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Nikolai D.
August 10th, 2012, 01:27 PM
hi there,
RMS insists that writing proprietary software is unethical.
Here is a good example of the interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=radmjL5OIaA
but then i ask myself how about using proprietary software professionally as a system administrator, graphical designer or lets say translator is unethical?
Or even if lets say i have to use proprietary software forced on me by the educational system should i quit the education then?
i know he is purist, but im to. So lets at least look at it theoretically. And everyone makes hes own practice out of it.

dcstar
August 10th, 2012, 01:31 PM
hi there,
RMS insists that writing proprietary software is unethical.
.........

And your question/problem about using Ubuntu in this Ubuntu Support forum is?

Elfy
August 10th, 2012, 01:36 PM
Thread moved to The Community Cafe.

vexorian
August 10th, 2012, 01:51 PM
No time to watch video (sorry, too little bandwidth and all the one I have is being used downloading updates).

In RMS' and my mind, using proprietary software leads to dependency. Difference is I do not think it is unethical to use it. I do think getting locked-in and dependent on proprietary software is going to cause you inconvenience in the future though.

Getting locked-in is a self destructive behavior, but I don't think it is unethical. Unethical would be to lock other people into it. But I don't think it is unethical to do it unintentionally. A designer that does not know better may like using photoshop and is fine by me. But for example, a MS-certified professional using .NET language in government software meant to be used by everybody, knowing that his MS certification requires people to be MS-dependent is quite horribly unethical. The video distributors who want flash to keep on living because they love DRM are quite unethical too. Actually, I would say just about everything related with DRM shows how proprietary can be unethical to promote or self-destructive to use.

Of course, when your school forces you to use OOXML, it is causing harm forcing you to become dependent on it. I would still not call it unethical because chances are that they do not understand that they are causing harm.

Paqman
August 10th, 2012, 02:04 PM
RMS insists that writing proprietary software is unethical.


RMS is an extremist, you're under no obligation to hold the same views as him.

vexorian
August 10th, 2012, 02:15 PM
Vilification for holding a different opinion is extremism's best friend.

mips
August 10th, 2012, 03:11 PM
i know he is purist, but im to.

Get over yourself. Leave people be and let them use what works for them.

Following your logic you should buy an open source tv, toaster, car etc. There's nothing wrong with people being paid for their labour and expecting others to respect copyright & patents (patents to a degree, it's gone a bit silly.)

Paqman
August 10th, 2012, 03:20 PM
There's nothing wrong with people being paid for their labour

To be fair to RMS, the GPL says the same thing.

not found
August 10th, 2012, 05:39 PM
Thread moved to Recurring Discussions.


404

Nikolai D.
August 10th, 2012, 05:58 PM
im not insisting anything guys, im just asking for what you think about it.
I kind of expected more reactions like more or less agreeing with RMS because i thought this is the open source forum. But it looks to me that im getting more reactions like Brians reaction in above posted video. <snip>

Primefalcon
August 10th, 2012, 07:28 PM
Lets face RMS has stated that anyone doing anything proprietary even physical such as selling their own paintings or stories.... should go out of business... he considers them evil and scum.

here's a good interview with him: http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/17822/richard-stallman-gnulas-s20e10/

lets face it though he's an extremist and sure he's entitled to his views.... but so are everyone else

Dr. C
August 10th, 2012, 08:59 PM
hi there,
RMS insists that writing proprietary software is unethical.
Here is a good example of the interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=radmjL5OIaA
but then i ask myself how about using proprietary software professionally as a system administrator, graphical designer or lets say translator is unethical?
Or even if lets say i have to use proprietary software forced on me by the educational system should i quit the education then?
i know he is purist, but im to. So lets at least look at it theoretically. And everyone makes hes own practice out of it.

I have not heard RMS say that using proprietary software is unethical. What he finds unethical is writing and promoting proprietary software. What is important to understand here is why. I find that it basically comes down to this:

1) Vendor lock-in is unethical becasue it victimizes the end user by taking away the end user's freedom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vendor_lock-in
2) Proprietary software by its very nature leads to vendor lock-in.
It then follows that:
3) Writing and promoting proprietary software is unethical.

So if we take a look at the system administrator example. If he is mearly using the proprietary software, this in itself is not unethical. if he maintainig and supporting the proprietary software this will be a really grey area, and if he recommends the purchase of proprietary software this is unethical.

QIII
August 10th, 2012, 09:18 PM
As one who writes proprietary software for a living, I would say that not doing so would be unethical in the case of several of my clients and potentially injurious to the interests of hundreds of thousands of individuals. If the software were open source, enough information about what it does and how it does so would open them up for attack.

I'd love to have this guy try to look me in the eye and tell me I am unethical.

Creating the software in and of itself is not necessarily unethical. Business practices that squelch competition and result in monopolies that leave users without choices may be.

xedi
August 10th, 2012, 09:26 PM
In addition to Dr. C's points: RMS also always stresses security and privacy, if it is impossible to look at the source code, you do not know what the program is really doing.

That said, I think it is ridiculous to call creating propriety software unethical because it decreases freedoms. RMS always says that users deserve that freedom, basically implying that there is something like a human right to free software which is over the top.

Proprietary software gives freedoms because it enables people to solve some problem. Nobody is forced to use that software and they furthermore give value, they enable you to do something you otherwise could not (unless somebody else e.g. you would write it yourself).

Basically RMS is constantly attacking a straw man. He constantly portrays proprietary software as something which takes away freedoms, yet such software only gives you not as much freedoms as free software. That is like complaining that BMW is unethical for electronically limiting their cars at a certain speed.

QIII
August 10th, 2012, 09:46 PM
Clients can call on external auditors to evaluate our source, which they do.

Releasing the source to the clients would open them up for substantial liability if they were to modify it. Ours is a unique level of responsibility in a unique segment and we have a unique reputation in that segment.

But the exception proves the rule. (Often misinterpreted because of the archaic use, "proves" in this case means "tests".)

His statement is broadly absolute. Absolute statements are made invalid by a single anecdotal case to the contrary.

It is not unethical for OEM X to write a proprietary driver for Widget Y and thus force the use of that driver with their hardware. It might be maddening. It might cause people not to buy their hardware. But it is not unethical. Users are free to use OEM Q's product.

It would be unethical for OEM X to manipulate the market in such a manner as to make the use of OEM Q's product impossible. The widget's driver itself is neither ethical nor unethical.

Likewise, it is not unethical for Software Company A to develop a product that does X. If someone does not like Software Company A's product, they are free to use Software Company B's product.

It would be unethical for Software Company A to manipulate the market in such a manner as to make the use of Software Company B's product impossible. The development of the software itself is neither ethical nor unethical.

The problem with zealots of all stripes is their strident and shrill accusation that those who do not believe and act as they do are bound for special places of punishment and torment in their versions of some dark underworld.

Dr. C
August 10th, 2012, 11:15 PM
Clients can call on external auditors to evaluate our source, which they do.

Releasing the source to the clients would open them up for substantial liability if they were to modify it. Ours is a unique level of responsibility in a unique segment and we have a unique reputation in that segment.

But the exception proves the rule. (Often misinterpreted because of the archaic use, "proves" in this case means "tests".)

His statement is broadly absolute. Absolute statements are made invalid by a single anecdotal case to the contrary.

It is not unethical for OEM X to write a proprietary driver for Widget Y and thus force the use of that driver with their hardware. It might be maddening. It might cause people not to buy their hardware. But it is not unethical. Users are free to use OEM Q's product.

It would be unethical for OEM X to manipulate the market in such a manner as to make the use of OEM Q's product impossible. The widget's driver itself is neither ethical nor unethical.

Likewise, it is not unethical for Software Company A to develop a product that does X. If someone does not like Software Company A's product, they are free to use Software Company B's product.

It would be unethical for Software Company A to manipulate the market in such a manner as to make the use of Software Company B's product impossible. The development of the software itself is neither ethical nor unethical.

The problem with zealots of all stripes is their strident and shrill accusation that those who do not believe and act as they do are bound for special places of punishment and torment in their versions of some dark underworld.

Two questions:
1) Why is there no legal liability if the client patches the binary code? It can be done.
2) Why is it ethical to force end users to throw away their devices when upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista/7 because the Windows XP drivers no longer work with Windows Vista/7 after Microsoft changed the driver model in order to accomodate DRM? E-waste is one of the fastest growing enviromental problems worldwide and it is been made a lot worse by proprietary software vendor lock-in.

By the way I do believe there were many very valid ethical arguments in favor of proprietary software in the 1980's and 1990's that are not valid today.

RMS was simply a quarter century ahead of his time. Also I have not seen RMS argue that proprietary software is bad for the environment, inspite of the fact that a very good case could be made for this argument.

QIII
August 11th, 2012, 12:15 AM
Two questions:
1) Why is there no legal liability if the client patches the binary code? It can be done.


In our case, it would invite legal liability on their part. And it could be done. Letting them do it would be irresponsible since we have a very particular expertise that our clients do not have and simply could not afford to keep in house. It would be unethical for us to leave them with source code they could modify incorrectly and unwittingly bring both legal and fiduciary ruin on themselves and several hundred thousand individuals.


2) Why is it ethical to force end users to throw away their devices when upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista/7 because the Windows XP drivers no longer work with Windows Vista/7 after Microsoft changed the driver model in order to accomodate DRM? E-waste is one of the fastest growing enviromental problems worldwide and it is been made a lot worse by proprietary software vendor lock-in.Why is in incumbent on the OEM to bear the cost of any OS producer's arbitrary decisions? But most DO maintain their drivers as things change. Things do wear out, and when it becomes likely that few of the items they once supported are still in service it is not a wise decision to maintain a large staff to upgrade drivers for those items.

We haven't had to throw away devices after upgrading from XP through 7 and I haven't at home -- unless they otherwise become unserviceable. Your point might be better made along the lines of advertising "new and improved" products that are new but very little improved. I would agree with that. Some of that falls on the consumer, however.

Dr. C
August 11th, 2012, 02:27 AM
In our case, it would invite legal liability on their part. And it could be done. Letting them do it would be irresponsible since we have a very particular expertise that our clients do not have and simply could not afford to keep in house. It would be unethical for us to leave them with source code they could modify incorrectly and unwittingly bring both legal and fiduciary ruin on themselves and several hundred thousand individuals.

My point was that they could still patch the binary without access to the source code thereby exposing themselves to the liability. Furthermore providing the source code does not mean abandoning the client or having the client modify the source code. In fact you could still be supporting the product and providing them with signed binaries. After all that is exactly what RedHat does, and people pay for RedHat rather than say download CentOS for Free (as in beer) for similar reasons. I do not know all the specifics and there may in fact be an obscure legal reason for proprietary software here; however I remain far from convinced.


Why is in incumbent on the OEM to bear the cost of any OS producer's arbitrary decisions? But most DO maintain their drivers as things change. Things do wear out, and when it becomes likely that few of the items they once supported are still in service it is not a wise decision to maintain a large staff to upgrade drivers for those items.

We haven't had to throw away devices after upgrading from XP through 7 and I haven't at home -- unless they otherwise become unserviceable. Your point might be better made along the lines of advertising "new and improved" products that are new but very little improved. I would agree with that. Some of that falls on the consumer, however.

No it is not incumbent on the OEM to bear the cost of any OS producer's arbitrary decisions. It is incumbent on the OEM to provide the source code of the driver so that the end user, the OS producer or a third party can write the driver for a newer version of the OS or for an entirely different OS. I have run into many examples. Here are two:

1) A computer from a major OEM running Windows XP that came with intially a 5:4 aspect ratio digital monitor. 4 years later the monitor fails and is replaced with an 16:9 aspect ratio monitor. The propriety XP drivers for the motherobard chipset do not work with widescreen resolutions. After further reserach I determine that the OEM went out of thier way to block the widescreen resolutions in the drivers. By the way if one booted an Ubuntu live CD the wide resolution monitor worked fine. We ended up having to buy a video card just because of this.

2) A monitor that was sold as "Vista Compatible" 5 years ago and only works with 100% Free Software video drivers when using HDMI. After two years it failed to work on both Ubuntu and Windows Vista with both Nvidia and ATI proprietary drivers. Why because the newer drivers enforce HDCP complicance more strictly and the monitor has an obscure bug with its EDID. The monitor works very well with gNewSense, and the latter and similar OS's are the reason it will not end up as e-waste before its time.

In both the above examples we have the case of what RMS will call "malicious features" in proprietary software with significant adverse environmental impact. Most computer hardware does not wear out anywhere as fast as people throw it out. It can last for years even decades; however if your wish to make your hardware last the first step is to use GNU/Linux or some other Free Software OS.

lisati
August 11th, 2012, 02:37 AM
Patching a binary executable is certainly possible, but without the benefit of things like the source code it sounds a bit risky to me.

Paqman
August 11th, 2012, 07:59 AM
Proprietary software gives freedoms because it enables people to solve some problem. Nobody is forced to use that software and they furthermore give value, they enable you to do something you otherwise could not (unless somebody else e.g. you would write it yourself).

Basically RMS is constantly attacking a straw man. He constantly portrays proprietary software as something which takes away freedoms, yet such software only gives you not as much freedoms as free software.

Exactly. Just because free software has certain advantages over proprietary doesn't make proprietary software immoral. It's not a binary choice.

KiwiNZ
August 11th, 2012, 09:56 AM
Surely software freedom means one is free to write, use, sell promote proprietary software or open source
Software without moral judgement.

For RMS to say it is immoral to write proprietary software he is himself denying software freedom and is therefore immoral by his own pontifications.

DoubleClicker
August 11th, 2012, 12:30 PM
Surely software freedom means one is free to write, use, sell promote proprietary software or open source
Software without moral judgement.

For RMS to say it is immoral to write proprietary software he is himself denying software freedom and is therefore immoral by his own pontifications.

Well said.

While I have always supported the Ideals of the free software foundations, I cannot support the the hypocrisy of denying freedom in the name of freedom. vender lock-out is no better than vender lock-in.

It's also the most ridiculous thing that ubuntu can't ship with the proprietary drivers, that it can downloads and installs with a script.

rg4w
August 11th, 2012, 04:35 PM
I had the pleasure of having dinner with rms some years ago, and maybe I caught him in an unusually good mood but the relevant part of the conversation went something like this:

me: "I contribute to a few small open source projects, but to pay the bills I spend most of my time writing proprietary software."

rms: "Maybe over time your income can grow and your expenses could be reduced so that you could spend more of your time writing free software."

I've read comments from him that are more "extreme", but I very much appreciated his pragmatic response to how I earn a living. He had no judgment against me, my clients, or our work, just a hope that as we become more successful we can free up the time for more free stuff.

Heck, who doesn't want to write free software? I hate having to spend time adding DRM to our products when I could be writing value-added features, but frankly we've explored many other business models and thus far we haven't found a compelling case to make our apps under a GPL-compatible license.

And to be honest, we have one open source competitor in the market and it doesn't have the features or the UI affordances our product or any of our commercial competitors offer - there simply isn't budget in that project for that level of completion. Sure, free-as-in-freedom doesn't specifically prohibit selling software, but when your thousands of hours of investment are just one make file away from obtaining at no cost it's effectively the same thing.

We considered a model supported by services, but to be honest such a model often disincentivizes quality: ideally software should be feature-complete and self-evident, requiring no custom development or paid support.

Software is expensive to produce. Without funds from sales or support, what pays the bills while you're writing it?

Many FOSS works are funded by corporations or government grants, and ironically many of those corporate contributors (IBM, Oracle, AOL, Lotus, etc.) made that money with proprietary software.

So for now I fund my own modest FOSS projects as the big corps do, paying the bills with what I like to call "egalitarian licensing" in which all end-users equally share the cost of its development, and using a portion of those proceeds to fund FOSS work.

As KiwiNZ suggests, to rms' Four Freedoms, I would add a Fifth:

4. The freedom to choose any software you want to use, even if it's proprietary.

rms may not advocate such an addition when he's at the podium, but across the dinner table he seems to recognize its simple pragmatism.

Dr. C
August 11th, 2012, 06:05 PM
Surely software freedom means one is free to write, use, sell promote proprietary software or open source
Software without moral judgement.

For RMS to say it is immoral to write proprietary software he is himself denying software freedom and is therefore immoral by his own pontifications.

This is actually a critically important freedom that can be described as anti tivoization or anti vendor lock-out. It is the most blatant in its suppression in operating systems with locked bootloaders that require all software to be intalled only from "approved" sources such as an app store or certain "partners". Historically this freedom has been taken for granted for example versions of Microsoft Windows 2000 and earlier do not violate this freedom. Windows Vista/7 64 bit violates it, on the other hand with drivers, and of course Windows 8 RT violates it all the way. At the OS level there are only two licenses that protect this freedom GPLv3 and AGPLv3. Other Free Softwre / Open Source licenses do not protect this freedom.

Who are some of the major culprits in violating this very critical freedom?
Apple; IOS
Microsoft: Xbox, Windows 8 RT, "secure" boot Windows Vista/7/8(on Intel with 64 bit drivers)
Sony: PS3
Amazon: (Kindle) etc.

Who has fought the hardest to preserve this freedom?
RMS and the FSF: GPL v3 and AGPL v3 and warnings around Tivoization
Canonical: A very strong supporter of GPL v3 and also for their solution to the "secure" boot issue
Those FLOSS projects that moved to GPL v3 such as SAMBA etc
and recently
Valve for raising this issue from the prespective of a proprietary software vendor.

RMS deserves a lot of praise over this issue and the critical comments need to be directed at those that are actively suppressing this freedom.

Nikolai D.
August 20th, 2012, 06:41 AM
this seems to sound interesting and on topic:
http://opensource.com/business/12/8/top-10-signs-your-company-doesnt-get-open-source