Re: Announcing GNOME's official GitHub mirror

On Fri, 2013-08-16 at 19:10 -0400, Richard Stallman wrote:
        [ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider
        [ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,
        [ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example.

    To Richard: I would like a clarification in this respect. If I use a
    non-free web service (for instance, a web service for which the source
    code to install it and run it locally is not available),

I think it is a mistake to use the term "non-free web service" with
that definition, because that question is not what makes a web
service ethical or unethical.

If the server does a job you could do in your own computer, even in
principle, then it's SaaSS and it's bad.  Otherwise, the issues
that make the service ethical or unethical are other issues.

    is it really different from linking to a proprietary library
    from my GPL program?

Using a service run by someone else is like asking him to do a job for
you.  If he uses nonfree software to do the job, that's his mistake
and his loss.  We are sorry for him, but we don't need to boycott him
because of that.

Thus, for instance, we don't need to refuse to take the subway because
the subway system has computers with Windows, or refuse to make a
phone call because the phone exchange uses runs proprietary software,
or refuse to make a connection across the Internet because it might
pass through some routers that run nonfree software, or refuse to
order t-shirts because the shirt company might use Windows to make
shirts.  In these cases, we're not using that software -- the
companies are using it.  If it's proprietary, the companies are the
ones whose freedom is taken away.

When you use someone else's service, you never have control over any
software he uses to do your job.  If it's free software, he has
control.  If it's proprietary, he doesn't have control (which is an
injustice towards him).  But either way, you don't have control over it.
That's the nature of a service -- but is it bad?

In some cases, it is bad.  There are certain jobs that you shouldn't
entrust to someone else's service, because you should have control
over them.  Namely, these are the jobs you could do in your own
computer.  Using a service for those jobs is SaaSS.

If a given service is equivalent to calling a library in your
computer, then it is SaaSS, so it is bad.  Even if the server runs
only released free software, SaaSS is still bad.  In order to have
control of this computing, you need to do it by calling a free library
in your computer.  That's the way it should be done.

But I don't think that applies to most of what GitHub or Savannah does.
Those are communication activities.  You couldn't do them by calling
a library in your own computer.  So it is ok to use services for that
(but pay attention to the privacy issues).  However, it would be nice
if we could do it in a peer-to-peer fashion.


I'm a newer GNOME foundation list member, and I'm usually pretty quiet
here, but I read all the mail, and I wanted to chime in with some
thoughts if that's okay...

I've really enjoyed reading this GitHub thread. In these threads, I
sometimes see people who are overly harsh or mean to Dr. Stallman,
probably because he takes a more strict approach to things Free
Software. To those people, I would ask them to please lighten up, and
here's why:

In this example, I think Dr. Stallman has been very reasonable about the
issue, and has taken a lot of effort to write down and explain things
clearly. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to have a great
amount of respect for someone who thinks about the issue thoroughly and
works hard to convey his thoughts well.

I don't have a Yeelong laptop, but I like understanding and learning
about the issues, and I think it's important for the world. Hopefully
Free Software remains one of GNOME's highest priorities.

In these cases, we're not using that software -- the
companies are using it.  If it's proprietary, the companies are the
ones whose freedom is taken away.
I found it interesting to think about it this way! We always think about
companies versus individuals, but I think most companies need to be
reminded that their Freedom matters too! Thanks for reminding me.

Anyways, less talking, more hacking!


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