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. Now is the Time to Sign the Petition Against the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    With only days left before the UPC is debated in English/British (and maybe Scottish) Parliament it's important to make public officials aware that there is resistance among those sufficiently informed



  2. Justice is Dead Not Only at the European Patent Office But Also the Whole European Patent Organisation

    The whole mechanism of justice at the EPO (notably separation of powers) is more or less defunct after Battistelli asserted God-like powers not just over the Office but the entire Organisation, including the above-mentioned Boards of Appeal



  3. IAM Just Can't Stop Pushing for Software Patents in India

    The shaming tactics against India, which come from many directions (notably front groups in the West), still try hard to convince Indians to shoot themselves in the foot and allow foreign companies to privatise algorithms



  4. More Hardware Companies Adopt Software Patents and Become Like Patent Trolls

    A glance at the 'trollisation' of large companies that are tempted by the prospects of patent bullying, even if it's known to be damaging to one's brand and a distraction from productive activities



  5. Yes, Michelle Lee is Still in Charge of the US Patent Office, in Spite of the Patent Microcosm's Endless Attacks on Her

    In spite of many attacks on Michelle Lee -- all of which courtesy of rude patent maximalists -- she remains in charge of the Office and we wish her continued success in that role



  6. Links 28/2/2017: Wine 1.8.7, AWS Goes Belly-up

    Links for the day



  7. The Boards of Appeal Openly Complain (in the EPO's Web Site) About Battistelli, But Don't Tell Battistelli About It...

    The Boards of Appeal have found the courage -- in the face of a pattern of illegal retaliation -- to state that Battistelli's abuse of power compromises the perceived if not actual legitimacy of their decisions



  8. Web Site of French Senator Richard Yung Cracked Just Days After Criticising the EPO

    A French politician finds himself red-faced after criticising the EPO, as his site gets flagged as malicious, gets blocked, and his blog post (speech) about the EPO vanishes



  9. New Survey Shows That Even Patent Professionals Know That Team UPC is Lying About Unitary Patent Roadmaps

    The "Unified Patent Court (UPC) is unlikely to become operational by December 2017 [according to] nearly three-quarters of WIPR readers," but Team UPC continues to spread lies



  10. Does the EPO Want Patent Quality to Decline Against the USPTO and Become Akin to SIPO?

    The EPO, which is trying to convert a patent system into a cash cow rather than a public service, risks losing public support and an applicants base (where it hasn't lost it already)



  11. Xinova is a Patent Troll With Connections to Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures, the World's Largest Troll

    A Microsoft patent troll gives birth to another trollish tentacle (one among literally thousands), this one called "Xinova" but formerly known as Invention Development Fund (IDF)



  12. IAM 'Magazine' Rented Out to Microsoft Again, in Order to Attack Amazon (as Host of Free/Libre Software) Using Software Patents FUD

    The new front against GNU/Linux, or the attempt by Microsoft to tax the platform using software patents, is glossed over in puff pieces from Microsoft, conveniently published under IAM's own umbrella again



  13. Links 27/2/2017: GNU Linux-libre 4.10, Weston 2.0.0, Git 2.12.0, Linux From Scratch 8.0

    Links for the day



  14. Top Officials in French Government Are Growing Tired of Battistelli's Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    An automated translation of a recent debate about the EPO in the French government, culminating in intervention by Richard Yung



  15. A US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Which is Hostile Towards Patent Maximalists May Closely Examine More Patents That Apple Uses Against Android

    A company which often takes pride in designers rather than developers (art, not technical merit) may lose that leverage over the competition if its questionable patents are taken away by the Supremes



  16. As Long as Software Patents Are Granted and Microsoft Equips Trolls With Them, “Azure IP Advantage” is an Attack on Free/Libre Software

    Microsoft is feeding enemies of GNU/Linux and Free/libre Open Source software (FLOSS) in order to sell its 'protection', which it names "IP Advantage" in a rather Orwellian fashion (same naming as back in the Novell days)



  17. Patent Trolls on Their Way Out in the United States and Their Way Into China, No Thanks to the Open Invention Network (OIN)

    An update on patent trolls and the role played by supposed allies of Free/libre software, who in practice do everything to exacerbate the problem rather than resolve it



  18. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VIII: When Governed by Criminals, Truth-Tellers Are Cast as Criminals and Criminals as Justice Deliverers

    The bizarre state of affairs at the European Patent Office, where being an honest and transparent person makes one incredibly vulnerable and subjected to constant harassment from the management



  19. The Sickness of the EPO – Part V: Shedding Light on Institutional Abuse Against Ill and/or Disabled Individuals

    The seriousness of the situation at the EPO and a call for action, which requires greater transparency, even if imposed transparency



  20. The EPO's Race to the Bottom in Recruitment and Early Retirements Explained by an Insider

    The European Patent Office under Battistelli is failing to attract -- and certainly failing to retain -- talented examiners



  21. Wouter Pors and Other UPC Boosters Believe That Repeating the Lies Will Potentially Make Them Truths

    The lobbying campaign for UPC, or hopeful lies (sometimes mere rumours) disguised as "news", continues to rely on false perceptions that the UPC is just a matter of time and may actually materialise this year



  22. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is Utilised in Fixing the US Patent System and the Patent Microcosm Loses Its Mind

    A roundup of PTAB news, ranging from attacks on the legitimacy of PTAB to progress which is made by PTAB, undoing decades of overpatenting



  23. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Take on Patents Pertaining to Business Methods

    Patents on tasks that can be performed using pen and paper (so-called 'business methods', just like algorithms) and oughtn't be patent-eligible may be the next casualty of the America Invents Act (AIA)



  24. Google's Stewardship of GNU/Linux (Android, Chromebooks and More) in Doubt After Company Resorts to Patent 'First Strikes'

    Google has just turned a little more evil, by essentially using patents as a weapon against the competition (by no means a defensive move)



  25. Links 24/2/2017: Ubuntu 17.04 Beta, OpenBSD Foundation Nets $573,000 in Donations

    Links for the day



  26. IAM, Greased up by the EPO, Continues Lobbying by Shaming Tactics for the UPC, Under the Guise of 'News'

    The shrill and well-paid writers of IAM are still at it, promoting the Unitary Patent (UPC) at every opportunity and every turn



  27. Patent Scope Gone Awry: European Vegetable Patents Office?

    In its misguided race to raise so-called 'production', the EPO lost sight of its original goals and now facilitates patent royalty payments/taxation for naturally-recurring items of nature



  28. Yes, There is Definitely Brain Drain (Experience Deficit) at the European Patent Office and Stakeholders Feel It

    The direction that the European Patent Office has taken under Battistelli undoes many decades (almost half a century) of reputation-building and progress and naturally this repels existing staff, not to mention hampers recruitment efforts



  29. The Sickness of the EPO – Part IV: Cruel Management That Deliberately Attacks the Sick and the Weak

    The dysphoric reality at the European Patent Office, which is becoming like a large cell (with bolted-down windows) where people are controlled by fear and scapegoats are selected to perpetuate this atmosphere of terror and maintain demand (or workload) for the Investigative Stasi



  30. Links 23/2/2017: Qt 5.9 Alpha, First SHA1 Collision

    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