Tom Lord on how far the GNU project has come in 30 years

Tom Lord writes:

I think it’s actually pretty damn impressive how much the thing has evolved and grown. Your mileage may vary, of course but: Here’s a list of the FSF’s current campaigns: There’s some shift in concerns there from back in the day towards: HW restrictions that get in the way of free software; software patents; attacks on privacy due to centralized web services; helping the many other organizations that are starting to collectively become the majority of the free software movement. The GNU system itself is considered to be pretty much “done” and the FSF stays out of the software development business itself except for vary focused, technical issues (like paying someone to reverse engineer a peripheral … that kind of thing). Here’s RMS’ speaking schedule: That’s not an anomaly. He’s tremendously popular in large parts of South America and, also, Europe. You’ve probably seen news reports about a growing internationalist movement to oppose neoliberalism, globalism, and western imperialism — it turns out that free software as a paradigm and tool for that resistance is pretty popular in academia, some governments, and with some of the kids these days. RMS publishes a “newsletter” on other-than-software political issues. It’s comprised solely and entirely of an RSS feed of quick notes: We’re long-since past the point where RMS hands-on runs the FSF. They moved to a professional mgt. team a while back. His lawyer friend, Eben Moglen, who helped to author the GPL, spun out the Software Freedom Law Center: The FSF no longer much being in the business of hosting software projects, one of its former executive directors (and a “kids our age” guy) spun out The Software Freedom Conservancy: For many years there was an industry-driven thing called “The Open Source Initiative” whose main role seemed to be to try to delegitimize RMS and the idea of Copyleft. We caught them having several years of screwed up financial reporting to the IRS and California FTB and, huzzah, that led to their temporary suspension as a non-profit, years of financial struggle, and a real “cleaning house” of its board of directors. Today they’re much more friendly towards the FSF and RMS than they used to be. One doesn’t much hear, these days, the kinds of anti-software-freedom arguments that were so popular back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Too many companies and contractors have made too much money *because* of software freedom for people to take seriously the idea that software freedom is necessarily anti-capitalist. In the video at (internetistschuld.ogv) RMS’ talk starts about 1h39m. At the end of the talk there’s a Q&A and there you *can* still find some idiocy. To paraphrase: “But… but … but… if everything is free software then doesn’t that deprive people of the freedom to choose certain business models? ” To which, of course, the answer (aside from the eye rolling) is “Yes! Exactly!” I wonder if such questions might not still come up purely out of a sense of tradition — sort of the RMS equivalent of calling out for “Freebird” as an encore. For me, this is the coolest thing at the moment: which gives rise to projects like:… (Which, OK, involves some non free software vintage ROM images but it shows off the capability of these $35 boxes.) Here’s the non-sweatshop factory where they make the things: I have a few of them to play around with including one that serves as a dedicated media center.

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