Archive

Archive for the ‘Richard Stallman’ Category

Walking away from the fray

December 10, 2012 6 comments

I had written something about last week’s Richard Stallman-Jono Bacon dustup over the weekend, but then realized that it would just be more-of-the-same on a topic upon which too much attention was being spent.

The tl;dr version of what I wrote, and then deleted (you’re welcome), is this:

Richard Stallman — who is a great programmer and thinker, but who exhibited again why he’s not fit for a leadership role in anything — once again threw diplomacy and tact under the bus, even though he is, to a significant degree, right on the shopping lens issue. But shunning Ubuntu, at its core, flies in the face of freedom — people should be free to use whatever they want as an OS, even if it allows others to see what one is doing (though smarter folks would realize how bad this is).

Meanwhile, Jono Bacon — rather than doing the smart thing by ignoring Stallman’s blog post — drags out the tired Ubuntu policy of ad hominem response to any and all criticism, throwing in a FUD accusation for good measure, before — wait for it — offering what he considers an “olive branch.”

Yawn. Wake me up when Ubuntu decides to make the shopping lens issue an opt-in rather than an opt-out.

The best writing I’ve seen on this comes from Benjamin Kerensa in his blog here. So I’ll let Benjamin drive for now while I go take care of some more important things.

UPDATE: Jono Bacon writes an apology here.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge GIMP Scribus Linux Mint Kororaa Salix OS Fluxbox Conky Thunderbird LibreOffice Crunchbang Bodhi Linux PostgreSQL identi.ca python scale 10x

Eliminate DRM!

Wednesday housecleaning

October 19, 2011 1 comment

Someone asked me why I haven’t responded to some of the criticism hurled at me like monkey feces (his words, cleaned up, not mine) in the comments of my blog item about forking the Free Software Foundation.

It comes down to letting people who aren’t me speak their minds, since I’ve done that already in the blog item. As an aside, you can tell which person had read the blog all the way to the end, because there’s an addendum to it that only about 20 percent of the readers of the first item actually read. The lesson here? Read the whole thing before you respond.

To be honest, I tossed most of the juvenile and the libelous comments — those who posted the former, grow up; those who posted the latter, you’re welcome, and bear in mind others may not be so kind.

But to put this to rest, let me address some recurring themes here, like

You have an agenda: You’re right, I have an agenda: promote digital freedom. That’s it, in three words. So when roadblocks are thrown up to divert progress on this front, I advocate positions seeking to remove them. Am I suggesting Richard Stallman has become a roadblock to progress for the FSF? You think?

You’re appeasing your (corporate) sponsors: When you find any sponsors on this page, let me know. This blog is my own personal commentary on what’s going on in the FOSS realm. Sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I’m not. Either way, it’s my reporting on FOSS developments, and my opinion on FOSS issues, that you’ll find on this page.

You’re an attention whore: I was pretty happy just having the 200 or so daily views on this blog before the fork-the-FSF item. I have nothing to gain by having five-figure view stats here, and on the list of things that validate my life, this blog ranks fairly low. If you like the blog, thanks for reading it and I’m grateful for your subscription. If you don’t like the blog, I’m sorry it doesn’t appeal to you.

When are you going to start the fork? I said in the blog I thought it would be a good idea to fork the FSF. I didn’t say I’d be the one to start it, nor does having the idea mean I’m required to start it. I have much in the way of FOSS projects to keep me busy, and I wasn’t suggesting that I would be your “fearless leader.” On the contrary: As 20th century labor leader Eugene Debs once said, “I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out.” The moral of the story here is to think and act for yourself. If someone wants to act on this idea of a fork, by all means do.

What have you done for the FSF/Free Software? This is a bogus question, because even if I hadn’t lifted a finger to promote free software, I’d still have the right to express an opinion on this issue. But let’s entertain the question, with cookies and milk if need be. Here’s what I’ve done for the FSF/free software: While a student at Cabrillo College in 2007-2008, I founded the Cabrillo College GNU/Linux Users Group — not a LUG, a GNU/Linux users group; this GLUG brought RMS to speak on campus; over the last several years, I have purchased multiple copies of “Free Software, Free Society” and have given them to those folks I thought would benefit from reading it, including a donation of two copies to the Santa Cruz Public Library (which had it in stock, but they could always use more copies); I drive a car with this license plate (and, incidentally, RMS has ridden in this car from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, and from Santa Cruz to San Francisco International Airport); I started a local business in 2009, a consultancy that promotes the use of Free/Open Source Software in the small business/home office environment; I’ve also done a lot of other things that are too trivial to mention. Obviously this matters more to some than it does to me, but for those who asked, there you go.

So, how about we all move forward now, once and for all?

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge Xubuntu GIMP Scribus Kororaa Salix OS Fluxbox Conky Thunderbird LibreOffice Crunchbang Bodhi Linux PostgreSQL identi.ca python scale 10x

Eliminate DRM!

Upon further review . . .

October 9, 2011 9 comments

Well, that was interesting. Little did I know that a simple, albeit furious and impassioned, voicing of an opinion would spark such a huge debate and brand me, to combine various comments on the blog, as an idiot drama queen with a telephone pole stuck up my hind quarters keeping the door from hitting me on the way out.

You guys . . . .

But seriously, this is “Exhibit A” for the case that cooler heads should always prevail. With the benefit of the more thought-provoking of opinions in the comments, and after discussing the issue privately with several people whose opinions I respect (even when I disagree with them), allow me to clarify, add, emblish and otherwise append some of the things I wrote in the previous item, like:

A glaring omission: While re-reading my blog post, it mistakenly reads like it’s just Richard Stallman’s statement on Steve Jobs that is the sole reason for my leaving the FSF. It’s not. The statement about Jobs is just a tipping point in a list of several incidents where I, and others, have run into resistance, censorship and pariah-hood by merely questioning the FSF gospel over the years that I have been a FSF member. As an aside, an e-mail exchange with FSF executive director John Sullivan — some long and detailed, some not — allowed me to air my grievances, and I am grateful to him for lending a proverbial ear to hear these concerns. Sullivan’s e-mail exchanges, as well as discussions with others, show there is room for change in the organization.

A change at the top of the FSF leadership is neccessary and vital. A fork of FSF . . . not so much. In fact, I will admit that in the heat of anger and raising the idea of a fork earlier — “better than raising a knife,” someone said in an e-mail — further discussion (mostly by e-mail, some by phone) point to a slight change of heart on my part; simply put, all options should be explored. Forking should only be a final option. From discussions I’ve had with current and former FSFers, there is already a fork — FSFE — but more importantly, I understand from others who share my frustration that there is a growing amount of room within the organization for the reforms that, in my opinion, would make for better leadership in, and progress on behalf of, the FSF.

Interestingly, the most compelling reason and argument not to fork is that it would essentially be reinventing the wheel. Changing it, as one would change a flat tire (as one person put it in a conversation), might be more appropriate. So I may be premature in floating the idea for a fork, and such as it is with the free/open source software world, that option is always there.

How to praise someone’s accomplishments when you disagree with them: Marcel Gagne probably wrote the best look at the passing of Steve Jobs from a FOSS perspective in a recent blog item. That beats quoting a Chicago mayor by several light years, and I wish I had written that item. Thanks, Marcel.

One thing is clear: From the comments, there is a clear line — albeit a wide gulf — separating those who want to have a rational discussion or debate about this issue from those who are merely Kool-Aid drinking dogmatards who are no different, from a behavior standpoint, than the Apple cultists they despise. Thanks to each and every one of you for commenting and/or contacting me personally: To those who wanted a meaningful discussion, I appreciate the candor; to the others, thanks for the entertainment.

As an aside, I just found out that WordPress may have been routing some responses to the spam folder, where they’re deleted. I noticed this when I pulled a response out this morning. So if you haven’t seen your comment, that’s probably what happened. If you want to try again, I’ll keep an eye out for it. If not, that’s fine too.

As Forrest Gump, would say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge Xubuntu GIMP Scribus Kororaa Salix OS Fluxbox Conky Thunderbird LibreOffice Crunchbang Bodhi Linux PostgreSQL identi.ca python

Eliminate DRM!

Time to fork the FSF

October 7, 2011 230 comments

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, you would have noticed, at the end of the blog, a button for the Free Software Foundation marking me as Member No. 5030.

It is no longer there, and with good reason.

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

You can read the three-paragraph post here. There has also been commentary about it by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols here and by Adrian Kingsley Hughes here.

Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier probably wrote the best commentary on the issue here.

Richard Stallman crafted an outstanding software license and wrote a outstanding treatise on free software in “Free Software, Free Society,” of which I have bought multiple copies and have given to people I thought would benefit from reading it.

Few have had the huevos to publicly call him out on things he’s done wrong or on miscues for which he is responsible, and those who have usually have faced a barrage of criticism from free software “advocates” who’ve attacked them with a zeal, ironically, reserved for Apple fanboys and fangirls. But the fact remains that Stallman’s dogmatic attitude and peculiar behavior has been an anchor weighing down a significant degree of progress the free software movement could have made to date.

One could argue, “OK, so he made a mistake with the Jobs thing. Give him some latitude.”

No. Not anymore. This is not the first time this has happened. From the GNU/Linux insistence to the “Emacs virgin” incident to a litany of other miscues that display a clear lack of leadership skills, it’s time people stopped saying, “Oh, that’s just Stallman being Stallman” and hold him accountable.

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

Call me a heretic if you like, and if you want to debate this rationally, I’m up for that, too.

In the meantime, I will keep advocating for free software as I always have. However, I will do so now independently and not as a member of the FSF.

[NOTE: An addendum to this blog item can be found here.]

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge Xubuntu GIMP Scribus Kororaa Salix OS Fluxbox Conky Thunderbird LibreOffice Crunchbang Bodhi Linux PostgreSQL identi.ca python

Eliminate DRM!

Sometimes the best response is a shrug

September 22, 2011 3 comments

This week there was a sort of back-and-forth starting with Brian Proffitt in one blog item about Richard Stallman’s somewhat verbose Guardian article and a response by Bruce Byfield in a blog item about how he notices that lately people are picking on the Free Software Foundation. This kind of tete-a-tete is normally custom made for my participation, and last night I had thought about jumping in with both feet and an arm.

But you know what? Never mind. Just never mind. I had a whole blog item written last night. I went to bed. I woke up this morning and read my item. Then I deleted it. It’s just another “fuel, meet fire” situation that, despite my standard-issue remarkable and compelling prose (ahem), would have just removed focus from more important issues and would have created ill feelings.

So I’m just going to shrug, say “Ho-kay,” and write about something else.

Before I do, however, I will say that I do think Brian is right when he says that the Guardian article is another FSF broadside against open source, and that I don’t agree with Bruce’s arguments that the FSF is being picked on. Let’s look more importantly at the latter: The FSF does a lot of great things on behalf of software freedom, and does so with remarkably few resources. For this we are truly thankful. On the other hand, the FSF tragically has made an exact science of cultivating a “my way or highway” attitude (bring up dissenting viewpoints, as I have, and see how far you go), which makes its prevalent dogmatic stance a formula for organizational rigor mortis. For this reason alone (though there are others I won’t go into here), the FSF hand-delivers invitations for criticism — some of it deserved, some not — rather than than being victims of attacks for whatever reason externally. For all the great things he has done, Richard Stallman is largely responsible for this culture of dogma and rigidity, and when some — not me, but others — equate the FSF to being the FOSS equivalent of the Taliban, I’d like to argue against that comparison but, honestly, I really can’t.

But never mind.

Let’s go from one train wreck to another, shall we?

One of the items that is high on the tech radar today is the fact that Hewlett-Packard is about to push Leo Apotheker off the top of the building (the sentiments of some board members, it’s safe to say) and replace him with — I kid you not — Meg Whitman.

Meg Whitman. I would have prefered Slim Whitman — link to Wikipedia provided so the kids here don’t have to Google him. So while you read who he is, get off of my lawn.

This Whitman-for-Apotheker swap has been described as a “hangover solution” in one ZDNet blog item, a sort of “hair of the dog” after an all-night bender where the first question is, “I did . . . WHAT?!” And the best decisions are usually not made when you’re hung over. Hence we have Meg Whitman waiting in the wings when, according to people at HP, they have a very capable CEO choice in house with Ann Livermore.

While it would probably be best for HP to keep someone in house at the helm — that’s one vote for you, Ann, over Meg — whomever takes over hopefully will say, with one of their first utterances in charge, “Remember what we said about dumping our hardware and WebOS? We take that back.”

That would be nice, but on the whole that, too, probably deserves another shrug.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge Xubuntu GIMP Scribus Kororaa Salix OS Fluxbox Conky Thunderbird LibreOffice Crunchbang Bodhi Linux PostgreSQL

Eliminate DRM!

The far and the wide

July 21, 2011 2 comments


OSCON 2011
Next up: OSCON. Get there if you can, and give them my regards because I can’t make it this year :-(

A wide assortment of issues and items have cropped up in the last several days, all of which are newsworthy and most of which cry out for comment. On the latter, that’s what I do. After all, they don’t call it “commentary” for nothing.

So let’s take a look at some of these digital news blurbs, like

RMS: Just say no to the Cloud: For once, I am completely and unequivocally behind the man behind the GNU. Richard Stallman wrote an article appearing in the electronic version of Der Speigel outlining the dangers of so-called cloud computing. It’s fairly simple — your data, held remotely, is not really your data since you don’t have possession of the drive that physically holds it. Yep, call me “old school” about this, and I’ll thank you for it.

But why is it in Orlando? The release schedule for Ubuntu 12.04 is out and it looks like the UDS — that Ubuntu Developer Summit to the unenlightened — will take place at the end of October or early November, in Orlando, Fla., as usual. Why? Disney World? Who knows?

Who’s on first? Though not a news item per se, Carla Schroder wrote an excellent piece on Linux.com about how to find out who and what is on your network. The Linux.com tutorials and “weekend projects” are generally top notch and very educational, and this one in particular takes one through how to go about doing some router spelunking.

Meanwhile back in the Sunshine State . . .: Florida is getting a lot of attention. Red Hat is holding its North America Partner Conference on Oct. 25-27 in Miami. That’s about 240 miles south of Orlando, where the UDS will be taking place about the same time, possibly. It’s a straight shot down the Florida Turnpike, if you’re interested. According to the VAR Guy, “the event signals a shift for Red Hat, which previously lumped partners and customers together at the annual Red Hat Summit.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment to fiddle with a newly installed version of CrunchBang.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge XubuntuEliminate DRM!

Don’t fear the beard

January 27, 2011 9 comments

Registration is now open for SCALE 9X — register now by clicking on the winking penguin.

During the 2010 baseball season, the San Francisco Giants — the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants (yours truly never tires of saying that) — had a slogan, “Fear the Beard.” Most of the pitching staff — relievers and closer Brian Wilson specifically — were bearded pitching machines mowing down opposing batters.

Historically speaking, the tech realm and beards have never been too far apart, at least for the men. As such, there are some in the FOSS realm who deserve special recognition for not only advancing free/open source software, but also for forsaking the razor and putting a hairy face forward.

This blog item deals with beards specifically, so those with FOSS’s most awesome goatees — like Red Hat’s Karsten Wade, freelance FOSS journalist Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier and Oregon State University Professor Carlos Jensen, all of whom would definitely get top honors in this category — aren’t included here. Sorry, guys. Same with moustaches: For example, Mark Terranova’s ‘stache belongs in any facial hair Hall of Fame; a piece of work that would easily get him membership in The Village People — and I mean that in a good way (however, truth be told, when he’s got a beard, Mark runs with the best of ‘em).

Here is a sampling of what I find are the best beards in FOSS, in no particular order other than to say that if anyone got a first prize, it would have to go to . . .

Jon ‘maddog’ Hall: Despite getting a lot of input from those who think Richard Stallman should get top billing, sorry, RMS: Maddog takes the prize as the FOSS advocate with historically the best beard in the realm, to which picture at right will attest. Or you could look up Father Christmas in the dictionary and, chances are, you’ll find maddog’s picture with the definition. Despite recently going for the Sean-Connery-as-Indiana-Jones’-Dad look (see next paragraph) to go along with the 70 or so pounds he dropped — a great thing, indeed — Hall’s beard has always been the standard of epic in the FOSS beard pantheon.

[Maddog, shown at left in his new closer cropped form, comments in response to an e-mail: "And for beards, I could NEVER understand why someone would want to put a very sharp instrument close to their throat when they are only partially awake. I have not shaved since 1969 . . . ." Also, to the youngsters out there, maddog has a message: "I am glad that you are twenty . . . I enjoy seeing your youthful energy and beauty, and some days when I wake up and I am stiff, I wish I was twenty again . . . but I only wish that for about fifteen minutes." Amen to that!]

Richard Stallman: Most people I’ve talked to about this have said, after they stopped laughing at the topic (“No, really, I’m writing on the BEARDS of FOSS . . .”), that RMS should have the top spot, and in lieu of Jon ‘maddog’ Hall’s change in appearance, they might be right. The bearded face that launched a thousand tools to make the Linux kernel run, and launched a free software movement to boot, has been the one most commonly associated with free-as-in-freedom software. Not only this, he also sidelines as a saint — if you’ve never seen the St. Ig-GNU-tius schtick, check it out. I first saw this several years ago when Stallman spoke at UC Berkeley, and it never gets old despite being bearded (and I mean that in a good way).

Timothy Budd: If you are now, or have been, a student of computer science at a university, there’s a chance you may have had a class with a textbook Timothy Budd had written. An associate professor of computer science at Oregon State University — Go Beavers! — Tim has written a dozen textbooks on object-oriented programming, data structures and Leda, a multi-paradigm programming language that yours truly admits to not understanding at all. Be that as it may, Tim’s advocacy for FOSS during his time at OSU — he has had me as well as others speak to his graduate classes on FOSS — and his healthy crop of hair on his chin garners him a spot on the list. Besides, since he is well known by his students for his use of the term “Administrivia,” he gets on the list by simple use of that bearded word alone.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’ beard is one that most FOSS users and advocates are accustomed to seeing on a nearly daily basis when reading the latest developments in Free/Open Source Software news. Whenever there’s news to be delivered, the FOSS community can count on Steven being the one who brings it to us; not only this, usually Steven is first with the news, which should garner him the nickname “Scoop.” Now writing for ZDNet as well, Steven gets what is rightfully more exposure in writing news that’s important to us — and to everyone else, for that matter. Steven gets extra points for being a Asheville Tourists fan — the Tourists being one of the most unique mascot names for a baseball team in the country.

Me: In an unprecedented display of unabashed ego worthy of another Larry — the CEO of Oracle whom, incidentally, has what’s trying to be a beard on his face, but not doing a very good job of it (but I digress) — I like to think that my beard would rank up there among bearded FOSS titans, not because of any accomplishment of my own — OK, the Lindependence Project . . . maybe — but just by the mere fact that it grows, with Wolfman-like speed, on my face. Herein lies the story: I’m a werewolf. Just kidding — I grew first grew my beard after Jerry Garcia died in Jerry’s honor, but my family hated it. So I went back and forth between having it and not having it until making a pact with my family: Even-numbered years, a moustache; odd-numbered years, the beard.

I’ve missed a lot of people, which is where you come in: Who did I miss and why is should their beard be in the FOSS Hairy-Faced Hall of Fame?

[Photos of Jon "maddog" Hall, Timothy Budd and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols used by permission. The photo of Richard Stallman was taken by Copyleft and appears here under the GPL and CC-Share-Alike licenses afforded by the photographer. I haven't decided to give myself permission to use my photo, but it's probably OK.]

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge XubuntuEliminate DRM!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 80 other followers