Linked by David Adams on Thu 1st Jul 2010 08:52 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source The HURD was meant to be the true kernel at the heart of the GNU operating system. The promise behind the HURD was revolutionary -- a set of daemons on top of a microkernel that was intended to surpass the performance of the monolithic kernels of traditional Unix systems and in doing so, give greater security, freedom and flexibility to the users -- but it has yet to come down to earth.
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Fine, I understand that. But isn't it (the defense of the ideology) a little insignificant with respect to the massive undertaking that building an OS (more precisely a non-Linux-based OS) is today?

but it is being done in a way where the ideology comes optionally, which for him completely misses the point

What would anyone but the FSF gain if that way was actually pushing the ideology instead of making it optional?

I'm not the most passionate hardcore supporter of the free software movement and I can't stomach using Linux for more than a few hours a month. But Linux is free, it is mainstream (Ubuntu?), it encourages people to contribute and it opened the eyes/minds of some (like me) to open source, security issues, diversity, customization of software, etc. It deserves better than a lukewarm "It's a good system". Even I can find more positive adjectives about Linux.

It also has its weird sides, like a million distros, incompatible stacks, competing projects with the same features and goals, which always make me wonder why they don't join the efforts and ideas (hence my previous "I still don't see why HURD should be something to spend resources on").

Linux changed the world, maybe not as much as the iPhone :-) but it did serve the free software movement and the community, users and coders, pretty well. Only, not Stallman.

I'm with free and/or open software. But I'm not with "all software is free and open and only that" because, as I've said in another comment, software engineers, artists, etc. also have rents and mortgages to pay. Just today, I thought about this article and wondered how the IntelliJ people manage to survive when their own Community edition, Eclipse and Netbeans (there are probably many more such IDEs) are there and of such high quality.

The danger is people will like it because it's practical and it will become popular without anyone having the vaguest idea of the ideals behind it, which would be an ironic way of failing.

How can Linux being liked because it's practical be "dangerous"?
When he says "which would be an ironic way of failing", he's talking about failing to rally the larger crowd behind his ideology in its strictest sense, right?

Reply Parent Score: 5

wirespot Member since:

It would be ironic, you have to admit. Look at the history. By itself, the Linux kernel may have well ended as a student's obscure pet project. It was the GNU userland and the GPL license that combined with it to make it what it is today. And those were both Stallman's brain-children.

I dig what the man says. The public at large will always be just consummers. They take stuff and use it and spare no thought for what went into making it. We all do it, to some degree.

One day Linux will indeed become mainstream (some might say that day has arrived) and people will use it just like they use Windows or Macs, without even knowing what FOSS is and how it changed the world. For someone who was there during the 90's, it's extremely ironic.

There's examples in the world all around us. Think about all kinds of human rights that people fought and died for, and how we just take them for granted.

Edited 2010-07-01 14:16 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 9

google_ninja Member since:

if it wasn't for gnu, linux users would probably have a bsd userland.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Laurence Member since:

One day Linux will indeed become mainstream (some might say that day has arrived) and people will use it just like they use Windows or Macs, without even knowing what FOSS is and how it changed the world. For someone who was there during the 90's, it's extremely ironic.

Linux has become mainstream, however real irony here is people rarely use the GNU userland tools despite often using Linux on a daily basis.

Linux is on our phone, in our routers and on our sat-navs - but each and every time users Linux is buried so deep behind layers of corporate developed -and usually propitiatory- userland tools that it's easy to forget just how widespread the OS is.

Reply Parent Score: 4

nt_jerkface Member since:

The world would have just used FreeBSD.

This is really what bothers GPL fanatics about FreeBSD. Its existence disrupts their theme of Linux being The Chosen One (cue Star Wars theme).

Computing would actually be farther ahead if FreeBSD became the de facto free Unix due to it having a sane development structure and no holy war against binary drivers.

Reply Parent Score: 8

nt_jerkface Member since:

One day Linux will indeed become mainstream (some might say that day has arrived) and people will use it just like they use Windows or Macs, without even knowing what FOSS is and how it changed the world. For someone who was there during the 90's, it's extremely ironic.

I remember reading in 1999 about how Linux was going to take over and destroy Apple.

Windows Server was supposed to die as well.

Linux on the desktop has not only failed but it has already missed key opportunities to take significant share (instability of Win 9x and early XP, 9x to XP transition, security issues with XP, 64 bit transition, Vista released as a beta).

I believe the main cause of failure for desktop Linux has been the GPL and the ideology that goes with it. Linux has been a middle finger to proprietary hardware and software companies and that is not how you build alliances against powerful corporations.

Now go tell your bearded hippie leader how awesome he is for declaring war against proprietary companies. Make sure you don't include any images since he only uses a text based internet.

All hail Stallman and the people's 1% operating system.

Reply Parent Score: 2

google_ninja Member since:

I was trying to find a good piece to quote that sums it up, but I think you really need to read and to understand where they are coming from.

The reason for the existence of the FSF is to promote the GPL. The reason for the GPL is to eliminate proprietary software, because proprietary software is morally wrong. That means the goals are completely ideological, with some pleasant practical side effects.

Open Source is there for completely practical reasons, to promote sharing of work for common infrastructure, instead of everyone reimplementing the wheel privately over and over again. It doesn't really make any moral judgments, in fact, if you read ESRs "The Magic Cauldron" essay, he actually says there are certain things that really should be and stay proprietary for a business to make sense.

Now, there is some overlap between the two groups, because at the end of the day, while the motivations are different, the ideas in actually writing software are the same. The problem with linux is that because it is by far the most visible FOSS project out there, Linus is so far on the open source side of things, that its success isn't really achieving the goal of Free Software, which is ideology.

99% of the time, this stuff doesn't really come up anywhere (unless you listen to talks by RMS), but the linux project is one of those places. Linus has said before he doesn't want to limit ways people can use the kernel, all he wants that if they piggyback off of his project, that they are required to share any modifications they do. Thats why he doesn't have a problem with kernel level DRM (for example). Thats fine from an OSS point of view, but from a FSF point of view that is downright heresy. If they had a 100% FSF driven OS out there, they could actually stop things like that, or things like binary drivers in the kernel, or things like tivo requiring signed kernels to run on their device.

Reply Parent Score: 2