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Stallman on the State of GNU/Linux

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memenode's picture
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Joined: 2004-07-12

An interview with Richard Matthew Stallman came out today:

Stallman on the State of GNU/Linux

For some reason, whenever i "hear" him talking it is inspiring. Must be the pure simplicity of his statements.

In this interview, RMS seems a bit optimistic about Free Software. While he does say that almost no GNU/Linux distribution completely comforms to FSF standard (because of distributing non-free packs along with it) he thinks that we already reached the point where Free Software can be widely usable to even those who have less experience with computers, mentioning an example of that.

He also still recommends one distribution because it is pure Free Software: UTUTO. He most probably uses that one as well.

Quote:

OFB: What GNU/Linux distribution do you presently recommend if someone comes up to you and asks how to get started with Free Software? Is there one that meets the FSF's criteria completely?

RMS: Yes, there is. It is called UTUTO, and it is developed by committed free software activists in Argentina.

The existence of this distribution is a big step forward for the free software movement. For many years there was literally no GNU/Linux distribution that I could ethically recommend to the general public. Most distributions contained non-free software; the few exceptions distributed non-free software from their sites.

Here's also a bit of a reminder...

Quote:

OFB:It sounds like they do. Gael Duval, of Mandrakesoft, tells me that he believes the LCC will follow Mandrakelinux's compliance to the FSF guidelines.

RMS: That is very good news. I wish they would acknowledge this as a version of the GNU system, instead of calling it "Linux", but the most important thing is that it recognizes the users' freedom.

, a reminder of where his priorities stand. GNU as the name to respect, sure, but user's freedom is the most important. (where are those RMS bashers?)

Here is your answer about the GNU Hurd as well:

Quote:

RMS: The Hurd is not a high priority nowadays, precisely for the reason you suggest. (off: linux popularity) People are still interested in it for technical reasons, and it is making slow progress.

So, you ask why is Hurd still not around? Not a priority. Those who think that "GNUers" are egoists who can't bare the fact that their kernel isn't in place of linux, think again!

His thoughts on Free Software running on windows:

Quote:

I think that running free software on top of a non-free system such as Microsoft Windows can be a good first step towards freedom. However, it's only a first step if the user goes ahead and takes the remaining steps to get all the way to freedom. The question is, will users do this, or will they think that some free software on top of Windows is sufficient?

That depends on whether they come to value the freedom that free software provides. Teaching people to appreciate freedom is the main work of the Free Software Movement today.

What about BSD being more Free than GPL?

Quote:

RMS: It is absurd to speak of the "freedom to take away others' freedom". The absence of that absurdity is what they are complaining about.

Nothing to add to that.

And the last:

Quote:

OFB: Where do you see the FSF in five years? Will a completely Free Software-based computer with fully functioning hardware (including the video card, BIOS, etc.) be realizable by then, do you think?

RMS: There are some kinds of machine that work now with free BIOS and free drivers, but they don't (for instance) include any laptops. That's the area where we are going to be pushing.

and to complement the point:

Quote:

Recently I learned, to my great disappointment, that these computers are using non-free software for displaying Flash and running Java programs. Developing the free software for these two jobs is clearly very important.

This should be a mission of Free Software movement:

1) Teach people to *value* freedom

2) Push for development of alternatives to ALL proprietary software so that we can have an increasing number of pure Free Software powered computers.

Every one person that understands and starts valuing Freedom, and for that reason using Free Software, as well as every Free Software exclusively powered machine is one step toward the completion of the primary mission of the Free Software movement, a point where it wouldn't be called a movement anymore.

Thank you
Daniel

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Re: Stallman on the State of GNU/Linux

I also agree with what Stallman said in this interview and I like his determination, but I think that there is a part of it that needs clarifying:

Quote:

Stallman:

I had better correct a common confusion. The Firefox binaries distributed by the Mozilla developers, like all their binaries, are not free. To use Firefox as free software, you have to build it yourself from the source code.

The binaries of Mozilla products available for download on www.mozilla.org are not covered by Mozilla Public License (which is a free license), but by an End User License Agreement that is not a free license and, among other, says that (this is an EULA for Firefox):

Quote:

EULA:

A SOURCE CODE VERSION OF CERTAIN FIREFOX BROWSER FUNCTIONALITY THAT YOU MAY USE, MODIFY AND DISTRIBUTE IS AVAILABLE TO YOU FREE-OF-CHARGE FROM WWW.MOZILLA.ORG UNDER THE MOZILLA PUBLIC LICENSE and other open source software licenses.

Notice that the free version of Firefox contains certain functionality. Certain can be all, but can be less than functionality of the provided binary. Mozilla Foundation probably did this to leave itself some space for including non-free components in their builds of Firefox. Technically, even if it is just a build of the source available under MPL without any additional non-free code, it still isn't free.

And if I got it all well, then this EULA doesn't even allow distribution of Firefox binary downloaded from Mozilla's website. This is because they say:

Quote:

EULA:

Mozilla, for itself and on behalf of its licensors, hereby reserves all intellectual property rights in the Product, except for the rights expressly granted in this Agreement.

But, this EULA doesn't explicitly say that the user has a right to make copies of Firefox binary covered by it.

In the end, builds included in GNU/Linux distributions and provided by third parties are the builds of the source code version of Firefox that is covered by a free Mozilla Public License. So, they are free.

What a mess...

monserrat's picture
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Re: Stallman on the State of GNU/Linux

Yes... This mess of more than 50 FOSS licences makes me crazy... Especially when they cross each other!

Rijik.

User offline. Last seen 12 years 37 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-09-18
Re: Stallman on the State of GNU/Linux
Quote:

monserrat wrote:

Yes... This mess of more than 50 FOSS licences makes me crazy... Especially when they cross each other!

That is true, there are too many licenses and many of them are equivalent to each other. There are news saying that Intel requested for his license to be removed from future use. This will lower the number of licenses by 1 :-).

I hope that many other license owners will follow Intel's example.

memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 day 21 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
Re: Stallman on the State of GNU/Linux

Yeah me too.

As for the Mozilla issue the problem seems to be only in a license for binary distribution, not sources (which are under GPL and MPL). That is why RMS in that interview says that FSF is talking with Mozilla Foundation to cooperate on that matter and fix the issue.

The quick fix in the meanwhile is to download and install firefox from sources or through your distros package (which is precompiled from source). That way, you avoid the mess with binaries and stay free.

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