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09.18.20

Richard Stallman Has Not Changed His Tune at All

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Videos at 2:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NumbersFull video: Hackers – Wizards of the Electronic Age

Summary: Richard Stallman’s (RMS) principled views regarding software go back to the days of zeroes and ones; his position 35 years ago was almost indistinguishable from today’s position

FISHED or extracted from very old archives (thanks, figosdev) are a couple of little segments — among several more — of an early RMS back when GNU was just getting started. The GNU Project is nowadays ubiquitous (even if so many people refer to GNU programs as "Linux") and copyleft is widely adopted in spite of corporate FUD from the likes of Google and Microsoft.

To give just a little outline, here’s RMS about 8 minutes in. He starts his day at 5 with dinner, then works until the morning, in effect working all night long while living at the lab (MIT).

On why Free software is important to him:

He shows up a number of times throughout this programme, typically insisting that his purpose as a hacker is to make all programs free. He has barely changed his vision and his goal since; he’s very, very consistent. Being stubborn when you’re right about something isn’t a weakness but a virtue. Even his sceptics came around to embrace his philosophy.

“He has barely changed his vision and his goal since; he’s very, very consistent.”figosdev, who found this old video, was responding to Somebody Needs to Talk About Free Software Politics (which he called a “nice article”) ans said that “one thing you notice from the hackers video is that we are talking about the same things now that they were talking about in 1985. Woz was saying that source should be free. Of course he was in the same room as RMS. Another way saying that source often was free — sitting on a tape in the same desk as the computer, because sometimes you needed the programs on that tape in order to run your own programs.”

Keith Packard: Richard Stallman Was Right (About the GPL)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Videos at 2:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Full talk: “A Political History of X” – Keith Packard (LCA 2020)

Summary: A 2020 video (before lock-downs) from the brain behind X11 and various lesser-known projects

Further to Somebody Needs to Talk About Free Software Politics,” here’s a portion from this year’s talk given by the venerable Keith Packard. “A Political History of X” was the talk’s title and a portion is dedicated to Free software.

“Packard has a number of good things to say about the GPL, which he’s choosing for his latest projects (GPLv3 or later).”The interesting part, which figosdev gave us a tip about, regards the choice of licence and software freedom. After speaking about X11 and the challenging person (“challenging individual to get along with”) who Richard Stallman was, Packard said about Stallmsn that “he really was right, we have to remember that…” (regarding the GPL).

Packard has a number of good things to say about the GPL, which he’s choosing for his latest projects (GPLv3 or later).

09.07.20

Debian-Private Teaches Us GNU and Linux History, Based on Words and Actions by Prominent Developers and Project Administrators

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, GPL at 10:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Honest Abe

Summary: What we learn and what everybody else can learn about the point where GNU (or GNU/Linux) became just “Linux”, as revealed or illuminated by newly-disclosed private mailing lists of Debian

THE Debian-Private archive that we’ve been studying for about 10 days is interesting because of the many E-mails that allude to kernel development, the FSF, and Richard Stallman. There are also many discussions about licensing, the GPL in particular, and inclusion of non-free (or partly free, i.e. still proprietary) software in Debian.

“Transparency isn’t to be feared and and “public interest” (as in SPI) projects need to be understood, if not at present, then at least historically.”As we said before, we choose not to highlight too many pertinent messages because that would harm privacy of people who have long not been involved in Debian; many of them are no longer alive, either (some E-mails turn 25 years very soon). The conclusion I’ve reached, having gone through a couple thousand of these messages (not at random), is that many people are supportive of Stallman (RMS), GNU, and the FSF. There are also some who are hostile towards RMS and the FSF, alleging that they try to micro-manage Debian (the same accusation with the same wording persists to this very day; some GNU developers too have made complaints to that effect). Bruce Perens routinely spoke to RMS and received backlash for it; he called that “politics” and alleged that it had interfered with technical (development) work. He noted that RMS annoyed many kernel developers (when he stated that Linux itself was not an operating system) and also noted that Ian Murdock had enjoyed the FSF’s backing — financial included — at the earlier days of the project. One can often relate to Perens, who certainly received a share of abuse (despite his very hard work and dedication if not sacrifice) from fellow developers. Some did not want him to speak to RMS and the FSF at all. Some resigned in protest, some flamed him on- and off-list. It’s not pretty, but at least now we can see the naked truth. Transparency isn’t to be feared and “public interest” (as in SPI) projects need to be better understood, if not at present, then at least historically. We’re talking about the 1990s here!

Henry this or that: It's called GNU/Linux. Can't I just call it 'Linux'?

There’s that certain sadness/melancholy going through all these messages, putting aside nostalgic aspects. Back then FSF was big and mighty; many spoke of “GNU”, not “Linux”. Some said “GNU/Linux”; RMS was only starting to more emotionally (albeit factually) complain about misattribution. It didn’t take long before just about everyone simply called the entire thing “Linux”. In that respect, RMS lost the cause. His movement was barely recognised anymore and only a couple of years later there was this thing called “OSI” (founded at least partly by those looking to elbow RMS out of the picture) and some junk called “Open Source”, which right now in 2020 is a farce.

“There’s that certain sadness/melancholy going through all these messages, putting aside nostalgic aspects. Back then FSF was big and mighty; many spoke of “GNU”, not “Linux”. Some said “GNU/Linux”; RMS was only starting to more emotionally (albeit factually) complain about misattribution.”So what can we do about the whole thing? For starters, speak about software freedom and remind people why Free software matters; terms like “Open Source” mean different things to different crowds, but to a lot of people it means “code on GitHub” (proprietary) and “Summer of Code” (Google, surveillance).

The world deserves better than subjugation and abduction. If we truly wish to regain control of computing (us controlling computers rather than computers controlling us), we ought to change the conversation.

“RMS has long read Techrights and it’s nice to know that Torvalds too reads it sometimes.”A couple of hours ago Linus Torvalds responded to an article we had published earlier this month. He had nothing negative to say about that article; “Honestly,” he said, “I think those emails are more about Debian culture than they are about me, and you should probably ask the Debian people about them rather than me…”

RMS has long read Techrights and it’s nice to know that Torvalds too reads it sometimes. We wish to see a strong and durable GNU/Linux system (we have nothing against Linux as a kernel; the Linux Foundation isn’t the kernel but an aberration working against the kernel, helping to put DRM and stuff inside it) and reconcile all or at least most of those differences, as witnessed in the Debian-Private archive (even in the mid-nineties).

09.03.20

Linus Torvalds is Wrong on Some Technical and Legal Issues, Set Aside All the Political Correctness ‘Hooey’

Posted in GPL, Kernel, Videos at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some people would rather talk about words, not code; and the aim seems to be removing lots of people who actually do all the coding, not much of the talking

UNLIKE some people, I sympathise with Linus Torvalds and I mostly view him as ‘oppressed’ by the Linux Foundation (which he may find hard to leave because of his salary, now approaching 2 million dollars a year, including compensation/bonuses). Torvalds may not be a very likeable and amicable person (speak to people whom he blasted or rejected, such as Con Kolivas), but let’s face it — he gets the job done. Well, he used to anyway.

His job is being further complicated by people who push crappy code and then complain about the response to that crappy code. Can teachers be reprimanded by parents for grading their children’s exams to the point where these children cry? Omitted from the above video is the somewhat rudely framed question (given its context). It was a so-called ‘question’ (more like an attack) that feels a bit like an ambush, in effect inviting Torvalds for a long-winded Q&A in a Debian event only to greet him with grilling and rather impolite accusations ‘at the altar’ — within minutes of him stepping on the podium. Notice how Torvalds responds to the applause. What the heck was that? After this sort of ‘entrapment’ they tried to ‘cancel’ him, as this morning's leaks show. There’s no way to ‘win’ such ‘arguments’; it’s more like a ‘set-up’. Jono Bacon did this to me 11 years ago on live TV. I never forgot that; he tried to hold me accountable for things said by some person whom I merely exchanged a couple of E-mails with (and did so without even knowing that person!).

The Free software community is clearly under some form of sophisticated attack and we do, over time, improve our general understanding of it (more on that later, maybe a separate post some other day). A lot of that comes from moneyed interests, nothing idealistic or a legitimate difference in ideology (unless money itself is officially an “ideology” now).

What we’ve been seeing is a bunch of people whose technical skills boil down to removing a line from a “Planet” syndication list (i.e. censorship) or passing some “code of conflict” (censorship guidelines), which has nothing to do with code but social policing for the most part. Tinkering with people and gossip rather than something of a truly technical nature. Like arguing over which filesystem beats others, based on particular merits.

There’s much to be said about the diversion of discussion to shaming and patronising tones. We really should be talking about issues such as copyrights and patents, not some choice of words in a mailing list few people bother reading.

Several hours ago Ryan reminded us that with WSL, for example, Microsoft distributes Linux (or even through Novell in 2007 if not 2006; then there’s the whole Azure thing) the patent issue is being mostly removed, but Linux is GPLv2, not v3.

In Ryan’s words: “GPL 3 significantly interfered with more Microsoft-Novell style deals. Ironically, it dealt with one of the issues Torvalds called bullshit on. “We own everything and there’s 217 patents Linux infringes on, but we won’t show them to you.”. Putting a big chunk of the OS that would be difficult if not impossible to replace under the GPL 3 stopped one particularly nasty way that Microsoft was going to the sleazier “Linux” companies and entering into secretive deals. We don’t know what the deal with “Linspire” and “Xandros” were. They might have paid THEM to make it look like companies had settled.”

Microsoft paid Michael Robertson a lot of money to change the name of Lindows to Linspire, recognising that Windows was a weak trademark Microsoft would likely lose if a legal battle went ahead. We know this based on people close to Linspire and Robertson (former employees). They recently told us about it in the IRC channels.

“It was impossible for anyone to miss how corrupt Michael Robertson was,” Ryan noted. “I laughed that while he was putting that MP3 locker thing into bankruptcy he was still selling annual subscriptions and the site didn’t mention the bankruptcy. Unexpired subscriptions to a service that goes bankrupt is like HH Gregg gift cards.”

The name “Linspire” is still around, but not the same people. Linspire — like Novell — we used to fight fiercely after it had joined Microsoft patent/FUD attack on GNU/Linux in 2007. Those are the sorts of things we ought to be discussing, not some CoC enforcement nonsense (because some people feel hurt when other people dislike them or can’t stand their code/program). The Debian-Private mailing list archives from 1996-1997 contain many examples of banishment and expulsions, as well as a lot of apologies and cases of amicable reconciliation (we won’t cite examples because of people’s dignity/privacy, but we’ve already spotted about half a dozen, often boiling down to misunderstandings). Thought-policing in the Free software community is an impediment to Free speech rights; we cannot have software freedom if we cannot learn to tolerate opinions we strongly disagree with. Bombings and blackmail are a lot more objectionable (or “offensive”) than the F word in some mailing list (not even an article, just some E-mails few people read).

08.31.20

Key Parts of the Latest Talk From Bruce Perens, Who Seemingly Wants to Go Back to Freedom (Because ‘Open’ Became Increasingly Meaningless and Users Are Harmed)

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Patents, Videos at 11:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Inspired by this very good and thought-provoking talk from Bruce Perens (published about a week ago), we’ve cropped the relevant parts, which we think help narrow down a one-hour talk into a few minutes (00:01:00 – 00:12:20). Notice to what degree Mr. Perens shares our views and interpretations, e.g. regarding the Linux Foundation and OIN.

Linux Would Never Have Been Mainstream Without GNU (We Could be Living in a BSD/UNIX World or Just More of Microsoft)

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel at 11:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The licence crafted by Richard Stallman, as well as the GNU Project (lots of basic but invaluable utilities), helped make Linux what it is today; it’s good that the value of the licence is still being recognised, but bashing “where it came from” (so to speak) is disrespectful and opportunistic because Stallman says less obscene and controversial things than those insults from the founder of Linux

IS RMS an ‘extremist’?

No and it is not honourable to call him that.

Corporations want us to think he is. The Linux Foundation (little but a front of monopolistic corporations) pretends he does not exist and never did anything at all.

Hey, nothing extreme about individuals amassing $200 billion and still pursuing ways to avoid tax, right? Nothing ‘sick in the head’…

“Hey, nothing extreme about individuals amassing $200 billion and still pursuing ways to avoid tax, right? Nothing ‘sick in the head’…”Or a nontechnical Linux Foundation ‘chief’ taking (or rather raking in) so much money that the foundation he 'runs' operates at a loss.

At the moment we study thousands of old Debian E-mails from the 1990s (never published before); a lot of them come from Bruce Perens and so many of the messages acknowledge the FSF/GNU and RMS (a lot more than Linux and Linus Torvalds). “Open Source” didn’t exist at the time, but they spoke about Free software and several times about “Open Hardware”. Bruce lost his temper at one point and started cursing at everyone, albeit he then posted a mass apology to each person individually (no link as it would not be respectful to Bruce, whose latest initiative seems noteworthy and GPL-friendly).

“The system as a whole is a lot more worthy of the name “GNU” than “Linux”, which RMS said was “not an operation system” (causing an uproar among kernel developers at the time).”Reading these E-mails very carefully (I’ve spent many hours on that already), it seems clear that in 1996 and in 1997 GNU was a lot more important than Linux, which had already been around for half a decade. The revisionists were beginning to call the whole system just “Linux” (the mailing list shows many disagreements and dissent, both from Debian developers and from the FSF). A couple of years later there was OSI and “Open Source” — a term that Torvalds was fast to adopt because it helped bury the message of GNU and the FSF. As if they never existed and Torvalds was an ‘overnight God’ in his twenties.

Those who care about true history and not mainstream nonsense may want to read the pertinent E-mails, which we reproduced in the name of transparency (much belatedly, 23 years!). The system as a whole is a lot more worthy of the name “GNU” than “Linux”, which RMS said was “not an operation system” (causing an uproar among kernel developers at the time). It’s all there in the E-mails, with direct quotes from Debian leaders, the Slackware founder, and other high-profile people. We omit links intentionally as those might increase the perception of privacy invasion. We can produce the underlying evidence upon demand (we’ve taken notes of what’s where exactly in these E-mails).

08.30.20

Debian (Ian, ex-DPL) Challenges Linus Torvalds on ‘Planned Obsolescence’ (Userspace Lack of Backward Compatibility) and GPLv3 Disdain

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Videos at 1:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The above clip (cropped) isn’t new, but it’s becoming increasingly relevant for a number of different reasons; we’ve narrowed things down to two sets of questions on two topics

Original/full video (starts at 41:15; GPL portion starts at 47:20 and ends at 56:53)

08.24.20

The Linux Foundation in 2020 Helps Serial GPL Violators Such as Microsoft Get Away With It

Posted in Deception, GPL, Law, Microsoft at 1:57 am by Guest Editorial Team

Microsoft got caught violating the GPL many times before, even inside the kernel (Linux)

Microsoft loves Linux Foundation

Linux Foundation lawyers are now literally recommending omitting copyright holders’ names and copyright dates from copyright notices in source code. Why would a lawyer recommend something so dumb? This is an obvious attempt to try to hinder GPL enforcement” (this past weekend, page here, the sole post from Steve Winslow)

Steve Winslow

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