Stallman on the Linux Action Show

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Loic J. Duros
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Joined: 01/28/2012

So distorted from what rms really said...

name at domain wrote:

>I'll keep the donation in mind when I get some more cash later on. Due
>to the
>conversion rates, I will have to pay $80 and would have to be on behalf
>of
>the company I use for contract work. That should be ok right?

leny2010

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I am a translator!

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Joined: 09/15/2011

The only automatic method of paying for membership that exists currently is
monthly by Paypal, using

https://trisquel.info/en/member

You would set the per month fee to the minimum 5 € on that page.

One off donations can be made using this page:

https://trisquel.info/en/donate

There it gives things like the IBAN & SWIFT for bank transfers.

If you want to get a membership via a one off payment, then I'll have to ask
other members to speak up and say how that might be achieved.

t3g
t3g
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Joined: 05/15/2011

I'll keep the donation in mind when I get some more cash later on. Due to the
conversion rates, I will have to pay $80 and would have to be on behalf of
the company I use for contract work. That should be ok right?

leny2010

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I am a translator!

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Joined: 09/15/2011

Actually Ruben is living off his savings in the hope we'll be able to raise
the money to pay him a Spanish minimum wage and sustain the project. There's
a critical bug open because we've not hit last year's target for members.

https://trisquel.info/en/issues/4528

Given you're 100% behind free software and the 60 € / year minimum
membership fee is only around the price of a quality anti-virus for a well
known proprietary system have you considered joining? You get some benefits

https://trisquel.info/en/member

Magic Banana

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Joined: 07/24/2010

When donating to a long-term project (such as Trisquel, the FSF, Wikipedia, etc.), you can consider that your donation rewards the past achievements you have freely benefited from. In this way you even better know what you pay for than the tablet-purchase example. ;-)

t3g
t3g
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Joined: 05/15/2011

The difference between giving money to a company compared to donations is
that when you pay a company, you know what you are getting the majority of
the time. You go to the store and buy a tablet with certain specifications
because that is what your money is exactly going towards. Same with creating
a website. You give the company a proposal and then invoice them saying that
you have created a finalized product with a certain amount of hours and that
is what the client is getting. The expectations and final result are set in
stone and agreed upon between the person buying and selling.

With a donation, it is more in good faith you are giving the money. That is
why there are so many Kickstarter projects in the thousands to support an
idea. The product may be a work in progress and may not even complete, but
people hope that by giving that entity cash that it would motivate the
developer and in return, help the person donating. Same goes for Trisquel
where the members donate to give an extra bit of motivation to Ruben so he
remains passionate about the product and the users (like myself) have some
reassurance that his ideals and progress mimic our expectations.

Magic Banana

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I see a difference between "needing money" and "getting motivated by money".
If Ruben was motivated by money I believe he would not have started Trisquel
in the first place. The probability he will make more money with Trisquel
than with another job exploiting his technical skills is very low. The same
can probably be written about Mozilla's employees.

But, again, I do not argue that people working with free software deserve a
remuneration at the level of their contribution. Citing myself:
Nobody here pretends that free software developers should never be paid for
their contributions. Stallman does not say that either. Those contributions
are positive whereas proprietary software developments are negative
contributions from rms' freedom point of view. The former should be
encouraged (e.g., with monetary rewards) and the latter discouraged.

As for your point about donation, I do not see much difference with giving
money to a company. You do not control either what the company does with the
benefits it makes on your purchases.

t3g
t3g
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Joined: 05/15/2011

People do get motivated by money. Take a look at Trisquel asking people for
money with its membership plans that pretty much say Ruben needs money to
keep this project going. If Ruben were to make the same if not more money
from monthly donations for Trisquel than his real job, then he would work on
this full time. If there were no members handing him money, then this project
wouldn't be at the state it is now and be another project that had a lot of
promise, but no sustainability.

There are two ways that Ruben can maintain this project and get money for it.
He can go the traditional route by setting up a small corporation or asking
for donations. There is so much overhead with taxes and employees to get a
corporation running and I doubt that is what he wants at the moment. Even if
he did get a corporation, he would have to make money by offering maintence
plans or forging deals with OEMs. There is also the Canonical route by trying
to get the OS onto devices like TVs.

Let's talk about the concept of donating. Isn't it just a socially correct
and legal way of panhandling? I mean if I give money to a homeless man, I do
it with the intention of using my own hard earned money to help that person
with their cause. That cause can be food, liquor, or whatever it is that the
homeless man wants. Donating is pretty much the same thing but without the
stigma of asking for it on the street. There are also the tax writeoffs.

Don't fool yourself with people doing things "out of the kindness of their
heart" mentality. Mozilla still gets 300 million from Google and push the
whole "open web, we are out for you" saying even though their CEOs get paid a
lot and they can have an office in San Francisco. If Ruben can get as much
money as possible from people handing him money, he will.

Magic Banana

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Well, the assertion "people get motivated by money" is questionable. I
remember a psychology paper showing that children draw significantly better
if they are not promised candies to do so (the generalization to any work and
any reward is questionable too).

Anyway, I believe nobody would pretend that the Linux kernel would benefit
from not having any paid developers since, as you wrote, they are the main
contributors today.

But... what is your point? :-) Nobody here pretends that free software
developers should never be paid for their contributions. Stallman does not
say that either. Those contributions are positive whereas proprietary
software developments are negative contributions from rms' freedom point of
view. The former should be encouraged (e.g., with monetary rewards) and the
latter discouraged.

m971668
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Joined: 03/14/2012

RMS certainly is an intelligent man and a prophet.

Yet, I understand how a programmer would take issue with his philosophy.

Learning how to program isn't something that a person can't do easily. Just look at the job listings for programmers and all the languages and software one needs experience in. Also programming is so immense to be able to understand concepts from hardware to application would take years of study.

Then by not making the case that programmers would make more money programming "free" software than "non-free", implies they won't. Morality doesn't stand up well against economics. Like it or not that is reality. Also, I gather that programmers don't believe they can make a living writing custom software, or on technical support contracts. This is troubling to any one that wants to be a programmer in the "free" software industry.

Then to hear that RMS uses a computer that isn't made any more saddens me.
It implies that RMS doesn't have an answer for OEM's to make "free" hardware.

Something they didn't talk about was "GNU/Hurd". It still isn't done.

Magic Banana

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I do not know where you are from but employers ask the same in France: they pretend a developer should know every programming language and everything from hardware to applications... but you don't! I am a assistant professor in computer science and I always tell the students that a good developer is someone with a great ability to abstract problems and a great ability to learn: there are new technologies popping up every few months!

That is why I defend the idea that the mandatory curriculum of the computer science department should focus on basic computer science concepts and math (discrete math, complexity theory, numerical computation, etc.) to exercise the ability to abstract. For instance, I believe it is not worth teaching both C and Pascal (both follow an imperative paradigm), both C++ and Java (both follow an object-oriented paradigm), etc. We had better teach one language per paradigm (how about LISP to show functional programming, Prolog to show logic programming, etc.). Naturally, the students may then need to learn another language... and that would even be the case if the university would try to teach every current technology because the student will soon have to work with technologies that do not exist yet!

As for your sentence "morality doesn't stand up well against economics", I would say it should. I will not do anything against my ethics even if this could potentially bring me billions of dollars. Like Stallman says, that would justify stealing as well. Of course stealing is illegal (a kind of "official moral"), whereas writing proprietary software is not. Well, that is why the free software movement is a political movement as well. If it completely succeeds, writing proprietary software would become illegal because the state would have understood that the computer user deserves freedoms that the law needs to guarantee.

For OEM to make hardware that perfectly works with free software (e.g., with Trisquel), an answer looks simple to me: stick to 100% free distributions and buy the hardware in consequence. The law of supply and demand should do the rest. Today, the BIOS is, by lack of option, excluded from this rule of conduct. To fix this issue, people are currently working on the coreboot project, a FSF high priority project. Here is what the FSF writes as "ways to help":
One of the biggest ways you can help the Coreboot project is to encourage vendors to release their specifications so that the Coreboot software can be made to run on those systems. If you wish to learn more about becoming a Coreboot developer, visit the #coreboot channel on irc.freenode.net, or join the Coreboot mailing list to talk with the current developers. One additional area where there is a need for development and attention is in the development of a free software VGA BIOS on graphics cards. We encourage you to pressure graphics card manufacturers to release their VGA BIOS as free software. If you'd like to begin development on a free software VGA BIOS, a good starting point would be the Geode LX chipset by AMD, for which full documentation is available.
Stallman uses the Lemote Yeeloong because it runs coreboo but, as he says in the interview, this netbook is not produced anymore.

As for the HURD, it is a failure... so what? Nobody here pretends rms is perfect. He made a strategical mistake when he chose a microkernel architecture, which turned out to be too hard to debug, hence to develop. Notice that the greatest scientists in this domain (notably Andrew Tanenbaum) were believing, at this time, that micro-kernels were a better architecture than monolithic kernels (such as Linux). Actually, Andrew Tanenbaum still says so. The GNU project stopped investing much effort on the HURD. Notice, for instance, that the HURD is not mentioned in the FSF list of high priority projects. Indeed, GNU's goal is a 100% free operating system and it was obtained when Linux filled the last remaining hole.

Again, that does not mean rms takes credit for Linux. He entirely acknowledges that Linux is Linus Torvalds' production and even call the whole system GNU/Linux (although Linux's contribution is far smaller than GNU's, whatever the metrics you want to use).

Magic Banana

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I do not know where you are from but employers ask the same in France: they
pretend a developer should know every programming language and everything
from hardware to applications... but you don't! I am a assistant professor in
computer science and I always tell the students that a good developer is
someone with a great ability to abstract problems and a great ability to
learn: there are new technologies popping up every few months!

That is why I defend the idea that the mandatory curriculum of the computer
science department should focus on basic computer science concepts and math
(discrete math, complexity theory, numerical computation, etc.) to exercise
the ability to abstract. For instance, I believe it is not worth teaching
both C and Pascal (both follow an imperative paradigm), both C++ and Java
(both follow an object-oriented paradigm), etc. We had better teach one
language per paradigm (how about LISP to show functional programming, Prolog
to show logic programming, etc.). Naturally, the students may then need to
learn another language... and that would even be the case if the university
would try to teach every current technology because the student will soon
have to work with technologies that do not exist yet!

As for your sentence "morality doesn't stand up well against economics", I
would say it should. I will not do anything against my ethics even if this
could potentially bring me billions of dollars. Like Stallman says, that
would justify stealing as well. Of course stealing is illegal (a kind of
"official moral"), whereas writing proprietary software is not. Well, that is
why the free software movement is a political movement as well. If it
completely succeeds, writing proprietary software would become illegal
because the state would have understood that the computer user deserves
freedoms that the law needs to guarantee.

For OEM to make hardware that perfectly works with free software (e.g., with
Trisquel), an answer looks simple to me: stick to 100% free distributions and
buy the hardware in consequence. The law of supply and demand should do the
rest. Today, the BIOS is, by lack of option, excluded from this rule of
conduct. To fix this issue, people are currently working on the coreboot
project, a FSF high priority project. Here is what the FSF writes as "ways to
help":
One of the biggest ways you can help the Coreboot project is to encourage
vendors to release their specifications so that the Coreboot software can be
made to run on those systems. If you wish to learn more about becoming a
Coreboot developer, visit the #coreboot channel on irc.freenode.net, or join
the Coreboot mailing list to talk with the current developers. One additional
area where there is a need for development and attention is in the
development of a free software VGA BIOS on graphics cards. We encourage you
to pressure graphics card manufacturers to release their VGA BIOS as free
software. If you'd like to begin development on a free software VGA BIOS, a
good starting point would be the Geode LX chipset by AMD, for which full
documentation is available.
Stallman uses the Lemote Yeeloong because it runs coreboo but, as he says in
the interview, this netbook is not produced anymore.

As for the HURD, it is a failure... so what? Nobody here pretends rms is
perfect. He made a strategical mistake when he chose a microkernel
architecture, which turned out to be too hard to debug, hence to develop.
Notice that the greatest scientists in this domain (notably Andrew Tanenbaum)
were believing, at this time, that micro-kernels were a better architecture
than monolithic kernels (such as Linux). Actually, Andrew Tanenbaum still
says so. The GNU project stopped investing much effort on the HURD. Notice,
for instance, that the HURD is not mentioned in the FSF list of high priority
projects. Indeed, GNU's goal is a 100% free operating system and it was
obtained when Linux filled the last remaining hole.

Again, that does not mean rms takes credit for Linux. He entirely
acknowledges that Linux is Linus Torvalds' production and even call the whole
system GNU/Linux (although Linux's contribution is far smaller than GNU's,
whatever the metrics you want to use).

teodorescup

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I'm just pouring gas on fire here but bare with me...

t3g, you wrote "I support GNU, free software, and Trisquel 100%." and used similar words on free software in other messages.

Now, can you explain yourself as in what part of the "free software" or GNU do you support "100%" ?
Because, you should know, free software as in libre/GNU free, refers to four essential freedoms as stated here; in consequence if you don't agree with those freedoms then you don't support "GNU, free software, and Trisquel".

And a self-evident note, nobody is saying you should like Stallman's style of "preaching" but that doesn't make Stallman's stance on free software wrong in any way.

alanharper198869
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Joined: 03/17/2012

The biggest argument against gaming here seems to miss the entire point.

ID Software has created the Free Software Gaming Model. Really, it's the only one I've ever seen be successful (by my standards anyway.)

What most people don't realize is that the art content of the game does not have to bee Free Software as it is not software. That's a copyright/creative commons/public domain debate around art that has nothing to do with software.

Doom has been Free Software for more than a decade, but they still own the copyright to the Imp Graphics.

ID Software realized that people editing WAD files made for more re-playability in their games. This increased their live spans and thus made the idea of investing into the games (buying the games) are greater choice for customers.

ID Software took it another step forward and went all the way when they decided to release the entire source code for Doom. At first it wasn't Free Software; it was just out there under some other license.

Later, ID Software re-licensed the engine under the GNU GPL and, thus, it was Free Software. People went forth and ported it to other operating systems after this.

This is important to the discussion because from then on ID Software has always re-licensed their engines for their major games under the GNU GPL whenever they are old. ID Tech 4, aka Doom 3's engine, was released a couple months ago.

Here is ID Software's Engine Life Cycle.

1: Create new engine.
2: Release pilot game developed on new engine.
3: Create or commission 3rd party development of either a sequel or an expansion pack to the pilot game.
4: Optional step of creating second in house game.
5: License engine off to other third party developers for about four to seven years (however long the engine is still seen in the gaming community as advanced enough to stay current and thus make money off of.)
6: When the engine is old (and thus no longer a viable property to develop on for in house or third part games) create a new engine (typically their a massive re-expansion of the original engine or an major ground up re-build.)
7: Re-license the old engine under the GNU GPL so that the entire gaming and software community can benefit from investing in the engine (aka buying the game.) This step is done after the inaugural pilot game is released on the new engine. (For example, we got ID Tech 4 about two to three month after Rage was released on ID Tech 5.) This step allows for mods to become stand alone games. It also might encourage some people to go back and buy the old games now that they can do so much more with them.

I have not heard of any other video game company fallowing this model. All the other companies, as far as I know, do steps one through six but never seven. They keep the old engine's code locked up, even though its outdated and there is no reason it can not be Free Software.

ID has encouraged other companies to fallow their example; but no one else seems to have cared to.

Some companies release really old game engines; but they don't fallow a regular step plan like ID Software does.

The real reason that most of the Free Software games are almost never as 'done' as proprietary games is because a game is more than an engine. Most Free Software games are games that programmers and developers either do for fun, and or for resumes. It might help them land a job writing proprietary code some day if their Free Software game gets good enough and popular enough.

It's a hobby for them, which is why they almost never have the advertising, marketing, or art department for their games. Their games almost never have full stories (no money for writers) as much variety in graphics (no money for 3D Modelers and 2D Artists) sound variety (no money for sound developers) music variety (no money for composers or performers) much awareness (no money for advertising.)

Instead, they typically have really great game-play engines with donated amateur graphics (not in a mean way, it's just true) repetitive sounds libraries from creative commons (ever get tired of hearing the same 'jump' sound or 'gun shot' sound in almost every game... this is way) repetitive music (ditto) and almost no story [the game is usually not long enough in content or levels to host a story anyway.]

Most of your favorite Free Software games are almost always, when you think about it, mod projects that started up around engines that grew out of engines that were donated by ID Software.

Xonotic come from Nexuiz which came from Dark Places, which came from Quake, which came from ID Software.
Tremulous came from Quake 3 which came from ID Software.

About the only games that are close to maturity I have seen that did not come either from ID Software or as a MOD of an ID Software game are Secret Maryo Chronicles and Hedgewars. There are a small number of other candidates, I would guess, but none that really stand out to me.

What most people don't understand is that the programmer gets payed the same (more or less) for writing the code for the business (or charity) commissioning the project regardless as to whether the project will be licensed as Free Software or not. Most programmers don't own he copyright to the code, because [like books, music, and movies] these copyrights are ceded to the publishers.

If you notice, about half of the Free Software programs people actually use are either donated from businesses as their old stuff, or are funded by mass charity movements.

If we want Free Software games worth whistling about, we almost have to do one of two things.

1: Convince more companies to be like ID Software and release their old code once it's old and not cutting edge anymore.
2: Create a Free Software Gaming charity.

The problem with option two is that, as you pointed out, gaming software isn't really much of a tool. As such, most people are not interested in donating to something that is entertainment only and not a practical work.

The difficulty with option one is that gaming companies are usually afraid of being out-competed by their own past works. Truly Free Software Licenses allow for commercial product derivatives. Meaning, if someone wanted to use the source code from ID Tech 4, strip all the Doom 3 content out, and create their own game content; they could proceed to sell their new game for a profit.

ID Software doesn't have to worry about that. They are constantly innovative. ID Tech 5 games should kick the pants off of ID Tech 4 games. If ID Tech 4 games are beating ID Tech 5 games; then ID Software is loosing their edge.

But, other companies are not so innovative and their engines or more or less the same as they have been for five to ten years or so. They mostly add new light a shadow things, and that's about it. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is about the same as Super Mario Galaxy 1 which is about the same as Super Mario Sunshine. That's why Nintendo is likely to feel that it can't release the engine for Super Mario Sunshine from 2002. Because their new games are basically just a modified engine of the same one from a decade ago.

So, getting other companies that are not as innovative as ID Software (most other video game companies) to re-license their old engine as Free Software is not going to be easy.

Also, as a third challenge, most games based on the ID Software engines aren't even complete games. This is, again, because of a lack of funding to generate new game content. They typically don't have a storyline for single player and they don't have single player missions about half the time. Think of Xonotic, it's single player is mostly just regular multi-player set ups with some goals to achieve. Not at all like Doom 3, where there is an entire storyline with voice actors and plot points unfolding.

This is why, sadly, I do not see any major movements in Free Software gaming coming to us in the near future. Even if we did get more engines from more companies, like we do from ID Software, they are usually just used for hobby modding and not serious game development. And the independent projects are typically hobby too, typically never getting 'finished' by proprietary standard of having a full game.

It seems the real solution for us for independent Free Software games to develop is to go against the odds and create a Free Software gaming charity.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having our best Free Software games having been proprietary first, many of our Free Software tools were once Proprietary before being re-licensed to be Free Software.

I just don't see any other way for Free Software gaming to go forward in any major sense without it being mods of ID Software Engines. Nothing generated independently has ever come close to being modern. Most Free Software games look like they're something from the 80s and 90s at best.

t3g
t3g
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Joined: 05/15/2011

Yeah, but ID is the exception to the rule. I really doubt that the big publishers like Activision, EA, Nintendo, Sony, and Ubisoft are ever going to release their game source code. Even if they remove all of the art, they will be scared about their code being on the net. There were big legal implications when Half-Life 2 source code was leaked and recently with Mass Effect 3 before the game was out.

Plus I think many of these games licence engines like Havok and Unreal Engine which would then require the creators of those engines, who make their money off of licencing, to release the source code. That would NEVER happen as Activion or EA could simply take the source code for the Unreal Engine and create their games by totally bypassing the original creators of the engine. The Unreal Engine creators would no longer have a business model, fire hundreds of employees, and basically go out of business.

Sure its nice to get the source code to make something. Just be prepared to maintain it. We all saw what happened with the NeXTSTEP Objective-C compiler when they were forced to release it under the GPL. The GNU version is an unholy mess while the Apple version is maintained and production ready.

alanharper198869
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Joined: 03/17/2012

But ID also licenses their engines. That's step number five on the list I made for you.

It looks like Unreal Engine is on version 3. As such, why isn't version 2 under the GNU GPL? Or version 1?

Tell me, how many new games out there are being released on Unreal Engine versions 1 and 2?

So, unless the truth is that Unreal 3 isn't that different (basically a crappy job) of an improvement over Unreal 2 and 1; then what harm could come from Unreal releasing it under the GNU GPL?

The only harm that could ever come from releasing old versions of your engine and old engines under the GNU GPL is the fear that commercial companies might take that code, advance it themselves, and out-compete your new engines and newer versions of your engines. Which, again, simply means that your new engines and new versions weren't that new or that innovative after all if some company can so quickly build off of your old work and catch up to your new work like that.

This is the gorilla in the room that no one wants to mention. Most video game engines haven't changed in any hugely meaningful ways in ten years.

Your PS3 games are working on mostly the same engines (I'd guess about 90% the same) as your PS2 games did. Outside of updating shadows and lighting, the rendering process for graphics and the game play mechanics of a game engine haven't changed much, nor needed to.

The character still collides with objects to pick them up, the keyboard, mouse, and controller input is still the same. Game objects act the same way.

The only true advance in game engines are rendering larger worlds and larger resolution of graphics. Which is not as much of a engine limitation as a hardware limitation. The engines are written to maximize what the hardware allows them to do. Once hardware advances and limitations are removed, some re-writing is needed to open the engine up a bit. But this is nothing major.

The shadow and lighting features of Doom 3 are the most advanced thing any engine has really seen before and sense.

ID Tech isn't really that different than ID Tech 4. Mostly, it allows for bigger worlds that ID Tech 4 didn't. Also, vehicle usage is up because of the bigger worlds.

Because so few games have advanced even this much, game companies are not likely to release source code of their old games for the fear that other companies will out-compete them.

The truth is, outside of prettier graphics and larger world areas, games have not really advanced in any hugely meaningful way for about a decade. It's like movies really. HD and 3D are the only 'major' advances now; and they are pretty minor.

The content of films, as with the content of games, will be what people care about. And, with or without advanced engines, Free Software typically doesn't have the 'man power' nor the money to purchase the 'man power' to develop enough content to make a 'finished' game.

Everyone company on Earth could release their engines tomorrow and independent Free Software game development wouldn't really spike up that much. There is no income stream to fund content development. Content development is what makes or breaks the success of a game; not its engine. This something that makes games different than regular software tools. And this is where I am not sure of how, in the near future, independent Free Software games will be able to 'compete.'

leny2010

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Many a mickle makes a muckle would seem to be the way to go. If free software can't assemble the resources to compete with games that have $Ms budget can it instead create the next Angry Birds? i.e. a Replicant/Cyanogen/Android game.

Magic Banana

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You are having an interesting conversation. I am not much of a specialist when it comes to games (although I enjoy simple 2D games such as Hedgewars, SolarWolf, FrozenBubble, puzzles, etc.).

I guess you are aware of Flattr and of the idea of turning it (well, not Flattr itself but a similar system managed by the state) into a mandatory tax on Internet connections. This tax would be raised in exchange of the freedom to non-commercially share *any* immaterial work (music, movies, press articles, etc.). That would be a complete (and, I think, very appealing) overhaul of the current merchandising of immaterial works (music intermediaries would largely become useless and stop taking most of the reward the artist deserves; quality online press would not feel any pressing need to track users and serve them targeted advertisement, etc.). It appears to me as an excellent way to finance free video games too. What do you think?

I also wanted to point out the game 0 A.D. that appears as an exception to what both of you say: it looks very polished. It seems financed through donations.

leny2010

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Many a mickle makes a muckle would seem to be the way to go. If free
software can't assemble the resources to compete with games that have $Ms
budget can it instead create the next Angry Birds? i.e. a
Replicant/Cyanogen/Android game.

Magic Banana

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Joined: 07/24/2010

You are having an interesting conversation. I am not much of a specialist
when it comes to games (although I enjoy simple 2D games such as Hedgewars,
SolarWolf, FrozenBubble, puzzles, etc.).

I guess you are aware of Flattr and of the idea of turning it (well, not
Flattr itself but a similar system managed by the state) into a mandatory tax
on Internet connections. This tax would be raised in exchange of the freedom
to non-commercially share *any* immaterial work (music, movies, press
articles, etc.). That would be a complete (but, I think, very appealing)
overhaul of the current merchandising of immaterial works (e.g., quality
online press would not feel any pressing need to track users and serve them
targeted advertisement). It appears to me as an excellent way to finance free
video games too. What do you think?

I also wanted to point out the game 0 A.D. that appears as an exception to
what both of you say: it looks very polished. It seems financed through
donations.

alanharper198869
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Joined: 03/17/2012

But ID also licenses their engines. That's step number five on the list I
made for you.

It looks like Unreal Engine is on version 3. As such, why isn't version 2
under the GNU GPL? Or version 1?

Tell me, how many new games out there are being released on Unreal Engine
versions 1 and 2?

So, unless the truth is that Unreal 3 isn't that different (basically a
crappy job) of an improvement over Unreal 2 and 1; then what harm could come
from Unreal releasing it under the GNU GPL?

The only harm that could ever come from releasing old versions of your engine
and old engines under the GNU GPL is the fear that commercial companies might
take that code, advance it themselves, and out-compete your new engines and
newer versions of your engines. Which, again, simply means that your new
engines and new versions weren't that new or that innovative after all if
some company can so quickly build off of your old work and catch up to your
new work like that.

This is the gorilla in the room that no one wants to mention. Most video
game engines haven't changed in any hugely meaningful ways in ten years.

Your PS3 games are working on mostly the same engines (I'd guess about 90%
the same) as your PS2 games did. Outside of updating shadows and lighting,
the rendering process for graphics and the game play mechanics of a game
engine haven't changed much, nor needed to.

The character still collides with objects to pick them up, the keyboard,
mouse, and controller input is still one the same. Game objects act the same
way.

The only true advance in game engines are rendering larger worlds and larger
resolution of graphics. Which is not as much of a engine limitation as a
hardware limitation. The engines are written to maximize what the hardware
allows them to do. Once hardware advances and limitations are removed, some
re-writing is needed to open the engine up a bit. But this is nothing major.

The shadow and lighting features of Doom 3 are the most advanced thing any
engine has really seen before and sense.

ID Tech isn't really that different than ID Tech 4. Mostly, it allows for
bigger worlds that ID Tech 4 didn't. Also, vehicle usage is up because of
the bigger worlds.

Because so few games have advanced even this much, game companies are not
likely to release source code of their old games for the fear that other
companies will out-compete them.

The truth is, outside of prettier graphics and larger world areas, games have
not really advanced in any hugely meaningful way for about a decade. It's
like movies really. HD and 3D are the only 'major' advances now; and they
are pretty minor.

The content of films, as with the content of games, will be what people care
about. And, with or without advanced engines, Free Software typically
doesn't have the 'man power' nor the money to purchase the 'man power' to
develop enough content to make a 'finished' game.

Everyone company on Earth could release their engines tomorrow and
independent Free Software game development wouldn't really spike up that
much. There is no income stream to fund content development. Content
development is what makes or breaks the success of a game; not its engine.
This something that makes games different than regular software tools. And
this is where I am not sure of how, in the near future, independent Free
Software games will be able to 'compete.'

t3g
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Yeah, but ID is the exception to the rule. I really doubt that the big
publishers like Activision, EA, Nintendo, Sony, and Ubisoft are ever going to
release their game source code. Even if they remove all of the art, they will
be scared about their code being on the net. There were big legal
implications when Half-Life 2 source code was leaked and recently with Mass
Effect 3 before the game was out.

Plus I think many of these games licence engines like Havok and Unreal Engine
which would then require the creators of those engines, who make their money
off of licencing, to release the source code. That would NEVER happen as
Activion or EA could simply take the source code for the Unreal Engine and
create their games by totally bypassing the original creators of the engine.
The Unreal Engine creators would no longer have a business model, fire
hundreds of employees, and basically go out of business.

Sure its nice to get the source code to make something. Just be prepared to
maintain it. We all saw what happened with the Objective-C source code when
they were forced to release it under the GPL. The GNU version is an unholy
mess while the Apple version is maintained and production ready.

t3g
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Oh btw, Bryan from the Linux Action Show gave some thoughts about his conversation with Stallman: http://lunduke.com/?p=2273

leny2010

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So reading between the lines RMS said nothing more than he has done before. Being gutter journalists and proprietary software programmers they cook up a story based on perceptions that were current a decade ago and have long been demonstrably false. There's no news in it. What is your point? We all know the media works like that, the benefit of the Internet is you can if you dig often find out what was actually said rather than the reporters' opinion. A good start would be:

http://shop.fsf.org/product/free-software-free-society-2/

The PDF is available for no charge.

aloniv

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I actually took the time to watch the video (in OGG Theora). I think the interviewers were really bad, and Stallman was for the most part quite good. I do think though that Stallman didn't explain well enough how to earn a living developing custom software, and some of his claims were inaccurate (e.g. Apple's app store doesn't exclude free software released under non-copyleft licenses). The problem with the iPhone is that you cannot install software without first removing restrictions imposed by the manufacturer ("jailbreaking") and not just the mere existance of an app store (even free software repositories reject software, e.g. hot-babe was rejected by Debian despite being released under a license they consider free).

leny2010

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While the ogg downloads...

My most recent understanding of the FSF position wrt the Apple App Store was that yes Apple had stopped specifically excluding copyleft software. However, the aggregate of their other conditions, namely that developers have to agree to exclusively distribute the app through them and they won't host source code, means that copyleft is still effectively banned albeit by a different measure. The game may have moved on from there as I last heard a couple of weeks ago.

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What don't you understand about custom software: some company or institution (or whatever) needs an application to fill a specific needs or, more frequently, needs to configure/adapt existing applications so that they accommodate these needs. Either it contracts developers to achieve the job (the developers are employees; they receive paychecks) or it contracts independent developers (usually organized in a company) to achieve the job. In the first case, the software is not distributed at all (talking about copyright does not make much sense). In the second cases, the customer receives the application under the terms of a free software license. In particular, it receives the source code of the software. In both ways, the customer does not suffer from any unethical control/dependence to the software developers. It can, for instance, choose to contract other developers to fix bugs left by the former developers or add some more features.

t3g
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So you recommend building an application or web script from scratch every time you have a client instead of simply building it once and licencing it with minor changes? How does that benefit the additional work for the developer?

Magic Banana

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Where have you read that?! Developing an application from scratch is very uncommon nowadays. Here is what I wrote:
some company or institution (or whatever) needs an application to fill a specific needs or, more frequently, needs to configure/adapt existing applications so that they accommodate these needs.

t3g
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Here's my problem:

Say you do a custom web application for a company and when you sign the contracts, that company, as part of their contract, says that all entities of the site belong to them. Its like any other job where you work for someone and they own the work you produce and you cannot reuse it for someone else. That includes the layout, images, and code. If you choose to reuse that code, you are then violating the terms of the contract and sharing potentally copyrighted work and can be taken to court for it.

The point of licencing is that I own the code and the client uses something of mine that I can reuse for others and simply change around things to make it custom to them. The main code is pretty much done and maintained by me and with them using it from me as a service, they cannot claim that it is their code in a court. They would get the same funcionality as if they had me make it from scratch and custom for them but the benefit is that I have some protection as a developer.

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What you do not understand is that distributing software under a free license is *not* abandoning one's copyright. For instance you do not have your name, after a (c), on the software Trisquel distributes to you. And neither does Trisquel. The authors have the copyright.

The contract you talk about has nothing to do with the opposition free/proprietary. Notice, however, that is the norm for in-house developments: everything an employee produces (during her working hours) belongs to the company.

t3g
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There is also the aspect of doing stuff on the web where the JavaScript code is viewable by anyone who does a View Source and the PHP code is hidden due to it being executed on the server. The software that RMS keeps referencing is actual software that I make for a client. His views don't really transition to the web when the web browsers people use basically give access to how the sites work whether the owner of the website wants them to or not.

Let's talk JavaScript for a moment since PHP is protected either way from the end user. Say you do a website for a coupon company that uses some pretty unique ways in how they interact with the user. The competing coupon company has an "oh crap" moment and want to mimic what you do. This is the trend in computing where many companies aren't really innovating at all but simply copying the ideas of others.

In your point of view, I should release the code under a GNU friendly licence even though I can attach a copyright to the company I did the site for. What is stopping the competing company from seeing my code, copying it due to the GNU licence, and then using it for their site. Let's say they still give me or the company I did the work for credit.

Now the company I did the work for originally comes back to me and says their competition has copied them and their computer guy or whatever looks at the code and sees that the JavaScript is exactly the same. The client gets pissed off because they paid you a LOT of money for coding something for them and now you are willingly giving it away for free for anyone to have. Once again, I am in big trouble with legal fees.

The reason I am bringing this all up is that if I made a custom application or one under the GPL and gave it to a company to run on their computers, there is no way for the competition to see their code unless they are physically there or have access to their computers. The internet puts the company's code out in the open for anyone to look at and gives a greater chance for others to steal. You know where I am coming from?

apvp
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I would say that some people here (and in many other places) have a mentality of "divide and conquer". They insert themselves into these forums and keep stating that they support this and that, but they show otherwise as time goes by, and they keep fuelling useless and redundant discussions.

It's quite obvious. Nothing new under the sun. I just can't understand why other people feel compelled to argue in defence of free software or whatever, when it is obvious that some people just won't listen, simply because they don't want to.

If i had to say something about this topic it would be something like "I don't agree with your point of view and i think it's quite misinformed or ill-intentioned. Anyway, when you feel that this is not the place for you you are free to leave. Just try not to make it unpleasant to others, please".

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Who runs the JavaScript you wrote? The visitors of the website (through their web browsers). They are the users. In rms' opinion (and mine, and that most of Trisquel's users I guess), the visitor therefore deserves the four freedoms defining a free software. Among them, the freedom to take part your code, improve upon it (or not) and redistribute it (through another website in your example).

Notice however than choosing a copyleft license, such as the GNU GPL, force this redistribution to happen under the same license. You can then profit from the improvements made by the people who took your code as a base. The company that paid you may want you to prevent the visitors to have control over the JavaScript they run... but that is unethical! As such, it is a deal rms (or me or most of Trisquel's users I guess) would refuse.

In rms' opinion (and mine, and that most of Trisquel's users I guess), copying is good. In all cases, and as I told you many times, copying is not theft (and is not defined as such in the legislations: stealing is a "subtraction of somebody else's property, who becomes deprived from it").

t3g
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Well some projects willingly want you to contribute back like jQuery becuase they are either community based or foundation based. The reality of that is they want you to do the free work for them improving and modifying their script so they don't have to pay people to do it. They make it clear from the start that using that JavaScript means you have the four freedoms.

But like I said before, what if the JavaScript from the start isn't intended to be absorbed by a community, modified, and redistributed? Is the code supposed to be lumped in the same category as the community based projects just because a group like the FSF says so? I know we can always minify the code, but according to you guys, the link to the unminified source code should be in the headers of each JavaScript.

I feel like we are going in circles here. On one hand you say "open it up" and I say "client won't want me to" and you say "do it anyways" and I say "I don't want to get sued" and then you say "protect our freedoms at any cost" and then I say "client doesn't want people to modify the code they paid for" and you say "we wont' run it then" and I say "the client and their potential customers don't even know what JavaScript is and really don't care as long as it works."

leny2010

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See my comment at 22:10 below

Magic Banana

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what if the JavaScript from the start isn't intended to be absorbed by a community, modified, and redistributed?

Even if it is not "intended to", it should be free otherwise it is not ethical.

Nobody tells you to not respect the contract and be sued. We tell you to not accept the contract and be ethical (i.e., respect the four freedoms the visitor of the website deserves).

Notice that we do not make any difference between "classical" applications and code executed in a Web browser. Both are software.

leny2010

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I agree with Magic Banana's point on the ethics. But let's look at the reality of how the ethics pan out in your situation from a different angle.

There is nothing you or your customer can reasonably do to stop someone cloning a successful feature on a webpage. As long as they don't copy the actual design (art appearance) they can code a replacement of their own. This happens very often.

If OTOH from your point of view you make the code copyleft and they are free to copy it you now have a prospective customer who might want modifications. At the very least the copying is advertising you, your coding abilities and your ability to have good ideas.

If you approach the customer from the outset with the fact that anything can be cloned and explain they are paying you for your time not the code. Further copyleft means they are not tied to you for modifications. You have a saleable ethical proposition which is what we all want.

aloniv

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Magic Banana, it seems you are describing an I.T. worker setting up a computer and configuring free software applications for a client to use. I agree that free software provides work for I.T. staff, and that the developer could also make money by training people to use the software, writing books about the software, selling merchandise regarding the software (e.g. Midori cookies) etc. The question is whether these models are sustainable (e.g. can one earn enough money to feed ones family?).

Magic Banana

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Of course you can earn enough money to feed a family. Many people do right now. We have already discussed it in this same thread. Please read this message and the subsequent ones.

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Additionally a web designer such as myself could continue to work using only Free and Open Source software.

The glitch is when we work for employers who institutionally use closed source software. I've been politely pushing to replace our current website updating method towards WordPress which should also allow me to use Trisquel at work via a USB Flashdrive.

Sneaky Sneaky.

t3g
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Magic Banana - don't you work in academia and your perspective is a little bit different? You get paid no matter what to teach something and that paycheck is always there as long as you remain employed with the company. In your line of work you are encouraged to share ideas and teach students within the classroom to share theirs. You have an employer who does the leg work organizing the school and you, as the employee, you execute them according to what they say.

I'm trying to take the perspective of the independent developer who has to do all of the organization, marketing, and execution themselves. I'm not sure if I said this before, but I am not a huge fan of the corporation. I would prefer that multiple small businesses were the norm instead of mega corporations flashing around big decisions with money and used that size as a leverage.

With that in mind, those are tough decisions. I actually do run my own small business and work in the web field. If I do go with putting my JavaScript as free software and it works, then kudos to all of you for convincing me. But if I do get in trouble with the client for using a free software licence, I will forever regret siding with the free software initiative.

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If your client gets pissed off by your licensing policy, that doesn't mean free software is some kind of bullshit that is not reality-based. It just means your client has false preferences. In theory, it would not be bad for anyone if the JavaScript you write for a webpage is licensed under the GNU GPL.

If you write a new JavaScript function for the client, he gets what he wants and pays you, once, for doing that job. That's all that matters: you getting the payment for the manhours, the client getting the functionality he desires.

So what if someone can reuse it? But that's as far theory goes of course. It's your business and your code and you decide how to license it. If I were you, I'd ask the client if he is ok with the GNU GPL. Point out the possibilities he will have while getting free software: sharing it with whomever, for example.

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t3g, In your situation if you license the code that runs on the server (e.g. JavaScript code) to the client under a permissive free license (i.e. one that allows the client to release it under a non-free license) you are still providing the client with all the software freedoms. If the client wishes that people visiting his site use the JavaScript code you developed under a non-free license, then visitors that value their freedom should reject it and demand that the client re-license the JavaScript code as free software. Note that Android faces a similar issue (Google releases it under a free license that allows device manufacturers to release it without distributing the source code, and most device manufacturers which produce Android devices do not provide the Android source code running on the devices).

t3g
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Alright, so Apache 2.0 then?

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My situation is indeed different to yours. However, a professor sometimes have to face ethical issues too: for instance, using didactic material that is not free (I have to do that this semester because I was asked to teach a basic course based on a common textbook, with common exams and taught by five other professors... including the author of the textbook), partnering with companies that want the academic developments to be under their copyright (I have always refused such a deal), signing copyright forms for the journals where the research is published (anyway, I make all my articles freely accessible from my website), using Windows rooms when they are the only ones available (what I taught at that time technically required the GNU tools and I made the student work over SSH on GNU/Linux systems), etc.

Lobbying (what includes entering some decision bodies) is a key to make the university a more ethical place. Not everything can change overnight and a transition period is unavoidable. Notice that rms does not pretend otherwise. He says that universities should only use free software and need to plan a transition over several years to do so (otherwise it would be a failure and no university would ever switch to free software).

I am also in favor of small businesses. Large corporation have far too much political power nowadays. I would even say this is the greatest problem the occidental world is facing: they are turned into "corporocraties" and (focusing on IT-related problems) vote laws such as ACTA, SOPA, PIPA, Hadopi, etc.

Again, nobody tells you to violate the contract you sign with your customer. It should clearly state that you will work in an ethical way, hence write free software.

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If some of you are curious to see a FoxNews style show about Stallman and free/libre software you can check the follow-up of the Linux Action Show.

On the bright side, maybe FoxNews will notice them and land them a contract...

t3g
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The follow up video is at http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/18071/bryan-hates-freedom-las-s21e01/ and they talk about Stallman around the 36:20 mark.

I know where you are going with this politically, but I would consider myself more of a Libertarian. I really don't like Fox News nor do I like any of the commentators on MSNBC. I know is quick and easy to attack an establishment like Fox News because they claim to be fair and balanced when they are more right wing. Of course MSNBC has their own political slant especially when most of their stuff is about the plight of the black man and how we need unions to run everything and all us should have white guilt.

Oh and does Stallman have Aspergers? http://edward.oconnor.cx/2005/04/rms

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Who cares if rms has Aspergers? That would not diminish nor reinforce his opinions.

Stallman has this great ability (in my opinion) of the philosopher: abstracting himself from the social world as it is to figure out how we could make it better. His opinions on natality are an excellent example: they clearly go against the admitted moral since congratulating the parents for their newborns is widely regarded as "normal". Anybody is free to agree or disagree with rms but just saying "rms is a jerk" is not an argument and is, unfortunately, the usual reaction to his non-conventional opinions.

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I know, it might sound shocking, but there is some truth to what Stallman says about children. He does it in an absolutely unpolite and mostly offending way. He is, as usual, unable to bring his point across so that the majority of people understands him. Don't get me wrong, I find the way rms speaks about children offending as well. The problem is, he is kind of right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY This video explains, why having lots of kids actually can be menacing. Please watch at least half of the 8 parts of the video, it is kind of entertaining also.