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RMS Cuts Through Some SCO FUD 877

sckienle writes "ZD-Net has a commentary by Richard Stallman about the SCO case against IBM, kind of. It does provide some history on what the GNU organization did to protect itself from such lawsuits. Favorite quote: 'Less evident is the harm it does by inciting simplistic thinking: [Intellectual Property] lumps together diverse laws--copyright law, patent law, trademark law and others--which really have little in common.'"
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RMS Cuts Through Some SCO FUD

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  • Broken Record (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:04AM (#6293350)
    RMS sounds like a broken record. How many times do we need to hear the explaination of Linux and GNU/Linux?

  • by tommten ( 212387 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:09AM (#6293392) Homepage Journal
    Linux itself is no longer essential: the GNU system became popular in conjunction with Linux, but today it also runs with two BSD kernels and the GNU kernel. Our community cannot be defeated by this.

    the kernel is still essential due to the high level of hardware support.. but hopefully if something would happen, the drivers get ported to other kernels..

    For great justice, the GNU must survive!

  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <<splisken06> <at> <>> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:13AM (#6293430)
    I originally considered SCO's efforts to be, as Stallman suggests, an attempt to shake the IBM money tree and see what would fall out.

    When Microsoft made it's licensing agreement with SCO, I then began to consider that the whole tone and nature of the SCO lawsuit was a FUD campaign to hurt OSS, subsidized but not directly linked to Microsoft.

    I keep switching back and forth as to which I think it is. Of course, it might be both.

  • Re:Copyleft? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:16AM (#6293446)
    There is a big difference from computer code which a *computer* interprets and an opinion targeted at humans. The reason for the Verbatim copying requirement is so that he is not mis-quoted.

    Nothing to snicker about here.
  • Wow... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Asprin ( 545477 ) <gsarnold@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:16AM (#6293447) Homepage Journal


    who-da ever thought that RMS's paranoid-bordering-on-schitzophrenic obsessive ranting about words, language and semantics would have actually come in handy?

  • Just once... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Emmettfish ( 573105 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:16AM (#6293457) Homepage
    I would like to see Richard Stallman write a piece that's relevant and express a thought without four paragraphs of text explaining why he is a very important person, and his organization is very important.

    If you keep having to explain to people what the FSF and GNU are on about, then there might be something wrong with the message, not necessarily the messenger.
  • Wrong fight RMS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoff lane ( 93738 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:18AM (#6293473)
    SCOs intent appears to be to widen the concept of a "derived work" to encompass eveything that behaves, looks or even smells like Unix.

    If sucessful GNU software would not be immune. SCO actually claim that code written by 3rd parties is theirs if it's written to a Unix API...

    They are a bunch of landgrabbing carpet-baggers.
  • off topic (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DarkSkiesAhead ( 562955 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:18AM (#6293476)

    too bad we can't moderate RMS as off topic. most of this is just his petty little gnu/linux crusade. he doesn't even bring up SCO's code copying accuation until the 7th paragraph. he needs to get over it.

    sure, GNU code is an important part of what we call linux. so is xfree86, but i don't here them whining about the xfree86/gnu/linux operating system. or what about gnome/kde/xfree86/gnu/linux. the most basic definition of "operating system" is "software that controls the execution of computer programs and may provide other services". the kernel qualifies. everything else is an add-on for usability.

    anyway, it's pretty pathetic of RMS to use every single issue or topic to push his name agenda.

  • by solidhen ( 642119 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:20AM (#6293494)
    If for some reason all copies of the Linux kernel source code was wiped of the face of the earth tomorrow people would still be able to run a Free/Open operating system.

    Sure there would probably be major setbacks. It might take another five years to get to the point were we are now but things would eventually get back to normal.

    So RMS's statement that the Linux kernel is no longer essential is true.

    I use Gentoo Linux and I love it. But if I _had_ to I could learn to live with a FreeBSD kernel. I know both Debian and Gentoo are working on getting there userland stuff working under a BSD kernel.

    If the Linux kernel went away tomorrow it would be a real shame (understatement of the year) but it would not be the end of the world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:20AM (#6293495)
    Ok, no doubt this will be modded down instantly, but I have to ask this question:

    Would RMS mind so much if Linux kernel fell down because of this controversy as long as GNU carried on with a different kernel?

    I mean, reading his comments it seems clear that his purpose was not to defend Linux, but to try to draw a distinction (surprise) between the Linux kernel, the GNU system and the OS that is GNU/Linux.

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:22AM (#6293502) Homepage Journal

    I wish folks would just stop with the GNU/Linux junk.

    In this specific dispute with SCO, we're not talking about the userland tools but about the kernel itself. I seem to remember someone named Linus calling the kernel just plain "Linux" and trademarking it to that effect.

    As for distributions, they can call their product whatever they want. If they include self-licensed elements, I can see why they wouldn't want to name it "X/Perl/Apache/BSD/Mozilla/GNU/Linux". I'm personally glad that Red Hat hasn't succumbed to the annoying GNU/affectation. "Red Hat Linux" says what customers need to hear, and no more.

  • Re:Copyleft? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:23AM (#6293515)
    If you thought about it for half a second, you wouldn't have sniggered. He's saying it's OK to copy his works, as long as you let people know who wrote.
  • He's persistent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HoloBear ( 677797 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:23AM (#6293519) Homepage

    You have to admire his persistence with the GNU/label, but I would have to disagree with one of the statements:

    "Linux itself is no longer essential"

    Which is just egotistical masturbation, the very nature of OSS/FS at this moment in time is focused around Linux almost exclusively in terms of press and business marketing, GNU/hurd or anything else right now could in no way compete with anything Linux has achieved, in terms of market share, popularity and rate of growth.

    Not that I don't appreciate what GNU has done, and will continue to-do, it's just that Linux is essential to the community, and OSS in general, hence the amount of heated debate.

  • a theory? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smd4985 ( 203677 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:24AM (#6293522) Homepage
    ok, lets try to make sense of a few interesting facts and see if we can find an explanation:

    1) MS hates Linux (it is a 'cancer')
    2) MS licensed some code from SCO, granting some force to SCO's claims and giving them more money to pursue their lawsuit against IBM
    3) SCO will not produce the evidence prior to the case - the offensive Linux code will be kept under wraps until trial time

    I think that MS and SCO want to spread FUD for as long as possible, knowing full well that this case won't get anywhere. Even if they do win in court, they are withholding the offensive code because they know once they present it, the Linux community will up and change it. If they were to present it now, Linux can move merrily along (though IBM may still be liable to damages). They want to hurt the GNU/Linux movement for as long as possible though.
  • No not again. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:24AM (#6293524) Homepage Journal
    Please RMS get off the GNU/Linux soapbox. Yes GNU tools are in Linux. But then I use GNU tools on my XP box so should I call it GNU/Windows.

    RMS did not invent open source or free software. The first programer that offered to give his code to a friend did and it has been going on ever since.

    So I guess I should call the OS on my Linux box. GNU/XWindows/Apache/KDE/OpenOffice/Mozilla/LINUX?

    What RMS has fame envy. He feels that poor GNU has been forgoten. We like our GNU tools but this whole stamping of feet and chanting "GNU/LINUX" makes RMS look silly. His chance to do something positive was wasted by his little lecture on GNU/LINUX. Most non technical people will say, "Wow Linux must really have IP problems they stole GNUs code as well".

  • Re:off topic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weave ( 48069 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:25AM (#6293532) Journal
    Maybe, but he has some good points too. If, worse case scenario, the linux kernel is considered tainted, then one solution would be to use another non-tainted kernel and port drivers and such to it.

    Surely all of us can see that there is a big difference between the kernel and everything else that sits on top of it. Is SCO's lawsuit relevant to Gimp, for example? Or /bin/ls?

    The real world considers "linux" as an entire package. SCO, even in their wildest dreams, won't be able to force me to move from Apache to IIS.

    But SCO has stated that they think Linux will still exist, but not be free (cost) anymore. Now if they did in some twisted universe win, do you really think everyone won't just flee to BSD (which just happens to have a heck of a lot of GNU stuff on top of it as well).

  • by 4im ( 181450 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:26AM (#6293542)

    I note he didn't use GNU/NetBSD?

    Had you actually tried to understand RMS's message, you'd have noticed that in the two instances he mentioned *BSD in this article, he was talking about the Kernel only - had he talked about the whole system, I'm quite sure he'd have used GNU/*BSD.

    I really don't understand people here raving about RMS, he does have a clear position and is consistent with his beliefs - much more than can be said about most other people. I've seen him at FOSDEM in Brussels, where he made an excellent impression IMHO.

  • I know you received the rating of flamebait. But somehow I have to agree with you. From the various commentaries that he has made I get the REAL feeling that he is actually enjoying this.

    HE REALLY goes out of his way to point out that GNU does not have the problems that the LINUX kernel does. Well he is going to be REALLY surprised because SCO has made comments that they might go after the BSD's as well.

    Is RMS right? I think not. If it was not LINUX, then it would have been FreeBSD, and if not that then [Fill in OS here]. Why? Because Linux has the momentum and it pisses SCO off. Essentially this is what it is about. SCO thinks they own UNIX and they are pissed that they are going to go bankrupt!

    He in a way is as dangerous as SCO because he is not exactly proping up Linux or IBM! And that makes me more nervous that anything else. Because at this point in time we need to come together and focus and eradicate this problem. Not talk about how GNU will never die, BLAH, BLAH... But at least we have ESR!
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:29AM (#6293555) Homepage Journal
    I love the way everyone who gets into this fiasco brings their own agendas to it! For RMS this is just another chance to explain why "Linux" isn't an operating system, only "GNU/Linux" is an operating system... The difference between SCO and Stallman is essentially the audience that they are bringing their agendas to, not the opportunistic way that they force their agendas into any situation that might benefit them.

    Stallman the coder is a man to be respected. Stallman the politician really needs to go away and stop hurting the cause he claims to care so much about.

    Until then, I insist everyone refer to him as "MIT/Stallman" and his project as "MIT/GNU" since he wouldn't be where he is now without the space, time, and other resources that MIT has given him over the years.

    For short, just call the OS "MIT/Linux", since "MIT/GNU/Linux" to too long. After all, that's why he says that we shouldn't bother calling it "GNU/X/BSD/Apache/MIT/CMU/DEC/HP/Sun/IBM/Red Hat/SuSE/Slackware/Debian Linux". Of course, that's just an abbreviation. The correct name lists all of the contributors and their curren email addresses as well. Credit where credit is due, after all!

    I'm going back to my MIT/Linux system now to get some work done!
  • by A Commentor ( 459578 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:31AM (#6293569) Homepage
    Don't agree to the license... It's a trap. You'll have to agree to their license, and you'll then have a contract with SCO. SCO has already stated that breach-of-contract was stronger than general copyright infringement... They just want more people to sue...
  • by Dashmon ( 669814 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:36AM (#6293602)
    If people like you'd just start admitting that he's right and that GNU, like Linux, is an important part of GNU/Linux systems, and that FSF did do a lot for the whole OSS community, he wouldn't have to repeat it over and over again.

    And I don't really like your remark about "filthy" socialists. I'm guessing you're from the US, but where I live, it's still considered normal to have political ideals - we're at least far away from calling it "filthy". This isn't meant to be a flamebait, but I DO feel offended, and I felt I had to let you know, cuz well, I don't like that.
  • Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by farrellj ( 563 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:38AM (#6293620) Homepage Journal
    I've known RMS peripherally for years, and I am constantly impressed by him. From first hearing about the GNU project, to this article, I find him an inspiration for anyone who wants to do the right thing, and keeps on until it's done. Sometimes I don't agree with him, but I have to respect his opinion none the less.

    The world is a bit better place because of RMS.

  • by msgmonkey ( 599753 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:38AM (#6293623)
    The reason it matters is because SCO are n't going after just the kernel they are saying the whole Linux "system" infringes including all the tools that range from ls to gcc. Since for example GCC has nothing to do with Linus than it does concern RMS. If SCO have a problem with GNU they should point the finger at them too and not just Linus.

    I mean look at it this way, however unlikely it is lets say SCO managed to kill the Linux "system" and get that to encompass GNU stuff. It would n't affect just Linux it would effect anything with GNU stuff in it and that's ALOT of systems and not all of them are OSS.

    The problem with SCO is that they keep moving the goal posts. One of their later arguments is that they claim that anyone who developes a "Unix-like" operating system owes them money. Infact they take it further saying that Unix is the basis of all modern OS's and in that respect that can go after anyone including presumably MS.
  • Yeah, but the last line of Stallman's statement just ... well ... smell's funny to me:

    Linux itself is no longer essential: the GNU system became popular in conjunction with Linux, but today it also runs with two BSD kernels and the GNU kernel. Our community cannot be defeated by this.

    I'm not saying Stallman cooked this whole thing up with SCO. But I do think he's taking advantage of the 'negative press' (as it were) Linux is receiving as a result of the SCO lawsuit to basically promote 1) the name GNU/Linux, and 2) to rally support for GNU/Herd.

    Just an observation.
  • well... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:41AM (#6293646)
    Accept I think it is fair to say that in this particular situation the fact that GNU stands for GNU's Not Unix is relevant in light of the fact that SCO accuse rms of stating that "Linux is a copy of Unix".

    I think rms's article, while not amazingly enlightening, did help to underline the point that Unix is a complete operating system and Linux is only part of one. I consider this point to be important as companies like Microsoft and sco often use vague and ambiguous language in their campaigns of fud. It is just as important to distinguish GNU from Linux as it is to distinguish trademark law and copyright law. Rms is right in what he says because companies like sco like to use confusion to their advantage, to confuse one set of laws with another unrelated set of laws, one lump of software with another. Their aim is to create doubt about the future of GNU/Linux and make money in the progress, ambiguous language helps them to do this.

  • by maynard ( 3337 ) <> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:42AM (#6293657) Journal
    How is that relevant to the factual basis of his statements? rms uses specific language and terminology because he knows this frames the debate and underlying assumptions to best make his case. This is no different from any other PR message. That you dislike his looks (which is a personal matter) makes little difference to the debate at hand (other than as a smear).

    rms is certainly a quirky character, with idiosyncrasies that some may find offensive. But any fair observer must agree he has worked his ass off building and creating that which he fervently believes is ethically right. I believe this deserves honest credit. Anyone who uses GNU software should thank him and the FSF for the hard work they've accomplished. And if you disagree with his stated opinions and assumptions, say so. I certainly won't use the term GNU/Linux, whatever he may think. But I thank him just the same.

  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:44AM (#6293666) Homepage Journal
    The thing to do in that respect would be to clean-room re-implement the GNU toolchain. Start with glibc. Then move on to gcc. You may use Intel's compiler on one platfor for specific languages, but GCC is still an essential tool until something replaces ALL (or at least most) of the platforms and languages that it can compile for. For languages that includes Objective-C, C++, C, FORTRAN, ADA and Java. For platforms, I think you at least have to handle x86, PPC, Alpha, Sparc and ARM.

    Those two will probably take 2-5 years to get usable. It's a laudable goal, IMHO. If for no other reason, at least this would force some re-engineering of the basic tools that we've been lugging around for over 10 years.

    After glibc and GCC, you would want to tackle flex, bison, the assembler, and binutils.

    Those are much easier than glibc and GCC, but still a fair amount of work. Probably another 1-2 years.

    Then you have sh-utils, file-utils, grep, gawk, find-utils and make.

    After that, I don't think there's really much left. A bunch of out-lying junk that can be replaced easily enough. GNOME and many other "GNU-named" things aren't really GNU, so Stallman has no claim to them. Things like EMACS aren't essentiall components of the system, so I don't see any reason to replace them (though EMACS has needed a re-design for about 15 years now).

    The GNU contribution to modern Linux systems is huge, but it doesn't warrant Stallman's endless ranting over naming. IMHO, he's burned his bridges sufficenctly that it's worth the community's time to sever any ties to him.
  • Re:Broken Record (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsho[ ] ['d.c' in gap]> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:46AM (#6293695)
    As many times as it takes for it to sink in.
  • Re:Copyleft? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Suppafly ( 179830 ) <slashdot@[ ] ['sup' in gap]> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:47AM (#6293700)
    you are way off base there.. he basically mini-gpl'd the article.. it's saying you can copy the whole thing as long as you keep the permission to copy the whole thing attached to it..
  • by Matrix272 ( 581458 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:47AM (#6293701)
    I'll grant that I wasn't really around much in the early 90's, so I can't speak from the first-person in regards to what he's talking about. I would guess that Linux Torvalds really didn't think one thing or another about GNU when he wrote the first Linux kernel. He probably approved of it, but I don't remember reading anywhere in his initial post in 1991 (or 92?) that his brand-new kernel was developed specifically so GNU could be complete.

    GNU and Linux may have grown up together, but they weren't born in the same house... or even in the same neighborhood. Linux became popular practically IMMEDIATELY. GNU's still kinda working on it.

    About your rant about filthy socialists... Um... RMS looks filthy, and from his past remarks, he tends to be socialist. The parent's comment was 100% accurate. At no point did he say that all socialists were hippies, or that all filthy people were socialists. I know quite a few filthy SOB's that aren't socialists. He also didn't say (per se) that socialism was bad, even though historically, there's never been a country that survived for very long in socialism.
  • Re:Article summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arkanes ( 521690 ) <> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:47AM (#6293703) Homepage
    I know you're just being trollish and scathing, but "I didn't want to pay for it, so I made it myself" is an excellent attitude for someone to have. IMO, anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:48AM (#6293710)
    I find it interesting that for a while I heard little to nothing from the FSF about the whole SCO-incident. It occured to me that they must be using the same tactics as the IBM legal team, for what are now becoming obvious reasons. SCO really wants to make noise, publicity cannot be bad for them, only good.
    People who buy stocks can and will not understand the issue at hand. All they know is they hear the name SCO alot in the news, so something must be going on.
    You should help fight this too. If someone of who you know that he/she is not technical asks about SCO (since, well you seem to talk alot about linux and they have something to do with the matter too it seems), shrug, and tell them 'Isn't that some lawyer company trying to pull a scam on IBM', do NOT start talking about IP,copyright, rights to the source code etc.... Come here to /. to vent that anger and tell about the injustice. Most people here /can/ understand what you are talking about, and will agree. The (manager) person you will be talking to will NOT. He will think there's something to it since even you seem to get worked up about it, and will start reading the FUD out there, giving SCO exactly what they want, free publicity.

    I can see the replies coming in already 'How often can RMS rehash the same old story','I'll call linux whatever I want it','RMS is such a zealot','I don't know RMS but I'll whine anyway'.

    Thanks to people like RMS we HAVE a system such as GNU/Linux. It's easy to have critique, but I think very few of us were sleeping "at the office" 20 years ago coding to make a better world.
    His strict "zealotry" has made sure that at this moment it is almost certain that the GNU project is clean, since it written from an ethical perspective /not/ a "practical" one, and thus, that whatever might happen to linux, GNU can continue without it (although I truly hope that will never happen).
    Obviously it is very important to re-re-re-rehash the same old story over and over again, since people still don't get it. A bigger percentage of the slashdot crowd might, but "normal" people don't. To them it should be explained, nice and easy, what the difference between GNU/Linux and Linux is,and what exactly the word "free" entails when it comes to software. Ignorance breeds fear, and fear leads to free FUD and rising stocks.

    RMS doesn't need to call it GNU/Linux for his own personal ego. He is already a known icon. He is asking, not telling, you to honour the thought of freedom that stands behind the GNU-os, and also to honour his co-workers at the GNU foundation, and try to put them into the spotlight a bit more.

    I for one, am gratefull he spoke up, even against what I just advised here. I , in fact, did need a reminder that when people start throwing terms together in the word IP they usually don't know what they are talking about. I'm not a lawyer, and don't know exactly how all the assets like copyright, patents etc.. work, but fortunately most judges /do/ have some insight into such matters. They will indeed see throught the smoke and mirrors that SCO have made with huddling together everything under the term UNIX-IP, trying to misdirect everyone. So in court they won't stand a change. Unfortunately, they don't need to win inside a court to win, they can win outside by smearing linux and getting free publicity. If you care about GNU/Linux, it's up to you and me to make sure they don't stand a chance outside court as well. So, if anyone asks, shrug your shoulders, and act like a member of the general public... "SCO who ?"

    If all else fails, just remember, "GNU's not UNIX", and build your own little green rosetta.
  • by siskbc ( 598067 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:56AM (#6293774) Homepage
    I mean, reading his comments it seems clear that his purpose was not to defend Linux, but to try to draw a distinction (surprise) between the Linux kernel, the GNU system and the OS that is GNU/Linux.

    Stallman talks like he had this fully functional operating system without a kernel. If by this he means he had some text editors and stuff, sure. But to call that an operating system is a bit rich. In other words, a car without an engine or a transmission isn't a car.

    Furthermore, I hate to tell him, but not everything in a Linux distro is GNU. Just because someone GPL's some software doesn't make it GNU-made. Additionally, there's a lot of BSD-licensed code in the kernel. So if nothing else, shouldn't it be BSD/GNU/Linux?

    Don't get me wrong, GNU's written some great software (I love GRUB), but when his answer to any question starts with three paragraphs of the GNU/Linux thing, it's hard to take him seriously sometimes. Makes you wonder why he does what he does.

    And no, this isn't a troll, just a serious question.

  • by Dynastar454 ( 174232 ) * on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:57AM (#6293778) Homepage Journal
    Ouch, the mods clearly don't like my over the top analogy. I'm just trying to say the fact that RMS (and many other people here) seem so complacent about this is disturbing.

    Think about it this way if you will. The Linux kernel took thousands and thousands of person-hours to make. It's a shining example of free software, a work of art if you will. Don't you think people would be perplexed if, say, the curator of the Smithsonian said after the the war in Iraq, "Well, it would be a shame to see all the priceless artifacts in Iraq looted, but it's not such a big deal, our collection will still be fine." No, you want the curator to be indignant, to call for strict protection for the artifacts, to cry from the top of the mountion how looting in Iraq harms the art community and the world!

    RMS (and others) should realize the "that sucks, but we'll be ok either way" attitude is just... I don't know, dumb!

  • by thoolihan ( 611712 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:59AM (#6293796) Homepage
    I think a lot of people are missing the point. Yes, RMS has said all of those things before. But this case demonstrates why it is important. Free software users on slashdot know the difference in GNU and Linux (I hope), but corporations do not. Therefore, a company that uses GNU/Linux on an Enterprise level may overeact and go back to proprietary software. They don't realize the problem is with one specific part of their OS.

    And as he points out in the column, it can now be replaced, if the situation were irreconcilable. I think the point of his article is that Free Software is bigger than this case and will continue.

    I think he did a fairly good job of writing that without saying "I told you so" about proprietary companies.

  • by hankaholic ( 32239 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:59AM (#6293797)
    The reason he doesn't insist on GNU/NetBSD is that the BSDs are based on a codebase that was originally UNIX.

    Back when AT&T owned UNIX, some of the UNIX source was released freely, and the rest was rewritten by the educational community and released freely as well.

    BSD (Berkeley Standard Distribution, as in the University of California at Berkeley, as I recall) is UNIX-based, through and through, since it derives heavily from "UNIX", which at the time was the OS owned by AT&T.

    The BSDs "forked" from UNIX proper, and later branched into Open, Net, FreeBSD, et. al.

    In the early 1980's, RMS (among others) realized that since UNIX was a commercially owned and controlled OS, certain freedoms were lost. In order to prevent this from being a future limitation, he started GNU, which, again, means GNU's Not UNIX.

    GNU includes much more than just GCC -- such as the standard command-line utils (GNU textutils, binutils, ls, sed, etc. are used by most [all?] distributions of operating systems using Linux as their kernel, for instance). Much of the base system, which other programs depend on to run (this includes the C library itself, a central part of any UNIX-like system).

    GNU's software includes everything that a UNIX-like OS needs, except for a kernel. That's the "Linux" part.

    Now, again, the BSDs came from UNIX (so, BSD Was UNIX, you could say). This includes the BSD kernels, libraries, and command-line utilities.

    The only GNU major component that the BSDs use is GCC.

    RMS doesn't insist on GNU/NetBSD for the same reason that nobody insists on calling it DevStudio/Windows XP -- it'd be idiotic, since an OS is much more than just the compiler which built it (which is NetBSD's relation to GNU tools). He insists on GNU/Linux because GNU is the operating system proper, and Linux is the kernel on which it runs. Insisting on calling it GNU/Linux is like insisting that Apple call their OS "MacOS" or "MacOS/BSD" instead of just "BSD" -- there's much more to an OS than the kernel, and it wouldn't make sense to call Apple's newest OS "BSD" just because of the kernel itself.

    If you really, really don't think that GNU is that important, go install a base installation of your favorite "Linux-based" distro (Debian's base system is roughly 15 MB worth of .tar.gz, IIRC, and I'm sure other distros allow you to install a bare-bones system as well). Hell, throw in the compiler as well.

    Now, look at exactly what is installed. How much of it is GNU? Here's a quick list utilities which contain either an "" email address or an FSF copyright notice in their --help output on a Debian-based router that I administer:

    [ a2ps aclocal aclocal-1.5 addr2line ar as autoconf autoheader autom4te automake automake-1.5 autopoint autoreconf autoscan autoupdate awk basename bash bashbug bc bison build-prc c++ c++filt card cat catchsegv cc cg_annotate chgrp chmod chown cksum cmp comm cp cpp csplit cut date dch dd df diff diff3 dir dircolors dscverify du echo env expand expr factor false find fixps flea fmt fold g++ gawk gcc gccbug gcov gdb gencat getconf getent gettext gettextize git gitaction gitkeys gitmount gitrgrep gitunpack glibcbug gnut gpg gpgsplit gpgv gprof grep grep-excuses groff groups gunzip gzexe gzip head hindent hostid i386-linux-cpp i386-linux-g++ i386-linux-gcc iconv id ifnames igawk info infobrowser infokey install join ld ldd libtool libtoolize link ln locale localedef locate logname ls make makeinfo md5sum.textutils mergechanges mkdir mkfifo mknod msgattrib msgcat msgcmp msgcomm msgconv msgen msgexec msgfilter msgfmt msggrep msginit msgmerge msgunfmt msguniq mtrace mutt muttbug mv nano nawk nice nl nm nohup objcopy objdump od paste patch pathchk pdiff pgawk pinky pr printenv printf psmandup psset ptx pwd ranlib rbash rcs2log readelf readlink rm rmdir screen sdiff sed seq sh sha1sum shred size sleep slrn sort split stat strings strip stty sum sync tac tack tail tar tee test texi2dvi texi2dvi4a2ps texi2html texindex touch t
  • by mdielmann ( 514750 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:01AM (#6293827) Homepage Journal
    So he said what everyone else on /. has said for the last month? Actually, that's not true, it's the first time I've seem that it's the kernel under attack, but it seems obvious enough. Of course, until SCO points out the offending code, how can you be sure? Anyway, if RMS talking about it helps change opinions outside of the technical world, that's great. I think the opinions within the technical world have pretty much crystallized by now.
  • by pldms ( 136522 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:03AM (#6293857)
    I also use and endorse 'Cringley article'.

    RMS's article is pretty light on the full horror, but Cringley's gives a nice idea what a tangled mess the simple phrase "our IP" can mean.
  • Freedom is the key (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gonvaled ( 584635 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:05AM (#6293875) Journal
    I see - as usual - a lot of criticism towards RMS. And I deeply feel this criticism is profoundly unjustified.

    Most of it is directed to his insistence on calling the system GNU/Linux, and not just Linux, as the media does. Let's analyze objectively this issue: we all know what the GNU project stands for, and why it was released under the GPL license: to guarantee the freedom of computer users. That is the goal, a goal which requires a huge effort. The GNU project provided most of the utilities and subsystems needed; Linus provided an esencial and complex component. It seems to me completely logical to call it GNU/Linux.

    And I think it is not only logical: it is important. GNU/Linux is not a better OS because it is cheaper; it is not better because it is faster; it is not better because it runs on more hardware or because it is configurable; it could even be that any or all of those characteristics are not true. It is better because it gives us back the freedom that we had lost. And the best way to recognize this fact is by calling it by its name: GNU/Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:07AM (#6293892)
    Uh... no.

    FreeBSD comes with BSDL'd ls, rm, getty, etc., ie not the GNU variants.

    The BSD originals are still out there, and have been for a looooong time.

    The GNU project's biggest contribution is in fact GCC, but there were other compilers. The size of GCC was their demise though, so had GCC not existed, something else would have taken its place.

  • Re:Broken Record (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Farley Mullet ( 604326 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:07AM (#6293897)

    Because we all know the old saying:

    "If you say something, and someone disagrees with it, tell them again. Louder."
    Or something like that, anyway.
  • by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:07AM (#6293899)
    "The Free Software Foundation's lawyer, Professor Moglen, believes that SCO gave permission for the community's use of the code that they distributed under the GNU GPL and other free software licenses in their version of GNU/Linux."

    This was my initial thought when the whole SCO nonsense came to light. If the sold a Linux distribution with a GPL license that included their code, isn't that the same as releasing their code under the GPL?

    I initially thought it must be an over-simplification. However, in light of the above quote, maybe it is that simple. If I were sitting on the jury for that case, that's certainly how I would see it.

  • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:11AM (#6293931) Homepage
    I didn't take RMS's article to be the typical "Say, would you like to try GNU/Hurd?" that is often brought up. I thought it was a good article. It's goal was to fight the smear campaign against GNU, Linux, et al. It clearly explained the basics as to the differences between Unix, Linux, GNU, and GNU/Linux. It only mentions Hurd twice, both times in conjunction with Linux and the BSD kernels. Hardly a press release.

    Overall, I think that his article was more of a pep talk that GNU, Linux, whoever won't ever die then a article about SCO.
  • by pmz ( 462998 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:12AM (#6293935) Homepage
    "my" community is linux.

    This needs to be qualified with how you use Linux.

    If you are a average desktop user (Red Hat, GNOME, Mozilla,, etc.), then, in fact, Linux, itself, is really not visible in your day-to-day work. If Linux were spontaneously removed, and the NetBSD kernel or HURD took its place (with necessary libraries, etc.), odds are you would never notice.

    If you use Linux directly for creating custom kernels for various applications (e.g., you are a kernel developer for the Sharp Zaurus), then, of course, Linux disappearing would have a very large impact on your life. Starting from scratch and reworking the FreeBSD kernel for the Zaurus would definitely be a setback.

    From an end-user's perspective, GNOME on Solaris 9, GNOME on Red Hat 9, GNOME on OpenBSD 3.3, and GNOME on Mac OS X (for those who do it because they can) don't present much of a change among them. The fact that each OS has adopted different conventions for package management and /etc directory structure, for example, is irrelevant, because these things are ultimately independent of the kernel (except, perhaps, the kernel parameter tuning files under /etc and device names under /dev).
  • Nice RMS quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Now15 ( 9715 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:16AM (#6293977) Homepage
    Nice RMS quote:

    "The idea that laws decide what is right or wrong is mistaken in general. Laws are, at their best, an attempt to achieve justice; to say that laws define justice or ethical conduct is turning things upside down."

    That is just so true.
  • by akgunkel ( 567825 ) * on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:25AM (#6294067) Homepage Journal
    RMS's points on this were:

    People seem to think that all this SCO crap is a threat to Linux-the-OS (GNU/Linux) when it's only a threat to Linux-the-Kernel. The rest of Linux-the-OS (The GNU bits, etc.) is safe and can carry on with any of several different kernels if it has to.

    In his typical fasion, RMS used this confusion as another example to continue in his dead-horse beating: GNU/Linux vs. Linux.

    "Would RMS mind so much if Linux kernel fell down because of this controversy as long as GNU carried on with a different kernel?" I don't think he'd mind at all. Many others would, however.

    I would say RMS serves as a warning to us all: be careful not to come across as a zealot or people won't listen to what you say even when you're right.
  • by The Famous Brett Wat ( 12688 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:27AM (#6294083) Homepage Journal
    Copyright, Patents and Trademarks do have enough in common to warrant the banner "Intellectual Property". They all involve a monopoly being granted on some idea, word, symbol, or process; which is to say, they grant an artificial monopoly on things which could only form a natural monopoly if they were kept as a closely guarded secret. Trade secrets are similar, but have the distinction that the information is supposed to remain secret, and there's no artificial protection against re-invention.

    Now, it's true that SCO is being fuzzy with regards to Intellectual Property. They've been making noises about vigorously protecting their "Intellectual Property", as technologists-turned-litigators are wont to do, whereas in actual practice it seems they're taking the stance, "we have enough piles of legal crap here that we're sure we can sue someone for something fairly big".

    Even so, I think Stallman's "thou shalt not use this language in this manner" decrees are not only futile and tedious, but wrong in an important respect. The perception that intangible abstractions like names, ideas, and images can be considered property is not because of widespread use of the term "Intellectual Property"; rather, I submit that the cause and effect are the other way around. After generations of ever-increasing patent, copyright and trademark restrictions, why wouldn't people start thinking in terms of "Intellectual Property"? It's a well-ingrained cultural norm by now! Copyright infringement isn't theft, but we've been treating ideas as property for so long that it's not a distinction that's clear in people's minds anymore. They'll forget it for a moment when they violate copyright for their own convenience ("it's not hurting anyone"), but people are, by and large, of the opinion that it's wrong to "steal ideas".

    It's not immediately clear to me (in the space of one Slashdot posting) how we can reverse this trend. How do we remind people that "Intellectual Property" is actually "Intellectual Privilege"? These "rights" are supposed to exist in order to benefit the public, not to protect private interests. People aren't outraged by the perpetual extension of copyright terms because they've been born in an environment where people own ideas, and it seems reasonable that people shouldn't have their property taken from them. Simply insisting that "Intellectual Property" is wrong-thinking doesn't suffice, because when you look at the law as-is, "Intellectual Property" is exactly what you have.

  • Re:Just once... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bas_Wijnen ( 523957 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:28AM (#6294095)

    The point is that he usually tries to reach "the general public" and he knows as well as we do that the general public doesn't know what GNU is. Microsoft and others put a lot of money into making the general public believe crap, like "It is a natural right of a coder to get money for every copy of his code that is made." RMS is constantly trying to educate the public that these kind of things are not true. And that free software actually makes a better world. He hopes to tell this to new people, so he needs to start at the beginning every time.

  • This GNU/Linux ... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by JewFish ( 315210 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:28AM (#6294098)
    This GNU/Linux is a bunch of krap, my slack and gentoo distros don't mention anything about GNU/Linux so niether shall I.

    "The Slackware Linux Project" is not called the "The GNU/Slackware Linux Project"

    As long as where naming things I gotta few suggestions

    C++/KDE -- Its wouldn't be KDE without Dr. Stroustrups nifty language

    C/UNIX -- I see UNIX play



  • by shadowpuppy ( 629329 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:39AM (#6294195)
    While I realize the GNU/Linux versus Linux issue is a sore topic for many slashdotters, RMS is correct. The kernel is useless without the rest of the software. And having just finished making a Linux From Scratch system, I now know just how correct he is. Most of the software I dowloaded came directy from the GNU ftp site.

    Also in light of the SCO lawsuit, he has to make sure that Linux and the GNU software are viewed seperately. If for some strange reason SCO manages to nuke Linux, he can't allow it to nuke the GNU projects as well.

    Also assuming for some strange reason SCO manages to get rid of Linux, the GNU project will in all likely hood go on and so will the free software/open source communities. I like "Unix" like operating systems and so do a number of other people. They will continue because we need them to.
  • by Rev. DeFiLEZ ( 203323 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:40AM (#6294202) Homepage
    It seems to me that RMS is doing damage control, he is disassociating GNU from linux so when linux "goes down in flames" GNU will live on (perferably with a GNU kernel. I got that feeling from his article that I couldn't bother to finish reading. Did anyone else get that feeling? Did he finish the article defending linux ?

  • Re:No not again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ryarger ( 69279 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:42AM (#6294212) Homepage
    > So I guess I should call the OS on my Linux box.
    > GNU/XWindows/Apache/KDE/OpenOffice/Mozilla/LINUX?

    Absolutely not.

    There are GNU/Linux systems running without XWindows
    There are GNU/Linux systems running without Apache
    There are GNU/Linux systems running without KDE
    There are GNU/Linux systems running without OpenOffice
    There are GNU/Linux systems running without Mozilla

    There are no GNU/Linux systems running without GNU software.
  • GNU is a lot more than some text editors; it's an entire UNIX-type system, sans kernel. It has a compiler [], shell [], multiple scripting languages, and all the little userland programs that make most Linux distros behave more or less like any commercial UNIX. The only thing missing from the GNU project is a kernel; sorry, RMS, but the HURD isn't quite ready for prime-time yet.

    To continue your car analogy, the GNU system is like a car that has everything but an engine; it's got a frame, transmission, suspension, body, interior, and all the rest. If you drop in an engine made by someone else (the Linux kernel), then, hey presto, you've got a great car. It's not quite a car without the engine, but it's most of one.

    Finally, as for the whole "GNU/Linux" debate, RMS has some good points. He calls the Linux kernel "Linux" and the entire system "GNU/Linux," because it uses GNU components. I do think that he's fighting a losing battle to try to change what is already common terminology, but from an entirely ideological standpoint, he's probably right.

  • by big.ears ( 136789 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:50AM (#6294286) Homepage
    Unlike just about every other pundit writing on this matter, notice that RMS did not lambast SCO or try to claim that Linux is clean. Everyone who is following this case and rooting for Linux should consider this possiblility: somebody (IBM) may have stolen SCO's code. The community does not owe IBM loyalty, and should be wary of them for apparently contributing code that _at least_ could be construed by a former partner as their intellectual property. Maybe they are guiltless, and maybe this is just a SCO cash grab, but I don't owe IBM anything and will not be surprised if someone from a big corporation accidentally or purposefully contributed code that wasn't their's.
  • Re:No not again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:51AM (#6294300) Homepage Journal
    Are you sure?
    There could be an embedded system that is just the kernel and a few tasks that do not use libc. Maybe with busybox for a shell.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:53AM (#6294311)
    I know that Unix no longer belongs to AT&T, but you gotta wonder what Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie think about all this. Say what you will about Linux/GNU/NetBSD/SCO/IBM/etc., it's still their baby.

    Just curious.
  • by heironymouscoward ( 683461 ) <heironymouscoward@yah o o . com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:00PM (#6294373) Journal
    Criticize RMS at your peril. This is a very smart and tough mind who understands clearly the dangers facing free software developers.
    RMS has spent the last 20 years building structures designed almost exactly to avoid this kind of debacle, in which a widely-used piece of free software falls victim to spurious but dangerously credible IP allegations. Remember Unix?
    What SCO are doing (with or without MS's help) is putting OSS at serious risk. RMS has defined a fire corridor, putting the Linux kernel on one side and all the rest on the other.
    Software is incredibly easy to mix up, we hate making boundaries and we love to apply generalistic labels. The fact is that this is a dangerous convenience. GNU (to take one example) represents a vast investment of effort. Being mixed with Linux into one convenient box is not simply frustrating for the GNU team, it also puts GNU at risk. And I don't think I would stand by and watch my life's work being put at risk without speaking out.
    RMS has the right of reply, after SCO published his misquoted text.
    Shame, shame, and more shame on those of you who do not respect this man. He is one of the geniuses of our age, a rare and valuable mind. Go home, build one good and solid tool, read the GPL, and consider what it means to dedicate your life to protecting the concept of free software.
  • by RevMike ( 632002 ) <revMike@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:05PM (#6294413) Journal
    All three [copyright, patent] were designed to force the properties of materials on information so it could be owned and exchanged in a capitalistic society just like other goods.

    Many slashdotters rant that ownership of information is immoral, but I doubt that many really consider the alternatives.

    Once the printing press was invented/commercialized by Guttenburg, It suddenly became orders of magnitude cheaper to produce books. In the disorder that followed - the disorder present whenever technology leaps ahead of law - publishers found new material to publish by simply walking into the shops of other publishers and buying copies of their books. Publisher Foo would pay an author to create content, then publisher Bar would buy one copy of Foo's book and copy the contents. Bar would unercut the price, since he didn't have to make back the money paid to the author.

    In the long run, there is no motive to pay authors. Authors need to eat in order to write. Therefore the government stepped in and created copyrights.

    With patents, the issue is slightly different. If the invention was the product, there is little to protect the inventor from copying, hence little opportunity for the inventor to benefit.

    If the invention, however, was not the product, but a process or procedure to make the product, it could be protected by keeping it a trade secret. Trade secrets are just that - secrets. Therefore, there is no way for another inventor to use one invention as the starting point for another. This is bad for innovation.

    Patent law was created to give inventors limited monopolies on their ideas in exchange for publishing them for other inventors to use.

    Patent and copyright law is useful and beneficial for society. The problem today is two-fold: protection is granted to overly broad "innovation" and protection is granted for increasingly long periods of time. I think we all intuitively agree that "1-click" purchasing shouldn't be patentable. But a truly new and innovative scheduling algorithm might be worthy. And it seems that exclusive periods are much too long for many inventions.

    A few ideas I have for reform...

    • Increase the standards for getting a patent - currently almost anything can be patented, the burden of proof that something doesn't deserve a patent falls to accused infringers.
    • Reduce the exclusive period in accordance with the type of invention. Pharmaceuticals require huge investment, so drug companies need 15-20 years to make back their investment. Software patents should run out after no more than five years.
    • Reduce the exclusive period for copyrighted material.
    • Require that copyrighted material also be published. Therefore source code would need to be published in order to be protected.
    Trademarks and Servicemarks are not so much about intellectual property, but about allowing consumers to reliably identify producers. Chrysler should not be able to name a car "Honda" and trick consumers into buying their product.

  • by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:14PM (#6294483) Homepage Journal

    Do you think RMS was talking to the geeks on slashdot in this article?

    I don't. I don't think he was preaching to the choir. I think his remarks were aimed at the upper management types who influence decisions about OS adoptions, but who don't have a technical background. I think he has done a very good job of telling the suits why SCO's FUD is so much bullsh*t.

    Consider adding this article to your defudding toolkit. It is a very good piece to give to a CPA or BusSci type, to help them see the kinds of questions they should be asking, in place of the questions that SCO wants them to be worrying about.

  • Re:No not again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:15PM (#6294488)
    The whole reason GNU has been forgotten is because it has such a dumb-ass name, complete with recursive acronymity (giggle-snort) and painfully nerdy pronunciation instructions [].

    OTOH, Linux is a cool name (because it contains an X), and Linus doesn't care how people pronounce it.

    This is only half-joking. I think the name might really have something to do with it.

  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:16PM (#6294495) Homepage Journal
    SCOs intent appears to be to widen the concept of a "derived work" to encompass eveything that behaves, looks or even smells like Unix.

    This is what the Free Software Foundation is all about. SCO, M$ and friends continue their fight to own all ideas. It's what motivated RMS and others to create the free software movement in the early 80's. ATT tried to grab control of other people's work through the use of NDAs. SCO's suit is an audatious attempt to further extend ATT's land grab to independent works by anyone even vaugly familiar with OS concepts ATT develped. ATT was stupid then and lost. SCO is insane today, but they can get away with it if they can dumb down the world with talk of "intelectual property" instead of copyright, patents and trademarks and no one bothers to correct them.

    RMS figured out this game years ago, which is why his article is dead on target. It's a good article to show anyone who's interested in free software, afraid of the SCO lawsuit, but only has the average 15 minutes to get their news. Show it to your boss if he asks. If your boss is really into the mess, show them the OSI detailed refutation. Stallman has been getting good about delivering his message in a clear and consise way.

  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:21PM (#6294547) Homepage

    The HURD would actually help this. Because it's a microkernel, it would be easier to write higher-quality drivers for it, as well as have a stable API for drivers to write to. MacOSX and Windows NT have this advantage over Linux at the moment. Linux has loadable modules, but the API and ABI for them is a moving target.

    This advantage of the other OSes could also be a liability, though -- look at the instability that bad drivers cause Windows. Being a true microkernel system, Hurd could mitigate this somewhat, much as QNX does.

    And say what you will, but binary drivers are good for free OSes. Get the OS for free -- libre and gratis -- and hardware manufacturers can release drivers for their hardware and your OS, in a way that keeps them safe from legal issues (leaking other companies' trade secrets and the like). All-free would be better, of course. But fight the battle one step at a time. First step, a free OS that can actually operate your scanner, printer, sound card, etc.
  • Re:GNU/Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mistah Blue ( 519779 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:34PM (#6294644)

    I don't disagree with your statement.

    I think the way to look at this is like Solaris. Solaris is an operating environment. The kernel is still SunOS.

    In GNU/Linux, Linux, or whatever you want to call it: Linux is the kernel, GNU/GNOME/KDE/XFree86 is the operating environment. It is all semantics, but when it comes to the legal system semantics are everything.

  • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:43PM (#6294719) Homepage
    I think you're overreacting.

    He's speaking for his own efforts, which he loves passionately, and not for the efforts of others. So he phrased things in such a way that he's just speaking for himself, not for Linus. I don't think his attitude is "F--- Linus"; I think his attitude is "Linus can make his own statement, but this one's mine".

    I've met RMS too, and I remember his intensity well. But I don't see what he wrote as an anti-Linux diatribe at all; it clearly opposes SCO and clearly states that GNU's programming is in compiliance as far as he knows, and will be made in compliance in any discovered cases where it is not already.

    A good statement, that needed to be made.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:43PM (#6294723)
    Revolutions usually spark with poems and guns. Sometimes they starts with the Declaration of Independence and canons, and other times they start with the GNU Manifesto and GPL.

    In our case, the GPL enables programmers to protect Free Software from becoming proprietary into Microsoft products. As a programmer, I would be angry if the fruit of my efforts becomes a charity that benefits Microsoft or any 'looter' who just grabs and profits from my code and (also) has the audacity to sue me (see Caldera/SCO) without I can do anything about it. ( In the case of Caldera, we now/ find that it was a good idea that the linux kernel is under the GPL and SCO will soon have to close their mouth as people begin to understand that we are protected with the GPL shield. No. RMS's revolution is not about who will write gcc(1) first. It is about the creation of a society of like-minded people who new see that their collective efforts under the GPL is not a straight donation of code to Microsoft. It is about the your right to benefit from your work, as opposed to have your IP confiscated by someone else.

  • by karlandtanya ( 601084 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:47PM (#6294753)
    Go look it up. I don't think that word means what you think it means.

    I give RMS his due resepct. They guy has done the work of a titan, and been instrumental in providing all of us with something great.

    Talking to humans is part of the job. It's just another task, you're a programmer, learn the freakin' language! So the OS you're writing for is wet, squishy, and inconsistent? Fine; it's a flaky language. But if you're going to use it, use it right.

    To all who act as spokespersons for the freedom in general and free software in particular:

    When you speak in the popular press, (ZD-Net is not, folks!): Try not to make us look like the whackjobs!

    Really, people. How seriously does the mainstream take the Libertarian Party? How effective are they in real-world politics? Do you really want that for all of us?
  • by rking ( 32070 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:03PM (#6294870)
    Agreed. And his saying "If there is material in Linux that was contributed without legal authorization, the Linux developers will learn what it is and replace it. SCO cannot use its copyrights, or its contracts with specific parties, to suppress the lawful contributions of thousands of others." was far from critical of Linux or a call to replace it. It seemed pretty clear that he thinks Linux (by which we can be sure he means the kernel) will survive this, although he was also making the point that it is replaceable if it did come to that, which is also true.
  • by jazman_777 ( 44742 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:11PM (#6294936) Homepage
    Text editors, command shells, compiler, linker, debugger, C library, standard Unix tools (grep/awk/diff/etc.), gtk, desktop environment (Gnome)... short of X and the kernel, pretty much everything in a modern "Linux" distribution that I at least consider to be part of the OS comes from GNU. Check the man pages for 'printf', 'tar', and such.

    And when you want to "unixfy" your windows box, what do you do? You don't install anything like linux. You install GNU tools!

  • by hawkstone ( 233083 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:13PM (#6294953)
    At the risk of this sounding like flamebait...

    Text editors: vi, nedit
    Shells: zsh, tcsh
    Compiler: icc (not a great example, but nevertheless...)
    Linker: not sure -- is there anything other than ld?
    Debugger: there are others like totalview that cost money; any others?
    C Library: uClibc
    Standard UNIX tools: busybox covers many
    Desktop Environment: KDE

    I think one could make a quite reasonable Linux distro without much GNU software. I'm not saying someone has quite yet (I don't know of one), so your point is still valid, but just because you consider grep as part of the OS doesn't mean is has to be the GNU version.

    Any additions, anyone? Changes? Criticisms?
  • Re:Broken Record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blkdeath ( 530393 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:20PM (#6295000) Homepage
    RMS sounds like a broken record. How many times do we need to hear the explaination of Linux and GNU/Linux?

    He's not addressing Slashdot, he's addressing the slightly technically inclined people who read technical headlines on Ziff Davis's network. Those slightly technically inclined people include managers and CEOs.

    Moreover, how many times do we have to hear the RMS bashing? Yes, his ideals are extreme, but where do you think the free software community would be without such extreme, uncompromising ideals?

    I, for one, laud the man for being so steadfast especially in the face of so much opposition. It takes courage and conviction to be true to one's ideals in our largely hypocritical world.

  • by neurocutie ( 677249 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:21PM (#6295006)
    >>> The reason that linux took off and HURD did not, was not at all due to the incomepence of the programmers, but is an interesting study in software engineering. In all the CS classes I have had they stressed how important is was to design everything first and then code - which is what the HURD team did. Linus's approach was different. He starting with something simple, and then improved it (call this iterative programming, agile programming, whatever - it's the same thing). Let's not pat Linus on the back too much. The reason that Linus' approach was "successful", in part, is because he, nor RMS/GNU, didn't have to design much of anything. So, here, SCO has a point, hardly the first, as many have previously noted, that Linux/GNU has merely copied, with incremental improvements, an already previous well-proven design that itself has been evolving for more than 30 years.
  • by Jorge Pereira ( 684021 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:32PM (#6295080)
    For MANY people, me included, the line between GNU and GNU/Linux isn't all that clear. It is VERY important the point that RMS is stating, wether you like it or not.

    The fact is that any case that SCO *could* have, would affect the Linux kernel, and not what people often call Linux, which is a collection of thousands of programs. That MUST be said, and that MUST be understood, to cut straight through SCOs arguments.

    That said, and understood, it's kind of irrelevant what the personal feelings of RMS are. I personally understand that if I gave years of my life to get GNU moving, and then everyone called GNU/Linux just Linux, I'd be a bit upset.

    The Linux kernel, is a SMALL part of Linux as we see it. Where would you be without "bash", "ls", and all those little programs you use daily, and which are by no means affected by SCOs claims?
    What about Apache, MySQL, sendmail, postfix and a pletora of other programs which define Linux?

    No - a line has to be drawn. Put your personal feeling aside, this is a serious issue. it's incredible how 90% of these comments just strike on the possible 2nd meanings of RMS' post, without even commenting, the primary, VERY IMPORTANT aspect. Linux is NOT GNU, and GNU is NOT Unix.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:47PM (#6295227)
    gtk and gnome are both primarily Linux initiatives.

    What does that even mean? Which underlying kernel is used shouldn't be a major issue for either of these.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:55PM (#6295305)
    I think one could make a quite reasonable Linux distro without much GNU software. I'm not saying someone has quite yet (I don't know of one), so your point is still valid, but just because you consider grep as part of the OS doesn't mean is has to be the GNU version.

    Yes you can make a system with a Linux kernel and no GNU tools. You can also make a system with GNU tools with a different kernel.

    GNU/Linux is a term advocated by the FSF to use to describe systems that consist of a Linux kernel and GNU tools. The fact that you can build systems that contain the Linux kernel and no GNU tools and systems that contain GNU tools and no Linux kernel and even systems that contain neither Linux nor the GNU tools says nothing about whether GNU/Linux is a good name for systems that do consist of both.

    (Disclaimer: I use the name "Linux" to describe the OS, it is simple and has name recognition. However I'm not stupid enough to think that "But I can build a system without a Linux kernel" invalidates the name Linux and I'm not so inconsistent as to think that "But I can build a system without GNU" invalidates the name GNU. Any such argument is ludicrous.)
  • Re:Broken Record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:56PM (#6295315)
    You've missed the point of what he is saying. He is telling CEOs that if Linux in a worst case scenario were to go down, there are three other kernels that can be swapped in, without missing a beat. That's why it matters. If GNU/Linux gets tied up in legal red tape, he is saying, not that he expects it to happen, then GNU/Hurd or GNU/BSD just keeps right on going. This will counter the FUD that "Linux" is dangerous to use in business. Linux is just the kernel, he is repeating, and at the moment, it's clear that if we all had changed our speech habits, the FUD would be less effective. Maybe you should read what he wrote again.

    And moderators: since when is whining about rms "Insightful"? I've read this identical comment every time rms says anything in the last two years. Insightful implies something new has been discerned and expressed. Sheesh.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:10PM (#6295447) Homepage Journal

    "Red Hat Linux" says what customers need to hear, and no more.

    Unlike many here, I have a great deal of respect for Stallman, both as a programmer and as a philosopher of software.

    However, "Red Hat Linux", "Mandrake Linux" etc. not only tell customers what they need to hear, IMO they're fundamentally more accurate descriptions of the operating systems in question.

    While I certainly agree that the OS running on my machines really shouldn't be called Linux, since Linux is only one small piece of the whole, I think it's equally inaccurate to call it GNU/Linux. How much GNU software is really in there? In any typical desktop Linux-based OS distro?

    Trying to figure out how much of an OS is GNU, how much is Linux and how much is other stuff inevitably leads to the question: What, exactly, is an OS? It seems to me that there are several reasonable places to draw that line, but, anywhere you put it you end up with some Linux, some GNU and some other stuff. It doesn't seem to me that it's possible to build a complete, functioning system that contains nothing but GNU tools and Linux. AFAIK, GNU doesn't provide a version of /sbin/init, etc., so a pure GNU/Linux system couldn't even boot. (Does HURD have it's own boot system?)

    There's no doubting that GNU software plays an important role, but it seems to me that all of the other software is also important to making a usable system. As such, I think pedants who want to name things accurately should refer to the distro, since that name does encapsulate all of the bits and pieces, as well as recognizing the people who did the work of putting it all together.

  • Re:Broken Record (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:11PM (#6295453) Homepage Journal

    As many times as it takes for it to sink in.

    So, if I can take a piece of computer code, and distribute a modified version of that code, why is it such a crime to do the same with an idea?

  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:54PM (#6295938) Homepage Journal
    RMS is mentioning the GNU/Linux vs. Linux thing because it is very relevant to the issue. Because SCO says "IBM misappropriated code into Linux", they are creating confusion, as Linux -- which properly refers to only the kernel -- is also loosely used to refer to what should be called GNU/Linux distributions (28% or so of most distributions is GNU). RMS is not explaining this stuff for you and me, who should know it -- even though, judging from many of the comments on /. recently, many here obviously don't know the difference between the FSF, the OSI, OSS, FS, and their ass. RMS is explaining this to the mass-public, to new GNU/Linux users who don't understand such details, to businesses, etc. It is a very important distinction. SCO's charges are specifically against Linux the kernel, not GNU/Linux; however, they purposefully word things so as not to make that clear. To businesses and the mass-public, it sounds like they are alleging code was misappropriated into the entire GNU/Linux distributions, not just the Linux kernel. That is quite a different thing, and would be a much worse and more massive problem.

    RMS then went on to mention the problem with the word "intellectual property". "Intellectual property" can be loosely used to refer to patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, and other types of IP. These things are different in what things they cover (ideas vs. expressions vs. logos/words vs. secrets) and they differ in the duration and scope of protection. It is misleading to lump them all together. Specifically, SCO is very vague about whether it is invoking copyright or patents.

    Finally, RMS points out several other important things. (1) FSF did not copy any code from Unix, as that would produce code that is not free; (2) The FSF believes that SCO gave the community permission to use the code they distributed under the GNU GPL in their GNU/Linux distro; (3) In a communities so large as the overlapping communities of FS and OSS developers, plaguarism is inevitable, no matter how many precautions are taken, but the community will discover it, will discard the code, will replace it, and will move on; (4) The contributions of thousands of individuals to Linux cannot be suppressed; (5) Linux the kernel is no longer essential. There are other operating systems that are entirely Free, as defined by the FSF, which use different kernels (e.g., the BSD kernel, the GNU HURD kernel).

    How people take this as an illogical rant, which will divide the community, is beyond me. His message is unifying and clarifying, not divisive and obfuscating. "Our community cannot be defeated by this."

    P.S.: Stallman's arguing for calling it GNU/Linux is not some egotistical stunt. He has done this for precisely one reason: because GNU makes up a larger percentage of distributions than anything else (~28%). He has not argued that *BSD be called GNU/BSD, for example, because little GNU software is used in *BSD OS'. There is nothing wrong with requesting that credit be given where credit is due. He is also not trying to pull the rug out from under Linus, as he specifically rejects the idea of just calling it GNU.
  • by Chops ( 168851 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:55PM (#6296796)
    Heh -- it happens that I use non-GNU versions of some things you mention (zsh & blackbox), and I share your dim view of info for standard commands (though stuff like 'info mysql' rocks) and the GNU "all things can be done with a long enough --option" philosophy. I seek merely to educate those misguided folk who aren't aware how much of the software they're currently running was written by the FSF.

    Speaking of which, you still need to clear out that pesky C library. I wonder if Linux libc is still available... :-)
  • Re:Broken Record (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tomble ( 579119 ) <tomble.usermail@com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @05:34PM (#6297919) Homepage Journal
    Too true. The GNU project may not have got far with their own HURD kernel (what state is it in now? I've not looked into it much), hence the very broad use of Linux, but they did create pretty much all the other important parts of the operating system.

    Libc, gcc (+lots of other development software), emacs, and, er, well, lots of other things I can't think of right now. But definitely lots of them, and pretty vital stuff.

    The only really major part (other than the kernel) I can think of that they're not responsible for is XFree86.

    I'm pretty fed up with all the RMS bashing as well. Oh yeah. Bash. They made that too! Can't believe I forgot that. So many of these things are the things that we all take for granted- I suppose that'd be why they're so hard to remember.

  • by aweraw ( 557447 ) <> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:28PM (#6299075) Homepage Journal
    being that you're so averse to Socialism in all it's forms, I hope you stand by your ideals and never send your childeren to a public school, or ever use public transport... I mean, that would make you a communist!!

    Socialism is everywhere... people just don't call it as such...

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman