Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd Jan 2012 19:12 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia - but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality.
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porcel
Member since:
2006-01-28

It takes a big man to admit that he has been wrong in the past about someone or something.

To reflect critically on oneĀ“s closely held beliefs and past actions is what truly separate average from great men.

This reflection should guide the choices we all make going forward (the products we recommend and support).

People who trust our judgment see what we use as a guide for what to use and, therefore, we should be mindful of the important consequences that our choice of technology has on the world around us.

For the same reasons that you mention in the article, I have long championed free and open source software.

I too believe that there would come a time when so much of our social, economic and cultural interactions would be tied to a computer, be it in the form of a phone, laptop, tablet or any other device.

Being the sovereign owner of that computer by knowing what it does or relying in a community of peers for that service is the only way to guarantee your freedom and by extension, and because of the network effect of the choices we make, that of your friends and family.

Celebrate and participate in free software. Choose it where you can. Free software has never been more powerful or easier to use and it keeps getting better year after year.

Happy New Year everyone.

Ps: Of course, there will be many who dismiss the principled position taken by this article for a number of reasons: it might conflict with their previous choices, they may have a vested political or economic interest in promoting other types of software or simply because they have created a personal identity around a product or brand, something fairly common in our consumer societies.

We should be both respectful but firm in our disagreement, because I believe in this case, we do hold the higher moral ground.

Feel free to reuse, forward and share my comments if you find the arguments useful.

Edited 2012-01-02 19:45 UTC

Reply Score: 20

OSNevvs Member since:
2009-08-20

The big problem is how to revert this downward trend...Many suggestions, none of them work and I can only see our fate going straight to the wall ;)

Reply Parent Score: 6

fithisux Member since:
2006-01-22

The big problem is how to revert this downward trend...Many suggestions, none of them work and I can only see our fate going straight to the wall ;)


Stallman's suggestions work, but humans are notorious for repeatedly making bad choices for bad reasons.

Edited 2012-01-02 19:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 10

Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

Basically, he came up with his own version of freedom (aka 'The 4 Freedoms'), decided that was good enough for everybody, and then claims moral superiority over anyone who would dare to disagree.

You have built a big straw-man(please tell me how the 4 freedoms are bad). Only Stallman thinks this way but his free software concept does not. A lot of software has to be proprietary because it couldn't be made otherwise. But it is really important that the building blocks of a computer are free software. I think that the government should demand only free software solutions for their needs.

Edited 2012-01-02 20:32 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

wazoox Member since:
2005-07-14


I don't see how so. When it comes to Stallman, he does not care at all about freedom; he only cares about forcing people to use software that has a certain license attached to it.


This is plainly and simply false. I hope you're simply wrong and not truly dishonest. The FSF officially endorses X or Apache licensed projects. Now that the situation is really turning bleak, more than ever it's time to buckle up and stop propagating such inanities. You're free to prefer other licenses than the GPL, but it's more than enough with this sort of FSF bashing.

Reply Parent Score: 16

trev Member since:
2006-11-22

Your arguments seem to be based off unproven or mistaken assumptions. I point out several below.

When it comes to Stallman, he does not care at all about freedom; he only cares about forcing people to use software that has a certain license attached to it. Basically, he came up with his own version of freedom (aka 'The 4 Freedoms'), decided that was good enough for everybody, and then claims moral superiority over anyone who would dare to disagree.


And just how does he FORCE people to do this? The only thing I see the GPL forcing anything on is redistribution or propagation (GPLv3). Can you point out one clause that forces THE USER to do something? Furthermore, FLOSS ALLOWS distributors and propagators to copy, change and distribute the software if they agree to offer the complete source code with it.

The 4 freedoms were something HE chose as a guide to determine if something is free. Again, can't see how any of this is forcing users to do anything. If you want to redistribute or propagate the software and don't like the terms just write your own code. Much like if you don't like the terms of proprietary software just don't use it.

As for him feeling morally superior to people who don't value this freedom as much is that so different than most people with such strong convictions that champion a cause? I suspect you'd find much the same attitude from rebels, the U.S. founding fathers, slavery abolitionists, etc. I think to some extent it comes with the job (you have to be passionate about it). Even though he may look down on you for not valuing this freedom as much as he does it does not mean he's FORCING you to do something.

Software patents are a result of proprietary software advocates doing the same thing that FLOSS advocates are trying to do; using the system in order to try and force people into a certain paradigm.


This is just wrong. Patents are a method of using the legal system to FORCE EVERYONE into accepting an artificial monopoly. I can think of ZERO cases where FLOSS has done this but would be happy to hear you provide some examples. FLOSS does not FORCE a paradigm it OFFERS a new one. If you don't like it you can write your own code. If you don't like a patent you can not rewrite the code you are FORCED to NOT DO THAT THING.

I'm pretty sure if it were up to free software pundits, there would probably be laws passed that prohibit the use of proprietary software.


This is an interesting bit of speculation. If this were the case wouldn't FLOSS software writers be filing lots of software patents to exert offensively against proprietary companies? Wouldn't FLOSS software specifically work against interoperating with proprietary formats (not the same as not supporting them)? Can you give ONE example where they have done this? Proprietary software is often ripe with undocumented locked in formats and protocols (itunes sync, quickbooks, word, excel, powerpoint) that change only to BREAK interoperability. I have yet to see this happen in FLOSS so I suspect your speculation to be wildly off the mark.

In regard to privacy, this is much like the PIRACY debate currently going on. Entities like the content industry are frantically trying to get laws passed in order to curb piracy... basically, trying to find a technological solution to prevent people from copying things that can be copied an infinite amount of times for $0, in which there simply is no technological solution for this, unless you want to break the entire infrastructure of the internet. And privacy is really the same way. For example, even when I'm using a pure AOSP build of Android like Cyanogenmod, it is still possible to sync all of my contacts in the cloud, which means if I have your phone number and addres sin my contacts, and that information is synced in the cloud, it is now stored in Google's databases, and probably several times over, as other Android users do the same.


Again, this is IMO a bad analogy. "The Piracy Issue" has as much to do with "The Privacy Issue" as it has to do with real piracy. Piracy as you call it is really more analogous to patents here. They both use the law to FORCE users and distributors to behave how the companies want. They are one of the major reasons we're having our freedoms curtailed these days.

Privacy on the other hand is a choice about sharing information. Unfortunately most corporations are so untrustworthy and/or incompetent that groups feel they need to legislate basic rules on how to interact with them. IMO, this is not needed for anything except companies that use commons resources (right of way, company allocated wireless spectrum, government agencies) but then again I limit interaction with untrustworthy entities as much as possible.

So, how can you force privacy into a system where anything and everything is inter-connected, and users want the ability to share this information between devices?


In the FLOSS model you don't. You CHOOSE to keep your data private or not. FLOSS gives you an OPTION to do so. I run android and sync my contacts, calendar and email all through my own servers not google's (funambol, IMAP and a caldav server) since I value that privacy. Most users value the ease and free as in beer cost of having google do it for them (the real cost being of course that google gets to use your data as they see fit). Again FLOSS gives the choice here.

I should mention that IOS and Windows mobile allow syncing with your own servers as well. The only issue is since you don't know the code you're trusting them instead of google. With FLOSS I can see the code AND host the servers if I choose to giving me the maximum privacy of all the options.


I hope this shows the mistaken premises and assumptions you based your arguments on. As far as I can tell FLOSS doesn't force users to do anything and really does give the users the freedom to choose. I run it all the time and do it in conjunction with proprietary software now and then (though I avoid proprietary software most of the time since I do value the freedom and convenience of FLOSS).

OFFERING freedom is not the same as FORCING it even if the people offering it look at you strange for not taking it.

Reply Parent Score: 9

bonchbonch Member since:
2011-12-29

You're not a freedom fighter, sorry.

Reply Parent Score: -1

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06


Ps: Of course, there will be many who dismiss the principled position taken by this article for a number of reasons: it might conflict with their previous choices, they may have a vested political or economic interest in promoting other types of software or simply because they have created a personal identity around a product or brand, something fairly common in our consumer societies.

We should be both respectful but firm in our disagreement, because I believe in this case, we do hold the higher moral ground.




You mean they might have a philosophy different from yours which is of course a lower moral ground.

Reply Parent Score: 2