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. Protectionism v Sharing: How the US Supreme Court Decides Patent Cases

    As the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) starts delivering some decisions we take stock of what's to come regarding patents



  2. Links 22/3/2017: GNOME 3.24, Wine-Staging 2.4 Released

    Links for the day



  3. The Battistelli Regime, With Its Endless Scandals, Threatens to Crash the Unitary Patent (UPC), Stakeholders Concerned

    The disdain and the growing impatience have become a huge liability not just to Battistelli but to the European Patent Office (EPO) as a whole



  4. The Photos the EPO Absolutely Doesn't Want the Public to See: Battistelli is Building a Palace Using Stakeholders' Money

    The Office is scrambling to hide evidence of its out-of-control spendings, which will leave the EPO out of money when the backlog is eliminated by many erroneous grants (or rejections)



  5. In the US Patent System, Evolved Tricks for Bypassing Invalidations of Software Patents and Getting Them Granted by the USPTO

    A roundup of news about patents in the US and how the patent microcosm attempts to patent software in spite of Alice (high-impact SCOTUS decision from 2014)



  6. “Then They Came For Me—And There Was No One Left To Speak For Me.”

    The decreasing number of people who cover EPO scandals (partly due to fear, or Battistelli's notorious "reign of terror") and a cause for hope, as well as a call for help



  7. As Expected, the Patent Microcosm is Already Interfering, Lobbying and Influencing Supreme Court Justices

    The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is preparing to deliver some important decisions on cases with broad ramifications, e.g. for patent scope, and those who make money from patent feuds are attempting to alter the outcome (which would likely restrict patent scope even further, based on these Justices' track record)



  8. Intellectual Ventures -- Like Microsoft (Which It Came From) -- Spreads Patents to Manifest a Lot of Lawsuits

    That worrisome strategy which is passage of patents to active (legally-aggressive) trolls seems to be a commonality, seen across both Microsoft and its biggest ally among trolls, which Microsoft and Bill Gates helped create and still fund



  9. What the Patent Microcosm is Saying About the EPO and the UPC

    Response to 3 law firms and today's output from them, which serves to inform or misinform the European public at times of Big Lies and fog of (patent) war, revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric patent warfare and lobbying



  10. Tough Day for the EPO's Media/Press/PR Team, Trying 'Damage Control' After Important Techrights Publications

    In an effort to save face and regain a sense of legitimacy the EPO publishes various things belatedly, and only after Techrights made these things publicly known and widely discussed



  11. Links 21/3/2017: PyPy Releases, Radeon RX Vega, Eileen Evans at Linux Foundation

    Links for the day



  12. In IAM, Asian Courts That Deliver Justice Are “Unfriendly” and Asian Patent Trolls Are Desirable

    Rebuttal or response to the latest pieces from IAM, which keeps promoting a culture of litigation rather than sharing, collaboration, negotiation, and open innovation



  13. At EPO “I Have the Feeling That Lowering Quality is Part of a Concerted Plan.”

    Growing concern about patent quality at the EPO -- a subject which causes managers to get rather nervous -- is now an issue at the forefront



  14. EPO Reduces the World to Just Seven Nations to Bolster an Illusion of Growing 'Demand' for European Patents

    The unscientific -- if not antiscientific -- attitude of the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to show with the arrival of yet more misleading 'infographics' (disinfographics would be a more suitable term)



  15. Letter to Angela Merkel Expresses Concerns About Impact of EPO Scandals on Germany and Its Image

    Dr. Angela Merkel, arguably the most powerful woman in the world, is being warned about the consequences of Germany ignoring (and hence facilitating) the abuses of Benoît Battistelli



  16. EPO Caricature: Low Patent Quality Not an Achievement

    A new cartoon about the legacy of Battistelli, which ruins both inventors and staff (examination) while handing money to abusers



  17. Are Lithuania and Latvia the Latest Additions to the List of Benoît Battistelli's Vassal States?

    Benoît Battistelli's 'back room' deals came at an interesting, strategic time and the Office uncharacteristically kept quiet about these



  18. Links 20/3/2017: Linux 4.11 RC3, OpenSSH 7.5 Released

    Links for the day



  19. Supposedly 'Pampered' Prisoners Are Still Prisoners of the EPO

    Response to those gross and familiar attempts to portray patent examiners, not politicians who trample all over them, as the cause of all the problems at the EPO



  20. Insulting Reversal of Narratives at the EPO: Team Battistelli as the Victim

    At times of great oppression against staff, in clear defiance of the law in fact, journalists are being asked (or expected) to view the oppressor as the victim, even when this oppressor drives people to suicide



  21. Battistelli's EPO Copies China -- Not the US -- When it Comes to Patenting Software and Expanding Patent Scope

    A detailed explanation of some of the latest reports from China and the US, serving to show that one opens up to software patents whereas the other shuts the door on them (and guess whose lead the EPO is taking)



  22. What IAM Says About AST, RPX, Ericsson, and IBM

    IAM, the trolls' mouthpiece (also the EPO's mouthpiece, but that's another story), provides updates on trolls and troll-like entities, but further commentary is needed to clarify and counterbalance the promotional language



  23. Apple and Microsoft, Two Patent Aggressors That Habitually Attack GNU/Linux Distributors, Get Sued by a Patent Troll, Soverain IP

    Putting in perspective the latest high-profile (in the press at least) lawsuits filed by a notorious troll, which this time around chose as its targets two patent aggressors that deserve no sympathy because of their own actions



  24. What's OIN Doing While Microsoft is Siccing Patent Trolls on Azure Competitors' Customers?

    Microsoft's patent litigation strategy has become clearer, and patents-centric efforts such as OIN offer no defence against such a strategy, which attempts to pressure everyone to flock to Microsoft for 'protection' (from Microsoft itself)



  25. “EPO Continues to Grant Software Patents”

    The longstanding concern about the granting of software patents at the EPO (typically disguised as a "device") as reinforced by T 0625/11



  26. Links 19/3/2017: Linux Sightings, What's Wrong With Microsoft, and Death of Docker

    Links for the day



  27. Governance Crisis at EPO Deepens After Latest Meeting of the Administrative Council, Necessitating Urgent Outside Intervention

    he EPO's Administrative Council continues to be subservient to -- and without any authority over -- Team Battistelli with its endless mischief and endless power grab, including unbridled money grab



  28. EPO Management Deeply Concerned That the Public Has Found Out Quality of European Patents (EPs) Nosedived Under Battistelli's Regime

    Growing pressure on the EPO's management to acknowledge that quality control has gone totally out of control as stakeholders already grasp the obvious and act accordingly, turning to other patent offices, such as their national ones (NPOs)



  29. European Directives and Boards of Appeal Desperately Needed to Keep EPO Patent Scope in Check

    Battistelli's notorious reign of terror has caused patents to be granted that are bogus and no longer valid (if/once challenged); moreover, it prevents legal firms from lashing out at him publicly while bogus patents continue to pile up, diminishing confidence in European patents (EPs)



  30. Letter From European Public Services Organisation (IPSO) to Angela Merkel and Heiko Maas Regarding EPO Union-Busting Catastrophe

    The latest attempt of many to reach the ears of the ever-so-deaf Heiko Maas (whose silence on the matter seems to be akin to complicity with Battistelli and the UPC), in addition to the top German official, who -- to the best of our knowledge -- was never before contacted regarding the European Patent Office (EPO)


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