RMS interview

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at intevation.de
Fri Jul 5 13:55:11 UTC 2002

On Tue, Jul 02, 2002 at 10:03:29PM +0200, Rainer Trusch wrote:
> On Tue, 25 Jun 2002, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
> > On Tue, Jun 25, 2002 at 09:38:00PM +0200, Rainer Trusch wrote:

> >> > Non-free software keeps users divided and
> >> > individually helpless; free software empowers the users. 

> >> 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. 

Maybe we should elaborate on the above statement which was short to make
it a better argument for more individual users. What about:

Free Software gives you more choises on whom to trust or buy updates from.
Some local people from your village or school have the freedom
to join up and provide help for themself or you.

> >> 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.

> 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. 

We could in theory make further differences among the proprietory licenses.
I'm just convinced that the criteria we have for Free Software
which are well explained by the four freedoms are a good to draw the line.
The criteria have been discussed quite some time now and are consensus
by a broad number of experts and organisations.
There have been attempts to further explain or rephrase these criteria 
like the DFGL or the OSI license definitions.

> 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.

We could have an in depth talk about the difference about proprietory
software like yast and photoshop. We could also have a debate about
the various Free Software licenses. Most of the time this confuses 
people which do not know the main arguments. Giving them
a way to decide between Free and proprietory first is the
didactically right approach.

> > 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. ;-)

I did talk about control.
Without the actual permission to study the inner working of things
and publish the results, you cannot effectively contol it.
Thus democratic control means to have the right processes in place.
Like neighbours studing all new versions and the source code of software.
The "four freedoms" ensure that the process can be established.

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