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Time to fork the FSF?
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Haakin
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:51 pm    Post subject: Time to fork the FSF? Reply with quote

Hi!

Richard Stallman is a hero for all of us who believe in Free/Libre Open Source Software. But he is like the grumpy uncle we all have too. Always complaining about something, one day because certain magazine isn't called GNU/Linux Format, other day he starts talking in an interview about the "iMoan", the "iBad" or "Windows Phoney 7" (read the interview in LXF 145). Frankly, those unnecessary qualifications devaluated everything he said in that interview, and that is really a pity.

Now, he wrote a not very nice post about Steve Jobs:

Quote:
Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.

As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." Nobody deserves to have to die - not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs' malign influence on people's computing.

Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.


I can understand his point but I think that insulting Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Apple users is not the way to share his ideas. And there are people like Larry the Free Software Guy, a.k.a. Larry Cafiero, who think that he has gone too far. He says that it's "Time to fork the FSF". In that post, he says:

Quote:
So today I resigned my membership in the Free Software Foundation, so I am no longer Member No. 5030. I did so because Richard Stallman no longer speaks for me after making a completely ludicrous, tactless and heartless remark regarding the passing of Steve Jobs.


His conclusion is:

Quote:
So I think it behooves thoughtful free software advocates to seriously consider forking the Free Software Foundation, and create a new organization; a more flexible, more responsible organization that marries today’s technological realities to the possibilities and necessities — especially the necessities — that the free software paradigm offers society.


I have to say that I'm starting to feel tired about some of the bad manners of the FSF and Richard Stallman. I don't think that we need a new FSF, but I think that we need somebody to substitute Richard Stallman. He should be like an emeritus professor, somebody who is there but let other people to do the real work.

What do you think?

Javier
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Spangwiches



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno. It's Stallman's job to be offensive. He's facing a media (not to mention a culture and society) which is hostile to his message. The only way he 'gets headlines' is by talking like this. And getting headlines gets people talking and, hopefully, questioning their cultural assumptions etc..

He's not the diplomat or the engineer or the facilitator or the businessman, we've got people for all those roles (and they're all necessary). He's the ideologue, and his role is just as necessary.

To quote a film I rather love: "This is a revolution, dammit! We're going to have to offend somebody"

(The 'iMoan' stuff grates on me. But so does 'M$' and 'Windoze' and so on. This seems to be a peculiarly American thing, they do it with politics too ('O-blame-a', 'DemocRATS' and so on). Only tabloids do that sort of thing here but over there is seems more widespread. I just skip over it)

The last thing we need is more fracturing and division. We have organisations which take a more practical/pragmatic approach. We need the FSF's uncompromising rhetoric on the flanks, keeping us honest.
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DarkSnow



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to agree.

While the world needs people who will stick to their principles no matter what, people to fight the good fight and all that, we also need pragmatism.

While Stallman pushes the Free software agenda relentlessly, so damages his own message. The whole Open Source Vs Free software thing is a case in point. Stallman hates those guys when in reality they strive for and work towards the same end. The whole "fundamental freedoms" that the FSF require are exactly what the OSS people require, but Stallman seems incapable of seeing that.

It's a shame that his fight for freedom is completely overshadowed firstly by the double meaning of the word free in English, and the complete lack of empathy, pragmatism and tact of the man.

I'm not sure we should fork the FSF, that can only server to damage the core ideals, but remove Stallman from control, yeah, that's a good idea.

Then again, what do I know Wink
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Spangwiches



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The whole Open Source Vs Free software thing is a case in point. Stallman hates those guys when in reality they strive for and work towards the same end.


I don't think he hates them, they just disagree a bit and operate from different causes.

I don't think they're quite working to the same end, either. They're working in the same direction, sure, but their motivations are very different.

Stallman wants all software to be Free because this is a better model of human interaction. It is morally preferable to share as it leads to a better society/culture. With which I absolutely agree. Freedom comes first, functionality second. The Freedom is the most important thing.

Open Source is concerned with the practical and technological benefits of sharing. Getting stuff done comes first, Freedom second. With, I think, the implicit hope that eventually everything will be better when it's Open Source.

We need both.

As I say, I very much agree with Stallman in that I believe open sharing is the 'correct' way to behave. It's the more human way. But I pick and choose. I use Linux not because it's technologically or practically better for me (it's not), but because it represents a better way for humans to interact. Then I use proprietary drivers and codecs to do the stuff I like to do because... I'm not Stallman. I make compromises and decide where the line lies for me.
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johnhudson
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the fork happened years ago when Linus decided to go down the pragmatic route.
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guy
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prophets seldom mince their words. I seem to recall one founder of a popular Western religion describing his fellow churchmen as a "brood of vipers".

Now I am not deifying RMS, and let us not even idolise him, lest we be astonished to find that, like the rest of us, he has feet of clay.

To leave an organisation with worthy goals and fork it, simply because you disagree with a member who is more important than you are, is childish and defeatist. What next, the Sofware Freedom Foundation, the Foundation for Free Software, the Software Foundation for Freedom and a committee chairman asking, "What has Linus Torvalds ever done for us?" No, stay in there and slug it out with RMS, you dummy.
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M-Saunders
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My take: to spread a message, you've got to say something that people can relate to. Stallman's remark that Jobs was a "pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool" will just put people off. If you're not particularly computer savvy, but you've bought a Mac and you're enjoying editing photos, making movies and browsing the web without hassles, you're not going to feel like your computer is a "jail".

Of course, Stallman has a valid point tucked away in there, and Apple's restrictions can be a cause for concern. I much prefer to use free software as a result, and be in total control of my machines. I explain to people the fundamental differences between the two approaches to developing software. But I'd never tell someone who feels happy and free with their creative software that they're in "jail", because they'd think I'm some weird zealot. There are much more sensible ways to approach this IMO.

M
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Spangwiches



Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:50 am
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
There are much more sensible ways to approach this IMO.


And there are more sensible people doing so. Lots and lots of them. But Stallman's pretty much the only one making the moral/philosophical case, and is inherently unconcerned with practicalities and is a little bit rarefied/removed.

I don't believe Stallman is putting anyone off - I suspect the vast majority of the sort of people you describe, those happy doing creative work on their Macs, have never heard of Stallman and would lend very little weight to anything he says. He's not the first point of contact for someone curious about FOSS, he's only really speaking to people who are already sold on the idea of FOSS in one way or another.
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Haakin
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spangwiches wrote:
I don't believe Stallman is putting anyone off - I suspect the vast majority of the sort of people you describe, those happy doing creative work on their Macs, have never heard of Stallman and would lend very little weight to anything he says. He's not the first point of contact for someone curious about FOSS, he's only really speaking to people who are already sold on the idea of FOSS in one way or another.


Richard Stallman is not a high profile person as it could be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but it's known enough. It isn't difficult to find references about his post in several newspapers' websites that will reach "regular" people. To name a few:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/oct/10/steve-jobs-wasnt-a-god?INTCMP=SRCH

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briancaulfield/2011/10/10/leave-it-to-richard-stallman-to-go-there/

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/10/steve-jobs-stallman-dissenting-view.html

http://www.tuaw.com/2011/10/11/os-x-and-ios-are-not-jails/ (This is a quite popular blog about Apple)

I think that in all cases they say that Richard Stallman was the founder of the free software movement and/or founder of the FSF. So, he is representing all of us. I know that he's speaking for himself, but as Uncle Ben said "with great power comes great responsibility".
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Spangwiches



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Richard Stallman is not a high profile person as it could be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but it's known enough. It isn't difficult to find references about his post in several newspapers' websites that will reach "regular" people.


Fair enough. I'm still not convinced something like that will carry much weight with people who don't know the name. But... yeah, point taken.

But, again, he's making a moral case and if he didn't say stuff like this he wouldn't get in those publications at all. As to whether the stuff he says does more harm than good... depends how you look at it. If his job is winning over users then, yeah, quite possible. If his job is keeping it real then... arguable.

But ok. I agree with the broader point: He could certainly spin/market his position better.
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Haakin
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The pity is that sometimes he can articulate his ideas in much better way like in these articles:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/sep/19/android-free-software-stallman?INTCMP=SRCH

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/aug/22/european-unitary-patent-software-warning
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Spangwiches



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect that part of the problem is it's a difficult position to present in a sound-bite.

There's articles like that, which to a large extent is going to be preaching to the converted, or at least the already-aware (being in the technology section of a significantly liberal and independent newspaper) and then there's articles which a broad cross section of the public are going to read (like the Jobs ones). The problem of saying something which is quotable enough to get included in that latter sort of article and conveys his position all without sounding obnoxious is... a tough nut to crack.

When he gets a column in The Sun, then we'll be getting somewhere.
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Haakin
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spangwiches wrote:
When he gets a column in The Sun, then we'll be getting somewhere.


Ha, ha, ha!
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guy
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RMS is a geek preaching to his fellow geeks. To a developer and tech-savvy user whose code gets swallowed by the IP machine, iOS is indeed a jail. As for the happy shiny-fashion-accessory collector, well, in the eyes of many moralists these people already live in a jail of their own making. Yawn.

Think of all the other people who make moral cases for their many and varied causes. I think RMS stands up pretty well in that company.
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towy71
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So RMS is a little crazy, I say good for him. He's a bit more militant than me but I'm glad he is there.... just don't ask him to sing Wink
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