Richard Stallman gave his keynote speech in the Free Software World Conference in Badajoz. The speech was in Spanish, and I was not in the main hall during, so I don’t know about his speech. But I went in for the question & answer part, to see whether there will be an interesting debate going on…
I think RMS has missed the point for all three questions asked, and the outcome was only confusing messages from the “creator” of the free software.
First question was about the internet services we use, especially Google, and the source code that runs beneath. At this front Stallman assumed the conformist position, saying that it is not wrong to have proprietary software based services per se, but it is wise not to use them. It is very clear that the internet services, or RIA and Web 2.0 as the hype goes, will be the next platform where our data lives, and giving away our freedom there will not be much different than using proprietary software on our PCs. Free software movement has to have some proactive initiative in this front as far as freedom is concerned, but Stallman himself admits that this is not the case.
Then there is this announcement/question about some Spanish free software code contest, which RMS somewhat admired; but quickly went on to say that the energy has to be focused on migration, and not on development, since the development is mature enough. Which is completely against what we are all working for, the freedom… Microsoft is saying the same thing in Turkey: “Our platform is robust and advanced enough, don’t try to develop alternatives, develop applications instead, on top of our platform of course…” You cannot tell from where the next “killer-app” will emerge, it is always a wise idea to promote innovation, everywhere and anywhere. Of course, migration is important, but it is not the whole story.
Then there was the so-much-expected question about GPLv3. Stallman mentioned Microsoft-Novell deal, Tivo-ization, patents and DRM as the points where GPLv2 could not been able to secure the freedom of user. Thus a new license was necessary and enters v3. I don’t buy the thesis that a single license should take care of all the relevant freedoms. It’s just a text, after all, and for some, a very important text. If you alienate part, and some very important part, of your audience and allies by singlehandedly changing this text, you are asking for trouble. Which is the case for GPLv3, in my humble opinion. Stallman’s chronic dislike of Linux feeds his stubbornness on GPLv3 case, I guess, but this does not help who are working to make free software a reliable alternative to proprietary world.
… and I went out. It was as expected, Stallman as usual, or a disappointment for the free software world.
PS: The picture is by Sandro Groganz, whom I met today. He has both better equipment and talent for photography 🙂 He blogged about Pardus and put a picture of mine, which -I guess- captures me very elegantly, in his blog.
PPS: Later in the evening, I’ve come accross with this beautiful piece by Tim O’Reilly, which hits the bull’s eye. It’s free as in search freely…
PPPS: … and the Steve Jobs quote about removing DRM from iTunes content, provided that the big four agrees to do so. Putting aside whether this is just rhetoric or he is really gonna do it, this is an example for getting freedoms back, without messing up with certain texts.