EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.30.08

Stallmanians and Torvaldsians Will Be Stronger Together

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, ISO, Kernel, Microsoft at 4:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU and Linux

S

everal days ago, Free Software Daily had shared an old video of Torvalds. The video was from 2001.

A reader who has watched the computing industry for decades wrote to share his opinion and interpretation of this apparent divide between Linus Torvalds and the Free Software movement. It was highlighted by some.

Thank you for the reference to the Linus Torvalds talk about “the origins of Linux.” It was interesting. I’m not sure that I exactly agree with your characterisation of Torvalds’ view of the GPL.

I do not understand why he says that “the GPL is a horrible document.” He does not elaborate, but if I try to read between the lines, I would say that it is because he is apolitical and he sees the GPL as a political document. He truly is a technical person who is just doing something that he finds to be fun and challenging. He is not doing it for political reasons at all.

I don’t necessarily see this as a reason to distrust him. He does also say that he went for the GPL as a licence because he saw that there is a big problem with the BSD licence in that it allows contributors to make changes and keep them as secrets. He is fundamentally on the same side as Richard Stallman, whether he knows it or not. Perhaps one difference between them is that he didn’t quite have Stallman’s experience with proprietary software which upset him enough to start the GNU project and the FSF. In political terms, one would say that they have an uneasy alliance and it’s in the FSF’s best interest to use Linux for their purposes.

As for the future, who knows? Perhaps if locked down hardware which only allows certain “approved” operating systems becomes the norm, it would upset Torvalds enough to take a strong stand.

It is true that he vehemently dislikes DRM because it is a form of restriction that is never effective. He does, on the other hand, defend Tivoization — moreover saying that he likes it. He recently said in an interview that he was glad to see DRM fading away (at least for music distribution).

The introduction/popularisation of Digital ‘Manners’, ‘Trusted’ Computing and other not-so-polite and not-so-trusted technologies might — just might — change his mind.

“It’s truly understandable that, being an engineer, he can ignore the problem and let his colleagues deal with this burden.”When Torvalds set up a PC for his wife, and it was quite recently in fact, he chose Fedora. He reported bugs and some people in OS News spotted and elaborated on this. This might tell that he values Free software (somewhere deep inside).

Based on interviews, he seems fearful of distraction that comes from ‘politics’ and emotional attachment. Software patents opened up his eyes and some months ago he said he was worried about them. It’s truly understandable that, being an engineer, he can ignore the problem and let his colleagues deal with this burden.

Our reader later concluded by saying: “My gut feeling is that Torvalds is honest and that’s the fundamental reason which makes me want to trust him. I have less respect for someone who just goes with the flow and says whatever is convenient at the time. At least, he doesn’t concern himself with being “popular” or “unpopular.”

It was roughly a week ago that you could also found out what Richard Stallman thinks about Microsoft. Some people have argued that he does not pay enough attention to Microsoft but looks at a broader pictures instead.

“Microsoft suborned the One Laptop Per Child project, converting it into a massive Windows training campaign. The project says it is giving the purchasing governments ‘more choice’ by supporting Windows as well as GNU/Linux, but those governments will tend to choose Windows by default. In some countries, people will campaign to prevent that. If these campaigns succeed, the OLPC project may yet make a positive contribution to the world. Otherwise, it will do overall harm.”

Second, talking about the standards fight in which Microsoft succeeded in having its OOXML format accepted as an open standard in rivalry to the ODF format favored by OpenOffice.org and other free office applications, Stallman notes that “Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”

Despite all of this, ISO continues to deny the obvious.

The main post of this post has been to show that Torvalds’ and Stallman’s thinking is not so different after all. They just happen to focus on different areas/angles of the very same thing, trying to resolve the technical and ‘political’ issues, respectively. Both sides ought to respect one another. They’ll both win that way.

“When I do this, some people think that it’s because I want my ego to be fed, right? Of course, I’m not asking you to call it “Stallmanix”!”

Richard Stallman

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

3 Comments

  1. PitaGuy said,

    July 1, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Gravatar

    GPL V3 is a political document. I cannot understand it, and way too complicated for a normal person to make sense out of it. It was made to fight microsoft – thats why linus does not like it. Its just too long and with a lot of legal speak.

    Why cant GPL be simple. GPL has become *boalted* with too many clause and sections.

  2. Balzac said,

    July 1, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Gravatar

    “The main post of this post has been to show that Torvalds’ and Stallman’s thinking is not so different after all.” – Roy

    Torvalds’ and Stallman’s thinking is different on some very important issues.

    Stallman’s thinking has a wider scope, a longer view and has been more relevant to society.

    Linus Torvalds does not aspire to such visionary or ideological purposes, which is ok, so long as he can avoid saying judgmental things against Stallman’s work which began before Torvalds’ participation and continues beyond the scope of Torvalds’ work on the Linux Kernel project.

    Linus Torvalds is a decent and likable guy. So are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

    The difference is that none of those three guys understands software as it relates to society to the degree that Richard Stallman understands it.

    Freedom is the most important thing, and Stallman won’t be distracted from it.

  3. Bob said,

    July 1, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Gravatar

    Have you ever read any of the licenses for Windows? It took me 2 hours to read and comprehend the license for Windows XP Home. All throughout that license was full of clauses of “thou shalt not” and “we are not responsible if something bad happens”. The feeling that I got from the license was that Windows belongs to MS and that I was not allowed to do anything useful with it and any problems that do occur was my own fault.

    The GPL3 is actually a very clear document compared to many other software licensing agreements. It provides clear definitions that work well with the legal definitions of the world’s English speaking jurisdictions. It provides clear and explicit instructions about what is allowed and not allowed.

What Else is New


  1. With Stambler v Mastercard, Patent Maximalists Are Hoping to Prop Up Software Patents and Damage PTAB

    The patent 'industry' is hoping to persuade the highest US court to weaken the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), for PTAB is making patent lawsuits a lot harder and raises the threshold for patent eligibility



  2. Apple Discovers That Its Patent Disputes Are a Losing Battle Which Only Lawyers Win (Profit From)

    By pouring a lot of money and energy into the 'litigation card' Apple lost focus and it's also losing some key cases, as its patents are simply not strong enough



  3. The Patent Microcosm Takes Berkheimer v HP Out of Context to Pretend PTAB Disregards Fact-Finding Process

    In view or in light of a recent decision (excerpt above), patent maximalists who are afraid of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) try to paint it as inherently unjust and uncaring for facts



  4. Microsoft Has Left RPX, But RPX Now Pays a Microsoft Patent Troll, Intellectual Ventures

    The patent/litigation arms race keeps getting a little more complicated, as the 'arms' are being passed around to new and old entities that do nothing but shake-downs



  5. UPC Has Done Nothing for Europe Except Destruction of the EPO and Imminent Layoffs Due to Lack of Applications and Lowered Value of European Patents

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is merely a distant dream or a fantasy for litigators; to everyone else the UPC lobby has done nothing but damage, including potentially irreparable damage to the European Patent Office, which is declining very sharply



  6. Links 17/2/2018: Mesa 17.3.4, Wine 3.2, Go 1.10

    Links for the day



  7. Patent Trolls Are Thwarted by Judges, But Patent Lawyers View Them as a 'Business' Opportunity

    Patent lawyers are salivating over the idea that trolls may be coming to their state/s; owing to courts and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) other trolls' software patents get invalidated



  8. Microsoft's Patent Moves: Dominion Harbor, Intellectual Ventures, Intellectual Discovery, NEC and Uber

    A look at some of the latest moves and twists, as patents change hands and there are still signs of Microsoft's 'hidden hand'



  9. Links 15/2/2018: GNOME 3.28 Beta, Rust 1.24

    Links for the day



  10. Bavarian State Parliament Has Upcoming Debate About Issues Which Can Thwart UPC for Good

    An upcoming debate about Battistelli's attacks on the EPO Boards of Appeal will open an old can of worms, which serves to show why UPC is a non-starter



  11. The EPO is Being Destroyed and There's Nothing Left to Replace It Except National Patent Offices

    It looks like Battistelli is setting up the European Patent Office (EPO) for mass layoffs; in fact, it looks as though he is so certain that the UPC will materialise that he obsesses over "validation" for mass litigation worldwide, departing from a "model office" that used to lead the world in terms of patent quality and workers' welfare/conditions



  12. IBM is Getting Desperate and Now Suing Microsoft Over Lost Staff, Not Just Suing Everyone Using Patents

    IBM's policy when it comes to patents, not to mention its alignment with patent extremists, gives room for thought if not deep concern; the company rapidly becomes more and more like a troll



  13. In Microsoft's Lawsuit Against Corel the Only Winner is the Lawyers

    The outcome of the old Microsoft v Corel lawsuit reaffirms a trend; companies with deep pockets harass their competitors, knowing that the legal bills are more cumbersome to the defendants; there's a similar example today in Cisco v Arista Networks



  14. The Latest Lies About Unitary Patent (UPC) and the EPO

    Lobbying defies facts; we are once again seeing some easily-debunked talking points from those who stand to benefit from the UPC and mass litigation



  15. Speech Deficit and No Freedom of Association at the EPO

    True information cannot be disseminated at the EPO and justice too is beyond elusive; this poses a threat to the EPO's future, not only to its already-damaged reputation



  16. No, Britain is Not Ratifying 'Unitary' Anything, But Team UPC Insinuates It Will (Desperate Effort to Affect Tomorrow's Outcome)

    Contrary to several misleading headlines from Bristows (in its blog and others'), the UPC isn't happening and isn't coming to the UK; it all amounts to lobbying (by setting false expectations)



  17. The EPO's Paid Promotion of Software Patents Gets Patent Maximalists All Excited and Emboldened

    The software patents advocacy from Battistelli (and his cohorts) isn't just a spit in the face of European Parliament but also the EPC; but patent scope seems to no longer exist or matter under his watch, as all he cares about is granting as many patents as possible, irrespective of real quality/legitimacy/merit



  18. Andrei Iancu Begins His USPTO Career While Former USPTO Director (and Now Paid Lobbyist) Keeps Meddling in Office Affairs

    The USPTO, which is supposed to be a government branch (loosely speaking) is being lobbied by former officials, who are now being paid by private corporations to help influence and shape policies; this damages the image of the Office and harms its independence from corporate influence



  19. Links 14/2/2018: Atom 1.24, OSI Joins UNESCO

    Links for the day



  20. The EPO Now Censors the Central Staff Committee Like It Used to Censor SUEPO

    The EPO's Central Staff Committee (CSC) is now being treated as poorly as SUEPO several years ago (when it was threatened to remove publications from its site or face severe action)



  21. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls, Xerox, and Andrei Iancu

    A roundup of news pertaining to Microsoft-connected entities and their patent activity this month; Director Iancu is only loosely connected to one of them (he fought against it)



  22. The Campaign to Subvert the US Patent Office by Misrepresenting Its Successes

    Figureheads of the patent microcosm (firms that profit from patent chaos) are still meddling in affairs which they intentionally mis-portray, conflating innovation with number of patents and so on



  23. Almost All Patent Lawsuits in China Are Filed by the Chinese, But IAM (Cherry) Picks the Exception

    China's patent office (SIPO) is a pretty one-sided office where Mandarin patents get filed primarily by local firms and lawsuits too are filed by local firms; IAM, however, found a "man bites dog" slant



  24. Congratulations to Cloudflare on Beating Patent Troll Blackbird Technologies

    After nearly a year in the court (no doubt an expensive exercise for Cloudflare) the Northern District of California finally dismisses the lawsuit, deeming the underlying claims “[a]bstract ideas [which] are not patentable”



  25. Watch Out for Buzzwords That Are Used to Mask Patents on Software, Even in Europe

    The EPO now exploits EPO budget for advocacy of software patents; It's troubling as it was traditionally the 'job' of the patent 'industry' and moreover it reveals an EPO so adrift from law and order that it's a Bavaria-based pariah acting with impunity, posing a threat to software development in the whole of Europe



  26. EPO Opposition to CRISPR Patents Has Wide-Ranging and Far-Reaching Impact, But Mind Not the Lobbyists

    The patent maximalists who strive to bring patent trolls and limitless patents to Europe are losing their battle; this is, for the most part, owing to courageous European examiners who say "no" to patents that aren't justified



  27. Links 13/2/2018: Rise of the Tomb Raider on GNU/Linux, KDE 5.43.0, Qt 5.10.1

    Links for the day



  28. Denialists of Patent Trolls Are at It Again

    The patent trolls' lobby (sites like IAM and Watchtroll or Koch-funded scholars) want us to think that patent trolls are just a myth that can be dismissed and ignored; sadly for these lobbyists, underlying facts are not on their side



  29. Patent Maximalists Won't Get Their Way and UPC Will Likely Never Happen (Even After Battistelli)

    The incautious optimism from the patent 'industry', trying to convince us all that expansion of patent scope and litigation would be a boon to innovation, faces growing resistance; contrary to what the patent microcosm is saying, it's extremely unlikely that the UK and Germany will ratify the Unified Patent Court (UPC), i.e. open the door for patent trolls in Europe



  30. Links 12/2/2018: Linux 4.16 RC1, ZFS Back in Focus

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts