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GNU sed 4.2.2 released, maintainer resigns (gmane.org)
399 points by bonzini on Dec 22, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 122 comments



All disagreements aside, I'm deeply grateful for the efforts made to maintain and extend tools like sed.

I can't help see posts like this and worry about the perpetuation of open source, and wish I had the chops to do more to help.

As I write I'm downloading a Raspberry Pi image for my son's hardware. I'm getting him an Arduino, a soldering iron and a book for Christmas. I'm looking forward to learning along with him. I don't claim to understand the particular flows of code or inspiration, but I don't see how those projects happen without open source.

I also don't see how the Pi happens without industrial scale chip production. As I understand the matter, the Pi was developed by Broadcom staff on their own or 20% time, and its production occurs on interstitial time on production lines that could never be justified by a $25 SOIC. Pi is basically a cheap add-on to a massive industrial base.

Of course one point of vision is describing a realizable potential not apparent to the rest of us. But vision can and does proceed despite deviations from its perfect realization -- and sometimes is corrected by those deviations. I deeply disagree with RMS' politics, I'm deeply grateful for his technical contributions. I hope the community can always find a way forward.


> I can't help see posts like this and worry about the perpetuation of open source, and wish I had the chops to do more to help.

I wouldn't worry about open source, that is thriving and alive. "Free software" is different, and very specialized. I also deeply disagree with RMS, but further I disagree with "free software" being the one true way (though I happily use it), and think that open source is better all around, for everyone.

[1] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.h...

[2] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html


Why is Stallman still BDFL if he hasn't contributed a meaningful amount of code in years? Let him be the spokesperson so he gets the attention he desperately needs and leave the coding standards to people who code.


The FSF isn't about coding standards, its foremost about moral and ethical standards.

Edit: Oops! You mean BFDL for GNU, as compared to the FSF. That's a good question - should Stallman relinquish GNU leadership? What is the replacement plan should something happen to him?

I don't think that recent hands-on code experience necessarily plays a role in either case.


I wish people would stop parroting that stupid lie. RMS is curently heavily involved in GNU Emacs development and has been for many years. Just check the mailing list sometime.


Yes, where he has, for example, refused to allow emacs to use any sane bug tracking system because it would interfere with his workflow, despite the fact that he's not the only developer.


Its all code. If a group want a bug tracker system X, and a second group want bug tracker system Y, then build a middle layer system that converts information back and forth from X <--> Y.


and then build it into Emacs.


For the help of other people: BDFL = Benevolent Dictator for Life. Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benevolent_Dictator_for_Life ) doesnt list him as an example, but that doesn't stop him from being pretty close.


Agreed, but by definition BDFL is FL - For Life.


I actually never heard that he was BDFL. I thought that only applied to Guido and Python.


John Gruber considers himself to be the BDFL of Markdown [1], though many question the 'B' part.

[1] http://www.mail-archive.com/markdown-discuss@six.pairlist.ne...


I agree wholeheartedly, as Eben Moglen succintly put it in Die Gedanken Sind Frei: "The revolution runs on working code". Those write the code, make the shots. Free Software is a push effort.

http://emoglen.law.columbia.edu/publications/berlin-keynote....


I wouldn't characterize that as a rant, Rails is a Ghetto was a rant. This was more of a reasoned venting. Too bad though, the guy seems like he's poured a lot of himself into these projects (from an outsider looking in).


Rails is a Ghetto, for those who haven't read it: http://web.archive.org/web/20080103072111/http://www.zedshaw...

A classic rant by Zed Shaw.


This is probably a more complete version: http://web.archive.org/web/20090107030956/http://www.zedshaw...

(I haven't yet read that piece)


I love that rant. I still (re)read it. Gives me a few laughs every time.


I have been a FSF supporter for a very long time. That being said I have never understood why the gnu-prog-discuss mailing list is so secretive. I can understand having restrictions on posting but I have bever heard a good argument for keeping the discussions behind closed doors. I do not think SPI has any cabalistic mailing lists.


It's secretive because "GNU is not about openness".

I personally believe it's okay to have a "cabalistic" mailing list, the problems are: 1) that the open mailing lists (bug-standards, gnu-system-discuss) are basically unused; 2) that rms is trying to make some topics (e.g., discussing if something could be used as a GPL loophole) taboo even for gnu-prog-discuss.


> rms is trying to make some topics (e.g., discussing if something could be used as a GPL loophole) taboo even for gnu-prog-discuss.

Might not be a bad idea, since those discussions could be used after discovery as part of a trial.


If the problem is the discussion about loopholes, than why not just create a second mailing list about that topic and leave the other ones open?


Because what you discuss on a closed list can still be used as evidence.


I find the "rant" and the linked post by Nikos Mavrogiannopoulos sadly missing any direct details over what the actual issues are. From reading it, one could get the idea that all the problem stems from GNU coding standard being archaic and not updated for modern programming.

Okey, I am skipping all the rant about FSF not funding software projects to pay developers, or that the GNU brand is not "hot", but both feels a bit silly. The hotness of a brand is transient, and in reality, only a handful number of brands inspires users and developers. I can't see how GNU would be more or less hot than say Gnome, KDE, or apache which each has a large number of projects under them. As for funding, since when did any of those organizations actually fund the projects? They role is provide help in setting up funding systems, help with tax declarations and provide further legal help.

Thankfully, the last link in the end (http://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/529522/854aed3fb6398b79/) looks to bring some light of what the actually issues really are: copyright assignments being US only, who the "owner" of a community project is, Nikos' feeling that he aren't getting any tangible benefits from being under the name GNU, and last a request for more transparency in the GNU projects decision process.

As for those reasons, there are two I agree with and two I don't. Firstly, Copyright assignments being US only is bad and shows an inflexibility a non-profit foundation should not have. Their role is to help projects, and thus should be as flexible as possible and thus provide equal possibility to assign copyright to US or EU. Second, as for who the owner of a community project is, the answer should stare the developers in the face. It should always be the community (developers and users) that "own" the project and decides its fate. If Nikos' announcement had included a decision by the community (preferable in a transparent manner), it would had been hard for GNU to object. Third, Nikos' feeling that he aren't getting any tangible benefits from GNU are his to have, but legal assistance is something many projects value. If a project has no need for legal assistance, no need for help in creating donation systems, and don't feel a threat about lawsuits against individual developers, then a foundation such as GNU, Apache or other similar organization are not going to give much tangible benefits. Fourth, in regard to more transparency in the GNU projects decision process, I can only agree with Nikos. The corner pillar in a community is transparency, and GNU should be fully aware of this. If there are discontent growing because of an lack of transparency, it should be addressed and fixed with high priority.


Just on your comment of legal support. One of his major complaints is that actually he is not getting the legal support he wants, and he thinks that he could do better by himself.


Is there a place where this complaint is posted? I know about the one time in regard to Werner Koch, and in which a legal problem arrived, and was subsequently fixed, but where FSF did not inform Koch about the fixing. To my understanding, that was a mistake in communication from FSF and was later resolved.


The clearest example is from the LWN article you referenced.

> "Once a developer assigns copyright, they are at the mercy of the assignee to enforce the copyright. In this particular case, one can speculate that the failure to pursue the violation was likely a shortage of human resources. As Richard noted, "We have staff for GPL enforcement, […] but there are so many violations that they can't take action on all.""

As the LWN article notes, statements like this are a huge distance between FSF in practice, and FSF's own reasoning behind assigning copyrights to it (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-assign.html).

When a project has assigned copyright to FSF, the project workers have no recourse when the copyright holder opts not to fulfill its part of the bargain.


That is a general complain which has a general answer. If you let someone do your legal work, it might not be done with the same priority as if you did it yourself.

But, general handwaving aside, has there been a case with GNU sed or gnutls in which the legal work was done in a less than satisfactional way?


For a time I too was the maintainer for GNU sed. Part of that time I was paid by the FSF for that work (this was a long time ago, when the FSF had a small staff working directly on the Hurd and GNU). When I started, GNU sed was very incompatible with the relatively new Posix standard for sed. When I finished, it was less incompatible. It was during this same time that I started work on a new regexp engine for sed but that was not done by the time I stopped work on sed.

From that position I was able to observe fairly closely how the GNU project was being led, technically, in the days before the Linux kernel had had any real impact.

RMS's technical leadership was, I think, not very skilled. Let me explain what I mean:

If you were working on a program and sought his advice, he was very good at zeroing in on the issues and giving excellent advice. And sometimes if you were working on a program and he noticed something he didn't like about your approach, his criticisms were very good. People used to tell stories about how good a programmer he was and those stories were basically all true. He was sharp and I assume that, in spite of his age, he still is.

The problem was that he showed no effective capacity to really lead the larger meta project of pulling together a complete OS. He tried -- with projects like autoconf and documents like the GNU coding standards. And he kept a list of programs that, once we had those (he reckoned) along with a kernel -- GNU would be "done". That was about the extent of his "big picture" for project management.

Mainly, he concentrated on advocating for the idea of software freedom. I think the gambit was that if enough people demand their freedom, the project of organizing a GNU project would become easier. I don't think this gambit worked.

That was never a clear enough, coherent enough, or informed enough vision of the complete GNU project and, consequently, GNU has never really successfully gelled. You can grab some "100% libre" distributions, these days, but only barely. There is no sustainable culture and technical organization there ("yet", I hope).

The RMS failure I see is a failure at being a community organizer of GNU programmers. A lot of people got the vague idea of a GNU project. Many of us were happily recruited to the goal. But everyone I worked with at the FSF, including me, kind of went off in various incoherent directions -- doing what we guessed would help and that seemed interesting to us. We never "pulled together as a team" and, in the GNU project, that still doesn't happen.

The GNU project gradually accumulated a heck of a lot of very good "parts" but could never gel. The first three world-changing releases (GDB, GCC, and Emacs) really startled people. The various shell/text utilities in those early days spread because they were often usefully a little bit better than the proprietary "native" equivalents shipped by Sun, Dec, AT&T, etc. People sat up and took notice but behind the scenes the project of setting up a lasting "complete OS" project that would promote software freedom for all users ... never quite came together.

The "open source" people -- who I also later worked for, because I made a mistake in trusting them at their personal word to me -- seemed at first like they might help bring resources to the problem. In fact, what they mostly concentrated on was creating proprietary products using the free software "parts" from the incomplete GNU project. In the early days they sought to monopolize some of the key labor for the GNU project (and they succeeded, because they paid much better than RMS and many of those particular hackers didn't really give a shit about the freedom of users). As the "open source" industry matured it perfected its model of a perpetually incomplete / inadequate free software OS as a source of inspiration to enthusiastic youngsters, realized in practioce as a perpetually freedom-denying set of proprietary OS products. Companies like Red Hat and Canonical realized that they could exploit the deficit of community organizing to charge high rents for libre software, so long as they don't care seriously about the freedom of users. That's what they did and what they do.

So in my view, RMS was not good (and still is not good) at leading the GNU project -- but the real tragedy is brought on by the glad-handing, deep-pocketed, "open source" rentiers who place concern for their own profit above the freedom of the community.


> That was never a clear enough, coherent enough, or informed enough vision of the complete GNU project and, consequently, GNU has never really successfully gelled. You can grab some "100% libre" distributions, these days, but only barely. There is no sustainable culture and technical organization there ("yet", I hope).

Debian is a 100% free distribution, with a strong culture and high technical organization. It was the GNU distribution in the 90's until they parted ways.

Are there not dozens if not hundreds of distributions of free software based on Linux and the GNU core? Compared to the early days of Linux (and GNU as well), I'd say Free Software as a whole is doing pretty good. The very existence of those distributions and the amount of software based upon them is your sustainable culture and technical organization. Canonical and Red Hat could go away tomorrow and they'd still be there.


What does it even mean for an OS to be "complete"? That no further work remains to be done on it? I wouldn't call that "complete"; I'd call it dead. A state that, not coincidentally, a lot of GNU projects have reached over the years-- Hurd among them. And now it looks like GNU sed has arrived there too. It's this attitude that you have to be the only one in charge of everything, the only one doing anything or being creative, that kills projects and communities.

And now we get to the real heart of the matter. Is it about giving companies, users, and communities the freedom to do what they want to do? Even if that thing is proprietary software, or open core models, or sharks with laser on their heads? Or is it about political, social, and technological control? The Apache foundation is about the former, and so is the Linux kernel. But the FSF has always been about the latter. It looks like they have poisoned your thinking too.


Are you trying that old "who is more freeest, GPL/FSF vs apache" thing? Seriously, its getting so old that it start to be a pain to answer it.

The world is not so simple that either you have total freedom to do anything, or you have complete locked down control of everything. Some freedom is about maintaining others freedom with the use of restrictions. The most common ones are "you must not kill, you must not steal". Those two are social control, but with the goal and effect of more freedom. That's not poison that kills life, rather that is protection preserving life.

Having products, be that a phone, a book reader, or a browser that users buy, this same users will think that they are the owner of it and thus in control. If then by technical means someone else actually has the complete control over the thing, that it is at least morally wrong, if not something that should simply be illegal.

To take an example, if my browser suddenly got infected with spyware and disabled ad-block, I would get angry and consider that the people behind said spyware should go to jail. If my browser suddenly got pushed with a remote update which by it's developer decision permanent disabled ad-block, I should be completely accepting of it? If Firefox did this, they would get forked as by MPL. If Firefox was proprietary software, no such thing could happen.

A foundation that say clear No to giving the developer control as if they had property owership of my phone, my book reader, my browser, is not a foundation about political, social, and technological control. Its about ensuring political, social, and technological freedom by restricting behavior that would normally be considered illegal and immoral if done outside the domain of IT.


> He was sharp and I assume that, in spite of his age, he still is.

Seriously? He's not 100, you know. Why wouldn't he be as sharp, or sharper, than ever?


I'm in my mid 30s and have already noticed a slight decline in short term memory. I have tons more experience and am sure I am a much better hacker than I was at 21, but getting older has real costs.


I guess his Scala and Go skills are a bit rusty. ;-)


proprietary OS products?


Their users are, de facto, locked into a few vendors who, because of this arrangement, can charge excessive rent. In part this is because of a tiny number of critical components that do not have libre licenses; in part it is because these vendors provide technical leadership to the larger community in forms that actively prevent organizing a truly libre OS.


Do you think that Red Hat and Canonical are a net negative for the community?


I think that RH and Canonical are very problematic for the community. They are a mixed bag containing a lot of good, but also containing some critical problems (for the cause of freedom). So I like to speak frankly about those problems, when I can.


Why not point out viable alternatives while making the criticisms of those two? Debian has a pedigree of broad, long-term professional use and is 100% free in both senses (barring a couple of firmware binaries in the 'speech' sense).


Is Debian really 100% free? The Linux Kernel itself isn't 100% free, it has proprietary blobs. Sure, they can be removed, but I don't think Debian removes them by the default.

Anyways, I do agree that Debian should be the distribution the FSF should support instead of gNewSense.


Debian does remove them by default. One of the problems FSF has is with the contrib and non-free repositories


So the FSF's (read: Stallman's) opinion is that not only should a distro ship with only 100% free software, that users should be actively prevented/discouraged from installing "non-free" software onto their computers?

This is why most people think he's a fucking crackpot.


It's interesting to see that in the gnewsense wikipedia page that Debian considers some of the GNU documentation to be non-free because their license allows an author to say "you are not allowed to modify this part of the manual", which is somewhat against the spirit of the FSF's opinion on code.


Which community? The Linux community and the free open source community or the Free software community?

I think it is certainly an arguable question for the Free software/GNU community although I expect most could agree that they are bet positive for Linux and open source in general.


Which components are you talking about? Firmware?

Given suitable hardware that doesn't need firmware blobs, distros like Fedora are 100% free software. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is also 100% free - you can download all the source from ftp.redhat.com and check that yourself.


As someone who shares beliefs with FSF's ideals, reading this rant makes me think that maybe there's a chance to bring up another movement with the relative same ideals as Free Software but have a different type of leadership.


Doesn't the open source movement overlap quite heavily with the ideals of free software? I know there are also significant differences, specially the tolerance of proprietary code.

I'm not trying to start a flamewar here, just honestly curious why you think a 3rd alternative would bring change in any meaningful way. We have enough fragmentation as things stand.


Doesn't the open source movement overlap quite heavily with the ideals of free software?

Not really.

Open source can be described as a marketing campaign to convince people who don't care about free software to produce/accept it. The catch is that the people who are most attracted to that marketing campaign are attracted precisely because they do not care about free software ideals. Even worse, when you're motivated by something fundamentally different than the GNU manifesto, your actions will not always fit that manifesto.

An example of the difference is the use of permissive licenses. Someone who is into open source will often like permissive licenses because they let them reuse open source code in proprietary code. A free software supporter, by contrast, will avoid permissive licenses for the same reason.


> Open source can be described as a marketing campaign to convince people who don't care about free software to produce/accept it

On the other hand, Free Software can be described as an attempt by certain fanatics to hijack the idea of open source code sharing, in order to advance their own ideals.


Yeah, but that's not what actually happened. "Free software" and "open source" are terms whose etymologies are fairly well documented, and many of us remember when and why they were coined. The term, "open source" in particular (as applied to software) was coined in 1998 to market free software to the types of businesspeople who equated "free" with "cheap, crappy, etc".

There's a documentary on YouTube that does a reasonably good job of telling the story of how and why this happened, including the conflicts between the various factions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjaC8Pq9-V0


I think that my characterization is significantly less controversial. For instance Bruce Perens (original author of the open source definition) says that the open source definition was ...conceived as a program to market the free software concept to people who wore ties.

On the other hand your characterization strikes at the heart of the BSD vs GPL argument as it is viewed by BSD proponents.


Exactly, I'm leaning more towards Eric S. Raymond's developer-centric views, which may not be canonically Open Source but do speak a lot more to me and my personal history pre-1998. But this hopefully answers the question by the gp about why there is room for more than two (and three) 'movements': to promote different aspects of software availability.


Sure, you could frame it that. However, the historical timeline of both of those terms (in that FS was coined long before OS) would suggest that your interpretation may not be the best one.

That being said, I am certainly aware of the many, many practical difficulties with the GPL, but that doesn't stop it being one of the best (IMO, of course) events in software in the last thirty years.


Not only that, but nobody ever addresses the perhaps-strawmanned assertion that what the GPL does should be easy. That is, why the practical difficulties of the GPL constitute a negative, i.e. the "bug vs. feature" argument.


They do overlap, but Open Source Initiative doesn't care at all about users' freedoms, which I personally believe to be very important.


Agreed. It took a while for me to understand the idea that the free/open source difference is reasonably described as the difference between user freedoms and developer freedoms.


I like that distinction, but to be clear, the distinction isn't strictly an "either-or". It's pretty clear that "open source" is motivated by developer freedoms, but the fact that "free software" is motivated by user freedoms doesn't make it less about developer freedoms.

In other words, if you subscribe to the four tenets of software freedom as they pertain to users, "free software" also provides as much freedom to the developers as is possible without compromising on the users' freedoms.


Sorry but you cannot have both the cake and eat it. You either have to compromise on users or on developers. GPL license writers choose not to compromise on users by enforcing that modifications are contributed back. BSD license writers choose not to compromise on developers by allowing developers to use the code as they see fit, no strings attached.

These are not compatible. There are either strings attached as in GPL or there are not, as in BSD.


> You either have to compromise on users or on developers.

Developers are users.

> There are either strings attached as in GPL or there are not, as in BSD.

From the way you're phrasing this, it's clear you miss the free software paradigm altogether. There are no strings attached. The ability for some users to limit other users' freedoms isn't one of the four freedoms.


Well, you not counting something I want to do with code as freedom does not make it less of a freedom. That, and also, that by limiting my ability to limit other users' freedom you are in fact limiting my own freedom: I may not use your code licensed that way. That's way I go with MIT, BSD, whatever, and leave GPL folks to play their hypocritical games with semantics, definitions and freedoms.


> That, and also, that by limiting my ability to limit other users' freedom you are in fact limiting my own freedom

Nobody ever said that you had a right to infringe upon others' rights.

> leave GPL folks to play their hypocritical games with semantics, definitions and freedoms.

There's not one ounce of hypocrisy anywhere here. You may not like it, but to call "GPL folks" hypocritical is absolutely ridiculous.

Finally, it's remarkable that you managed to take a comment my comment, which was originally highlighting the similarities between the two schools of thought, and turning it into a jumping-off point for how one is clearly better than the other. Well-done!


Sigh.

As a developer I have a problem to solve. GPL code comes with strings attach that LIMIT my ability to use it since the code I am writing does not have GPL compatible licensing. Thus it limits me as a developer.

I don't miss the free software ideology - I just don't care about it. I care about the software I write and of what the users want, nothing more and nothing less.


> the code I am writing does not have GPL compatible licensing. Thus it limits me as a developer.

So, you're saying that you want to choose a license for your code that infringes upon its users freedoms. That's not a problem with the GPL.

> I care about the software I write and of what the users want

Free software isn't about what users want. It's about what they deserve.

Rights are inalienable, so regardless of what users say or how they act, the rights are theirs, and neither you nor anybody else can infringe upon users' freedoms.


enforcing that modifications are contributed back

Forward, not back. Sorry, but I think this is an important yet often missed distinction.


Developers are a proper subset of users. There's no either-or here.


Well, that's my point. "Open source" protects only the freedoms that relate to a portion of users (developers), whereas "free software" protects the freedoms that relate to all users.


I think we are, as the saying goes, in violent agreement.

I don't understand where the either-or comes in.


Choosing a subset of users to satisfy will not protect the freedom of users as a whole.

Choosing to protect the freedom of users as a whole will dissatisfy developers who would like to have a different set of freedoms.


Ahh, right. Like "equality before the law" is great for everyone, but for people with lots of money it might be a bit annoying.


Well, the Linux Kernel's position is that we want the contributions from companies like Tivo, because even though a particular device might be locked down. Contributions from companies like Tivo, and Sony, and Samsung, which may have some of their products with locked down devices, are nevertheless valid contributions which will help make the Linux kernel better --- and those contributions can also be used in completely free systems.

So it's basically a "stone soup" model, as it applies to developers. If you use my source code, you can use it for whatever you want, so long as my freedoms to get back your changes (which then I can use in whatever way I want, including in locked down devices) can go into the project.

As far as I am concerned, a locked-down device is a business model choice. It allows hardware to be sold for much less money, because it allows for alternate monetization strategies (i.e., the Tivo subscription services, video rentals, etc.) People who want to buy general purpose computers can always install the Open Source software on a machine of their choosing, and that's also fine. Whether you want to pay $199 or $699 and perhaps give up some freedoms as far as that particular device is concerned is also a choice which each user should be allowed to make on their own. After all, the freedom to choose is also a freedom.

Now, there are two counter-arguments to this perspective. Once is in a device with a mixed set of proprietary and free/open source software, it may not be possible to use the proprietary software on a general purpose computer. There the question is whether free software should be used as a bludgeon to force vendors of products which also use some proprietary code to give more freedoms to users (which may undermine certain business models as described above).

The second pontential argument is "what if there are no more general purpose computers". And there this is where the UEFI secure boot discussions become especially interesting. However, so long as it's possible to disable secure boot, or the hardware allows users to install signing keys of their own choosing, the threat of not being able to purchase general purpose computers where you can install software of your choice is not credible at least in the near term, and so long as we work hard to make sure it doesn't appear, I don't think will be a huge threat in the long term. You may not be able to get a general purpose computer with a quad-core CPU, 16 gigs of memory, etc., for $29.95 plus a two year subscription, but if you are willing to pay the full fair price, I'm fairly confident the threat of not being able to buy a general purpose computer is not a high probability outcome.

So the bottom line is we want developers to be able to be free to pursue business models that in turn allow users to be able to purchase devices that may not offer them the full set of freedomes --- but it's the user's choice that they get those locked-down devices. The FSF position is that they don't want their source code to ever be used in devices that might not allow users the full range of freedoms, even if it hurts the software project by turning away developers who have these business models that they disagree with.


> I'm fairly confident the threat of not being able to buy a general purpose computer is not a high probability outcome.

I already have to go very far out of my way and pay a huge premium for getting an unlocked Android phone. As phones/tables supplant many "general-purpose" computer use cases, this threat is only increasing, if current trends continue.


As eropple has already pointed out, the Nexus 4 is quite reasonably priced. More importantly, it's not that you're paying a premium, it's that you're paying the true cost. Most of the locked phones are locked because they are enforcing the fact that you are paying an extra $10 to $20 a month to defray the cost of the phone. If you don't replace your phone after two years, you'll end up paying an extra $120 to $240 extra for your phone. And if you do get a new subsidized phone, you'll be locked in for another two years.


You're confusing having a carrier-unlocked phone with having a phone that has an unlocked bootloader. The two are completely orthogonal concepts; you can unlock the bootloader of a phone that you received with a subsidy by signing 2-year contract with a carrier.

The point is that, once I've bought the hardware, nobody should be able to tell me my that I can't flash my own custom ROM on the phone.


So don't buy locked down devices. There are unlocked device for sale, and the Nexus devices are at least price competitive, if not downright cheaper in the case of the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7. (Yeah, there are some availability issues, but I bet after Christmas things will get better on that front.)


> (Yeah, there are some availability issues, but I bet after Christmas things will get better on that front.)

The availability issues for the Nexus 4 have absolutely nothing to do with the Christmas rush.

> So don't buy locked down devices. There are unlocked device for sale,

You're missing the two points, which are:

1. Unlocking the device should be an option for all phones - it's a basic right of ownership.

2. It's getting harder and harder to find truly open devices (the Galaxy Nexus had issues on this front). If things keep heading in this direction, soon there won't be any unlocked devices for sale.


"1. Unlocking the device should be an option for all phones - it's a basic right of ownership." If you bought the phone subsidised as part of a contract, then no. You should be able to unlock the phone when the contract is finished, but not before as you don't actually own the phone until such a time.


> you don't actually own the phone until such a time.

This is simply not true at all, from a legal standpoint.

You're confusing subsidy with ownership - the phone isn't rented; it's yours. You received a discount on the price at the moment of sale because you agreed to a separate (independent) contract which happens to guarantee them more money overall, but that doesn't change the fact that you own the device. If the contract gets broken due to breach of contract, you keep the phone, because it's your property - they don't take ownership of it again.

More importantly, this discussion is all completely irrelevant, because phone unlocking has nothing to do with a subsidy - almost all phones are locked, subsidy or no subsidy.


Read the contract. If you default on payment, the phone will be taken from you. If, however, you pay for the full cost of the phone off contract, then it is yours.


I already have to go very far out of my way and pay a huge premium for getting an unlocked Android phone.

How is that the case? I pay less for my Nexus devices than I'd pay for any locked-down phone (either up-front or given the increased cost of a subsidized-phone plan).


> It's pretty clear that "open source" is motivated by developer freedoms, but the fact that "free software" is motivated by user freedoms doesn't make it less about developer freedoms

I'm always surprised by the number of developers who enjoy the freedoms they are granted without thinking twice about taking the same freedoms away from their users.


Agreed, but it's sad because "Open Source" is a better name than "Free Software" since, unless they are familiar with GNU already, most people are going to interpret it as "software that doesn't cost anything" which couldn't be further from the point.


Well, Open Source is often used to describe code that can be viewed but not modified or redistributed, while the OSI definition includes those as requirements for a license to be considered "Open Source".


Nobody uses "open source" that way except for certain companies that are deliberately trying to create confusion. They would do so no matter what terminology was used.


why bringing something up? [1]

just fork, code and... maybe make profit. [2]

[1] http://xkcd.com/927/

[2] http://www.techotopia.com/index.php/A_Brief_History_of_Red_H...


Because organization is important. There's more to software distribution than coding and the legal basis of it all is unifying for most free software. Some times you cannot "just fork, code" because the underlying legal framework for your software is broken, and you're forced to reinvent the wheel.


the license under which code is released is important, the rest are excuses.


Or Ubuntu? ;)


Shuttleworth is the last person I want to leave my fate up to. He is even after RMS.


It's the UNG project - Ubuntu is Not GNU! (Has no one already made that pun?)


I made a few vague observations based on comments scattered around the web and this rant just made me want to write them down.

* GNU leadership seemed very stubborn from the beginning.

* GNU software is really great.

* Gnome is the new GNU.

I wish they wouldn't lose more momentum or the wide variety of software they write and maintain will suffer, too.


"Gnome is the new GNU"

I have heard this before but never really understood what it was supposed to convey? Is this statement purely from a technical viewpoint? Has Gnome done a lot of work with licensing and activism that I have not heard about?


I didn't make the comment, but I interpret it this way.

In the past, if you were on a Unix-like system and wanted a nicer interface, you could install GNU tools. You got nifty things like ls and grep that color their output, a tar that works correctly, etc.

Today, if you are on a Unix-like system and want a nicer interface, you install the Gnome shell. Never mind that it's not what everyone wants (bah Gnome 2 is better than 3, or Xmonad rulez, or Fluxbox is good enough for everyone), that's not the point. Gnome gives you a free, complete desktop roughly comparable with Apple/Microsoft/etc. offerings. You can configure your wireless adapter or plug in a USB drive without the need for root access.

Perhaps Gnome is the face of what you get when you want a nice free Unix.

(Don't mix up GNU and FSF, even though they're both projects started by Richard Stallman, and still intimately connected. Licensing and activism are FSF goals, GNU goals are to make software.)


Gnome might get you something roughly comparable to Apple/Microsoft/etc, but without the GNU tools there is really no technical reason to prefer Gnome to Apple/Microsoft/etc.

Sure you could use NetBSD's userland instead of GNU, or BusyBox, or any other number of alternative userlands, but who actually does that? BusyBox is very popular, but only in all of the places that Gnome definitely is not.


GNU might get you something roughly comparable to BSD/Solaris/etc, but without the Linux kernel there is really no technical reason to prefer GNU to BSD/Solaris/etc.

Sure you could use Hurd instead of Linux, or Mach, or any other number of alternative kernels, but who actually does that? Mach is very popular, but only in all of the places that GNU definitely is not.

(Clarification: I was explaining how Gnome may be filling the same, er, cultural role that GNU filled in years past. They're both software projects that try to give us the Unix experience we want. Part of what has changed is which part of the OS we pay attention to -- GNU is not as relevant because it achieved so many of its goals, not like Gnome.)


> "GNU might get you something roughly comparable to BSD/Solaris/etc, but without the Linux kernel there is really no technical reason to prefer GNU to BSD/Solaris/etc."

This might make sense... except that it is popular to use GNU userlands on non-Linux systems, and that has always been the case. Hell, what do you think people were doing before Linux existed? So really it makes zero sense whatsoever.

Gnome without a userland, GNU or otherwise, is completely and utterly pointless. Who would use such a thing? GNU without Linux is business as usual.


"Gnome is the new GNU" is an analogy, not a mathematical formula.


Yeah, and it makes no sense.


GNU is about developing a free distribution. The FSF is about licensing and activism. They're basically the same organization, but "GNOME is the new GNU" is a very different claim from "GNOME is the new FSF".

And yes, you can basically get a complete distribution from GNOME these days, although you're better off going through one of the real distros. And they are contributing the bulk of technical work for the distribution, such that GNOME is actually a more meaningful term for it than Linux (which "GNU" never was).


"And yes, you can basically get a complete distribution from GNOME these days, although you're better off going through one of the real distros. And they are contributing the bulk of technical work for the distribution, such that GNOME is actually a more meaningful term for it than Linux (which "GNU" never was)."

Either a "complete distribution" means something different to you or you can't be serious? I know very little about this "gnome distribution" or the bulk of the technical efforts that went into it. What version of the kernel is used? Do they include any distro maintained patches for the kernel or is it pristine linux-stable? What package management system is gnome using for their distribution? Is the default compiler in the Gnome distribution llvm or gcc? How do they handle the installation of ruby gems or python eggs? Upstart, systemd, or plain old init?


http://www.gnome.org/getting-gnome/

You can download a thing called GNOME-3.6.0.iso. Package management is presumably using jhbuild. I don't actually know what the rest of the technical details are, but it is branded as just GNOME.


This only holds true if your idea of a "complete distribution" is the desktop environment. Gnome team doesn't do work on kernel, core tools, package managers, init system, drivers, etc. While gnome contributes important work to the average desktop user, most servers run distros with no gnome packages, and even no desktop. Linux is a lot more than a window manager and associated applications.


I believe that MIT/BSD/Apache-style licenses are not only better for business but also better for developers and better for users than GPL-ish licenses.

If we get to a point where people don't have to make money, then maybe GPLish will be better.

I think that in a way the GPL and older code bases are just a less evolved and less practical tradition.

If I'm wrong, please explain to me why I'm wrong, because I would like to know.


I really like the elephant and gazelle argument. I am a huge emacs proponent and I love using it, but I feel like it need to be forked and gutted. The whole beauty of an extensible editor is that extensions should be optional. Including more shit each release is not justifiable.


> but I feel like it need to be forked and gutted.

There is Xemacs FYI..

> Including more shit each release is not justifiable.

Maintainers have indeed plans to split the packages out of the core, as the package manager is already up and running..


That was not a technical argument (slow, etc.)

It's about the structure of the project.


Copyright assignment is impractical, and a great way to eliminate outside contributions to a project.


But the polar opposite where companies like qualcomm are aggressively patenting techniques their employees 'contribute' to LLVM/CLANG with nary a suggestion of offering licensing that makes it lawful for anyone to use... thats okay?

What the FSF does has its costs and limitations, but when the mobile patent war spreads to LLVM and renders it unusable except in the underground and by a few large patent mongers, we'll be thankful for the FSF's licensing stewardship on GCC and the rest of the GNU projects.


LLVM's developer policy requires any developers contributing patented code to non-assert any patents with that code. This is particularly true if they work for companies. If you know of places where this is not occurring, or people are contributing code that is being aggressively patented, please email me personally and i'll make sure it gets taken care of.

Also note that assignment does not fix anything related to patents. You seem to be confusing contributor agreements in general with copyright assignments.


Well the Apache license protects against that too.


I disagree. Copyright assignment is appropriate for some projects and not others. The mistake many people make is assuming that it should always happen or never happen.

Some projects owe part of their success to copyright assignment, like Ogre3D.


My view: sed does not need to be "extended" nor should it require much maintenance. At least, the BSD sed's I use have not needed much work. I recall Brian Kernighan mentioning how little maintenance awk has required over the years. As such, I fail to see why changing maintainers is newsworthy. Perhaps someone was looking for an excuse to state their opinions on other matters?

I'll be honest I could not understand what Mr Bonzini is trying to say anymore than I could understand Mr Stallman's antics in the recent YouTube clip. With all due respect, what are these people on about? What is the problem? Clearly and succinctly, please.


Just as an example of extending sed, I introduced "sed -i".

Yes, it doesn't require much maintenance, but sometimes you can be surprised. I started maintaining GNU grep 3 years ago because it was in a really sorry state. Some parts were almost rewritten to make it faster and more correct.


I never use sed -i because I can't rely on that being a standard feature as I move from system to system. With a utility as basic as sed that is found on almost every UNIX (and hence often used in a system's startup or configuration scripts, etc.), I want my own sed scripts to work consistently across all systems I might use.

If I really want to create temp files I can use ed or use sed with shell redirection. Were it for some reason a requirement, I can avoid temp files, at least for the substitution (s) command, as follows:

  sed -a '"$1"';H;$!d;g;w'$2
  where $1 is some sed s commands and $2 is a file
This is not "perfect" as there will blank lines, but it does the job without temp files (if that were really a concern).

If GNU grep was in need of repair and you fixed it, then I thank you. But I'm not clear on how that justifies any "extensions" to GNU grep.

Maintenance, at least to me, means fixing things, not extending them and adding more complexity and things that can potentially break or create incompatibilities across different UNIX's.


Both GNU sed and BSD sed have -i, what other kinds of sed are you using?


/usr/bin/sed on Solaris 10 and earlier does not support -i. I don't know if OpenIndiana / Solaris 11's sed support -i, but OmniOS uses gnu sed by default, so OI might also.

As I recall, AIX's default sed also does not support -i, but I no longer have access to AIX systems to test against.


Honestly, sed -i is so useful that I'd file a feature request if a sed didn't support it.


Its easier to just not use sed and use perl -pie instead. Ironically its much more portable to non gnu systems.


> It is likely not possible to convince a diverse group such as the group of GNU maintainers to agree on coding standards for C++

...bluntly asking: why? (In any closed-source C++ project, if someone writes a "style guide and coding standard" thing and the project manager supports it, people start writing "compliant" code, grunting or moaning at first but they do, and then it becomes part of "company culture" and people find it natural to write code by it - I believe with Google's C++ was like this too... why does it has to be harder for an open source project?)


That was exactly the point being made. That things like coding standards often need somebody to make a decision and enforce it, and that RMS didn't do that.


If GNU BDFL is not supported by the community, and he wields his power unwisely, then maybe it is time for a fork - GNOME?


Except GNOME is a GNU project (the "G" in "GNOME" used to stand for "GNU"). This point was driven home about three years ago when RMS descended from upon high to decree that posts mentioning non-free software shouldn't be allowed on GNOME's blog aggregator, Planet GNOME.

Coincidentally, it was around this time that people started making noise about splitting GNOME off from GNU...


I wonder if his copyright assignment agreement also covered the assignment of trademarks. The name of the project, which seems to be the thing under dispute, would certainly fall under that umbrella rather than copyright law. On the other hand, GNU might have a pretty strong case that including the word "GNU" in the name without being actually affiliated with them would be misleading.

I have to say, cases like this really point out the flaws in copyright assignment. It just doesn't make sense from a developer's perspective. If you put in the work to create the code, why would you allow someone else to control the licensing and the name? With proprietary software, the reason is clear-- in exchange for money. But with open source or free software, you really have nothing to gain from copyright assignment, and a lot to lose.

If you disagree with whatever the GPLv4 ends up being (or v5, or v6...), your only option is to fork the codebase and choose a new name. Experience has shown that renaming the project loses most of the userbase (think OpenOffice vs. LibreOffice.) This just isn't right. Developers should have a say in how their code is used-- they should be consulted when the code is going to be relicensed.




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