four freedoms aren't taken away, then that's what you ought to write. Instead of running after every special case (like bringing liquids on airplanes...err...different topic), why not simply write something to the effect that "by distributing the Software under this License, the Copyri
    • write something to the effect that "by distributing the Software under this License, the Copyright Holder grants you the right to exercise the Freedoms described herein
      I'm afraid this violates the basic concept of "freedom" itself: you are free to do everything that is not prohibited (read: that does not restrict other people's freedoms)
    • I am likewise not a lawyer (though I am a law student) and I think you are largely correct: specifically, the GPL ought to, if its goal is to protect the four freedoms and guarantee that that protection is passed on, do just that. It should define the four freedoms, license their exercise and explicitly disclaim any limitation on them based on any legal theory, privilege, or prerogatie available to the licensor, whether existing or arising in the future, and require those distributing derived works to use t
  • RMS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enquest (579041) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:46AM (#17001156)
    RMS is an excellent philosopher. He is the man we as programmers, nerds, and thinkers always should listen to very carefully. RMS has some bugs for sure but you can work around them.
    I wonder sometimes how computing would be if he wouldn't be so hard fighting for digital freedom. GNU/Linux would not be here today. We would have to use mainly proprietary software. Even for your web applications it would be hard to get one free.

    Even if you don't agree with RMS you always should at least read and listen what he has to say. And make arguments why you don't agree, don't simple say he is ******.

    I'm very happy that once again he defends FREEDOM with GPL 3 and will make the company's who want to use copyleft software play nice with you and me. I hope we (nerds, programmers, it-users) will use GPL 3 and help RMS. It is after all in our best interest to do so.
  • I can see already the RMS bashers are out in force, but after reading this article I thought it came off as very reasonable in comparison to many other speeches. Sure there was the 'GNU/linux' thing and a short rant against open source, but that is all old hat really.

    All I can see here is him talking about cleaning up the language of the GPL so that is works better in various countries and making sure it's properly compatible with other important free licenses, like the Eclipse and Apache license. That's important stuff. Some stuff about making unclear things clear, and setting it up so that you can more easily and clearly add additional rights, such as if you are using the GPL for a font set you made you can explicitly say that documents using that font can be under any license the document creator wants (which isn't a problem really, but it makes some people nervous so you can be explicit if you want).

    I'm not sure what all the ranting here about RMS not having to work for a living is coming from, except maybe jealously. He's making a decent living at doing what he loves, which I thought was what we all want. Good for him, I hope someday to have a career as successful and important as his.

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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