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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WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

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


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. 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.

But freedom is more than just about free (as in speech) software. It's just like conservatives who are always preaching about freedom; freedom is fine and good, until it involves something they don't agree with, such as marrying somebody of the same sex. And suddenly, freedom is just not good enough anymore. Similarly, part of having real freedom with software is the freedom to use proprietary software if one wishes, and I know that doesn't sit well with some people. You want to use FLOSS software exclusively? Great. My use of proprietary software does not impede on your right/ability to use open source software, except where overly broad software patents are involved. But, IMO, that is a separate problem and not specifically related to what we're talking about here. 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.

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. Does proprietary software come with its own potential pitfalls and negative consequences? Sure, but what sort of freedoms do not? For example, in the US, you have the freedom to eat fast food until you keel over and die from heart disease, drink yourself into a coma, gamble all of your money away, etc. Basically, you have the freedom to destroy yourself. But none of these freedoms will f**k you up, as long as you're careful and do not abuse them to the degree that you can never reverse them. For example, I do use proprietary software, but I don't think I use any app that won't let me export my data into some sort of format that other apps can import. And if I do, the data is really not important enough to me to matter much. Like, I'm not sure if my grocery list app on Android supports exporting of its data, but it would be fairly trivial to recreate it in something else, so it doesn't really matter.

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. 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?

Edited 2012-01-02 20:26 UTC

Reply Parent Score: -2

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

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

You have built a big straw-man(please tell me how the 4 freedoms are bad).


The 4 freedoms are not bad per se, but when strictly enforced, they can not exist in a world that gives users the freedom to use software who's license does not specifically adhere to these concepts. Hence, not real freedom.

I think that the government should demand only free software solutions for their needs.



Why should the software itself be free (as in speech), so long as it is able to output non-proprietary formats? For example, would it be considered 'immoral' to use a proprietary word processor that could save documents in ODF format?

I also find it interesting that my original post has already been modded down. Hence, this comment system is little more than a way to censor comments from those you don't agree with, seemingly the exact opposite message that this article was preaching about.

Reply Parent Score: 5

tanishaj Member since:
2010-12-22

"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).
"

How is this a straw-man?

He did not say the 4 freedoms are bad. He said that they do not encompass 100% of the definition of "freedom" and that therefore fighting everything that does not match the definitions of the "4 freedoms" means that you are, at least partially, fighting against "freedom".

Stallman definitely does this. He has done a lot for the world for which we should be thankful. He also champions a very limited form of freedom of which we should be very leary.

There is "freedom to" and "freedom from". "Freedom to" do things is true freedom. People selling "freedom from" corrupt the idea of freedom. This is what the "War on Terror" is all about (freedom from terror in exchange for some of your freedom). It is also what the Free Software Foundation is all about (freedom from proprietary software in exchange for some of your freedom).

Not everyone agrees that living with proprietary software in the world is worse than giving up the freedoms that Stallman would like to restrict.

Reply Parent Score: 4

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

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I have yet to see this happen in FLOSS so I suspect your speculation to be wildly off the mark.


You may be right. But I suspect that if FLOSS advocates had enough money to buy laws like large corporations do, we would see some legislation that either outlaws or greatly limits the use of any software that isn't GPL-friendly. But again, this is only speculation on my part; I could be wrong.

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.


Except, let's say you and I are friends and I have your name and address stored on my Android phone. Since I am someone who chooses to sync with Google's servers, that means Google now has the information that you tried to prevent them from having. And this goes for anyone else who has your contact info and syncs with Google's servers. Furthermore, since I use Google Voice, any text messages that are sent between you and I also passes through Google's servers, and is probably archived by them. And since you're using Android as well, it's probably quite trivial for them to link this info up with your phone.

Hence, the reason why I say that privacy is no longer a choice. Even if you try to keep your info private, somebody like me is always going to screw it up ;) That's also why I say it is a lot like piracy; you can try to pass laws that prevent people from sharing information with each other (whether that be copyrighted content or somebody's phone number), but how are you going to prevent this from happening when copying is so easy, and sharing is an integral part of the 'connected' reality in which we live?

Am I saying that this is a good thing? No, I'm not saying it's good or bad, as not everyone who wants or needs your information will desire to do anything 'evil' with it. I'm just saying that it is what it is. You can deny it all you want and try and prevent it like the content industry does, in which case... hope you enjoy pissing into the wind. You may be in favor of sharing only certain things, but the technology that allows for it does not give you the freedom to decide what is sharable and what isn't, unless you never share it with ANYONE.

Edited 2012-01-03 02:26 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 0