Bitter? or just a difference of opinion?

I just found an article on the BBC News site titled,

It’s not the Gates, it’s the bars

As I started to read down this I thought it was a journalist with a Microsoft grudge who hadn’t done his research and it wasn’t until I got to the end that I realised this wasn’t exactly the case

The article was written by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation.

The name rang a bell so I looked up his wikipedia entry and he’s the guy who launched the GNU Project and developed EMACS

Go read the whole thing yourself but here’s a couple of the sections I’d like to take issue with

“Microsoft’s software is distributed under licenses that keep users divided and helpless. The users are divided because they are forbidden to share copies with anyone else. The users are helpless because they don’t have the source code that programmers can read and change.

If you’re a programmer and you want to change the software, for yourself or for someone else, you can’t.

If you’re a business and you want to pay a programmer to make the software suit your needs better, you can’t. If you copy it to share with your friend, which is simple good-neighbourliness, they call you a "pirate".”

I’m sorry Richard this is called BUSINESS

Firstly, if I create something and expect to be financially compensated for it I expect every person who uses/owns it to pay up. Not just the first person who then passes onto everyone he knows who then in turn pass it on to everyone they know, etc, etc

Currently the same applies to DVD’s and music. If you copy those and pass them on for free then you are a pirate it’s not “good neighbourliness”. The fact that it’s software is irrelevant

Your obviously a big fan of free software. Well am I too. But I don’t believe that ALL software should be free. People still need to earn a living so if they decide they want to make money from their software. Good for them

If someone makes some similar software and charge less for it (or makes it free!) then that first person has to make their software even better. That’s called competition!

Do you work for free Richard? How do you pay for your house? Your food? Your computer hardware? At some point money comes from someone working. People make money from the skills they have. If that’s making software then so be it

Secondly, the bit where you talk about not being able to pay a pay a programmer to make the software suit your needs is way off the mark

Microsoft make a big deal out of the fact they are a platform company

Let’s talk about one of their flagship products as an example, Microsoft Office

For some years office has come bundled with Visual Basic for Applications. It allows you to turn the program into a platform where you can then add on extra functionality where making use of the products core functions as part of that. It’s so simple even I can do it!More recently we’ve also had the Visual Studio Tools for Office which perform a similar function but allowing you to take full advantage of the .NET framework


“In the UK, Microsoft established a major office in Gordon Brown’s constituency.”

So what? Microsoft have offices all over the UK. In the same way they have them all over the US and all over the world?


“There’s also the Digital Restrictions Management: software features designed to "stop" you from accessing your files freely. Increased restriction of users seems to be the main advance of Vista.”

Is DRM Microsoft’s fault? How does it “stop you from accessing your files freely”?

YOUR files that YOU create are completely under your control. You’ll need to explain this one to me I’m afraid

I think what your talking about goes back to the pirating issue. Media companies want to protect their property (music, video, etc). They ask Microsoft (and Apple, have you used iTunes on the Mac recently?) to help them do that.

I’m no fan of the restrictions we get when buying media online nowadays but your blaming the wrong people I think

Finally (I could go on but as I’ve ranted enough)

“In 1992, when the GNU operating system was completed by the kernel, Linux, you had to be a wizard to run it. Today GNU/Linux is user-friendly: in parts of Spain and India, it’s standard in schools. Tens of millions use it, around the world. You can use it too.”

and there is the problem

As you said in 1992 you had to be a wizard to run GNU/Linux. At that time you didn’t need to be a wizard to run Windows 3.11 not long after that Windows 95 arrived and you sure didn’t need to be a wizard to run that. My mom was able to use Windows 95!

If the user friendly version of GNU/Linux your talking about had been available back then maybe the Microsoft we know today wouldn’t exist. But that’s not what happened

I applaud the promotion of choice but not in attacking the way someone else has done it without a decent argument

Go make a better O/S and shout about why it’s better than the rest.

Your article gives no compelling to move to Linux (or any other O/S) other than “it’s free”

How many free cars, homes, computers are there in the world?

Tell me about features and benefits. How it will help my parents get the pictures from their digital camera?

I’m sure Linux has plenty to offer in that respect but your not talking about any of them

I’m not ranting about this purely because I’m a Microsoft fan

I’m all for a choice and freedom. I use open source software too (I used Notepad2 for the first time yesterday….why haven’t I used this before?! It’s great!) but it’s not the solution for every scenario. What got me riled here is the way your going about your argument

You can check out Richard’s personal site and his blog if your interested in seeing his other causes

That is all

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

Latest posts by Andy Parkes (see all)

4 thoughts on “Bitter? or just a difference of opinion?

  • Thanks for checking my blog out through the group I run.

    Thought I give you a comment back in return. Nice entries I seen there 🙂

    Hope to see you comment around mine again soon about the 360 etc.

    Take care.

    Batch (Batch1985 on the Xbox 360)

  • Locking people out of source code or not letting you use the software the way you want IS NOT business it’s a monopolistic view that ideas – and software – can be owned in a such way other can’t use it. YOU can make money out of free – like free speech – software, the difference is how you make money, by providing service, writing code or customizing it.

    On a personal side, no hard feeling here, I’m surprised that you’ve had use so few “free and open source” software than what you claim. Your blog is wordpress (open source) and you use Firefox (idem) I’m sure. Everyday you browse websites running on apache AND linux. That makes you the average user of FOSS.

    Richard Stallman is not a linux user as far as I know, he probably uses gnu/hurd (hurd is a kernel for the GNU project – Linux is another one – the most popular) so you can’t blame him for not talking that much about Linux.

    Richard Stallman is doing what he’s doing because he has the strong feeling that software can make the world a better place, and that political ideas at the crossroad of socialism and libertarianism – he will never admit that, so that is mine – can be applied to technology.

    I’m using and promoting Free/libre open source software because I want to make the world a better place. If companies with dodgy behaviour such as MS are on my way than I agree hurting them is a good thing for humanity.

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Lord Acton 1887.

    So goes Bill Gates

  • I applaud the fact you have a cause you follow so passionately. However, we live in a world of choice and ALL software doesn’t HAVE to be free or open source.

    Monopolistic? Yes, i never it said it wasn’t. It’s still business because they make money from the way they make software.

    Microsoft (and everyone else in world) reserve the right to make and distribute software in whatever manner they choose. Just because you disagree with that doesn’t mean it’s not a business

    Also i’m not defending Microsoft here. At what point have I said Free and Open Source software is a bad thing?

    What i would promote is to have the CHOICE
    When i need an Office suite i can CHOOSE between Microsoft Office and Open Office

    I can choose to pay or I can choose free

    I’m not quite sure what your getting at with my personal use of Open Source Software?

    I use open source software everyday (as does my business)
    Yes my blog runs on WordPress (no i don’t use firefox actually..again a choice)
    I use “Yet Another Forum” for a site i run
    I use 7-zip, filezilla, audacity, gimp (i could go on?) I pick the tool for the job depending on the job

    So what if Richard Stallman doesn’t use Linux? I never said he did???

    He used Linux as an example in his article so i just used the same to be consistant?

    By all means push for more open source software
    Just try to see the point of view that not everyone believes all software should be free

  • Yup, not all software need to be free and open source although I think we would better if it was. Freedom to say whatever you think, including things I disagree with is the most important thing. And I’m willing to got an extra mile to make you have the right to say your opinion I completely disagree with.

    I’m very happy to see you are already a user of Free Software. Keep filling the bug reports when you see bugs, that is practical way of making the world a better place

    If your reader want to try the next spin they can probably try Ubuntu for a while. And pay attention to the unix way (everything is a file one tool for one task) and the package management. Simply beautiful. RMS didn’t talk about it because it was out of scope.

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