Sunday, October 30, 2005

Well it was fairly interesting watching a GPL/"Free Software" zealot just get hammered over at Ars Technica. His posts count shows him to be a newbie over there, but he should have known that the professionals over there wouldn't be drinking the koolaid like at OSNews or Slashdot (to a lesser extent these days). At this point in time in the thread discussion he's been reduced to whimpering "freedom, freedom, freedom" over and over. You gotta love it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well it was fairly interesting watching a GPL/"Free Software" zealot just get hammered over at Ars Technica.

I've just dropped in from OS News and skimmed through the linked discussion. I think the mentioned GPL advocate/zealot was trying (somewhat unsuccessfully perhaps) to make the point that laws/rules (in this case licences) are not necessarily the antithesis of freedom. e.g. Americans sometimes refer to their country as "the land of the free", but I don't think they mean "the land of the lawless". :-P

I'm a GPL advocate, however I agree that the use of the term "Free Software" is somewhat unhelpful. Every right or freedom implies a corresponding responsibility or obligation. People will consider something more "free" if it upholds the particular freedoms that they most value, and this will necessarily be at the expense of other freedoms that they don't value so much. In this sense anyone could be called a "Free Software" advocate, in regards to the freedoms they personally value.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I'm here, I may as well put in my full 2c. Following on from my previous post...

I think GPL advocacy can be difficult in part because it is perhaps more about avoiding future threats to freedom than combating existing ones. It is possible today (if not easy) to buy a computer without commercial software, and use GPL software to interact fairly well with people who do have commercial software. Because of this, it is easy to pass off GPL advocates with their fear of lock-in as a loony doomsday cult.

With the current push towards DRM, software as a service, and patented file formats, though, there is a real possibility that writing and exchanging electronic documents (which is virtually a requirement for participation in modern society) could become subject to a tax that would be difficult and/or illegal to avoid. Unlike tax gathered by a democratic government, there would be no voting or other way for those taxed to have a say in the matter. And it might be enforced by devices that resided in our homes, kept secrets from us, monitored our actions, and imposed restrictions on them.

Admittedly this is a rather harsh way of putting it, but imagery of George Orwell's 1984 aside, it would still be a bad thing. And it's the kind of thing GPL advocates seek to guard against.

4:32 AM  

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