Ramble on, RMS!

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I took the title of this entry from a comment on slashdot. The comment is attached to a slashdot article about an interview of Linus Torvalds regarding the GPLv3.

I have not followed the developments about the GPLv3, and to be honest ignored it as yet some more “RMS rambling”. But the commentary on this feature did manage to make me sit up and at least form an opinion. In the Forbes interview, Linus really has demonstrated how irresponsible he can get about philosophy. There is a lot of serious thought that’s going into the GPLv3, the same kind that must have happened when RMS first put his foot down against the rise of non-free software, and at the drafting of the first GPL.

Linus’ devil-may-care attitude had always bugged me, including his choice of BitKeeper. But this interview shows exactly how off the track he is:

If you have a device that has software in it (and most devices do, these days), the FSF wants normal users to be able to upgrade that software. Now, sometimes it’s simply not technically possible. But sometimes the software can be upgraded, but the hardware limits it on purpose so that the owner of the hardware cannot do so–only the vendor can. I think that’s pretty nasty myself. I much prefer things that can be fixed. However, I don’t think that’s part of my GPLv2 contract. I’d rather vote with my personal choices (and my dollars) than by trying to make my software be a “weapon of mass opinion.” And I just care a lot more about some things than I do about others (I would refuse to buy a computer that I can’t replace the OS on, but a dishwasher or a DVR? Not a huge deal to me).

Just goes to show he is not a community leader. But I must give him points for being downright honest about it:

Another way of saying the same thing: I don’t want to make my software be “activist.” I try to make it technically as good as possible and let that part speak for itself. I don’t want it to make politics.

Last I checked, anything that affected freedom is automatically under politics. For me FLOSS has never been solely about the software itself. It’s been about the freedom and the community that is bound together by that freedom. Thank you Mr. Torvalds, but now I know that if someone asks me to name a “leader” in the community, you sure won’t be anywhere near the top of the list. I do respect the way Linus has managed the kernel development process to bring it so far, but then again, I also respect Bill Gates for the software giant that he created and helped grow.

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