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My Talk at Microsoft (stallman.org)
264 points by thiccly 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 227 comments

>Publicly take back Microsoft's attacks on copyleft made in the 2000s. Ballmer called the GPL a "cancer". Allchin called it "un-American".

(from the "Suggestions I gave to Microsoft" section)

This is something I agree with. I don't think that Microsoft are likely to apologise for EEE [1] as that is likely just considered 'business' and part of the zeitgeist; neither do I think that Microsoft necessarily needs to endorse or support GPL as they are definitely unlikely to be using it for any products for the foreseeable.

They should, however, be a bit more repentant about starting a McCarthy-esque red scare against all things open source. I don't think those things were appropriate at the time and they really should at the very least be acknowledged as part of the "Microsoft heart Linux" initiative.

Part of me, though, thinks that Microsoft's recent adventures in Linux have been more 'Black Friday' than 'Good Friday'.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embrace%2C_extend%2C_and_extin...

Earlier he had said that we shouldn’t keep old grudges, so I was surprised he then turned around and asked for them to renounce statements from 20+ years ago, made by people that aren’t even there anymore.

In my mind, .net core and vs code and countless smaller projects are a complete renunciation of their previous public statements. Maybe Stallman can’t see that because they MIT license those things, but why ask for more talk when you are already getting action?

Edit: here’s Ballmer turning around in public on the cancer thing. https://www.zdnet.com/article/ballmer-i-may-have-called-linu... so I really don’t see what more Stallman wants.

Ballmer is an opportunist, pure and simple. When it suited him Linux was a cancer, and when it no longer suited him he 'loved Linux'. If the wind should ever change Linux will for sure be a cancer again.

> Ballmer is an opportunist, pure and simple.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Ballmer is not a Devil. Open source was costing him billions in lost Windows revenue from Google, Amazon and many other companies. Right now, with hindsight bias, we feel that the path to capitalizing on open source was OBVIOUS - it wasn't. Cloud computing wasn't a thing when Ballmer was in power - an existential crisis for the Microsoft.

The new guy Nadella is no Saint or Altruist. Right now, it's obvious business sense to embrace open source - particularly because of Azure unlike 20 years ago.

People talk about Saint Nadella and forget that Nadella's just taking the glory for Money makers that were started & financed by Ballmer - Xbox, Azure, Office 365, Hololens, Surface Pro, Windows 10...

Google which built its business on open source, embraced open source much early with Chrome & Android. However, they are doing a tactical retreat - butchering those two money makers and making key parts of them proprietary.

If Jobs were still running the show at Apple when he built NextStep, he wouldn't have embraced Unix. At that time, only broke people did open source but now big companies can go broke trying to build everything by themselves.

Just follow the money and most people are easy to understand. Google won't stop spying on people because of money. And Apple will join the fray once the financial guys can prove that they'll make more money selling customer's data.

> Apple will join the fray once the financial guys can prove that they'll make more money selling

Could it be (I'm not an apple fanboi though I like my 2015 MBP) that Apple's financial predictions suggested that a lone company not selling customer data might be able to flip that to their advantage in the marketing or minds of its users? Apple privacy is a recurrent même so it seems they succeeded intentionally or otherwise

I very much do not think Nadella is a saint, for one thing he was there when Ballmer did his stuff, if he was a man of principle he'd have left MS long before he made it to the top so I'm going on the assumption that he was A-Ok with those strategies as long as it benefited him.

> Ballmer is an opportunist, pure and simple.

You say that as if it were a condemnation. Everybody who runs a business is an opportunist, pure and simple.

Everyone who runs a business, just like everyone in any other life circumstance, must balance multiple concerns at the same time. So, the need to make money, and the need not to be a jerk. They can and should overlap in the same individual.

We've gone through periods in our culture where we glorify greed and self-interest. (Commentary like yours makes me think of Reaganites or Ayn Rand.) We've gone through other periods where we acknowledge the need to band together. (Think 1960s hippies.) A functioning person probably needs both types of influence at various times of their lives. I get really tired of how many people glorify or worship the former and neglect the latter.

To a coarse approximation, yes. But very few people would go to the lengths that Ballmer was prepared to go to. In a more just society these guys would be behind bars rather than pretending to be philanthropists.

> But very few people would go to the lengths that Ballmer was prepared to go to.

Larry Ellison? Scott McNealy? I'm sure I could think of others if I had the time. Ballmer was merely the most visible because MS was at the top of the food chain at the time.

Good point about Ellison and McNealy, Jobs figures in there somewhere as well given how he treated his business partner.

That would be fine if he didn't pretend to be a man of "principles" built on a foundation that can not be shaken.

Ballmer says Linux instead of GNU/Linux. That's just another mistake.

Your point about 'action' vs 'talk' is valid.

In this case what is being asked is not a grudge that needs to be addressed. Keep in mind the underlying context of the suggestions => "what can Microsoft do". So this is, in my eyes, more of something that Microsoft can choose to do for themselves - admit that they said things in the past that were not exactly true. A self initiated internal cleaning of the air as they continue to engage the public community. This is not something that they have to do to address a grudge. It should be mostly symbolic to the external world. So, is there value in Microsoft actually coming out and saying it? Well, that's for Microsoft to decide.

Quoted for its WTF-factor:

> Perhaps his new-found peace with Linux is linked to yoga, a practice he said he has taken up after leaving Microsoft in 2014.


It's a new type of yoga where you jump up and down while repeating your mantra. (His is "Developers".)

Most everyone makes fun of that mantra moment, but Ballmer was right, Microsoft has always historically done its best work when it put Developers first. Ballmer wasn't always great at executing a developer-first vision (particularly compared to the modern open source era of Azure/WSL/VS Code/…) [ETA: partly because Ballmer was not himself a developer and needed the reminders], but it's weird to criticize him for shouting about how developers should be the core to what Microsoft builds (and sells).

I agree with you. He was 100% correct. And that's why the company is top in valuation.

And I love to develop on Microsoft. Best toolset around. I use C#/F#/C++ on Windows 10

The criticism isn't that he was shouting about how developers were the core to business. The criticism is just that he looked silly doing it.

No one disagrees with him on his thesis. It's just that the way he presented it was extremely funny.

I'd imagine him doing a mudra of the chant...



> They should, however, be a bit more repentant about starting a McCarthy-esque red scare against all things open source.

Especially since we're still suffering from it. There are enough project & program managers who see the words "open source" on an engineering document & send us back to build or buy some alternative.

You sure that's not just for GPL? I worked at a place that had a strict no-GPL policy due to the legal risks of non-compliance. LGPL and MIT software was fine though.

"The legal risks of non-compliance" are the exact FUD the old Microsoft spread. If someone doesn't follow the GPL then they don't have a right to reproduce the software and can be liable for copyright infringement, which is the same as any software license proprietary or otherwise.

That someone wouldn't be liable if they distribute the source for their modifications doesn't increase the risk, it decreases it by providing an alternative to paying damages for infringement that they otherwise wouldn't have, since the GPL author will typically accept compliance in lieu of monetary damages.

It is way, way, way easier to ensure that you follow a commercial license.

Commercial licenses are long and frequently contain terms that are unintuitive or ambiguous which are trivial to violate when most of the employees using the software aren't aware they exist.

And the easiest way to violate them is simply to have installed more copies than you're licensed for, which is an issue the GPL doesn't have.

Trying to figure out exactly which production licenses were needed to be in compliance used to be a recurring nightmare back in the day when I did B2B bespoke system rollouts. A licensing guide, not the license itself but the document trying to explain which licenses have to be acquired under which circumstances, could run well over 100 pages. Microsoft had licensing specialists that the channel could call for help, but if you called them twice or more for the same case you would never get the same answer twice. It was that complex, their own specialists couldn't make heads from tales on it.

>Microsoft had licensing specialists that the channel could call for help, but if you called them twice or more for the same case you would never get the same answer twice.

Do they preface with a "I'm not a lawyer" disclaimer and claim that anything they say is non binding?

And that service only exists as leadgen.

Unless it's with Oracle.

It's not open source so much as it is GPL. In industry, GPL software is essentially anathema. MIT/BSD and other licenses are far easier to get approval to use.

I can understand their perspective, especially if they're non technical. Much of the time they see open source as some ragtag community project that has no real support so they believe in terms of risk, it can seem lower to build or buy.

If they don’t even know enough about open source (and are resistent to being enlightened), they shouldn’t be making this decision.

Devil’s Advocate - it’s not their job to educate themselves about the vagrancies of open source, it’s the developer’s (or more accurately tech lead’s) job to educate them about the particulars of a project, to prove that the project is healthy with good support today and will be healthy with good support tomorrow.

Without those assurances, and without investigating the project myself, I’d probably turn it down too.

Are they that wrong? What real support does an npm module have?

What support do you get by buying a non-open source module?

A support contract, typically. Few people sell code alone. They sell code plus a contract to support that code.

Support contracts can be very lucrative.

It's usually included when you purchase a commercial license.

I work with a company that generally stays away from open source software, unless they have an in-house developer that can maintain it.

Most open source projects (unless it's backed by a huge company that also charges for support) are run by volunteers that have a day job. This means that support will be non-existent beyond what the developer(s) feel like and bug fixes/updates may or may not happen. This doesn't work that well when a company relies on this software for any critical task.

Exactly. Given the absolute shitshow maintaining anything in the JavaScript ecosystem I can't blame them.

Replace "open source" with "GPL" and I think you'd be correct.

I do believe we are coming in an age where reputation is going to be increasingly important to companies. Those that change their opinions based on the hype and the short term profits are going to only have features and price as sales arguments whereas a company with a strong reputation and clear values will be able to charge a premium.

I have no doubt that Microsoft is in the first category, but a company that would be in the second one would understand the importance of making public excuses for past stances.

Microsoft also used to be a company whose growth depended on maintaining the Windows monopoly over the PC market, so everything they did helped underscore that.

Now they are trying to compete in the cloud, and the dynamics are different. They know Windows servers aren't going to beat out Linux servers. They need to use honey instead of vinegar to win people over.

It's a different company with different revenue streams, thus a different approach.

Microsoft has always been very sweet and very competent when it was the underdog. It then seeks to establish dominant and becomes one of the worst players.

In the cloud, it is dwarfed by other companies so it needs to play the OSS game well to win over devs. But I have no reason to think that their main ethos has changed.

I'd be happy with a donation to the FSF roughly equivalent to all the money they made by scare tactics against Linux on the server, including their backhanded funding of the SCO lawsuit.

And the money to "standardize" the ISO docx format.

Frankly, I think that is a situation where Microsoft just voiced what was common practice in many places in the industry. I've worked on a variety of both commercial and widely-used open source software projects and in all cases, GPL-licensed code was forbidden after consultation with counsel because of the limitations it would have imposed either on the company itself or on the users of our software.

This is more due to bad lawyers not understanding things than gpl itself, especially considering agpl, apache2 etc. Usually because nobody takes the time to explain it to them. Using RedHat as an example tends to be the most productive with legal and the C's in my experience.

> They should, however, be a bit more repentant about starting a McCarthy-esque red scare against all things open source.

Or, as rms went to some lengths to explain here and elsewhere, free software.

Paying attention is important in this particular case.

But MS were, at the time, against all things open source. Not just free software (although that did seem to get the full brunt of their ire).

> But MS were, at the time, against all things open source.

This may or may not be the case, insofar as an organisation can be said to have a position on a vague notion.

As per the article, rms is seeking that:

"Publicly take back Microsoft's attacks on copyleft made in the 2000s. Ballmer called the GPL a "cancer"."

I suspect rms doesn't care terribly much if MS were 'against all things open source' since no one really did, or does, know what that might mean.

This is all about sending a message and clarify a position.

When someone in a marketing team of a company sends a message, they usually speak for the company, not for themself, except otherwise explicitly stated. So indeed, we can't expect a huge company like Microsoft have a uniform opinion on all things, but Microsoft as an entity stills sends a more or less coherent message if they take care of their communication.

And I would not blame someone understanding a statement from Ballmer for Microsoft's official stand if the statement was made when he was the head of the company and the company did not issue an apology or a clarification after the fact.

I think we agree in principle, however the point I made originally was that it's not hurtful, false, and/or spurious claims about 'open source' that rms seeks remedy for, it's 'free software'.

Just as Free Software is, effectively, whatever the Free Software Foundations says it is, open source software is whatever the Open Source Initiative says it is.

Perhaps it's that easy, but rms is referring to comments made about the GPL (which is definitely aligned with free software, not open-source) and which were made a year or two after the OSI pinched/borrowed Debian's Free Software guidelines and came up with their initial definition.

So, at the time Ballmer was a) definitely talking about free software by mentioning GPL, and b) probably not particularly interested in, or aware of, the split by the 'open source' proponents.

That's my problem with "Microsoft [heart] Linux" - there was never any apology. They attacked linux and open source for years and now suddenly they want to be best friends.

I need to see some real contrition and proof that they understand all the things they did were wrong so I can be convinced they won't repeat the same behavior. Otherwise it just sounds like an abusive partner begging you to take them back.

"support GPL as they are definitely unlikely to be using it for any products"

They ship the Linux kernel as part of Windows now. They ship updates for it through Windows update. It's in beta, but will be released this quarter, I think?

Ballmer was more specifically referring to governmental funding going to free software, his competitors.

I still have a creative commons communist shirt I bought when I saw it on BoingBoing https://boingboing.net/2005/01/06/more-gates-creative.html

They were created in response to Bill Gates comment that people who want to weaken or eliminate intellectual property laws were "some new modern-day sort of communists" https://boingboing.net/2005/01/05/bill-gates-free-cult.html

Making money rather than crucifying a savior?

A reference to the Good Friday Agreement, a pivotal development in the UK/Republic of Ireland peace talks.



> Implement an anonymous internet sales platform that doesn't require Javascript, using GNU Taler (taler.net).

That seems like a potentially super important project yet it does not have a wikipedia page. That's abnormal! It was even discussed here in 2017!


I would've preferred he phrase it something like "using something like GNU Taler," so that it doesn't look like he's shilling for his own product.

I've been in the too-awkward position of suggesting a solution "like" one that I have made, knowing already that there is some specific reason why my solution won't ultimately be the one that is accepted. Arguing this way results in a stunted discussion, giving away the foregone conclusion that my specific solution is obviously unsuitable for some reason or other, and is therefore not worthy of our consideration at all. (But we have a lot to learn from it, and we should have this discussion before putting it aside.)

It's better to not go down that rhetorical road. If they haven't heard of your solution, let them evaluate it and come to their own conclusions about whether this specific solution doesn't meet their needs for some reason or other. Don't plant that seed, especially if you would consider it a favorable outcome for your particular solution to be used.

I don't know anything about Taler, but I assume he didn't say "something like GNU Taler" on purpose, for just the same reason that he doesn't work on some other project like Taler, because there's no specific alternative that he can recommend which is at least as good in all ways, from at least his own perspective.

Writing "something like GNU Taler" is almost a suggestion to fork the project, when we haven't even talked about what particular characteristics of Taler would make it a favorable choice, and what benefits. If, in the end, it's better or cheaper for them to build their own whatever it is, better than it would be to work with you on your project, they'll have no trouble coming to that conclusion on their own.

GNU Taler is not a product. It is a GNU project. You can use it full-features for free.

It can be both. This is an important point though, nonetheless, as if you are looking for a "product" and you choose an open source "project" without considering what it means, you may have a bad time.

This tweet[1] struck a chord with me when I saw it the other day, I almost couldn't find it when this thread reminded me:

>> I just don't buy the "many eyes make all bugs shallow" thing. It takes so much time to build the context to understand wtf some code is doing that the "many eyes" get whittled down to "very few" very quickly

> This is not just a technical problem, it's a social one too. In practice, 99.999% of users of open source software engage with and expect to be treated as customers of open source, not as collaborators in a communal endeavor to build and maintain it.

To these people, it is a product. For a healthy community, we may need to find a way to get them to see it as a project. And perhaps not just one (eg. how many open source projects are in your team's product stack, and how often do you all think about that?)

[1]: https://twitter.com/searls/status/1174955330582695938

A product is something produced. It doesn't need to be for sale. That's merchandise.

Anonymous for and to whom?

Suppose I sell a digital good to a customer in the EU and use Taler to handle this. I need to know which country's VAT to collect, and I need to justify my choice to the tax authorities of any EU country that asks.

That seems to rule out using a platform that makes my customer anonymous to me.

How would a privacy-preserving payment system (like GNU Taler) obviate the need for Javascript?

RMS and the FSF oppose any proprietary software, and refuse to use it. From a practical point of view, this means having to block javascript by default and at best whitelist it just on sites that are known to use only Free Software on their website. Furthermore, since that browsers and web standards don't provide an automated way to check javascript license before execution, and a site can change what javascript they use at any time (on every page load even), some Free Software advocates find it safer and easier to abstain from any javascript at all.

Payment processing software like Taler is most useful when integrated/embedded in as many websites as possible, including sites that use proprietary javascript. Even if the Taler implementation used only javascript with a Free license, using it on that site would require enabling both Free and non-Free javascript. Thus it would be preferable to Free Software advocates if Taler implementations were written to work without requiring javascript.

I'm not clear why javascript is the Boogeyman but html and css get a pass here. With javascript you can always see the source, and their license cannot obligate you as it's not-even-a-shrinkwrap license.

Html and css can also have licenses, and they are frequently generated by server-side code running what is almost certainly a proprietary license, one that is opaque to the user.

That article addresses essentially none of my points.

He remarks on the obfuscated nature of much JS as violating the principle of user interaction with the code; but HTML5 is very frequently generated in highly-convoluted form from server-side scripts that the user has no access to.

He remarks on the uncertain license of JS, but that applies just as much to HTML5 code.

He's concerned with tracking, but there are a number of ways to track a user using HTML5 alone. Cookies, canvas, webrtc, user agent, tracking images...

And he refers to HTML as mere markup, but the reality is that with no JS you can create a web application using HTML5 and server-side software as complex as any you can do in JS.

If i make a storefront based on Tomcat that relies on no JS, does the user have the freedom to inspect the software? Do they know the license, if I don't explicitly post it?

I somehow want to quote this too:

> Direct GitHub to promote correct and clear use of licenses and the best use of copyleft (GPL version 3-or-later).

I remember when I was very green, that list of licenses on the GitHub repository creation page is very very confusing to me. I don't know which is which and which one I should use, and most importantly, what's the effect of my choice.

It could be great if GitHub can improve that list a bit to help people to make wiser choice before a repository is created.

I take issue with the "promote ... the best use of copyleft (GPL version 3-or-later)" here. The GPL is a controversial license by itself, though it's the de facto copyleft license and reasonable to promote it, but the GPLv3-vs-GPLv2 debate is alive and well and I don't want GitHub to "promote" either of them as "the best".

Were you ever affected by the GPL3 vs GPL2 license? I am just wondering who is affected(not everybody makes kernels and drivers)

Any MacOS user who has to put up with having bash-from-2006 as the default shell has been affected by GPL2 vs GPL3.

Correction: any MacOS user is affected by Apple's decision not to update bash.

...due to changes in v3 which Apple sees as incompatible with their business model. That is an effect of v3. By your logic v3 never affects anyone because there's always a human decision behind whether or not to adopt it or to integrate software which does.

Yes my large tech company has a blanket ban on us using GPLv3 (it's possible to get some exceptions but a pain in the arse), but no problem with GPLv2

Readline is distributed only under GPLv3 nowadays. I worked on some software licensed only under GPLv2, where some authors are no longer available. GPLv2 and GPLv3 aren't compatible.

Thanks for you response but I am not understanding, you wanted to copy paste some code from a GPL2 project into a GPL3 one ?

He probably wanted to link the Readline library into his GPL2 program, which according to the owner of the library (the FSF) is not permitted and might have led to his employer's getting sued by the FSF for copyright infringement or at least to his employer's lawyers getting scared, then badmouthing him to management.

TL;DR on GPLv3-vs-GPLv2: the v3 adds a protection against hardware lock-ins. It doesn't come up in 95% of the cases. But the license is different, so a debate can be started.

GitHub did make https://choosealicense.com , which is intended to help like this.

RMS knows that, and his suggestion was to have GitHub stop encouraging consideration of GPLv2 and instead promote GPLv3.

Yes, they have also put the link besides that license list.

However, my opinion is, the list better be designed in such way that users don't need to access to another website to understand what they're about to do.

It shouldn't be very hard, some sort of license description would do the work, I think.

> Help make the web usable with Javascript deactivated.

I don't quite understand why that is a goal in itself. If it's due to accessibility why not ask to "Help make the web more usable for people with disabilities"? Maybe I'm missing something here.

A lot of non-free software is written in Javascript and runs on webpages. If you want to avoid using non-free software you have to disable Javascript on many websites.

Ideally the Javascript would be freed, but making it optional might be a more feasible goal.

I've always been a bit confused by this take, because the most likely alternative to having proprietary code in the front-end is to have proprietary code in the back-end.

It's not clear to me why I shouldn't tolerate closed-source Javascript that I can nonetheless inspect, archive, and edit on my own machine, but I should tolerate a closed-source SaaS backend that I can't inspect, archive, or edit.

Of course proprietary software limits freedoms, but does it limit freedom more than serverside logic? There are equal legal restrictions on both codebases, but I can't even exercise fair-use freedoms with code that I literally can't touch.

The difference is that the front-end code runs on 'your' computer, the back-end code runs on 'their' computer. You typically don't care what point of sale software a store you are doing business with is running on their cash registers or the myriad of software run on the systems of the various manufacturers of the products it sells.[1] However, when you go to their web site(s) and it uses a bunch of minified, obfuscated code that runs on your computer... you should care about that.

The idea behind 'free' software was that you should have access to/control of the software running on your devices, not everyone else's. It was originally a pragmatic solution to a problem, not an abstract ideology that it's morphed into for some.

[1] It's up to the business in question to care about the software running on their computers.

Javascript in the browser is practically compiled binary software at this point. You can't realistically inspect or edit 99% of what you're running since it's fully minified and obfuscated. And that's even more the case with WASM.

I'm going to push back on this, at least a bit.

Maybe I'm atypical because I work with Javascript a lot, but I don't think it's that hard to read minified JS. Modern browsers have a lot of tools to help with that -- you can set breakpoints on DOM manipulations, you can autoformat the code so it's not just a jumble of text -- you can even pause execution and add custom code to functions that can do additional logging or subvert existing behavior.

And because the industry is at least somewhat focused on minimizing bundle size, it's pretty uncommon outside of captchas for me to see obfuscated code -- most of the time, you'll only be dealing with minification.

I don't know how WASM is going to affect this -- I suspect it'll be more problematic. But I manipulate minified JS all the time. It's a very 'inspectable' language, for lack of a better term.

Documentation, comments, code layout and file structure are all critical components to any software project. Minimization removes all of that (right?) and I wouldn't consider it to be in "source form" in the spirit the phrase intends.

I wouldn't say that I prefer reading minified code over well-formatted code. Certainly minified code isn't ideal or equivalent to getting access to original source form. What I'm specifically pushing back against is the idea that if code is minified, it might as well be running on a server -- that "you can't realistically inspect or edit 99% of what you're running".

I suspect that's hyperbole; browser inspection tools are really good, and I regularly inspect and edit minified code. Even outside of the browser, I've patched and fixed bugs in minified 3rd-party dependencies where I didn't have access to the source code. It takes a little while to untangle the code, but it's not hard -- just time consuming.

I don't want to dismiss people who struggle with that, but I also don't think I'm that special or amazing of a coder. If I can do something, odds are pretty good that other experienced programmers can too.

The fact that i can read quite a few Assembly dialects at the binary level doesn't mean that binary is suddenly equivalent to inspectable source.

Of course not, that's not something I would ever claim.

But, given a choice between serverside code that you absolutely can't inspect no matter what, and a binary blob that you can read with a bit of extra work, wouldn't you prefer the binary blob?

Where serverside logic is concerned, it doesn't even matter if the underlying code is Open Source. I still can't inspect the instance and tell if it's running the correct code, or what its parameters are.

Yeah, but what on earth is the alternative?

Mobile gui's without javascript would be horrendous. On top of that, that's the platform you're minifying for.

I don't minify javascript to hide what's running, I minify it because a 3KB file is a lot less to download than a 12KB file.

So what? You design an entirely new language that: A) Can't be minified (How?) B) Has to be open source C) Can't be obfuscated (virtually impossible to prevent)

I'm sorry, but the stance is kinda dumb.

You can serve minified JS, but you should also provide the source code. Doesn't need to be loaded directly, it can be a link on the website.


I don't think that there is anything necessarily wrong with it. I was just pushing back on the idea that just because Javascript is distributed in source form, that it isn't effectively the same thing as a compiled binary to the end user.

> I've always been a bit confused by this take, because the most likely alternative to having proprietary code in the front-end is to have proprietary code in the back-end.

He'd push for AGPL for that. Also Stallman doesn't like SaaS: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/who-does-that-server-really-s...

That's something of a recurring issue with the philosophy. They also think that moving proprietary firmware into read-only memory is an acceptable solution, but I don't really understand why from a consequentialist point of view.

The issue is that usually the manufacturer builds in capabilities to update the firmware, and then reserves for themselves the ability to modify and update that firmware, while intentionally denying that ability to the users. This puts the manufacturer in a position of power over people who use the product.

But if the firmware isn't modifiable by anybody (including the manufacturer) because the capability to update it was never built in the first place, then no capabilities are being withheld from the users of that product.

I don't know that I have a strong opinion on firmware, but I think there's a few points.

Distribution rights are a lot clearer with firmware on the device and a driver in code.

With firmware on the card, the interface between the kernel and the card is likely to be more well defined and thus easier to replace either side.

I think this is a really weird reductionist take. Yes, if you don't run code, you also don't run nonfree code, but I'm skeptical that that "make people run less code" should be a goal of a free software movement...

Given that a major criticism of closed source software is that it can contain adverse behaviour which is practically un-auditable, running less code is the minimal implementation of don't run closed source software.

For some, open source software isn't just seen as a "nice to have", but the only way to avoid a society where freedoms are limited by dependence on software which works against us by design.

You can't know before loading a page whether it'll load non-free code. Browsers don't have a mechanism for telling you what license governs the code, and figuring out what license blocked JavaScript uses is a fair bit of work, especially since most pages use multiple JavaScript files, and which flies are downloaded may change from page to page.

Even if nearly everyone uses GPL for their JavaScript, you still need to go through this process for every site that may use non-free software, which is a royal pain.

Perhaps a "better" solution is to fight to have browsers check the license of JavaScript before loading it (either prompt the user, or have a browser setting for acceptable licenses), but that's a much harder battle than promoting JavaScript-less web pages, especially since the user has control of blocking JavaScript today.

LibreJS is a Firefox add-on that does roughly what you describe. If a piece of Javascript code is not properly annotated with a license (for example in a comment block at the top) it refuses to execute it.



It can be a bit fickle. I recently tried to make code comply with it and it didn't initially work because I was using a non-standard version of the ISC license with one different word.

> A lot of non-free software is written in Javascript

Dropping JS will just lead to a lot of non-free software written in [something else]. It's not like non-free software will suddenly stop existing. You're not banning English because of the content that might use it.

There must be a better approach to this than "I'm not running any code because some of it may be non-free".

It is server site rendering, use whatever you want to generate an html file and send it to the browser, most websites can do this (blogs,news, forums) then the small interactive interactions you can make them in JS using GPL/BSD whatever.

> then the small interactive interactions you can make them in JS

With JS enabled any site could potentially run non-free code so this has no benefits. As far as I can tell the proposed solution wasn't to develop some tech that ensures (somehow) that all functionality JS provides is transferred to something "free-only" but rather to give up that functionality entirely. That's not a solution, that's just running away from the problem.

Sometimes there is no practical solution, and running away is the pragmatist approach

I'm not seeing any reasonable evidence of a consensus that this even is a problem. Let alone that there is no other solution than to run from it.

There's no fix for criminal activity on the internet (objectively worse than non-free code) and yet I don't think anyone (RMS included) is proposing to sever the connections just to make sure they don't accidentally encounter such activity. The more radical comparison would be "bad stuff" in society and completely isolating yourself from it.

There are good answers from others but here is the longer explanation in Stallman's own words: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html

Stallman doesn't want to run proprietary software on his computer, and that includes proprietary Javascript.

This is a perfect example of how Stallman ultimately is an authoritarian. He wants all the freedom to do what he wants, but has no problem with his "free software" vision limiting the rights of others.

As someone else pointed out, "what about proprietary HTML and CSS?"

Stallman has no ability to recognize the need for others to protect their own work, he only wants his free access to the fruits of others' labor.

Don't want to run proprietary JavaScript? Then bite the f'ing bullet and don't visit websites that have it. Don't expect everyone else to conform to your wants.

He is not forcing his views on you, don't like him don't read what he writes.

If you want to have a discussion about freedom then let's do it in a rigorous way, go read the GNU page, read about the 4 freedoms then get back and explain your point more clearly.

His point is that proprietary software is bad and you should now write it and not use it, I agree with him and I still run some proprietary blobs, I do not feel forced to do anything or feel shamed.

>He is not forcing his views on you, don't like him don't read what he writes.

His job is (was) convincing others that he is right. He's trying to influence people's thoughts and actions. I think a critique of how he goes about that is warranted. Of course we can look the other way, but obviously that doesn't work to the benefit of his goals.


We were talking about software and philosophy, if you attack the person and not the ideas I think you are lacking arguments.

About what he said, I did not see him saying rape is Ok,

Anyway I would love to see your reaction if say you watch a porn video and later will surface that the actor was 17 years old, then all the press will say that you are watching child porn, you are assumed guilty and get fired and never find a job.

Your friends that would try to say that maybe we should get all the facts get also fired because "he is a child porn apologist".

Just think about it, in fact I don't wish this to happen to anybody, I read about a case where a guy was accused and he was innocent, he lost his job and was forcefully separated from his children, my point is go easy with the accusations you won't like it to happen to you.

> Anyway I would love to see your reaction if say you watch a porn video and later will surface that the actor was 17 years old, then all the press will say that you are watching child porn, you are assumed guilty and get fired and never find a job.

I have this recollection of something like that actually happening. IIRC, a man was on trial for watching child porn because they believed the actress was underage. The actress herself had to literally show up in court with identification to prove that she was not underage at the time the film was made.

The fact that she had to do that should scare everyone.


minsky refused to have sex with the girl, there's an eye witness corroborating it.

The very least you can do is get your facts straight.

Stallman did his best to convince everyone he was guilty.

What about proprietary HTML ? CSS ?

Quote from https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html

> It is theoretically possible to program in HTML and CSS, but in practice this capability is limited and inconvenient; merely to make it do something is an impressive hack. Such programs ought to be free, but CSS is not a serious problem for users' freedom as of 2019.

HTML and CSS are content, not software (they're not executables) - they're like DOC or PDF.

> HTML and CSS are content, not software (they're not executables) - they're like DOC or PDF.

Well… https://keithclark.co.uk/labs/css-fps/

You could also argue that DOCs and PDFs are software.

No, DOCs and PDFs aren't necessarily software, they can contain software, just like a webpage. And just like a webpage, Stallman can choose to use FOSS to view those files, and that software can choose to not run any scripts in those files.

I'm sure he'd agree that people should also not include proprietary software in those files as well, but doing so is far less common than webpages, at least for stuff the average user is going to run into.

And how many people are actually programming in HTML/CSS vs JavaScript? A proof of concept is one thing, but most users won't run into it.

I think we all know the pros and cons about running Javascript on web pages. But it becomes more and more obvious, that while Javascript gets abused for a lot of bad things, a modern web completely without scripting in web pages isn't feasible either.

Consequently, I consider this as something the GNU project failed to address. Why isn't there an official GNU webbrowser with a reasonable Javascript implementation? One where the browser and the JS engine would be free software and which could be seen as a reasonable platform for a modern web?

That wouldn't address Stallman's objection; regardless of which browser is used, the JavaScript delivered by website operators would still be executed in the user's browser.

I am aware of his objections. I agree that dealing with Javascript is a challenge. But the consequence of that there is no GNU webbrowser and Javascript implementation is, that all users have no real choice but use other browsers which might not even try to protect the user.

Good idea regardless of motivation to be honest.

I would say my knowledge about software engineering is to 90% copied from ideas other people had before, but I am certainly underestimating that amount.

> I don't quite understand why that is a goal in itself.

It's just like you should not need to take orders from people on the street so as to be able to understand what they're trying to tell you.

It's to avoid the use of non-free javascript, which is mostly taken for granted.

I'm usually the first to shit on Stallman but I really liked his suggestions here.

But hypothetically if Microsoft fully implements all of what RMS suggested would Windows be listed as an approved distro on gnu.org?



They’d have to drop the windows store, no?

This is a hypothetical. I realize the improbability.

If you could run a completely free (libre) windows, including all pre-installed software, subsystems ... everything, well then hypothetical yes.

Why not?

> Direct GitHub to promote correct and clear use of licenses and the best use of copyleft (GPL version 3-or-later).

Ehhhh... I very much like that my source code repository host isn't consistently nudging me to a specific license, thanks :).

Sure, but it should at least differentiate between GPLv3 and GPLv3 or later. The SPDX license list does this: "GPL-3.0-only" vs "GPL-3.0-or-later". GitHub does not.

(Also, GitHub already does recommend licenses to some extent; there's a short list of highlighted ones in the license selection dropdown.)

Free software is difficult. I have a family and young kids to feed. I can't work for FREE. I have open-source packages that are "free", but that's my hobby or a living. If you get a professorship at a university then you can flog free software, but it doesn't work for the other 99.99999% of the population. Sigh. I wish open-soure software is funded like universities. European Union funds some software, but more should be done. The economy of free software is a classific economics problems; too many free loaders. We can't continue to rely on volunteers. The public needs to fund open-source software, just like how to we fund universities!

> 99.999%

the numbers are not that bad, consider someone asks me to write them a tool for them to manage their electronic store inventory, tasks etc. I am the developer the shop is the client, I get paid and they get the programs and the source code. This is what it should be and not land int he situation where you get a change later and you don't have the source code.

Or someone hires me to write a program to apply a filter for an image, this program will run on my client server , because it runs on a server only my client will have the source and because the users won't run it on the browsers I do not need to send them a copy of the source.

Anyway there are more jobs where you are paid to write software and the client also gets the source and does whatever he wants with the code, as long as all users that run the program can get a copy of the source then it is free software. you don't have to make the code public on Github

I devop proprietary software for proprietary hardware and still couldn't do much without people advocating free or at least open software and can acknowledge the importance. I try to give that back, even if that is only through teaching juniors.

Something I wonder is whether productized software needs to exist as an industry in its own right. Maybe it is enough for software to be incidentally produced in the course of other industries. The Linux kernel is today developed mostly by those with a commercial interest in using and supporting it, such as Intel, Google, Samsung and IBM. LLVM is supported largely by Apple; Go by Google; React by Facebook.

Comparatively, science and mathematics, which software is arguably conceptually closer to, haven't ended as human endeavours for want of direct commercial exploitation.

There are plenty of people that work on OpenSource at corporations.

Linux Kernel is a widely known example, but not the only one.

Further, there are funding models that do not require "donations" to fund libre software, "Free" does not mean free in cost, it means freedom.

Some options include

1. Paid Binary Dististrbution

2. Support Agreements

3. Priority Features

4. Customization

5. Hosting / SaaS

6. Paid documentation access

7. Donations / Tips

8. Normal Invoicing (most people forget You can invoice a company for GPL software, nothing prevents it. This is often good for Bean Counters)

There are others as well

Open source software isn't necessarily free software.


Yes, but that is unrelated to his post, in fact he said precisely that the "free" is about freedom.

Many people get paid to write free software. Some people write free software and sell it (for example, some paid android and iphone apps have their code available under the GPL, but still make money).

There are many companies, including facebook/google/etc, that employ kernel developers who primarily write free software. There are companies that follow the opencore model, and many of their developers only work on the open portion (e.g. elasticsearch, mongodb, nginx, etc). There are some people who offer consulting for their free software and make good money by that. There are some companies where almost all development is free software, and money is gotten through other means (e.g. mozilla, redhat).

Free software does not have to mean working for free. It doesn't even mean you can't charge money for it (free as in libre, not free as in beer).

That being said, I agree that funding free software development is a large problem. Right now, the most sustainable model is a company to be interested in a project and to pay developers to work on it (e.g. linux), or for a company to own the project (e.g. firefox, mongodb).

There's no great funding story I know of for open source projects that are important, but maintained by people on the side (e.g. most of gnu coreutils, random libraries big projects depend on, etc).

However, your comment sounds more grim than reality is, and also conflates free as in libre with free as in beer.

Yeah, sure, you can't work for free, but that doesn't mean you can't make free software and charge people for it.

> There are many companies, including facebook/google/etc, that employ kernel developers who primarily write free software

We pay eventually -- in this case the "free" software is paid for with a loss of freedom elsewhere, in this case by giving up your private information and fulfilling our role as as "consumers" using their code.

There are many that would rather actually pay in a transparent fashion.

No good deed goes unpunished eh.

> And one other suggestion, which I made to a vice president but perhaps not in my talk.


> Release the source code of Windows under the GNU GPL.


> I know that is a stretch, but from what I heard there. it isn't totally impossible.

I do not remember who or where exactly it was, but i remember someone influential from Microsoft that was asked about open sourcing Windows (not necessarily under GPL) and they also said that it isn't totally impossible.

I don't know why anyone would think it is impossible, but it would take significant money and time to do it and it is unclear what benefit there would be except some small good will gained from developers that care about the FSF mission.

I think the benefit is unclear but it's almost certainly not limited to good will.

There's lots of developers who are working on products targeting Windows today (for momentum, their customer's requirements, etc). Those devs encounter Windows bugs and generally workaround them. But if instead they could patch them and/or provide patches upstream, it would be a huge benefit to them and likely some benefit to Microsoft as well.

I know one of the first things i'd do if i had the code would be to improve the practically abandoned MDIClient.

The second would be to bring classic theme back :-P

>it is unclear what benefit there would be

You can run windows software elsewhere. What more do you need ?

The source code.

Which you would have if it was open source. I don't understand your point.

If Windows was open sourced it'd easily reach mainstream media awareness.

I also don't think it's impossible, but I am also sure they're not going to open any significant part of Windows until they have full control of Linux in corporate environments, which is probably going to happen in less than 10 years, or a lot less should they buy a well known popular distro then turn it into Microsoft Linux.

Given that Windows is a considered a "service" it makes sense unless there is something to hide (some odious telemetrics, perhaps). No one is going to replace Microsoft in selling Support and Updates, unless it isn't some niche that it doesn't care about anyway, just like Oracle didn't destroy the RHEL market with their own Linux.

I'm thinking it can help them win some government contracts outside the USA (by saying "you, and anyone else can see that there aren't any backdoors"). The potential open-source community can expand Windows markets the same way it did for Linux, making sure Microsoft remains relevant.

When I asked HN about the licensing for windows.h and similar header files, there was some incredulity that MS could ever give them a permissive license (or even a slightly less restrictive one). And this was just for the public header files that define a public interface!

So I think it unlikely because Windows developers aren't calling for it and Linux developers don't care about it. Sure they'll open source particularly services and applications, especially as they move to more platforms. But I doubt they'd open source Windows itself.

> There are those who think that Microsoft invited me to speak in the hope of seducing me away from the free software cause.

> Others assert that inviting me was opposition research and nothing more.

Honestly, why would Microsoft in 2019 even need to either convince RMS to give up free software or to research him at all?

Because in 2019 msft finds itself making big $$$ from renting servers running Linux and associated FOSS stack.

> I resisted Steve Jobs's snow job in 1989 or 1990

Could someone illuminate what this was about?

something along with objective c's frontend for gcc.


> I am no easy mark for those who want me to change my views.

This is an absolute lie. I know for a fact he has cancelled talks he's agreed to after being contacted by various factions of activists.

Canceling a talk doesn't equate to changing a view.

It means he's an easy mark, and doesn't think things through. I lost any respect I had for him after that, and so did everyone else in the circles I associate with.

Why did he cancel the talk? What were the arguments?

He had a view that going and giving a talk would be a good idea, and activists convinced him to change this view

> Help fight against copyright on interfaces.

MS infamously supported Oracle in pushing copyrightability of interfaces. Did they ever announce the reversal of their position?

To his points, I'd add:

* Stop pushing lock-in, and support open interoperable standards.

This has improved in some cases with MS, but in some it remains as bad before (ActiveSync, DirectX and etc.)

Interestingly, this is not the first time that I've heard Microsoft talk about open-sourcing Windows [0]. The licensing behind many of the components may make it a distant pipe dream, but since they make most of their money through their applications (i.e. MSSQL runs on Linux now, the software teams all work under Azure now), I could see it happening sometime.

[0]: https://www.wired.com/2015/04/microsoft-open-source-windows-...

They could open source the Windows kernel, and it wouldn't change anything.

Just like OSX is based on Darwin which is Open Source, and Android is based on Linux, that doesn't provide any more freedom for users or encourage interoperability.

The users could at least fix the bugs and document the APIs better (via reading the code) than it's currently done on MSDN. Sounds like free labor for Microsoft BTW.

> Help make the web usable with Javascript deactivated.

I agree with RMS here, in that user privacy is aligned closely with user freedom. I also believe the Internet is losing ground on this point.

In case anyone else was wondering about when this was published, as I was, this was published on RMS's site today:


I hope he got paid well for that talk, it was probably his last paid speaking engagement.

>Release the source code of Windows under the GNU GPL.

>I know that is a stretch, but from what I heard there. it isn't totally impossible.

Really? Does anyone have more info about that?

Depends on who you ask - if the NT kernel were to be made open-source it wouldn't impact Microsoft's sales of Windows because the kernel is useles without the userland - and the real value of Windows derives from the userland Win32 API.

If they mean the entire OS - kernel, userland, shell, the bundled programs that come with it - no, that won't happen, not least because Microsoft doesn't own the rights to all of that code: any third-party licensor could put a stop to that overnight.

> Help fight against copyright on interfaces.

This one puzzles me. I thought patents were the big threat for UIs? Or is he talking about copyrighted APIs?

that's about APIs

> Release the source code of Windows under the GNU GPL.

Once that occurs then we will all trust Microsoft without reservation. Even Stallman.

Linked from tfa: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/microsoft.html

>we do recognize [Microsoft] as the company that has separated more users from their freedom than any other

Is this still true in the age of the iPhone?

It's probably too vague a claim to prove or disprove. They could amend this sentence. Different companies have different impacts on software freedom that I'd be hard-pressed to compare.

However, consider Microsoft Office, which is widely used, and has some network effects. If a friend uses an iPhone, that does not really impact me (where I live). In contrast, Microsoft even has impact on people who would consider not to use their products. I'd also bet that there are far more Microsoft Office users than iPhone users. Windows also has huge network effects.

I agree with you though. The iPhone is a big offender in that it does not really allows you to run any code you could otherwise run on it, the only supported way of installing apps is incompatible with the GPL and Apple controls what you run on your Apple device (which some people find it's a feature).

Two things that come to my mind from reading your response:

Why are we releasing this document in PDF format? Shouldn’t it be in docx or XPS? https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20110104-00/?p=11...

Why we don’t want you and your Android green bubbles in our iMessage chat https://www.fastcompany.com/90391587/why-we-dont-want-you-an...

Ah ah, the first link is yet another interesting "it makes sense" post from Raymond Chen.

The second link is saddening and I know iMessage is a problem in some areas of the world. Here, people expect that most people don't have an iPhone… and the problematic messengers are of course Facebook and WhatsApp. At least, here, it seems that most people understand that you don't want to use them. But you are still locked out of group discussions. You rely on people who like you to keep you posted because they want you to be at whatever event is being discussed there, and you are that one person who is not in the group chat.

> ...why not PDF...

Because it's pre-rendered and doesn't reflow, etc -- a very annoying format for anything other than as a target for printing.


Can someone flag this ?


> Edit: Just a reminder that, only a week ago, this man was fired for using a technology forum to defend a 74 year old man having sex with a 17 year old prostitute on pedophile island.

You're spreading lies, whether or not you're aware of it.

The man has resigned (most likely being forced out) for being pedantic about an accusation about a 74 year old man, that allegedly - and in fact not at all, if the actual witness testimony is to be believed - had sex with a 17 year old prostitute. And that was in response to another e-mail that used that same technology forum to spread aforementioned accusation.

Regardless of what you think of RMS, and whether or not he got what he deserved considering the history of his past behavior, please do not spread misinformation.

If the witnesses are not to be believed, then he is not spreading lies.

Why are we blindly trusting witnesses who were on a billionaire's private island known (now and then) to be used as a sex club?

It's just as likely that the witnesses are lying as telling the truth.


Then there are people who refuse to read the source material and apply basic reading comprehension, because they have their own imaginary world in which the sky is green and even their own eyes aren't going to convince them otherwise.

Seriously. Go read the source material.

What am I writing that's false?

* Minsky went to Jeffrey Epstein's pedo island. * Everyone agrees he was offered a 17 year old girl * Someone else, who was also on pedo island for some reason, says he didn't take the offer, even though they were on pedo island * RMS described the trafficked child as "willing" * RMS has also made public arguments for legalizing pedophilia * People somehow still take RMS seriously

> * Minsky went to Jeffrey Epstein's pedo island. * Everyone agrees he was offered a 17 year old girl * Someone else, who was also on pedo island for some reason, says he didn't take the offer, even though they were on pedo island * RMS described the trafficked child as "willing" * RMS has also made public arguments for legalizing pedophilia * People somehow still take RMS seriously

I see one wrong thing and one omission:

- The woman in question did not claim Minsky took the offer either. She only testified that she made the offer. There's an argument here that if Minsky had taken the offer, she would have said so.

- RMS did not describe the trafficked child as "willing". He said she presented herself to Minsky as willing, and suggested she might have been coerced by Epstein. I'll quote RMS here:

"We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing. Assuming she was being coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to tell her to conceal that from most of his associates."

That RMS said "she was willing" is one of the two biggest lies the news headlines told about the situation (other being that he defended Epstein.)

I do not disagree with the rest of the statements you wrote (as quoted above).

> RMS did not describe the trafficked child as "willing". He said she presented herself to Minsky as willing...

That unbelievably loose semantics, especially considering this wasn't some random streetwalker at a bar. They were on an billionaire's island with a f'ing sex temple, for god's sake. And, I'll reiterate, this was a child being offered to a 74 year old man.

What I will concede is that RMS is the first person I wouldn't expect to understand any of the unspoken obviousnesses of the situation, such as being able to deduce, in the moment, why a child prostitute would be presenting herself as willing. Regardless, that doesn't cover how he used it at the time to excuse Minsky allegedly sleeping with her, because this supposed witness wasn't openly known. "He may have thought the child was willing" is about the most disgusting excuse imaginable.

But what upsets me most is that people jump to the defense of a 66 year man that does this, as if he shouldn't have learned by now how not to act like this, even with impairments. He has been allowed to be this way, because his horrid behavior is always defended by his fans.

You know what upsets me the most? That you're still not reading.

> RMS is the first person I wouldn't expect to understand any of the unspoken obviousnesses of the situation, such as being able to deduce, in the moment, why a child prostitute would be presenting herself as willing

RMS did precisely that - showed the understanding by assuming the child was coerced. You seem to be actually arguing here that she was willing.

> Regardless, that doesn't cover how he used it at the time to excuse Minsky allegedly sleeping with her, because this supposed witness wasn't openly known.

He didn't excuse him. On the contrary, he assumed the accusations were true. Let me quote his own words:

> The accusation quoted is a clear example of inflation. The reference reports the claim that Minsky had sex with one of Epstein’s harem. (See https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/9/20798900/marvin-minsky-jef...) Let’s presume that was true (I see no reason to disbelieve it).

He did not defend Minsky from accusation of having sex with a minor. He only wanted to make sure the accusation doesn't get inflated in public perception from "had sex" to "applied violence to have sex". That's literally all he wanted. Whether or not that was needlessly pedantic or inappropriate at the moment, it is strictly not true that he defended Minsky against accusation of sex.

Let me reiterate, even though RMS was as clear as humanly possible here - he was not defending the act of sleeping with that woman, he was only trying to stop the alleged sex being inflated into accusations of physical violence.

> people jump to the defense of a 66 year man that does this, as if he shouldn't have learned by now how not to act like this, even with impairments

You're assuming a lot. How about, people jumping to the defense of a person who has been subject of an Internet which hunt based on purposeful misinterpretation, later turned into explicit lies in the media headlines? Some people do not like RMS, but hate lies more.

> That you're still not reading.

Projection. Read that paragraph you quoted, specifically the words "in the moment". Nobody is arguing that Stallman didn't deduce she might have been coerced. His whole excuse is that Minsky wouldn't have been able to tell that in the moment, even though he was on f'ing sex trafficking island.

That a 17 year old offering to sleep with a 74 year old man on a billionaire's sex island was a victim of trafficking is not something that takes any bit of thoughtful reflection to figure out! It can be done in the moment by anyone with a conscience.

> He didn't excuse him.

Yes he did. "The 74 year old man might have thought the 17 year old on sex trafficking island was willing" is an excuse of the most disgusting type. Now you're making excuses for the excuser.

> Some people do not like RMS, but hate lies more.

You have proven no lies in my bulleted list.

> His whole excuse is that Minsky wouldn't have been able to tell that in the moment, even though he was on f'ing sex trafficking island.

Did he know, in that moment, he was on a sex trafficking island?

> That a 17 year old offering to sleep with a 74 year old man on a billionaire's sex island was a victim of trafficking is not something that takes any bit of thoughtful reflection to figure out!

Well, apparently Minsky may have figured that out, given that the witness testimony is that he turned the offer down.

Regardless, this is off topic anyway. What's on topic is that RMS did not excuse the accusations of sex, only the accusations of violence which the original accusations (to his impression) risked turning into.

> Now you're making excuses for the excuser.

No, I'm only repeatedly restating what RMS said in different forms in a vain hope that one of these restatements "clicks" with you.

> You have proven no lies in my bulleted list.

I believe I did prove one (note that I didn't accuse you of making it, just repeating it).

You know, this thread and the whole RMS story does make me worried about future of humanity. Great many people in the industry have revealed themselves to have no ability to read with comprehension, or parse clear English sentences. Now I see why people can't even agree about most basic facts in scientific issues like global warming - they read one thing, but in their minds, they read a different thing.

I have nothing more to add on this topic.

You still keep going to this "witness" testimony as if it's a kill all. It isn't. Where Minsky was and with whom has far more weight than what someone said who - for the umpteenth time - WAS ALSO ON JEFFREY EPSTEIN'S ISLAND.

This "witness" also has zero bearing on anything Stallman wrote, as he was writing under the assumption that the accusation is true. Your continued use of it in defending Stallman denotes bad faith.

> ...RMS did not excuse the accusations of sex...

No, he only wrote a blog post saying that diddling kids should be legal. I can infer from that his thoughts on the Minsky situation.

> No, I'm only repeatedly restating what RMS said in different forms in a vain hope that one of these restatements "clicks" with you.

You're reiterating your interpretation as if it's valid. It is not, for all the aforementioned reasons.

Wow, you are completely wrong on that. RMS was so blatantly wrong that even he had to back track on his views.

It's not about views, it's about reading the source material and applying basic reading comprehension.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Most unreasonable people are useless though. There's only a small subset who drive progress.

And RMS much definitely is part of this smaller subset.

My old boss at MIT worked with RMS and he said that everyone hates him. Never helping anyone, always getting into stupid autistic arguments with people. He said that RMS rarely did any real work and that everyone hated him and tried to avoid him as much as possible. My boss said that RMS once started yelling at him because he said “bless you” after RMS sneezed. Of course this is all anecdotal, but RMS strikes me as a profoundly annoying and useless person.

Moreover, I don’t even like the idea of the GPL. Other licenses are better, but still suboptimal in regards to freedom. Real freedom is the public domain. In fact, all of my open source software is released under the public domain.

Sure, but arguably he was one. I don't know whether that has been true for a long time, and I am not personally a believer in Free Software writ large.

That phrase could be used to describe how every genocidal maniac in history viewed themselves. Most of the steady progress that has been made in this world has been due to the efforts of diplomatic individuals who cast a wide, friendly net for their supposed adversaries.

Yes like the French Revolution and the wide, friendly... democracy nets. Come on.

> Yes like the French Revolution and the wide, friendly... democracy nets. Come on.

The French Revolution was most violent event of its time with many fractions fighting against each other and was followed by dictatorships.

Do you know there's a reason they call the tail end of the French Revolution "the Reign of Terror"?

Rather than progress, I'd state that change, both good and bad,is driven by unreasonable men.

He IS an insufferable prick. He's a loon. He's always been a loon and said loony things. Yes, many many many years ago he contributed a lot of things that are important to the Free Software movement, but just because he did that doesn't mean he's immune from being criticized for being a shitty person.

People can still admire what he did back in the day, but you don't have to defend his views or his bullshit. Like Bobby Fischer, you can absolutely admire and study his past chess games, but he was a reprehensible human being.

> considers themself a professional to publicly talk.

Because he is genuinely a very smart person compared to most people decrying character flaws as something relevant to distance yourself from. In strict professional circles, this statement alone would have disqualified you already.

This just seems like a strange thing to take issue with, and I suspect it has more to do with your general dislike of him than any problems with the way he's chosen to communicate himself.

As opposed to Jobs?

It's a whole different league than with Jobs. Take a look at the glossary page on his blog.


He should probably add himself under “troll.” Like this kind of shit is something I would have written when I was 12. RMS is like 65..

Its telling when people respond to the personality stronger than they do the actual ideas.


Yeah, utterly unsurprised that I'm downvoted at HN for agreeing with that sentiment. I

The whole phenomenon of rms worship on forums like these depresses me about the future of our industry

Glory to the software industry!

Some clunky writing here:

> it isn't totally impossible.

> so we can run them without any nonfree software

Edit: removed my suggestions

Your edits fail to convey the context in which these sentences are written. Sometimes using a double negative conveys information that would be lost otherwise. In this case, the normal response to rms' suggestion would be "that's impossible!", to which he's replying that no, it isn't totally impossible.

> > it isn't totally impossible.

> how about: "It's totally possible"

That completely changes the meaning.

Agreed, my suggestion might be off. Either way, he's got some clunky sentences there.

I agree with your second suggestion (although you added an unnecessary that in there), but your first changes the meaning significantly. To my reading, “it isn’t totally impossible” signifies a thing being very to extremely difficult—perhaps close enough to impossible that the difficulty is worth recognizing as potentially insurmountable—though not entirely outside the realm of possibility. “It’s totally possible”, on the other hand, seems to indicate a thing of such negligible difficulty the obstacles are not worth mentioning.

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