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Stallman's Column Evokes Responses

Jan 08, 2004, 23:00 (16 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Chance, John Carroll)

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NewsForge: In Defence of Free Software, Community, and Cooperation

"A recent article by Richard Stallman on the subject of the direction of the Free Software community provoked a lot of discussion, in particular on whether he is right to push so strongly his principles of Free Software over and above the pragmatic principles of Open Source. In this article I would like to defend Stallman's vision of software, and its place in community rather than as a consumer product, and re-advocate Stallman's assertion that the right to form a community is more important than the ability to use particular software.

"In one of the most telling criticisms of his position, one Slashdot poster commented that, to paraphrase, until Stallman realises that people don't expect cooperation and community to be products of, nor aspects of, a software industry, he won't ever succeed. Stallman, the poster implied, is talking only to a select group of people, and will never 'meet the needs of the masses' until he accepts that their expectations of software are significantly different than his own..."

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ZDNet: A Response to Richard Stallman

"There are a number of people in the open source pantheon, among them Bruce Perens and Eric Raymond. However, Richard Stallman, as author of the GPL and one of the most prolific authors in the open source movement, certainly fills the role of Zeus. Perens and Raymond serve many purposes, though a number of their recent writings seem aimed at channeling the open source community's ire towards an enemy (usually Microsoft, who is portrayed as an evil Zelig that they inevitably see standing in the shadows in photo opportunities with open source critics). Stallman, however, rarely dirties his hands with such things, leaving him free to operate in the ethereal realm of open source philosophy.

"Stallman serves his purpose well, even if I often disagree with him. What motivated me to write this response, however, were six simple words included in his recent article on ZDNet: Free software does not mean 'gratis'..."

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Related Story:
NewsForge: The Free Software Community After 20 Years: With Great But Incomplete Success, What Now?(Jan 05, 2004)