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Behind the Doors of the Free Software Foundation 144

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the what-would-you-say-ya-do-here dept.
Linux.com has an interesting look at the inner workings of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). "The purpose of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) is probably obvious from its name -- but what does promoting free software mean in terms of everyday activity? Examining the roles of the organization shows how complex the FSF's advocacy role has become. It also reveals the range of services available to the free software community, and helps to explain how such a small group has had such a major influence on computer technology. As a 501(c)3 charity in the United States, the FSF is run by a board of directors. The current board includes FSF founder and president Richard M. Stallman and long-term member Henry Poole, but, in the last few years, new faces have appeared on the board."
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Behind the Doors of the Free Software Foundation

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  • Thanks! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by just_another_sean (919159) on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:21PM (#24797421) Homepage Journal

    As a user of Free Software for about 10 years now I would just like to say that I really appreciate the efforts of the FSF. No matter how much RMS is bashed and doubted he sticks to his ethics and invariably the projections he makes seem to come true to at least some extent.

    Long live the FSF.

    • Re:Thanks! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:41PM (#24797755)

      As a user of Free Software for about 10 years now I would just like to say that I really appreciate the efforts of the FSF. No matter how much RMS is bashed and doubted he sticks to his ethics and invariably the projections he makes seem to come true to at least some extent.

      Long live the FSF.

      I disagree with many of RMS's positions, but he has been vital to the open source cause. Sometimes we need extremists, and he is a good one. :)

      • By that definition, we also need bad extremists too. Or even gooderer good extremists. But who can out-Stallman Stallman?

        --
        I saved my karma for this?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kozz (7764)

          You're leading yourself to a rather pure philosophical argument. But I might agree that we need "bad" extremists.

          Having nutjobs on both ends of a spectrum lends the rest of us (middle of the bell curve) a bit of perspective, whether it's in regards to technology, politics or religion.

          Of course, it might be that my "good" extremists are your "bad" extremists and so on.

          • Of course, it might be that my "good" extremists are your "bad" extremists and so on.

            That's why I don't think of it as a bell curve but more of a massively multidimensional continuum with all sorts of localised minima and maxima. And possibly the occasional wormhole, at least when projecting to a reduced set of criteria.

            Which would sound like a rather obtuse argument for moral relativism, unless you accept that these deliberations are part of the process and cannot be meta. Which I just did.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300)

        We need extremists to start. You need middle of the road people to keep it going. When the extremist stay there to long there is a point where their extreme views move from being progressive to oppressive. As using Free Software for over a decade myself. I feel RMS is starting to make Open Source more oppressive then progressive.

        We should honor people for what they did but we shouldn't keep them there for ever in a changing world. That would be like saying George Washington would make a good president for 2

        • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:06PM (#24799937) Homepage

          Having principles is not extreme. It's actually not really possible *not to have them.

          Abandoning your principles when they're inconvenient is not "moderate".

          If you claim to have principle X, and abandon it when it's inconvenient, your *actual principle is "convenience", and it coincided with principle X for awhile.

          X doesn't suddenly become extreme because it's not your principle.

      • by mlc (16290)

        I disagree with many of RMS's positions, but he has been vital to the open source cause.

        RMS would be the first to tell you he's not at all interested in open source, which is a business model, not a cause.

        • So closed source free software is ok?
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by TehZorroness (1104427)

            "Open source" (the term) doesn't convey the freedom you get as a result. It is very easy to release a program as source yet have it be every bit as restrictive as your typical windows software. In a less extreme way, the ideals of free software do tend to get lost when you start calling it open source after a while (ok, here's the source, but you cannot make commercial use). RMS doesn't advocate passing the source around, he advocates passing the freedom around. That is what's important. That's why he

            • RMS doesn't advocate passing the source around, he advocates passing the freedom around. That is what's important. That's why he insists on the use of the term "free software."

              Unless you want to use it in a way he does not like. Then you can suck eggs, by his standard. (No DRM in GPL3? That's free...) While I do see his point, I disagree with the execution on occasions. So did many others, hence the GPLv2 fork.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by TehZorroness (1104427)

                The GPL3 doesn't prevent implementing DRM. It prevents using DRM to lock down a GPL3 program in a way it cannot be modified and/or distributed. You can, for example, implement a DVD player and license it under the GPL3. You can not take a GPL program and include it in a operating system or device that will only run that one unmodified copy. (technically, the DMCA prevents you from implementing other people's DRM, but that is not the GPL's fault.)

        • I disagree with many of RMS's positions, but he has been vital to the open source cause.

          RMS would be the first to tell you he's not at all interested in open source, which is a business model, not a cause.

          Exactly why I disagree with him often. I like the FreeBSD license, for example. But without RMS, none of the open source projects would be where they are.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Stallman's cause is NOT open source. It is free software. Open Source is about a development methodology, Fre Software is about freedom.

        "Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is sort of like giving the Han Solo Award to the Rebel Fleet."

        RMS

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kingduct (144865)

      "As a user of Free Software for about 10 years now I would just like to say that I really appreciate the efforts of the FSF. No matter how much RMS is bashed and doubted he sticks to his ethics and invariably the projections he makes seem to come true to at least some extent."

      Ditto!
      Thanks

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ""As a user of Free Software for about 10 years now I would just like to say that I really appreciate the efforts of the FSF. No matter how much RMS is bashed and doubted he sticks to his ethics and invariably the projections he makes seem to come true to at least some extent."

        Ditto!

        Thanks"

        Yeah!

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      You're welcome!

      (new fsf member)

      • Re:Thanks! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cparker15 (779546) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:17PM (#24799101) Homepage Journal

        To those not aware, the FSF Associate Membership program [fsf.org] (referral link) is more of a supporter appreciation program. As such, Associate Members do not speak on behalf of the Free Software Foundation. Only FSF staff are authorized to make statements on behalf of the FSF.

        Of course, I am an Associate Member (#795), so what I just said above is solely my opinion and not the official position of the Free Software Foundation.

        Err... Or something.. like that. :)

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:24PM (#24797455) Homepage
    For Stallman fans, it's a real shame to see him somewhat marginalized in his own community. If you know something of his life story (e.g. from Free as in Freedom [amazon.com] ), he's passionate about coding. Yet, the growth of the FSF distracted him from software development, and now great projects like Emacs have to move ahead without him. But now, the FSF is going off into directions this bearded old guru didn't have to think about when he launched his campaign, and here he must rely on others to take charge. Oh well, at least once in a while he gives us a successful trip to India to rejoice about.
    • by just_another_sean (919159) on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:28PM (#24797515) Homepage Journal

      While I believe it would be great for people to contribute to Free Software by buying a copy of Free as in Freedom from Amazon I would like to also point out (in a spirit that I hope RMS will appreciate) that you can read it online for free as well here [oreilly.com].

      As far as I'm concerned, pay or not, the more people that read it the better.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by larry bagina (561269)
        The book was typeset using proprietary closed source software.
        • Are you sure? Mine wasn't - I typeset it using LaTeX and sent the publisher camera-ready copy as PDFs. I'd imagine Stallman would use groff, although might secretly be a TeX user since the FSF uses a TeX derivative for documentation these days.
      • by eaman (710548)

        IMHO, it is a good gift to send the official paperbook to someone.
        I just keep some around and some of smartest guys ask me to 'lend' them a copy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yetihehe (971185)
      ... and now tremendous projects like Emacs have to move ahead without him.Fixed that for you... Still, kudos for RMS, he made much for free software.
      • ... and now tremendous projects like Emacs have to move ahead without him.Fixed that for you... Still, kudos for RMS, he made much for free software.

        But what about those of us who don't have the disk space for a 5.89824e37 byte [gnu.org] executable?

    • Marginalized?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BitterOldGUy (1330491)

      These days, Stallman spends much of his time traveling to promote free software. However, contrary to what outsiders might expect, as president, he remains closely involved with FSF policy, asking frequently for status reports and making policy decisions that do not require other members of the board.

      Moreover, Brown says, "Richard can be very hands-on in relation to a specific target that he needs to be speaking about."

      You call that marginalized?

    • by JoeBuck (7947)
      RMS still actively works on Emacs, though he's no longer the release manager.
  • Importance of FSF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nobodylocalhost (1343981) on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:26PM (#24797485)

    It is hard to grasp the importance of FSF, because one cannot see it until it is taken away. Free software is a good way to improve society as a whole just like the concept of a wheel, People use those free software all the time just like how wheels are incorporated in most of our technologies. Can anyone imagine what are the ramifications of a tightly controlled licensing scheme on wheel technology based fully on economics?

  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@drunksnipe r s .com> on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:30PM (#24797541) Homepage

    That's not really "open" if you ask me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:31PM (#24797563)

    Are you sure the FSF has DOORS?

    I'd imagined the FSF as a sort of a Tepee or maybe a Mongolian Yurt, with maybe a flap or something.

    Never anything as solid and 'non-open' as a door.

  • Live Free Or Die (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:31PM (#24797573)

    Yes I know, that's a Unix saying.
    Since I was old enough to comprehend building computers, I have been running Linux. Having open source has directly affected my life. Thanks FSF and the OSS community for giving me interest, and the biggest part, being able to have development tools and code that I can learn with and from. With most commercial products costing ALOT of money, Open Source gave me the ability to have corporate sized products, for no cost. And Microsoft fans out there I think realize this too. Anyone in the computer world at some point recognizes what FSF and the bunch has done to the technology based world.

    oh shit, is this post about Steve Ballmer? shit, I'll delete all my bootleg M$ software, I PROMISE!!

    • by dangitman (862676)

      Since I was old enough to comprehend building computers, I have been running Linux.

      Say what? Linux came out well after the period when it was feasible to build your own computers, and computers were sold as self-build kits.

  • by Itninja (937614)
    What's the purpose of the Free Software Foundation? In my experience working for/with non-profits, I would suspect the entire organization is just a tax-shelter for some high rollers in the industry. Why pay tax on your 6 figure salary, when you can donate 80% to a 501(c)(3) 'foundation' and write it off as a deduction? Then you get hired by the foundation as a manager, consultant, etc....and make all if not more of your money back through car allowances, marginally monitored expense accounts, and things ad
  • Nice way to gloss over the fact that the FSF has essentially failed to grasp the point that the only way free software will be perceived as a valid replacement for proprietary software is if it is a 1:1 replacement. gNewSense's latest release should prove that FOSS developer's time would be better spent at improving their software rather than wasting their time with the FSF. Especially considering that the FSF is run in a non-democratic manner.

    Thankfully other organizations exist that realize this and don't attempt to have us all waste time as the defective by design campaign does.

    While I don't agree with this comment in all aspects, I do believe an important part of promoting free software is to give incentives to free software coders, especially those in charge of replacing popular proprietary products that still don't have a free-software equivalent.

    • by maxume (22995)

      One thing that needs to be more widely understood is that while people are cost conscious, they are (especially business people) a great deal more value conscious than they are cost conscious.

      Put simply: If no-cost software delivers $1,000 less value than $999 software, many people will opt for the $999 software.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:42PM (#24797773)

    "The purpose of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) is probably obvious from its name -- but what does promoting free software mean in terms of everyday activity?

    I think they have something to do with free beer or speech.
    Free something. I can't remember. It's Friday and I've been drinking.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 29, 2008 @02:15PM (#24798237) Journal
      The line 'free as in speech, not free as in beer' always struck me as some very poor marketing, for two reasons:
      1. Lots of people will argue against free speech in certain cases (e.g. slander and libel), but very few people would argue against free beer.
      2. After a few pints of free beer, free (although possibly slightly slurred) speech is pretty much guaranteed.
      • If you dont mind warping language to deliberately confuse people. For political propaganda, nothing beats perverting words like freedom to make your agenda more lovable.

        See also: the republican party, bush, any dictator worth his salt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:48PM (#24797845)

    But he was kicked off the board due to mono releasing its class libraries under the MIT/X11 license instead of LGPL. You would have thought that MIT/X11 would be freer than the LGPL. MIT/X11 is like the BSD no advertising clause license.

    • by spun (1352)

      Free means different things to different people. The GPL provides more freedom to users by requiring coders to give back to the community. The MIT/X11/BSD style license provides more freedom to coders, because they don't have to give back to the community.

      • Free means different things to different people. The GPL provides more freedom to users by requiring coders to give back to the community. The MIT/X11/BSD style license provides more freedom to coders, because they don't have to give back to the community.

        What license style increases user freedom by increasing the number of apps available to use?

        • by spun (1352)

          I don't think there's a correlation. One could argue that the MIT/X11/BSD style increases the number of apps one can BUY, but it doesn't increase the number a user can use for free. So the license isn't increasing the number of apps the user could use, the user is increasing the number of apps they can use, by paying for them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Spy der Mann (805235)

        Free means different things to different people. The GPL provides more freedom to users by requiring coders to give back to the community. The MIT/X11/BSD style license provides more freedom to coders, because they don't have to give back to the community.

        A perfect example for this is when the Cedega project promised to give back to the community their advances with DirectX under WINE. Fortunately (for them), WINE was licensed under the X11 license. Guess what happened? Nothing, that's what happened! Thanks to that, DirectX work under WINE froze for several years, leaving users pissed off and having to purchase Cedega for something they were supposed to enjoy for free in the first place.

        And for this reason, I'm glad that Stallman kicked Miguel out of the FSF

        • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:29PM (#24799273) Homepage Journal
          Isn't that more of a "dishonest asshole" or "naive fool" issue than a licensing issue? You also can't just say that with GPL, wine would obviously have gotten all of the cedega work, you also have to account for the (probably very hard to quantify) possibility that cedega wouldn't have existed at all...
          • by pilot1 (610480) *

            You also can't just say that with GPL, wine would obviously have gotten all of the cedega work, you also have to account for the (probably very hard to quantify) possibility that cedega wouldn't have existed at all...

            How is that a bad thing? wine is now ahead of cedega in almost every area (save playing games that require copy protection) and would have been far sooner if DirectX work hadn't been frozen while everyone waited for cedega's improvements. Either way you look at it, we would be better off if wine had originally been LGPLed as it is now.

        • by TheSunborn (68004) <tiller&daimi,au,dk> on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:02PM (#24801205)

          And let's just look at the alternative here.

          If Cedega gave all the code back to wine, then wine would be as good as Cedega, and nobody would buy Cedega. Cedega would thus close down which would
          leaving DirectX work under WINE frozen for several years.

          I fail to se how that is a better solution.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Spy der Mann (805235)

            Because people said "why work on DirectX? The Cedega guys promised they'd give us the code". Remember that Cedega weren't the ONLY people who knew how to implement DirectX under wine, but they cheated on WINE so that NOBODY worked on it and they'd be ahead of WINE.

            Only after the WINE team reacted, changed the license to GPL (or LGPL in case of winelib) and began to work, WINE recovered.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          So, in other words, you'd rather have nothing at all rather than give up this sort of superficial freedom. Good call chief. I mean, how on earth would one have freedom if it weren't forced upon us.

          This is one of the reasons why people hate RMS, the FSF doesn't represent freedom, it represents a very narrow definition of freedom, which removes a lot of the choices involved.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by spun (1352)

            Wrong, the GPL removes a few immoral choices from a small set of people (coders and software company owners) and increases choices for a larger set (end users.) And I think it's only a small set of people that hate RMS, the people who want to profit off the work of others without giving anything back.

            • Funny, I thought it was attaching strings to your gifts that was immoral.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by spun (1352)

                No, because they aren't gifts, and no one ever said they were. Thus the strings, which ensure more freedoms for end users. People who wish to extend and distribute the software receive a license to do so in exchange for a promise to share their work. This is a commercial exchange, not a gift.

                The other licenses have strings as well, for instance, attribution. A gift wouldn't require attribution. These licenses also involve commercial exchange, even though the promises extracted in exchange for the license ar

                • ...point being, who decides that the things the GPL forbids are immoral, or even that it is moral to forbid them (someone who makes physical items certainly doesn't get that kind of control)? Why aren't the end users permitted to choose whether they place more value in complete modifiability or preexisting features & usability, and how is removing this choice from them considered to be giving them more freedom?
                  • by spun (1352)

                    The author of the work decides. Without the GPL, everyone else has no rights to distribute or modify the work. The GPL gives rights, it does not take them away. Copyright is the mechanism that denies people the right to modify and distribute the works of others, not the GPL. The end users aren't permitted to decide the license because they did not create the work. The difference between physical and intellectual works is set in place by our constitution and our government, as a means to encourage the develo

                    • I wasn't aware that whether something was right followed directly from whether it was legal.
                    • by spun (1352)

                      I wasn't aware that whether something was right followed directly from whether it was legal.

                      It doesn't, but the issues you raise seem to be with the copyright system itself, not specifically with the GPL. Or maybe I am confused, because you also seem to want to retain the right to a government granted monopoly not only on your own creations, but on the creations of others. Without copyright, there is no BSD license, either. Everyone copies everything.

                      So which is it?

          • by mollymoo (202721) on Friday August 29, 2008 @08:25PM (#24804355) Journal

            I mean, how on earth would one have freedom if it weren't forced upon us.

            As a society, for any meaningful definition of freedom, you do indeed have to have it forced upon you. You're not one of these naive fools who thinks having no rules is equivalent to freedom, are you? Anarchy only provides freedom to the biggest guy.

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Not this old debate again.

        It's never going to end.

        The GPL provides more freedom to users by requiring coders to give back to the community.

        Freedom != capability. If I know how to read, and you don't, then you can't call it freedom by forcing me to teach you how to read. Freedom means I can't forbid somebody from teaching you how to read. Freedom means I can't tell you what to read. Get it?

        • by spun (1352)

          The GPL doesn't remove freedom, copyright does. The GPL gives it back, with stipulations. You're barking up the wrong tree.

          • by Raenex (947668)

            The GPL doesn't remove freedom, copyright does.

            I agree that copyright removes freedoms.

            The GPL gives it back, with stipulations.

            The stipulations remove freedom. That becomes obvious if you think how those stipulations would be enforced if copyright went away.

            • by spun (1352)

              Again, removes freedom from whom? From developers and distributors who wish to use the code without giving back. That increases freedom for end users. Freedom is always a trade off. The right not to be hit in the face entails giving up the right to swing your arms wherever you like.

              Without copyright, the GPL would be redundant, as there would be no such thing as commercial software. Everyone would simply copy anything they like. Nobody could charge money for software at all.

              • by Raenex (947668)

                Without copyright, the GPL would be redundant, as there would be no such thing as commercial software.

                One of the requirements of the GPL is that source must be distributed. Without copyright, this requirement is unenforceable.

                Everyone would simply copy anything they like. Nobody could charge money for software at all.

                You could charge money, as the FSF and GPL advocates are fond of stating, though of course past the first sale there is reduced incentive. In addition, withholding source would be a commercial advantage if you wanted to charge people for custom features.

                • by spun (1352)

                  Is this an IP law debate? I thought it was a GPL vs. BSD style license debate. Both of which rely on IP law. If you want to provide real freedom, release your source into the public domain. Any license relies on copyright law, and limits freedom. The debate isn't about whether to limit freedoms, as all licenses do that. It is about which freedoms to limit, in exchange for which benefits. If you don't like one license, use another. But no license can claim any kind of moral high ground.

                  • by Raenex (947668)

                    Is this an IP law debate?

                    It's a simple debate about what "freedom" means. Placing restrictions on users that take away their freedom is NOT freedom, as I've tried to make clear by showing what happens if copyright no longer applies. You may argue that more software with greater freedoms results from this restriction, but that's a 2nd order effect of taking away freedom from the individual.

                    I think this distinction is important, lest the true meaning of freedom is lost. Freedom does not mean you have to "give back".

                    If you want to provide real freedom, release your source into the public domain.

                    That's the gene

                    • by spun (1352)

                      I tried to explain how your view of freedom is simplistic. All freedom involves taking away one form of freedom in order to grant a more valuable form of freedom. In society, all freedom is a contract between individuals. I don't want to get hit in the face. I enter into a contract that limits my freedom, in exchange for not being hit in the face. I now have freedom from being hit in the face, but I don't have the freedom to swing my arms wherever I like.

                      You are essentially ignoring millenia of philosophica

                    • by spun (1352)

                      As an example, let me ask you this: is a society that restricts its members from killing one another more or less free than one that doesn't enforce such restrictions? By your definition of freedom, such a society is less free. But most people would agree that such a society is not a free society, because powerful people could use the threat of violence to coerce the less powerful without the threat of societal repercussions.

                    • by Raenex (947668)

                      As an example, let me ask you this: is a society that restricts its members from killing one another more or less free than one that doesn't enforce such restrictions?

                      It's a really poor analogy, because something is being taken away from the person being killed. Technically I might say that the right to be protected from violence isn't exactly the same as freedom, but it's not really a debate I care to engage in, since obviously you can't have freedom if you're dead :) The main point is the analogy is bad.

                      In the case of the GPL, something is given and accepted freely, yet the GPL places restrictions on the recipient.

                      A better analogy would be consumer protection laws.

                    • by spun (1352)

                      I don't understand why you keep making the gift analogy. GPL isn't a gift, it is a commercial transaction, and if you don't like the price (the restrictions) then don't buy the product (don't distribute it.) The idea is really based on contract law, and contracts freely entered into by both parties can never be a restriction of freedom.

                    • by Raenex (947668)

                      I don't understand why you keep making the gift analogy.

                      I never said "gift" once in my post. I assume you are talking about this phrase: "In the case of the GPL, something is given and accepted freely". What I mean is the giver wasn't compelled to make the offer, and the receiver wasn't compelled to accept the offer. I'm contrasting that to your "kill" analogy.

                      The idea is really based on contract law

                      Contract laws applies to individuals, not to society as a whole. The GPL rests on copyright, not contract law.

                      contracts freely entered into by both parties can never be a restriction of freedom

                      You wouldn't call a contract that removes freedoms "freer" than a contract that doesn't. I

                    • by spun (1352)

                      Another bad analogy. I would say, it is like two people giving away free hammers. One says, "You can use this hammer for anything you like, just mention my name." The other says, "You can use this hammer for anything you like, but if you redesign the hammer, you have to share the designs."

                      In a simple analysis, you could claim the second contract reduces the hammer user's freedom more. However, this is only counting negative freedoms, or freedom from interference. It is not counting the creation of positive

                    • by Raenex (947668)

                      You seem to be of the opinion that only negative freedoms count as freedom. And this is always the case in this debate, as I mentioned at the beginning of this thread.

                      To be honest, I had never heard of the idea of "negative freedom" and "positive freedom", and had dismissed it as spin from the FSF camp. However, since your reply I have taken a look on the web and read up on it.

                      It seems to me the use of the word freedom to mean "positive freedom" is a modern usage popularized by Berlin in the 1950s and 1960s. It's certainly not the common usage of freedom. It's more indirect than the most basic, "negative" freedom. I also find the "negative" and "positive" terms to b

  • Not Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Friday August 29, 2008 @02:41PM (#24798589) Homepage Journal

    The purpose of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) is probably obvious from its name...

    That's a pretty clueless statement. If it were obvious, then we wouldn't have to make the Beer/Speech distinction every time we used the word.

    One reason this is unclear: to many of us, it's not at all clear that whether you have the right to hack somebody else's code is a first amendment issue. In a technical sense, I suppose it is. But that's the same technical sense that Comcast uses when they assert their right to give us 500 channels of crap. Even if legally valid, it's hard to get worked up over it.

    The main contribution of the FSF to posterity has been to create the Open Source movement, which has proven to be a superior model for large-scale collaboration than the old standards committees it replaced. This was obvious to me the first time I compared early prototype of open source desktops like KDE and GNOME to their committee-managed predecessors, such as (the late, unlamented) CDE [wikipedia.org]. Even early betas of the OS desktops had more functionality than CDE, which had been under development for many years.

    But does FSF boast about their role in inventing Open Source? They do not. They consider OS, arguably their biggest accomplishment, as a distraction. That's because the FSF is about changing all the intellectual property rules as it relates to software, not about better development models. And IMHO, they don't really have a lot to show for 25 years of attacks on that particular windmill.

    • by Raenex (947668)

      The main contribution of the FSF to posterity has been to create the Open Source movement

      The Open Source movement was a break from the old guard at the FSF. The way you state it sounds like the FSF set out to create Open Source. They didn't.

      But does FSF boast about their role in inventing Open Source?

      They resent having their thunder stolen. They don't like the inclusive nature of Open Source -- that it's ok for proprietary software to co-exist with open source.

      • by fm6 (162816)

        The way you state it sounds like the FSF set out to create Open Source.

        And you make it sound like I'm an admirer of the FSF. If you think that I do, you need to work on your reading skills.

        • by Raenex (947668)

          And you make it sound like I'm an admirer of the FSF.

          Huh? How do you draw that conclusion? Work on your own reading skills.

          My only comment was on your poor representation of the FSF as having "create the Open Source movement", and stating the obvious reason why they wouldn't wave a flag for "inventing Open Source".

  • by dangitman (862676) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:35PM (#24803815)
    ... you are eaten by a Grue.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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