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

04.30.14

Newer Approach for Advocating Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 6:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PRISM
Credit: Will Hill

Summary: How awareness of mass surveillance can propel Free software to dominance in more areas of computing

FOR a number of decades people such as Richard Stallman have been trying to persuade the public that Free software should be favoured, not because of nationalism, branding, or even cost but because only with Free software can the user (person or business) be in control. Techrights has covered the NSA’s abuses for a number of years (even well before the leaks) and recently observed great public concern when it comes to mass surveillance. Where apathy used to prevail there are now strong sentiments and people are eager to make informed choices that protect their rights.

When advocating Free software to people (not just GNU/Linux but even browsers like Firefox) it is worth using the privacy card. It really seems to help a lot.

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

8 Comments

  1. linuxcanuck said,

    April 30, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Gravatar

    To be truthful, Richard Stallman does not “persuade”. He tells without any reservation or compromise. And further he does “favour”. There are no other options for him. He has no place for proprietary anything in his universe. Richard Stallman’s failure IMO is that he does not persuade because of his rigidity and impracticality. He can sit in his ivory tower and make judgements without having to live in the real world. He might win over some people if he was able to put himself in the position of others.

    You are right that free software offers full control to developers. I am not so sure that it offers users similar control. Whether it is proprietary or free, users must take what is offered.

    What is does offer users over proprietary is ownership of their systems. That is the tipping point for me.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Collectively, users control the free/libre program because a proportion of these users will be developers. When dealing with widely-used FOSS, it is likely that developers who are also users will act as ‘regulators’, if not by commits then by forking.

    Stallman represents a principled view, irrespective of what the “real world” expects of him. There’s a saying: if you stand up for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

  2. linuxcanuck said,

    April 30, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Gravatar

    I get that Stallman is principled I respect that and have respected him for that for years. That is not the question here.

    The question is whether you can persuade anyone and win them over by taking an uncompromising stand when you are a tenured professor and highly paid speaker.

    If you are trying convince people who live and work in the real world then you need to acknowledge the realities before you can dialogue otherwise you are preaching to the choir and speaking pie in the sky. (Sorry about the idioms, but they are apropos)

    In the real world you do not build your own computer; you buy them. In the real world you do not have the freedom or power to make all decisions unless you are at the top of the food chain. By definition only a few can be at the top.

    So the ideal my be to have free software running on free hardware, but we cannot get to there from where we are without building the stepping stones and you cannot build them without making alliances and convincing people. So Stallman can never be more than our conscience unless he gets off his high horse and acknowledges reality. And a conscience does not persuade. In order to persuade you need to be able to offer something that they need to get from where they are to where they want to be.

    If you are fat and want to be skinny you are not going to wish yourself to become skinny. People need to take concrete steps. Stallman’s failure is not to offer anything concrete. I have lost respect for him over the years because he and his cause benefits from maintaining the status quo, just like the executives of the cancer societies benefit from NOT finding a cure. As long as he has a target he can collect high fees as a speaker and run his foundation. Remove the target and he becomes obscure and his ego will not allow that.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I can’t speak for Stallman, but be aware that the reality of his world is different from what you have described. Stallman is politically active, so his goals go beyond software. Stallman is being closely watched by his foes who would take any opportunity to label him “hypocrite”, so he does need to be stubborn about software freedom and walk the walk, not just talk the talk (by the way, he is not paid much for speeches). His reactions to the licence of Wikipedia and Steam OS show that he does make some compromises.

    Speaking of Wikipedia, compare the lifestyle of Wales to that of Stallman.

  3. linuxcanuck said,

    April 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Gravatar

    My politics and Stallman’s are very similar. I will grant Stallman this. He walks the talk.

    But few people are willing to pay cash for everything or able to. Many people need credit cards and ATMs. Few people use the terminal and EMACs shun the GUI and modern interfaces. It is easy to be consistent when you are uncompromising and live in the past.

    There is one thing that you have not addressed. It is Stallman’s failure to produce an operating system, his failure to move computing forward and produce anything new of his own and his failure to convince new users to accept his viewpoint. Basically he is a hollow voice that only his most ardent followers listen to. Obviously his strategy is not working.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Paying cash for almost everything is possible, except for things where your identity is already known (utility bills, flights, and so on). I know it’s possible because I do it and all this requires is a couple of visits per month to the nearest ATM.

    RMS uses a GUI. I know this because we sat together in front of his computer some months ago. He uses a Web browser under GNOME (Epiphany IIRC). Software freedom may be associated with terminals, but it’s an old stigma. Torvalds works from the terminal a lot (pine, git, and other tools), so let’s not single out RMS.

    There is one thing that you have not addressed. It is Stallman’s failure to produce an operating system

    The GNU/Linux operating system is mostly RMS’ work.

    his failure to move computing forward and produce anything new of his own

    The opposite is true and many awards that RMS has received support that. I can provide examples.

    his failure to convince new users to accept his viewpoint.

    I actually know a lot of people, my wife included, who accept his viewpoint, especially in recent years (the age of Wikileaks, Snowden and the war on dissent, e.g. NDAA 2012).

    RMS is regularly invited to some TV channels such as RT, so he does seem to be receiving growing exposure and even acceptance. I also know ardent bashers of RMS who turned into supporters.

  4. linuxcanuck said,

    May 1, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Gravatar

    It is the second time that you have introduced someone else in your defence of Stallman. The first was Wales and now Torvalds. What they do or don’t is not an issue. It is just a distraction.

    RMS does not use ATMs as far as I know because I have heard him talk about the evils of ATMs and debit cards.

    I knew that Stallman uses a GUI and a browser. He does not go much further than that. I read his political posts and they are in basic text files. As far as I know he does not even use a word processor. My point was that his needs are very basic and he criticizes and judges people based on his needs rather than other’s needs. That is not going to win him friends and take him to where he wants to be as an influencer.

    I am not criticizing Stallman for the sake of criticizing him. I am criticizing a whole range of people and not just him. I respect him for what he is. He can never be influential with the people that he wants to change taking the positions that he does. Time is bearing me out. I have followed him since I started using Linux in 1999.

    I acknowledge his contributions to GNU. He is doing nothing IMO to move us forward, but criticises for the sake of criticising. He needs to be constructive in his criticism if he is to help the situation and he has not learned that. I think he does it to make headlines.

    As we move to a new paradigm of tablets and devices with Linux, GNU is getting left out. The desktop is dying. The irony is that if HURD ever gets finished it will be a generation too late. Sad really. By his own admission the kernel was the hard part and the fact that it is taking him so long to develop HURD bears that out. I disagree strongly that GNU is most of the operating system. It is part, but certainly not most. And it is mostly invisible from the user’s point of view.

    I am sure that he feels that time is passing him by. Desperation is evident in the posts that I get from him and the FSF. He needs to just be quite sometimes but he just can’t help himself and I find myself feeling sorry for him and losing respect. Ten years ago my opinion would have been quite different.

    Anyway, I respect your point of view. I read everything from TR/BN, but do not agree with all of it. You do good work. Just take a lesson from RMS and not relegate yourselves to the sidelines by being too hardline.

    Roy

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The way you put it in your last comment, I tend to agree with quite a few of the points. A lot here is subjective, so I would like to focus on what’s measurable:

    As we move to a new paradigm of tablets and devices with Linux, GNU is getting left out.

    This is quantifiably true. The same goes for smartphones.

    The desktop is dying. The irony is that if HURD ever gets finished it will be a generation too late. Sad really. By his own admission the kernel was the hard part and the fact that it is taking him so long to develop HURD bears that out. I disagree strongly that GNU is most of the operating system. It is part, but certainly not most. And it is mostly invisible from the user’s point of view.

    So is Linux. Torvalds calls it “invisible magician,” or something along those lines, bragging that the less visible they are, the better.

    But in the wider context, remember that GNU has far more lines of code in a distribution like Debian than Linux has. Around 7 years ago I saw it measured at about 1:5 in GNU’s favour. Remember that “G” in GNOME is also GNU. A lot of projects without the “G” at the start are also GNU projects.

    An operating system comes with a lot of tools. Many of the underlying CLI tools/functions that your GUI uses are GNU. BSD utilities are also enormously useful, but they are not as widely used as GNU’s.

What Else is New


  1. Links 21/8/2014: Conferences of Linux Foundation, Elephone Emerges

    Links for the day



  2. Links 20/8/2014: Linux Event, GNOME Milestone

    Links for the day



  3. Corruption Watch: Microsoft Lobbying Designed to Kill Chile's Free Software Policy and Promote Microsoft With Subsidies, More Dirty Tricks Emerge in Munich

    icrosoft is systematically attacking migrations to GNU, Linux and Free software, using dirty tricks, as always



  4. Vista 8 Such a Disaster That Even Microsoft Cannot Cope With It, Vapourware Tactics Start Early

    Microsoft's Windows-powered services are failing and Windows gets bricked by Microsoft patches, whereupon we are seeing yet more of Microsoft's vapourware tactics (focusing in imaginary, non-existent versions of Windows)



  5. On BlackBerry and Other Patent Trolls

    A roundup regarding patent trolls, starting with the bigger and latest joiner, BlackBerry's new patents apparatus



  6. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  7. BlackBerry -- Like Microsoft Nokia -- Could be the Next Patent Proxy Troll

    BlackBerry is restructuring for patent assertion (i.e. trolling) in the wake of some alliances with Microsoft



  8. After Microsoft's Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

    The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich's lead



  9. Gates Foundation CFO Quits and Debate About Revolving Doors Recalled Amid Systematic and Shrewd Bribery of Public Officials

    More officials step out of the Gates Foundation and their destination is not known yet; Gates continues to corrupt the public sector with his money so as to increase personal gain at taxpayers' expense



  10. Links 19/8/2014: GNU/Linux Raves and Alternative to Proprietary Voice Chat

    Links for the day



  11. Links 18/8/2014: Linux 3.17 RC1, Escalation in Ferguson

    Links for the day



  12. Gartner Group Advocates Using Defective Software With Back Doors

    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software



  13. The Microsoft Patent Trolls: Android Extortion, Vringo Versus Google, and Intellectual Ventures

    Roundup of news about patent aggression by Microsoft and some of its proxies



  14. Links 16/8/2014: Microsoft Linux, US Government Turns to Free Software

    Links for the day



  15. Links 15/8/2014: Reiser4 in Headlines Again, GNOME and KDE Events Finish

    Links for the day



  16. Links 14/8/2014: Kernel Summit Coming, KMix on KDE Frameworks 5

    Links for the day



  17. Shameless Microsoft Spin is Blaming China for Microsoft's Misconduct and Back Doors While Justifying Massive Losses in Hardware (Made in China)

    A new look at how Microsoft-friendly media takes negative Microsoft news and turns that news into some kind of scandals where Microsoft is the victim



  18. Microsoft Spin in the Media Evokes 'New Microsoft' and New Back Doors

    Some new examples of Microsoft boosters rewriting history, characterising Microsoft as a FOSS champion, and generally weak/shallow reporting on Microsoft's audio/video surveillance software



  19. Links 13/8/2014: GNU/Linux as Winner, New Snowden Interview

    Links for the day



  20. Reader's Article: Skype Spying Reaches New Levels of Blatant

    Forced 'upgrades' of Skype give useds [sic.] of Skype more than they asked for



  21. The Problem is Software Patents (and Scope), Not Patent Trolls Who Abuse Them Just Like Large Corporations

    Reminder of the dangers of losing sight of the real patent problem, which is the patents themselves, not necessarily those who use them



  22. Fraud in the USPTO and CAFC Helped Apple Launch Frivolous Patent Lawsuits Against Linux/Android, Based on New Withdrawals

    Inherent corruption in the US system has aided Apple's assault on east Asian electronics giants that use Linux at the core of their products



  23. Investigation Reveals That USPTO is Corrupt, Time to Abolish It or Annul Nearly a Million Patents

    Corruption is found at the heart of the USPTO and the USPTO works hard to hide it, despite attempt by whistleblowers to bring this corruption to light



  24. Links 13/8/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 Beta, Tizen in Watches

    Links for the day



  25. Links 12/8/2014: Chromebooks Surge, OpenGL in the Headlines

    Links for the day



  26. Bill Gates is Profiting By Diverting Public Money to His Own Pocket and Reducing Wages

    Gates' lobbying for companies he is an investor of and for lower salaries inside companies he is investing in (and managing) comes as no surprise



  27. Microsoft is Still Attacking Open Standards, So Khronos Does Not Need the Microsoft Moles

    Having attacked the industry's document standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) while pretending to have 'embraced' ODF Microsoft is now pretending that it is eager to support OpenGL



  28. Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

    A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens' interests



  29. Links 11/8/2014: DEFT 8.2, Linux Mint on Debian Stable

    Links for the day



  30. Links 9/8/2014: Knoppix 7.4.0, GNU Linux Libre 3.16

    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