Friday, October 12, 2007

bsdtalk132 - Richard Stallman

Interview with Richard Stallman. He requested that the interview only be distributed in a free format, so the mp3 file is just a quick message. Please download the ogg version for the full interview.

File Info: 28Min, 16MB.

Ogg Link:
http://cisx1.uma.maine.edu/~wbackman/bsdtalk/bsdtalk132.ogg

Visit http://www.playogg.org if you have questions about the ogg format.

A later note from RMS:
In the interview, I said that all the BSD systems " include, in
their installation systems--in some cases I believe it's called a ports system...--they all include some non-free programs". What I meant is that the non-free programs are included in the set of programs that the ports system can install. The ports system software as such is free. For me, distributing a recipe to fetch and install a non-free program is pretty much ethically equivalent to distributing a copy.

46 comments:

HerbFromStamfordCT said...

Masterful interview with a difficult guest. Didn't realize Stallman had reservations about recommending the BSDs due to the ports system. However, his insistence on use of a free format such as Ogg is timely given all of the legal wrangling over music distribution. It makes sense to distribute the Podcast in a free/open format such as Ogg. Also fascinating was his stance on freedom over convenience even if the convenience would draw a larger Linux user base. Will's questions elicited good/enlightening answers from Stallman. Only regret was that Stallman did not offer examples of "truly free" Linux distributions ... ( ... and now I feel guilty about using PCLinuxOS to write this comment ... and suspect I better build a Gentoo boot area on my machine ! )

Marek said...

Dear HerbFromStamfordCT,

you can take a look on FSF's recommendations concerning free GNU/Linux distributions on: http://www.gnu.org/links/links.html#FreeGNULinuxDistributions .

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having Stallman on Will.

A lot of people in the linux community just portray him as an fanatic.

It's good to see someone from another community respecting him enough to let him say what are the most important issues to him; Not what the larger linux community say he should find important.

Chess Griffin said...

Easily one of the best RMS interviews I have ever heard. Great questions and excellent, well-reasoned and easy to understand answers. In fact, this might be one that non-techie users can listen to help them grasp the concepts of free software. Outstanding job, Will.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain what Richard means when he said the *bsd ports system isn't free?

FreeBSD Blog said...

"Can anyone explain what Richard means when he said the *bsd ports system isn't free?"

He probably meant you can install non-open-source software from the ports such as Skype etc

Troels Just said...

"Can anyone explain what Richard means when he said the *bsd ports system isn't free?"

Like freebsd blog said, it's because the ports systems allow the installation of non-free software.
The reason Richard Stallman doesn't like this is because he sees it as facilitation of non-free software, aiding in it's propagation and in general indirect promotion of it. And remember, Richard Stallman doesn't just see non-free software as something that's problematic from a technical point of view, but he views it as being unethical, which is leaps and bounds above just a technical problem, for him it's an actual problem in society.
In the case of all the BSDs, they to different extents include proprietary software. All of them include firmware for wireless cards. FreeBSD (And all of it's derivatives) and NetBSD include proprietary drivers. Also, all of them make it possible to easily install proprietary software through the ports systems. Like Richard said in the interview, if one stopped doing this, he'd happily recommend it to people as a free operating system, although I find it highly unlikely that any BSD project will do, because their goals in most cases are technical goals, and not to be 100% free software.

Martin Tournoij said...

This is what I posted at the BSDnexus forums(Full post: http://forums.bsdnexus.com/viewtopic.php?pid=16252#p16252), I thought the people here might also be intrested.
I'm sorry for the lenght but there is SO much wrong with Stallman's viewpoints.

Ok, I listened to it some more, I don't think Stallman has gone crazy, I know he has.
Stallman views all non-free software as unethical, and even described it as a social problem (see above) ... Saying that all software should be free is just as stupid as saying that all cars should be free ... It's a nice idea (Some might call it communist idea) but it's entirely unfeasible in a free and capitalist market.

Stallman doesn't recommend using any of the BSD OS's because the ports/pkgsrc system also includes non-free software (opera, flash, nvidia-driver, ect)
This contradicts his whole point, his point is that people should have the freedom to choose which software they want to run, and not be forced to run and peticular piece of software.
I totally agree with Stallman on this (We've all struggled with MS word .doc documents, or atleast I have...).
But ... if I choose to use non-free software than that's my choice.
A nice example is the opera web-browser (non-free), firefox has improved a lot in the last year or-so, but when I started using GNU/Linux and FreeBSD opera was superior to Firefox (And Netscape/mozilla, which always sucked if you ask me) in almost every way, the other free browsers (konquerer, epiphany) either didn't exist yet or were even worse than firefox (And still are...)
So, what am I supposed to do? Use the free firefox even though I don't like it? Don't browse the web? Try and improve firefox? Or even write my own browser?
Or just use a non-free browser.
If I choose to use a non-free web-browser (And at that time you still had to pay for opera, so it was even "less free") then that [b]MY[/b] choice, not Stallman's or anyone else's.

Stallman seems to think that free software is some basic human right, it seems that Stallman's wet dream would be an amendment to the U.S. constitution stating that all software should be free.
This is, of course, complete non-sense.
It's clear that Stallman has little or no understanding of how a free market works, the problems in the current software market (And there are problems, that I agree with him) are primarily caused by the fact that a few company's have virtually monopolized the market (Microsoft, Nvidia, Intel, AMD/ATI).
Again, I turn to the web-browsers for an example.
After Microsoft won the "browser war" with Netscape in 1999 IE had a market share of above 90%, with no compition to speak of.
As a result IE development came to a halt, IE6 contained some minor updates, and some security/bugfixes were released, but no significant updates, as we all know there are MAJOR issues with IE6's HTML/CSS implementation, and IE6 is also missing many features other browsers have had for years (A proper security model, tabs, etc.)
The reason MS stopped development on IE was because there was no money to be made, everyone was already using IE so why bother?
Then, in 2005/2006 Firefox started growing (exponentially), which finally introduced some serious competition for IE, and in order to keep their customers Microsoft had only one choice:
Update internet explorer .... And they made a pretty good start with IE7 to (Although it will probably be a few years before IE is up to speed, firefox&opera have a huge headstart).

The point is: The computer market (Both soft- and hardware!) isn't rotten because of non-free software, but because the market is monopolized by a few companys.
Windows can stay non-free and closed-source for all eternity for all I care, the reason we're all having problems with MS products (such as MS office/.doc format) is because there's no profit in making it compatible with other (non-MS) products, while in a truly open and free market Microsoft would have no choice but to do so (Because the customer would demand it!).

This post turned out a bit longer than I had intended (This is the third "final paragraph"), and there are several other points where Stallman is, in my opinion, either completely or partially wrong.
Someone at the PC-BSD forums compared Stallman to Bin Laden (I must admit, they do look alike :)), saying that he was an extreme fundamentalist.
Aside from the question of whether or not it is appropriate to compare Stallman with Bin Laden, he is certainly a fundamentalist, I suppose this is a good thing rather than a bad thing, because there are also some extreme fundamentalists on the other side of the argument, Stallman serves as a "counter-weight" to those people , but this of course doesn't make his argument any more true...

MrViklund said...

Thanks for the interview. I'm a big fan of this Podcast and Richard Stallman. Typical him to only want Ogg format. Well, no objections here. I download the Ogg every time :)

HerbFromStamfordCT said...

Thanks to a suggestion from marek I found FSF's full distro recommendations. Turns out that Gentoo isn't "free" as I had orginally thought but the derivative "ututo" is free. I was surprised to find a very full featured derivative of Ubuntu named "gNewSense" is "free". It appears to be based on Dapper Drake. I'm using it to write this comment as well as running a "Folding@Home" client. Thanks to marek for his suggestion and thanks to Will for the excellent interview with R. Stallman ... just wish I knew enough to make a "free" extract of BSD ... is dropping the "ports system" enough ?

Gwenhwyfaer said...

Martin Tournoij said "I thought the people here might also be intrested."

Who are you, and why would anyone be interested in you describing someone else as insane for merely promoting a point of view with which you vehemently disagree?

Anonymous said...

Martin Tournoij wrote:

So, what am I supposed to do? Use the free firefox even though I don't like it? Don't browse the web? Try and improve firefox? Or even write my own browser?

----

How much of a sacrifice is using a browser you 'don't like'? Not much, Firefox worked fine in the early days even if it didn't have all the good features and easy extensibility it has today.

Adding the questions like writing your own browser or not using the web are just strawmen you create just to knock down and support your own ideas.

You answered your own question. If you don't something, work to change it. Firefox, like all free software is a community project that is the result of it's users needs. Make your voice known rather than just moving to an alternative.

Anonymous said...

I must disagree with a couple of points made by Martin Tournoij.

"""
Aside from the question of whether or not it is appropriate to compare Stallman with Bin Laden,"""

Firstly, and most importantly, it is *not* appropriate. In no way can one compare a computer programmer with a man who inspires and sponsors terrorism and murder.
It is ludicrous, insulting and demeaning, not only to Stallman but to anyone who reads it. And no, just having beards does not make them similar in any way. And repeating the comment without disowning it does not make you innocent of the comment.

"""Saying that all software should be free is just as stupid as saying that all cars should be free"""

I think you might be confusing free as in beer with free as in speech. Perhaps the analogy you want is all blueprints for cars should be free. This is as "stupid" as saying that the formulae for making anti-retro viral drugs should be free - free for the developing world to afford drug care that we take for granted. I do consider that an ethical issue, and so by extension I have a lot of sympathy for someone who sees software as an ethical issue.

(and no, I do not think I am trying to bankrupt Glaxo. There are many other business models out there, just as the recording industry is having to find out, so will the software and pharma industries. Nothing stands still.)

Several times you note the Stallman does not "understand the free market". I suspect that since OSS is the main, if not only viable, alternative to MS, Oracle, and other behmoths of the software world, he does understand the meaning of competition. He just wants his vision to win the competition. He thinks it will make the world a better place.
I think his vision might win. And I doubt the world will be worse, (but it is also unlikely to be better).

Gualtherus said...

It is interesting that Stallmann is worried about the private developer being able to produce more feature-rich code than those on the forced commune of the GPL. Is that a backhanded complement for capitalism?

It is also interesting that freedom itself apparently cannot be guaranteed by free choice, but by a higher directive. Is the GPL a Deus ex machina?

Is the potential for abuse always equal to abuse? For example, is academia funded either by research on behalf of private IP worse than government-funded research based on the taxation of private IP?

If there were no private intellectual property, then there would be no taxes because everything would be communal. Yet economy is an extension of barter, which by definition, is a trade based on mutual possession and mutual lack. Somewhere, have and have-not has to be a part of the picture. Free software exists because the basic incentives of commercial software (paying the bills, eating, and so on) precede it.

It's both-and, not either-or. That's why the BSD license and those similar to it are just better. Even corporations know that free giveaways may boost market share and overall competition.

But Microsoft leapfrogged ahead for some specific reasons:

Lots of people had cheap, lousy computers on which Microsoft products ran.

Business likes cheap, even if it means less quality.

AmiPro couldn't do footnotes and Lotus created a weird UI in any case. Word allowed students to write their papers more easily.

Word Perfect died hot death.

MS Office filled a need, and students could get el cheapo. Businesses got it because Windows 3 and the Web came of age together.

Had AT&T and USL not been screwing UC Berkeley and BSDI, we'd all be on BSD platforms, the Linux kernel would have been an also-ran, and GNU software would still be floating around. Thanks to the UNIX wars, Microsoft filled the void. That's not a matter of ethics, but of timing.

Who made Bill Gates the Evil Emperor? We all did.

Or have I lived in Utopia for too long? Anyone read Jonathan Swift or Thomas More lately?

melic said...

I have the MP3 feed to bsdtalk and it did not work, the link:

http://cisx1.uma.maine.edu/~wbackman/bsdtalk/bsdtalk132.mp3

It only downloads 349Kb, I had to download the ogg audio, that link is fine, 15MB or so.

Mark said...

I found this to be a very interesting interview, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Excellent interview, and very well done the way you had a real discussion and didn't fall into the traps and baits re: BSD license not being free.

Have you interviewed Theo? I'd love to hear his voice/perspective.

Tom Mazzotta said...

Thanks Will for a great interview with Mr. Stallman... and your entire series of podcasts for that matter!

While I also commend Stallman for his revolutionary and industry changing work with the GPL, GNU, and the FSF, I have to say that it really makes my skin crawl when he insists on imposing "his" ethics on me and everyone else in the industry. There is an absolutism to his position which ultimately underminds the value of his work. Basically it's the "my way or the highway" point of view, or a "one size fits all" solution. I'm sorry, but with a technology ecosystem as complex and diverse as we have today, it would be unhealthy to impose any single set of contraints on the system... and YES, Stallman's concept of "freedom" sounds very much like a constraint after listening to the interview. I likewise feel that while the GPL may be a good way to protect and perpetuate free software, on its own, it's not the best way to foster the development of ALL software.

Will, I also would look forward to hearing you do an interview with Theo. Lately, I've focused my attention on coming up to speed on FreeBSD, but OpenBSD is definitly something I want to look at more seriously.

Thanks again for all your hard work!

Anonymous said...

I've lost a bit of respect for Stallman. A lot, actually.

There are only two ~prominent~ open source figures truly fighting for free documentation, free software, etc. Theo de Raadt, and Stallman. They have their differences. Notably the license differences.

The difference is that Theo fights against NDAs, proprietary code and nonsense like that for technical reasons. He wants a pure operating system, with code he can trust. There are a number of proprietary, non-free pieces of software in OpenBSD ports.

If Stallman had limited his condemnation to FreeBSD and NetBSD, I would agree with him. They both include untrustworthy code. Code I can't read, code likely poorly written.

But no, he includes OpenBSD. Why? Because you ~can~ install non-free code. And by doing so, he demonstrates himself to be a fundamentalist. It's not even that important a cause. I'm entirely with Theo on this. There's nothing wrong with giving the user the ability to install whatever code they damn well please. As long as my base operating system and utilities are clean and trustworthy, I'm happy.

finite said...

I have an enormous amount of respect for RMS for founding the GNU project and the FSF, and I think this was a great interview with him overall... but I also think it was extremely lame that he interrupted probably more than 50% of the interviewer's questions.

As the first comment said, this was a masterful interview with a difficult guest. I hadn't heard of bsdtalk before reading about this interview on the gobuntu mailing list, and I must say I was impressed by the quality and professionalism of your program. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I won't listen if it's ogg. Perhaps that's the problem with dogmatic extremists like Stallman: it's their way or the highway. Well, can't wait for the next episode. Hopefully it won't require using one format at the exclusion of every other one.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure he didn't insist on ogg as the "one format" -- he just insisted on free formats. PCM or others would have been ok too, I'm sure. Ogg just happens to be the best free format available.

Why don't you want to use ogg? There are decoders available for every OS...

Anonymous said...

I was always wondering what would RMS say in hospital when someone try to scan his body using complex medical equipment with non-free software inside. I see no difference (well, almost) between RMS and Watchtower's Witnesses, who refuses blood's transfusing. They're fanatics.

And yes, mr. Stallman, I listen this podcast using my mp3-player, which has no knowledge about .ogg format. It is YOU, you restrict my freedom to listen, and I fight against you, by converting ogg to mp3.

Anonymous said...

>>I was always wondering what would RMS say in hospital when someone try to scan his body using complex medical equipment with non-free software inside. I see no difference (well, almost) between RMS and Watchtower's Witnesses, who refuses blood's transfusing.

I don't think you are really wondering. You already have an answer ready, and it doesn't sound like whatever someone, least of all rms himself, will say will change that.

>>They're fanatics.
Yes, given enough strawmen, everyone can be a fanatic.

>>And yes, mr. Stallman, I listen this podcast using my mp3-player, which has no knowledge about .ogg format. It is YOU, you restrict my freedom to listen, and I fight against you, by converting ogg to mp3.

The man grants his time for an interview, and asks to not distribute it in a way that is what he believes bad for society (software patents). I really don't understand your belligerent attitude.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares what stallman and his religious following think.

Interview "real" hard working developers.

Why not ask Theo? He commits daily.. and I'd like to here what he has to think.

akf said...

First of all thanks for this great interview.

There was one question left unanswered: The CDDL is considered to be a free software license by the FSF. But it is not compatible with the GPL.

see
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#CDDL

Anonymous said...

Some comments:

>But no, he includes OpenBSD. Why? Because you ~can~ install non-free code. And by doing so, he demonstrates himself to be a fundamentalist.

It is not because you can install non-free software, you can also install non free software on the OS which RMS recommends.

It is because OpenBSD come with non-free Software so it is simply not an entirely free OS it's the same like Debian. You can say what you want at the end they come with non-free software and offers non-free software to their users so it's not an complete free OS.

>I have to say that it really makes my skin crawl when he insists on imposing
"his" ethics on me and everyone else in the industry. There is an absolutism to
his position which ultimately underminds the value of his work.


no this doesn't undermines his work this makes him serious.

Imaging an Environmentalist who says "environmental protection is nice but this kind of pollution or that kind of pollution is OK". Would you take him serious? Or think about someone who fights for human rights and says: "human rights are important but a little slavery or a little bit censorship of press is OK". Would you take him serious?

I wouldn't take such guys serious. But i take RMS really serious because he has his values and stands up for it both by his talks and by his deeds.

Anonymous said...

It is not because you can install non-free software, you can also install non free software on the OS which RMS recommends.

It is because OpenBSD come with non-free Software so it is simply not an entirely free OS it's the same like Debian. You can say what you want at the end they come with non-free software and offers non-free software to their users so it's not an complete free OS.


This is, however, untrue. OpenBSD strictly does NOT come with unfree software. Theo and company are, rightfully, very strict on this issue. Unless you intend to claim that the BSD license is not free (GPL/BSD flamewars aside), there is NO unfree software in OpenBSD. Please provide a link to OpenBSD source code in base that is "unfree"

It really is because you can install unfree software. He openly states in this interview (http://www.ofb.biz/article.pl?sid=260) that he does not recommend Debian because you can install unfree software.

TRB: What about Debian GNU/Linux, which by default does not install any non-free software?

RMS: Non-free programs are not officially considered "part of Debian", but Debian does distribute them. The Debian web site describes non-free programs, and their ftp server distributes them. That's why we don't have links to their site on www.gnu.org.


Never mind how you have to manually enable the nonfree repositories, Debian is evil for daring to allow people to do what they like.

And this is why I've lost all respect for the man. I hadn't realized that he honestly dislikes people who offer users a choice. Installing Opera, for example, is not the same as distributing binary blobs.

Anonymous said...

Could anyone PLEASE post a transcript?

Anonymous said...

>OpenBSD strictly does NOT come with unfree software.

There is no non-free software in the OpenBSD ports? Thant yopu should write RMS and tell him that he can safely recommend OpenBSD. I think he would be happy.

>It really is because you can install unfree software.

No, it's because unstable is part of Debian even if Debian says that only main is the "original" Debian but that's just word. Reallity shows that there are non-free repositories on Debian servers, they get maintened by Debian-Developers as part of their job as Debian-Developers you can download/search the software from debian.org, etc.
Debian cann tell a lot but if you look at their server and their webpage reality shows soemthing different, non-free software is part of Debian (even if they try to distinguish between the debian project and the debian OS, that doesn't count because that just words the deeds are the important things and the deeds telling something different)

And exactly that is was RMS said:

RMS: Non-free programs are not officially considered "part of Debian", but Debian does distribute them. The Debian web site describes non-free programs, and their ftp server distributes them. That's why we don't have links to their site on www.gnu.org.

You can also add to the gnewsense sources the Ubuntu restricted repositories and install non-free software. But Gnewsense doesnt distribute or provide non-free software. That's the important point.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, i have to correct me:

This:

Thant yopu should write RMS and tell him that he can safely recommend OpenBSD. I think he would be happy.

Should of course be:

Than you should write RMS and tell him that he can safely recommend OpenBSD. I think he would be happy.

and this:

No, it's because unstable is part of Debian even if Debian says that only main is the "original" Debian but that's just word.

sould of course be:

No, it's because non-free is part of Debian even if Debian says that only main is the "original" Debian but that's just word.

Anonymous said...

There is no non-free software in the OpenBSD ports? Thant you should write RMS and tell him that he can safely recommend OpenBSD. I think he would be happy.

You've completely bypassed my first point. You're mistaking ports, a system allowing users to install their own software, with base, which is the essential parts of the OS and whatever the developers feel is necessary.

I understand and agree with Stallman in his arguments. We differ on the license, but as long as we're both talking about developers, I agree with him. Code with an unacceptable license ensures that code relies on one maintainer. Same with NDA'ed driver specifications, the same with horribly written drivers.

There are a myriad of logical, technical arguments about why Stallman and Theo are exactly right, in relation to the developers.

Stallman and company, however, also take aim at the users. They somehow see it as immoral or wrong for OpenBSD to provide users with a mechanism for installing, say, Opera. It's not in ports. It does not affect me; but for those who don't mind running such untrustworthy software, I applaud their efforts, OpenBSD's and Debian's, for distributing the packages for installing them.

Please don't make the mistake that they include that software, even Stallman did not make that distinction. He said they were distributing them, not including them in base.

Until Stallman or somebody else makes sensible, rational and logical arguments about how stripping away user's rights to install inane, random unfree software, I'll continue supporting OpenBSD and Debian.

(Although it is of course, interesting to debate such things.)

Anonymous said...

Until Stallman or somebody else makes sensible, rational and logical arguments about how stripping away user's rights to install inane, random unfree software, I'll continue supporting OpenBSD and Debian.

||
||
Change to
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\||/
\/

Until Stallman or somebody else makes sensible, rational and logical arguments about how stripping away user's rights to install inane, random unfree software improves the code quality of the base system and related utilities, I'll continue supporting OpenBSD and Debian.

Anonymous said...

Bleargh...

Stallman and company, however, also take aim at the users. They somehow see it as immoral or wrong for OpenBSD to provide users with a mechanism for installing, say, Opera. It's not in ports. It does not affect me; but for those who don't mind running such untrustworthy software, I applaud their efforts, OpenBSD's and Debian's, for distributing the packages for installing them.

Delete bolded word. Debate late at night is bad.

Anonymous said...

>You've completely bypassed my first point. You're mistaking ports, a system allowing users to install their own software, with base, which is the essential parts of the OS and whatever the developers feel is necessary.

I know what ports are. The question is what is in the ports? If in the ports from OpenBSD is only Free Software than RMS can recommend OpenBSD because than OpenBSD is 100% Free Software but if you can find in the "official" OpenBSD ports also non-free software than OpenBSD simply distributes non-Free Software (like Debian) and isn't completely free. If or if not there exist ports from third parties with non-free software is not the question, this is OK. The question is what is OpenBSD (or Debian) doing.

>Stallman and company, however, also take aim at the users. They somehow see it as immoral or wrong for OpenBSD to provide users with a mechanism for installing, say, Opera.

No, providing this mechanism is OK. GnewSense also provides this mechanism (apt-get, you can add every source you want and of course also non-free sources). But if you want to be a complete free operating system you can't distribute non-free software.

>Please don't make the mistake that they include that software, even Stallman did not make that distinction. He said they were distributing them, not including them in base.

As i said Debian manage non-free software on their servers and offers it to their useser. You can search and download this software at debian.org, Debian developers maintain this packages and this infrastructure as part of their "job" as Debian developer. etc.
So non-free is part of Debian and Debian offers non-free software. So it can't be 100% Free Software while offering non-free software too.

Just to make it clear: I don't agree with RMS on every point. Actually i disagree with him in a lot of points. But i have to amdmit that you can simply trust him with regard to Free Software because he stand 100% behind it both with his words and with his deeds.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"I think you might be confusing free as in beer with free as in speech. Perhaps the analogy you want is all blueprints for cars should be free. This is as "stupid" as saying that the formulae for making anti-retro viral drugs should be free - free for the developing world to afford drug care that we take for granted. I do consider that an ethical issue, and so by extension I have a lot of sympathy for someone who sees software as an ethical issue. (and no, I do not think I am trying to bankrupt Glaxo. There are many other business models out there, just as the recording industry is having to find out, so will the software and pharma industries. Nothing stands still.)"

Unfortunately, you didn't actually mention any business models that would work when free designs are available. The basic point is that Glaxo simply will not spend the hundreds of millions required to develop a new drug if everyone is allowed to simply steal that work from them without compensation.

Anonymous said...

For those of us that are hearing impaired ... is there a transcript of this interview somewhere? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

To Martin above:
I could reply to you point by point, but discuss this for eternity on blog comments is not only tiresome, it's useless.
A forum would be productive though.

I just want to tell you that Stallman's views are what made the Operating System possible and real. He started the whole thing, the philosophy and all. If there's anyone who's been there from start, it's him. Respect him please. Don't worship him, no one asks you to, but do respect him.

He knows what he's talking about.
I think he does exaggerate, but i also think he has to. No one else plays his role, defending Free Software like he does. IMHO crucial!

In the end, i think Debian is the most balanced view. You can install whatever non free software you like, but you're clearly shown what is and what is not free software. Default is everything free software, then you're empowered to do whatever you want with YOUR OS.

But you should always pursue the idea of having everything free. Not fanatically, but knowing why that is important. There will be always software that most likely is better when proprietary.
Example: games (a game usually has a short life, and takes a lot of work). Once commercial benefits are exhausted, they could go free though. This example itself could be wrong, but for now i think this is true.

:)

Anonymous said...

@Gualtherus :

"It is interesting that Stallmann is worried about the private developer being able to produce more feature-rich code than those on the forced commune of the GPL. Is that a backhanded complement for capitalism?"

Can you hear ok? He was saying building ON TOP of free code and making it proprietary.
BTW, morons once in a while come with the communism remarks. He talks about software, not hardware, cars and other idiot examples. Enough with the witch hunt ok?

"It is also interesting that freedom itself apparently cannot be guaranteed by free choice, but by a higher directive. Is the GPL a Deus ex machina?"

As i mentioned, it's to protect the free code. Like proprietary defends itself, so does the GPL.

"If there were no private intellectual property, then there would be no taxes because everything would be communal. Yet economy is an extension of barter, which by definition, is a trade based on mutual possession and mutual lack. Somewhere, have and have-not has to be a part of the picture. Free software exists because the basic incentives of commercial software (paying the bills, eating, and so on) precede it."

Again, software? Hello? Are we going for politics, or your even worst vague notions of Economics?

All the rest is of no interest for this topic... no more quotes

Federico said...

How about getting Stallman and Theo on the same show, just stand back and let the fire fly!

Mark said...

I would first like to say that I appreciate Stallman's passion, and valuing ethics and morality above all else. He's almost forming a religion.

I don't appreciate the way he talked to the host. He continued to cut him off in the middle of the question, and he even criticized the questions for not being specific enough for his tastes.

"... some people have created some licenses that may appear to be closed, free licenses,
and I wouldn't necessarily want to say that their intent is to confuse the issue, but I think they--" "I don't know. I mean that's so vague, I don't know what licenses you mean."

The point is that the licenses exist. You don't need to know exactly which ones. We're talking about general moral issues, here, and not specifics. And anyway, Stallman had an answer, which he provided when the host did a song and dance for him.

"Sometimes the choice of different pieces of software that get added into an operating system, there can be some confusion and arguments about how compatible--" "Yes. That's an awfully general thing to say. To make it useful, I think you should a spade a spade ... then I'll know which one it is."

<sarcasm>I agree, the first half of that question was very pointless. Good call, Stallman.</sarcasm> In any case, Stallman had an answer after he put the host through more hoops.

I've seen this behavior in people. They criticize a question for not being precise, even though they know what is meant, and they know the answer. They just want to put somebody else down for not being as meticulous (see 'anal') as they are.

OpenBSD is good about keeping the incompatibly licensed software separate. That's why it's in the ports tree and cannot be installed with a plain pkg_add. The user actually has to do a fair amount of work to get it installed. OpenBSD feels that this is a good compromise, and Stallman complains because it's not quite up to this standards. Stallman's standards would require that operating systems have some sort of restrictions that manage what kind of digital software you're allowed to install on your own computer. Maybe you could call it RMD or DMR or something.

Koh Choon Lin said...

An issue well and long debated by both sides.. anyway to a question above, RMS would use a machine with non-free software at the hospital, so long as the machine is not his, just as he would use a non-free ATM to withdraw money. The machines do not belong to him, so he should not have the say on what software should be on them. This was what I was told through email with him.

Gualtherus said...

Actually,

RMS' claim to *morality*, in light of writings by Jaques Ellul, Ian Barbour, and others, sees the issue comprehensively, societally, and universally.

It's not just about code, it is about the social order. No Slashdot apologist can change that.

The GPL forces one to look for networks and donors like the BSD licenses might draw corporate donors based on lower development costs coupled with the possibility of proprietary copyright protection. A project only works with a "community" because the substance of the code, unless trivial, cannot be modified quickly enough by only a few in order to give a marketable "edge" to, as Grady Booch cals it, industrial-strength software.

The GPL, by definition, promotes groupthink in an organization that is an alternately-organized corporation based not on commercialism but on idealism. We could dub that groupthink the HURD mentality.

In sum, the GPL looks good and really changes nothing because its viral nature suppresses mainstream use. It only works insofar as Medibuntu, FreshRPMS, and other "impure" collections lend parity in usability. How is that any different from the agreements made by the FreeBSD Foundation with Sun or PC-BSD with Adobe?

This isn't Slashdot. It's BSDtalk.

Anonymous said...

Martin said:I just want to tell you that Stallman's views are what made the Operating System possible and real. He started the whole thing, the philosophy and all. If there's anyone who's been there from start, it's him. Respect him please. Don't worship him, no one asks you to, but do respect him.

This is patently false. Bill Joy started distributing the original Berkeley Science Distribution in 1977; when he graduated he left behind a nearly complete free operating system, including his newly-invented Internet Protocol, the socket interface, 32-bit addressing with VM, along with a host of new utilities (heard of vi?). This was in 1982, two years before Stallman even started the FSF.

People make the argument that GNU is still more important because you still had to have an AT&T license to use BSD, but GNU was still using SunOS kernels to run their userland until Linux came out. By 1989, the only things left unreplaced in the BSD kernel source tree were a few include files, as decided by the AT&T lawsuit. If it hadn't been for that suit, everyone would probably be using 386BSD-derived programs instead of GNU-Linux.

Anonymous said...

I patently didn't say that he started free software..
Look at the text, you won't find it.

battery said...

It's good to see someone from another community respecting him enough to let him say what are the most important issues to him; Not what the larger linux community say he should find important.