> Our opponents wish to destroy Free Software
> Our opponent’s true target is not Richard Stallman; their real aim is to destroy the FSF by thoroughly infiltrating it (like they already have with organisations like the OSI and Linux Foundation). These people even started an online petition calling for RMS’s forceful removal and for the entire board of directors at the FSF to resign from their posts.
So, you're either forced to defend Richard Stallman and accept what's going on over there, or __YOU ARE THE ENEMY OF ALL OPEN SOURCE__.
What a load of trash.
Everyone needs to follow the rules regardless of: (1) how right they are; (2) how right they feel they are; (3) how wrong someone is; (4) how wrong they feel someone is; and/or (5) how provocative something was.
Firstly Free software != open source, so you probably meant free software in your original quote.
Secondly, while there may be people who have legitimate concerns about RMS, the authors of the open letter have chosen not to highlight these claims but rather to rely on mischaracterisations and easily debunked lies. By supporting the open letter you are supporting these lies and thereby supporting an attack on free software.
Maybe this is not the most productive characterisation of the situation, but the creators of the open letter were the ones that chose this framing by choosing to propagate such falsehoods. We must stand up against such disingenuous actions, and can view them as none other than some kind of motivated attack on Free software.
But she is intellectually mature enough to see that most humans have had 5 stupid views over 30 years, and Stallman was just honest enough to write them down.
You don't need to defend the views (some of which have already been retracted), but you have to accept Stallman as flawed human being.
Stallman is currently still the only candidate who is uncompromising enough to drag the technological Overton Window in a good direction.
So I don't think the article is trash at all, it is a refreshing, honest, bold take on the current elephant in the room: Corporate influence on free software.
Such people inspire me to write free software.
This (the holding on to his views of 15 years ago, which he has since come to understand are wrong) is a major issue in the modern world IMHO.
That's not to defend Stallman's more recent gaffes, or even those older ones. But it raises a question - we know people can learn, grow and change. At what point does society start to accept that something said online in the past is no longer representative of the living person?
Because if it's "never", we appear to be gearing up for a future where politicians can only be people who have never set a single rhetorical foot wrong, and have been on-message since the day they came of age. And that scares me because such people are probably psychopaths or puritans.
I think we are starting to learn this. I believe this at my core because I've observed myself and others, but when I feel some type of way it's not always the first idea in my mind.
I wonder what future discussion-archaeologists will find 25 years from now in our HN posts that by 2046 becomes offensive!
And the Linux Foundation has a bunch of people from companies that also promote largely proprietary technologies...
So...yeah. The FSF is the last beacon of morality here, in its own strange, beady-eyed way.
I'm not a huge fan of Stallman, myself (I have had many arguments with him), but the people opposing him are pretty awful people largely pushing proprietary software, actually.
So is GNU, though. For instance, https://gcc.gnu.org/steering.html identifies the affiliations of most of the GCC steering committee, and they're generally proprietary companies. (Several work for Red Hat, a subsidiary of IBM.)
Also, if we're going to claim that working for a proprietary-software company means you're not a member of the free software movement, the movement is very small indeed.
> and open source was made to make free software enterprise.
That may be the case, but the FSF has a long history of saying that you can work on free software for profit, too. Frankly, that's why the FSF exists separate from the GNU project - to be a place that you can order physical media with GNU software from and expense it.
> but the people opposing him are pretty awful people largely pushing proprietary software, actually
This is untrue of the authors of the open letter - you should look at their stated positions on free and proprietary software. (It might be true of some of the signatories, of course.)
Red Hat releases most things under free licenses and as far as I know everyone on the GCC steering committee from Red Hat was there pre-acquisition. That said, I don't love the GCC steering committee for many reasons (many of which admittedly were before most of their appointments). You are right, though, that much of the steering committee for GCC isn't pro-freedom as much as it is pro-convenience (and in the case of SiFive, is a very proprietary company).
...also, the GCC steering committee isn't representative of all of GNU.
> Also, if we're going to claim that working for a proprietary-software company means you're not a member of the free software movement, the movement is very small indeed.
This is true! I wouldn't say working for one excludes you (though it kind of does), but I would say working for one is incompatible with leading the free software movement or having moral ground to coup it.
> That may be the case, but the FSF has a long history of saying that you can work on free software for profit, too.
You can! It really is wonderful. Nothing I said conflicts, there.
> Frankly, that's why the FSF exists separate from the GNU project - to be a place that you can order physical media with GNU software from and expense it.
Half-truth, but close enough. Again, this doesn't conflict with anything I said.
> This is untrue of the authors of the open letter - you should look at their stated positions on free and proprietary software. (It might be true of some of the signatories, of course.)
That isn't actually true for all of the authors; one I can recall offhand, Garrett works for a company making proprietary software of the worst kind: the type that can kill people. And that's on top of a long history of opinions far more controversial than anything Stallman has been accused of, let alone done (the guy mocked a man who the UN has admitted was being tortured, for example).
My point here is that you can always pick a partitioning and then backsolve ethical principles that support that partitioning. "If you work for a company that sells proprietary software, you're ineligible to be a leading voice in the free software movement" has never been a principle - otherwise IBM and Google would never have had a seat. "If you work for a company that makes software that can kill people, your ethics don't line up with ours" hasn't been a principle either - RMS in fact has advocated for multiple militaries to use free software, see https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/programs-must-not-limit-freed... . (Garrett's employer, for what it's worth, makes software that kills people when it breaks, i.e., the better he does his job, the fewer people die. I don't think it's easy to claim that about a military!)
The only real established standard is that you advocate that free software is a matter of ethics/morality/liberty and not simply one of convenience, and as far as I can tell, all the coauthors do so.
I do agree that they have no real moral ground to stand on. Forgive me for pointing this out, but given they're one of the organizations that signed the letter... (Though they sort of have more casus belli to than most that signed the letter.)
Seriously, though, thank you for pointing this out! I really genuinely appreciate it (and also appreciate that you're civil here).
Ah, you stealth-edited; give me a second to read that one.
> otherwise IBM and Google would never have had a seat.
Google has never had a seat at anything other than OSI, and IBM only purchased one.
> "If you work for a company that makes software that can kill people, your ethics don't line up with ours" hasn't been a principle either -
Obviously didn't claim this. I pointed out Garrett worked for a proprietary software company that made proprietary software that kills people. Specifically, I noted that this was worse than normal proprietary software, because if you're going to have the lives of others in your hands, they should at least know the rulebook you're playing by.
> RMS in fact has advocated for multiple militaries to use free software
This is consistent with everything else I've said. I personally dislike militarized forces to the point of being skeptical of most veterans, but proprietary software doesn't make sense for a military any more than using American bombs would make sense for North Korea.
I'm referencing the GCC steering committee - IBM (actual IBM, not just Red Hat, mostly because they support GCC on their mainframes) and Google (presumably for gold, gccgo, etc.) have been involved for many years. (I don't mean they have seats on the FSF board or anything, that may have been unclear. I just mean their employees have leadership positions in a flagship GNU project, and at least for those two employees, their involvement in GCC is even part of their day job.)
I see your point about proprietary software that has the risk of killing people when it goes wrong, but what I'm claiming is that this is a sensible first-principles argument that is being newly introduced. When Red Hat contracts for the US defense apparatus - their largest customer - they know full well they're supporting proprietary and classified code, whose intended purpose is killing people, running on RHEL. (And given that RHEL's business model is support, I would seriously doubt that they never see/access/work on the proprietary code - I would bet they have engineers with clearance to help out with that code.) I think you can make an equally-sensible first-principles argument that this, too, is incompatible with the principles of the free software movement.
But we haven't made that argument, and we've been fine with Red Hat for years, and we've been fine with IBM for years (who has customers that are so distasteful that they had to negotiate an exception for JSON's "This software shall be used for Good, not Evil" license :) ), etc. I'm actually super interested in having that discussion and seeing where it leads, because I think there hasn't been much discussion of free software ethics in the last many years. But I think we can't retroactively apply it to decide who really is able to be a voice for the free software movement and who isn't.
You're right about IBM & Google being there for a while, and I think their participation is largely innocent (ironically, one of the main reasons I dislike the committee enough that I went out of my way to note that I dislike the committee a few comments up was actually protested by as far as I'm aware most of the proprietary companies & Red Hat). I still don't believe that funding GCC development is really enough to count the organizations, though. It's something I'll think on for a while, if nothing else; thanks for bringing it up.
The argument is actually a pretty classic one (it comes up nearly every time autonomous computers of any sort come up, and was something I read for the first time in a book from...1998, I think, though I can't recall the name; something on cybernetics from some university press).
I agree that Red Hat is and has largely been in violation of free software principles since their move unto SaaSS. You certainly won't find me arguing they're a moral company. I do think it's unlikely they actually work directly on proprietary code, but that would lead the discussion into very murky territory trying to draw a line, and so I'll largely cede the point. Red Hat is antithetical to free software as a movement.
I don't think we've been fine with IBM for years as some steward of the free software movement; they contribute to free software, yes, but only tangentially. Their support is of open-source, and is orthogonal to the free software movement. It's still useful to the free software movement, but I don't think we're fine with IBM itself.
I, too, want to have that discussion at some point! And yeah, the JSLint story is incredible. It's less IBM's customers (though they are definitely by-and-large evil) and more...IBM outright, though. They did support the Nazis, after all; there's really no coming back from that.
It absolutely does not, and this has been understood throughout my entire time contributing to free software and participating in the movement. You can't just create purity tests for free software as a convenient way to demonize people when there's literally decades of core contributors and champions who'd then fall in this brand new exclusion zone.
You seem to be arguing in favor of the open source movement, which is a distinct one, with far different goals (rather than being a moral movement based around liberation, it's a movement based around profiteering free software).
I never said it was, I said it was one which seems to have been created on the spot as a convenient way to demonize "others" given that the moral movement has never been morally bankrupt enough for the last few decades to exclude individuals based on their participation in proprietary projects.
And no, I'm very explicitly talking about the free software movement, not open source. There is nothing in my statements to suggest that I was talking about open source other than that I'm yet another that didn't meet your ahistorical and anti-freedom purity test.
Free software has always been a moral movement; it's those who promote proprietary software that are morally bankrupt.
> And no, I'm very explicitly talking about the free software movement, not open source. There is nothing in my statements to suggest that I was talking about open source other than that I'm yet another that didn't meet your ahistorical and anti-freedom purity test.
Being against proprietary software is pro-freedom, and nothing I'm saying is ahistorical. You're pretty clearly conflating the open source movement (based around profiteering and not caring about freedom) with the free software movement (has always been about morality).
Ah, so those employed by proprietary software inherently promote it? You lack a grasp of those within the free software movement, then.
>Being against proprietary software is pro-freedom, and nothing I'm saying is ahistorical. You're pretty clearly conflating the open source movement (based around profiteering and not caring about freedom) with the free software movement (has always been about morality).
Again, you're inventing purity tests because you've never contributed to the movement and you clearly lack an understanding of the movement's history. The GNU Manifesto and Debian Social Contract are in direct contradiction to your purity test, and the former explicitly discusses the subject at hand.
My advice is to read more of the source documents about the movement or contribute to it before creating revisionist and anti-freedom purity tests.
This is how it works, yes. We are complicit in our employers' deeds, whether that's working for a company that does ICE contracts or working for a company that harms people with proprietary software.
> Again, you're inventing purity tests because you've never contributed to the movement and you clearly lack an understanding of the movement's history.
What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.
> The GNU Manifesto and Debian Social Contract are in direct contradiction to your purity test, and the former explicitly discusses the subject at hand.
The GNU Manifesto is far different in aim than the Debian Social Contract, and it doesn't whatsoever encourage proprietary software. It promotes selling software, which isn't the same thing. It criticizes proprietary software at multiple points and insults people who make it:
"Proprietary and secret software is the moral equivalent of runners in a fist fight. Sad to say, the only referee we've got does not seem to object to fights; he just regulates them (“For every ten yards you run, you can fire one shot”). He really ought to break them up, and penalize runners for even trying to fight."
It might be time for a reread.
Where did they say that, or anything that implies that?
Or are you concerned about their usage of open source in place of free software? They quite plainly state principles which are also shared with the open source movement are what they're defending, even not accounting for their colloquial synonyminity.
Does not in any way imply that people not defending RMS wish to destroy Free Software.
> So, you're either forced to defend Richard Stallman and accept what's going on over there, or __YOU ARE THE ENEMY OF ALL OPEN SOURCE__.
This quote does, and is mischaracterising the position of the linked article.
From the statement it is understood that you are defending free software by defending Stallman, and those attacking Stallman are attacking free software.
At best this is hyperbolic, abrasive language that makes bystanders at least complacent as the destruction of free software happens by some "Orwellian" conspiracy. Their statement is perhaps even less hyperbolic than the original writer - which I question why'd you examine the commentator with such scrutiny given the hysteria in the article.
An organization's supporters interpret bad leadership as damage and route around it.
No one cares about Stallman beside people who are already involved in open-source movements.
That's just hysterical garbage. RMS did this to himself by being an abrasive asshole and failing to curb his autistic tendencies. As a major thought leader, he ought to know better.
So what? Steve Jobs was celebrated while he shat on people left and right and even denied his own daughter's claims that he's her father for years. Elon Musk publicly called someone else a pedophile and hired specialists(which turned out to be scammers) to dig up dirt against that person. Linus Torvalds is known for being rather unfriendly to a lot of people, yet I haven't seen an open letter against him after he said "Nvidia, fuck you" in front of the camera.
The world is full of assholes. If I have to choose I'll take the one who actually stood for something and gets his claims confirmed more every year rather than another corporate dude whose main skill is hiding that he's the same kind of asshole, just in a more backstabby kind of way.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think RMS is a good choice in any leadership position. However I don't understand the magnitude of the current outrage and don't think it's fully rational. Furthermore, I think without his uncompromising attitude towards Free Software the FSF would not be what it is now.
Musk is far from universally admired, many-many people think he is a piece of shit for how he handles his employees, how he overworked the Tesla factory staff to meet idiotic production quotas, how he throw a hissy fit when CA mandated closing non-essential workplaces (so Tesla factories) due to COVID, etc., etc.
RMS consistently pushed himself on vulnerable women on campus.
Are these comparable? Sure, on some level.
Is the FSF better off without him? Well, who knows, but many people seem to think that the answer is a clear yes.
That's a perfectly reasonable position. However, it also implies that you would not conclude it's a plot against free software like that zany OP article does.
Torvalds never got in trouble for the NVIDIA outrage because that was just rage against a particular corporate entity. No one got hurt or personally offended by that. He DID get in trouble for being awful and abusive to contributors in the linux community-- that WAS personal and he paid a price for it after getting away with it for a long time.
RMS also has a LONG history of being a vile personality and it finally caught up with him. Again, he should have known better. His role was as a spokesperson, get GETS PAID for that as a living. There really is no excuse.
I don't know about Musk or Jobs. They had other roles besides being a spokesperson. Perhaps they got their comeuppance coming eventually (or posthumously).
This seems the actual main issue that got the anti-RMS petition going. (Even the article most in favour of him that I saw, called him by far the most disagreeable person they'd ever met!)
I don't seem to remember this was mentioned in the anti-RMS petition though. Rather, it consisted of a string of claims, which, when you looked into them, were untrue. Flinging mud instead of dealing with the actual problem. That seems unfortunate. As if because they liked the end, the means didn't matter–as if behaving ethically doesn't matter. Well, maybe the people who signed didn't look into those claims, just believed them in good faith. That faith seems unwarranted.
The don't care about the actual issues at all, otherwise they'd sign anti-Clinton and anti-Gates letters.
Which they won't, because their careers would suffer.
Surely if you're OK with that, that heavily implies you are an enemy of open source? I think it's quite a reasonable rephrasing.
I'm not convinced they want to destroy Free Software either however.
By reinstating Stallman the board created this controversy and deliberately sabotaged the FSF's mission of defending Free Software. It's ludicrous to imagine they didn't know what the consequences would be.
If the goal was to defend or strengthen the free software movement, then turning every conversation about the subject into a purity test on the founder's actions instead of on, well, free software seems to run counter to that goal.
And given the return announcement happened at the end of Libre planet without any of their organizers being aware beforehand, which FSF clarified as such afterwards, it telegraphs their awareness that it would be a controversy.
Of course the danger is that we end up like Israel. They keep re-electing the same guy who is incapable of forming anything, but no one knows who the successor would be or even how such a person would operate in the current climate.
If he really is problematic, you can just 'fork' off and create your own FSF equivalent.
That's how it works.
Good point - looking at the petitions, it's become obvious that the people deciding they don't like RMS's speeach are in the minority.
Is it worth firing an entire board because a minority feels insecure?
On your mind, is tyranny by the minority better than tyranny by the majority?
And as for whether or not the board chooses to listen to the feedback, entirely up to them and their governance structure.
Another good point: if the cancel-culture we are currently suffering under now was practiced in the 60s, black people, women, minorities, etc would never had gotten equal rights.
It's because everyone was allowed to speak that the message came across and won minds. The fact that people are asking for the silencing of their opponents is a good indicator that their arguments do not stand up to scrutiny.
Like it or not, RMS does scrutinise the status quo. Petitioning for exemption from critics makes it hard to support those people doing the petitioning.
Eh, you need to revisit your history lessons. There was plenty of cancel culture against blacks and there was also A LOT of violence used against them when the black protested against it and against their treatment.
Certainly, but supporters of the movement were not cancelled simply by association.
This movement is literally trying to silence anyone who even associates with their target.
What you are saying is the equal to claiming that no black people were fired or otherwise hurt in situations not directly related to protests because they were taking part of the movement.
I'm sorry, but that is simply laughable as not only was that common, it was also fairly common for the Klan to lynch black people that was part of it. There is indeed a difference between cancel culture now and then and that difference is that it was STRONGER then. By a lot.
In this case, at least one of the main points is inherently wrong, because it's based on a lie repeated in some media outlets that Stallman was defending Epstein. But when you actually read his email, you realize it was the opposite.
How small of a minority should be allowed to dictate that?
As another commenter pointed out, the fact we are having a debate on the subject is the correct way to resolve this situation and decide if RMS should continue to represent the FSF. The larger issue is a tiny minority have decided it is unacceptable to have this conversation and he must go ASAP.
Was there a debate over whether Stallman should have been brought back onto the board of directors? No. Nor was there a vote. It just happened. But I guess democracy doesn't matter when it's the divine right of kings?
If he isn't willing to defend those people, it isn't about his free speech, it is about his inability to do the job and willingness to let others be silenced.
This reads like an absurd conspiracy theory. Stallman had some good ideas about software, it doesn't mean he doesn't have bad ideas about other things (like consent), and if so we should continue to pursue the good ideas and throw out the bad.
No individual is FOSS software, and equating the two is foolish at best.
I guess you refer to this text:
On MIT's internal Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) listerv, Stallman had seen the description of a protest of Marvin Minsky which said Minsky was "accused of assaulting" one of Epstein's victims. Stallman argued that "the most plausible scenario" is that "she presented herself to him as entirely willing" -- even if she was coerced by Epstein into doing so -- whereas the phrase "assaulting" implies the use of force or violence, faciliating what he calls "accusation inflation... Whatever conduct you want to criticize, you should describe it with a specific term that avoids moral vagueness about the nature of the criticism."
So please explain to me how this statement is false.
However, I do happen to believe there is an issue, as I outlined in a sibling comment (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26646676).
Statutory rape law is a trade-off because proving sexual assault is hard and we value protecting children from abusers more than we value letting people sleep with children. If you disagree with that, yes, I believe you are not suitable to hold a leadership position at any organisation that needs to protect it's contributors, some of whom will be children.
Secondly, the bigger part of the world seems to agree nowadays that 16 seems to be a reasonable age of consent.
US is very conservative in this regards, depending on the state. So basically it's OK that a 50 year old has sex with a 16 year old in 1 state, but when you cross the state border, two 17 year olds having sex is illegal.
So you claim that a person pointing out these absurdities should not be allowed in a leadership position?
The point is that once the rules are set, you follow them because to do otherwise means either you are an abuser, or you are willing to do things that are indistinguishable from an abuser, giving them cover and breaking the rules that are designed to protect minors. Either way, you are endangering minors.
Stallman didn't just talk about the numbers being different in different places and the issues with that, he talked about a specific case where someone had done this in a place where it was illegal, and claimed that it could have been OK.
There is no room for that if you want a leadership position where you need to protect those people, it endangers them by refusing to always hold those who break the rules accountable.
I want my leaders to stand up for reality. If you prefer your leaders to be "think about the children", then that's up to you.
Refusing to enforce that rule is absolutely wrong, and it is disqualifying for a leadership position. You are now using "Think of the children" as a thought terminating cliche in reverse, where any attempt to protect minors is unreasonable.
What Marvin Minsky did in that situation was to abuse this 17 year old girl. What he did was morally (and most likely also legally, I do not know the full details) wrong but as far as we know, he was not violent or forcing.
That is the important difference Richard Stallman tried to make.
What Marvin Minsky did was wrong but we should not accuse him in something he did not commit.
The same goes with manslaughter and murder.
* - what he allegedly did in that situation. This claim is disputed and was never proven.
But does he have bad ideas about things like consent?
From what I can see, yes, he does. He seems to take the position that children should be able consent to sex with adults, which fundamentally makes contributors less safe, and in my opinion is worthy of removing him from positions of leadership.
His comments (from
> Due to the vagueness of the term "sexual assault" together with the dishonest law that labels sex with adolescents as "rape" even if they are willing, we cannot tell from this article what sort of acts Maraj was found to have committed. So we can't begin to judge whether those acts were wrong.
> I see at least three possibilities. Perhaps those acts really constituted rape — it is a possibility. Or perhaps the two had sex willingly, but her parents freaked out and demanded prosecution. Or, intermediate between those two, perhaps he pressured her into having sex, or got her drunk.
It is fundamentally dangerous to offer abusers the opportunity to claim it was all willing, which is why the law makes it always rape. If you choose to break that law, that's on you and you deserve to be treated as an abuser.
This position of regarding the ability to sleep with under-aged people as more important than defending under-aged people from abusers is one incompatible with keeping a community safe, in my opinion.
> Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it.
> Through personal conversations in recent years, I've learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically. This changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why.
Please explain the actual link between contributing to free software and sex with minors.
Grooming and abuse is a real problem. If Stallman thinks it can be justified to sleep with a child if consent is given, then he wouldn't act to defend a child in that situation if they were being preyed upon unless it was clear to him it was abuse.
That's not good enough. There should be no wiggle room because abusers can abuse that. That's why these laws exist, and that is the standard we should hold projects to, to allow children to safely contribute.
If someone reads this, it makes them think they won't be taken seriously when they come forward if they are abused. That both makes them less likely to do so if they are abused, and less likely to even start engaging with the community.
If they do come forward, Stallman has indicated he may not take them seriously. Given that he's arguing about this with others in leadership positions, even more than that he might pressure others to do so as well.
Everyone in one of those positions should be taking such an allegation seriously, and if they don't, they shouldn't hold that position.
Because seriously, you're asking why a clear demonstration of how someone doesn't understand/is ignorant of power dynamics isn't a sign that person shouldn't be anywhere near positions of power and influence?
And maybe the explaining that needs to be done is yourself.
And this time Leah Rowe is the first person to publicly support the reinstatement of Richard Stallman, and now has published a declaration on libreboot.org again, this time announcing the support of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation.
I wonder what really has happened to her in the meantime. I'm genuinely curious about what made Rowe to change her stance.
Look, if you don't want his personal conduct to factor in, let's look at the percipidous decline in free software (and the rise of copyright BSD/MIT/Apache open source software).
Years ago, LLVM was offered to Stallman and the FSF. Due to the idiosyncratic way he chooses to handle his email, he never even got their message. As such: LLVM fell under a BSD-style license. Clang was built on top of it, also under a copyright license. This all culminated in giving Apple a much needed escape-hatch from GPL'd software.
This is critically important, as prior to Clang/LLVM, the only open source compiler with any real mind/market share among developers was GCC. The fact that this was poorly timed, right before a sort of cambrian explosion of PLT language interests as corporate culture shifted away from only tolerating code written in C++/Java. Modern languages started getting built outside of free software and mainstreamed into industry.
This is a critical setback for the movement. Stallman has stated, and I agree with this, that having a state-of-the-art compiler suite is central to the free software movement. GCC should have been that compiler, instead it's now Clang/LLVM.
Between the rise of a non-free developer ecosystem (of which clang and LLVM helped state), and the mismanagement of the GPL v2/v3 switch, you now have an entire generation of software developers (and a start of a new one IMO), who basically don't give a crap about free software or the GPL - it's just that annoying restrictive open source license made by that guy.
An extremely silly tall tale.
When we released our software under GNU GPL licenses, we didn't write rms to ask for his permission or blessing. We just did release it under the license we felt was best for our vision.
So if llvm was released under different license, this is fully on llvm author. They had reasons to release it under the license that fitted them best.
Chris Lattner's original email: https://gcc.gnu.org/legacy-ml/gcc/2005-11/msg00888.html
> The patch I'm working on is GPL licensed and copyright will be assigned to the FSF under the standard Apple copyright assignment. Initially, I intend to link the LLVM libraries in from the existing LLVM distribution, mainly to simplify my work. This code is licensed under a BSD-like license , and LLVM itself will not initially be assigned to the FSF. If people are seriously in favor of LLVM being a long-term part of GCC, I personally believe that the LLVM community would agree to assign the copyright of LLVM itself to the FSF and we can work through these details.
If your view is LLVM's licensing is irrelevant to the free software movement then perhaps you don't understand free software as much as you think.
Ah, I love the smell of the Straw Man argument in the morning. Please, don't do that in civilized discussions. I have never stated that LLVM is not Free Software.
Regarding the links you provided, it is irrelevant. If LLVM developers really had wanted to release the code under GNU GPL license, they would have done it. If they had wanted to transfer copyright to FSF, they would have done it. They didn't, and without a doubt they had more strong reasons than 'they didn't answer my email'.
I think that the use of the Apache license has more to do with Lattner's then employer, Apple. I can't recall any software by them ever released under GNU GPL license, and they are not known as friendly to GPL.
Where was the SC, who just had enough power to remove RMS, in this situation? Why aren't they to blame?
Most likely, as is always the case with large patches, no developer wanted to bother, because LLVM wasn't known yet.
But we are post-truth, and all failings of an organization are attributed to a single individual. Seems like the tradition of human sacrifices to cleanse a group is popular again.
But seriously, it's on him to fix this. If he doesn't believe he needs to, then well, he can go sit with Brendan Eich in the "intelligent, but unwise" corner.
But his contributions to the software community, even if not directly through software commits, but through advocacy and ensuring the fundamental freedoms are preserved, are still being reaped to this day.
The same thing goes for the FSF, which, having been founded by him, has a similar worldview. It may not be pragmatic towards startups that want to profit from artificial digital scarcity, but those same startups and other businesses have profited immeasurable through FSF's defense of software freedoms.
Would the world really be better off if the Microsofts, Oracles, and others of their ilk still had the same grasp on the user experience of software? Neither Android, AWS, nor countless other staples of billions of peoples' lives and livelihoods would be a thing if not for the early and ongoing defense of software freedom that the FSF has provided.
Is this all ?
Note that I'm not taking a side here, I'm mostly summarizing the below article:
- Stallman is a divisive figure, with questionable opinions outside the realm of free software, opinions he published himself, willingly.
- He multiple times ignored the contributions of women, and did so after being corrected.
- Lots of women feel uncomfortable close to him due to his behavior. Some of that may be involuntary.
- The board reinstated him without an announcement, prior discussion involving the broader community. The announcement surprised everyone except the board and the host event had do clarify they were not part of it.
- He refuses to acknowledge how all these things damage the reputation of the FSF.
All this could be avoided by doing absolutely nothing. He resigned, after all.
While the claims you make in your comment might not be slander, the open letter is much less nuanced, and strays a lot closer to that line.
You don't seem to care if the anti-RMS petition was slander or not. Whether it was all true or all false. The person who wrote it also seems not to care. Why not?!
I read it and looked into its claims, and was very surprised that none of them seemed to actually be true. The people who signed it presumably took its truth on faith, like you seem to be doing. Either that or you and they don't care. Imagine for a second it was you being slandered in such a way. After totally transforming your field for the better, around the world!
What ? The Linux Foundation ? It opposes Free Software ?
Did I misunderstand this sentence ?
Would you characterize the violence used against minorities as ancient history or would you say it is still very relevant? Companies, like counties have the burden of their history to bare.
I would hope that Microsoft has changed but I for one would not trust them. Nor would I trust any other large company, they all have their own motives that sometimes align with Open Source but they can also change their stance. Notably Google has made moves to close source Android(2016, not sure how it played out)(https://fossbytes.com/google-making-closed-source-android-pr...)
I don’t think it’s binary in that RedHat is owned by a company that has other motivations than when RedHat was independent.
People were threatening Microsoft because of GitHub’s actions.
I think it’s reasonable that a lawyer at IBM identified this area to message whatever is supposed to be right and talked with RedHat to coordinate signing or whatnot.
I think it’s weird that corporations make these kinds of moral/ethical statements.
Please show me any announcement from The Linux Foundation where they push for free software. They call it "open source" instead, which misses the point: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.....
The OSI has in recent years been an ardent defender of free software principles, holding fast to the Debian Free Software Guidelines despite corporate pressure to approve various licenses where the source is technically open but fundamental freedoms are gone.
And, importantly, these corporate interests care about labeling their software as "open source" but not about labeling it as "free software." The FSF would say these licenses aren't "free software," but the corporate interests don't want people to think about fundamental freedoms anyway, so they wouldn't mind. It's therefore very important that someone is out there saying that you can't be "open source" either without the fundamental freedoms, and the OSI has been doing exactly that.
The fact that the FSF does not recognize what the OSI is doing for free software and sticks by an essay from roughly 20 years ago consisting of their opinions about users of the term "open source" is evidence of the FSF's continuing leadership failure - the FSF has been completely irrelevant in the discussions about the SSPL etc., which are among the biggest practical threats to free software today, and not only do they not realize that there's a job to be done, they don't realize who's been doing it, either.
But even that decade-old essay has a very clear footnote:
> Lakhani and Wolf's paper on the motivation of free software developers says that a considerable fraction are motivated by the view that software should be free. This is despite the fact that they surveyed the developers on SourceForge, a site that does not support the view that this is an ethical issue.
That is, a lot of people believe in the ethical imperative that the FSF calls "free software," even if they don't themselves phrase it in a way that the FSF approves of.
The community should force the companies to do what we want, not what the companies prefer. We want that free software be called "free", because it makes people think about freedom. The OSI decided that what companies want is more important and most people now do not know about their freedoms.
Anecdotally, nearly everyone I have ever talked to or worked with in FOSS software has signed the "opposes RMS" letter, and I can't find anyone I recall or have even heard of on this one. But of course, I mostly have worked with people in the English-speaking world.
Does this sort of suggest language or culture is where the divide on this issue might stand?
The support letter is indeed more international and representative of the larger development community. I'd say this reflects well on rms, since he obviously has a wider support base. His opponents seem to represent a specific subculture that only exists in the West. If you're only surrounded by these types, then you might be the one in a bubble.
I do think there may be an untested theory on whether the support letter's wider base is because of a wider support for RMS, or because by internationalizing the letter in many languages, it did a better job reaching RMS supporters than the open letter did reaching RMS opposers who don't speak English.
The semantic problem with terminology which he pointed out at that time also seems to be US-specific, more or less (not sure how common it is to use that turn of phrase in the UK, to be honest).
The other day I told someone I thought this whole reaction to RMS was stupid. I was instantly labeled as "one of them", and "enabling harmful behavior" and blocked.
This is nothing more than a witch hunt, guilt by association, McCarthyism. Ideological conformity -- march in lockstep with me, or you're the enemy.
That is what will kill free software.
One of these groups has a negative impact on society as a whole, the other are hundreds of respected people working for free or reduced pay to create FOSS software.
This is an important debate.
Should RMS's private or political views unrelated to the work of the FSF debar him from FSF?
A permissive license like MIT allow companies to take your code and make it their code and then companies make millions with your code sharing nothing/zero/nada with you. Funding Open Source developers are a big problem the community struggle with and it is by design. GPL, on the other hand, doesn't allow companies to take over your code. If they want your code in their products because your code is valuable they need to pay you, the developer, or share the code with the community so everybody can monetize the code.
The big problem is that companies don't want to pay for what they use. And it is not only in the tech industry, it is everywhere. Companies want you paying them for stuff you use from them, but they don't want to pay you for the stuff they use from you. As someone already wrote here, Open Source is just free labor for big companies to make them money. It's time to stop being stupid. This attack on RMS as a person and all his flaws are bullshit. Everybody knows that the Tech Industry are full of people worse than RMS. Tech industry are full of CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, COOs, manager, <put your role here> that are sexists, racists, transphobics, misogynists and <put your word here> and yet there is no public campaign to remove them from their roles. The same companies that are promoting this campaign against RMS are the companies that don't hire women or black, asian, latin, trans people for leadership and executive roles and yet, no public campaign. Why? Everybody seems to have some shit to say about RMS but not about these companies? Do they pay your salary so they are allowed to screw everybody without your criticism? Why moral, ethics, social justice are applied to some but not to all?
This campaign has one goal, to use RMS flaws to cancel RMS and censor him. Am I saying he is perfect? No. Am I saying he is good? No, because I don't know him. I don't know if he is a good or a bad person, if he deserves his position as a leader in Free/Libre Software community, I don't know if he did something bad or outlaw. If he did, he should pay. But this is not an excuse for these companies that do not like him and are ideologically opposed to him to try silence him with this cancel culture.
Very, very true, if not characteristic of every industry high on power play. With bizarre rumours about personal lives of people in dotcom C-suites, we all know too well about, these people surely should've had people to poke before this.
They should try really.
P.S. RedHat is a very funny company name to hear in this context, especially given the exodus of women from the company, and its own work ethics scandal a few years ago.
They make many good points.
I agree "per/perse" isn't transphobic. However, what unfortunately many people think, "they" should not be used singular because it is plural. Actually, "you" is also plural, and a lot of people use it singular. Singular "they" is actually very old, it is nothing new. (Both words are grammatically plural, even if the meaning is singular, though. People have been confused about this too, and wrote "they is", even though it is supposed to be "they are", because it is grammatically plural. Actually, the same is true fo "you is" in the past; people argued about that too.) It is true that sometimes "they" is unclear, but that is also sometimes the case of "you" and other words, too. (However, also sometimes you do not want to distinguish plural/singular even if you have to do.)
Some people will always accuse the people of things in order to discredit them. These accusations are not always valid; that is why they will need an investigation (and in this case, they did write the investigation, as can be seen).
RMS, irrespective of your opinion of the figure, isn't young.
Will Big Tech devour the concept of Free Software and reduce pretty much everyone to mere product?
What good is the source code if the hardware and networks where that source code executes are reducing you do digital serfdom?
Do the Silicon Valley tech godz play the Emmanuel Goldstein card on the rest of the Free Software leadership until we all just shut up and love Big Brother?
I think we are currently experiencing the old EEE tactics in various ways. Embrace Linux, use it to build an ecosystem, extinguish it with non-copyleft Fuchsia. Embrace GCC, use it to build stuff, extinguish it with non-copyleft LLVM. Android is almost completely rid of GPL code at this point - the kernel is the main piece remaining. I wonder when programmers and hackers will wake up and see how their time and work are being usurped.
On society in general?
For anything else, there's a good chance he's written about it on his website.
This is a weirdly hostile way to phrase it.
If someone has communicated ambiguously and one asks for clarification, that's just regular communication protocol. If what is meant is that they communicated unambiguously and they shouldn't need to repeat themselves, then, well, the receiver's interpretation of what was said stands as what was intended to be said.
I think it would be worse if he submitted to some struggle session and changed his posts to whatever language is approved for discussing Epstein/Minsky.
Sorry, but it is. He's the front figure of the FSF. He appears in conferences and speaks about and for the Free Software Foundation and the more broad FLOSS community. Making things clear is pretty much his only job.
We can have preferences for what he should do, but he’s unlikely to do them. And I don’t get upset because he’s not doing what I want him to do.
Many technical thought leaders are “bad speakers” but that’s ok with me because tech concepts are hard and I’d rather have a bad speaker with a good idea than a good speaker with a bad idea.
I can always view source to figure it out.
I think it’s a false dichotomy that people must be perfect in every way to do something as simple as talk about how he wrote emacs at a conference. We take what we can get and the author of emacs is not very charismatic. That’s ok, I want to learn about emacs.
A proper saint.
2) Some people are tired of the discussions, which is sad. I think corporate influence on free software is an important topic.
Has HN became an enabler of a witch-hunt mob?
That strikes me as a weird distinction for somebody who supports copyleft to make. Is the difference that the political view that copyleft licenses support is limited to the issue of redistribution and modification of code?
Edit: I follow the author's reasoning now - they're using "non-free" in the Four Fundamental Software Freedoms technical sense.
And those constraints are for political reasons. The Four Freedoms are a political ideology about how software, developers, and users should morally interact, and the GPL exists as a legal tool to support this political ideology.
Edit: clarification - by "use" here, I'm including "bundle it into a black box of hardware and sell that hardware."
No, it does not. It places restrictions on redistribution, not on use. You can use it no matter who or what you are.
> If you make modification to the code and do not share those modifications, you are constrained from using the code you modified.
Incorrect. You can modify and use it to your hearts content. You are only required to share your modifications source if you distribute the modified software.
This is is only true if you consider distribution as part of "use". You're fully entitled to privately run modified GPL code, even as a server or whatevs if it's not AGPL.
You may think that’s an arbitrary line, that’s up to you, but a line it is.
> A tolerant society should be tolerant by default,
> With one exception: it should not tolerate intolerance itself.
First, at face value, consider two individuals engaging about one's identity preference: Alice wants to be referred to by a non-binary pronoun. Bob doesn't wish to comply.
The direct harm to Alice is a feeling of rejection and othering by another individual. What is the equivalent justice to restore this perceived harm?
To my mind, it would be a likewise rejection of self by an individual, preferably by Alice.
However, it may sometimes result in Alice publicly posting about it or telling their friends about it and a deluge of hate is poured on Bob for his actions. This "punishment" cannot reasonably be perceived as just because the reaction is outsized.
Now, consider a similar scenario in which Bob does not know Alice, and he expresses publicly that he does not wish to recognize alternative pronouns.
The effect may be that Alice, et al perceive offense and are hurt by this broad statement. But Bob did not assert this on Alice specifically, nor anyone. It was an expression of preference (or a rejection thereof).
Still, a mob of offended parties (and their allies) may engage in large scale, directed defamatory remarks. Given Bob's broad and general statement, is that reaction just or unjust?
In order to perceive it as balanced, one would have to subscribe to the Paradox of Tolerance: that tolerance of intolerance is intolerant. However, the applicability of this philosophy implies that an expression of a desire not to recognize alternative pronouns is not just a personal expression, but a directive to others.
I'll leave it up to the reader to consider both sides of that application, but let's presume that an expression is, in fact, a directive to others that they, too, should reject alternative pronouns.
Now Bob's statement can be perceived to affect individuals of whom he's never met, thus suggesting harm to a number of people. Is a mass response of directed verbal harm a just reaction to his expression?
If one believes that implicit harm could be found, then a response of direct harm by many people would be just. But the Paradox of Tolerance doesn't, actually, support this perspective. (Even though it's often cited.)
For harm to be justly foisted on an individual who simply has or expresses intolerant views, those views must be actively harmful. As Karl Popper wrote:
> I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.
To "keep them in check by public opinion" does not mean—in our context—through force, as he explicitly addresses "suppression [read: force] would certainly be unwise."
So the thought remains: what is a just response to a broadcast of preference contrary to another's preference? My thought would be: a likewise broadcast of preference in favor of alternative pronouns. Note that this does not explicitly target Bob, as he did not explicitly target an individual.
So when the parent expresses the "extreme" view of "insanity", they are likely following the outsized, intentional acts of violence/vengeance against people who did not, in fact, directly harm the group engaging in this retaliatory act.
For one to justify the force of many against the implicit harm enacted by an individual, one has to stretch the bounds of justice to allow realized damage in response to their perceived harm.
Thus, parent's perception that those on the side of the pronoun discussion are "extreme" and "insane" is—taking their words intent and not literally—quite reasonable.
For that not to be reasonable, one must find it reasonable, instead, to engage in outsized, real, harmful actions in response to an expressed opinion.
If one believes it to be unreasonable to seek to damage the career—and by extension, life—of someone who prefers to be identified as "they/them" for exercising that preference, then one must also find it to be unreasonable to enact such harm to someone who chooses to exercise their preference of not referring to others as such.
If one perceives that one such reaction can be characterized as "extreme", then it is reasonable to perceive the inverse behavior to be characterized as "extreme". And if one chooses to reject the balance of this logical equivalence, then one is behaving illogically.
And if one justifies the use of this extreme response illogically, then it would be reasonable to characterize this behavior as "extreme" and "insanity", colloquially speaking.
I welcome reasoned responses.
I get that using "they/them" requires a bit more mental gymnastics, at least in languages with gendered pronouns. However it is still a grammatically correct use of the language, just one we're not used to.
I approach this from a perspective of compassion. If someone has made the (potentially difficult) decision to live with a non-gendered identity, knowing the snark and ostracism they are likely to face for doing so, they the least I can do is respect that decision by making this one trivial grammatical adjustment.
For us. We are the first doing it. Our children and grandchildren will accept that naturally. As we should.
For some reason there is a group of people in the tech community who rather than try and develop tech and promote new and cool things think that it is better to try and police what others say and do. This is not helpful to the tech community because it makes people hesitant and reluctant to participate because they are worried they will cause offense and become ostracized.
To see this occurring in the tech community is particular sad as many of the people who work in the industry come from outlier social groups, people who were shunned and bullied because they were different. There is a particular irony in the push to make the space safe for everyone that the original people because they were excluded from other spaces must be pushed out. It is made even more ironic because often the same voices that say that tech needs to change to be more inclusive have negative things to say about colonization...
And this is coming from someone who's mother tongue actually has more gendering than english.
One of the things I always thought really great about the Net is that I can be whoever I like. So I think it’s cool that people can redefine and choose whatever pronouns, titles, and names they think are most applicable to them.
I met a guy a con who went by “Hugme” and used that name everywhere. I also went to school with someone who went by the name “Taerthrum.” Neat.
Identity is personal and can be whatever I like as it doesn’t harm you. Taking this to an extreme, I expect that as we move closer to digital consciousnesses people will identity as more and more unique characteristics that frequently won’t line up with how they were born.
I think the argument over it is bikeshedding and, for me, it’s just something I do to be polite and don’t think about it. In that if you said “Hello, I’m Foo sgt” I would work to call you “Foo sgt” and not “Dr sgt” or “Mr Bob” or whatever.
I want to spend zero cycles on this and move on to important things. Calling people by their preferred handle seems simple to me.
And I skip all the “But shouldn’t you force” stuff.
Many people are taking offense at gender-distinctive forms embedded in the language. The argument is the accepted usage demeans whoever is not represented. So to solve this they've proposed more distinctions, and take offense at being implicitly excluded when the distinctive pronouns are not used. They also take offense at any criticism.
I don't think this is going to end well by just humoring people and moving on, especially if the slightest error or criticism results in bullying and ostracism.
If that doesn't work, then use "dee" instead. He, she, dee. Then give people who use he/she a nasty look until we've forced them to use "dee".
I really dislike the singular "they" because it always sounds "female" to me. In my second language (Dutch) the singular form of "they" is the female pronoun ("zij"). German has the same thing.
For me, as someone with no grammatical genders at all in his native language, I don't think there are any real differences between using grammatical gendered pronouns or not. In some real way, gendered pronouns help in parsing subjects much more easily than otherwise. We do use proper noun-as-pronouns by default more than English or other gendered languages so that might be one way of avoiding ambiguity
Why? Choosing not to use someone's prefered pronouns is just hurtful and disrespectful. You might choose to ignore the scientific evidence around transidentity being a thing, but willingly antagonizing people on this subject is another story.
If it causes serious distress to you (just like misgendering trans people do), complying is absolutely the correct and human thing to do, regardless of my beliefs and opinions. It is not a good faith argument to compare transidentity to delusion and I suspect you know it.
Nobody is "forcing" you to comply, an open source project for exemple might just choose not to engage with you and your harmful attitude. No rights of yours are trampled, you just fail at basic respect.
I am sorry, I will use she/he or the person's name according to the individual preference but I will never say xher/xhum/them/they/xuei, and I will opt for using ONLY that person's name. If that makes me a bigot, so be it.
Like we get it. There were a couple of experimental machines during the Cold War, but two-state logic circuits have clearly won.
Well, that may be perceived as insulting by the addressee, and they might have a point. The previous consensus was not to presume offense. Too bad we can't all efficiently communicate in a polite language free from irrelevant embedded idiosyncratic perceptual distinctions, so as to avoid giving and taking offense. Yet for some reason we are required instead to recognize new distinctive pronouns and use them consistently or face ostracism. A forced consensus is a false consensus.
> the same way I'm not going to force someone else to refer to me as "my lord".
And there's a good point. Forcing others to use a form of arbitrarily self-determined address and banding together to ostracize and punish the uncooperative is uncomfortably similar to just plain old elitist bullying. I understand the thesis is to show respect for the addressee, but insisting and threatening is to transform it into a transaction of dominance and submission. Some argue that to respond by identifying as a surface-to-air missile is just a glib insult, not satirical criticism of the implied superiority expressed as reductio ad absurdum.
Someone left their laptop on the table. If they come back asking for it, ask them to describe the stickers.