back to article Another sign of the End Times: Free software guru Richard Stallman speaks at Microsoft HQ

When a frantic group of paranormal researchers were trying to convince the Mayor of New York of the impending apocalypse depicted in the 1984 flick Ghostbusters, they described the situation as a disaster of Biblical proportions. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! …

  1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Meh

    Shrug

    Only Nixon can go to China. Would have been more interesting under Ballmer's watch, that's for sure.

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: Shrug

      Nixon was a bit late.

      https://reviews.history.ac.uk/review/1116

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Shrug

        Nixon was a bit late.

        https://reviews.history.ac.uk/review/1116

        The "Only Nixon" quote refers to US/China relations, not UK/China.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Shrug

          Yes. The quote is a comment on the political scene in the US at the time -- no politician could be seen as being friendly to China, because "commies". It would have been political suicide.

          Nixon, however, was famous for being a hard-line anticommunist, so he was the exception to that rule. He could talk with China without endangering his political career.

  2. Dunstan Vavasour

    Reminds me...

    ... of the pictures of Ian Paisley sitting with Martin McGuiness.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me...

      Or perhaps Heaven 17 and The Human League going on tour together...

      1. Sanguma
        Happy

        Re: Reminds me...

        I was thinking of Regurgitator and Killing Heidi going on a Regurgitating Heidi tour, myself. YMMV

  3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    They might also have warned of the dire possibility of

    Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman speaking at Microsoft.

    The Register getting an exclusive interview with Tim Cook

    1. pig

      Now now, let's not get silly.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And he lived to tell about it.

    One of the few times on the west coast, where allowing a "opposing view" to speak didn't result in a violent protest and unmitigated doxing.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. veti Silver badge

    Not so surprising. Both Stallman and Microsoft have been mellowing.

    Of all the tech giants, currently I regard Microsoft and Apple as the two most likely to be on my side on any given issue. (Because they give me the option of being their customer rather than their product, that's why.) They're no longer the threat they were - if only because they're no longer in a position to be.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      It's all (very) relative

      I think what you mean is that, while Apple and Microsoft have not improved their ethics or their business practices, their wickedness is dwarfed by that of Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and the other johnny-come-latelies.

      But Apple and Microsoft laid the foundations: if the giants of today have excelled in cynical wickedness, it is only because they stood on the shoulders of ethical pygmies.

  6. el kabong Silver badge

    Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

    Stallman is fully aware that not all infidels can be effectively fought against and neutralized, some infidels are too strong and can only be influenced by appeals to self-interest, it was the desire to influence them that lead Stallman to foray into infidel territory and preach to them there.

    The infidels saw that what Richard Stallman was preaching is good and right and very positive but they didn't necessarily fully grasp how it all fits together in their grand-scheme for making huge amounts of really big money. The infidels acknowledged that what Stallman is doing is good and right and very positive but they are not ready yet to go all the way with him if that means they will risk leaving money on the table.

    We all go through seasons in our lives and so do corporations, maybe one day Microsoft enters a new season in its corporate life, a season where Microsoft becomes a force for good, if they do they can count with Richard Stallman to help them, Stallman went there to let them know of it.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

      "maybe one day Microsoft enters a new season in its corporate life, a season where Microsoft becomes a force for good"

      Man, that would be great. But I think the chances of that happening approach zero.

      1. horse of a different color

        Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

        Google is a 'force for good', and they are a bunch of insufferable hypocrites!

    2. cornetman Bronze badge

      Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

      Yeah, I guess that's probably my feeling.

      There's not much point in preaching to the converted.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

        I prefer Preaching to the Perverted

        Google it, if you dare...

    3. Jove Bronze badge

      Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

      Why the reference to "infidels"?

      Using The Register to spread a gospel of hate?

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

        Why the reference to "infidels"?

        As the faith the term came from has been thought to advise - offer people a chance to convert, if they refuse, enslave them.

        If you convert, you've no option on the data gathering. It's like one of those evangelical churches that expects you to go out bothering people door to door every week.

        And they call Free Software a religion sometimes....?

        Gospel of hate

        Well, that doesn't sound like a gospel any longer 'gos' old english 'good', 'spel' 'news' - it might be a 'spel' but not a 'gos'. - yfelspel, maybe....

        1. Jove Bronze badge

          Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

          So I will take that as a yes. Using FUD to mask the religious allegory gives it away.

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

        Infidel, unfaithful, from the Latin Fides, faith. I know there are a few people here who still bear the scars from being forced to learn Latin at school but I would hardly call the language a gospel of hate.

    4. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: Stallman went there to preach the Gospel of Free Software

      I just expected blasphemy from him. Self sacrifice, if he could ensure the smiting lighting bolt hit where he wanted it to hit!

  7. Draco
    Windows

    What's so astounding about this?

    Microsoft offered him money and he took it.

    RMS isn't opposed to money or profits or charging for sorftware - only to not having unfettered access to source code.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: What's so astounding about this?

      And, equally important, the right to change it and publish modified versions.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "RMS isn't opposed to money or profits or charging for sorftware -"

      Just his model leads to very difficult ways to pay for software development.

      Basically, you need to have some patrons willingly to pay you for giving *some* code away for free - while pursuing their own interests - which is exactly what MS is doing now too.

      Not surprisingly Stalman doesn't write code but take advantage of other people's work.

      Stallman model is basically flawed, and based on exploiting a lot people without paying for their work - just the work of some anointed ones. Not far from Amazon, Uber, etc - which applied the same model to other form of labor which is not software development.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: "RMS isn't opposed to money or profits or charging for sorftware -"

        Stallman model is basically flawed

        There's an argument now that most of the software that is "needed" has already been written - there's nothing revolutionary about most of the SaaS products that might be accused of "freeloading" off free software: they're basically applications that take text input from a screen and put it in a database. The difference between them is the input they collect and the way they present it. Does the cosmetic and semantic customisation have much value?

        The Agile methodology is pretty much based on throwaway code - you knock something up to get it going and then junk it and do it better until such time as you get it right. Difficult to place a value on that.

        There are some genuine innovations in, for example, scaling up distributed data access to multiple millions of users, or in compiler technology - or indeed in being able to sell your eyeballs to advertisers in real time - but the "intellectual property" that most people want to defend is usually code that, if not directly copied, is modelled almost entirely on an existing example.

        I don't think there's much evidence of a lack of software development - if anything the problem is that there is too much! There is an increasing problem of support, but at least if you have access to the software you can pay someone to maintain it for you, which is more than you can do if a proprietary vendor shuts up shop.

        The real difficulty, though, is when your data is effectively the prisoner of an SaaS provider. Even if you can replicate the provider's software environment (and if it involves a worldwide collaborative platform like Facebook, then forget it) you're unlikely to be able to get your data back in a form that means you can replicate the service yourself.

        The Free Software movement is very much a child of the standalone computer generation. It still has relevance but it's Free Data that's going to be the concern of the social media generation.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: "RMS isn't opposed to money or profits or charging for sorftware -"

          I think the term "Free Data" is not appropriate here, because it could be seen as running completely against data protection legislation.

          We need a term that says that the data is not encumbered by the systems it is stored on, not one that implies that data should be available to everyone (which is implied by drawing parallels with Free Software).

          Unencumbered data maybe? System agnostic data?

          Interested to hear other peoples thoughts.

      2. PatrickEB

        Re: "RMS isn't opposed to money or profits or charging for sorftware -"

        RMS doesn't write code?

        https://www.april.org/articles/intro/gnu.html.en

        His model is basically flawed? Sure...like copy left, like Linux...seriously flawed. Cheesus! No-one has made money out of FOSS.

        You really do need to do some reading.

        Many people make a lot of money from FOSS. Many people contribute because they wish to. There are millions and millions of people in the world who volunteer to help others. There are millions who benefit from FOSS and there are millions made from FOSS.

        Please do some reading before commenting.

      3. Doctor Huh?

        Re: "RMS isn't opposed to money or profits or charging for sorftware -"

        The stunning ignorance of history in the original post makes me wonder if it isn't intended as flame-bait.

        This sentence alone is just so stunningly incorrect as to be almost Trumpian:

        "Not surprisingly Stalman doesn't write code but take advantage of other people's work."

        It is sad, because the original motivations behind the free software movement (God, I wish there were a better terse description than "free as in freedom, not as in beer") have never been more pertinent in an era where Apple produces products that are almost impossible for third parties to repair legally and where one could prevent a machine from running unsanctioned operating systems.

      4. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: "RMS isn't opposed to money or profits or charging for sorftware -"

        Google shows us otherwise daily. As far as I know, Chromium meets the definition Stallman established for free software, yet it is developed by Google according to the interests of Google, and it is serving Google perfectly well, despite being free software. If Google doesn't want a certain change in Chromium, that change does not appear, and if Google wants something, Google gets it. Anyone can see, use, compile, or change the code for anything they want, but that doesn't mean Google has to listen when you criticize their design decisions or when you try to submit code.

        If you don't like how Google is developing Chromium, you're free to fork it and make your own project. That's the central feature of free software, not some hazy idea that it is being developed in any one person's view of the public interest. Mozilla makes this claim, but there is no universal public interest. What benefits one may well harm another, or many others.

        Now, it's true that Chrome itself is not a commercial product, but you can't really claim that it does not serve Google's financial interests just the same. They could, if they chose, sell Chrome, though it's been years since there was a concept of browsers being something you buy. This might raise the impetus for those looking to fork Chromium, or simply to repackage it as a free product, but that has already been done by many organizations, yet people still clamor to have the "real" Chrome, the one that spies on you and phones home to Google all the time, instead of the alternatives that do not. If browsers were still things we paid for, they could sell Chrome... they already are selling it for the low, low cost of your personal data, and people choose that instead of the truly free versions that are almost exactly the same thing.

  8. _LC_ Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Light is not afraid to illuminate darkness

    Light is not afraid to illuminate darkness. It’s darkness, which has to hide.

  9. MAF

    Appropriate GB quote for this article?

    Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Appropriate GB quote for this article?

      dogs and cats living together

      Such a thing is considered quite normal in my family. Does that make us agents of unstoppable chaos[1] and evil[2]?

      [1] Have you met my wife? If this were pathfinder, her alignment would best be described as chaotic good..

      [2] Senior female cat wishes me to point out that she's not pure evil, she's just misunderstood.

  10. Sanguma
    Pirate

    One thing

    I think I would appreciate it if he could persuade Microsoft to put the (leaked) source tree of WinNT 4.x and the fragmentary (leaked) source tree of WinNT 5.0 under a FOSS license to indicate they're actually serious about their rapprochment with the FOSS world - oh, and the study source tree of WinNT Server 2003, a subset of the broader WinNT 5.x.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: One thing

      I think I would appreciate it if he could persuade Microsoft to put the (leaked) source tree of WinNT 4.x and the fragmentary (leaked) source tree of WinNT 5.0 under a FOSS license to indicate they're actually serious about their rapprochment with the FOSS world - oh, and the study source tree of WinNT Server 2003, a subset of the broader WinNT 5.x.

      Maybe get MS to contribute some of the code to the ReactOS project? (only semi-joking).

    2. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: One thing

      I think i had access to einfows source code - legally - at one place.

      I looked.

      It was not worth the effort.

      1. Sanguma

        Re: One thing

        I'm thinking of the legal minefield the Microsoft operating systems constitute for programmers. If Microsoft declares that anyone can look at these obsolete source trees without having to fear for their programming future, things will be a little less fraught ...

  11. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    encouraging hardware vendors to publish kit specs and making it easier to bypass Secure Boot.

    Actually, bypassing Secure Boot, while an option that should always be present, should be just the first step here. The specification (as I understand it) is also supposed to allow the importation of other codes. You should be able to fingerprint the boot code for whatever you're installing, and not depend on sharing a generic code everyone else is using.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      That is how it is on my Acer laptop. I can mark any UEFI bootloader as trusted and enable secure boot, and that formerly insecure bootloader will then be enabled as a secure bootloader. If it changes, the CRC will no longer be correct (as is the case with pre-signed bootloaders) and it will stop the boot process with an error message.

      This should indeed be a part of it, but most regular users do not want to faff about with the UEFI options, so there is another option, which is to have a preinstalled signature on the bootloader that is from a trusted (by the UEFI) signer. I'm not aware of any of them that trust anything but Microsoft signatures out of the box, but maybe there are some. Most of them just include what it takes to get Microsoft Windows working and call it a day. That's usually enough, though, for major Linux distros, as MS will sign their shim bootloader that will then look for the Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc. signature, and from then on it's as if the UEFI was able to recognize the Linux signature.

      It's good to have both. It's one of the few bright spots in my Acer's otherwise abysmal Insyde firmware!

  12. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    The real question

    Did Microsoft find a friendly parrot?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone was waaaay fucking earlier than rms

    1. Jove Bronze badge

      Bill Hilf was there first.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

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