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. Links 17/7/2018: Catfish 1.4.6 Released, ReactOS 0.4.9, Red Hat's GPL Compliance Group Grows

    Links for the day



  2. Links 16/7/2018: Linux 4.18 RC5, Latte Dock v0.8, Windows Back Doors Resurface

    Links for the day



  3. Alliance for US Startups and Inventors for Jobs (USIJ) Misleads the US Government, Pretending to Speak for Startups While Spreading Lies for the Patent Microcosm

    In the United States, which nowadays strives to raise the patent bar, the House Small Business Committee heard from technology firms but it also heard from some questionable front groups which claim to support "startups" and "jobs" (but in reality support just patents on the face of it)



  4. 'Blockchain', 'Cloud' and Whatever Else Gets Exploited to Work Around 35 U.S.C. § 101 (or the EPC) and Patent Algorithms/Software

    Looking for a quick buck or some low-quality patents (which courts would almost certainly reject), opportunists carry on with their gold rush, aided by buzzwords and hype over pretty meaningless things



  5. PTAB Defended by the EFF, the R Street Institute and CCIA as the Number of Petitions (IPRs) Continues to Grow

    Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) come to the rescue when patently-bogus patents are used, covering totally abstract concepts (like software patents do); IPRs continue to increase in number and opponents of PTAB, who conveniently cherry-pick Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions, can't quite stop that



  6. IAM/Joff Wild May Have Become a de Facto Media Partner of the Patent Troll iPEL

    Invitation to trolls in China, courtesy of the patent trolls' lobby called "IAM"; this shows no signs of stopping and has become rather blatant



  7. Cautionary Tale: ILO Administrative Tribunal Cases (Appeals) 'Intercepted' Under António Campinos

    The ILO Administrative Tribunal (ILO-AT) is advertised by the EPO's management as access to justice, but it's still being undermined quite severely to the detriment of aggrieved staff



  8. Asking the USPTO to Comply With 35 U.S.C. § 101 is Like Asking Pentagon Officials to Pursue Real, Persistent Peace

    Some profit from selling weapons, whereas others profit from patent grants and litigation; what's really needed right now is patent sanity and adherence to the public interest as well as the law itself, e.g. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions



  9. BT and Sonos Are Still Patent Bullies, Seeing Patents as a Backup Plan

    The companies seeking to complement their business (or make up for their demise) using patents are still suing rivals while calling that litigation "research and development" (the same old euphemism)



  10. Jim Skippen, a Longtime Patent Troll, Admits That the Trolling Sector is Collapsing

    Canada's biggest patent troll (WiLAN) bar BlackBerry doesn't seem to be doing too well as its CEO leaves the domain altogether



  11. From East Asia to the Eastern District of Texas: XYZ Printing, Maxell, and X2Y Attenuators

    The patent aggression, which relies on improper litigation venues, harms innocent parties a great deal; only their lawyers benefit from all this mess



  12. Links 14/7/2018: Mesa 18.1.4, Elisa 0.2.1, More on Python's Guido van Rossum

    Links for the day



  13. Number of Oppositions to Grants/Awards of European Patents at the EPO Has Skyrocketed, Based on Internal Data

    The number of challenged patents continues to soar and staff of the EPO (examiners already over-encumbered by far too much work, due to unrealistic targets) would struggle to cope or simply be compelled to not properly deal with oppositions



  14. 'Transaction' Complete: Former EPO Executive From Belgium Takes the Seat of António Campinos at EU-IPO

    Rumours that Belgium made a back room deal with Battistelli may be further substantiated with the just-confirmed appointment of Archambeau



  15. EPO Abuses Against People With Disabilities Followed by Legal Bullying?

    The new President of the EPO is not (at least not yet) obeying court rulings from ILO; The above move seems like an attempt to derail ongoing cases at the ILO’s Administrative Tribunal (ILO-AT), i.e. yet more strong-arming



  16. Weeks Later António Campinos Still in Noncompliance With the Courts (ILO's Tribunal)

    'report card' for the ever-so-intransparent (or nontransparent) new President of the EPO, who does not even bother obeying court rulings



  17. Links 13/7/2018: Kube 0.7.0, Trisquel 8.0 LTS Reviewed

    Links for the day



  18. Constitutionality and CJEU as Barriers, the UPC Agreement (UPCA) is Already Moot in the United Kingdom

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC) isn't going anywhere and the UK merely "explores" what to do about it; for Team UPC, however, this means that the UK "confirms intention to remain in Unitary Patent system after Brexit" (clearly a case of deliberate misinformation)



  19. It's Not About EPO 'Backlog' But About Faking 'Production' by Lowering Standards

    Remarks on the EPO dropping all pretenses of genuine care for patent quality; it's all about speed now, never mind if wrongly-granted patents can cause billions in damages across Europe (a lot of that money flows towards patent law firms)



  20. Links 12/7/2018: GTK+ 4.0 Plans, OpenBSD Gains Wi-Fi “Auto-Join”

    Links for the day



  21. The Anti-35 U.S.C. § 101 Lobby Pushes Old News Into the Headlines in an Effort to Resurrect/Protect Software Patents

    The software patenting proponents (law firms for the most part) are still doing anything they can -- stretching even months into the past -- in an effort to modify the law in defiance of Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rulings



  22. Thomas Massie and Marcy Kaptur Are Promoting the Interests of Patent Trolls and Patent Lawyers While Calling That “Innovation”

    Remarks on the ongoing effort to promote patent trolls’ interests under the guise of “helping small businesses” — a very misleading propaganda pattern that we have been finding in Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying at the EPO



  23. Links 12/7/2018: Mesa 18.1.4 RC, Curl 7.61.0

    Links for the day



  24. Texas: When Trade Secret 'Damages' Are Almost 1,000 Times Higher Than Patent 'Damages'

    It's possible to deal with conflicts and disputes using means other than patents; a new trade secret misappropriation case and a new study from Ofer Eldar (Duke Law) and Neel Sukhatme (Georgetown Law) bring examples from Texas



  25. Cellspin Soft Will Likely Need to Pay the Accused Party's Lawyers Too After Frivolous Litigation With Patents Eliminated Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

    Pursuing bogus (questionable) patents and going even further by asserting them in court can be worse than a waste of time and money; it can actually cause the target of assertion to be compensated (legal fees) at the plaintiff’s expense — a critical fact largely ignored by the patent ‘industry’



  26. The Lack of Genuine, Honest Discussion About Patent Quality Means That Under António Campinos Software Patents Will Continue to be Granted, Campinos Strives to Make Them 'Unitary'

    The agenda of the litigation 'industry' is still being served by the existing EPO administration; this is a problem because not only do they grant patents on just about anything but they also attempt to broaden litigation jurisdiction



  27. Links 11/7/2018: Xen 4.11, Ubuntu Infographics, Lockbox and Notes

    Links for the day



  28. Links 10/7/2018: Wine 3.12, FreeNAS 11.2 Beta, GNU Helps Journalism

    Links for the day



  29. Patent Trolls Rally/Advertise Thomas Massie's Bill to Abolish PTAB and Promote Software Patents in the US

    Vocal patent maximalists (or think tanks of the litigation 'industry') want us to think that the US is too restrictive when it comes to patents (the opposite is true) and tries to change the law so as to plague/saturate the system with patent lawsuits they stand to gain from at the expense of practicing companies



  30. The Demise of East Texan Courts and the Ascent of PTAB, Alice and a SCOTUS-Compliant CAFC May Mean That US Software Patents Are Officially 'Dead'

    Companies come to grips with the need to divest and distance themselves from abstract patents; such patents are simply not tolerated by courts anymore (even if patent offices continue granting many such patents for the sake of profit)


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