back to article Stallman: Ubuntu spyware makes it JUST AS BAD as Windows

Free Software Foundation founder and noted weird-beard Richard Stallman has called upon Linux advocates to reject the Ubuntu distribution, claiming the latest version contains dangerous "surveillance code." In a lengthy post to his FSF blog, the GNU Project creator slams Canonical, the company in charge of Ubuntu, for …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

  1. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Bearded man has informed opinion

    Though that doesn't mean you need to share it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

      Are you a proponent of spyware, DRM and backdoors or you didn't read the article ?

      1. Fibbles

        Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

        I agree with him for the most part about Ubuntu's Amazon search integration but then he descends into his usual Stallman-Knows-Best™ hyperbole.

        "Canonical does offer a way to turn the Amazon search results off – though it only did so under pressure from users – but even this isn't good enough, according to Stallman. Even if the feature were disabled by default, he says, allowing users to opt in still puts them at risk, because most won't fully understand what they're getting themselves into."

        Apparently people shouldn't be allowed to opt-in to a service Stallman disagrees with because that just shows they're stupid and shouldn't be allowed to make decisions for themselves. What if I don't give a damn about Canonical knowing my searching habits and am happy to let them place Amazon advertising in my search results in order to help fund their project? I do give a damn and I won't let Canonical do it on my machines but I'm also an adult, fully capable of making informed decisions and don't need Stallman metaphorically looking over my shoulder to make sure I don't do anything out of line with his often bizarre moral code.

        1. Annakan

          Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

          you are unfortunately confusing opt in and opt out. ;)

          And of course a service that could work WITHOUT a potential opt-in will be forbidden if you don't opt-in, so you ARE paying with your identity, privacy and such.

          It stops to be free, you become the product.

          The people that poured code into Linux make another choice, that choice has to be respected.

          If amazon search is such an amazing product, canonical should try to sell it without Ubuntu, let's see how much people want it ... won't happen, small steps of blackmail are still blackmail

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

          Funny how he doesn't seem to be too bothered about Android and all its data gathering.

          He almost seems to have different tolerance levels for free software vs commercial software.

          1. eulampios

            @AC

            And what about Android?

            1. David Hicks
              Meh

              Re: What about Android?

              Stallman, IIRC, shuns all mobile phones, including android.

              1. Christian Berger Silver badge

                Re: What about Android?

                Not using mobile phone actually is a good idea at the moment. It will take lots of time to get a decent open source phone which does not have the usual problems. A bit problem is the baseband firmware, for example. If you had an open firmware there, you could get rid of the mis-features of GSM like triangulation, or stop your SIM-card from interfering with your phone.

                ("Triangulation" on GSM works by evaluating the timing advance data in which the base-station tells the mobile device to send its packets earlier than expected when its far away. However there's a useful flaw in this. The basestation doesn't know the actual setting of the mobile device. So if the mobile station just lies to the basestation, the basestation will have to believe it. So you can arbitrarily change the perceived distance between MS and BS. With good antennas and a map of all BS you can spoof your position to some degree.)

              2. Paul 135
                Big Brother

                Re: What about Android?

                As someone who loves Android, I also find the growing uncritical Google fanboyism rather worrying.

                Google are allowed to get away with mass spying which other companies without a fanboy following would not have a chance at doing.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Devil

          Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

          "Canonical does offer a way to turn the Amazon search results off"

          Well:

          a) I was not told about it.

          b) I was not told that there was a way to stop it.

          c) I was entered into a contract with a third party without my knowledge or consent.

          d) I was not told offered the opportunity to opt in OR opt out.

          e) To add fuel to the issue, while Ubuntu is claimed to be free, and always will be, I object being traded as a pawn for revenue - this being the case, then it's not free is it.

          f) And how come they have never informed me of the silent shove in, nor the opt out?

          Sleazy.

          It's the ethical IQ of Microsofts ribbon.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

            Stallman is a bit short sighted. If you are using the internet, you can and are being tracked. You don't like it? Don't use the internet. End of.

            If I use the modem provided by my broadband provider, they can log on to it, all for maintenance and service reasons for the good of their customers.

            Email is mostly being sent unencrypted to the next email replay service. Sure enough, you can encrypt the email stream to that mail relay, but what happens on that email relay and beyond, you never know.

            Your iPhone or Android can track you too : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone#Secret_tracking

            Even Tor users can be tracked by monitoring the entry and exit nodes and the encryption keys can be used to decrypt traffic.

            But even if you encrypt and tunnel to your heart's content, you will still get all those cookies from the ad networks that profile and send you advertisements (what is this on El Reg's website: <embed src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com :-) )

            If now Stallman writes about that search feature in Ubuntu then either he doesn't now how to fill in bad-sites.acl on his outbound proxy server, or he doesn't know how to compartmentalize his desktop OS or he simply wants to satisfy his desire for attention and fame by writing something punchy.

            Fingerpointing is one thing, Mr Stallman, but making things better does require skill. Did you set up a public proxy server? Did you create a new internet layer protocol which provides security and anonymity? Did you create the router firmware for it?

            1. melts
              WTF?

              Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

              "If I use the modem provided by my broadband provider, they can log on to it, all for maintenance and service reasons for the good of their customers."

              you let your ISP log onto your CPE? really?

              Or do you not own it and plug a router into said device?

              every ISP here offers the router with a modem built in device here that you pay for up front at some 'discounted' rate when you join up. Then you get a branded box with stuff pre-loaded, but its yours and they won't go logging into it.

              Fair game if its their kit but I'd never let any ISP touch my gear, for optimisations or otherwise. If they feel the need to optimise they can drop me a line, they have my email address after all.

            2. lambda_beta
              Linux

              Fingerpointing

              To the person who posted this.

              " Fingerpointing is one thing, Mr Stallman, but making things better does require skill. Did you set up a public proxy server? Did you create a new internet layer protocol which provides security and anonymity? Did you create the router firmware for it?"

              You are an ASS!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

            Why the heck did you run the program in the first place? Pick snother if it bothers you!

          3. Windrose
            Facepalm

            Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

            Yet you voluntarily ran software you didn't have to run. Get a mirror, mate.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

            I actually would not have minded so much if it had of been offered, as an opt in.

            I mean seriously I have been using this generally brilliant software, for a long time and have paid fuck all for almost any of it. I am generally a retread short of a new pair of shoes...

            Yes I have volunteered lots of time fighting like cats and dogs with the Ubuntu crew and their shitty politically correct bullshit, their forums, the arselicking admins, the bugzilla forums that share your email with the world and it's dog etc., etc., etc., and especially with Open Office / Office Libre and their lack of font embedding etc.., etc., etc.,

            I do tend to hate the clueless and vacant that the open door policy to volunteers and what it attracts...

            But I'd also like to contribute to many things and a few million people taking a few dollars over a few years, and adding it to the coffers of Ubuntu etc., is quite a fair trade off.

            More so because it shits people off in Microsoft, and I get a great OS (Xubuntu thankyou) and Microsoft gets fuck all.

            1. Vic

              Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

              > I actually would not have minded so much if it had of been offered, as an opt in.

              The Fedora installer gives you smolt, and asks you to volunteer some information about your setup.

              The default condition is off - I turn it on for every installation I do that I expect to last.

              This is the thing with data gathering - it's not, of itself, evil. It is helping yourself to other people's data that is.

              Vic.

        4. Mike Kamermans
          Meh

          Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

          And this is where critical thinking comes in: the problem is that even if you opt in, you don't know *what* you're opting in to.

          You don't just opt in to "Canonical gathering information", because Canonical won't gather information just to gather information and have it sit somewhere doing nothing. That data will be used for something, if it isn't already. In effect, you will be opting in to "Canonical gathering information on what programs you use, at what time, and anything they can think of that will generate them monetary profit or user base increases to effect monetary profit by either using or selling that data".

          Without knowing what those products are (and even Canonical might not know that yet, they could come up with a terrible, but legal use of the data sometime in the future) you CANNOT know what you're opting in to, and offering the choice to opt in should come with a warning that's as explicitly scary as can be: "opting in to this program means you are okay with Canonical roughly knowing what you do throughout the day (sometimes knowing exactly what you do, depending on your use of this program) and gives them full permission to exploit that knowledge for any form of company gains. Once opted in, opting out will not remove the data already collected about you, your daily routines, and your behavioural preferences."

          Unless someone reads you a nice long explanation of the ramifications of handing over personal day to day behavioural data in general, and relating to the technology industry specifically, your decision to opt in is based on incomplete information and a poor understanding of the ramifications of your actions. Should an OS maker be taking advantage of the fact that virtually no one understands the impact of the action when optin in? There's the crucial question: how you answer this determines, in a broad sense, whether you want to be free (in the *n*x philosophical sense) or not, and Ubuntu is currently breaking the rule that *n*x operating systems are free.

          (Applications running on *n*x are, ideally, free too. However, there are plenty that aren't, and that's fine. Canonical can even make such a product themselves and then offer it as a download or even an install option, with warnings on the ramifications of installing. They don't do that. They pulled a Microsoft)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: what programs you use, at what time

            They already collect that.

            $ apt-cache show popularity-contest

            ...

            The popularity-contest package sets up a cron job that will

            periodically anonymously submit to the Ubuntu developers

            statistics about the most used Ubuntu packages on this system.

            .

            This information helps us making decisions such as which packages

            should go on the first CD. It also lets us improve future versions

            of Ubuntu so that the most popular packages are the ones which

            are installed automatically for new users.

            Homepage: http://popcon.ubuntu.com/

            It is a *required* dependency of the ubuntu-standard package, which means you get it on every Ubuntu install (desktop or server) and can't uninstall it. However, for the time being at least, it is disabled by default in /etc/popularity-contest.conf.

        5. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

          > Apparently people shouldn't be allowed to opt-in to a service Stallman disagrees

          Except that is NOT what is happening here.

          Something sinister is being installed by default. The clueless and the unwary won't be aware of what's going on here. They will be spied on without their knowledge or consent. That is why the parallels to Microsoft are being drawn here. This is precisely the sort of thing you expect from Microsoft or some random bit of Windows shareware.

          It's an OS level default rather than something that requires a "spy on me please" button.

          1. Fibbles

            Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

            "Except that is NOT what is happening here."

            I didn't say that was what was happening here. I was getting pissed off at Stallman for saying that the system shouldn't be allowed to exist even if Canonical made it entirely opt-in and users were actively choosing to use it (i.e. the opposite of what is happening now). Such a position has nothing to do with protecting users and everything to do with forcing his views on to everyone else.

            I don't know about you but I'm sick of having my options (in relation to computing) and freedoms (in relation to life in general) whittled away under the pretence of protecting the 'stupid people'. If a company offers an opt-in service and states in plain English before sign-up what data it will collect from you and you sign-up without reading anything, then you've got nobody but yourself to blame if you later realise it has been collecting more data than you are comfortable with.

      2. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

        I am not a proponent of spyware, DRM and so on, and I agree with him. However there are people who disagree, those have different value systems which are foreign to me, but which I have to accept, as long as they don't impose them on me.

        1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
          Holmes

          Re: Bearded man has informed opinion

          @Christian Berger

          However there are people who disagree, those have different value systems which are foreign to me, but which I have to accept, as long as they don't impose them on me.

          So who forced you to read the article Christian?.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    He's right, as usual.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He might be right this time, though it hardly seems a big deal, but when has he been right before? Isn't Stallman the one who doesn't use the internet or something weird, so people can't spy on him?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > [...] when has he been right before?

        rms is usually very careful with his wording. A possible or probable problem not manifesting doesn't mean "not right". For some people it might be more important that a problem will not happen than to be "right" (about an actually undesired possibility).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        He sees things in black and white it seems. There are shades of grey and you can't really be polarised.

        Why doesn't he preach about open and free hardware? why doesn't he think companies should be able to run off x86 clones without any patent disputes?

        If anything it is Intel who he needs to be critical of.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          "Why doesn't he preach about open and free hardware?"

          If you had been paying attention you would have noted that he does.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      This is a great opportunity to gauge the current Reg reader demographic... "RMS is right as usual". Other than actual Linux mailing lists, I can't recall such staunch pro-FOSS bias on even the pure techy forums I visit.

      It's quite interesting... UK software people are clearly not uber-Linux fans as a rule so how has El Reg become such a beacon for them? Serious (non trolling) discussion... for those long-term members has it always been a similar make-up or has it slowly become more and more that way over the years? Because it's surely not the case the articles are of the same mindset as the member-base... articles and authors are fairly evenly split between liking MS, Apple and Google and NOT liking them.

      1. asdf Silver badge
        Trollface

        times are a changing

        The newer generation has had a chance to grown up on Linux and not exclusively on Microsoft as some of us older people. Now that the kids don't have to get a linux cd off a book or magazine or have to compile in all the device drivers for their computer or worry about getting the timings right on their X Server to avoid fubaring their monitor or getting on the internet with the dreaded winmodem (rated up there with changing out a motor in a car for many) its an easier world to get into. Not everyone is some hack MCSE praying they can make it to retirement before they ever have to use the command line or linux.

      2. Ole Juul Silver badge

        Reg demographic?

        This is a great opportunity to gauge the current Reg reader demographic... "RMS is right as usual". Other than actual Linux mailing lists, I can't recall such staunch pro-FOSS bias on even the pure techy forums I visit.

        I think that RMS actually has some Windows users supporting him because of his adherence to principles. I agree that Reg articles and authors are fairly evenly distributed among operating systems. However, regarding the Reg demographic, I'm not convinced that we're seeing "staunch pro-FOSS" here. I think we are seeing a split between those who think that principles are important, and those don't mind letting some things slide.

      3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @JDX

        "articles and authors are fairly evenly split between liking MS, Apple and Google and NOT liking them."

        I am seriously offended, sir. I hate all those companies equally.

        1. ThePhaedrus

          @Trevor_Pott

          "

          "articles and authors are fairly evenly split between liking MS, Apple and Google and NOT liking them."

          I am seriously offended, sir. I hate all those companies equally."

          Do you hate them enough to not use their products? In which case how do you get by in IT world?

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: @Trevor_Pott

            Hate is probably the wrong word. "Distrust immensely," perhaps. "Am exceptionally sceptical of" is closer to. "Refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt" is the net result. These companies must prove themselves to me each and every time. Each product I use must have its value and ROI proven, the TCO over a 6 year investment period shown to be better than that of alternatives.

            Unlike my fanboy brethren, I don't simply accept whatever bilge spews forth from the marketing departments of these companies. I don't pick one or more and devote my sense of self worth to how the companies are doing. I treat them like what they are: legally protected, powerful sociopaths who will ruin me without hesitation if there is the possibility that doing so will increase shareholder value.

            These are not nice companies. They are not run by nice people. They are engines for taking your money – and min, and his and hers – and giving it to those who already have more than enough. I use their products as little as possible. I ensure that if I do use their products I have a way out; a means to port my data and my workflow elsewhere at a moment's notice. I actively put my own time, effort and research – and invest corporate funds – into ensuring that I can live without them, if need be.

            When and where they offer the best available solution, I will use them. The very narrow offering that I deem to be the best of what's available. I do however assign value to "not being locked in," as well as to "not investing in a product likely to be fractured along feature lines into multiple products." So it's a balancing act; finding what's best not because a corporate whitepaper tells me that "best practices" are to invest my heart, soul and company into a stack of products from a single vendor…but doing what's actually best for me and my clients.

            So yes, I hate these companies equally. I don't trust them. I may be "forced" into using them in certain circumstances, but everything they say is taken with great big heaping dump trucks full of NaCl.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Trevor_Pott

              "These are not nice companies."

              I don't disagree, however you then say...

              "They are not run by nice people.."

              Whilst I am certainly no fan of Microsoft, I do believe that ex Microsoft Employee Number 1, one William Henry "Bill" Gates III, is a somewhat charitable chap having given away at least $30 billion to charitable causes etc. with an awful lot still to dispose of.

              Whatever I may have thought of him in his role a businessman I would say that his charitable nature qualifies him as a 'nice person'.

              Like I say, no supporter of Microsoft here. But kudos to Bill Gates for being a "nice person" or if your prefer, a 'decent bloke'! (Now I'd like to see more in his position do the same).

              Finally, you also stated, "They are engines for taking your money – and min, and his and hers – and giving it to those who already have more than enough."

              Of course, it goes without saying that personal enrichment of the monetary kind is the prime goal of capitalism. How else would you have a capitalism work Trevor?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Trevor_Pott

                one William Henry "Bill" Gates III, is a somewhat charitable chap having given away at least $30 billion to charitable causes etc. with an awful lot still to dispose of.

                You may want to investigate the conditions under which such "giving away" was offered. Don't get me wrong, it's good he redistributes some of it (let's face it, there is no chance on earth you'd ever be able to spend it, even if you create your own space flight setup) but it wasn't quite as charitable as it appeared.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @Trevor_Pott

                  I know what you are saying and am familiar with the B&M foundation, but had I gone down that route my post would have been flying off at tangents everywhere, but I hope the gist stands :)

              2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                @Mike Hock

                Bill Gates doesn't run Microsoft, you twunt. Ballmer does. Bill barely even pays attention long enough to periodically vote on the board.

                As to "how would I have it work?" I wouldn't use capitalism as the basis of society. Certainly not in it's modern form. I believe in social democracy, not capitalism. Capitalism leads to the United States, Greece or Somalia. I prefer Social Democracy like Sweden, Norway or - at a stretch - Canada.

                Publicly traded corporations must act like complete sociopaths in a capitalist society or they face shareholder lawsuits for not doing everything possible to maximise revenues. Ethics are functionally illegal.

                With a privately held firm - or tightly regulated public held industries - ethics are possible. The owners and/or operators can choose to employ people at living wages. They can choose licenceing strategies that are fair and equitable, building long term trust and realising gains over years or decades...not single digit quarters.

                Firms where ethical human beings can and do own and operate the business don't try to screw a man's family out of the money required to pay for the support he'll need for the rest of his life due to workplace injury. Especially when it would be a rounding error to the bottom line.

                I would replace rampant personal greed with personal responsibility. The CEO works as hard as any one else, makes more than others - due to rarity of required skillset - but not 250x times more. The CEO would accept responsibility for shit hitting the fan, and ask nothing of others he isn't prepared to do himself. Wages would be as high as is reasonably sustainable, with the understanding that the company does need to save for a rainy day.

                People with medical issues would be helped by the company, not fired. People would not be fired for being pregnant, the wrong weight, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or so forth. People would be rewarded according to skillset, contribution and time put in. Not according to ability to blackmail and backroom politic.

                I keep a shrink on retainer, to make sure my staff don't burn out, and that they are dealing well with issues at home. I make sure they are achieving their career goals by helping with training or even job placement with organisations that can offer more remuneration than my outfit can. My tiny startup can; squillion-dollar companies should be able to as well.

                In short, I believe that companies shouldn't forget about the people in the quest for the almighty dollar. I believe that accepting lower margins and even lower total revenue is an acceptable tradeoff for treating staff and end users with both compassion and respect.

                That isn't to say don't make a profit. It means that profit isn't all. It means that one quarter a long enough time horizon to plan for your company, and that a rising tide should lift all boats.

                If corporations are to have intrinsic rights, I believe they must have intrinsic responsibilities. The pursuit of profit, responsibly.

                I am not proposing the extremist elimination of the wealth gap. I propose the reintroduction of corporate ethics, the minimisation of shareholder loans as a bludgeon, and the use of corporate planning that works on the scale of decades.

                Treat your staff and your clientele with respect and earn their trust and custom for life. Oh, and assuming you aren't a complete sociopath, sleep better at night.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @Mike Hock

                  "Bill Gates doesn't run Microsoft, you twunt. Ballmer does."

                  Name-calling? You did surprise me there. Someone of your intellect name-calling? Really, does that add to the discussion or strengthen any single position or opinion? I have to ask.

                  But I take it you noted that I referred to him as 'ex Microsoft Employee Number 1"? No? Oh well, nvm.

                  But here's the kicker... I actually agree with most of what you say, in principle and with a number of cautions. The problem is, none of that is going to happen any-time soon. Probably not at all in our lifetimes, at least not at any meaningful scale. Two things will always get in the way, majority shareholders and human nature. Which basically reduce to one thing, greed.

                  My question about capitalism was not there because I support it (I am not a member of the '1% club' you see, so I wouldn't, would I), but rather it was there because it is not going to go quietly. Radicalism, anarchism, stalinist communism et.al, all failed ideologies and yet capitalism persists.

                  And don't get me started on Social Democracy otherwise I'll just end up writing a Farage-esque diatribe about Van Rumpoy, the way the EU's debt crisis is being handled and the EU's take on Social Democracy, which is better known as a failing Social Bureaucracy imo (although I note your specific references to Sweden and Norway).

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: @Mike Hock

                    Damned right, name calling. You're a commenter on El Reg; I expect the highest standards of you. Responding to a discussion about "people who run Google, Apple, Microsoft et al" by talking about what Bill Gates is doing today is utterly farcical. He doesn't run that company, and hasn't for a decade.

                    After he left he ship in another captain's hands, we then went about disbursing his personal wealth to the fuzzy wuzzies. Yay him. Ish. There's a whole other discussion to be had about the strings attached to that money; namely that a lot of it seems to be doled out in the manner of a pimp giving a new mark the first hit for free, with the attempt to tie them into the ecosystems of various companies he holds a stake in for the long run. Which significantly diminished the fuzzy wuzzy part…

                    But yes, name calling. You are expected to know better. If you're going to be posting around here there are some basic things you should know. Like fundamental POSIX commands, who runs which of the major tech companies and how the right click on a mouse works in various popular GUIs. This isn't EnTechVerge. It's The Register. If you don't know who run's Microsoft GTFO.

                    Regarding captialism: capitalism is a failure. Just as much as pure communism was. Bureaucratic socialism has been a mess, but the failure modes seem less awful than others, so far. Note that Greece got itself into trouble not because it was attempting to be a social democracy, but because it was attempting to out-capitalist America.

                    They were hell-bent on running up massive amounts of debt and shopping, shopping shopping. Live beyond their means personally and governmentally. Greece was a shining example of caring only about the next quarter's numbers and dammed be the first that cried "deficit!"

                    Capitalism failed for the exact same reasons as communism: the weakness and greed of the individual overwhelms the ability to work together towards a common good. Communism vilified personal greed while capitalism deified it. In both cases this religious dedication to rampant individualism resulted in the failure of both systems.

                    Social democracy – specifically the heavily regulated but not heavily bureaucratised versions practiced by Norway and Sweden – are the best we've got so far. Individuals are free to pursue their goals…to a point. Corporations are not considered "people" in the "citizens united" sense, and they are shackled with social – and legal – responsibilities. I like it.

                    In essence, the problem is allowing a corporation to shield individuals from responsibility for their actions. There is an argument to be made for this at a financial level, but taken to extremes it causes massive problems. Make the people who run – and who own all or part of a company - responsible for the social, ethical, legal and even environmental fallout incurred by corporations and society will start to look a lot different.

                    Will we lose some investment as some people refuse to take a risk if their own necks are on the line? Yes. Will such an economy "grow" slower than a more rigidly capitalist one? Yes. It will also be less susceptible to boom-and-bust economics and far less likely to get itself into the kinds of trouble that cause busts in the first place. It will also be better engineered at the societal level to handle busts because social responsibility to the unlucky will be ingrained into the fabric of the culture.

                    I don't care that capitalism will take some time to die. The wound is fatal, and it can lie there twitching for the next century if it so wished. I will do my damndest not to support the worst of that system's excesses. I will operate my company in such a manner as to respect my staff and my customers both.

                    Maybe I will be out competed by someone else. Maybe I won't reach the dizzying heights of wealth and power that my competitors do. I am okay with that. Doing right by my staff and my customers is more important to me than keeping up with the jonses. If I fail, I fail. I'll dust myself off and try again.

                    But I'll be able to sleep at night. It would be easier to accept capitalism and all of its brutal excesses if I were a sociopath, but I'm not. I'm a living, breathing, feeling, empathising human being. I am not the guy you want to run your cut-throat fortune 500 company in today's world.

                    But I am the guy that a reasonable percentage of folks will want to work with; as a colleague and as a supplier. It won't buy me a superyacht or a space station or a volcanic island. With luck, it'll pay the mortgage, keep my wife in shoes and let me die in a heated room instead of a frozen gutter.

                    In the end, that's all I really want.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Meh

                      Re: @Mike Hock

                      "...talking about what Bill Gates is doing today is utterly farcical. He doesn't run that company, and hasn't for a decade."

                      Please. Not again. Show me where I stated that he did currently run Microsoft.

                      No, it's not farcical, at least not in the context of any discussion referencing capitalism. After all, that's how he achieved that level of personal wealth - which is now being re-distributed. It's hardly farcical to discuss wealth generated by capitalism in a discussion referencing capitalism. That's like discussing chickens, but refusing to talk about eggs.

                      "Note that Greece got itself into trouble not because it was attempting to be a social democracy, but because it was attempting to out-capitalist America... They were hell-bent on running up massive amounts of debt and shopping, shopping shopping"

                      It's more than just that (both before and after joining the Euro) and attempting to "out-capitalist America". Unless of course by "out-capitalist America" you are also including corruption and widespread tax evasion.

                      Additionally public sector wages increased by over 50% in just 8 years. All added to the burden. To simply suggest the problem is overspending is short of the full story.

                      "Bureaucratic socialism has been a mess, but the failure modes seem less awful than others, so far."

                      Really? Do you live within the EU?

                      The kind of bureaucratic Socialism they peddle is proving to be a failure of epic proportions, in just about every conceivable fashion. So desperate are Germany to maintain this failure that they have claims on debt far in excess of their aggregate capital.

                      Say I was a bankrupt and a bank manager subsequently agreed to gave me a mortgage knowing this fact, would it really be my fault alone that I was able to incur debt that I have no foreseeable way of reconciling? No, of course not.

                      In short, irresponsible lending breeds irresponsible borrowing. The fault is not that of Greece alone. The blame lays, at least partly, with the German and the EU bureaucrats and the construction of an artificial currency.

                      The same blinkered bureaucratic Socialism and their enforced fiscal policies is leading to a rise in national socialism (see election results within areas of the EU in recent years). How that is "less awful than others" is beyond me.

                      The fact that it plays some not inconsiderable role in fuelling national socialism is far bloody worse! Look what happened in Europe the last time national socialism took root. Not pretty.

                      Now, with respect to the bureaucratic socialists mutual indebtedness madness. 100 billion being stumped up to Spanish banks, increasing their national debt by something like 10%. Of that 100 billion, 20 billion has to come from Italy (who pretty screwed right now too).

                      The Italians must lend this to the Spanish at a rate of 3% but, because they are broke they have to borrow the 20 billion at a rate of 7%. See how that is self-defeating madness?

                      Again, hardly an illustration of a political system with failure modes less awful than others.

                      So desperate are the Germans, the French and net gainer nations to maintain the failed Euro experiment that they are risking financial armageddon which will impact across the globe, should the shit actually hit the fan.

                      Not only is it a joke. You just could not make that up. It's a disgrace labelled as socialism, but of a very unique EU kind.

                      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                        Re: @Mike Hock

                        Who ran Microsoft in the past has virtually no bearing on who runs it today. The company today is a starkly different one from even three years ago, let alone what it was back in Bill Gates' day. So yes, to have a discussion about "who runs Google/Apple/Microsoft" and including Bill Gates is utterly farcical. You might was well bring Jobs into the picture.

                        Gates' involvement with Microsoft today has little-to-no bearing on how it treats its customers or staff. Thus it has little-to-no bearing on how much I would hate - or not - those companies. (Or feel they were good/bad/etc.)

                        The fact that some dude who used to run the place is doing some things that are sort of nice now that he is no longer involved with Microsoft does have - and should have - zero influence on how I perceive Microsoft. Bill Gates' actions today aren't relevant to Microsoft's behaviour when he ran the place, and they aren't relevant to Microsoft's behaviour now that he doesn't.

                        I will judge Microsoft – and the people who run it – based on their actions today. I will not attribute any "halo effect" from Gates to Microsoft or others who work there.

                        As to how the EU's failure modes are less awful than others: the EU has the chance to pull out of this if they work together. They appear to be doing just that, the end result is still a "wait and see." This is totally different than the US where instead of mere governmental tailwaving, there is riot-in-the-streets anger over an out-of-control wealth gap.

                        Put simply: the EU's downwards spiral is less terrible because the relevant governments have been able to keep the discontent of the hoi polloi to a dull roar. In the US, the peasants are revolting; seemingly on the verge of real world violent civil war in many cases.

                        Slowly the EU nations are turning to a form of petty nationalism, but it does not seem to be coupled with anywhere near the kind of tribalistic hatred and bigotry that the US is devolving into. The EU may be one step forward, two steps back. The US is "shoot for the moon, burn up in an uncontrolled reentry to Earth."

                      2. jake Silver badge

                        Re: @Mike Hock

                        Ignore Trevor, Mike. It's easier. He's not capable of catching clues.

                    2. mhoneywell

                      Re: @Mike Hock

                      You expect the highest standard from a commentor. Yet you, an apparently regular contributor, throws name calling into the mix. High standards indeed.

                      I fear you require a mirror Mr Pott.

                      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                        Re: @mhoneywell

                        I expect the highest standards of knowledge, not behaviour. If I want people who generally adhere to formal rules of debate, treat people with decency, respect and so forth...I'll go to Ars Technica. They have a totally different culture amongst their commenters than here. Ars Technica is widely populated by academics and they participate in discussion mostly as academics.

                        The Register is populated largely by festering pustules of seething nerd rage, and they behave accordingly. I called him a twunt for bringing up Billy G as someone to be discussed as "running Microsoft, Apple, Google et al." In the context of modern Big Tech, Mr. Gates is completely irrelevant.

                        I could have called him an idiot, a moron, a retard, a know-nothing or other such things. I could have specifically chosen an epithet that had a meaning related to his lack of knowledge. I didn't. I chose "twunt." Why? Because for all intents and purposes it has no meaning. It is an invective generally directed at people perceived as smug, but without having a directly assignable social stigma or any implied societal underpinnings.

                        "Twunt" adequately conveys irritation with the subject without actually insulting them in any way. It's easy to get your hackles all up in a twist because someone called someone else a name…except the name doesn't mean anything.

                        If the other party is raring to go, then calling them anything will provoke them, get them worked up into a lather and cause them to spew bilge. Calling someone a twunt is like saying you there, mhoneywell, you absolute carpet; you know not of what you speak!

                        Best of all: it worked. The name-without-a-definition calling got our dear friend Mike Hock all gnarled up in the cranial subprocessor, and he went charging off against the textual windmill to prove his point. I got to find out just exactly what the heck he was talking about with some finer detail – the point of the exercise, mind you – and achieved amusement all at the same time.

                        To put things more bluntly: I am a troll. I troll people. Trolly trolly troll troll. If you look at my Twitter description, it tells you that shock, horror, I'm a troll. Just like the rest of the community around here.

                        El Reg's commenttard community can be best described as a cyclone of shrieking trolls. I accept that; I will even play the part when I spend time mucking about here. But I do fully expect that you are all intelligent and plugged-in trolls. Otherwise, we might as well close El Reg's forums and all go hang out on YouTube.

                        You bunch of carpets.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @Mike Hock

                  Oh, and I should perhaps add... I worked, for some considerable time, for an employer who 's moral, ethical and supportive nature reflects your prescribed list of ideals and practices - only for them to fall victim to market volatility, having to sell a percentage to outside investors. Investors who quickly 'rectified' all such 'nonsense'.

                  It is the only substantial workplace I have encountered like that in the last 30 years. Unfortunately, it has proven to be a rarity.

      4. Lars Silver badge
        Pint

        "pro-FOSS bias and the pure techy forums.

        Any list of those pure and no-FOSS forums you visit that you could share with us.

        What is your problem actually, would you like the Reg to check in advance what opinions those who read and posts on the Reg. I like the Reg because I have this feeling that they are not as forced to obey big money as some others.

        Some posts are rubbish (including some of mine) some are what ever but basically the Reg is not flooded bye shit.

        As for FOSS it is just a matter of fact, like it, use it or hate it, so what, if you cannot accept that people might have different opinions to yours then you have no right to express your opinions either.

      5. Eddie Edwards
        Linux

        @JDX

        I'd say selection bias. The upvotes for the pro-RMS comments are due to a predeliction of people who follow the religion to be zealous about it. GPL people care enough to upvote that comment; non-GPL or anti-GPL people don't.

        The existence of selection bias makes it hard to accurately gauge the demographic from the comments section. But the upvotes obviously prove the presence of a pro-GPL/RMS contingent which was either absent or less active a few years ago.

        As for "pro-FOSS", that could mean pro-BSD and anti-RMS. FOSS is a rather wooly term and I'm not sure anyone is *against* having open-source software available :)

      6. Displacement Activity
        Meh

        @JDX

        This is a great opportunity to gauge the current Reg reader demographic...

        Err... no. It's a great opportunity to gauge the demographic of those who are willing to read 174 comments on a Stallman story. Nothing to see here.

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019