Is Richard Stallman the Enemy of Freedom?

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Postby julian67 » 2008-07-04 21:50

If there hadn't been an RMS we'd be using BSD, which would be fine with me


except BSD may never have been available in non-proprietary form so your certainty is misplaced.

Even without the GPL, Linux would have survived(though BSD might have overtaken it).


except without GNU tools Linus Torvalds wouldn't have have even been able to build the Linux kernel or if he had built it using proprietary tools of the time he wouldn't have been to distribute it. He used the GNU C compiler by the way. Until Linux was released under the GPL it had no potential to be used commercially due to a clause in its original license forbidding commercial distribution.
Linus Torvalds wrote:making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did.


Free/open source BSD was undistributable and commercially untouchable until 1994 because of legal disputes.
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Postby BioTube » 2008-07-04 23:32

So because BSD had a few legal issues it automatically would have never become an open source OS without GNU?
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Postby julian67 » 2008-07-05 00:18

BioTube wrote:So because BSD had a few legal issues it automatically would have never become an open source OS without GNU?



Firstly I didn't say anything of the kind so i'm not going to address your strawman question.

Secondly, why not go and do some reading and gain the benefit of an informed opinion of your own?
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Postby BioTube » 2008-07-05 00:32

julian67 wrote:
BioTube wrote:So because BSD had a few legal issues it automatically would have never become an open source OS without GNU?



Firstly I didn't say anything of the kind so i'm not going to address your strawman question.
Reread your post. You did indeed say words to that effect.
If there hadn't been an RMS we'd be using BSD, which would be fine with me
except BSD may never have been available in non-proprietary form so your certainty is misplaced.
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Postby julian67 » 2008-07-05 00:44

BioTube wrote:
julian67 wrote:
BioTube wrote:So because BSD had a few legal issues it automatically would have never become an open source OS without GNU?



Firstly I didn't say anything of the kind so i'm not going to address your strawman question.
Reread your post. You did indeed say words to that effect.
If there hadn't been an RMS we'd be using BSD, which would be fine with me
except BSD may never have been available in non-proprietary form so your certainty is misplaced.


I said "may never have"

you said "it automatically would never have"

I also didn't asscoiate the necessity of the GNU tools with BSD's ability to develop into a free OS (though it's worth considering).

You did.

If you can't see the difference between "may never have" and "automatically would never have" then there's little point in me addressing you as I don't have the inclination to teach remedial English usage online to a stranger, or anyone in fact.

If you can understand the difference but post that kind of crap anyway I'm even less interested in addressing you.
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Postby BioTube » 2008-07-05 01:35

I dig out the implication of your statement and suddenly I don't understand English or am an imbecile? That's an interesting statement. Too bad that logic has more holes in it than a colander.
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Postby ninjatux » 2008-07-05 04:34

julian67 wrote:
If there hadn't been an RMS we'd be using BSD, which would be fine with me


except BSD may never have been available in non-proprietary form so your certainty is misplaced.

Even without the GPL, Linux would have survived(though BSD might have overtaken it).


except without GNU tools Linus Torvalds wouldn't have have even been able to build the Linux kernel or if he had built it using proprietary tools of the time he wouldn't have been to distribute it. He used the GNU C compiler by the way. Until Linux was released under the GPL it had no potential to be used commercially due to a clause in its original license forbidding commercial distribution.
Linus Torvalds wrote:making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did.


Free/open source BSD was undistributable and commercially untouchable until 1994 because of legal disputes.


You do realize that Linus once said in an interview that had 386BSD been available when he had started, Linux never would've happened. Honestly, that doesn't matter because all three of the major BSD operating systems enjoy as much popularity as some of the most widely known Linux distributions. They are very successful, at least in this context.

Also, proprietary code in BSD was commercially untouchable until 1994. BSDs had always been mixed source, but whatever was released under the BSD license was always available to freely use and redistribute.
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Postby julian67 » 2008-07-05 10:35

ninjatux wrote:You do realize that Linus once said in an interview that had 386BSD been available when he had started, Linux never would've happened.


Yes, and here's another pearl of wisdom, followed by the quote you refer to in a fuller context which is quite illuminating

If the GNU kernel had been ready last spring, I'd not have bothered to
even start my project:
(29th January 1992, source: comp.os.minix, currently available to view as http://groups.google.com/group/comp.os.minix/msg/9f3c7c165aacc83f)

The remarks about 386BSD can be found at http://gondwanaland.com/meta/history/interview.html and to put the quote in context here is another extract and the one you refer to:

Meta Magazine (Mike Linksvayer): Do you agree that without the net to facilitate collaboration and a base of preexisting free software (e.g., the GNU tools), Linux would not be nearly as developed as it is?

Linus Torvalds: No question about it. Without net access, the project would never have even gotten off the ground; having access to gcc and the other GNU tools was very important. I was also able to get in contact with some people like Bruce Evans (author of the Minix-386 patches and the 16-bit assembler that is still used to assemble the Linux 16-bit startup code), and we had some interesting discussions by E-mail. Aside from getting me started, net access also kept the development going and accelerating: up to about version 0.12 or so, I wrote most of the code myself, but in the current kernel, only about 50% of the code is mine or very closely related to code written by me. The SCSI drivers, the networking code and the new floating-point emulator code is completely written by others.


Meta: What is your opinion of 386BSD?

Linus: Actually, I have never even checked 386BSD out; when I started on Linux it wast available (although Bill Jolitz series on it in Dr. Dobbs Journal had started and were interesting), and when 386BSD finally came out, Linux was already in a state where it was so usable that I never really thought about switching. If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened.

I also have very limited computer resources (right now I have 160MB of disk spacethe original Linux development was done in 40MB), so I havent tried to set up 386BSD just to see what the competition does. This means that I have only followed the 386BSD discussion and development from the side. As far as I can tell, its a good port of BSD that is plagued by some problems (mostly non-technical).

One of the major problems with 386BSD seems to be the lack of co-ordination: that may sound weird coming from the Linux background, but in fact the 386BSD project seems to suffer from a lot of people working on the same thing due to the long release cycle (I think there are three different and incompatible keyboard/console drivers for 386BSD). A long release cycle is the way to go in a controlled environment (i.e., commercial development), but I think it hurts the free development that results from a lot of unconnected persons having access to sources and doing lots of modification. The NetBSD project may be a step in the right direction, but I think 386BSD has been hurt by the way it has been developed.

Note that others that know more about the actual 386BSD development may disagree and think the Linux releases have been very chaotic (which is also true, but differently). Also, 386BSD has had different starting points and different goals, so any real comparison may not really be valid. In any case, I usually ignore Linux/386BSD comparisons: Ive not let any 386BSD considerations change the way I work, but just done things the way I want them done and hoping it works out. I have gotten a few mails like were considering changing over to 386BSD, as Linux doesnt do... but I refuse to be blackmailed by things like that. Ive also gotten mails from people who have changed the other way, so its obviously a matter of taste.


Perhaps it's better if people read for themselves what RMS or Linus Torvalds actually say/said.
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Postby julian67 » 2008-07-05 10:54

Sorry to double post (again!) but mention of the BSDs is really interesting in the context of this thread as it points to the value of the free software eco system, and GNU in particular, rather than any specific kernel.

If there was a situation such as MS occasionally threatens where the Linux kernel became undistributable due to patent or perceived patent issues what would happen?

I'd guess that the focus of the free software community would move to BSD and after some period of development (drivers, replacement of linux specific projects such as ALSA), as Debian user I expect I'd be using Debian GNU/somethingBSD instead of Debian GNU/Linux.

The common features would be the GNU tools and the Debian tools and it would be easy for everyone to see without any doubt that the OS is indeed a GNU OS and it might cause a lot of people revise their opinions of GNU, FSF and RMS.

All speculation of course, and while I doubt it will ever happen (because I don't believe MS's allegations) it is certainly well within the bounds of possibility.

For me as an end user I don't really mind which kernel is at the heart of the OS. I use GNU/Linux in preference to BSD but I have no objection to using GNU with BSD kernel, if my hardware was supported I'm sure I'd be happy enough to install and use it. The average desktop user (i.e. like me) would possibly not notice any difference.
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Postby dmn_clown » 2008-07-05 12:44

saulgoode wrote:2007/12/10, Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>:
> From what I have heard, OpenBSD does not contain non-free software
> (though I am not sure whether it contains any non-free firmware
> blobs). However, its ports system does suggest non-free programs, or
> at least so I was told when I looked for some BSD variant that I could
> recommend.

What part of that statement should Mr Stallman be correcting? Or do you have a link to the interview where it is misstated that oBSD includes non-free software?


http://cisx1.uma.maine.edu/~wbackman/bs ... alk132.ogg

Apparently he did fix his misstatement (of course that wouldn't be publicized...): http://bsdtalk.blogspot.com/2007/10/bsd ... llman.html

A later note from RMS:
In the interview, I said that all the BSD systems " include, in
their installation systems--in some cases I believe it's called a ports system...--they all include some non-free programs". What I meant is that the non-free programs are included in the set of programs that the ports system can install. The ports system software as such is free. For me, distributing a recipe to fetch and install a non-free program is pretty much ethically equivalent to distributing a copy.
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Postby Anzhr » 2008-07-05 14:21

julian67 wrote:For me as an end user I don't really mind which kernel is at the heart of the OS. I use GNU/Linux in preference to BSD but I have no objection to using GNU with BSD kernel, if my hardware was supported I'm sure I'd be happy enough to install and use it. The average desktop user (i.e. like me) would possibly not notice any difference.


I agree. MS and Apple will never get me back.
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Postby ninjatux » 2008-07-05 16:42

The BSDs do use some GNU software, but they do have more than adequate versions of their own. To insinuate that BSDs owe their survival to GNU is a gross error. BSDs do not need GNU, and one of the biggest goals within the OpenBSD community is to find a replacement for GCC. I'll bet that if they accomplish this, then the other BSDs will follow suit. Also, realize that GNU is really much of a Linux thing. Most Unixes that share lineage with the original still have not switched to a GNU userland. In my opinion, the GNU userland is great for its portability, and I have respect for it as such, but GNU/Linux needs to take a different direction towards integration because as a BSD user, I can say that it's a mess. 7500 distributions (and growing) that are trying to accomplish the same few goals is absurd. Look at the BSDS. There are four main projects (with a couple of spin offs that provide preconfigured desktops) and each project has a separate goal. OpenBSD aims for maximum security and stability, FreeBSD for maximum performance and scalability, NetBSD for maximum portability, and DragonflyBSD for best SMP performance and clustering features. These projects share code with one another, and users of one operating system don't hesitate to recommend another if their system doesn't exactly fit the needs. A lot of FreeBSD folks have recommended OpenBSD from time to time for use on a firewall machine and so on. BSD development really reflects what Unix is all about.
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Postby AdrianTM » 2008-07-05 16:51

Right, cause in BSD world there's not duplication... :roll: See PCD-BSD and DesktopBSD for example. The only reason there are fewer BSD distribution than Linux is less popularity of BSD brand. If BSD would be as popular as Linux we'd probably see just as many distributions.

Another thing, the plurality of Linux distributions is a strength not a weakness, as far as I'm concerned there could be 1,000,000 distributions. As long as there's no lock in and low switching barriers this is a great thing, it allows for evolution and for innovation.
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Postby saulgoode » 2008-07-05 16:54

dmn_clown,

Thanks for the link. I actually had that OGGcast in my archive but don't recall listening to it. My questions were not intended to doubt your veracity; merely to clarify the history.

Mr Stallman's misstatement was corrected soon afterward, and he posted a clarification after that on the OpenBSD mailing list. Unless one argues that his original misstatement was intentional, I see little more than a case of simple human error.
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Postby BioTube » 2008-07-05 17:05

Suggesting that Linux becoming unusable would "make everyone see it's truly a GNU OS" is ludicrous. Most of the GNU utilities have BSD made and licensed counterparts. Plus, most of the supposed "GNU OS" isn't noticed; X is more important to a helluva lotta people than bash(whose main feature, tab completion, is easily ported).
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