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Google GNU is Not Unix Linux

Stallman Worried About Chrome OS 393

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the fear-the-cloud dept.
dkd903 noted that Stallman is speaking out about the risks of Chrome OS and giving up all your local data into the cloud, pushing people into "Careless Computing." Which is a much more urgent concern than something like calling it GNU/Chrome OS.
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Stallman Worried About Chrome OS

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  • Like most other expressions of concern that come from brother Stallman, the geeks hear him, and keep merrily on with technological progress. Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.
    • by CodingHero (1545185) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:39PM (#34548468)

      Like most other expressions of concern that come from brother Stallman, the geeks hear him, and keep merrily on with technological progress. Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

      In this case, however, I believe his concerns are completely valid. People store personal information on Facebook, whose privacy policies are a constant subject of debate and, it seems, in constant flux. Information security aside, when I store my credit card information on my home computer I can feel safe that no one is going to get at it who I don't want to get at it. When I give it to some entity in the cloud, who knows what could happen without my knowledge or consent.

      • by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:57PM (#34548780)

        People store personal information on Facebook, whose privacy policies are a constant subject of debate and, it seems, in constant flux

        People store information on facebook with the purpose of sharing it. Anyone using facebook for private storage does not understand the purpose of facebook.

        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:06PM (#34548942)
          However, there is a bigger problem: people who use Facebook may actually lose access to their own data. At any time, Facebook could terminate your account, and suddenly hundreds of pictures and messages become inaccessible. This should not be a problem...except that some people actually do depend on Facebook to store these things for them, and would have no recourse if their access was suddenly terminated. Suddenly, people become beholden to Facebook's rules, which they have no say over.
        • by Skrapion (955066)

          I disagree. This might come down to different demographics, but whenever I ask people why they love Facebook so much it usually boils down to the fact that it's easier to use than email. PMs and event discussions are expected to be as private as emails.

          Of course, when Facebook dies and people start using the next big social networking site, they'll need to recreate their address book (or "friends list", or whatever) all over again, and they won't have any backups of any of those discussions.

        • People store information on facebook with the purpose of sharing it. Anyone using facebook for private storage does not understand the purpose of facebook.

          You just stated a false dichotomy. There's a difference between sharing your information to the world, and sharing information with your friends. Most people use Facebook to share information with their friends and setup their profiles accordingly. The GP is referring to the fact that on more than one occasion Facebook has changed it's privacy policy and

        • by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:56PM (#34549894) Homepage Journal

          People store personal information on Facebook, whose privacy policies are a constant subject of debate and, it seems, in constant flux

          People store information on facebook with the purpose of sharing it. Anyone using facebook for private storage does not understand the purpose of facebook.

          I put information on Facebook in order to share that information with my friends and family...

          I mean, I know Facebook does other things with that information, and for the time being I have accepted that. But that's not the reason I put things on Facebook.

          In general I agree with RMS's position here. Entrusting our information to other parties is rather careless. But still, when he reacts to the industry's method of framing a discussion by careful choice of terminology by doing the same thing himself (i.e. "it's not trusted computing, it's treacherous computing!" or "it's not cloud computing, it's careless computing!") I can't help but think of a whiny kid in a schoolyard name-calling match.

          And then, another fun twist: isn't this almost exactly the "client-server ideal" from years back? A thin client connecting to a server somewhere, offering convenient and reliable storage of your data from various terminals or devices? The only difference is that the server is owned by Google.

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            But still, when he reacts to the industry's method of framing a discussion by careful choice of terminology by doing the same thing himself (i.e. "it's not trusted computing, it's treacherous computing!" or "it's not cloud computing, it's careless computing!") I can't help but think of a whiny kid in a schoolyard name-calling match.

            That's why few people take him seriously, all the good ideas he has are buried under a mountain of these petty name-calling battles. Most people prefer iphones, ipads, gmail, etc... because they are easier. Things like the N900 are GREAT devices and FAR more capable than the iPhone but in the end they are also far more complicated. Yes you get the freedom but for most people it's freedom for the sake of freedom, and at the cost of usability. The FSF needs someone who can appeal to users and corporations to

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        People store personal information [in a phone book]...

        When I [hand my credit card to a waitress at a restaurant], who knows what could happen without my knowledge or consent.

        People never seem to think of the meatspace equivalents - why?

    • "Progress" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:40PM (#34548476)
      Sometimes I am left wondering just how much "progress" cloud computing and web apps really represent. So you can edit your documents and photos using a web app instead of a desktop app...where is the progress? We were accessing files remotely years before cloud computing, so what exactly is it about the current methods that represents "progress?"

      Just because you are using new methods to accomplish the same thing does not mean that you have made "progress."
      • by Ubertech (21428)
        Perhaps, but in this case the "progress" may simply represent a step from one place to another. In this case, local copies to cloud only, with a probable balance down the road. Where we're at isn't necessarily better, just forward from where we were. (i.e. progress doesn't necessarily mean superior)

        We'll see where it shakes out when the gee whiz factor of it all goes away. :)
        • by vegiVamp (518171)

          You mean, like IMAP ?

          Or also remote applications, like Citrix ? Or like XDMCP before that ? Sunrays ?

          There's not much new under the sun, mostly just new marketeers who don't know their history.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MosX (773406)

        The progress is having your data accessible from any computer. The example given in one of the Chrome OS promotional videos was having your machine break and picking up a new one, logging in, and continuing your work like nothing happened.

      • Re:"Progress" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:00PM (#34548826)
        There are advantages to these "do it in the cloud" ideas, though. Google's promoting of Chrome OS makes the advantages clear: you can access your documents from anywhere, you don't need to worry about your current device getting lost/stolen/damaged/corrupted, because all your important data has been copied off of the computer. No need to worry about installing applications or keeping them secure and up-to-date, since web-apps take care of that for you. And so on...

        What I'm not so sure about is if this is really the best possible implementation of the "store it in the cloud" concept. Google's design seems to be: have all the documents and applications in the cloud, and download the minimum necessary to your local computer to get your work done. The disadvantages have been pointed out many times: lack of net connection makes getting anything done painful or impossible (even with some amount of local caching, it doesn't work that well), latency of the network slows down application performance, third-party has full access to all your data. And so on...

        It seems like a better model would be to continue to use your local computer for data and storage and running applications, but have the computer synchronize all files to "somewhere in the cloud" on a very routine basis (like, every time you save a document or the application auto-saves). Other computer you authorize then synchronize from the cloud, as needed. The copy in the cloud can be encrypted, so only you have access to your sensitive data. Applications could actually work similarly: your computer synchronizes a list of installed applications and settings, so that other computers have access to the same work environment. At its most basic, this is probably what most geeks already do: organize files on their computer but have some offsite backup location. One could package the whole thing up so that it is much more slick and automated. In my opinion this would be have almost all of the advantages of Google's offering, without the drawbacks (a lack of a net connection just delays the backup-sync; you can still work normally).

        My point is that the ideas of "in the cloud" are not bad. They are good ideas. The problem is that the implementations are not the best. Obviously companies have more to gain in terms of data mining (by having access to your data) and lock-in (by hosting the closed-source applications for you) by doing it their way... But hopefully we will see more competing efforts (Ubuntu One [ubuntu.com] might be a step towards that...).
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:44PM (#34548554) Journal
      I'd argue a more nuanced position: relative to his value system, which he is quite upfront about, Stallman is actually extremely accurate, sometimes verging on "prescient"("The Right To Read" written a fair few years vs. Amazon's remote kindle wipes or Apple's 'cryptographically blessed software only' smash hit... for instance).

      However, his expressions of concern are basically never of the form "Technological development X won't work", which would be disprovable simply by making it work. Rather, his expressions are of the form "Technological development X will reduce the freedom of users and/or developers and/or both, which is bad". That isn't a statement about the possibility of Technological development X(indeed, he basically doesn't bother issuing statements of concern about stuff he thinks won't happen), and is almost always true for the various Xs he has warned people about.
      • by sourcerror (1718066) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:21PM (#34549238)

        Stallman is actually extremely accurate, sometimes verging on "prescient"("The Right To Read" written a fair few years vs. Amazon's remote kindle wipes or Apple's 'cryptographically blessed software only' smash hit... for instance).

        Or the Java trap. [gnu.org]* (Meaning it's not enough for Sun to be friendly to the OSS/free software community, it has to guarantee those freedoms with appropraite licenses. Also GPLv3 was before the Oracle takeover.) Sun wasn't applying the GPL license to Java and OpenOffice until some anti-Java activism from Stallman.

        * It doesn't mean I don't develop in Java. Actually, I like it pretty much, and the licensing of Mono isn't any better either. They're just not on the same level of freedom as e.g. Gnome.

    • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:46PM (#34548594)

      ...the geeks hear him, and keep merrily on with technological progress. Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

      Perhaps the rest of us have the task of making sure it's not just 'the geeks' who hear him. Stallman has a valid and important point here, and I suspect most Slashdotters agree with him. But the non-geeks are the ones who most need to hear the message, and they'll only hear it above the din of Google's grand pronouncements if we all scream it out loud, long, and often.

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        But the non-geeks are the ones who most need to hear the message

        and who care the least.

        We are geeks.. we think and care about technological issues around privacy and freedom and security. They are a big deal to most of us. This seems to blind us to the fact that most people don't really care.

        And it's not because they don't understand. Twitter and facebook are popular because most people outside of the geek community _like_ sharing every mundane detail about themselves with anyone who will listen. The answer to most "what they can do with the data" is "so what".

        A convers

        • by afabbro (33948) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:22PM (#34549262) Homepage

          and who care the least.

          We are geeks.. we think and care about technological issues around privacy and freedom and security. They are a big deal to most of us. This seems to blind us to the fact that most people don't really care.

          This is hardly as universal as you imply. I am as geeky as the next Slashdotter and could not care less about privacy or security, and my definition of "freedom" is likely as idiosyncratic as yours. Geeks are fascinated by technology and I suspect that the vast majority of them would gladly part with privacy or security in exchange for something flashier, faster, and/or cooler, especially if it's programmable.

          • by Anrego (830717) *

            As the bias in those sample questions may have implied.. I don't really care either. Not saying I'd want to live in a glass house.. but what I purchase and other mundane details.. I could care less about who sees that. Most of the scenarios where that data would hurt me require paranoia on a level that is beyond me.

            And yes, I was generalizing on a massive level. I do think geeks are at least generally more aware of privacy and security concerns, because technology is becoming the new battleground for this s

      • by dangitman (862676)

        ... and they'll only hear it above the din of Google's grand pronouncements if we all scream it out loud, long, and often.

        This is wrong on at least a couple of levels.

        Firstly, people don't listen to you if you scream loudly. They just dismiss you as a crazy person.

        Secondly, the average person has no idea of the latest thing Google has announced, and has no empathy or concern for Google as an entity. They just know that Google is how you search the interwebs to find the Facebook login page.

    • Like most other expressions of concern that come from brother Stallman, the geeks hear him, and keep merrily on with technological progress. Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

      What I find more disconcerning is how quickly these geeks dismiss his argument while blindly accepting each "innovation" from Google without thinking about the potential consequences. Ironically these Google faithful will yell the meme about Microsoft's evil monopolistic principles.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:12PM (#34549052)
      As much as I'd really, really love to dismiss Stallman as a lunatic, I can't help but realize he's been right about most everything he has predicted. Most of the world thought he was silly when he predicted the rise of "Tivoization" where most of us would be running free software but not have the ability to modify it because of hardware controls... Hm, I don't know about you but that seems awfully close to the current state of Android right now, with phones being made to prevent people from adding/removing programs or operating systems on it. The problem is, on almost every prediction RMS has made, he has been spot on. The integrity of the "cloud" is questionable when you realize who is running the cloud, companies with a large amount of money in advertising.
      • by Requiem18th (742389) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:42PM (#34549664)

        As much as I'd really, really love to dismiss Stallman as a lunatic

        Why? Because he is fat? Because he has a long beard? Why the desire to dismiss a man you know to be right?

        • by pavon (30274)

          I can think of a couple of reasons:
          * Because he frames his speech in a manner similar to other extremist activist groups (like PETA, and Green Peace), and people have been habituated to writing off those who talk like that as wackos, because they usually are.
          * There is a strong desire to ignore the naysayers when doing so is convenient, but listening to them is not: Java was a nice programming language, Facebook and Tivo are useful tools. Boycotting those things in favor of more free alternatives is a pain

      • I tend to boil Stallman down to this:

        "I got fucked over once, by a guy in an alley. He had a club and he was wearing a sign that said, 'I'm here to fuck you over!'. When you see people painting signs that say, 'I'm here to fuck you over!' run. You should do the same when people start businesses and they don't sign agreements that they won't paint 'I'm here to fuck you over!' signs or that they won't follow you around with clubs. Because there is no law against beating someone with a club in that neighborhoo

    • by pongo000 (97357)

      Not that his concerns are never valid, but he has become the Chicken Little of geekdom.

      I would venture to say that Stallman's essay on "the right to read" [gnu.org] was rather prescient at the time. Like him or not, I doubt that anyone knowledgeable about RMS would call him the "Chicken Little of geekdom."

      Banish your ignorance and read some of RMS' writings. You might be surprised that the hype doesn't always live up to the reality.

    • by Requiem18th (742389) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:32PM (#34549468)

      RMS is always eventually right, years ago he was warning about Java and nay-sayers kept merrily nay-saying.

      Look at the mess ORACLE has made of Java now.

      He has eventually been right about so many things I was expecting that by now people would get it. Idealism is long term pragmatism.

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        yes he may be eventually right.

        he is also right to call it "careless" computing because the fact is most people dont care about the issue he is raising. facebook is solid proof of this.

        I think the one thing cloud computing is missing is the ability to "take back" our data or move it to another provider. maybe legislation around our right to our data? but I think this will happen once these technologies become common. Governments do tend to support the rights of citizens when the voice gets strong enough

    • by hazydave (96747)

      It's a legit concern.

      Actually, there are several. Data stored outside of your control means that, basically, it's outside of your control. If I'm paranoid, I can unplug any PC from the net... can't with this.

      Where is it stored? The value of cracking commonly used PCs means that you get all sorts of attacks against Windows; less against less used OSs (MacOS) and/or those with higher levels of expertise and security (Linux).

      But if this is all on a big Google server somewhere, there's now one single point of f

  • Proprietary Software (Score:5, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:36PM (#34548412)
    Anyone who reads and understands the free software definition can see that web applications and "cloud computing" fail to meet the definition. The users are not free to modify or study the applications, and lacking access to the actual program files, they certainly cannot redistribute the applications to others...

    So why would anyone be surprised the RMS takes issue with an OS that is designed to be cloud-centric?
    • by drolli (522659)

      At Amazon you can rent cloud machines with free software. There is no reason that an virtual machine image pre-prepared by some company consists of free software only and nevertheless is turnkey-ready configured for a user (that may even be hidden behind a nice interface).

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      The users are not free to modify or study the applications, and lacking access to the actual program files, they certainly cannot redistribute the applications to others...

      And, I think more importantly, the TOS of almost all cloud systems more or less say that they have a right to use your data as they see fit.

      When you put your important data into someone else's servers, you lose control over it. It could easily end up in a country where they can use it in ways that would have been illegal where it origina

    • by isomeme (177414)

      What's to stop someone from releasing the source of a "cloud" application? In point of fact, a great deal of the "cloud" infrastructure -- e.g., several web servers -- is already open. The question of where an app happens to be running is irrelevant to the question of whether it is open/free.

    • Anyone who reads and understands the free software definition can see that web applications and "cloud computing" fail to meet the definition.

      Plenty of web applications and "cloud computing" technologies (both infrastructure and applications) meet the free software definition.

      Its, of course, possible to create web-based and/or "cloud" applications that don't, or to implement cloud infrastructure with closed software, just as its possible to create desktop applications that are closed.

      There is nothing inher

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Platinum1 (519177)
      What RMS and others aren't acknowledging is that you are already part of the cloud. You can set up your own web server, running whatever open source server you want. If you don't trust Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. with your email, you can set up your own mail server however you like, and you're running on the cloud. Sure, some (most) web apps aren't open source, but it doesn't have to stay that way - instead of compiling source to run natively, you can throw a web app on your server, and access it anyw
  • Cloud a joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:37PM (#34548428) Homepage Journal

    He previously called the cloud a joke. But here is the reality of the situation. I like having my email available on multiple devices. I like how easy it is to use web services rather than run my own cloud. I'm voluntarily allowing Google to serve ads to me in return for free services.

    And for most non-technical users who can't figure out how to back-up their data, automatically saving their data in the cloud is better than having no back-ups at all.

    • Re:Cloud a joke (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:46PM (#34548598)

      I like having my email available on multiple devices.

      Me too...but I have had that for a long time, and it has nothing to do with the "web" or "cloud computing."

      I like how easy it is to use web services rather than run my own cloud.

      I will not even try to decipher that one, it looks like your definition of "cloud computing" is different than...well, actually, there is not even a standard definition, so I guess the point is moot.

      And for most non-technical users who can't figure out how to back-up their data, automatically saving their data in the cloud is better than having no back-ups at all.

      Stallman is not referring to backups, he is referring to the situation in which the data only ever exists on Google's servers. Non-technical users may not be aware of the difference until it is too late, when suddenly Google or Microsoft or Amazon is able to dictate if and how they can access their data, and they are powerless to do anything about it because their computer was designed to only store their data remotely.

      • Stallman is not referring to backups, he is referring to the situation in which the data only ever exists on Google's servers. Non-technical users may not be aware of the difference until it is too late

        It's been my experience that non-technical users don't have any idea where their data lives.

        They think that their documents are actually stored inside Microsoft Word... And use the open command in Word to access all their documents... And are simply amazed when you show them the contents of My Documents.

        They don't worry about how they treat the "modem", because everything is stored in the screen.

        They never, ever download anything off of their camera... And then delete pictures when it gets full... And t

    • You give up control of your own data so easily. Why not save your data in the "crowd" too? 8^) Personally, I only let crap data live in the "clouds." Like email, video game libraries and scores, and that's it. For actual info I need, I back that up and keep it local, near-line, and off-site too. Keeping your data in someone other entity's data center is saying you trust whoever it is they decide to hire to keep your data safe. Good luck with that! My data is safer no where else but in my hands and sto

      • I, too, laugh at people who give up control of their data so easily, especially those who trust "computers" and "disks". Dell and Verbatim will never be able to hold my data hostage because I engrave all my data on gold foil.

        Very, very tiny gold foil.

        On my teeth.

    • Re:Cloud a joke (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mellon (7048) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:49PM (#34548660) Homepage

      Right, this is why the cloud is attractive. You could accomplish the same thing without the cloud, but it would involve transparent synchronization between all your devices, and that's a problem nobody's adequately solved. But if you had transparent synchronization, you would be in control of your data. Without it, someone else is in control of your data. That's all. Personally I think that's the important issue.

      As far as the open source question goes, the average user uses what they perceive to work best for them. Trying to get the average user to use something that gives the perception of working less well simply won't work. Free software advocates who care about this issue, which is a real issue, ought to care about the user experience of open source apps. Provide a better user experience, and the users will flock to your software. That's the only way to get users to switch.

      • You could accomplish the same thing without the cloud, but it would involve transparent synchronization between all your devices,

        well, even that isnt the same. I rather like being able to access gmail from anywhere, from ANY device, mine or not (ie, from the public library).

      • I think you're on the right track.

        I'm disturbed why synch is "so hard". For whatever program you're using at a particular moment, it should be a snap to designate one active copy and X superseded copies. Then when another device with a superseded copy shows up, just synch it (or back-synch the Cloud copy, and with an advanced manual permission option).

        My current opinion is that the Cloud Services vendors actively work to squash localizing copies of their programs. For example, I don't yet know of an easy "

    • I have my email available on multiple devices through the hosting company I lease a couple managed dedicated servers from using IMAP. They even have a web based interface or I could install any number of web-based IMAP clients if I wanted. For those who have been around computers long enough, the "cloud" is nothing more than timeshare. Same concept, slightly different implementation. You still have a big room (now with a bunch of servers instead of one big one, and everyone then connects via a terminal

      • Is the service free?

        Google is providing me free services that don't take time and effort on my part to administer.

        Like I said, I could arrange my own "cloud" to access my files, contacts, email, calendar, etc. on my own server in some hosted farm.

        I in turn trust the vendor who is hosting those servers, and pay money, plus all the time on my part, or I trust Google.

        I have no qualms trusting Google.

    • Yeah the cloud is all well and good, untill the US government decides that it doesn't like what you are posting and shuts you down. The whole wikileaks crackdown should make any serious organization think twice about reliance on the cloud. What did it take, a few phone calls, and an entire non profit as well as anyone remotely associated with them was taken offline. Their payment processor, a non profit, was banned from taking payment, not just for wikileaks, but for every site they processed payment for!

      ..

    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      He previously called the cloud a joke. But here is the reality of the situation. I like having my email available on multiple devices.

      What, you mean like with IMAP?

  • Agreed. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:39PM (#34548466) Journal

    I don't want my information in the cloud.

    Neither do I want the inevitable yearly charge for constant upgrades to the latest Cloud software. I bought MS Office *once* for ~$80 and have been using it for thirteen years. (Likewise I bought Final Fantasy 10 for $20 and have been playing it for ten years. In contrast Final Fantasy 11 requires a ~$5 per month constant fee.) No thanks. I want to OWN my software not rent it.

    • So don't. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by djkitsch (576853) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:53PM (#34548698)

      It's a choice - that's market economics for you. The models exist, and thrive, because demand is there, or at least there are enough people who are willing to sacrifice conventional ownership to play the game or use the software.

      Welcome to the modern world: you don't like the product, don't buy it! Buy something else, something which does suit your needs. Or, if that doesn't exist, build it yourself, or help start an OSS project to do it instead. And, if all of that is impractical or impossible to finance, then you've probably found the reason why no-one else is doing it that way.

      Of course, there is market momentum, the incumbent's advantage, monopolistic misbehaving etc, but that's what regulators are for (when they're left to do their job properly). However, "the cloud", downloadable content and subscription-based RPGs exist because there's a gap in the market. Think you can do better? Fill it yourself!

      Rant over...

      • Re:So don't. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by digitect (217483) <digitect@d[ ]ingpaper.com ['anc' in gap]> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:49PM (#34549802) Homepage

        Easy does not always mean better. The goal of a capitalistic endeavor is to provide a product/service at a price point more convenient than doing it yourself. In exchange for the cost and convenience, we may sacrifice certain qualitative considerations that we would have built in had we done it ourselves. This applies to many things... architecture, automobiles, food, fashion, consumer electronics, TV signals, and software.

        In the case of cloud computing, most customers appear willing to sacrifice their privacy in exchange for some software convenience or feature. We simply don't know how this will turn out in the long run. It is conceivable that a few high profile privacy or security violations by a cloud provider will change everyone's perspective in the future. Perhaps next year, or perhaps in 20. But it isn't quite accurate to relate customer behavior with what will ultimately be the best model. I prefer to think of consumerism as herd testing, and sometimes prefer to stand on the sideline watching to see if the herd goes over the cliff or not. Remember how blood letting turned out?

        So I agree with RMS, cloud computing without ironclad legal protections do not currently safeguard individual's interests for personal privacy.

    • From a software company perspective I get why the "cloud" is so popular. Subscriptions provide a steady stream of operating revenue month in and month out. You have one code base of the software to support. All clients get updates rolled out at the same time and are all on the same page. As someone who owns a software company that has both types of products (subscription and buy and use), the subscription based ones provide enough predictable income each month that we can plan for our expenses according

    • by yuhong (1378501)

      Well, what do you think cause software bloat?

    • I don't want my information in the cloud.

      Lots of people do.

      Lots of people want to be able to check their email just by logging in to a web page. They want to be able to show photos to friends and family all over the world. They want to be able to work on a report from anywhere they happen to be.

      Sure, a lot of this can be enabled by running your own blog or photo gallery site... Or by carrying everything on a flash drive... But, for a lot of people, it's just easier to stick it in a web app somewhere.

      Neither do I want the inevitable yearly charge for constant upgrades to the latest Cloud software. I bought MS Office *once* for ~$80 and have been using it for thirteen years.

      And if it does everything you need, that's g

  • I see the point (Score:2, Interesting)

    by peragrin (659227)

    I see the point RMS is making but then again the point of ChromeOS is to not store things locally so they can be available from multiple locations.

    There is nothing to stop you from creating your own website, with your own notepad, doc setup and logging into that. you don't need google's stuff. There are lots of different companies that offer such things now a days.

  • by sensei moreh (868829) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:45PM (#34548568)
    I started using personal computers back in 1981 because I wanted to be able to run my software whenever I wanted, and not be dependent on the (university's) mainframe system being up. Today, I can't imagine using the cloud for anything other than as a backup, and then only with strong encryption.
    • by zmollusc (763634) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:54PM (#34548720)

      Maybe now that Orwell's 1984 is coming true, they are working on Animal Farm?
      'Local processing good, remote processing bad' turning into 'Local processing good, remote processing better'?

      • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:16PM (#34549148)

        'Local processing good, remote processing bad' turning into 'Local processing good, remote processing better'?

        Nah, it's just that in every new generation of IT someone gets the idea that life would be wonderful if we all paid to rent mainframe time from them. And then after a few years we remember that mainframes sucked and go back to local processing for a few years until the next generation comes along.

    • I started using personal computers back in 1981 because I wanted to be able to run my software whenever I wanted, and not be dependent on the (university's) mainframe system being up. Today, I can't imagine using the cloud for anything other than as a backup, and then only with strong encryption.

      Yeah, I was sort of surprised that the most popular suggestion when I asked what to use after OpenOffice.org went to Oracle was Google Docs [slashdot.org] (most of the other highly rated comments were personal attacks or LibreOffice which I now use and am very happy with).

      Oh well, if people want their most personal stuff up on Google Docs, I say they'll learn their lesson sooner or later. I find a use for Google Docs, putting up things that I do not care to be public. I consider anything I put up there to be someth

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:47PM (#34548614) Homepage Journal

    They are a corporation and have a self-interest governed by a hive-mind that has no sense of personal accountability other than demonstration of positive advancement of the corporate agenda.

    Google has made it quite clear that they want to know every last thing about you and are working on finding ways to collect all your personal data, privacy be damned. This is why I only use GMail for public email and run my own mail server, why I refuse to use GoogleDocs, why I will never use ChromeOS.
    These "free" apps and services come at a great hidden cost in terms of privacy, and that cost is too high IMO.

    I'm not hating upon Google and do make limited use of their services.
    But they are far from golden in my eyes and I am very wary of them.

    • I'm not hating upon Google

      Uhm...

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      They are a corporation and have a self-interest governed by a hive-mind that has no sense of personal accountability other than demonstration of positive advancement of the corporate agenda.

      Um, none of that is genuinely 'evil'. 'Self serving', sure. But one needs to be a bit selfish to be successful in any scheme involving limited resources.

      The rest of your point is valid, but without at least some evidence of Google using the data to do harm to you or another party, you can't really flip the switch all the way to 'evil' like that.

  • As usual... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:49PM (#34548656)

    There's a relevant XKCD comic:

    http://xkcd.com/743/ [xkcd.com]

  • by zn0k (1082797) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:50PM (#34548674)

    > Stallman warns would-be hackers not to download the LOIC software being pushed as a method of expressing anger with sites that have acted against Wikileaks - not because he thinks the protest is wrong, but because the tool's code is not visible to the user. "It seems to me that running LOIC is the network equivalent of the protests against the tax-avoiders' stores in London. We must not allow that to constrict the right to protest," he notes. "[But] if users can't recompile it, users should not trust it."

    LOIC's source code is available on SourceForge.
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/loic/ [sourceforge.net]

    • by Ltap (1572175)
      I think he's speaking more specifically about downloading precompiled binaries from uncertain sources, any of which could have packaged malware in with the source before compilation. Either that or he is uninformed about LOIC.
  • Of course, RMS has a point here. And this is not the first time he is arguing against cloud computing. As can be seen in his recorded talks he has been doing this for quite some time now. The problem is that cloud computing has a couple of advantages which makes it attractive. You don't need to have backups of your data and you can access your data everywhere given that you have an internet connection. So this is very convenient for the user. But then you are giving up some of your freedoms for convenience
  • Richard Stallman is also concerned about the ubiquity of showers and electric razors, and deeply worried that either may be nearby.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @12:59PM (#34548812) Homepage Journal

    I still view the Browser as a "work in progress" there are certainly a lot of things which need finishing in it or it performs badly.

  • by zmollusc (763634)

    The heck with RMS, I am looking forward to editing 1080i video with the clouds using my awesome 60 kilobyte/second virgin media upstream. Cloud computing FTW!

  • Imagine a cloud (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:16PM (#34549138) Homepage Journal
    which exists with its own life, totally independent. imagine that, this cloud is created by millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people running p2p based clients on their devices. imagine that this cloud uses the collective computing power of these hundreds of millions of people, and with top encryption.

    it cant be controlled. it cant be killed. it cant be censored. it cant be outdone. its everywhere.

    that is the kind of cloud i would be willing to move into, without hesitation.

    something after the format that bitcoin project uses http://www.bitcoin.org/ [bitcoin.org] ( i know this is the second time i linked this, but im enthusiastic )
  • by not already in use (972294) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:25PM (#34549328)
    I think RMS arguments, all of them, can be summed up concisely as:

    STOP LIKING THINGS I DON'T LIKE
    • by sammyF70 (1154563)
      hmm ... maybe, but I can tell you his famous last words : "told you so ...". Whatever you think of Stallman as a person doesn't negate the fact that he is often right.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:33PM (#34549490) Homepage

    The trouble with "the cloud" is that it's ended up like this:

    1. All your data belong to us.
    2. We're not responsible if we lose your data.
    3. We can send you as many ads as we want, and you can't stop us.

    "But it's free." That's how it starts. Look at the pricing history of cable TV. Watch what's happening to TV on the Internet. For a while, you could watch reruns broadcast shows on the Internet for free. Now, shows are becoming less available, more ads are inserted, and shows are disappearing behind the iTunes, Hulu, and Amazon paywalls. That's for reruns of content previously broadcast free to air.

    So don't expect the "cloud" to stay free.

  • Outdated concerns (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chemisor (97276) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @01:42PM (#34549662)

    Stallman should be more concerned about the trend that caused this one: the drastically decreasing numbers of people who actually create stuff on a computer. Twenty years ago there were lots of geeks out there and Stallman's desire to modify and study other people's work was understandable. It is even understandable that he thought everyone should have these freedoms he so enjoyed. Today such an attitude is unthinkable; computer users no longer create stuff, they merely consume it. The current trend toward the extinction of the desktop and its replacement by mobile devices or cloud computing is the natural consequence of this change. You can't create anything on your smartphone except raw pictures and video. You can, however, consume content that somebody used a desktop to create. And so, each year, there are more and more consumers, and less and less content worth consuming. What will be the point of having the freedom to modify and study code when nobody wants to DO anything?

    • by FranTaylor (164577) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @02:10PM (#34550142)

      "the drastically decreasing numbers of people who actually create stuff on a computer. "

      What the heck are you talking about?

      People use computers more than ever to compose music, to write papers, to edit photography.

      "You can't create anything on your smartphone except raw pictures and video"

      Yes and when they get home to their real computer, they use IT to edit their raw pictures and video into a finished presentation. What else do people do with their "raw pictures and video"?

      Maybe you are talking about software developers? But the number of developers is growing rapidly also! Along with the number of languages and applications.

      So really what the heck ARE you talking about?

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @02:01PM (#34549972)
    I work for a company that, amongst other things, recovers thousands of stolen laptops each year. Many many of our consumer customers have no backups whatsoever and frequently call is repeatedly and desperately, hoping we've recovered their laptop so they can get back their baby pictures or term papers or music collection... The consumer market alone is ripe for a pure-cloud solution if for no other reason than the fact that Joe Average can not or will not back up their data.
  • Valid concerns (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @02:04PM (#34550032)

    Normally, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to Mr. Stallman, but in this case, I think he's spot on. First, it is nice to have access to your data anywhere you might be, on the other hand, the first rule in securing data is to limit access to it. If I'm at the local coffee shop, using an internet cafe computer, how do I know what has been cached or not locally. I don't, which means I should assume that everything is (from a security perspective) and not do anything that might disclose sensitive information like bank accounts and passwords. Oh, wait, to use the cloud services, I have to enter my password, so right there is a potential security problem.

    In arguing against Mr. Stallman's position, many point out how the use of computers has changed since the internet and how everything is now in the cloud. That might be fine if you are updating FB or tweeting, etc. But if you are a business, do you really want your employees transmitting sensitive corporate information over unsecure and unencrypted lines? Plus, in the past, if the salesperson lost their laptop, their data was exposed. Now, if they lose it, the data of everything they might have access to on the corporate site is exposed.

    Also, for cloud computing to really be effective, people need broadband. Didn't they just report, yesterday, that 68% of the country (US) does not have access to broadband (3mbit or greater speed)?

    Cloud computing sounds like a great idea, but, how do you secure the data? Is everyone going to have a FOB, like a lot of banks use for online banking? What about when the cloud is unavailable (anybody hear about the DOS attacks by anonymous)? The current notion of storing everything on the internet on somebody else's server doesn't seem like the most logical thing in the world (other than from a marketing perspective).

    I wonder if Wikileaks had been using chromeOS and was accused of violated google's acceptable use policy, what would have happened to their data. We've already seen what happened to their funds with paypal and the major credit cards. Why would we think google would be any different?

  • Ad hominem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paxcoder (1222556) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @02:11PM (#34550150)

    Lame way to try to discredit a valid point.

    I don't understand since when is it obligatory to trash on Stallman every time he's mentioned?
    If we take a broad definition of system software (where system utilities are included), it is, in fact GNU/Linux. Even the narrow definition does not make it invalid, but it does make a lesser point (standard C library, one of crucial parts of the OS is GNU, and perhaps some would say GRUB fits here too).
    In any case, if you want to trash Stallman do it on its own time, and for a good reason. For example his ethical views that do not concern software: Abortion, sterilization, etc.

    SaaS, on the other hand is a threat. And not a small one. ChromeOS' point is to be a cloud client. Where the cloud is proprietary software.

    Also, I think it's a useless OS, but that's another issue.

  • Is it just me.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @02:17PM (#34550274)

    Is it just me or does any of this sound familiar. It seems ever since the data center lost control of the data by the introduction of those toys (called the personal computer, back in the day), they've been trying to get it back. We've had citrix servers, remote access, thin clients, etc. Everything with the notion that all you need is a dumb terminal or a scaled down pc not much more than a dumb terminal and everything you need will be taken care of on the back end.

    We've seen that model fail over and over, why would cloud computing, using the internet instead of coax or leased lines be any different? If you like the idea of somebody else having the ultimate control of your data and how you can access it, great, go for it. However, if you are concerned with who at google, or wherever has access to your data, what will they do with it, etc., then why would you ever want this. Wasn't it the slashdot crowd that was upset not too long ago because google was scanning emails for marketing purposes? What will happen when they do it to your corporate documents and corporate emails?

    Thin clients were supposed to hold down costs, eliminate upgrade headaches and make everyone more productive. That didn't happen. Now we are told that cloud computing is the answer, and yet, all it is is repackaging of the old thin client model, but run on a public network with a third party corporation serving up your data. And this is supposed to be good, how?

  • by Hartree (191324) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @02:46PM (#34550782)

    Hell must be freezing over. I'm in agreement with RMS about something. :)

    Cloud computing is IMHO a bad idea if relied on by itself. It can be a piece of a computing environment, but relying only on centralized servers to store data and serve apps has many downsides. (Remember the SideKick phone fiasco?)

    A laptop running a version of Linux from CD with local storage for data, and automatic synchronization of data with a central server over the net is far more effective.

    It lets you work on your data when you have no connection, but still lets you have the advantage of being able to reach it from most anywhere or any machine when you do have the connection.

    It's secure. When it reboots, the OS is the original version. Your data may have been diddled with, but this would happen even if it had been stored on Google's central servers.

    Further, it's much more flexible as you don't have to wait for Google to vet apps before you use them.

    As to people saying "If you don't like it, don't use it.", that's fine, but if this succeeds in the market, it sets what is available in the future. People learn to not be in control of their data or computing environment.

    I don't want that level of control being outsourced to someone other than me, or my organization.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @06:28PM (#34554342)

    ChromeOS will have a standards-based browser, right? Otherwise it will make iOS look positively open...

    So all you need to do is get yourself a server (anything from a $200 NAS device hanging off your home broadband to a rack full of hardware in a datacentre somewhere) add some open-source equivalents of Google Docs, adjust your SSL certificates to taste and, voila, your own little private cloud for you, your colleagues, your friends and anybody else of your choosing.

    All we need is that open-source server-side cloud software. However, I see there are AJAX-based SSH clients [wikipedia.org] that ought to let you use your iPad or ChromeBook to run EMACS on your server, so what else do you need?

    More serious example of open-source cloud software is Cloud 9 [cloud9ide.com] - a Javascript IDE that you can download and run on your own server.

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