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 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.
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.
A classic rant by Zed Shaw.
(I haven't yet read that piece)
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.
Might not be a bad idea, since those discussions could be used after discovery as part of a trial.
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.
> "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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seriously? He's not 100, you know. Why wouldn't he be as sharp, or sharper, than ever?
Anyways, I do agree that Debian should be the distribution the FSF should support instead of gNewSense.
This is why most people think he's a fucking crackpot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
On the other hand your characterization strikes at the heart of the BSD vs GPL argument as it is viewed by BSD proponents.
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.
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.
These are not compatible. There are either strings attached as in GPL or there are not, as in BSD.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Forward, not back. Sorry, but I think this is an important yet often missed distinction.
I don't understand where the either-or comes in.
Choosing to protect the freedom of users as a whole will dissatisfy developers who would like to have a different set of freedoms.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
just fork, code and... maybe make profit. 
* 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.
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?
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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..
It's about the structure of the project.
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.
Also note that assignment does not fix anything related to patents. You seem to be confusing contributor agreements in general with copyright assignments.
Some projects owe part of their success to copyright assignment, like Ogre3D.
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.
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.
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
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.
As I recall, AIX's default sed also does not support -i, but I no longer have access to AIX systems to test against.
...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?)
Coincidentally, it was around this time that people started making noise about splitting GNOME off from GNU...
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.