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Stallman is like a goalpost. He's as far over to one side as you can be. We need people like him since we all tend to measure our views and beliefs in reference to others.

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.

Who is the other goalpost? Are they equally necessary?

Organisations like the Business Software Alliance (http://www.bsa.org/) are the closest I can think of to a pro-proprietary advocacy group.

Do they openly advocate for the end of free software?

Sort of. This article is about the IIPA, which the BSA are a member of:


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."

Source: http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2010/2010SPEC301INDONESIA.pdf

I don't think so, but I am quite sure most members would be quite happy with it.

That would be a goalpost on the opposite end of the field, not the same goal.

An example of an opposite goalpost on the same end as RMS might be Bruce Perens.

Casual users.

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.

I'm not the one who downvoted you, but I do think that casual users aren't quite the opposing goal post to RMS. They are greedy, but more than that, they are short-term thinkers. They can't (even collectively) cause quite as much harm as the guys like Jobs, Gates, Ballmer, and Ellison can when they manipulate the market.

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
They also have money to sponsor development: Sun (R.I.P.) and JRuby, Apple and LLVM/Webkit/CUPS, Google and Android, and many more.

And that's why the GPL (and its derivatives/workalikes) is important - because it prevents any company or individual from taking away the freedoms of the users downstream.

Not all projects I mentioned are under GPL and some chose non-GPL license specifically to give more freedom than GPL and likes allow.

Like I said, the only added freedom you enjoy by having MIT/BSD-ish rather than GPL is the freedom to remove freedoms downstream. And the ones that are not GPL are so precisely because the vendor wants to be able to remove freedoms downstream should the need or opportunity arise.

Are you aware of any other freedom I don't know about?

Yes. To allow "downstream" to do whatever they want with a piece of code I gave them being free from my command what to do.

Including denying its users any freedom.

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.

Yes. Including denying its users any freedom.

"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.

Actually, you traded your freedom to tinker for your ability to play whatever they chose to offer you. I hope you like their offering.

  you traded your freedom to tinker
What kind of nonsense is this?

Can you alter the music in any way for your consumption? Can you even listen to it in places a Spotify client is not available?

Indeed. I have no doubt people like Jobs, Gates, Ballmer and Ellison (among many others) oppose the freedom ideals Stallman stands for. Still, I think they rely (willingly or not) on the casual user and its disregard/unawareness of the freedoms they thrown away to reach their goals. Without uninformed users, they are harmless. Tools will be developed and willing users will free themselves from their power.

I dont know whether they 'oppose' the software ideals that stallman stands for or not.

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.

> I disagree with him that it is immoral to do so

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.

Still, God kills a kitten every time a proprietary license is sold.

Even if it's your startup selling it?

Even if it's my grandma's startup selling it. Even if it's the girl scouts 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.

Of course there are risks involved, but don't your users usually pay you because they consider your software worth paying for?

They probably don't feel like they're resigning their fate to an abusive relationship.

I downmoded you. Mainly because I see no freedom in Stallman's vision and phrases like "shiny toys" and "lock yourself" rub me the wrong way. I want my freedom to use whatever I choose: open source, proprietary, free, paid, whatever, without some RMS telling me what to do. And I see more freedom in MIT/BSD than in GPL.

The only freedom you give up by using the GPL is the freedom to take away the freedoms of your downstream users.

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.

Freedom and capability are not the same. People have freedoms by default, and they can be taken away, but people lack capability by default, and they must be provided (in the context of software). The GPL preserves capability by removing a bit of freedom, while the BSD license preserves more freedom at the expense of the possibility to remove capability from downstream users.

It doesn't matter if downstream users are technically capable of exercising their freedoms or not. The point is that GPL preserves those freedoms and MIT/BSD doesn't.

MIT/BSD does preserve the freedom, just doesn't guarantee the preservation of the ability. The GPL guarantees preservation of the ability by removing a bit of the downstream developers' freedom. The GPL exploits copyright law in a clever hack to negate most of the harm of copyright law, but it isn't actually providing more freedom than the BSD license. The freest code is public domain, but some countries don't even allow their citizens to publish in the public domain, so...

Since he argued coherently, honestly, and with good manners, just find someone else to up-mod instead please.

> I want my freedom to use whatever I choose: […] proprietary, […] whatever, […]

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.
I don't have such experience. There was a time I was juggling Windows and Linux at work using OS X at home. Now I mostly deal with OS X and Linux on servers. Neither did I have a problem with office suites. I am MS Office free, OpenOffice free. If someone sends me some .doc or .xls occasionally I can usually view them on OS X without any problems. How exactly Windows are supposed to make switching to say Linux more difficult than from Linux to OS X? I give away no freedoms by using whatever software I want.

"You" in my parent post wasn't referring to you, Rimantas, specifically. You Rimantas (and I) are a lucky, tiny minority. You give away no freedom because you pay very close attention to not being locked in.

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.

Slave owners universally don't want to be slaves, thus it's immoral. Buyers and sellers of proprietary software don't have no problem buying and selling proprietary software from others, thus it's NOT immoral.

There's plenty of examples of proprietary software vendors doing their best to avoid lock-in from other proprietary software vendors, while doing the same to their own customers. Apple vs Adobe on the iPhone flash issue for example, where Apple proposed open standards and developing directly for iPhone as the two permitted options.

Interesting observation, but it has nothing to do with the question of moral behavior.

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.

You're supposing total information. You're supposing that no one can be screwed unaware.

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.

The SCO guy, forget his name, that equates open source with communism.

Darl McBride. Top on my shitlist, hard to forget. If I ever run in to him I'll probably end up going to jail ;)

Bill Gates also called open source developers communists.

Steve Jobs?

Apple is pretty active in OSS for someone you'd call the polar opposite of RMS.

Oh, yes, they're active, but only in their interest. You won't see apple freeing the source of cocoa...

But they're active right? Who's interests should they be active in? I bet their shareholders are so mad that they didn't follow Sun's lead....

Or Big Brother freeing the source to their Ad-magic.

But Open Source!=Free Software, as I'm sure RMS would point out if he was reading this.

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.

Very good point. Apple uses OSS for the sake of creating better software, not because they believe in any FSF ideals.

Bill Gates?


Steve Jobs

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