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GNU is Not Unix

Ask Richard Stallman Anything 573

Richard Stallman (RMS) founded the GNU Project in 1984, the Free Software Foundation in 1985, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. RMS now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital rights management, and software patents. He's agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, free software, and anything else you like, but please limit yourself to one question per post.
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Ask Richard Stallman Anything

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  • by quartersa ( 2783685 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:34PM (#42118181)
    What does RMS think about the current situation with open source software where most people think open source just means free? They hardly care about the philosophical aspect of free software but just want something that's free.
  • by nathana ( 2525 ) * <> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:43PM (#42118329) Homepage

    What can we do to incentivize hardware manufacturers to be less "evil"? I have an iPhone, and Apple has screwed me over; this is my story: [] (also see []). I know, I can say "I told you so" if you want to.

    As a customer of theirs, I'm sure I'm well in the minority in terms of how I use my devices, and as long as most of their customers have no problem with how they do business and they continue to rake in money hand-over-fist, Apple losing me as a customer is a mere drop in the bucket for them. If the loss of my money and goodwill as a prior customer is not enough, and other people continue to desire and to buy their products, how can we communicate to companies like Apple that the "open" way is a better way, and do so in a language they can understand and respond to?

    -- Nathan

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:03PM (#42118629) Homepage Journal

    they have made vivid and vast improvements to the Linux kernel

    Citation please. Preferably without bizarre marketing shill terms like "vivid improvements".

  • Re:Hypocracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:06PM (#42118671)

    The question was not about linking closed source against open source, it was about deliberately breaking the design of the software, and in doing so making life hard for the good guys as well as the bad guys. Because they did this, no one can use gcc's parser/type checker/etc to build an *open* IDE either. That to me rather makes gcc's code the very opposite of open, because it's actively trying to stop me from extending, editing, doing generally awesome things.

    That's the hypocrisy, not simply not wanting closed source vendors to grab your code and run (which I quite understand).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:18PM (#42118867)

    To phrase Spiffmastercow's question in better way: Do you feel that, as a prominent figure in the free software community, your poor hygeine and way you present youself may do significant harm to your cause by giving newcomers a bad impression.

    I eat toe cheese too, just in the privacy of my own home.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:20PM (#42118899)

    I disagree. While property rights are an important part of capitalism, and often we argue against "intellectual" property, a far more important facet of capitalism is a transparent market place. Buyers should know exactly what they are buying. Closed source software protects intellectual property, but obfuscates the "product" the customer is purchasing. It's all about compromises. Is it better to lose the property rights closed source protects in favor of the transparency open source provides? Most of us here think so. We just need to convince everyone else. Either way is entirely compatible with capitalism, it's just a matter of application. I think that in the long run we'll find that even our position is a bit too extreme and the real answer is somewhere in the middle.

  • by spikenerd ( 642677 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:41PM (#42119269)
    Why waste time asking questions he has already answered []?
  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:28PM (#42121757)

    I at first thought RMS was being pedantic, but I've come to realise he actually had a point. Its not just enough to let people see the code, the code has to be defended against those who would seek to close it up. We've seen plenty of times where people have tried to take GPL code and close it, and that GPL licence has proven to be a weapon on our side. It provided a (fortunately unneeded) backline defense in the SCO case where if all the other defences failed, we had a final option of pointing to SCO's acceptance of the GPL. We've seen router and set-top boxes stealing peoples hard work on GPL code and we've been able to pry that code back off them. If it was just "open source" we would have had to accept the fail, but because of the *free* stuff , we've kept code free.

    Look at the free-software GNU/Linux desktops. Still for the most part free. Now look at android with its open-source userland, locked down almost as bad as the iphones. The difference couldn't be starker.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault