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GNU is Not Unix

Richard M. Stallman Visits Teradyne 166

Big Business loves Free software. Actually, Big Business loves free software, at least theoretically. The practical, legal and philisophical aspects aren't necessarily as easy to get a handle on as a price that varies from Nothing to Not Much. Rene Hollan contributed the piece below about one early move that a division of Teradyne made in an effort to orient themselves correctly with Free software tools they wanted to use. They went straight to the horse's mouth -- they decided to ask how best to apply the GPL of the man who wrote it, Richard M. Stallman, and got at least as much as they bargained for. And if you want RMS to come visit your place of business to tell them How It's Done, remember that his shedule is busy, and as Rene points out below in his Mini RMS-Visit FAQ, he needs his e-mail.

Part I: Introduction and Background

History was made on Tuesday, June 20, 2000. Accepting an invitation to speak on the subject, this was the first time that RMS gave a lecture on "The Use of Free Software In Commercial Applications" to a group of Teradyne Telecommunication Division employees in Deerfield, Illinois. Despite Teradyne's record of producing proprietary, patented software, the skies didn't darken, lightning didn't strike, a plague of locusts didn't descend and consume printouts of non-free code, and thunderous condemnations of immoral behavior didn't issue from RMS's lips. In general, a good time was had by all present. This is my record of the events that transpired.

No doubt this report won't be well-received by those who would, for whatever reason, wish to portray RMS as some kind of unreasonable free-software lunatic zealot. Having had the privilege and good fortune to spend part of the 19th and 20th of June in his company, I can attest that such accusations are unfair and slanderous.

Of course, that's exactly what one would expect an RMS sycophant to say. However, I am anything but a blind RMS groupie. We have our differences: while I think that it is essential that some software be free (particularly that which is socially ubiquitous, like internet infrastructure code), I don't think all software has to be free. If people accept increasingly restrictive licenses, that's their choice. Politically, I am a libertarian, and RMS admitted to me that he is a liberal. It's fair to say that we agree more than we disagree, but our few disagreements probably run deep.

The events that led to RMS's visit started about a year ago. We had just begun to develop internet test software on a platform based on a commercial distribution of GNU software and Linux kernel. In some cases we were simply aggregating our software with this GNU/Linux operating system, but in others we were statically linking some of our programs with GPL code, and thus would be required to release the combined work under the GPL. Clearly it was important that our software developers be familiar with the requirements of the GPL.

I had been corresponding with RMS via email for a while, following an initial response of his to a general inquiry I made of the FSF. (Yes, I was surprised that RMS himself would take the time to respond. It was the first of many popular misconceptions I had about the man that were about to be shattered.) Many of my inquiries involved dynamically linked combinations of free and non-free code and the circumstances under which distributions of aggregates that could self-assemble at run time would be legit under the GPL.

Since a free program can interact with a non-free one via pipes or sockets without the combination necessarily considered a derived work of the free program, I was wondering if a general rule applied whereby such "loose coupling" might be permitted. (RMS's position was that it might be possible but we could not find a general rule to define the necessary relationship. This shattered a second misconception: there were things of which RMS didn't approve, but would admit might be admissible under the GPL. Zealots never act with such reason.) It became apparent that it would be beneficial if RMS could address our developers that were producing code to run under GNU/Linux about the GPL. Did it have to be "the man" himself? Probably not, but it certainly strengthens the perceived legitimacy of any claims we might make about taking the GPL seriously if we welcome RMS to advise us: we certainly wouldn't invite the attention if we were trying to hide something.

Not surprisingly, the intersection of our schedule and RMS's was such that it would be about a year before his presentation would take place. In the mean time I realized that mere compliance with the GPL wouldn't be enough: to be welcome by the free software community, we would have to voluntarily contribute as well as mine code. Perhaps we could explore this when RMS arrived. I had the distinct impression by this point that while he might prefer that we free all our code, he'd be happy if we freed some that we weren't strictly required to under the GPL. Strike another misconception.

Part II: Arrival, and Email

It turned out that I was unable to meet RMS at the airport because of an errand I had to run. While he said that it wasn't necessary to have someone meet him and he didn't want to inconvenience anyone, I though it the only decent thing to do: he was returning to the U.S. from Seoul, Korea, would likely be tired, and had never been out our way before. I managed to co-opt two coworkers of mine to meet him in my place, armed with a pad of paper with "RMS" scrawled on the top sheet, in, hopefully, large, friendly letters. I left instructions that he be offered transport to his hotel, and to verify that he checked in without difficulty. I expected him to be exhausted after his journey and to want to get some sleep before dinner. RMS previously indicated that he'd like company for dinner so we got a small group together to try one of his favorite restaurants: Cafe Luciano, in the north end of Chicago. Alas, he didn't get much rest: after some 15 hours incommunicado, it was imperative for him to get his email. He was left at the hotel to get on with this task.

By this time, I had returned to work, and met with my coworkers. "So, what's he like in person?" was my first question. I was informed that he corrected the use of a "Linux" moniker to "GNU/Linux" twice, didn't care for small talk, and settled down with his laptop for the trip to the hotel. I thought to myself that if my coworker survived his "Linux" faux-pas well enough to recount it, RMS couldn't be all that bad. Besides, our email exchange was always friendly. As for small talk, I don't care for it much either. I was to learn the importance of his attachment to his laptop soon enough -- my coworker relayed that RMS had trouble getting his email upon his arrival at the hotel. Help was offered, but with only marginal success.

I emailed RMS my local phone number and that I would try to assist him any way I could. I didn't want to call, because I thought he'd be getting some sleep and didn't want to disturb him, confident that he'd got his email. He had my coworker's phone number and could call if he had trouble. That call came quickly. It turned out that dial-up access to his ISP was inadequate for him to get his email in a timely manner. We realized that I could indeed help by providing telnet and ftp access from our office. Without delay, I set out to bring him to Teradyne. I was to meet RMS in person at last!

RMS is a lot less imposing in person than he is by reputation. He's of average height, has the stereotypical hacker hair style and beard, and arms himself with a laptop. He looks like he could benefit from losing a bit of weight and smiles like one imagines the wizard in the old Collosal Cave adventure game might smile when granting you another life. Though appearing innocuous, I had no doubt that in his hands that laptop was a formidable weapon against those who would deny software freedom, kind of the way that a light-saber is as powerful as the Jedi wielding it. I introduced myself, we quickly optimized to using first names, and got on the the task at hand: retrieving Richard's email.

Richard gets his email by building a compressed GNU zip archive on his mail server of his incoming mail, and transferring it to his laptop -- in our case, via an intermediate floppy. He then reads and queues responses on his laptop for later transmission by reversing the process. It takes him several hours a day to keep up with his email. I started to feel guilty about all the lengthy posts I had sent him over the past several months. Clearly, his time is precious, and one shouldn't presume that Richard's presence implies constant undivided attention: he multiplexes himself in space as well as time, and, when blocked waiting for interesting input, he will tend to his email as necessary. To a non-hacker, this habit might appear odd, and a bit rude, but it strikes me a perfectly reasonable, reminding me of the days of timesharing on an expensive mainframe.

After working on his email for a while, it was time to head off to dinner. On Richard's suggestion, we picked up some CDs at his hotel room, to listen to during the hour drive to the restaurant. Richard settled down to read and respond to another batch of email on the trip, occasionally wondering how we liked his choice of music, and offering alternates. I think I liked the Burmese percussion pieces best.

While his presentation the next day was to focus on legal compliance with the GPL and only describe briefly the underlying philosophy from a historical perspective, it was anything goes at dinner. Boy, did the queries fly! A lot of basic questions were asked, and challenges made, about his fundamental beliefs. I couldn't tell if Richard was round-robin scheduling among the queriers or playing a variant of whack-a-mole with each response he offered. I was getting nervous: here were a bunch of GPL newbies debating with the great RMS. I seized upon the opportunity a lull offered and asked him, "How can you stand answering the same questions over and over?" "I have a mission!" he replied, with vigor. Clearly another misconception of mine was shattered: RMS will patiently take the time to explain his position to anyone who shows interest. I suppose that he's the only person I can describe as an evangelical atheist without it being an oxymoron.

You'd think that it was an divisive, and sometimes uncomfortable, evening, but somehow the excellent food appeared to help overcome differing philosophies, that, in the end, weren't as disparate as initially thought. Of course, Richard's sense of humor certainly helped liven everyone's spirits. He is a notorious punster. Unfortunately so many of his puns are sensitive to subtleties of timing and context, that to try to relay them would not do justice to how funny they were at the time. Dinner came to an end all too soon, and Richard capped the evening by insisting on adding a zero to the waitress's tip. Literally -- he carries with him a stash of bank note-sized pieces of paper with a "0" denomination on them.

The trip back to our car was punctuated by what appeared to be a destitute young man asking for money for food. True to his help-your-neighbor ethic, Richard had us wait while he took the bewildered man to a local store and bought him a sandwich. I was a bit worried about this adventure but realized that he must have done this many times before and I certainly wasn't going to presume that he needed babysitting. Of course, the rest of us debated the effect on Teradyne's stock price if Richard had been mugged while our guest, the wording of the subsequent Slashdot headline, and what a strange fellow he was. Personally, I think a bit more of that kind of strangeness wouldn't hurt the world. Richard promptly returned (no doubt to a mental sigh of relief) and explained that someone once asked him for a quarter for the subway, but proceeded to pocket the change instead of taking the train. Not to be duped by a liar in the future, he resolved to never give money to a beggar for some purported worthwhile purpose, but to see to it, if he could, that the purpose was met with his help. He does donate money to charitable organizations.

Richard finally appeared to surrender to fatigue on the ride back from town and get some sleep. But, once more, we stopped at the office for the final email sync ritual of the day, before I dropped him off at his hotel.

Part III - Lecture, Lunch, and Leaving

Tuesday, June 20th arrived with grey skies and a drizzling rain. I picked Richard up at his hotel a few minutes before 10:00 AM. We were running a bit late. As we were returning to Teradyne's office complex, I ran into my boss and asked him to start the presentation off with some background about what the GPL was (in broad terms), and why it mattered to us. Richard needed to service a higher-priority interrupt: seeking tea to drink while lecturing. While I'd heard of his fondness for specialty teas, he had to settle for the generic vending machine variety. No jasmine or lechee blossom around here. (Note to self: fix this if ever he visits again).

The presentation was agreed upon before hand. We were permitted to videotape the lecture for future training. Rather than his usual speech about software freedom, Richard focused only briefly on the history of the GPL, and proceeded to explain what it means for software to be free, the GPL and LGPL (and their differences), and what was necessary to comply with both. There are a few important differences depending on how the software is distributed, whether via the internet, or physical media, and he covered these. Richard provided examples of programs working together that would not be considered derived works of one of them: where communication between them was via a simple socket or pipe interface. There was no opportunity to debate the "rightness" or "wrongness" of his philosophy -- that was not the purpose of the presentation. Free code is here to stay, and having made the choice to use it in our products, we had to abide by the licensing requirements. Richard is an excellent speaker, properly pacing his lecture, without wandering away from the topics at hand. Oh, and all this without notes. He spoke for about an hour, and then proceeded to answer questions for another hour.

Audience questions ranged from simple queries to subtle aspects of, and potential "gotchas" related to compliance. Accidents happen, and sometimes GPL-violating combinations of free and non-free code escape, typically as demo versions. Richard explained that the FSF is interested in ensuring that compliance with the GPL is restored as soon as possible when a violation occurs and not in embarking on a witch-hunt. Scratch any misconceptions about being unreasonable. A few people asked about ways to "get around" the GPL, and Richard calmly explained that he would not help anyone do this and refused to answer such questions. (We had agreed to this before hand, as well as not allowing the Q&A session to turn onto a philosophical debate.) Richard explained simple ways that we could be friendly to the free software community, beyond legal compliance with the GPL. During the Q&A session, I asked if any other companies had invited him to speak on the subject of GPL compliance, and Richard said that we were the first. However, as part of GPL-violation settlements with the FSF, some (unnamed) companies were required to appoint a GPL compliance officer, known to the FSF, and pay for their training to understand the GPL. Apparently the FSF pursues GPL violators quite actively, but does not make a habit of publicly exposing offenders. My boss made the overture that we would voluntarily have a person assigned to verify GPL compliance on projects where we include GPL code.

After the presentation, we all gathered around for a group photo, and Richard autographed a copy of the GNU Manifesto for a coworker who wasn't able to attend. I would later ask for (and get) his autograph myself -- the only expression of RMS fandom on my part, and a bit embarrassing I suppose, but hey, this was The RMS, after all, and not some open-source free software coattail-rider. I helped Richard check out of his hotel room and cache his luggage in the trunk of my car, until it was time to catch his flight back to Boston. This task accomplished, we set off in search of lunch -- no gang this time, just the two of us. While generally frugal and unassuming, Richard likes to eat well (whether this had anything to do with his expenses being covered by Teradyne, I don't know). Fortunately so do I, and we found a local seafood place. While he enjoys Chinese food, having spent several weeks in Asia, he had an appetite for more occidental fare. Over lunch we discussed the likelihood of Teradyne being friendly to the free software community as well as our political differences in the matter of socialization of "essential services", like health care. Like I said, we have our differences, but the conversation was interesting, and remained friendly.

After lunch, it was email-sync time, once again. I snagged my autograph once this was done (about an hour and a half later), shortly before the taxi arrived to take Richard to the airport. As he was leaving, I let him know that I very much enjoyed the opportunity to chat with him, and his parting words to me were his "Happy hacking" trademark greeting. The local mean IQ noticeably depressed as his taxi drove off, I trudged back inside, out of the drizzle, and returned to my cubicle to resume my somewhat Dilbertesque existence.

Happy hacking, Richard.

Part IV - Epilogue

Our group within Teradyne's Telecommunication Division has chosen to formally have someone assigned to ensure GPL compliance, and plans to adopt a set of "free software friendly" principles, with RMS' support, as a pilot project for the division.


RMS Visit mini-HOWTO

Here are some suggestions if you want your company to have a successful visit by RMS.

  1. Decide and agree on the topics to be covered. If you permit an ethical debate to arise, you'll probably get one.
  2. Plan ahead for this. RMS is very busy, and his schedule will probably mean that any presentation has to be scheduled six to twelve months in advance. Be willing to be flexible in scheduling a visit date.
  3. Make sure that he can get his email. It piles up quickly and it is a full-time job for RMS to keep up with it. He makes himself surprisingly accessible, and it would not be fair to him or others to interfere with this.
  4. If you want to be nice, try to accommodate his tastes in food and drink. I made the mistake of not having some of his favorite teas available, even though it would not have been a great difficulty to do so. RMS knows good food, and, if he's been somewhere before, could probably recommend an excellent restaurant. Pay attention.
  5. RMS appears to like company, but do try to strike a balance between work (the purpose of his visit), GPL discussions, and other topics of conversation.
  6. Make sure that he can get his email.
  7. It would probably be best to assign a (traditional) hacker to help with his relatively modest needs. Hackers understand each other in a way that non-hackers don't. RMS can appear rude and impatient to those who over-inflate their own self-importance above his attention to people with whom he corresponds. He does not put on false airs and it's easy to think of him as "one of the gang" in a familiar way. Nevertheless, he is a VIP by virtue of his wide-spread influence and his ability to get his work done in unfamiliar surroundings will sometimes require trivial, but immediate, attention on the part of his host.
  8. Make sure that he can get his email.
  9. Did I mention the bit about email?


The following notices are reproduced from Rene's home page where this essay is found: 1) Disclaimer: This article reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Teradyne management. 2) (c) 2000 Rene S. Hollan. Verbatim copying and distribution of any pages on this site is permitted, provided this notice is preserved on each page where it appears.

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Richard M. Stallman Visits Teradyne

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I had to read it twice. Anyone else notice where RMS asks if he can use *TELNET* and *FTP*. Tssk, tssk, tssk. No ssh and scp? It's not like it's for lack of Free clients or anything...
    --js
  • by Anonymous Coward
    http://www.moxienet.com/lynx/
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Or he could get a real clue and use IMAP on all his machines, pointing to localhost on his laptop. The more GNU the merrier eh?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Another clueless open-source zealot. When will you idiots realize that whining about the success of products that people use (say, Internet Explorer) will NOT endear you or your cause to anyone who wants to use a tool AS a tool, not as an expression of their religion?

    Kids, this is what too much time in front of a computer can do. There's a real world out there. And while blinkenlights and big monitors and code can be fun, a computer is only a tool, a means to an end. Forget that, and you will one day find that you no longer have an end in sight - in fact, that you are quite pointless.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh, just relax, you boring dyke. Next time think about whether anyone cares before you type.

    Perhaps you could do the same, you Miserable, Mother Fucking, Cock Sucking, Slime Ridden, Festering, Pustule on the ass of a leprous gnat, living on the Steaming, Fetid, Viscous heap of Warthog shit, buried in an old, decaying, fungus-covered combat boot, under an outhouse used by repugnant, nauseating street children with bloody, explosive diarrhea.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Excellent post. Refreshing to see someone with a brain and a heart post something.
  • Read the book Hackers by Stephen Levy. It goes into a fair amount of detail about the activities of RMS and other old school hackers. On of the things that is pointed out a several points is that many of the early hackers believed in complete freedom of information because locking things behind closed doors stifled learning (thus the reason that many hackers are also locksmiths on the side). Unfortunately, passwords and other security measures no longer exist to secure just information, they also secure systems, etc. A missing/bad password on your system can result in some spammer abusing your smtp host, or something similar.
  • The RMS, after all, and not some open-source free software coattail-rider.

    Sounds like Eric Raymond!

  • "Big companies" is not the term that I would use to describe VA Linux, Red Hat, or any of the other players in the Linux business. While they do have high market capitalization values, they are dwrfed by real "Big Corporations" such as GE, IBM, AT&T, GM, Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, and other giants of industry. Most of the companies on that list have laid off more people in a single wave than Red Hat currently employs.

    While corporate interests in Linux are a valid concern, calling them "Big Companies" is a horrible exageration.
  • haha, I know this was humor, but consider that he xfers his mail like that because his laptop most likely doesn't have an internet connection when he's out and about (probably doesn't like the idea of expensive cellphone-based dialup either)

    And besides, Hotmail blows on GNU/Linux anyway; sure netscape works, haven't tried mozilla with it (how do you get SSL working on mozilla? er nm I'll be flamed for that question...), but Lynx/SSL doesn't at all. Anyone know what's up with that? (Lynx and hotmail)

  • Perhaps I shouldn't even respond to trolls like this. You've posted this same rant a few times now. You don't quote me correctly, and you haven't listened to what I've said in the last year (Tim's not perfect but he's actually been learning something).

    Open Source is all about providing a large group of people with different interests a way to collaborate on something that all of the world can share. A vow of poverty and a lack of direct financial benefit from an Open Source project is neither required nor necessary. Because of the licensing, it's still fair to everyone even if that sort of stuff exists.

    Bruce

  • Although I will admit that I'd wear a t-shirt with RMS on it in the vein of those stupid Che Guevara t-shirts, especially if it looked just like the Che shirts. It'd give the commies something to think about.

    LOL! Moderate this up! You're killing me!

    --

  • The point is, he obviously did. Sounds like he didn't like his stuff deleted.


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Actually, I've heard that none other than Steve Jobs spent about a year in India, where he chose not to bathe (or perhaps he was still in the states). Eventually some of his friends convinced him it was a good idea. I can see why.

    This was before founding Apple, of course. Since then he has paid much more attention to aesthetics. :>


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • That just shows that GNU/Linux hasn't become popular enough yet. ;)
  • Well, by those questions, RMS is a better idol than Jesus. After all, Jesus never answers any of my email. :(
  • Perhaps an auto word splitter should be put in to defeat that little annoyance.

    Actually, there is an auto-word splitter. It's as buggy as hell, too. It often "splits" right in the middle of HTML entities, and inside HTML tags. Ever see "&nb sp;" in a post, or those links that look like "http://www.iminthemiddleofaw ord.com/"? That's the splitter...
  • by Mr Z ( 6791 )

    Actually, I envisioned the Blue's Brothers. "We're on a mission from God." Granted, RMS is apparently atheist, and RMS is one person, so you get back to the quote "I'm on a mission."

    --Joe
    --
  • This isn't "brownie points" you fucking idiot! It's life. His insight on how to provide a good environment for RMS is great. What do you have to contribute. I kick you like the ignorant runt you are...
  • This has got to be the first time a reply in a goat-fucker thread has been moderated up.

    What is the world coming to?

    - Joe

  • RMS is opposed to "privacy for the sake of privacy". He didn't like using passwords, so for a while his main machine didn't have any passwords (yes, you could actually login as RMS!). Unfortunately, some loser decided that he'd make deleting RMS's files his mission in life, and eventually, the account was password-protected. However, RMS (to punish himself for preventing others from using the machine) then made it impossible for himself to login remotely. He probably views ssh as unnecessary (not that I've asked him, of course).

  • Too bad, the analogy fails, because

    1) Napster doesn't charge fees for distribution of mp3's.
    2) There are NO gpl'ed programs that are allowed to be distributed in binary only format without source being available. There ARE mp3's that are legal to distribute.
  • Wow, theres a conspiracy if I ever heard it.. maybe its true, maybe not.. entertaining though

    ---
  • Yes, and having worked in the food industry (bussing, serving and delivering) I can tell you that a tip (of any sorts) is nice to recieve. All to often, you make a delivery or serve food and all you get is a complaint that it took 33 minutes instead of 30 to get there.
  • Or perhaps we should start using Spanish [barrapunto.com], which has no such semantic limitations.
    --
  • In keeping with my nitpicking nature, I feel the need to inform you that there was no queen of England at the time of India's independence. Nevertheless, I think your analogy was pretty cool.
    --
  • What's astounding about this piece isn't RMS's eccentricity and character at all. Once someone like RMS becomes someone like RMS, enlightenment is long overdue, and a taste for fine teas and personality quirks are par for the course.

    What's applaudable is Tetradyne's own enlightenment and consulting, inviting and so well hosting RMS. I certainly hope that it's a sign of things to come. This move not only let Tetradyne keep it's GNU ducks in a row, but also educated it's staff on the merits and philosophy (albeit lightly, by admission) behind Free Software. Further, by exposing the encounter on /., Tetradyne grew a few inches in the eyes of the OSS community. Further still, it set a precedent that more companies will likely follow in the future.

    Now that companies are instituting a Chief Privacy Officer (for whatever REAL reason they do so), it is high time that they also appoint a Chief Free Software Officer to help companies derive benefit from the great work available, while making sure that they do so fairly, and give something back to the Comunity in the process.

    Well done.
  • What the hell are you smoking? If you don't like Colossal Cave, don't play it. You're the only one whining about its success that I see :)

  • Just like Marxism, it thrives on the the cult of personality. RMS is the Lenin of the open source movement. As long as we keep making them into cult heroes, you'll keep reading crap like this.

    I kept waiting for the author to tell me whether or not RMS puts out, and whether he smokes or does more email after sex. I know if he wanted to listen to Burmese Bongo CDs he'd do it in somebody else's car.

    Although I will admit that I'd wear a t-shirt with RMS on it in the vein of those stupid Che Guevara t-shirts, especially if it looked just like the Che shirts. It'd give the commies something to think about.
  • What this subgenius is whining about is, apparently, the fact that my home page (link above), doesn't serve up to MSIE users. Although in his ignorance he assumed it was some HTML coding, it's actually a directive in the Apache config file to rewrite the URL for any request coming from an MSIE browser.

    Initially I put this in after getting pissed off at a couple of sites that rejected anything but MSIE browsers, but since it occasionally reduces MSIE users to gibbering, apopletic flamage, I kept it. (As I have said elsewhere, these folks are apparently under the delusion that I care what an MSIE luser thinks.)

    It's also kept the hits from MSIE robots and a certain large Redmond investment and software (look at how they make their money) company down, which is also a good thing.

    Anyone who really wants access to the info on my site can get it. I even offer links for downloading better browsers on the no-MSIE page. If you're too lazy or don't care, that's okay too.

    The above cowardly rant from someone who prefers to remain nameless shows that the URL rewrite served its purpose. I laugh in his general direction.
  • figuring out the prime-time wizard password

    It was me. Clumsy of me not to encrypt the password string. After you figured that out I changed it to a challenge/response system that required the user to do a mathematical operation on a randomly generated number and enter the result.

    And the article was actually pretty good.
  • Yea right, like "free as in speech" is any more accurate. Thinking for yourself is not defined as having RMS do it for you...
  • Oh well, I better get back to the flamage over my first person account. I wanted to avoid the usual "RMS came here and said what he always says article", but I guess it didn't come off well.

    Nah, it came off fine and I liked it. Some people just seem to have their insecurities tweaked by RMS or anything in praise of him.
  • "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life."

    Conversation is an art in the same way that playing an instrument is. If I have an entertaing half hour talking to someone while they eat, spending three or four bucks to buy them the meal is worth it. I feel that they've earned it just as if they'd writen a song I liked or painted a picture I liked.

    So if I'm encouraging people to become better story tellers so be it.
  • Again, I ask you to try begging for a day and then come tell me how it's not work just as hard as the work you do.

    Whether it is difficult is utterly irrelevant, as it produces nothing of value. Would you argue that robbers are productive members of society because they have to carry all those heavy packages?

    Personally I don't think the point of life is to create things of value. I assume that's an artifact of your religious/spiritual upbringing. If you look at it from a purely biological standpoint it's just to procreate. Personally I think you're so attached to your worldly positions that when you see someone get something without doing the same thing you did to get it you feel bitter. Some people would feel the same way about your upbringing what did you do to deserve the upbringing you got? Nothing? Well I don't think they should have to justify getting a free meal.

    Sigh. I'm not sure how helping Kent eat makes third-world children starve,

    Simple supply-and-demand economics: any increase in paying demand on a limited supply raises the price. There are so many people on the edge of starvation that any increase in food prices causes more people to starve, usually children. Regardless of how screwed up the food production/distribution system is, it does respond to increased demand by raising prices.

    Considering how much food is thrown away in this country each day I doubt that buy buying someone a meal you're forcing a child to starve. If you're that worried about it stop paying MediaOne (or who ever) for cable TV and donate the money instead to a charity that helps people in the third world.

    The implication being that panhandlers don't have that potential?

    If they do, they should be helped to find it. Your own description seems to be of helpless people who can't do a job. A random child is much more likely to develop into someone who pulls his share than a full-grown man with a history of begging.

    What if their talent is story telling? If you pay a famous person to read their biography, what's the problem with paying a homeless person (in the form of a meal or a ride) to tell you about their lives? From some of the stories I've heard I can say that they're more interesting than what is on TV.

  • And besides, Hotmail blows on GNU/Linux anyway; sure netscape works, haven't tried mozilla with it (how do you get SSL working on mozilla? er nm I'll be flamed for that question...), but Lynx/SSL doesn't at all. Anyone know what's up with that? (Lynx and hotmail)

    I didn't know Lynx had a SSL capability. Where does that come from?

    BTW, http://www.fastmail.fm works pretty well with Lynx (although I haven't tried its SSL mode, of course...)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that the vagrant, for whom RMS bought a sandwhich, was none other than Jeff Bezos. He apparently offered RMS stock options for allowing him to eat that evening but RMS laughed in his face and said:

    "Stock Options ?!? Don't you know who I am? I'm a communist. Why don't you become one too and forget about this turning a profit crap that has you so worried. If you would just GPL Amazon.com you would be free of the profit burden, for as you know, no company that offers GPL'd products has ever turned a profit"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've been kind of lucky in this crazy dot-com thing. And because I take the attitude that I am not anyone's judge (and if they choose to buy a gallon of cheap vodka that's their business) I sometimes hand over a fifty, or a twenty, folded. Hopefully they don't know until they unravel all the other crumpled notes later. It feels good.
  • "Beggars are distinguished by the fact that instead of working for their money, they harass people who do in the hopes that they will be given money for nothing; an unmistakably negative thing." Again, I ask you to try begging for a day and then come tell me how it's not work just as hard as the work you do. Really. Unless you've tried it, you're just blowing hot air. I have, so I can talk. It's not 'nothing.' It's an act of profound debasing desperation, and it's HARD WORK.

    "What does Kent do to justify you giving him money to buy food and drive up the price so another child starves in a 3rd-world country?" Sigh. I'm not sure how helping Kent eat makes third-world children starve, but if you want to do with the standard propaganda think-of-the-children heartstring tack, you're welcome to. What I know is that Kent shares stories with me, makes me laugh, is good company when I see him, and generally is a good person in bad times. That's justification enough for me. You might try judging people by some other marker than money. There's a whole world out there of really really excellent poor people that need no 'justification' to the likes of you.

    "who has the potential to become self-supporting" The implication being that panhandlers don't have that potential? Ah, I see, if they had that potential, they'd get a haircut and have "proper" jobs, right? You need to get out more. Really. Stop working those 14-hour days and 7-day weeks for your own personal gain and go see how the other half REALLY lives.

    "But it is not your public area to pollute" Hmmn. If it's public, I can do just about whatever I want that's legal. But, assuming your assertion is right, neither is it your public area to post "no jobless people here" signs and drive my friends away.

    --
  • So, when is he going to visit Yoyodyne, Inc.?
  • Perhaps, but for stuff not to be deleted, it is imperitive to hide the password - no?

    Maybe he didn't have anything to hide, but I kind of doubt it was for any reason other than the info he needed to hide wasn't on the system in question. Would he be as open with his home, where bills and such might be located?

    I understand the story behind it, and from what I could remember the reasoning behind the lack of passwords had little to do with privacy, and more to do with providing the least amount of challenge for fellow hackers to play around with peoples' stuff. After all, if there are no passwords, what fun is it to access someone's account?


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Why? Because neither Pokémon or cigarettes are necessary for existance. The only reason you give to these people is so that they don't die - if they want the finer things in life (Pokémon?), they should pay for it like us taxpayers.

    That said, I agree with you on the second point - McDonalds? Ech.


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Keeping people alive is society's responsibility, but making sure they have 'a life' is not.

    In short, keep them alive long enough so that they can take over, and eventually make a life for themselves.

    People need to have at least some culpability for their position in life. As a society we can give people a boost, but like any crutch if it is relied upon too long people won't stand up on their own. We shouldn't be responsible for people who choose not to even try.


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • ---
    It's not stupid for a girl to be really into a good band.
    ---

    No, it's not. But you were talking about N'Sync, right?

    Seriously, N'Sync is not a band. What it is, though, is a brand. It's a pretty picture for record company executives to slap onto lunchpails, peechees, stickers, bed sheets, and any number of other forms of merchandise.

    The music itself is secondary - sure, each bandmember needs to be able to remain on key in order to pass the most basic prerequisite of a boy band. I'll grant them that. But the most important thing is that they are all clean cut and marketable. They were chosen nor for talent, but in order to fit into a specific well defined niche that allows record and merchandise sales to be maximized.

    The fact that hormonal teenage girls swoon over these guys doesn't hurt either, as peer pressure will force those girls that don't to emulate their friends.

    But don't kid yourself. N'Sync sounds like any other boy band out there - these guys aren't expanding the realm of musical experimentation (do they even play instruments?), nor are they particularly inspired (how many songs about love and sexual innuendo can these bands make?).

    You can like them if you like, but the guy's analogy still stands - liking a musician for their talent is one thing (I for one respect a number of musicians - Chris Randall, Trent Reznor, Ed Kowalczyk, Raymond Watts, etc), but they aren't gods or dieties. They are humans, and you don't need to scream or express your undying love at their mere appearance. If you do, well, you're creating a stereotype, and people will notice - just as the above poster did. You can't complain about it if it is true.

    And no, I didn't/don't care much for Nirvana, but that's besides the point.


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • This is a callous and brutal attitude.

    No, it isn't. It is an unfortunate fact that most of the homeless on the street today are victims of their own drug or alcohol abuse, or victims of the Reagan administration's callous and brutal program of closing down mental hospitals and chucking the marginal patients out onto the street, in a society where they were not equipped to make it.

    Feeding someone's addiction by subsidizing it with money is irresponsible and destructive: you make the neighborhood more dangerous for those of us who live here, and you actively help to destroy the lives of those you purport to help.

    All so you can look "kind and sensitive" to your date. Please, do us all a favor: stay the hell out of our cities and go back to the suburbs where you belong.

    The fact is, modern capitalism (or corporatism, if you will) demands inequality, poverty and homelessness. There can be no "winners" without there being many more "losers".

    I am not a particularly strong fan of capitalism and even less so of "corporatism" but this is complete nonesense. Your notion implies a zero sum game, where there is only so much pie, therefor some must go without. It has been known (and demonstrated) for centuries that no economic system that is producing (be it capitalism, communism, or whatever) is a zero some game. Wealth is being added to the pie. Having said that, I will agree there is plenty wrong with the lack of social net in the US.

    The answer, however, is not to give spare change to the homeless. If you are at all serious about making a difference, donate time or money to local shelters, soup kitches, or charities. They do far more to help the homeless (and those close to becoming so) without subsidizing addictions and self-destructive behavior.

    If you feel you must have some kind of personal, touchy-feely rapport with a homeless person to satisfy some internal guilt complex you harbour, may I suggest supporting those people who are selling homeless newspapers (in Chicago the paper "Streetwise" is sold for $1 each and is an interesting read). At least then you are helping someone to develope a work ethic and do something positive. The money may still be used to buy alcohol or drugs, but at least they've earned it.

    The only way for the truly poor to survive is to beg.

    Now, that comment has to be the most patronizing one I've ever heard. Talk about bigotry against the poor!

    In addition, it is an utter crock of shit. I have travelled the world over, including many beautiful countries you and others would probably dub "third world." Many of the people in these places have even less than the homeless in America do. Yes, some beg, but most eck out an existence working in some fashion. There are other ways to survive, in poverty, than succumbing to drug or alcohol addiction and asking (or demanding) free handouts from clueless suburbanites who come downtown for a night out on the town.

    Furthermore, there are many, many underfunded charities that actually do positive work to not only provide food and shelter for the needy, but also try to help them get back on their feet. Rather than using your money for a destructive purpose, why not donate to them instead? It may require a little more thought and research than simply handing a stranger a $20 to make yourself feel better, but it will also do a hell of a lot more good.

    I personally think that this a patronizing, if understandable, attitude.

    It may be a patronizing and politically incorrect attitude to you, but it is nonetheless correct. An addict will always feed their addiction first. Food, shelter, and the day to day business of survivial come in a distant second.

    If you want to help, help the charities and organizations in the community that really are out there on the front lines making a difference, and stop being a part of the problem.
  • However, I must ask what kind of sycophancy inspired this article? For God's sake timothy, you're spending time detailing on how to wine and dine Mr. Stallman?

    I actually enjoyed this article. It showed us the human side of RMS (complete with some quirks most computer junkies can relate to), in a different context than most articles about RMS or the FSF do. Interviews are a dime a dozen -- this article showed a different and very interesting side of the man, while at the same time imparting useful and important information to others who may wish to have him visit in a professional capacity.

    As one who had his email ignored (no complaint here, my question had to do with my Free Media License [openflick.org], which is tangental to RMSes mission, and he is a busy man) I was happy to read how much time he spends sifting through and answering his emails. Strike one misconception on my part.

    RMS is probably as used to hero worship as he is to villification, and I doubt he reads any more into this article than I did: namely that the guy liked him, enjoyed meeting him, and had revised some of his opinions and preconceptions about him after getting to know him.

    I saw nothing in the article to remotely justify your use of the word "sycophancy" or "brownie points."
  • Oh well, I better get back to the flamage over my first person account. I wanted to avoid the usual "RMS came here and said what he always says article", but I guess it didn't come off well.

    Don't let the knee-jerk flames get you down, some people dislike RMS for various reasons (most of them probably having to do with the GNU/Linux silliness on the part of RMS, or silliness on their own part in hating anything to the left of Genghis Kahn, hating free software, or having been personaly miffed by his sometimes caustic remarks) and they'll take their personal ire out on anyone who dares make positive remarks about someone they have appointed as their nemesis.

    I for one found the article to be a very enjoyable read, a refreshingly different view of an often one-sided topic.
  • And because I take the attitude that I am not anyone's judge (and if they choose to buy a gallon of cheap vodka that's their business) I sometimes hand over a fifty, or a twenty, folded.

    You are not helping a homeless person by subsidizing the kind of self-destructive behaviors which keep them down. In many cases, alcoholism and drug abuse are big contributors to destroying these peoples lives.

    Worse still, you encourage them to bother the rest of us so they can get their next fix, and as one who lives in a neighborhood where I can't make it from my home to the corner White Hen without getting asked at least once for a handout, let me tell you, a lot of these folks are very aggressive in demanding your money (something they do not have a right to).

    If you really care about their plight (and aren't just trying to impress the girl your with with your "sensitivity" or appeasing your own misplaced guilt), do what RMS did and go out and buy them a meal. Or better yet, give some big bucks to your local soup kitchen or shelter. These institutions are chronically underfunded and vital to supporting the homeless folks basic needs.

    Loose change is probably one of the worst things you can give a homeless person: it seduces them into not trying to better themselves and blinds them to other possibilities, and it all too often subsidizes the very self-destructive habits which put them where they are to begin with.
  • It gives you the power to retroactively change the context and meaning of previous discussions.

    This is why you should always quote the text you're replying to. :)

    "I want to use software that doesn't suck." - ESR
    "All software that isn't free sucks." - RMS

  • "I am a goat fucker!"
    -Richard M. Stallman, 1996-

    Congratulations dude. You've been posting this in every article for the last 6 months and you are finally on topic!!!
    Good for you.
    Moderators, be sure not to moderate the parent post as offtopic. Flamebait would probably be best.
    --Shoeboy
  • It's caused by a troll AC who enterreda long one-word post with no spaces. I've had it happen several times. I usually just bump the threshold to 1 on the article until he get moderated down
  • "people within the Free Software Movement believe that it is correct not to restrict the freedom of individuals by licensing software in such a fashon that restricts their freedom to learn and share."

    No one's freedom to share is being restricted by closed source. You can only share what is your own. No one is stopping you from sharing your own software. But you have no right to share someone else's software anymore than you have the right to enter someone's house without permission and share their food with the hungry.

    Copyrights and software ownership is a separate topic so long as RMS and the Free Software community as a whole continue to copyright their works.

    No one is enslaved, subjugated or dominated by closed source software. This is a blatant falsehood perpetuated by those wishing only to control the manner of software distribution. Freedom does not mean you can reach beyond your personal domain and intervene in someone else's life. Yet this is precisely what RMS proposes in the name of freedom. His ideas of freedom include restricting the rights of free speech and free press for software developers.
  • You sounded as if RMS will use force to forbid others to release close sourced software.

    He hasn't done it yet because he doesn't have the political power to do so. But he has advocated it, several times. Reread the GNU Manifesto.
  • From Timothy's treatise:

    "...a division of Teradyne made in an effort to orient themselves correctly with Free software tools they wanted to use."

    I have always despised political correctness. It is a lame substitute for intelligent thought. What the fig is the word "correctly" doing in the above sentence? Is this some sort of Free Software Feng Shui? The last things Open Source needs are self-appointed P.C. Police. And only utter hypocracy will result when people attempt to link Free Software with mandatory thought and behavior.
  • "The easiest solution is simply to use "source" as what is unrestricted instead of software."

    Then why not call all of this stuff "Open Source"? Oh wait, they already do...

    Open may mean everything and nothing when applied to software, but when applied to source code, it's much easier to understand. There's less confusion with "Open Source" than "Free Software". Sure, one can confuse "Open" with OpenWindows, the Open Group, and other closed source stuff, but at the same time one can easily confuse "Free" with freeware or even free speech.
  • Do you really think I'm so stupid as to talk about Free Software and Open Source without first reading that article you mention?

    Before you start quoting chapter and verse from the Holy Works of Saint IGNUtius, try finding out what the definition of Free Software really is.

    The Free Software definition, as stated by RMS on that very same site lists four very simple and broad criteria. The Open Source Definition, which derives from the Debian Social Contract, is a clarification of the same. Any software that meets the Open Source Definition must also meet the Free Software definition. That's because every one of the FSD points are covered in the OSD.
  • There's an absolutely fabulous and revealing interview with Richard Stallman [pigdog.org] from a couple weeks ago up on Pigdog [pigdog.org].

    Kevin Fox
  • ya need two things: openssl [openssl.org], and the Lynx SSL Patch [moxienet.com].
  • Who end up building Skynet and starting global themonucular war and make it so The Terminator has to go back in time and kill John Connor?
  • Yeah, food production and distribution is messed up. So what? So supply is limited by other factors than physical potential. It's still limited.

    Buying more food still raises prices. That is the direct result of just handing money to someone for food, especially food bought on the high-price local markets of the USA.

    That the price is artificially high for other reasons is another problem. One to be dealt with, not ignored.

    Do you know how to remove what you perceive as an intolerable debt? Pay it, whether it's your debt or not. Don't go around whining about how the system should be changed so the debt is paid by extortion (i.e. taxes). Your dollars are more directly powerful than your vote. Direct action works.

    But perhaps you want to change the world with no cost to yourself but telling people what you want and voting for it. The ultimate lie of democracy is that all good things are there for the asking. In reality, many good things are only there for the buying, and using the coercive force of government rather than the sweat of your own brow is robbing Peter to pay Paul: for every good you do to one person, you do an equal and opposite evil to another.

    However, you can help by voting for less inteference. Help food prices go down by letting small, inefficient family farms go out of business, to be replaced by large factory farms that will compete with each other on price and lower prices. Stop price-protection tariffs. When you hear some politician talking about "grain dumping" remember that all that means is low prices. If someone's "dumping grain" into your markets, that's a good thing for the people who are buying!

    A farm is a business like any other, and one where consumers' rights to a free market should outweigh any nostalgic love of the family business. Fewer people will starve if they can buy at Walmart prices instead of having to pay whatever it takes to keep the local Mom'n'Pop going.

    Protecting small farms == killing 3rd world children

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • Again, I ask you to try begging for a day and then come tell me how it's not work just as hard as the work you do.

    Whether it is difficult is utterly irrelevant, as it produces nothing of value. Would you argue that robbers are productive members of society because they have to carry all those heavy packages?

    Sigh. I'm not sure how helping Kent eat makes third-world children starve,

    Simple supply-and-demand economics: any increase in paying demand on a limited supply raises the price. There are so many people on the edge of starvation that any increase in food prices causes more people to starve, usually children. Regardless of how screwed up the food production/distribution system is, it does respond to increased demand by raising prices.

    I didn't mean to go off on this tangent, though, it was late and I was in a bad mood and not thinking clearly; opening this particular can of worms rarely has a good effect on a short discussion. I do, however, measure all moral/economic decisions by "How many starving children could you feed with that?" That question presses at the back of my mind constantly. When you realize that every time you spend your money on something else you are choosing to let someone starve, it changes the way you think about things. You start to realize that many of the things you thought you were doing for moral reasons are wasteful and harmful and you're actually doing them for social reasons.

    The implication being that panhandlers don't have that potential?

    If they do, they should be helped to find it. Your own description seems to be of helpless people who can't do a job. A random child is much more likely to develop into someone who pulls his share than a full-grown man with a history of begging.

    If it's public, I can do just about whatever I want that's legal.

    Loitering is illegal in most public areas meant for transportation. You might be surprised at just how little is legal in public areas. Beggars are usually breaking some law.

    Regardless, is legality the measure of your morals? You would only give your friend (who is in poor health) money if he stands out exposed to the elements all day? What will he do when he becomes too old and sick to stand outside all day? You would do it openly and produce envy of easy money in the criminal element that creates rivals, who will attack him for what little he has?

    There are ways to give money that don't cause the harm of paying beggars on the street. Harm to the beggars and harm to the street and everyone who must use it.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • I liked it just fine. Thanks for the work!
  • I recommend that people use "libre" and "gratis" when instead of the word "free".
    -russ
  • If you could get unhung on the "sycophancy" you'd realize that is an important event, because it is the *first* time a corporation with a history of writing proprietary code has actually asked RMS to come and talk to the directly about Free Software and the GPL.
  • Sounds like your people have bought Gates marketing, hook-line-and-sinker. He writes software for sale, therefore it is an asset. Before him, and now once again with free software, software is written to solve problems and facilitate sales of other things: hardware [IBM] or services [RedHat].

    Put it another way: how much could you sell the software for, even if it weren't GPL contaminated? How much do you sell your catalog for? Many things a company gives away, or at nominal cost as part of marketing efforts.
  • Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to RMS.

    Caution: RMS may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.

    RMS Contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.

    Do not use RMS on concrete.

    Discontinue visit with RMS if any of the following occurs:

    Itching

    Vertigo

    Dizziness

    Tingling in extremities

    Loss of balance or coordination

    Slurred speech

    Temporary blindness

    Profuse sweating

    Heart palpitations

    If RMS begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

    RMS may stick to certain types of skin.

    When not in use, RMS should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration...

    Failure to do so relieves the relatives of RMS, the FSF, and www.gnu.org, of any and all liability.

    Ingredients of RMS include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.

    RMS has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.

    Do not taunt RMS.

    RMS comes with a lifetime guarantee.

    RMS!

    ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
  • Other than its showing up in the common phrase 'politcally correct', correctness itself has little to do with the full meaning of the former.

    Correctness simply means the opposite of wrongly, or incorrrectly (to be precise but uselessly simple).

    Wanting to drive correctly or to write an exam correctly does not even imply desiring to be 'politically correct', but I hope you enjoyed your /. soapbox.
  • Your desire to philisophically argue the merits of the Free Software Movement's beliefs does not change the fact that your initial interpretation of the article is incorrect*.

    * Read: "wrong, bad, improper, not right."

    That said, you probably just needed something to start your "I don't agree with you" and "I don't like political correctness" speech.

  • Unison (http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison/) coupled with any e-mail client that stores messages in a simple manner on the local file system (e.g. one message per file) works well; EXMH works well. My main store of e-mail (and the location where I get new e-mail) is the MIT AI Lab. I use Unison to synch that repository with local copies at home and at the place where I am working during the summer. Not even an IMAP version of EXMH would convince me to change from my current set up...

    Jason
  • "RMS is opposed to 'privacy for the sake of privacy.' He didn't like using passwords, so for a while his main machine didn't have any passwords (yes, you could actually login as RMS!)."

    OK, now RMS has done a lot for free software and Linux in the past few years, and I think we can all applaud him for that. But not even using a damn password? Excuse me if I sound imflammatory, but how stupid do you have to be to not use a password? I don't care if RMS has this view that passwords are evil, even some of the most clueless newbies out there know they should have a password (educating them on choosing a complex alpha-numeric password is another issue) to protect sensitive information.

    RMS may be the legendary hacker people see him as, but he's just plain stupid for not using a simple password.

    --
  • Actually, we brought RMS in for two reasons: (1) to educate some of our possibly less clueful developers about the GPL since we wanted to avoid inadvertent GPL-violation accidents (that the /. crowd is all to quick to jump on); and (2) to show that we're serious about GPL compliance.

    I've got a couple problems with the license myself with regard to some common practices which delay release of source after binary, but, with respect the those who have authored code that we extend, and have chosen to use that license, we have to live with them.
  • No, it isn't excessive. Actually, posting this story was one of the best services /. did for OSS in the last weeks.

    My point is: as said in the article, OSS is here to stay and it is to everyone's benefit that the distance that separates OSS from proprietary software be shortened. Companies can benefit from this, but most don't do it out of ignorance. One just can't like something he/she doens't know, and RMS is a very good choice of a lecturer on the subject. Having such a testimonial made public will certainly encourage other companies to follow suit, thus the great service.

    Now, the baby-sitting part: I assume RMS was there at no charge, so taking care of his basic needs is just the most reasonable thing to do. When you are away from home it is very comforting to have some compensation of this sort. Producing some tea is no big deal. And the original writer stressed that the most important thing is to provide RMS with some conectivity. He is a busy man and it is not nice to monopolize his attention for so long.

    At the end of the day, arranging such a visit seems to be quite a good deal for any software vendor.
  • Was watching CNN/fn and saw news about Teradyne...their stock price took a big dip [http] today...wonder if there's a connection.

    Yes, I know nobody will read this since it's an old article, but still thought it was funny....
    --
  • No, but several GNU/Linux clients do... :)
  • Hi,

    Something I learned from a dear departed cousin of mine is a useful tip in this type of situation (to prevent abuse of monetary gifts, ie for alcohol, etc.)

    He used to buy a package of gift certificates for McDonalds/BurgerKing and could hand these out, promising warm food to those in need.

    I enjoyed your post! -Daniel
  • The point of the article isn't about how independent Linux is from corporate control. The point is that it is possible for companies who normally make everything proprietary as a matter of coures to use the GPL to write software that is available for free or a nominal price, with source code that is available and editable.

    Even a company writing code exclusively for the windows with no concern for the Linux world whatsoever could still release its code under the GPL.

  • Who makes a better idol, RMS or Joe Montana? Who has contributed more to society? How important is that contribution?
    Who's more likely to return your email? ;)
    ---

  • I wish I could say yes. But no, it's not.

    :(

    sig:

  • by Ross C. Brackett ( 5878 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @02:38PM (#884289) Homepage
    I would assume, since the article indicated that the scope of the discussions was limited to the legalities of GPL compliance, they meant correctly in a legal sense. Another example would be, "The police officer told me to drop the knife and release my hostage so that I would orient myself correctly with laws concerning murder and kidnapping."

    But even if he had meant philosophically, it could be argued that there is a correct and a non correct way to view things within a closed set of belief. Just as Christians would generally agree that the belief of "adultury is wrong" is a correct one, people within the Free Software Movement believe that it is correct not to restrict the freedom of individuals by licensing software in such a fashon that restricts their freedom to learn and share.

    Just a thought. I could argue with your stance on despising all things politically correct for hours,(heaven forbid that we call someone a Native American rather than an Indian) but I think it's already been done.
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @08:11PM (#884290)
    ...give money to a charity kitchen. If they really want food, and there's one around, they can go to it.

    For heaven sakes, don't give them stuff on the street! Not even food. It's like feeding wild animals: it encourages them to bother other people, and if enough people do it some of them start to expect it and get aggressive with the people who don't help them.

    She's very generous in giving money to those who ask for it because she knows that by doing so her conscience is clear.

    Maybe if she knew someone who was attacked by aggressive panhandlers for refusing to give them money, or someone who lost their business because aggressive panhandlers harassed everyone in the area until it became known as an area to avoid, her conscience wouldn't be so clear.

    People only become regular panhandlers because they try it and it works. In a busy area with sympathetic people, a panhandler can often get over twice as much as he could earn at the kind of job he can get. After a while, he starts to feel entitled to it, maybe some time on a bad day he decides he's entitled to everything in someone's pockets; once that happens, you've made a mugger. You might be surprised at how different that pathetic panhandler standing off to the side of the busy sidewalk looks at night in a deserted alleyway.

    Whether panhandlers are con artists, drug addicts, or deranged lunatics, you don't want to encourage them.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @02:00PM (#884291) Homepage
    Sure, RMS may be a bit of an oddball. That's his right. Especially so given his contributions to free software: GCC & the GPL. emacs if that's to your liking. He's paid his dues in full.

    But there is also a world of difference between listening to RMS, and doing everything he suggests. I don't think even he advocates the latter!

    What's important is to listen to all views, especially polar [extreme] views, before deciding on any course of action. Or would you rather the suits just listen to sleazy lawyers?

  • by BenLutgens ( 56508 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:48PM (#884292)
    I agree, I also have thought of him a a zealot which is extremely unfair having never met him in person. But when all one reads is this stuff, you really have no choice. It's refreshing to see a pleasant article about him. And the e-mail bit was quite funny too. I think though that alot of this stuff is true ANYTIME you host a visitor. You should make them comfortable, especially if they are there at yoru request.
  • by fwr ( 69372 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @01:24PM (#884293)
    Wow, that's a mini-FAQ? Heck, it's longer than some of the Linux HOWTO's!
  • by Freedent ( 84485 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @11:35PM (#884294)
    The whole bit about there being limited resources (food-wise) in the world is completely false.

    More than enough food to feed every single person on earth gets grown or raised each year, even with the terribly uneconomic way we raise food in north america (think I'm full of it? compare the caloric production of corn over a given area compared to cattle or hogs). The starvation problem is simply a matter of greed and distribution.

    The debts held by the western world against 3rd world countries (african countries especially) are crippling to their economies, whereas the money they represent is less than that lost on a bad day for the NYSE.

    Speaking about the world from a purely economic perspective is like talking about the climate in your house while disregarding the weather outside.

    As the infamous quote goes: "For economists, the real world is a special case."

  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @06:55PM (#884295) Homepage
    Mentally disturbed people deserve to be in institutions receiving care.

    I have some news for you buddy. Most mentally disturbed people don't need to be in hospitals and there's no room for them even if there they did.

    First I'll quote a few statistics:

    • One third of the people that are in hospitals in america today are in psychiatric hospitals (including the psych wards of regular hospitals).
    • About one percent of the population is manic depressive
    • About one percent is schizophrenic
    • About thirty percent of the population will experience clinical depression at some point during their lives, and at any given time about five percent of the population is experiencing clinical depression.
    Hospitalization is only appropriate for the very worst of times, when someone has just cracked up and needs to get diagnosed, or some life crisis has happened and they need a safe place to put things back together. Sometimes their medicine is not working and new stuff needs to be prescribed, and they need a place to go while it takes effect, which can take weeks.

    But you can't have a real life in a hospital. You can't go to college in a hospital, hold down a job, cook for yourself, do your laundry, drive a car or provide for your family while you're in the hospital.

    What most mentally ill people need is to put their lives back together in the real world, and to do that, they need to be in the real world - living in regular housing, driving cars, going to school, holding down jobs.

    You'd probably be pretty amazed if all the mentally ill people that you encountered in your daily existence came up to you and told you what their illness was. I'm very unusual for people who suffer from this in that I make it public - because I want to educate people like you to make it easier for others who have to go through what I went through.

    If one percent of the population is manic depressive, chances are pretty good you know at least one, and maybe you know several - they're just not telling you, or they haven't been diagnosed yet.

    It happens to me all the time in workplaces when I've confided to my coworkers, as, for example, at a small fruit company in cupertino california [apple.com] where I told a woman I was bipolar and she told me she was too.

    I met a technician from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory [nasa.gov] when I was in the psych hospital near there, and he told me that he told a staff counselor at the lab that he felt bad that he took Thorazine at work. The counselor said, "Don't worry, lot's of people at JPL take thorazine."

    What the mentally ill people need from people like you is not to be locked up, but to be treated with basic decent human respect.

    Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow
  • by soulsteal ( 104635 ) <soulsteal AT 3l337 DOT org> on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @01:41PM (#884296) Homepage
    Later that day, RMS was seen communicating with the mainframe leader of Cyberdyne, creators of SkyNet. He was trying to convince SkyNet to GPL the code that runs at the hearts of all T-100 Terminator models. It's rumored that SkyNet is holding onto it's closed source ways due to a belief that the human resistance would be able to find security exploits that would allow them control of improperly secured Terminators.
  • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @02:35PM (#884297) Homepage
    I found this while wondering why my sig had suddenly shrunk by a bunch of words.

    When you change your sig, it is changed on all messages, even ones that you had posted previously.

    So what?

    It gives you the power to retroactively change the context and meaning of previous discussions. An example:

    I post a comment with no body but my sig says

    "Twinkies are great"

    To which you reply

    No, they are disgusting and they smell bad. We should ban them from this country as soon as possible. Nothing you can do to them is bad enough

    I then change my sig to

    I think it's great that black rights have come so far. Thank heavens we've progressed past lynch mobs that used to hang them from the trees.

    Voila, you're an instant racist.

    I think people should know about this.

    Rich

    P.S. Yes, I know sigs can't be that long but the point stands.

  • by alleria ( 144919 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @03:28PM (#884298)
    Well, the thing is, those who read Slashdot know quite well where to get RMS'es viewpoints on everything from toaster ovens to Microsoft Bob. They don't necessarily know, however, what kind of things might make a real-life encounter with RMS go more smoothly.

    While this information might be of relatively little use to the greater number of us, it's still interesting to see RMS the human(tm), and not just RMS the advocate.

  • by Matthew Smith ( 201610 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @02:09PM (#884299)
    Richard gets his email by building a compressed GNU zip archive on his mail server of his incoming mail, and transferring it to his laptop -- in our case, via an intermediate floppy. He then reads and queues responses on his laptop for later transmission by reversing the process.

    These guys [hotmail.com] may have a solution for him!

  • by happystink ( 204158 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @02:12PM (#884300)
    wasn't there a story recently about a company possibly being taken to court over the GPL soon? After reading this article, it seems like maybe they did more than just violate it, they probably totally flaunted any attempts to cooperate with the FSF to deal with it maybe?

    Any ideas on who it is, or what exactly happened?

    sig:

  • by Emerson Willowick ( 215198 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @01:40PM (#884301)
    I'll keep this brief (unlike the rambling article). RMS is admirable for his contribution to open source with the GPL and its offshoots. He would be a very valuable consultant for a software company. However, I must ask what kind of sycophancy inspired this article? For God's sake timothy, you're spending time detailing on how to wine and dine Mr. Stallman? Why not interview him or discuss the services he can perform and use to benefit an open source company or creator in need of advice/help? I appreciate Mr. Stallman, GNU, and all the tireless work he has invested into the open source community. I just find the whole tone of the article to be nothing more than a "how to worship RMS" guide written in the same manner as a teenage girl droning on about her adoration of a rock star. It's a potentially good article which has been wasted and bloated by unnecessary sucking up. I wonder how RMS would view this shameless attempt at getting brownie points.

  • by Ross C. Brackett ( 5878 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @02:51PM (#884302) Homepage
    I think you've sort of misinterpreted the intent of this article. I rather liked it. I, and I would imagine a lot of other /.ers are fascinated by the man behind GNU. Certainly, RMS comes across as a rather caustic individual, especially to non-coders and I think this article helps put a more human face on a man whose total and utter devotion to a single cause has made him so unique.

    Just my $0.02
  • by / ( 33804 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @01:53PM (#884303)
    A few people asked about ways to "get around" the GPL, and Richard calmly explained that he would not help anyone do this and refused to answer such questions.

    I dare say, Gandhi, old chap, is there any way the queen can keep her merry India without giving in to any of your demands? Don't answer all at once.
  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @01:55PM (#884304)
    My company, which makes extensive use of GPL'd software, is planning to place all the software that we develop internally under the GPL as soon as we can. We don't have spare resources to spend generalizing our code, so it will happen gradually.

    Bringing RMS in for a talk would seem overkill, but I was wondering what suggestions that people have to bring a free software mindset to a corporation. Our development team is small, so that doesn't concern me. Our CFO and COO is very supportive. However, how to we explain to the rest of the company that we are giving away the fruits of our labor?

    Alex
  • by PHr0D ( 212586 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @01:33PM (#884305) Homepage
    "If you want to be nice, try to accommodate his tastes in food and drink. I made the mistake of not having some of his favorite teas available, even though it would not have been a great difficulty to do so. RMS knows good food, and, if he's been somewhere before, could probably recommend an excellent restaurant. Pay attention."

    Also, do not place a pea under the one-hundred matresses of his bed, or he will fly into a rage, snapping the neck of the three nearest geeks. Do not look RMS directly in the eye. If RMS comes into contact with skin or clothing, rinse quickly with cool water. See a physician if nausea or preaching begins.


    --------------------------------------
  • by emerson ( 419 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @09:49PM (#884306)
    Oh dear GOD, get off it.

    "Like feeding wild animals." No, it's like feeding hungry people. Dehumanization of panhandlers may make YOU feel good, but it's not helping the situation any.

    "Maybe if she knew someone who was attacked by aggressive panhandlers" Does that make all panhandlers aggressive and dangerous? I suppose we should all avoid blacks, too, because I know someone that was beaten up by a black man. Oh, and don't forget those damned COMPUTER GEEKS. One of them cracked into my friend's website, so we should throw them all in jail, right? Bigotry is ugly.

    "In a busy area with sympathetic people, a panhandler can often get over twice as much as he could earn at the kind of job he can get." You think begging isn't work, isn't a full-time job itself? Put down the TV remote and go try it one night. I did. It was excruciating. I was on the receiving end of more emotional and physical abuse that one evening than in the previous year of my life. It's hard work, with sporadic results. If you really think they're out there pulling down double minimum wage x 8 hours ($90 a day or so), you need to have your head examined.

    "Whether panhandlers are con artists, drug addicts, or deranged lunatics, you don't want to encourage them." Cluestick: some of them, MOST of them, are _NONE_ of those things. Most are hungry, genuine people, like my friend Kent who works the Cala foods near my house. Some can't work due to physical ailments, but their VA check doesn't cover the cost of living, like my friend Robert who works in front of the Wherehouse up the street.

    I suppose, though, it's just easier to sit in your climate-controlled house in front of your expensive computer and use your luxury dollars on ISP time to type up screeds trying to convince other well-off folks that there's an Untouchable Caste in society that should be feared and shunned. Yeah, that would be easier than actually doing something to help.

    But you can count me out of the easier path. I'm off to Cala to get my nightly dinner stuff, and drop my change and maybe a spare buck or two with my friend Kent, and take a few minutes to hear whether his rent went up this month like he was worried about last week. Maybe I'll tell him about what you said; he likes a good laugh just as much as I do.

    --
  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @01:49PM (#884307) Homepage
    smiles like one imagines the wizard in the old Collosal Cave adventure game might smile when granting you another life

    Heh, if this is the Rene Hollan I think it is, he's very familiar with that game. He used to play it a lot on the campus Cyber mainframe at Concordia when he was a student. I was on staff there and had adopted responsibility for "maintaining" Collosal Cave (AKA Adventure). I deliberately made a few changes and introduced some bogus objects for Rene's, uh, benefit (evil grin). All in good fun.

    Hey Rene, remember the sack of stuffed voles?

    (Not that this has much to do with the topic at hand, although Adventure might have qualified as Free Software (but pre-GPL))
  • by GeekLife.com ( 84577 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @01:48PM (#884308) Homepage
    1. Never expose him to bright lights or sunlight
    2. Never get him wet
    3. Never, never, never feed him after midnight.

    -----
  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @03:10PM (#884309) Homepage
    I've done the same thing that RMS did, when he was asked for change for food - I bought food for the hungry person.

    I haven't done it a whole lot, and I have to admit that sometimes the approaches I get frighten me or I am too busy with my own thing to deal with them. But whenever I have done so it has been extremely rewarding.

    I also know from my own experiences with mental illness [geometricvisions.com] that one of the most miserable things about it is the reaction that strangers on the street have to you. Being disturbed makes you look and act different sometimes, and often people will avoid your glance, cross the street upon your approach, or lock their car doors when they see you standing at the street corner. You'd better believe that the affected person notices that even if they don't visibly react to it.

    The first time I did this a man in Pasadena asked me for money for food. I bought him lunch, spent an hour with him and ended up giving him ten dollars. He was a very nice man and said he was a hardworking construction laborer but couldn't get work.

    The second time I met a couple homeless people, a vietnam vet and a teenage girl on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz [cruzio.com] California. The girl was coming down from an acid trip and having a very bad time. We talked for quite a long time - the vet recounted the horrors he still sufferred from having killed a soldier with a bayonet in Laos. I bought the girl a slice of thick-crust pizza at Pizza My Heart. It comforted her greatly.

    On another occassion I had noticed a schizophrenic woman around town, who hung out downtown a lot but never seemed to talk to anyone. I just walked up to her, asked her name, and we got to talking.

    Allison was a very nice woman and interesting to talk to - but was having such a hard time with her hallucinations that she had to keep brushing them out of her face with her hands so she could see me. I bought her a coffee at the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company. We just sat and talked. I imagine she was on government assistance and was neither homeless nor hungry, but probably (like I back in the dark days) welcomed someone to talk to who didn't react with revulsion.

    That was years ago, and better medicines for treating schizoid symptoms have been developed (clozaphine, and the risperdal I take). I ran into Allison again not too long ago and she seemed like a pretty ordinary woman, and spoke of her husband and children. She didn't remember me from before.

    My wife tells me about how a lot of people say panhandlers are just trying to rip you off, and I imagine some of them are - there are dishonest programmers too, aren't there, but we still associate with each other? She's very generous in giving money to those who ask for it because she knows that by doing so her conscience is clear. Maybe a few people will come by the money dishonesty, but far more people will be helped a little bit out of their misery.

    Even if you feel you can't or won't give spare change to someone who asks, stop and chat with them. They may not admit to it but it's far more likely that they are hungering for genuine human contact more than food or money. I know I was.

    Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow

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