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Old 16th March 2014
Roydd85 Roydd85 is offline
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Default Richard Stallman, What is your opinion?

I understand that companies like Microsoft have all these back doors and don't respect the end users at all. I am also aware that things like regulation of the internet is almost always bad for the average person, organization, or small business and usually only benefits the Microsofts of the world and the politicians that they lobby. Is Richard Stallaman just crazy? I think he takes it too far and comes off as paranoid and a border line conspiracy theorist (nothing wrong with that) Do you guys agree? Do you think Stallman is right? Is Ubuntu even abusing their users as he says? Have we crossed that slippery slope?
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Old 16th March 2014
thirdm thirdm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roydd85 View Post
I understand that companies like Microsoft have all these back doors and don't respect the end users at all. I am also aware that things like regulation of the internet is almost always bad for the average person, organization, or small business and usually only benefits the Microsofts of the world and the politicians that they lobby. Is Richard Stallaman just crazy? I think he takes it too far and comes off as paranoid and a border line conspiracy theorist (nothing wrong with that) Do you guys agree? Do you think Stallman is right? Is Ubuntu even abusing their users as he says? Have we crossed that slippery slope?
I don't think he's crazy.

Are his ideas extreme? I dunno. Depends on which idea. The idea I'm most interested in is whether it's unethical to distribute software under terms other than those encompassed by his definition of free software (i.e. the four freedoms). So far I'm more or less in agreement that it's not ethical, but I differ as to the degree. To me it seems a very small moral transgression to distribute non-free software in exchange for money when the users involved seem not to care one way or the other. I won't disagree that software distributed that way is "an instrument of unjust power" but I have trouble seeing the severity of it the way he or Bradley Kuhn might, at least so far. So I'm not turning down jobs because they involve writing proprietary software, but all else being equal I'd rather take a job where the s/w gets sent out with some free license, and I donate money to the FSF.

I've only seen a few minor quips about Canonical from FSF people, and I don't pay much attention to Ubuntu. Do you have a link to where rms takes them to task for something?

Interesting choice of forums to discuss Richard Stallman. Honestly, when BSD people talk about him or license terms I tend to get alienated, but not enough to use a different O/S.
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Old 16th March 2014
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I've only seen a few minor quips about Canonical from FSF people, and I don't pay much attention to Ubuntu. Do you have a link to where rms takes them to task for something?
I think he's referring to the entangled Amazon searching in Ubuntu.

To make one and only one comment about rms here: I am in complete agreement that software needs to be free. Software has an amazing ability to subjugate people, denying them power and agency, and that needs to be addressed. But I vehementy disagree with his tactics in some cases. No, I am not going to share details. That's all you're gonna get out of me about it.
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Old 17th March 2014
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In my view ...

Richard Stallman is highly intelligent and I respect his knowledge and find his opinions interesting to compare with others. That doesn't mean that I agree with him about everything (I don't). Like all of us, his opinions are shaped not only by reason, but also by personal circumstances, values and deeply held beliefs.

Stallman is very good with the one-dimensional sound bite, e.g., "Cloud computing is worse than stupidity!" (the general thrust of which I happen to agree with). We often seem to live in a world of sound bites, so maybe this is a necessary tactic of his. But if you read some of his longer discussions (on some topic of interest) they're much more balanced, thoughtful and reasoned than the sound bites. Again, not to say that all conclusions he reaches are "right" because there's lots more than raw logic going into them.

His vision of "software freedom", the GPL, I'm not particularly taken with, despite its relative benefits. Then again, I'm not a lawyer and don't much like licenses, copyrights, and legal stuff in general. It almost seems like he's argued himself into a corner when you look at the FSF approved Linux distributions. But maybe that's a case of theory vs. practice.

Is Stallman too paranoid? I don't know, but even if he is, I don't think that's a real problem. The problem is the large number of people who aren't paranoid enough, and have thereby made Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple (etc.) into what they are today. If Stallman can give a counterpoint to that, it's to the good, but I don't know that it will change much. Security in a networked world is incredibly complex, no-one is born with any knowledge of it, most people have other priorities/interests and want easy convenience. The world is how it is. Wasn't there a famous Pogo comic about "I have seen the enemy, and it is us" ?
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Old 17th March 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roydd85 View Post
I understand that companies like Microsoft have all these back doors and don't respect the end users at all. I am also aware that things like regulation of the internet is almost always bad for the average person, organization, or small business and usually only benefits the Microsofts of the world and the politicians that they lobby.
I never understood the need of Linux teens to refer to a particular "Evil Company".
Each epoch has its own bogeyman. The bogeyman of my youth was IBM. Microsoft is a bogeyman of the 90s. If I was young man now I would think that main bogeymen are called Google and Facebook.

Last edited by Oko; 17th March 2014 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 19th March 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdOp View Post
Is Stallman too paranoid?
I don't know. Given the recent evidence that has come to light from Snowden regarding the NSA I think it is healthy to be wary when you are computing these days. I'm pretty sure the NSA and the Google overlords are tracking us in some form. Orwell nailed it in 1984; Big Brother is watching. We are happily living with a thin veneer of democracy these days.
I do my best to practice safe computing and I run a highly secure OS (OpenBSD) that has a software and a hardware firewall.
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Old 20th March 2014
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Default Stallman

In some ways, he's fighting the good fight. Without him, we'd all be thoroughly hosed. Think about it - all software would by now have been copyrighted or patented by megaliths. He's provided a large scale hedge against that sort of end game, and has been doing so since the 80s. On the other hand, it's pretty hard to make money on service subscriptions. Just ask the Sear's rep about his hardware service and insurance agreement quotas. So, I guess it's like Stallman could be saying to us, "don't make your money in software" - software is like a community road that we all build only to get to our offices, factories, shops, and eateries - those places where we *really* make our living.

That's where I find myself in some disagreement. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I favor a situation where my proprietary software company does not have unfair market advantage (i.e., it's small or medium sized) - and there is enough competition to keep my dealings with customers fair and respectable. But - that's not the real world. In the real world, the megaliths have taken over, and the legal systems absolutely bend to their sway in order to tip the field against all but a few.

If governments would cease with the unfair patronization of the few (software patents, in particular) - then Stallman would have less need to be what some call "extreme". He's highly polarized because "they" are - and he sees his stance as the only thing that brings about equilibrium. Sad, to say the least, but it' the reflection of humankind that makes it necessary.

Oh - I should add the thing I *really* was going to say. Our attempts to make the software secure are all well and good, but in some ways moot and futile: it's the network that's compromised.
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Old 21st March 2014
ocicat ocicat is offline
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Quote:
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Without him, we'd all be thoroughly hosed.
I thoroughly disagree. Public domain software has been around for a very long time (long before GNU, GPL, etc...). Some of it was good; some of it wasn't. Nevertheless, there was a culture & practice in place where authors could release their work without liability, cost, support, etc. Here's the source code, do with it as you choose, but I'm the one who wrote it.

Stallman is a voice in the Open Source community advocating his view. That's fine, but he isn't the only voice, nor does he advocate the only view which is viable. Other prominent voices exist too. While the number of licensing choices available to the Open Source community takes time to navigate, authors can construct licensing restrictions which works best for them, what can be supported, & what control is to be relinquished. That's all.

Choice is good. One size doesn't have to fit all. Stallman doesn't have all the answers, nor do I expect him to have them either.
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Old 21st March 2014
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Quote:
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..Public domain software has been around for a very long time....
Good point! BSD began life as open source modifications to Unix, circa 1977. And Unix wasn't the only platform that had software developed on open source model.

IBM's VM operating system, like Unix, was a licensed product that was source code maintained. And, as with Unix, many organizations developed and and sharied open source utilities and enhancements that were freely shared to improve usability. (From the late 70's through the mid 80's I was a VM administrator who wouldn't consider deploying a VM system without applying the "CIA Mods" collection. This was a collections of open source software that was managed and distributed for the benefit of the VM community by the VM admins at the CIA. Yes, that famous three-letter US government agency.)

Last edited by jggimi; 21st March 2014 at 01:55 PM. Reason: clarity.
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Old 21st March 2014
muflon muflon is offline
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Orwell nailed it in 1984; Big Brother is watching.
Also Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his masterpiece work In the First Circle
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Old 21st March 2014
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The French philosopher Michel Foucault analyzed how brute force as a method to impose control has been abandoned by the more "human" method of surveillance.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon :

Quote:
Most influentially, the idea of the panopticon was invoked by Michel Foucault, in his Discipline and Punish (1975), as a metaphor for modern "disciplinary" societies and their pervasive inclination to observe and normalise. "On the whole, therefore, one can speak of the formation of a disciplinary society in this movement that stretches from the enclosed disciplines, a sort of social 'quarantine', to an indefinitely generalizable mechanism of 'panopticism'".[42] The Panopticon is an ideal architectural figure of modern disciplinary power.

The Panopticon creates a consciousness of permanent visibility as a form of power, where no bars, chains, and heavy locks are necessary for domination any more.[43]

Foucault proposes that not only prisons but all hierarchical structures like the army, schools, hospitals and factories have evolved through history to resemble Bentham's Panopticon.
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Old 21st March 2014
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Re: Pre-GNU free software:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Windo...m#Introduction
Quote:
Anyone who wants the code can come by with a tape.
It seems to me that this describes much of the "free software community" before GNU, especially at MIT (but also at other places). It's not a coincidence that Stallman came from the MIT/LISP community.
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Old 22nd March 2014
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Good point! BSD began life as open source modifications to Unix, circa 1977. And Unix wasn't the only platform that had software developed on open source model.
Probably, BSD (prior to FreeBSD/1993) would be a somewhat lukewarm example to showcase early open source, given the lawyers of the megaliths came charging after those folks who were distributing it. I remember the eighties, and I rarely found any source accompanying a program in the PC world, at least when dealing with commercial software. Non-commercial software was only slightly better in that regard. The Unix situation was a little easier. Not much tho... just about anything related to SCO was $$$, regardless of the source availability, which usually couldn't be redistributed.
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Old 22nd March 2014
J65nko J65nko is offline
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Re: Open source before the 1980's

In the late seventies a group of programmers led by Bill Ragsdale created a public domain version of the Forth computer language, called FIG-Forth. (Fig = Forth Interest Group). They published assembly language listings for the 6502. 6800, 68000, 8080 and Z-80 processors and documentaton that you could copy freely, as long as the copies stated that it was placed in the public domain by courtesy of the Forth Interest Group.

Because soon many different dialects of the FIG-Forth implementation emerged, there was a serious need to to standardize the language. The first standard was Forth-79 published in 1979, followed by the heavily criticized Forth-83 standard of 1983. The first ANSI standard for Forth was published in 1994.

In 1982 or 1983, I modified the existing 6502 and Apple II Fig-Forth implementation and also published it as public domain software for the Dutch Chapter of the Forth Interest Group.

The magazine Dr. Dobbs Journal also published a lot of free or open source software. Their first three issues in 1975 published a tiny-Basic interpreter. Steve Wozniak published the source code for a 16 bit emulator for the 6502 called "Sweet 16" in this magazine

All this was 10 years before that magazine published the GNU manifesto in 1985. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Dobb%27s_Journal
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Old 23rd March 2014
ocicat ocicat is offline
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I remember the eighties, and I rarely found any source accompanying a program in the PC world, at least when dealing with commercial software. Non-commercial software was only slightly better in that regard. The Unix situation was a little easier. Not much tho... just about anything related to SCO was $$$, regardless of the source availability, which usually couldn't be redistributed.
There were many a night back in the mid- to late-1980's where I spent countless hours late at night poking about the major (& public...) FTP sites hosting all kinds of software -- much in the public domain. Sometimes source accompanied the file archive(s); sometimes it did not.

Two which come to mind were the White Sands Missle Range Simtel archive along with wuarchive.wustl.edu. As I vaguely recall, the directory structure & organization of applications by type was somewhat similar across all sites, but each had other unique offerings which made it worth the time to poke about each of them.

All of the authors found that their work was useful in some manner, & decided for some reason(s) that they wanted to make their efforts freely available out of altruism, disinterest, and/or an inability to offer sustainable support. It could be that their employers were open to release, but did not want to take on any kind of liability, hence the release into the public domain. Here it is, we wrote it, but we relinquish any associated liability because we have other things to do.

No, this didn't fully fit the view seen through Stallman's lens (who didn't voice his views until much later...), but that's okay. Free software has been available in a broader context for a very long time. It is not a recent creation.
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Old 23rd March 2014
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I have been to a few of his talks and I do generally agree with everything he says and stands for.

I feel he is definitely fighting a loosing battle though. Not only is closed source software more common than ever but now we have extremely invasive and short sighted DRM, such as, online activation and soon, "always online" activation.

I don't 100% agree with the defectivebydesign.org goals (which he is a big part of) since they seem to be more focussed on getting "free" music and video running on a few consumer devices like iOS and Kindle which seems a bit counter productive when there are billions of open devices (i.e the x86 personal computer) that are still subject to DRM software.

I wish I could help out more and I wish Stallman was more successful but... Damn! There are just too many idiots in this world.
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Old 28th April 2014
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I suppose I agree with about half of what he says.

I do feel that he often misses the wood for the trees however. I would say that there are bigger threats to GNU/Linux than non copyleft licensing, blobs and distributions with non-free software repositories.

I seem to remember that gnu.org has a whole page on why it should be called "GNU/Linux" instead of "Linux". I understand why but, as with much of the "politics" on that site, the whole approach/wording is not going to win many serious supporters - because it comes across as an indoctrination sermon written by someone who is a zealot and idealist. Teenage fanbois might read that and take note - maybe even spread the word - most grown adults will not.

In my opinion only, the trend away from UNIX KISS principles and towards appeasing windows people is extremely worrying and there are only a handful of GNU/Linux distros with the balls to avoid most of the latest brainfarts - plenty of which are GPL - Slackware being one of the most obvious.
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Old 29th April 2014
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In my opinion only, the trend away from UNIX KISS principles and towards appeasing windows people is extremely worrying
I agree and I believe projects like Gnome 3 to be particularly worrying because they are becoming very inflexible, much too large to fork and sucking up an extremely large amount of developer time by simply changing (to be like a trendy tablet interface) rather than progressing.

I guess this does not have much to do with Stallman though and more to do with the OSS community.
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Old 21st May 2014
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I'm sure that Gnome 3 adds to the bloat of Gnome 2. Surprising to me, and opposed to the many who've put the thumb-down sign onto version 3, I sorta like the way it handles (but definitely do not like the bloat behind it). It's nearly impossible to feel confident about huge software projects. Such developments leave too many places that the majority of the developer's eyeballs never reach.

One thing I'll say about Stallman. He has good comics on his site. Does he draw those?
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Old 21st May 2014
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Stallman is a pompous, arrogant clown.

Freedom? Who's suing whom? I get that the software license is written in such a manner that it infects other code bases that it is integrated with (unless you hire a lawyer or "compliance officer" to keep you out of court with RMS and henchmen), and I'll agree that any group using the software outside of the licensing requirements is completely #$%-ing mad...but blaming victims of predatory loans for entering into an unfair agreement isn't complete without looking at the company putting forth the predatory loan in the first place.

Lawsuits are not about freedom.
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