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Stallman: If you want freedom don't follow Linus Torvalds

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  • Stallman: If you want freedom don't follow Linus Torvalds

    Stallman: The fact that Torvalds says "open source" instead of "free software" shows where he is coming from. I wrote the GNU GPL to defend freedom for all users of all versions of a program. I developed version 3 to do that job better and protect against new threats.

    Torvalds says he rejects this goal; that's probably why he doesn't appreciate GPL version 3. I respect his right to express his views, even though I think they are foolish. However, if you don't want to lose your freedom, you had better not follow him.

    http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/index.php/id;211669437

    Richard Stallman is nuts IMO. But he's right about this. That Torvalds says 'OSS' and not 'FS' does show where he's coming from.

    Torvalds has long shown that he's a pragmatic type of guy, his main goal is good software that works. His use of the term 'OSS' proves it.

    Stallman just wants software to be free for some religious edict of his; free for "freedom's" sake. If the software is actually good/functional appears to be a secondary consideration.

    Torvalds continues to prove that he doesn't look through the religious looking glass. He's looking through the superior product looking glass.

  • #2
    The older I get the more I understand where Stallman is coming from. That being said, I understand why Torvalds says 'open source' instead of 'free software'. Both have valid reasons, and the last decade shows that both stances can exist and work towards their common goals together... whether or not they always want to do so.

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    • #3
      I tend to agree with the general stance about RMS. I don't agree much with him, nor do I see things as "fanatically" as he seems. If I may do an analogy, RMS is "radical" of Free Software... Somewhere in his discourse I get lost, he talks about some (four) basic freedoms and stuff, but I believe that the BSD license expresses one freedom that Stallman has never considered: The freedom of keeping it to yourself.

      I know why Linus has stuck with v2 of the GPL and why opted out a BSD-style of license for Linux (he has chosen to remain in control of Linux, and the GPL allows him that, ironically). I think that Linus is not only being pragmatic, but tackles the "freedom" issue differently, respecting even others freedom to protect themselves (the whole issue about DRM in the kernel for certain applications [such as voting booths and the like], even though he is also against DRM for media, for instance.)

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      • #4
        As Francis Pacibia said, "free spirit takes liberties even with freedom". I guess Linus, while sometimes hard-boiled, sticks to this one.

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        • #5
          Well there is a very thin line between open source and free softwares. But still they can be used synonymously in my opinion.

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          • #6
            those who compare RMS and free as in freedom to religion really doesent know anything about what they are blabbing on about.

            my advise: investigate what religion REALLY is all about before you speak out like that.

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            • #7
              Imagine a scenario where a piece of medical equipment runs on open source software, but it's GPLv2 and the hardware is Tivoized. Imagine that improved algorithms are discovered or new functionality, or in the worst case (gulp) a bug.

              What is the hospital to do? They don't have the drm keys for updating the machine, and the company that made it is (choose one, they're the same really):
              1. Out of business
              2. Practicing anti-feature of "you gotta buy a new machine/pay us a lot of money to update your old one"
              3. Will update for free, but it will take 6 months for them to do it

              And now imagine that you, someone you love, whoever, is in the hospital and needs that machine to work for their life to be saved. DRM is encumbering the proper use of technology and can in fact kill.

              So no, I don't think it's insane to support freedom. Freedom lets the hospital administrators decide to change that software. Freedom allows patients to have informed consent to use a particular version of the software at their choosing.

              In the hospital, in the voting booth, in any critical area where the software can make a big difference I want the ability to audit that software and I want the controller of the machine to be able to change it. I want the version of software to be easily identified by the voter and the patient so that there is transparency in these processes, because it protects freedom and protects life.

              As I understand Linus' position, he believes in the market forces to compel companies to not lock down machines and kill people. Stallman's position is that the risk they won't is too great, that they should be compelled by the license to do so.

              I believe for Linus' scenario to work people must be informed of the situation. One would hope the controversy and arguments between Linus' camp and Stallman's camp would tend to make people see the issue and therefore choose to pressure for no DRM.

              Whether it will remains to be seen.

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              • #8
                Your strawman doesn't stand up. In real life, in the unlikely event that such a scenario would even develop in the first instance, and it really is a case of dire consequence (in the legal sense), you hope your hospital has someone on the legal staff that attended at least the first semester of law school and then you fix the software even if it means cracking some DRM schemea.

                Don't distribute the patch without permission, though <g>.

                I'm with you on the voting thing, though, but I don't think that quite fits the definition of dire consequence.
                Last edited by rbmorse; 12-09-2007, 02:26 PM.

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                • #9
                  you do realize that cracking some DRM can be a seriously hard job? especially if its not purely software based.

                  and you dont think voting has dire consequences?

                  The person elected for president in USA could nuke some country, so you dont think a software malfunction or planting of malcious software is a dire thing?

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                  • #10
                    Only if I don't like the result.
                    Last edited by rbmorse; 12-10-2007, 12:45 AM.

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                    • #11
                      we need both stallman and torvalds like people.

                      stallman is very radical. he goes to the far right, so that we can sit in somewhere in the middle, so to speak.

                      stallman lives by free software ideals. he is one of the most radical free software 'evangelists'. without stallman we would look like radicals.

                      when people like him are around we are merely people fit somewhere in the middle with sane beliefs ;-)

                      aww, hard to explain.

                      without stallman we wouldn't have gnu toolchain. without torvalds, we would still wait for hernel (hurd). without stallman's gnu project linus wouldn't have a working os environment, and vice-versa.

                      these two people represent two aspects of opensource/free software that complement each other. stallman's ideals and torvalds' practical approach are what got gnu/linux where it stands now.

                      stallman might seem crazy; but thanks to him we look normal and sane ;-)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                        we need both stallman and torvalds like people.
                        stallman is very radical. he goes to the far right, so that we can sit in somewhere in the middle, so to speak.
                        Hmm, that's quite true from an utilitarian point of view... sure he makes life easier for the rest of us, because he does all the heavy-lifting. If we had more "radicals" like him there wouldn't even be a need for a "free software movement", it would simply be the natural state of things.

                        However, there's a big problem with the "freedom to keep it to yourself" argument -- it is like saying the laws against theft infringe upon people's right to take whatever they want from wherever they want and keep it to themselves... Of course, in an ideal society we wouldn't need such laws, and everyone would be happily sharing out of their own good will. But as we know this is not what happens in real life -- the GPL does exactly that, it keeps potentially greedy entities(people/companies) honest. It arose as a necessary evil and is quite smart in the way it turns the horrible copyright and patent laws on their heads.

                        Frankly, I believe the BSD point of view is the more utopian/unrealistic one -- it assumes that people are honest and the "market" will somehow work out and companies will not abuse the software developed that way. In contrast, the GPL is quite realistic -- it assumes people will try to abuse it one way or the other and it provides measures (draconic to some) against that.

                        In the end, I'll just say that people who deride Stallman because of his strong views are missing the big picture -- we *are* in the middle of a fight for our own freedom, and each one of us is in some way resposible for what happens. Sticking heads in the sand and ignoring it as something that'll pass or is of no immediate concern will not help...

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                        • #13
                          If we had more "radicals" like him there wouldn't even be a need for a "free software movement", it would simply be the natural state of things.
                          i'm not that sure. they're purists, which believe proprietary stuff should die. this is unrealistic right now.

                          plus, that doesn't help gnu/linux adoption.

                          imho there shouldn't be too many of these people (but there definitely should be *some*).

                          if linux were following stallman's principles to the letter we couldn't be able to use proprietary drivers (which are sometimes a necessary evil) or use devices that use additional firmware blobs (some modems and maybe some other stuff i don't know about, etc).

                          Frankly, I believe the BSD point of view is the more utopian/unrealistic one -- it assumes that people are honest and the "market" will somehow work out and companies will not abuse the software developed that way. In contrast, the GPL is quite realistic -- it assumes people will try to abuse it one way or the other and it provides measures (draconic to some) against that.
                          imho some bsd people are almost like RMS in their views (esp. theo de raadt ;-) ) and they make more problems than solutions.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rbmorse View Post
                            Your strawman doesn't stand up. In real life, in the unlikely event that such a scenario would even develop in the first instance
                            (Wikipedia)
                            Therac-25 was a radiation therapy machine ... It was involved with at least six known accidents between 1985 and 1987, in which patients were given massive overdoses of radiation ... At least five patients died of the overdoses.
                            Is my scenario unlikely? Yes. Do things like this happen? Yes.

                            I'll admit that a product being open source but locked down is better than it not being open source. That alone is a major boon, an extra safeguard against accidents.

                            The question is whether that's enough. Once you know a piece of equipment is faulty you want to resolve that gap in ability ASAP. The quickest way is to patch it then and there. Impediments to that patch are going to be hard to justify when peoples' health is on the line.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                              i'm not that sure. they're purists, which believe proprietary stuff should die. this is unrealistic right now.
                              Well, proprietery software is not going to disappear, just as free software is not going to. Not even if they are outlwaed. There will always be a place for proprietary software even in a mostly-free world, just as now there is place for free software in a mostly-proprietary world.

                              The problem is that the more people are "purists" regarding a certain social issue, the more they create a pole that "normal" people are attracted to, enabling a favourable atmosphere overall. If there are only few (or just one, I don't know many public figures that align with Stallman's views) then they are easily cast as "extremists/weirdos" and ignored. The point is, if more people start publicly supporting a stance like this, the population will start believing it.

                              It's just the way humans work You can see this happening in both "good" causes like environmentalism (with the likes of greenpeace being quite extreme in their views) and "bad" (here the extreme right and religion come to mind).

                              Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                              plus, that doesn't help gnu/linux adoption.
                              This depends... I'd say regular people like the connotations of "free software" (with both meanings of "free") while "open-source" doesn't say much to them. At the same time, corporations work in reverse, so if "enterprise" adoption is desired then "open source" definitely is the way to go. I think in this case the existence of the somewhat separate FS/OS movements is beneficial, in that it can indeed promote adoption. We should only be careful not to forget about the freedom part and mix everything up.

                              Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                              if linux were following stallman's principles to the letter we couldn't be able to use proprietary drivers (which are sometimes a necessary evil) or use devices that use additional firmware blobs (some modems and maybe some other stuff i don't know about, etc).
                              Indeed, that would definitely be a short-term problem. But in the long term? I'd say having too many proprietery drivers is a bad precedent, and we should do everything to discourage them -- something I am glad to see the kernel developers actually doing. I really hope AMD delivers on their promise and the other companies realize the stupidty of proprietary drivers (I mean, really, would anyone buy a car if it came with a little chinese guy doing all the driving for you? and one that didn't speak your language either)

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