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Re: [zzdev] Re: :gbg: Flame: User-hostile ethic of the Linux comm un ity
- To: joshuaa@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: [zzdev] Re: :gbg: Flame: User-hostile ethic of the Linux comm un ity
- From: Richard Stallman <rms@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 10:10:38 -0700 (MST)
- Cc: ted@xxxxxxxxxx, zzdev@xxxxxxxxxx
- In-reply-to: <1E18203C3402B84882243054A7E7DC9301753D5A@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> (message from Joshua Allen on Mon, 16 Oct 2000 15:01:22 -0700)
- References: <1E18203C3402B84882243054A7E7DC9301753D5A@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Reply-to: rms@xxxxxxx
Of course I am being
facetious here, but the point is that saying users are "free" because they
can change source code is not much different than saying developers are
"free" because they can change bytecode.
It is very different. Changing source code is feasible. Being
compelled to do the job by changing compiled code is extremely hard.
It could be that you are trying to think in all-or-none categories.
Many programmers like to do this--but it leads people to treat large
quantitative differences as insignificant. You could equally well
argue that people in the Soviet Union had freedom of the press just
like the US, because they could publish samizdat if they did enough
If all software vendors were to
provide an unrestricted license for users to reverse-engineer and modify
machine code of their applications for personal use, would this fit your
definition of "free"?
Not even slightly. Modification for personal use is just one of several
freedoms listed in the definition of free software, and "allowing" people
to do this by disassembly is still artificially obstructing it.
I doubt it, but it shows how arbitrary your
definition of freedom is.
It is not arbitrary. It responds to certain practical needs
in a practical situation.
The people most often
associated with FSF/OSI tend to highly value the freedom to modify low-level
source code and recompile apps, while users of commercial software value the
freedom to use their time for things that they want instead of recompiling
Saving time is not gaining "freedom". If you stretch the word
"freedom" to include all possible benefits, the word becomes vacuous,
and the distinction between freedom and other values becomes difficult
to communicate in words--but this does not make it any less important.