But I'll give the man a grudging amount of respect: he hasn't budged one inch on his position toward "freedom to tinker" as it relates to software in the entire time I've been aware of his work. And, more than that, he walks the walk; he won't urge anyone to do something or take on a position that he's not willing to jump into wholeheartedly himself.
He's a fundamentalist, but any successful movement needs people with "clarity of purpose". He has it in spades, allowing many of the rest of us to be rather more pragmatic.
I just wouldn't want to hang out with the guy. I say "Linux" and buy proprietary software. I'm sure he wouldn't want to hang with me either, but I do respect him.
They're not as upfront about it as Stallman and the FSF are about proprietary software, but they clearly don't like open source software. From one of their reports:
"For example, in March 2009, the Ministry of Administrative Reform (MenPAN) issued Circular Letter No. 1 of 2009 to all central and provincial government offices including State-owned enterprises, endorsing the use and adoption of open source software within government organizations. While the government issued this circular in part with the stated goal to “reduc[e] software copyright violation[s],” in fact, by denying technology choice, the measure will create additional trade barriers and deny fair and equitable market access to software companies."
An example of an opposite goalpost on the same end as RMS might be Bruce Perens.
There are lots of market forces pulling towards proprietary. Most people don't care about software freedom - they want shiny toys right now. Jobs, Gates, Ballmer and Ellison cater to them. They build and sell tools to help you lock yourself to their software. And they even use free software for that.
edit: dear downmodder: try harder. I am sure you can articulate a useful argument instead of just downvoting a comment you disagree with. This should be a place for debating ideas.
Big corporations led by big egos have the power to kill products and permanently remove innovations from the market: by [ab]using software patents, buying and killing threatening start-ups, or under-cutting competitors to drive them out of business. One of the most attractive aspects of a Free Software ecosystem unencumbered by patents is that ideas don't have to die while they are still useful to somebody.
Big corporations led by big egos have the power to kill
products and permanently remove innovations from the market
Are you aware of any other freedom I don't know about?
Tell me one freedom that does not involve denying freedoms and I'll give you the point. If, however, the only freedom you want is the one to deny freedoms, then, this argument became circular a couple messages back.
Using the GPL you deny no other freedom to your downstream users that that.
"Freedom" is not black and white. Sometimes you need to deny users one freedom in order to give them another. For example, Spotify is a non-free application and it has DRM and lock-in and nasty things like that (no doubt required by the music industry). However, it's completely changed the way I listen to music and given me freedom to listen to more music than I could have done before. I have essentially traded the freedom to tinker for the freedom to listen to music.
you traded your freedom to tinker
I agree very strongly with Stallman and the points he regularly makes regarding the dangerous of proprietary software, and I am very grateful for the things he has done to push his ideals and to increase awareness of the issues and dangers surrounding copyright abuse and the freedom of software users.
I also create and sell proprietary software, and I disagree with him that it is immoral to do so.
No need to oppose him, I can simply disagree with his conclusions while agreeing with a very large number of the points that he makes.
Agreed. I won't go as far as he does, but I thank him for making a stand. As far as the user makes an informed choice, I am not against selling proprietary software. Still, God kills a kitten every time a proprietary license is sold.
Even if it's your startup selling it?
Seriously, when your user knows and willingly enters what has a good chance of becoming an abusive relation (depending on your upgrades, being unable to migrate their data, forcing you to support ancient versions because they don't have the money to upgrade), I believe it's fine.
But I would prefer another model.
They probably don't feel like they're resigning their fate to an abusive relationship.
Once GPL'ed, any derivative must also preserve the freedoms of its users. This doesn't happen with MIT/BSD and that's one of the reasons there is a vibrant ecosystem around the Linux kernel and the GNU userland and nothing comparable around *BSDs.
So you want the freedom to lose your freedom, for a short term benefit. Make no mistake: you are not as free to stop using that proprietary software as you might think. Most proprietary software strongly encourage you to stick with them, and make switching difficult. The best examples I have in mind are operating systems and office suites.
The same could be said about slavery: you give up all your freedoms for the ultimate short term benefit: staying alive. Fortunately, we try to eliminate this horrible choice, by abolishing slavery.
Likewise, abolishing proprietary software might be a good idea. Until then boycott is all we have.
Most proprietary software strongly encourage you to stick
with them, and make switching difficult. The best examples
I have in mind are operating systems and office suites.
Most people aren't as cautious.
The company I work in currently have to buy and use MS Word 2003 because the government agencies it deals with want .doc, period. The sysadmins are forced to use windows because that's what most people use, and they just won't switch. (And we're a tech company, so imagine the others.)
Inertia is enormous. People tend to stick with whatever they started with (Blender vs 3DsMax is a good example). Proprietary formats and non standard APIs make it worse.
There're also plenty of examples of businesses trying to buy as cheap as possible while at the same time trying to sell as expensive as possible. That just proves that buyers should beware.
Also, proprietary software is not equivalent to high switching costs: in fact, it's a rather subjective calculation. If you don't care about keeping your old emails, switching your E-mail client has nearly no costs, for example. Additionally, "free" software doesn't imply low switching costs: develop a large application using the KDE or GNOME APIs, and you'll find that switching is rather expensive.
In general, your argument is a red herring: Since switching costs may establish a trap, you should warn about software with high switching costs, not about proprietary software.
Actually, most people don't know a thing about the issues around proprietary and free software. If they did, I am confident that most (more than 50%) would rather buy free software.
Now of course those who sell proprietary software happily buy proprietary software: they often don't have a choice. They can't use GPL software. They can however, use BSD licensed software. And I bet they prefer that over proprietary products.
Apple do contribute to open source software, but you certainly don't have freedom when using their products, which is what RMS is all about.
'Installing software' is a fairly abstract concept, especially given how liberally RMS likes to see the GPL used beyond normal software. To that end, I think that if he were truly logically pure, the same logic would apply to the iPhone. But, he would never agree that allowing something like an iPhone to be OK with free software (rightfully so), and so I think that should have demanded that every bit of that microwave be free. And everything else in his life.
Also, his comments on co-op food "Thus, food co-ops
are not useful for me. I like them in principle." GPL-encumbered libraries are not useful for me. I like them in principle. Good day sir.
The iPhone, by contrast, has millions upon millions of reasons you might need/want to tinker with the software. Hence the demand for source. Seriously, RMS is not the one with a logic problem.
Unfortunately, the line between the two is blurry at best. For example, I'm not sure how well this jives with the case of the printer software which provided the catalyst for RMS starting the FS movement in the first place.
See for example, "Predictable Programs in Barcodes":
From the abstract: "...In particular, we consider programs for microwave ovens, which provide a basic open API for controlling cooking times..."
The authors were only able to _simulate_ a microwave oven, presumably because the software on real microwave ovens is closed. A reasonable argument could be made that the proprietary nature of microwave oven software has limited innovation in this market.
The point is not that the iPhone should be considered the same as a microwave, but that there is no hard line. If you are going to be a fundamentalist, like RMS, you need to carry it through to all things. There is no point where a microwave becomes definably different than an iPhone. Its a continuum.
"The only way I could justify this is if I began developing a free replacement for that very program. It is ok to use a nonfree program for the purpose of developing its free replacement." - RMS answering 22.
When you buy a microwave, you are buying it to heat food. You are not expecting to be able to browse the web on it or play games. If you are, then you need your head examined or to invent this new product (if you are right that it's a reasonable/desirable expectation, there should be a market for it). I think the distinction is actually very very clear, continuum or not.
Once the microwave starts allowing for remote control and twittering its status, the line does become more blurred ;)
iPod classic, it's not going to hurt anyone if you screw with the firmware, you should be free to tinker to your heart's content. There are also enough obvious deficiencies (lack of support for a variety of codecs) which can be improved.
Same with a TV, the Kindle, the Drobo.
However, no one is clamoring to write apps for a microwave. A microwave really just has one function and as long as it does that one thing then it doesn't really matter how the software works.
To a hardware hacker that would be a false statement.
Tinkering with the software on your phone has much less potential to do so, for me it's simple if it has software in it and you bought it then you should be able to tinker with it.
The guy is in a tough spot.
I wish someone would have asked him about the eating of his toe jam. :) It was touched on, and I understand it is not important, but his appearance distracts from his goal. And who in the hell eats the crap between your toes? ( I mean, in public that is, I do so in the privacy of my safe room, duh! )
How in the heck could he have forgotten the belittling of a small kid. Either the OP was in fact making it up/embellishing, or there is no way he forgot, and was covering.
The hypothetical about the software based medical solution; that was a surprising answer to me. In a way, he has invented a religious dogma. He seems to have an answer to everything that comes up, in the same way religions also have an answer for dinosaurs and aliens.
Just pick a damn movie and pick a damn book for Christ's sake! :)
This one just killed me:
When a company says, "We want to merge with competitor XYZ,
since we are too small to compete in this market, and by the way
the merged company will become the biggest in the field," we
need to respond, "We won't let you merge. However, we just split
your biggest competitor into 5 pieces; maybe now you will find
it easier to compete."
His inability to adapt his position hurts him in the long run. When making comments about textbooks, it was clear to me, that the preferable solution would be to use a free textbook over a non free textbook. I can get behind that. However, when the quality of the non free textbook is abysmal, you must go with the non free version. We are talking about one's eduction, or health, or life saving scenario, their future in general.
Giving up a little in the beginning to position yourself to be able to make sure that what you gave up in the beginning never happens again, is the adaptation he lacks, which hurts his end game.
Compromise does not seem to be in his vocabulary, yet I suspect he would be so much further along had he learned about it. He may walk into a meeting with major leaders of other countries to get them to look into free software deployment on a scale of millions. That sets the tone to be able to one day implement his idealistic end game. That meeting would have no negotiation to it, it would be his way, or no way, in which case, Microsoft just made all the money, and he took a step backwards for the sake of being stubborn.