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2004/08/20 FSF

© August 2004 Tony Lawrence

The Free Software Foundation was founded in 1985, long before most of the world owned personal computers. Richard Stallman (RMS) actually laid the seeds for this in 1983 when he announcd the GNU project, but it was his GNU Manifesto that really laid down the principles.

Some people (and I include myself in this group) see RMS as an idealistic and somewhat irrational visionary. Some of that perception might be from simple vocabulary, and RMS cautions abut the use of certain words. Some of it comes from the obvious friction between GNU and Linux, with RMS constantly pointing out that Linux would have been nothing without all the GNU software that underpins it. True enough, but the GNU is free software - Linux used it to make something not quite like what RMS wanted, and that's just the way it is.

Well, whacko or visionary, the FSF deserves applause and support.

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More Articles by © Tony Lawrence

WordsoftheDayFSF :

---August 20, 2004

RMS is kinda wacko. He is not as insane as people make him out to be, but he definately is the type of person that lives in his own world. But he doesn't desirve the ridicule that a lot of people like to lump on him.

The thing about him is that he is the sort of person who is realy realy good at chess. Stategic thinker sort of thing, but definately not infallable.

You look at it because he choose to use the same rules that people used to twart him (as he sees it).

Take the GPL. People like to say that it is unproven in court. But if you look at one aspect of it it's like a double blind, like a chess move, were you have a obvious fent but RMS's knight is still lined up no matter how you you respond to the first threat.

Say a person uses it and abuses it. They take GPL code, modify it, and then refuse to distribute the code when they sell the product.

Then in their defense in court is that GPL is invalid. So it doesn't apply to them. And say they win! The next move on the part of a place like FSF is to say "Well if the GPL is invalid, and its the liscence you originally obtained the code on, then you have no right to use the code in the first place and you knew it. You abused our copyright". So the violating company still loses, even if they win the "GPL is invalid" agrument. They would have enter a new liscencing agreement with the people that they went to court with in order to continue to distribute their product.

He may be a weirdo, but he isn't stupid. (also notice that they require that if you contribute code to FSF/GNU project you have to sign over your copyrights in order for it to get accepted)



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