back to article Stallman warns open-sourcers on Javascript-browser trap

Free-software activist Richard Stallman has warned the open-source community against falling into the trap of downloading Javascript code that's not "free". Stallman said the spread of AJAX-based web services like Google Docs means you many be running Javascript code on your machine that's not free without realizing it. He …

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  1. Alastair

    What?

    "First is to define what's meant as a "non-trivial" Javascript program, which he thinks should be something that: "Defines methods and either loads an external script or is loaded as one, or if it makes an AJAX request.""

    What Javascript 'programs' don't define 'methods'? All this terminology is quite vague... the web site I work on uses AJAX requests to populate some dropdown boxes, does that mean that someone is going to need to make an open source version of this or we'll lose the respect of the open sauce community?

    In reality, this is something they can argue about for months, then finally create an implementation that no-one cares about and less people use. More power to them.

  2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Flame

    ideology ...

    is enemy of reason.

  3. Iain Thomas

    Free?

    Hi.

    > The problem for Stallman is that while free browsers - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Chrome

    Why don't I think Stallman would describe IE or Opera as free?

    > - warn the user about the presence of "non-trivial" Javascript code - such as a banner ad

    Do they? Without plugins? Never noticed...

  4. Pete
    Thumb Down

    If i dont have to pay to use it

    Its free. What more do you want?

  5. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Flame

    Stallman has gone off his rocker!

    Look,

    I can understand that Stallman wants the world to be open sourced, however what does it mean to be 'free'. Yes I know the article tries to address this fact. And frankly Stallman considers anything where the IP is protected and not 'free' as bad.

    The truth is that the javascript running is 'free' in that it doesn't cost the end consumer anything to run. That is that you're not paying a fee to run the software. Frankly, that's really what anyone cares about.

    Unfortunately the only bad thing about Javascript is that you really can't hide your IP. You write a nifty widget, there's nothing to stop someone from looking at your code and then reverse engineering their own solution to embed in their own application.

    I don't see this really as a trap since its possible to create open sourced version of java script and put them out on gitmo or some other website for distribution. Dojo is an excellent example.

    Flame not for the Reg but for Stallman for being lame.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    javascript

    Oh bawwww, only people with beards care about this crap.

    Who on earth would want to encourage users to mess around with one half of an application when they have no knowledge of what the other half does, especially when it may change without warning.

  7. Grandcross
    Black Helicopters

    What the heck is Stallman's problem?

    I'm not allowed to run any software if it's not free?

    I believe in open source as much as the next guy. I even write some. But the average person surfing the web could care less how the software is produced as long as its safe and free to them. Get over yourself Stallman!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Stallman... WHY?!

    Why does ANYONE still give Stallman a second of attention? The guy is an ideological twit. Let both him & Torvalds exist a silent existence until they die & spend eternity in hell. (My reasons are different for each. I believe Gates should be there as well.) Don't get either of these twits any more of your or our time. They don't deserve it. Just more of the "my way is the right & only way" garbage.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Are the flowers in his hair free too?

    That's hippies for you.

    They always cause a mess. Any of those hippy communes that are all about free love or possession ideologies end in disaster, with people either killing each other, themselves, ending up psychologically scarred, sexually abused or needing mental help. And broke with it.

    If software follows his ideology we'll all become just as f'd up as any sandal wearing, yoghurt knitting, lilly-livered, left-wing pinko liberal ever did. Or worse.

    Bring back national service and see how much free and open source software is used by the bloody army. Or just see what happens to you when you refuse to press the big red button on one of the new navy ships on the grounds that they run Windows 2000, and you'd rather let the ship be blown to bits by Johnny Foreigner than fire the first shot using a closed-source commercial system. Keelhauling, that's what.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    @AC 23:31

    Actually Torvalds is relatively sane and would probably take the other side on this one. Despite owing much to each other, they don't always see eye to eye.

    As for Stallman... eh, I admire him in a way but he has no tact at all and he'll probably die a bitter old man.

  11. Martin Eddington
    Linux

    Give him a break

    ... in his Ivory Tower of pure software Freedom; Stallman has a message for us all of an ideal world where we can use all our computers without being taxed, licensed or otherwise encumbered.

    He is, ideologically, absolutely correct.

    He is not arguing about the reality we all face, or the fact that 99.999% of us don't actually give a shit.

    He is a voice calling for a beautiful ideal. His warnings tend to become relevant a few years down the line. Someone has to shout about this - he's got a lot of experience of being told to sod off.

    That doesn't actually stop him from being right.

    Free. As in freedom! I'll finish my £1.35 beer in his honour...

  12. Francis Irving
    Go

    Easy to dismiss, hard to consider carefully

    The main thing Stallman is wrong about is caring about the distinction between server side and client side web application code. If either side isn't open source, the application you are using isn't open source.

    That's fine if you don't mind. But there are quite a few people who wouldn't dream of using a closed source, fully local email client, but happily use the utterly proprietary GMail.

    I don't think open source is a panacea, or that all software should be open. But I think we should be aware that we are walking back into an entirely closed source world, via web applications, and do it consciously if that is what we want.

    Meanwhile, of far more importance is that the service gives you full access to and control of your data. There are some attempts to promote that, or broader concepts. e.g. See the Open Service Definition.

    http://opendefinition.org/ossd

  13. Neil Alexander
    Thumb Down

    Source code

    "Echoing his GPL, Stallman would like to see Javascript code for web services distributed with its original source code"

    JavaScript source code is sent in plain text clear as day with your HTML document, mate. It doesn't get much more distributed than that.

    However if, you are, in fact referring to the other serverside code that is used in combination with JavaScript and AJAX, then distributing that would be pointless and probably make it hella easy to find flaws in someone's website engine.

    Get this man out of my life, please.

  14. Steen Hive
    Flame

    @Several

    @Ian Michael Grumby

    "Unfortunately the only bad thing about Javascript is that you really can't hide your IP."

    The ONLY bad thing about javascript? Dude, there a million things wrong with javascript and not being able to hide malfeasance obfuscated as "IP" comes way down that particular list.

    @Grandcross

    "I'm not allowed to run any software if it's not free?"

    Run what the fuck you want, others actually like to run software they know is unencumbered with proprietary shite. You maybe think a World where IE will only talk to IIS is great, people like Stallman help prevent it from transpiring, thank fuck.

    @AC

    If you are going to rant, at least make some attempt at spittle-flecked justification. Stallman and Torvalds belong in hell for providing you with golden opportunities in terms of platforms, tools, choice and freedom that were unthinkable even 25 years ago? you are a bona-fide, card-carrying retard.

    Amazing the vitriol directed at people who provide others with choices, there must be a particularly virulent outbreak of small-todger-syndrome this year.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Do I need a lawyer now

    Do I need a lawyer now to browse the web? I am going to run the JavaScript, not capture and rewrite it for use on my own site. The only way to satisfy these folks is to proxy all internet access through some monstrous code checking installation for approval. But the best part is:

    Include the source!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh My God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everything JAVA related is already bloated enough. JAVA script is a script!!!!! JAVA code itself is not compiled it is interpreted!!!!!!!!

    What is the source code for an interpreted language other than itself!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is madness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @If i dont have to pay to use it

    >"Its free. What more do you want?"

    If you don't already know that then you've missed the central point of the entire argument, and your opinion can only be kindly described as "uninformed", at best.

    The word "free" has more than one meaning if you look in a dictionary, and the kind of freedom Stallman wants is the freedom to study, modify and redistribute the software in source-code form. You may or may not agree with the philosophy, but please at least try and understand what he's actually saying is nothing to do with whether or not the software is bought-and-sold or shared around for no money. (Contrary to the widespread "It's all just communism" propaganda, the GPL explicitly permits people to sell open-source software for money, or to be even more precise, explicitly makes clear that it does not in any way restrict your freedom to charge money for software).

  17. JoePritchard

    Oh please, Mr Stallman...go away!

    I've had 'issues' with Richard Stallman for years. Whilst it's arguable that he has had a big (not necessarily good) influence on software development, it's worth remembering that he started out in the highly protected (and protective) environment of the MIT AI labs, where he apparently thought it jolly to change people's passwords to a blank one, and other japes against 'unfree' behaviours.

    The fact that the funding for his playground came from the US Government at a time when they were supporting 'freedom' in such places as Chile and Viet Nam seems to have passed this particular ivory tower dweller by....

    I find him pompous, pretentious and reactionary - an ideologoue of the worst sort. In order to get things done we sometimes have to be pragmatic - Open Source as it is today comes more from a pragmatic approach to getting the job done than it does from the truth as written by Stallman.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Pete

    It's semantics, but Stallman means free as in liberty; e.g., the source code for IE and Opera are closed, the source code for firefox is open. Safari and Chrome are in the middle (HTML renderer is open, interface isn't). The FSF haven't said AFAIK software should be uncharged.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Advice from an idiot.

    According to RMS himself, the only decent way to browse the internet is by emailing a demon the address you want to visit and then waiting for an email back from the demon containing that page.

    http://lwn.net/Articles/262570/

    Is this really a man to pay any attention whatsoever to when it comes to anything web related? Personally, I think he's 'tarded and should be left to mutter to himself.

  20. Graham

    Oh dear, oh dear...

    I don't subscribe to Stallman's "everything MUST be free" ideology and, actually, neither does Torvalds. I remember Torvalds expressing his view at one point that he'll use "the best tool for the job". This is a view I share; I'm happy using linux as my OS of choice, but I use the binary Nvidia graphics drivers because I actually like to get the performance I pay for out of my card and I'll use Visual Studio when coding an app for Windows any day.

    For some reason, Stallman has a belief that all software MUST be free and, oddly, this actually gives rise to an interesting point about some linux distros: they make it near impossible for you to use non-free software, thus taking away your freedom to use whatever software you want. Ironic, eh? The point is simple: some software out there will inevitably be non-free. If it wasn't, there wouldn't be a lot of money to be made in writing it and, frankly, there's always going to be software developed for commercial reasons.

    In conclusion, I'm not sure that a lot of people agree with the hell-bent ideology that he subscribes to.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Free, as in Freedom.

    > If i dont have to pay to use it

    > Its free. What more do you want?

    Free as in Freedom. As in the Freedom to edit, extend and adapt the software you use. As in the Freedom to study how it works, adapt it for your specific needs and then make the changes available to the worldwide community.

    You can still charge for Free software.

    I guess a lot of the Free idealogy comes down to whether the motivation is to help people or simple to make a buck of them. Free software and the open source ideals hold that you can do both.

    > Why does ANYONE still give Stallman a second of attention?

    Because as the inventor of the GNU compiler and tools and being a prime mover within the Free Software movement Richard Stallman has a great deal of respect and credibility within the industry.

    Paris - because she wants to share the love!

  22. al
    Paris Hilton

    @ac Re:Stallman... WHY?!

    What would be your reasons for Linus spending eternity in hell ?

    Stallman, yeah, the guys is still living in 70s when his ego was hurt by someone who didn't allow him access to sources. very preachy and self righteous. Maybe he had a point at some point but the world has moved on since.

    Gates, yes, coz one doesn't want to sound like an M$ lover.

    Why Linus ? He is just using OpenSource as a platform to deliver his creation. (He was in college then so making money off it wasnt improtant. Now it's too late, even he wants to). But except for being anal about some technical stuff; Linus comes across as very pragmatic about GPL, opensource and what others should do/no do.

    (FWIW, I'm neither a Linux user nor an M$ advocate).

    Paris, coz she'd make hell hotter.

  23. twelvebore
    Paris Hilton

    Free != free

    I think some folks here are confusing the meaning of the word "free" with the meaning of the word "free" (which is a little surprising because it's been repeated often enough in article after article after article about open source).

    Stallman isn't using the word "free" that means that the software costs nothing - he's using the word "free" as in how you feel when there's no-one else about the house and you walk around nekkid (except for the beard and sandals of course).

    Some people care about the distinction, others don't.

    (Paris, because she's free).

  24. A J Stiles
    Go

    The thing with JavaScript, though .....

    Freedoms Zero and Two can always be taken by force if necessary. The barrier to taking Freedoms One and Three by force has traditionally been the absence of Source Code. In the 8-bit days when everything was done in assembler, that was less of a problem; and with determination and perseverance, you could hack programs without Source Code. Then along came fancy 16- and 32-bit processors, and people started using C and other compiled languages; and code grew to the point where you would wear out a modern plasticky printer printing a disassembly of the code to print a single character.

    Now, the thing with JavaScript is that it's interpreted. That means you get the Source Code for the application anyway. Irrespective of whether or not the author wants you to study its operation or adapt it to your needs, you can. And you should.

    Denying someone any of the four Freedoms is an act of violence, and the use of violence by a party is a clear and unambiguous signal that they are amenable to the use of violence against them. Cause no harm to life or tangible property, but the false concept of "intellectual property" is fair game to be trashed.

    In years to come, when the very concept of closed-source software is in the dustbin of history, it will be regarded as the electronic equivalent of slavery.

  25. Ross Ryles

    Source Code and Beards

    "Stallman would like to see Javascript code for web services distributed with its original source code"

    Have I missed something? Correct me if I'm wrong but JavaScript is a *scripting* Language and therefore is always distributed as source code. OK, that doesn't mean that you can change that code like you can with GPL'd stuff, but so what? I have a beard and I still don't care.

    The unfortunate thing is that all this nonsense about JavaScript is detracting from the discussion on Silverlight - which is a valid concern.

  26. Jez Caudle
    Stop

    Still getting chucked off planes?

    So Stallman wants Facebook, for example, to allow others to write the clientside Javascript that does all the AJAX? Because if that doesn't happen then we are locked into something nasty?

    Here is what would happen if Stallman had his way: someone does indeed write a replacement for the clientside Favebook JavaScript and it is better than the stuff Facebook wrote. So Facebook decide to stop paying their JS developers and instead allow unpaid geeks to do the business for them. Facebook are getting something for nothing unless they decide to give some money back.

    Look at OpenSSH. Used by loads of big companies (Apple, Cisco etc) who have donated not a single penny to the project.

    This doesn't mean that the projects should stop. OpenSSH is very useful and deployed massively, but who, apart from a few geeks too smelly and ugly to get a girlfriend, would use a replacement JS library for Facebook et al?

    As Naomi Campbell also gets thrown off planes we should ask for her advice on this thorny issue as well.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stallman - Ideologist

    As with most things in life, the answer to Free or not free lies somewhere in the middle. There's a need for free (as in freedom) software and there's a need for closed software.

    Currently, the balance is tilted way over towards proprietary. Stallman represents the pole opposite the proprietary position. He's way far out to hell and gone on the free (as in freedom) side because there's only a relatively small group representing that point of view. To counterbalance the sheer mass of the proprietary world, that small band has to move far out on the balance beam.

    It makes them (and Stallman most of all) look fanatical. I don't know if I'd like the man personally, but I do know we need a counterpoint/counterbalance. Stallman and the FSF provide it. I respect him for standing firm and providing that counterpoint.

    With Stallman and the FSF and the others who use the GPL (and similar licenses) balanced against the proprietary stuff, we get a compromise - a mix of free and proprietary.

    Without Stallman and cohorts, all we get is proprietary. Is that what you want?

  28. Greg

    Hang on....

    ...That's weird. I went to YouTube Mobile in Opera, couldn't find a download link, clicked on a vid, and it started streaming in Windows Media Player. It never used to do that. Oh well, one less app to download, eh?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Yes...

    ...the average user doesn't care. The average user doesn't care that windows is closed source, even the average linux user doesn't care about running the odd closed source app. I have Opera and Skype running on my Linux box, for example. But, the fact remains that it is very useful to have someone like Stallman and the FSF in the background keeping an eye on wheat can and cannot be run freely, so that in the unlikely event of a massive patent "war" if you will, you'll have a full list of what you can and can't run.

    Frankly, what he's said isn't going to cause a change in how most people run apps. At most they'll be a backend change to a few webbrowsers that allow the the truly dedicated free software advocate to do as he has said. For me, nothing will change, I'll just sit back in the warm knowledge that someone is watching out for what I can run!

  30. Toastan Buttar
    Linux

    OFFS

    No one cares. The reason 'the Internet' became big was because of The Web. A tiny, tiny percentage of Web users even know the basics of HTML, never mind higher-level languages. RMS is a truly remarkable guy and I applaud his efforts past and present, but he's an idealist in a world of philistines (myself, as a software developer, included).

    In a similar way, Alan Turing hated the idea of a separate arithmetic unit in a general purpose computer, as all arithmetic operations could be built up from simpler logic operations. The fact that it'd take 500 times longer to execute didn't seem to bother him. There's a time and place for holding such noble (some might say dogmatic) views on software/computer science, but everyday Javascript Web Apps is not worthy of your attention or mine.

    Tux - OK, I'll call it GNU/Linux just this once.

  31. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    @AC, "my way is the right way"

    "Just more of the "my way is the right & only way" garbage."

    So, er, don't you think that the way you do things is the right way? If not, you must think that you are doing things the... wrong way. Hmmm?

  32. Daniel Palmer

    @Grandcross

    And then X inc go bust and you have loads of files in X incs format that you can no longer get software to process,.. there are lots of reasons.

  33. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Oh no

    Here I am with my Ubuntu Linux (sorry, GNU/Linux) machine, running Firefox ... and the mp3 I'm downloading doesn't come with the sheet music. Oh no! I am unclean. Why did nobody warn me? Browsers should have to detect restrictive copyrights and offer alternative downloads.

    No, but seriously, there is a fine line between "devoted advocate" and "obsessive wackjob".

  34. paul
    Coat

    Legend

    At least someone on this planet who doesn't give a shit about corporate profits.

    I never understand why some many people are devoted and in love with allowing the big businesses to do whatever they want in the name of profit - to the detriment for the rest of the human race.

    Why give Stallman all this grief. Your on a bloody internet site that without people like his vision of open software would not exist. You would be looking at a site on a Sky / MS / big corp only computer network with about 1% the success and size of the current open ish internet thingy.

  35. al
    Paris Hilton

    @@AC, "my way is the right way"

    Aptly named Mr.Paine,

    Please read, understand and then comment.

    (Just to break it down for you:

    - What AC implies is "AC's way is (probably) Right but others can be right at the same time".

    However Mr.Stallman thinks his way is the right way and that is the only way - everyone else is wrong.

    Something like a religion which doesn't accept doctrines of other religions. ).

    Paris, coz she is the only way.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Free as in...

    Want to adapt, change, alter or improve a software programe? Sorry, why should that be possible?

    Want to know how your software works, or be absolutely clear about what it does (or does not) do? Forget it.

    Want to share useful code to use on your website/app/project ? Not unless we let you.

    Want to learn a technology or language? Not unless you pay for that right and we choose to share with you.

    Want software and digital file formats to be interoperable and available for use in a way and on the devices that you want? Not unless we agree.

    <leaving>to fetch sandles and stroking large beard</leaving>

  37. al
    Paris Hilton

    Does Stallman fly only the opensource airliners ?

    Does Stallman fly only the opensource airlines ?

    Is he not worried about all the proprietary code running in the plane controls, communication systems etc ?

    Paris, coz she founded another FSF.

  38. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down

    @Ian Johnston

    "Here I am with my Ubuntu Linux (sorry, GNU/Linux) machine, running Firefox ... and the mp3 I'm downloading doesn't come with the sheet music. Oh no! I am unclean."

    Well, I wouldn't comment on your personal hygiene, Ian, but picking mp3 as an example makes one look pretty silly if one considers that one is shackled by the proprietary software cartel to downloading audio in a patent-encumbered and inferior format like mp3, by a particularly nasty troll of a company called Fraunhofer, when formats like Ogg/Vorbis - offering better-sounding audio, equivalent compression rates and totally open specifications and source code are available.

  39. Mike Gravgaard

    I think Stallman is right:

    Stallman is talking about sofware which sites use (just because something is currently free at the moment doesn't mean it will always be free or currently isn't 'free' - if you look at GPL licenses, you cannot realistically change a GPLed piece of software easily - licenses tend not to be changeable but future versions can be changed).

    He's not talking about websites in general but the software used behind them - think of things like Iplayer as an example and Windows Media Player 10. Why as a Linux user can I not have access to the Iplayer download service? I don't want to watch thing on streaming flash.

    I understand Stallman's point and agree with it - if we didn't have GPL licenses, we would be living in a different world now.

    Mike

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Cross that line and you're in a world of pain...

    > Oh bawwww, only people with beards care about this crap.

    Stallman takes "freedom" seriously. This invites ridicule and makes a lot of folks uneasy. Being both highly intelligent and a self confessed hippy he prefers that rare pure strain of "freedom"; he is suspicious of second rate dilluted "freedom" substitute marketed by those who would addict you and sell your soul without a second thought...

  41. John
    Stop

    Most commenters seem to be missing something...

    Stallman has traditionally been very forward thinking, I prefer to use open source software, but I don't cut my nose off to spite my face.

    Look which way the wind is blowing regarding the browser acting as a thin client with more computing taking place in the cloud (jesus I hate that phrase, but its trendy, lets anticipate what 5years or 10years may bring)... Stallman has perhaps considered which way this is heading and without being aware of it wethe people using these online apps are drifting more heavily back to closed source when there has been a good amount of ground covered making people more aware of open source.

    While he is fairly extreme in his views I think he could be bang on the money, more and more applications are being run online, he is dead to rights to point out that we need to be aware of it.

    I have suggested a ton of people use Open Office, and you know what they find it works a treat, they didn't need Microsoft Office, being open source aware doesn't have to be something just for beards to do, it benefits everyone.

  42. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    Stallman can be an arse...

    ...but I love the guy for standing up for what he believes in, no matter what. He really is OSS equivalent of the Apple "fanboi"!

    Everything Stallman says should be taken with a pinch of salt and whether he knows it or not he really only exists to stir up debate, not just let things be the way they are, 'cos they are. We could do with a few more like him, then we would not be under the thumb with people like Wacky J and her cronies trying to take our freedoms away!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well..

    "I understand Stallman's point and agree with it - if we didn't have GPL licenses, we would be living in a different world now."

    IF we didn't have non gpl licences the world would also be very different

    Your point?

  44. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Follow the money

    Some people sell a read only disk of pre-compiled software. This is how most games are funded. Microsoft is a small part of the gaming market.

    Some people get government grants to write software. They often distribute under the BSD license, which permits modification and distribution for free. The BSD license (as used by OpenSSH) ensures that the team responsible for the software get mentioned in any derived product. Teams use this to demonstrate that the tax payer's money they receive is being turned into software that benefits tax payers. There aren't that many people using this model, but the few that are turn out an impressive amount of software with excellent quality.

    There are contract programming shops. The bigger ones have great fun making sure that the software agreed to be delivered does not meet the customer's needs. That way they can collect their fees for doing what was asked for, and collect another fee to extend the software to match some of the real requirements.

    The vast majority of programmers work for companies that are not in the business of selling software. Outsourcing to India has cost some jobs in this area, but companies have discovered that is much easier to turn requirements into software with an in house programmer than to explain what they think they want to an Indian bean counter who passes on what he understood to a programmer. The way to make inhouse programmers cost effective is to use free/open source software to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

    There is a relatively new software business model involving automated tools to obfuscate javascript to the point where it is less clear than assembly language: Create a word processor in obfuscated javascript, restrict output to a proprietary format, distribute with a license that prevents redistribution of modified versions and you can hold your customers data to ransom.

    Mr Stallman has spoken up about this expensive form of technological lock-in, but appears to be wasting his time. Half the commentards on this technophile inhabited site are too dim to spot conveyer belts being built ready to ship cash from their bank accounts to Google.

  45. al
    Paris Hilton

    Let's understand the issue here:

    from gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html

    > "For instance, Google Docs downloads into your machine a Javascript program

    > which measures half a megabyte, in a compacted form that we could call

    > Obfuscript because it has no comments and hardly any whitespace, and the

    > method names are one letter long"

    The morons at GNU are so up in their ass that they don't realize that this is not an evil corportation's obfuscode. It's merely a way to send compact data to the client.

    A college student can write a javascript beautify parser in 2 days to covert it to a fairly readable code. So obviously google is not putting it's energy in obfuscating what it can't. It's putting it's energy in creating faster loading pages.

    But dolts @ GNU are once bitten twice shy. There was a time when copr's used to take GNU code.. use a lot of C preprocessor macros and put the p-preprocessored code on the web. Yes, that was obfuscode which agreed with GPL words but belied the spirit. JS by google is NOT.

    Paris, coz she is compact.

  46. EK
    Alert

    One open source experience

    Open source is an interesting beast. Here's what I watched happen to a fellow coder.

    He wrote a pretty nifty program in .NET - quite popular with the WOW crowd for updating addons. It worked VERY well and a lot of people used it. It took a lot of work and he continually updated. It was open source (maybe not to the letter of the GPL. but the bottom line is he had the full source available to people). At one point, he added a small add banner at the bottom of the page to help pay for his time.

    So the bitching began. Apparently he should give away his software and time for free. So, naturally, someone took the source, ripped out the ads, and reposted it.

    He ceased working on it and went away.

    Can you blame him? Hard lesson learned.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I wonder what computer hardweare he is using?

    I mean, he goes ape about how everything must conform to his definition of "free", so what computer is he using where the IP for every component is freely available?

    How is he connecting to the internet - does he have access to the design of every chip in his router and modem?

    Does he only drink Open Source cola where the recipe is printed on the side of each can?

    Because if not, then he is naught but a hypocrite.

  48. Justin Case

    Important?

    Probably. But I'm just too tired to be bothered with it all right now... there's more to life than the purity of software. But make no mistake, if Stallman didn't exist you'd have to invent him. It's kind of good that there are people out there who care and are looking out for the erosion of freedom in ways you or I cannot even begin to imagine.

  49. Jared Earle
    Pirate

    Like I was once told ...

    "Sure, [Stallman] is a genius coder, but he should try doing it for a living." - SWW

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rms

    I have a number of issues with rms, the first one is that his freedoms start at zero. Forget the actual meat of the freedoms, the fact is only a complete tosser would start numbering things at zero. No-one outside of seriously anal programming is going to look at a list of 4 items numbered 0,1,2,3 and think anything except "what a twat".

    The second is that as far as the preachings of rms go it appears we should all have complete freedom to do whatever we want [software wise] as long as we chose one of the small number of options granted by rms himself.

    Freedom should be exactly that, freedom. So if MS want to hide their source code they should be entitled to do so, in fact rms et. al. should be fighting for their freedom to do so. And if I (or anyone else) chooses to use that software, under those conditions, then again my freedom to do so should be respected at the very least.

    Some people want free software. Most of those interpret free as not having to pay any money or other goods in lieu of money. I use Firefox. But only because I prefer it to the alternatives *as a browser*. However I am not in the least bit interested in looking at the source code as I don't care how it works and as I don't have a beard or wear white socks and sandals and I have actually had sex with more than just me present I would be unable to write any code to change anything anyway.

  51. Steen Hive
    Flame

    @AC

    "Because if not, then he is naught but a hypocrite."

    Actually, It'd be more accurate to say that "you are a retarded fuckwitt", because whatever you say about RMS, if he had the choice to do his stuff on hardware that had unencumbered IP, you can be fucking sure that he would. All he is concerned with is bringing more of those sort of freedoms to retentive puppies like you in his own field. If you don't want to throw things like your domestic router, set-top box, and maybe your mobile phone in the bin, just say thanks instead, you ingrate.

  52. Mark McC
    Coat

    He makes me cringe, but I think I see his point...

    Yes, Javascript code is open in that you can see it, but it isn't free. I'm pretty sure every major tech company who has invested in developing AJAX platforms has every line of it patented to the high heavens. All of which is completely irrelevant to users.

    The flipside of Javascript code being visible to all is that it tends to get 'borrowed' by other developers for their own purposes, without regard to whatever copyright claims and dire threats against misuse may be hidden away in the legal section of the original owner's website.

    So your company rolls out its new Web 3.0 ultra-spiffy AJAX-fest of a website, nurtures a loyal following among users and amasses several billion in venture capital (OK, maybe not that last one in these harsh times). All is good until your legal dept. receives a none-too-friendly letter from Google/Amazon/whoever your developers 'borrowed' the code from, citing US Patent #289388494. The copyright was clearly stated in subsection 13.21 on page 9 of the legal section of their website and since they can also see your Javascript, they noticed your developers didn't even bother removing the original source comments when they did a cut-and-paste job.

    Stallman tends to bluster a lot, but often his core ideas have some merit. Javascript is moving from a handy way to add functionality in plain old HTML towards a full-blown application layer. I don't believe every company writing Javascript should freely release their code for reuse without restriction, but having a large GPL-style library for developers to use rather than the code 'borrowing' that's widespread today seems a sound enough idea.

    I'm happy enough to let Stallman rant about whatever has currently got his goat. Anything to keep him from singing that damn Free Software song again.

    /mine's the gnu-suede jacket with a copy of the LGPL in the pocket

  53. Graham Bartlett
    Alien

    Stallman Schmallman

    Stallman's ideology is all very well, so long as someone is bankrolling you. It's essential to remember that Stallman has never had to work in a "real" job with deadlines, customers and products to ship. He's gone directly from university ivory tower, to isolated lab ivory tower, to LUG-supported ivory tower. There's a reason that the GNU Hurd never appeared, which is that the ivory-tower types spent all their time playing around the edges and never actually produced anything that worked.

    Oh, and to the people above who say that open-source software wouldn't exist without Stallman - wrong. Just wrong. Since forever, coders have written stuff for their own purposes, and shared it with others. Sure, the GPL wouldn't exist - but most (if not all) of the code released under the GPL would. It just wouldn't come with a pretty semi-legal license.txt file.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re: Stallman can be an arse...

    "We could do with a few more like him, then we would not be under the thumb with people like Wacky J and her cronies trying to take our freedoms away!"

    At last, amongst the wailing of the Britards, a voice of reason.

  55. Nebulo
    Go

    But for all the flak ...

    Stallman is right.

    As Grandcross said above, why should people worry about their software "as long as its safe and free to them"? Quite. It's because of the weirdy beardys sitting up late nights picking over the design of OS software that we can be reasonably sure that OS, at least, is "safe". When the source is secret, you just have to hope that it's trustworthy, no matter how free it may be in cash terms.

    All the stuff we use is so damn complicated already that, if you're honest, you don't know very much detail about what *any* of your tech toys are doing, and it isn't about to get any simpler. Do mobile phones *really* spy on you at the behest of nameless dark forces? Only the OpenMoko crowd can be reasonably sure, one way or the other, 'cos they've seen what's in there. For the rest of us, like the police ad says, "trust no-one", and admit that you know bugger all about what the thing really can do.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re: rms

    "No-one outside of seriously anal programming is going to look at a list of 4 items numbered 0,1,2,3 and think anything except "what a twat"."

    Odd, then, that as I read your remark I find the same words appropriate to describe the impression of yourself you seem to want to leave for everyone. And I don't even need to make an easy joke about "anal programming".

    "Freedom should be exactly that, freedom. So if MS want to hide their source code they should be entitled to do so, in fact rms et. al. should be fighting for their freedom to do so. And if I (or anyone else) chooses to use that software, under those conditions, then again my freedom to do so should be respected at the very least."

    Read up on "freedom" before you choose one particular definition amongst many, restricted to one particular point of view. If anything, you're advocating the freeloading variant of "freedom": the privilege of treating other people's work as if it were your own; the privilege to deny others the same "freedom". Freedom for Stallman has always been about end-user freedoms, and I don't see MS fighting for those, somehow.

    "However I am not in the least bit interested in looking at the source code as I don't care how it works"

    Yes, apathy is rife in the kingdom of the Britards: can't see why you'd want to do something; can't see why anyone else would want it, either. And so it goes on: can't be bothered with end-user freedoms and civil liberties as long as there's shiny new stuff to buy; can't see why anyone else would be bothered, either.

    My advice to you would be to leave the big questions to the grown-ups rather than making puerile jokes about people who have quite literally changed the world for the better.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    anyone have a clue?

    @ al

    "Does Stallman fly only the opensource airlines ?

    Is he not worried about all the proprietary code running in the plane controls, communication systems etc ?"

    Why? There's a shitload of *non-proprietary* stuff in FBW/Avionic systems as well, going waaaaayyyyyy back. I know this because it used to be my first job (a couple of decades ago) and I am told that a surprising amount of it (largely unchanged) still remains -- it's THAT ancient.

    @ Graham Bartlett

    "ivory-tower types spent all their time playing around the edges and never actually produced anything that worked."

    Graham, I'll stick with Avionics. Most FBW systems derive from prior art dating back to *purely* academic research in the 70's from people like Stallman and AI projects (like so much else). Anything truly proprietary in that arena is a recent development (derived from mainly *military* research). Before that, though, as I am sure you know, the world's first computers were in fact built solely to perform real-world problem solving by "ivory-tower" academics. Ever heard of Bletchley, Enigma, etc?

    Around the same time, similar "ivory-tower" academics were assembling the first atom bomb in America.

    I usually find those who talk about "ivory tower academics" who "don't produce anything" comes from people who had trouble passing their GCSE's

    @ Steen Hive:

    Top rants. All of 'em.

  58. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    @ Lee

    "So if MS want to hide their source code they should be entitled to do so, in fact rms et. al. should be fighting for their freedom to do so."

    And, by that logic, if I own a knife that means I get to choose who I stab with it. If you concede that owning a knife does not give one the right to harm people willy-nilly by stabbing them, then why does writing a piece of software give one the right to harm people willy-nilly by restricting their use of it?

    "However I am not in the least bit interested in looking at the source code as I don't care how it works and as I don't have a beard or wear white socks and sandals and I have actually had sex with more than just me present I would be unable to write any code to change anything anyway."

    So, just because you aren't a programmer, you want to deny everyone who *is* a programmer the rights you are unable to exercise in practice? Argument from Limited Imagination is a logical fallacy.

  59. Charles Manning

    @Graham Bartlett

    RMS and GNU have produced lots of useful stuff... but, as you point out, HURD is still very much GNU-fart. Much of the reason Hurd is not going anywhere is because Linux fills that slot (GPLd OS) and it is a lot easier dealing with a pragmatic Linus than a flower-powered RMS. Thus, HURD lacks drivers and all those other useful stuff that makes it actually work on a real machine.

    RMS is an idealist and puts freedom (according to his definition) ahead of anything else. That's fine, but the rest of the world does not have to buy in to his ideas.

  60. Charles Manning

    @AJ Stiles, @@Lee

    Stiles: Your logic astounds. Privacy is not the same as bad intent. They are not the same issue.

    If you own a knife, you may choose whether to lend it out or not, give it away or keep it under lock and key. You may choose to never use it or might choose to cut bread or rocks with it (so long as it is your bread or rock or have permission), but just because it is yours does not mean you can stab someone with it.

    MS, or anybody, should be allowed to keep their IP private if they wish.

    But that does not mean that MS, or anybody, should be allowed to be malicious with their IP.

    Even GPL does not take away those IP rights. All GPL muscle comes from copyright law. If copyright law was taken away then GPL would no longer have teeth.

  61. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    @Steen

    I can't see how I am in any way "shackled" by downloading an MP3. It would only be a problem if I wanted to do anything with that mp3 which, by virtue of it's mp3-ness, I couldn;t do. And there isn't.

    Note, that doesn't mean there is nothing I can't do to it - it means there is nothing I WANT TO which I can't do to it.

    If that wasn't the case, I would simply download in another format. That's freedom. As in people.

    As a matter of interest, do you RMS fanboiz believe that car makers should give away the full engineering drawings with every car? That jeans makers should include the paper pattern with every pair? That audiobooks should come with the printed version?

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Grandcross

    "But the average person surfing the web could care less how the software is produced..."

    Actually I believe they couldn't.

  63. al
    Coat

    @Greg Fleming

    A cousin of mine has worked in Avionics s/w for 10+years. (as a developer; not a pilot).

    Last I talked to him about Linux; he had no clue what GNU/GPL was. He had heard of linux and firefox though. For him open just means being able to communicate using a standard interface. I agree it might be using a keyhole view for the entire avionics s/w here; but I doubt if anyone here believes that planes fly using linux & OSS.

    But by getting into nitty gritty of avionics, you are missing the point:

    - (as most of us are aware that) the computers are everywhere: cellphones, telephony backend, cars, planes, medical systems, banks and we use these computers directly or indirectly. Sometimes you have a choice of running FSF approved OSS -eg: your desktop or cellphone. But if we are preaching others that they restrict their lives by not using non-FSF approved s/w; we ourselves must goto stone-age first.

    Finally:

    Apologies to RMS. I am too small a fish to talk without respect when referring to a great revolutionary and I am genuinely sorry for my comments which were not in best taste (given the stature of the person involved). I maintain that I no longer agree with RMS' philosophy or doctrine. I believe in business of technology. I believe it must be fair and square. There was a hoarding of information at one point which thanks to GNU has changed. But there were hobbyists passing shareware all along and this shift in power would have happened with or without GNU. Today we risk going overboard. But this is just my opinion and with my admittance I am just a small fry in a big pond. RMS deserves being addressed in more respectful tone than I used and I am sorry for that.

  64. A J Stiles
    Stop

    @ Charles Manning

    "MS, or anybody, should be allowed to keep their IP private if they wish. But that does not mean that MS, or anybody, should be allowed to be malicious with their IP."

    No they shouldn't be allowed to keep it private, because keeping it private *is* being malicious. The fruits of all human endeavour rightfully belong to all of humanity. By concealing the Source Code from the users, Microsoft are preventing them from studying or altering it, and therefore imposing their will on the users. That is an act of violence.

    You want to keep your Source Code a secret? Then do us all a favour, and keep the binary a secret too.

    "All GPL muscle comes from copyright law. If copyright law was taken away then GPL would no longer have teeth."

    I concede that. However, I would have absolutely no problem with a *different* law, mandating that every person who receives a copy of a computer program must be given the Source Code and build instructions.

    Anyway, it will all be irrelevant soon. As soon as a decent decompiler exists, Freedoms One and Three will be available to take by force if required.

  65. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @A J Stiles

    "The fruits of all human endeavour rightfully belong to all of humanity."

    Riiight. So, can I presume that you will give me free access to every fruit of your endeavour? Let's start with your diary, shall we? And I want a copy of every email message you have ever sent, or will ever send. Oh yes, and your medical records, please - they are the fruits of human endeavour and resent your doing violence to me by keeping them secret. Employment records too, of course.

  66. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down

    @Ian Johnston

    "It would only be a problem if I wanted to do anything with that mp3 which, by virtue of it's mp3-ness, I couldn;t do. And there isn't."

    Obviously you don't want to write audio software. Others do.

    "As a matter of interest, do you RMS fanboiz believe that car makers should give away the full engineering drawings with every car?"

    RMS Fanbois, really. Personally I think that getting the drawings would be great, but seeing as how we are talking about intangibles here with a marginal cost of zero and not cars, I won't go into how a consumer can't be bound by a contract not to find out how his car works, I'll just treat that as the straw-man argument it is. The damage to the both the consumer and end-user from proprietary software comes from the creation of markets of completely artificial scarcity. Fraud.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @al

    "I agree it might be using a keyhole view for the entire avionics s/w here; but I doubt if anyone here believes that planes fly using linux & OSS."

    Did I say anything flew using Linux? Of course they don't. It isn't fault tolerant enough.

    I am referring to the algorithms that allow standard interfaces to exist in the first place. In avionics, these are well-known, published and open standards, which allow hardware and software to communicate.

    This is the point. None of this would be possible without published open standards. If everything were proprietary, very few things we take for granted in computing (far less specific areas like avionics) would be possible.

  68. Steve Bush
    Thumb Up

    RMS Visionary

    The cantankerous personality of Stallman is what got us the wonderful freedoms of the GPL world in the first place. You have to fight for freedoms but most people posting here seem to be just noisy lambs.

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