ACS - Richard M. Stallman

Thu Oct 7 17:41:22 EST 2004

The Free Software Movement & GNU/LINUX Operating System

He believes in freedom for computer users. Ethical, political and social issue, is what he's here to address. "What kinds of rules can make for a good society, where people treat each other well and have happy lives" - this is the basis of his free software movement.

Brings on the story of the laser printer (as in his book). He doesn't like the idea of an NDA - well, the printer issue, was in relation to the NDA that was signed.

He thought about leaving the computer industry. But he said no; which is why he started the free software movement. He lives cheaply - no traps in his life! His life is not a puppet of money. He found a way to survive without doing anything wrong (because sometimes you can justify doing something wrong just to survive) - if he left the computer industry, he could've been a waiter. But it would be a waste of his skill!

"Its better to waste a skill, than to misuse it." - developing non-free software would be misusing his skill as an OS developer. He concluded that he was elected by circumstance to try to solve the problem.

He decided to make his software, upward compatible with Unix (so that new features can be added).

"It's still GNU, no matter how many people call it Linux by mistake."

He makes fun of the movie piracy ad :)

Free software implies a free market. For everything, including support, training, etc... If you want a change, you don't need to go to the developer to beg. Anyone can support it.

Freedom is not having a master. So there is no need for freedom to choose between a discreet set of choices. Freedom is to do what you want to do with your life.

Linux (the kernel) carried the GNU project off to the finish line. Torvalds didn't want good software - he just wanted technically good software, rather than ethically good software. He has apolitical views. This is why RMS is "angry".

"This emphasis on freedom gets in the way of the success of Linux." They're confused about success (being mere popularity), and they're horribly confused about the GNU system. "We can all live in freedom using our computers" --purpose of the GNU system. This confusion has consequences - on the future of our community.

"Our job is the liberation of cyberspace; we are only at the beginning".

What dangers do we face? Some hardware devices have secret specifications, they will support Linux, but only give you binary-only drivers. When you do that, you're not living in freedom any longer. Try to put pressure on them, to "fix" this, and at the same time we reverse engineer the hardware. But in both of these things, we're held back if people aren't interested in freedom.

Freedom doesn't defend itself. Advertisements that sell value added services (software), doesn't do anything to your freedom. You're paying to make things better - that takes away your freedom. This makes us weak.

Value, and defend freedom. If you believe in the two step OSS process - 1st being introducing people to free software, 2nd being learning freedom, there are not enough folk teaching stage 2.

Open Source - presents the issue in terms of practical values. They don't even insist it always should be done, they just suggest it. A free software person is very different from the open source person.

Software IP is bad. DMCA is bad. The US-AU FTA is still being discussed. - patents.pdf is a good file to read.

Closes by becoming St. Ignutcius :) "There is no system but GNU, and Linux is one of its kernels."

The GNU GPL prevents the software from being patented. This is the "liberty or die" clause. However, existing software patents can kill GPLed software. Programs rather die than become chained - but there's nothing that we can do about software idea patents. Cross-licensing will not work. We (the free software world) lacks enough patents (since they cost a lot of money). Copyrights and patents have nothing in common. "Intellectual property" is a biased term; it spreads confusion, as it lumps together various different laws, inviting you to assume that they're various differences on a common theme - this is untrue - the details of the laws are always different.

Compare programs with recipes - this is a good way to have advocacy. Its common to share recipes, study the ingredients, change the recipe, and this is all important in terms of programs!

Someone converted code to geometrics. Called Orb, which is GNU GPL. A system being tested for the past three years, with mathematical theorems, which has the "theory of everything". She hand-presented it to RMS.

"Free software doesn't exist for the need to be promoted". Success is not mere popularity. This is a case of OSS vs. free software thought. Powerful, reliable software, with success and popularity - these are values from the OSS camp. If a program is convenient, but binary only, the OSS world would say "okay", but not okay in the free software world. RMS does not support open source.

"There is nothing I can ethically advise you to use" - if a non-free version doesn't exist, if you really feel you need to use it, make a free replacement for it. Use it today, but make sure you work on the free version too - thats being a good citizen in the free software world.

Colin Charles <>, © 1996-2004