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

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

Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

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.

You can have both free software and proprietary software in the same world.

Why should the software itself be free (as in speech), so long as it is able to output non-proprietary formats?

0 You aren't free to run it as you want
1 You don't know what it is doing
2 The people paid for it so they should benefit from it to the max
3 We all want a better government so give programmers a chance to help for free

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.

Sadly that's how all comment systems work. A button for interesting or not interesting might work better. I don't agree that this article was preaching about the freedom to disagree. This article was about putting the power of software to your benefit instead of the benefit of huge organizations.

Reply Parent Score: 5

mtzmtulivu Member since:
2006-11-14


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.

The GPL is completely moot when a user uses a GPL based work. It comes into effect ONLY when the work is about to be distributed and hence you are no longer talking of users but of distributors when discussing GPL restrictions. users != distributors, this is an important distinction to make.

Think of it this way, i can not give you the right to live and give others the right to kill you for whatever reason simultaneously. If i give to one, i have to take from the other. GPL takes power from distributors and give it to users. Again, if you are complaining of GPL restrictions, then you are a distributor, not a user.


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?

You are talking about usage of software here, not distribution and hence should not be complaining of GPL restrictions since they are moot.

you are free do as you wish on your computer and i am free to do as i wish on mine. If we have to collaborate, i should not care what tool you use as long as we can collaborate seamlessly and this only happen when we collaborate over open standards.

Reply Parent Score: 14

tanishaj Member since:
2010-12-22


The GPL is completely moot when a user uses a GPL based work. It comes into effect ONLY when the work is about to be distributed and hence you are no longer talking of users but of distributors when discussing GPL restrictions. users != distributors, this is an important distinction to make.


You and I seem to have a completely different understanding of the Open Source and Free Software movements. I think a huge part of it is about giving all users the power to be distributors. I would expect Richard Stallman to agree with me on that point.

From the FSF website:

"Free software is software that gives you the USER the freedom to SHARE, study and modify it. We call this free software because the user is free." (emphasis mine)

Perhaps more importantly, your assertion that the GPL does not impact users is quite false. If you cannot distribute software to me then I cannot use it. As a "user", I do not see software like Lego pieces; I may not want to or be able to combine software from different sources myself.

Just like a proprietary license, the GPL restricts how software from different sources can be combined. You are correct that as a "user" I can combine them on my own machine for my own use. Of course, to realistically do that I have to be a developer. If I am a developer, I am probably a "distributor" of software and not just a "user".

Another class of "user" is somebody that is using software as part of their business. The business does not have to be software-oriented to still want to "distribute" software.

For example, I wrote an employee benefits management package a few years ago for an insurance broker that used some GPL software in a few places. Some of this system was available to his clients via a website. Some clients wanted to be able to run the software off a CD locally to support remote staff (Alaska) or workers in the field (away from the office). This was not possible because he would have become a "distributor".

From my client's point of view, the software that I had provided restricted the use of that software in his business quite significantly. Also, the clients could not "use" the software the way they wanted because he could not "distribute" it to them in this way. The software generated PDF documents and populated a database that took the place of hand-written forms and faxed documents. The business was not charging any money for the software. The clients had no need for the software other than as a component of the non-technology service (insurance and benefits management) that he provided to them.

It could well be that the GPL is the best model. I am not arguing for or against it. I have two points:

- The license terms certainly do impact users. Whether or not that impact is worth it or not is a different debate.

- A string distinction between "users" and "distributors" seems contrary to the goals of the Free Software movement. The GPL creates this distinction more than many Open Source licenses

Reply Parent Score: 1

Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24


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.

Enough with the bullshit, real freedom, what is that? And while I've always thought the use of 'freedom' in GPL to be propaganda nonsense since it's about end-user rights and nothing else, people engaging in the 'licence X is more FREE' are just focusing on that naming aspect because they don't have arguments with which to attack the actual rights which the so called 'four freedoms' grant.

GPL protects end user rights, such as the availability of source code, unrestricted duplication (which is what got GPL banned from AppStore) etc. Those who dislike these rights (usually those who wants to use open source code in proprietary projects) wants to argue that they make things 'less free' because surely if you are not free to deny these rights to end users then you are indeed less free, right? And so pointless semantic discussions on the wording of freedom continues, leading nowhere...

So let's leave the term 'freedom' aside, should a licence NOT be allowed to require that the source be made available together with the binary? Is there some fundamental principle which you 'Worknman' feel should disallow this, which doesn't have to do with the semantics concerning the word 'freedom'?

As it stands, GPL is the most popular open source licence. Personally I don't think this is due to the philosophical/ethical stance against proprietary code in general. I think the majority of programmers like GPL for it's practical purposes, which is that they as end-users will be subject to the same rights they've granted should someone else enhance their code and distribute it. That does not change the fact that no matter if they choose GPL purely for practical reasons it still ends up protecting against those control issues which FSF and Thom's article warns about.

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.

I saw that of your comment votes, 52% had been issued to vote a comment down...

Reply Parent Score: 15

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

GPL protects end user rights, such as the availability of source code, unrestricted duplication (which is what got GPL banned from AppStore) etc. Those who dislike these rights (usually those who wants to use open source code in proprietary projects) wants to argue that they make things 'less free' because surely if you are not free to deny these rights to end users then you are indeed less free, right?


Who said anything about using open source code in proprietary projects? I am talking about the freedom to WRITE and USE proprietary software, not to distribute GPL code in proprietary projects. I do not believe the use of GPL and the 4 freedoms make people less free; I believe that the attempt to ENFORCE GPL-compatible licenses on developers who don't wish to use it makes people less free. If I were a developer distributing software (I only write small utils for my own use), I feel like I should have the right to distribute MY OWN program either with or without the source code, and users are either free to use it or not.

So let's leave the term 'freedom' aside, should a licence NOT be allowed to require that the source be made available together with the binary? Is there some fundamental principle which you 'Worknman' feel should disallow this, which doesn't have to do with the semantics concerning the word 'freedom'?


Honestly, I don't have a problem with licenses that require the source code to be made available together with the binary, as long as *I* am not force to adhere to such a license if I am the author of a particular program, in the name of 'freedom'. If I download somebody else's code and want to modify and distribute it, I have no problems adhering to the terms of their license. But if I write something and distribute it, don't try and tell me that I HAVE to distribute the source code, and then claim the moral high ground.

Reply Parent Score: 2

trev Member since:
2006-11-22

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.


It's the "when strictly enforced" part there that's the problem. The four freedoms are the FSF and Stallman's test for IF software is free. Where do you get the impression that FSF says you have to or even should user ONLY free software? RMS makes this requirement FOR HIMSELF but can you link to an FSF page that says you should ONLY use free software?

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? [/q]

I would not say immoral but I would agree that MOST (almost all?) government software should be FLOSS. I can think of several reasons for this:

1. Security - being sure that government held confidential data stays where it should (no phone home code or spyware/malware in the programs). Exceedingly important when thinking about voting software. medical, financial, etc records. The goal should be that ANY program that touches this data should be trusted hence open to review.

2. Cost (for large governments anyway) - the licensing cost of developing most common software (office, tax, etc) for an entity the size of the U.S. most likely would pay for all the work that would go into it. You would also be able to ensure that all your citizens would freely have access to your data should you want to provide it (since you could provide the software to them freely). Donating and cooperating with existing FLOSS projects reduces the cost even more making this simply smart.

3. Expandability - as the producer (or contributor) of the software you will have the ability to add needed or important features.

4. Reduced Corruption - the more the government BUYS the greater tendency for corruption. If you don't buy it there's no company to lobby you to buy more of it. I think Haliburton, Microsoft, the plethora of defense contractor and now the security contractors (full body scans, anyone?) make my case rather clear on this one.

5. Accountability - providing the source code to your citizenry is proof of what you have used the funds for. If the budget for software creation is large and little is produced there should be questions as to why there was so little productivity. Additionally, citizen watchdog groups can inspect the code to ensure that government is processing and protecting the data properly (no rounding errors in taxes, no funny code in voting machines, etc).

These are just a few reasons off the top of my head.

Reply Parent Score: 4

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I've already commented a couple of times on the 'enforced' part.

As for the government and free software, you make some good points, so I could see why that makes sense ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

HappyGod Member since:
2005-10-19

Agree with you completely about your comment. That is something that really bothers me about this kind of comment system.

Your comment did not meet any of the valid reasons for negative moderation. It was obviously modded down so that it would be removed from view.

Reply Parent Score: 2

r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

Hence, this comment system is little more than a way to censor comments from those you don't agree with

I don't see how this comment system sensors anything. I've read the comment, so it isn't sensored.

That a few people opt to have others decide what they are able to see and what not is unfortunate, but that is selfinflicted short sightedness. The comment system itself offers ample opportunity to view the comments in all its gory glory, which is the way I prefer it.

I don't give a hoot for other peoples +1's (or -1's) when it comes to value in a comment. Even if a comment is downmodded past minus ten, I'll still opt to judge it on its merit. That I'm able to do that, proves that there is no cencorship on OS News.

Reply Parent Score: 6