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. Inverting Narratives: IAM 'Magazine' Paints Massive Patent Bully Microsoft (Preying on the Weak) as a Defender of the Powerless

    Selective coverage and deliberate misinterpretation of Microsoft's tactics (patent settlement under threat, disguised as "pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products") as seen in IAM almost every week these days



  2. The Sickness of the EPO – Part I: Motivation for New Series of Articles

    An introduction or prelude to a long series of upcoming posts, whose purpose is to show governance by coercion, pressure, retribution and tribalism rather than professional relationship between human beings at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  3. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VII: EPO Hypocrisy on Cancer and Lack of Feedback to and From ECPC

    The European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), which calls itself "the largest European cancer patients' umbrella organisation," fails to fulfill its duties, says a source of ours, and the EPO makes things even worse



  4. Links 21/2/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9.2 in Chakra GNU/Linux, pfSense 2.3.3

    Links for the day



  5. EPO Caricature: Battistelli's Wall

    Battistelli's solution to everything at the EPO is exclusion and barriers



  6. The 'New' Microsoft is Still Acting Like a Dangerous Cult in an Effort to Hijack and/or Undermine All Free/Open Source Software

    In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft's agenda



  7. PTAB Petitioned to Help Against Patent Troll InfoGation Corp., Which Goes After Linux/Android OEMs in China

    A new example of software patents against Free software, or trolls against companies that are distributing freedom-respecting software from a country where these patents are not even potent (they don't exist there)



  8. Links 20/2/2017: Linux 4.10, LineageOS Milestone

    Links for the day



  9. No, Doing Mathematical Operations on a Processor Does Not Make Algorithms Patent-Eligible

    Old and familiar tricks -- a method for tricking examiners into the idea that algorithms are actual machines -- are being peddled by Watchtroll again



  10. Paid-for UPC Proponent, IAM 'Magazine', Debunked on UPC Again

    The impact of the corrupted (by EPO money) media goes further than one might expect and even 'borrows' out-of-date news in order to promote the UPC



  11. Lack of Justice in and Around the EPO Drawing Scrutiny

    The status of the EPO as an entity above the law (in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and so on) is becoming the subject of press reports and staff is leaving in large numbers



  12. Links 19/2/2017: GParted 0.28.1, LibreOffice Donations Record

    Links for the day



  13. The EPO is Becoming an Embarrassment to Europe and a Growing Threat to the European Union

    The increasingly pathetic moves by Battistelli and the ever-declining image/status of the EPO (only 0% of polled stakeholders approve Battistelli's management) is causing damage to the reputation of the European Union, even if the EPO is not a European Union organ but an international one



  14. Patent Misconceptions Promoted by the Patent Meta-Industry

    Cherry-picking one's way into the perception of patent eligibility for software and the misguided belief that without patents there will be no innovation



  15. As the United States Shuts Its Door on Low-Quality Patents the Patent Trolls Move to Asia

    Disintegration of Intellectual Ventures (further shrinkage after losing software patents at CAFC), China's massive patent bubble, and Singapore's implicit invitation/facilitation of patent trolls (bubble economy)



  16. Links 17/2/2017: Wine 2.2, New Ubuntu LTS

    Links for the day



  17. Bad Advice From Mintz Levin and Bejin Bieneman PLC Would Have People Believe That Software Patents Are Still Worth Pursuing

    The latest examples of misleading articles which, in spite of the avalanche of software patents in the United States, continue to promote these



  18. Patents Are Not Property, They Are a Monopoly, and They Are Not Owned But Temporarily Granted

    Patent maximalism and distortion of concepts associated with patents tackled again, for terminology is being hijacked by those who turned patents into their "milking cows"



  19. SoftBank Group, New Owner of ARM, Could Potentially Become (in Part) a Patent Troll or an Aggressor Like Qualcomm

    SoftBank grabbed headlines (in the West at least) when it bought ARM, but will it soon grab headlines for going after practicing companies using a bunch of patents that it got from Inventergy, ARM, and beyond?



  20. Technicolor, Having Turned Into a Patent Troll, Attacks Android/Tizen/Linux With Patents in Europe

    Technicolor, which a lot of the media portrayed as a patent troll in previous years (especially after it had sued Apple, HTC and Samsung), is now taking action against Samsung in Europe (Paris, Dusseldorf and Mannheim)



  21. Michelle Lee is Still “in Charge” of the US Patent System

    Contrary to a malicious whispering campaign against Lee (a coup attempt, courtesy of patent maximalists who make a living from mass litigation), she is still in charge of the USPTO



  22. Our Assessment: EPO Wants a Lot of Low-Quality Patents and Low-Paid Staff With UPC (Prosecution Galore)

    The European Patent Office seems to be less interested in examination and more interested in facilitating overzealous prosecution all across Europe and beyond; The Administrative Council has shown no signs that it is interested in profound changes, except those proposed by Battistelli in the face of growing resistance from staff and from ordinary stakeholders



  23. Links 16/2/2017: HITMAN for GNU/Linux, Go 1.8

    Links for the day



  24. Yet More Complaints About the European Patent Office in the Bavarian Regional Government

    Some German politicians do care about the welfare of EPO staff, a lot more so than the EPO's management that is actively crushing this staff



  25. EPO Staff Representatives to Escalate Complaint About Severe Injustices to the EPO's Secretive Board 28

    In a new letter to President Benoît Battistelli it is made abundantly apparent -- however politely -- that Battistelli's gross abuses could further complicate things for Battistelli, who is already embroiled in a fight with his predecessor, Roland Grossenbacher



  26. New Survey Reveals That High Patent Quality, or Elimination of Bad Patents, is Desirable to Patent Holders

    A new survey from Bloomberg BNA and AIPLA reveals that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which still grows in prominence, is supported by people who have themselves gotten patents (not those who are in the bureaucracy of patents and self-serving politics)



  27. Open Patent Office is Not the Solution; Ending Software Patents is the Solution

    Our remarks about the goals and methods of the newly-established Open Patent Office and what is instead needed in order to combat the menace that threatens software development



  28. New Scholarly Paper Says “UK’s Withdrawal From the EU Could Mean That the Entire (Unitary Patent) System Will Not Go Into Effect”

    A paper from academics -- not from the patent microcosm (for a change) -- provides a more sobering interpretation, suggesting quite rightly that the UPC can't happen in the UK (or in Europe), or simply not endure if some front groups such as CIPA somehow managed to bamboozle politicians into it (ratification in haste, before the facts are known)



  29. Patent Trolls Update: Rodney Gilstrap Maintains His Support for Trolls, MPEG-LA Goes Hunting in China, and Blackberry Hits Nokia

    A roundup of the latest news about patent trolls and what they are up to in the United States, Europe, and Asia



  30. Guest Post: EPO, an Idyllic Place to Work

    The true face of the EPO as explained by an insider, recalling the history that led to the negative image and toxic work atmosphere


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