RMS interview

Rainer Trusch rainer.trusch at students.uni-mainz.de
Tue Jul 2 20:03:29 UTC 2002

Hi Bernhard,

On Tue, 25 Jun 2002, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 25, 2002 at 09:38:00PM +0200, Rainer Trusch wrote:
>> I decided to join the list, to bother you a bit with my comments
>> ;-)
> Welcome Rainer! :)
>> > OfB: What are some of the advantages of Free Software for
>> > businesses?
>> > 
>> > RMS: Free software means you control what your computer does.
>> > Non-free software means someone else controls that, and to some
>> > extent controls you. Non-free software keeps users divided and
>> > individually helpless; free software empowers the users. All
>> > these reasons apply just as well to business users as to
>> > individuals.
>> I read this argument quite often and think it's pretty useless in a
>> broader few. The vast majority of users can't programm and is still
>> depending on someone else. On a business level you are more likely
>> to have someone being capable to give you this control or you can
>> hire someone. On a private level that doesn't work and you are one
>> or another way "controlled" by someone else.
> You recognised the argument for business settings which it aimed at.
> Even for private users that cannot programm Free Software raises 
> the chances to have more control significantly. 

I tacled this one in the other mail.
>> I'm picking on that, because we are talking about a greater idea
>> and such an argument isn't really approachable for the majority of
>> users.
> Sometimes I compare this to the rights you have as a citizen of a
> democratic country. Usually you do not take these right to the
> limits but having them keeps everybody and especially the government
> more honest. Without everybody executing these rights they still are
> an important foundation of our society.

My opinion about drawing these quite abstract conclusions from the
original argument is in the other mail as well.

Democracy on a legal level is just a framework that has to be filled
with life. You should know well that Germanys greatest catastrophy was
elected in a more or less democratic way. It wasn't the lack of having
the right laws, but the lack of understanding and appriciation of
democracy. I hope you get the dimension of this drastic example.

>> Another point is the separation from some of the less free
>> licenses. Even the beloved yast licence gives you the complete
>> control. The problem is the distribution issue.
> The yast license renders yast to be non-free software.

Try to be a bit more serious about definitions and not just using them
as they fit into the scheme. Apart from the general woolliness of the
words free or freedom the yast license gives you a lot more freedom
than the 'usual' proprietary licenses from Redmond&Co and it is lot
nearer to a real free license than to the others ones. In this case it
was even necessary to make my point clear. If you don't accept this
usage, you are on the best way to create some sort off proprierary
term, which is only 'allowed' to use in the sense of the FSF. Think
about if this is useful.

The evaluation/estimation of such a license is a different pair of shoes.

Simplistic black&white schemes aren't helpful and I'm pretty allergic
against them, espically in a time where they are even misused on a
global political scale.

> The freedom to redistribute the software and use it for any purpose
> is crucial. Without it, peer review and further development is
> effectively prohibited. Every user profits from the freedom because
> they and other developers depend on the proprietor of the software.

Oh, the well known tape is running, but at least you agreed with my
main argument, because you didn't give an comment against it. To
remind you, I was talking about control and not about freedom. ;-)

Sorry Bernhard about being sarcastic, but control and freedom are two
different things and in some circumstances they are
contrasting. Simply mixing them up or overunning the argument with a
general statment, which I'm quite familiar with, isn't helpful for a
discussion. More comments on that in the answer to Richards mail.

Best wishes 


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