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Stallman, Baby...

In another thread, Tony said:

"Oh and as regards this Stallman character, anyone who thinks "that all software should be free and the prospect of charging money for software was a crime against humanity" should be burned at the stake."

True, true...

But, y'know...  I've been more sympathetic to RMS in the last few months as the DMCA and SSSCA has begun to take its bite into my potential hide.  Software is a form of speech, and I should be free to write whatever I want for whatever reason I want.  It only becomes a crime, when used as a crime.

I've begun to respect the NRA's position more and more lately.  It is a reduction to "least common denominatorism" when the rights of a few are limited merely because the actions of many (though certainly not a majority) employ those rights in criminal actions. 

I can even see a clear path of the potential for my conversion from country club Republican to hacker anarchist from today's vantage point.  Its not just about technological innovation versus Media companies' protection - though that is certainly a political lever to be pulled for specific advantage.  No, its about more than that.  Its about Freedom, period.  Its about the freedom of expression and the enjoyment of our constitutional rights, that as the declaration of independence states: the power of the government derives from those governed - not the other way around.  And as the bill of rights states, those powers not specifically ascribed to the government reamin with the people.

While on most days, I'll chose Eric Raymond (ERS) as poster boy for OpenSource (and I'm not even certain about ERS's view of free vs. open software) , Stallman certainly has earned my respect for what he accomplished with the GPL: Software which was written as free must remain free.  While I'm not convinced that all software is free (as in speech), certainly software which was intended to be free must remain free - without condition or exception.

These days, I often prefix "Linux" as "GNU/Linux".  Just to make the point...

Nat Ersoz
Sunday, May 12, 2002

"Oh and as regards this Stallman character, anyone who thinks "that all software should be free and the prospect of charging money for software was a crime against humanity"

Of course you should never pay attention to details, they just distract people and make world too complex to comprehend. Stallman never said that "charging money for software was a crime against humanity" but let that not distract us from burning him at stake. Fire - good. Facts - bad.

kk
Sunday, May 12, 2002

Yes kk you are right, I dont really know the facts I just cut and pasted that comment out of the article. Maybe I misquoted the guy, but if I did'nt, I stand by my first judgment. Anyway, a good stake burning could be fun, or at the risk of being provocative, maybe we could "hack" him to death.

Tony
Sunday, May 12, 2002

Tony:

It's not hard to find out Stallman's position, it's not like he and other haven't written it down.  I suggest http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/philosophy.html as a start. Otherwise perhaps http://www.slashdot.org is a suitable place for further postings. Over there lack of information never prevented anyone expressing their opinion. They also really like GNU/Linux vs Linux or Linux vs BSD as topics :)

Alex Moffat
Sunday, May 12, 2002

Surely Stallman has been hacking himself to death for most of his adult life?

Kenshi
Sunday, May 12, 2002

"It's not hard to find out Stallman's position, it's not like he and other haven't written it down."

After a brief look at some of these pages, it's quite obvious that the guy is completely insane. The idea that producing software is not as valuable as say, writing a book, is to be laughed at. Maybe he feels his own software is not worth any money, but I sure feel different about what I write...

Frederik Slijkerman
Sunday, May 12, 2002

Frederik:

I suppose the only comment on your remark is "don't feed the trolls" but just this once... Stallman doesn't say you shouldn't make money writing software. He does seem to think that there are more important things than whether you personally make money. He thinks that one of those things is freedom for the users of software. Saying that's "insane" is a bit strong.

You can make money doing many things that other people think are morally wrong, it's up to each person to decide what they will and won't do. Stallman thinks that writing software and not providing the source code to users so that they can improve/modify it to do what they need is wrong. You seem to have a different point of view, that's fine. At least you haven't called the GPL "restrictive". This sort of discussion/rant really belongs on Slashdot though.

Alex Moffat
Sunday, May 12, 2002

>> to be laughed at.  Maybe he feels his own software is not worth any money, but I sure feel different about what I write... <<

Unless you have generated more value than gcc, emacs, all the gnu tools and whatever AI lab research he's done, his software is definitely worth more.  What I really would like to see is an analysis by an economist on the gpl, the free license.  Otherwise, we have endless flamewars because no one knows a thing outside their provincial markets.

corporate wage-ninja
Sunday, May 12, 2002

Putting it all in perspective, this guy slept at the office (I wont do that), did'nt pay rent (I have to), was young (I am older with a family), perhaps his view has changed, maybe he would never dream of working for free now, whereas once all he wanted was a fast computer and free cans of Dr Pepper, who knows, who cares?

Tony
Monday, May 13, 2002

Alex: Thanks for your explanation. I guess it's a matter of personal preference, but still, the idea that software should be free strikes me as a bit unrealistic. Oh well...

Frederik Slijkerman
Monday, May 13, 2002

Actually RMS's ideas about software aren't that insane. its pretty much standard utopian schtick. However RMS is a real nutjob. I live inside emacs and my livelihood depends upon GCC  so I shouldn't diss the guy, but dig up some of the old stallman rants about population control and asteroid mining to get a feel for what stallman is really like in real life.

i love gnu
Wednesday, May 15, 2002

For discussions on insanity, please See "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maint"  one of Joels Books.

The follow up Lila also fills in some details.
All I can say is I really, really like the GPL software I've been using.  A lot.

Adam
Wednesday, May 15, 2002

adam - i could not get on with "lila" at all (i did not finish "zataomm" either, but that was because i had to take it back to the library).

what _was_ all that stuff about the boats? some kind of metaphor, or what? i thought the ideas about cards was excellent, if time consuming.

nope
Thursday, May 16, 2002

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