Ya Don’t Say

September 27th, 2006  |  Published in etc

Open-Source Guru Joins Freespire:

As motivated as he seems, it will be difficult for Mr. Raymond and Freespire to justify the porting of proprietary technologies to open source. Open-source purists such as Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and author of the widely used GNU Public License, are philosophically against combining proprietary code with open-source software.

“The biggest problem in the world of free software is the tendency to introduce non-free programs in the GNU operating system, which defeats the purpose,” Mr. Stallman said in a recent interview with Red Herring. “What’s the point of making freedom more popular by making it not fully free anymore?”

The only way he would support it, he said, would be if it was a step toward making the software free, but he doesn’t realistically see that happening.

“I understand sometimes if you’re fighting against injustice you have to go through intermediate states that are palatable, but I’m not sure it will get to that result, and certainly media companies hope that it never will,” said Mr. Stallman.

Two points:

  1. That didn’t take long. I guess a job offer is an “interesting email conversation,” indeed.

  2. Getting proprietary software onto Linux desktops is. not. hard. It’s been going on for about as long as there’s been a Linux stable enough to write apps for. Nothing Stallman or anyone else is going to say is going to slow down that process, and nothing Stallman or anyone else is going to say is going to make it any easier or any harder to write a plugin for a proprietary codec.

Like I didn’t get to last time, the underlying message of these articles, and the narrative Raymond and his acolytes have promulgated, is that you’ve got “realists” who’d love to run whatever the best software is, even if it’s proprietary; and you’ve got the “purists” who are trying to keep the realists down.

If the “realists” are enough of a market to warrant marketing licensed proprietary codecs or anything else that’s not GPL-compatible, then someone will sell stuff to them. What Stallman or anyone else says is irrelevant.

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