[SASAG] Proprietary Formats on Public Mailing Lists -- Was: Re: System Admin Job opportunity

Jim Hogan jim.hogan at gmail.com
Mon Sep 3 20:11:02 PDT 2007

On 9/3/07, Michael T. Halligan <michael at halligan.org> wrote:
> You're honestly enough of a fanboy that you think RMS is going to be
> remembered in history along side of disparate historic figures such
> as Washington, Oppenheimer, and Gandhi? I can imagine it now, my
> grandchildren  reading about the great RMS and his heroic, and tragic
> fight against soap, shoes, and the evil giant of Redmond that he
> failed to slay, or even annoy.

I think you missed my point.  I am not some RMS fanboy as you might
like to imagine.  I don't agree with some of his fundamentals such as
(to paraphrase my interpretation) that "software *must* be free".  I
don't think that software *must* be free.  I don't know that RMS would
be any fun to hang out with.

All that being said, whatever I think of RMS, he has been prime mover
in putting mechanisms in place to make sure that software *can* be
free if we want it to be. That I like. I don't know about you, but I
use a lot of various OSS/GPL-licensed software and  I sleep a lot
better knowing that I have the source and that our collective options
are open if some developers and/or projects lose interest or change
focus.  Heck I have even managed to get a few patches accepted.

I offered Washington, Gandhi, and Oppenhiemer not as direct
comparisons, but as examples  of notables who weren't always loved,
and to beg the question of whether they were, in their time, the
target of unwarranted, cheap-shot comments about their hygiene and
whether that could have been fair.  "Boy, I think they need more
showers at Valley Forge".  George won't take offense, being deceased
and all.  Now, if RMS doesn't rank right up there with the
aforementioned, does it mean that it is OK to take potshots?

> Now back in reality, Bill Gates is going to be remembered as a great
> philanthropist and a ruthlessly successful tech tycoon.

I am very pleased that he will be remembered as a great
philanthropist; I am very glad that he somehow got in in mind that
this was important.  The "ruthlessly successful" part I could live
without.  I want to work with vendors who make it clear they have my
interests as a customer at heart.  Many companies have gone through
periods when they failed horribly on this count (IBM and Novell being
right up there on the list) but some of them managed to get humbled
and became a tad more customer-centric.  I can't see into the future
so I don't know whether a market epiphany awaits in Redmond.

> RMS will be
> remembered by techies within our industry until our generation dies off.

Time is a great neutralizer.  In my neighborhood, the Carnegie library
has turned into a restaurant.  Soon there may be just Carnegie Hall
far far away in NYC.  I don't expect RMS and Linus Torvalds to be
taught in junior high classrooms  -- and no they won't be listed as a
sponsor at the end of Masterpiece Theater -- but, unlike you, and
unlike me, they will be in the "officlal" (whatever that is) history.

It's that whole GPL thing. I don't think it is going away.


-*-  Jim Hogan
     Seattle, WA

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