[nSLUG] Richard Stallman in Halifax

Ian Campbell ian at slu.ms
Fri Jan 30 15:08:55 AST 2009

On Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 02:23:04PM -0400, Daniel Morrison wrote:
> 2009/1/30 Ian Campbell <ian at slu.ms>:
> >> How do you explain that most every other language in the world has two
> >> separate words for the two separate meanings, if in fact they are not
> >> "all that distinctly different"?
> > I explain it as "they're different languages."
> cat -> chat
> dog -> chien
> free -> libre
> free -> gratuit
> Your explanation is short-sighted.

aimer -> like
aimer -> love
voler -> steal
voler -> fly
terre -> earth
terre -> dirt

Need I go on? Words with multiple meanings aren't exactly uncommon,
and they're neither unique to English nor a signal of some fundamental

> >> Challenge: name a "freedom" which is not permitted by Free software.
> >> Hint: a restriction (i.e. the right to restrict distribution of
> >> portions of the software, such as the source, is not a freedom).
> > Here's a restriction not permitted by Free software: linking
> > proprietary code to code licensed under the GPL... or the TiVo drama
> > in GPLv3. I can't make use of your code even if I leave it open. How
> > is that Free?
> False argument. You can link proprietary code to GPL code all you want.
> You just can not redistribute the result. That would be restricting others'
> freedoms.  You can, however, redistribute your Free code along with Free
> instructions so that others may perform the same linking that you did.  That
> way everyone else can enjoy the same freedoms you do.

Forcing me to open my code if I use a GPL library isn't a freedom for
me. It's a restriction of my freedoms. The warm fuzzies of giving more
freedom to the opensource community are not compensation for that

> I'll concede this, but I'll only say that the philosophy behind Free
> software simply places greater value on community freedoms than individual
> freedoms, and in so doing guarantees that Free software grants almost
> unlimited freedoms to everyone.  Public domain software grants unlimited
> freedom to you, including the right to limit other people's freedoms.

No. Closing and forking public domain code doesn't infringe on
anyone's freedoms, the original code is still floating around in the
ether and you're free to do with it as you please.

You're just not free to use the closed code, and why should you be?
You didn't write it -- if they want to open it they can.

> Look, guys, I'm not RMS' lapdog. These are complex and weighty issues, and I'm
> not even sure that I'm completely convinced.  But when I read some of what is
> said, and think: "There's something wrong with this... how would RMS respond?"
> I can't help but to give it a try. And much like RMS, I find an inexplicable
> resistance.  What is it that you just don't get here?

It's not a question of getting/not-getting. I understand what you're
saying, I just don't agree. I prefer the BSD mentality: if I open
code I want it to be completely open. I want people to be able to do
whatever they want with it, including folding it into a proprietary

It's in their interest to contribute back to the source project
(otherwise they have to maintain their own fork, and that sucks) --
witness the contributions from big name companies to FreeBSD and the
like -- but if they don't, well, too bad.

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