Linked by Michael L. Love on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 19:19 UTC
BSD and Darwin derivatives The GNU-Darwin Distribution is a free operating system and a popular source of free software for Mac OS X and Darwin-x86 users, but it is also a platform for digital activism. Founded in November of 2000, the Distribution has the stated goal of bringing software freedom to computer users of every stripe, and vigilantly defending digital liberties.
Permalink for comment
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
by ThanatosNL on Tue 4th Nov 2003 05:52 UTC

Saying RMS is obnoxious is not name calling; it is a description of his behavior.

It also doesn't make his opinions valid or invalid.

I'm not just repeating what I've heard. I've gone to RMS' website and read a number of his writings. I think he has a right to receive credit for his work. I do not think he should insist that everyone call Linux The Operating System "GNU/Linux".

I agree.

Not everyone in this world equates freedom of software, whether it be cost or ability to modify, with freedom of speech, religion, creed, etc. RMS has different concepts of freedom confused and expects everyone else to view freedom his way. He is a religious zealot and as such is ultimately a danger to freedom, regardless of the good work he has done.

1) How is he a danger to freedom (please answer without an analogy)?

When you get a physical product, the right to tinker with it is by and large never in question, except in a few cases. You can't modify certain weapons to the point where they're more deadly than many black market ones, and you can't tinker with your odometer. In those cases, by tinkering with the product, you can hurt other people. Furthermore, tinkering is only illegal in certain circumstances where there is no reason to tinker other than hurt others (there is no "Fair Use", since all use in, in essence, unfair). In fact, to take away the right to tinker with a physical product where it is not the case that modifications can only cause harm to others is absolute suicide. Customers would *hate* it.

If RMS never evangelized, he would have never enlisted the volunteers to get as far as GNU got today. Plus, the more homogenized the population is to proprietary software, the more threat that software poses to him, and those who share his beliefs. Take SCO as an example. They have a chance to prove the GPL is invalid. I don't believe that will happen, but that's beside the point. RMS needs everyone to value the freedom to modify software as they would anything else they own. In light of this,

2) Even if it is in an obnoxious manner to you, can you really blame him for wanting to convince others that the freedom to modify software as one sees fit, just as one would with any other product?

His motive is not to make people's lives easier by making a system that is free and modifiable, it is to make a political system that will make proprietary software illegal and punishable, in fact limiting freedom. He can argue semantics all he wants and tell us What Freedom Really Means, but in the end it is just his opinion, and should not be shoved on the world.

1) RMS doesn't ask the government to ensure these freedoms, he asks computer users to. This is an important distinction, because trying to change the laws *is* "shoving" one's ideas on the world. However, there is nothing imposing about me telling you "You're wrong. I'm right. Here's why." It's not imposing values, it's believing in something strongly enough to convince others that you are right through peaceful discourse. That is a Good Thing (TM).

So, he asks computers to not use proprietary software, and he asks them to use a free alternative. If the free alternative uses mostly GNU software on top of Linux, he asks you to call that system GNU/Linux, since the Operating System itself is merely comprised of those two components. KDE, Gnome, X, apache, etc., are all not part of the operating system, if you understand what an operating system is (hint: it's not every single piece of code sitting on my hard drive).