Linked by Linux Review on Tue 20th Mar 2012 17:07 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source It's been a while since we caught up with Stallman. But a couple months ago we took a look around at what's happening with law, politics and technology and realized that he maybe perhaps his extremism and paranoia were warranted all along. So when we were contacted by an Iranian Linux publication and asked if we would like to publish an English translation of a recent interview they had done with Stallman, I thought that it was a particularly rich opportunity.
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by Gone fishing on Wed 21st Mar 2012 09:28 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Re:"
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Why is it that many people who disagree with Stallman attack him on the grounds that he is insane or he is religious about software? When there are no grounds for either belief. RMS is very consistent with his arguments which are logically argued. No leaps of faith necessary (not religious) no wild inconsistency or delusional references (no insanity), just stubborn consistency.

I happen to think Stallman is partially mistaken, but because his view of freedom is partially mistaken. Stallman concentrates largely on software freedom but his larger view of freedom seems to be to be escape from the control of others. Rather than the ability to control your life or destiny. From this this, problems arise, for example his view of unethical is controlling others and this is seen as a black and white issue when it isn't. In any hierarchical organization this is inevitable and I feel without a Stallman attempting a analysis of this his view of Unethical is unsustainable.

below is my reaction to the Stallman interview on the Linux Action Show

Stallman was interesting and consistent, however, I feel that the interviews didn't ask the right questions to tease out whether Richard is right. These questions seem to me to be:

1 What is freedom? 2 Why is freedom important? 3 How do you advance Freedom?

Richard is clear enough what Free software is but not what freedom is in a larger sense, he clearly argues that restricting other peoples freedom as far as software is concerned is unethical, but again this is not clearly articulated in a larger sense of what freedom is. I would argue that freedom is about the ability to control your life or your destiny. It is unethical to prevent others for controling their destiny. This would seem to be consistent with Richard's Software Freedoms. However, it also makes Bryan's question pertinent, Bryan is a software developer he has a right possibly even a responsibility to maximize, his freedom i.e to take control over his life. Giving up writing software and becoming unemployed would reduce his freedom and his control over his life and preventing him from doing it would be unethical. However, if Bryan writes Propriatory software he is limiting the freedom of others. Clearly these two freedoms are in tension with each other, I would argue “in tension” the moral imperative is not obvious or straightforward and unfortunately this is too often the case. The resolution would be to make Bryan's freedom not restrict other peoples Freedom and I feel that Free software can do that.

Freedom is important for two reasons, firstly to make people happy as they are more likely to be happy when they are in control over their lives. Next because it works best – people who are Free can can make rational decisions, can apply their intelligence to problems – they have their potential liberated. This is not the case with people who are not Free and cannot control their lives or make decisions. It is not an accident that the modern development of technology has taken place in societies that value individual liberty. I would argue that Free software will intimately gain ascendancy because it liberates the creative potential of the user whilst Propriatory software seeks to stifle it. I would further argue that the Free model is similar to the open peer review development model that has been so succesful in science, far more succesful that closed models.

This brings me to how to advance freedom. RMS would argue that any use of propriatory software is unjustified and per se wrong. I would argue that a user using Windows or OSX has almost no freedom and almost no control - they are have simply the freedom to use but even that is a greater freedom than not having a computer (as someone who has lived in the 3rd world for many years believe me this is true) The user of most Linux distributions has a very large degree of Freedom even if the distribution uses binary blobs. Freedom is not either there or not there as RMS would have us believe it is graded and by degree. The binary blobs certainly limit freedom but they are also not very good, the propriatory model does not deliver the best solution. Liberating the user produces better software. If the binary blobs are needed to encourage more users to use Linux fine, if they are moving away from Apple etc this is moving people in the right direction. Ultimately the blobs will be lost because Freedom will produce a better more efficient solution

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