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blackie

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #30 on: December 17, 2009, 05:05:43 PM »

There are many software components for which permissively-licensed equivalents simply don't exist...  :cry:
Roll your own.
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #31 on: December 17, 2009, 05:25:37 PM »

C'mon, we don't even have a solid permissively-licensed C/C++ compiler and build toolchain...  I can't rewrite stuff like FFmpeg, GStreamer, Asterisk, etc, etc, etc all by myself...  (Life's too short - and I'd rather just use proprietary software, which truth be told is of much better quality anyway).

That's why it's so important that we inform other liberty-loving individuals that copyleft software encourages government force, and that it's likely to increase in the future.  GPL v4 might require that all program output (software compiled, files served, etc) be GPL'ed.  GPL v5 may further forbid mixing copyleft components with non-copyleft ones.  And GPL v6 might be accompanied by government legislation that open source writers be compensated for their work through tax-victim money (how else can they make their software philosophy economically sustainable?)  Etc...  :x
« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 05:29:20 PM by Alex Libman »
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2009, 01:44:59 PM »

I wrote another rant for another seemingly-libertarian forum:

Quote
Hi.  I'm new on this forum, and what inspired me to seek more feedback from other libertarians / Anarcho-Capitalists today is an issue I've been wrestling with for the past several weeks: reorienting my career as a programmer / database administrator / general small business "computer guy" around a software philosophy that is the most compatible with my ideology.


Does proprietary software always violate the Non-Aggression Principle?

The obvious answer to that seems to be yes - companies like Microsoft rely on government force to punish people for copying 1's and 0's that originate from them, even though copying does not really constitute an initiation of aggression against Microsoft, and those users have no clear contractual obligation not to copy.  (A good summary of the Anarcho-Capitalist position on the so-called "intellectual property" was recently presented in a series of episodes of the Complete Liberty podcast.)

It is very easy for me to imagine, however, how companies like Microsoft could still make a profit (though possibly a more modest one) in a government-free society by selling business contracts, student certification contracts, bundling software with other products and services, and so on.  They might even do better in absence of taxation, tariffs, antitrust regulation, restrictions on hiring of labor, and so forth.  There seems to be no limit to how far Microsoft's enemies will go to suppress the free market environment in which Microsoft is currently so dominant (without, of course, blaming Microsoft's use of government force, on which they also depend).

As a developer, I must also complement Microsoft on the recent improvement in the quality of their desktop products - which lured me back out of the Linux-land earlier this year.  And I certainly never had any problems pirating their software (I've pirated every MS OS since DOS 5.00), which has actually profited Microsoft in the long run because it enabled me to bring value to many companies that were shelling out obscene sums of money for legitimate licenses, and in most cases it actually did make objective business sense for them to do so.  But my relationship with Microsoft has never been an easy one, knowing that they are in bed with the government and can betray their users' trust at any time.


Is restrictively-licensed "free" software really any better?

Over the past decade I've been using the GNU/Linux software stack at every opportunity, although work commitments and hardware / software compatibility limitations have made that pretty difficult much of the time.  Linux is the undisputed leader on Web servers, where most of my recent development work has taken place, and it is gradually catching up to Windows and Mac OS on the desktop, having recently surpassed the 1% market share in that category, though it still has a long way to go in terms of simplicity and noob appeal.

Unfortunately (at least from the point of view that ignorance was bliss), I've recently become aware of the fact that in reality the "copyleft" software movement relies on government force even more so than proprietary software does, and would be completely impossible without it.  Consider, for example, Richard Stalinman (typo intentional - see his personal site) speaking out AGAINST the so-called Pirate Parties that were trying to limit the extent of government force in the name of the false construct called "intellectual property"!

It would have been natural to expect that free market competition would have quickly lead to over-saturation of some segments of the software market, resulting in prices stabilizing at the cost of distribution (essentially zero) and the competition of licensing terms resulting in software becoming open source and free of restrictive licenses, essentially public domain.  The "copyleft" socialists succeeded in jumping ahead of that bandwagon (as successful socialists tend to do) and convinced everybody that the only way software can ever be free is through the use of restrictive software licenses, most notably GPL.

Consider, for example, the case of the BusyBox software - most of that program's functionality was freely borrowed from permissively-licensed UNIX code, and then released as restrictive GPL.  When a number of companies tried to leverage that program for their benefit, however, the copyleft lobby used government force to initiate legal proceedings against them (in spite of the fact that the BusyBox author wasn't entirely supportive of their actions)!

A license like GPL has even less contractual validity than a proprietary EULA, which could be argued comes about at the point of the sale.  In a free society, a contract can be defined as a "meeting of minds", described in unambiguous written language, which is then insured by an arbitration authority (not necessarily a government monopoly) that is then responsible for its enforcement.  A "copyright" text-file inside a tar file you come across clearly isn't a legitimate contract that would hold up in a government-free society!

Due to its "viral" nature, GPL has spread throughout the open source no÷sphere like a hurricane!  Gullible developers (most of whom spend all their time thinking about code and little time contemplating philosophy) who had doubts about the commercial value of their work were convinced that simply giving away their source code wasn't enough, they had to license it to keep the "evil corporations" from "taking advantage of it".  In reality that's nothing but FUD, because a corporation that created a proprietary fork of your downstream work is only closed-sourcing their own contributions to it, which they should be free to do, while copies of your original code remain open source for anyone else to use as they see fit.

GPL forcefully demands that all derived works be released under the same restrictive license, and even static-linking to a GPL-licensed library usually requires that your work be GPL'ed also.  The ambiguity of this issue has worked in GPL's favor, and I personally know many developers who were confused into thinking that the GPL license (which is pretty long and written in legalese) was more restrictive than it actually was, and thought they were obligated to release their code as GPL if they developed in on a GPL'ed system (ex. Linux) or with a GNU compiler (ex. gcc).  While for now that usually isn't the case, there's always a chance that the GPL license will expands its powers in its future versions.  Successful socialists know how to phase in their agenda gradually, to keep the frog mellow in its ever-warming water instead of jumping out from shock.  The recently released GPL version 3 was more restrictive than its predecessor, and who knows what a future GPL v4, v5, or v6 would bring?

The copyleft-enforcement industry is still in its larval stages, but it can grow very quickly some time in the future, and they already claim to come across one GPL violation (a potential lawsuit) every single day.  Of course most slaves don't need to be whipped every single day, and the mere fear of falling victim to a GPL lawsuit will be enough to force most people into compliance.  Unfortunately, when it comes to software, proving that your code is original and didn't come from one of countless thousands of GPL projects can be very difficult, and two independently-written pieces of code that do the same thing can end up looking quite similar.  Just like becoming a proficient writer in the English language requires one to do a lot of reading, serious programmers spend a lot of time reading other people's source code to pick up the best algorithms, and there usually is one way to do something that is more efficient than all others.  Even if you're lucky enough to get a competent judge / jury and are found innocent, the legal proceeding are likely to have cost you weeks of your time and tends of thousands of dollars in legal fees!

That possibility can have a powerful chilling effect on the software industry.  Even under reasonable legal standards for burden of proof - if you've worked on a GPL'ed database program when you were in college, can you ever go on to work on a proprietary database program when you graduate without fear that some of your code will end up looking "too similar"?

All this leads to ever-more people being forced to GPL their code, thus almost entirely destroying the free market in the software industry (support services being an exception).  Much of the current open-source software was paid for with tax-victim dollars through military research and public universities (open source writers in some European countries enjoy free university education and even a government stipend), and some came about as the result of a short-term game theory phenomenon where companies like IBM and Oracle found it in their interest to hurt Microsoft as much as they can (which wouldn't be the case w/o Microsoft's intellectual property dominance, which is backed by government force).  In the long term, this leads to an ever-greater fraction of the software industry being subsidized by the government, which some copyleft proponents actively lobby for, and with government subsidies greater government control is pretty much inevitable.

I am not against people using copyleft software any more than I am against people using proprietary software, but I do have a problem with them calling the former "free" and the latter "evil".  True freedom comes from avoiding institutionalized aggression, not from trying to use the government force in the name of doing good, which historically has always backfired!


What other alternatives are there?

Several months ago I've started ranting about a "Software Freedom Scale" that ranks different software licenses according to the amount of government force they are based on, public domain being the ideal.  It is important to  note, however, that aggression-free software isn't always 100% guaranteed to be zero-cost and open source - a programmer has no more obligation to release his source code than a book writer his research notes, or a sculptor a video of every stroke of his chisel.  Having the software you use be open sourced is a very important benefit, but that benefit must come from qualitative competition between various alternatives, not from mandatory transparency through government force!

There is hardly any good software out there that exists in the public domain, but the next best thing seems to be permissively-licensed software whose licenses were actually intended to prevent someone else from suing the authors in case that software does something naughty (though such disclaimers would not be necessary in a society with rational jurisprudence).  Some of those licenses also forcefully require proper attribution, which shouldn't be necessary in a free society because there are many other ways to prove who did what first, but I don't think there's any history or potential for that clause to be used as a trigger for substantial legal aggression.

It is also important to note that this "Freedom Scale" was simplified to ignore things like whether that software originated through government aggression (as is the case for much of it), and the ideology of the programmers involved (I was particularly upset by a recent example of a programmer I idolize being a total commie).  History is filled with evil things, and we are all standing on the shoulders of slave-traders, warmongers, and other savages - what matters is that we do the right thing going forward.  (I have briefly considered the possibility of a license that specifically denies all rights to any government employees and other NAP violators, but that would obviously be unenforceable and comically hypocritical.)

So this leaves us with permissively-licensed open source software, which isn't as popular as copyleft or proprietary software, but still gives us a solid foundation to leverage.  The so-called "Anarcho-Capitalist software stack" begins with any of multiple competing BSD-licensed UNIX operating systems: FreeBSD (and its derivatives like PC-BSD, which are great for new users), OpenBSD, NetBSD, DragonFly BSD (my emerging favorite), and someday maybe even a derivative of MINIX 3.  Although the BSD family of operating systems use competing implementation ideas, they voluntarily adhere to a common UNIX philosophy and industry standards (much more so than Linux), and it can be as easy to switch between different BSD's as it is between Linux distributions, especially when you're using a common package management system like pkgsrc.  I must admit that Linux has just recently surpassed all BSD's in performance and portability, but that only happened due to a massive inflow of funds from companies like IBM, and the BSD projects could easily catch up and surpass Linux if more people started contributing, which is fairly likely to happen as more people come to see the down-side of copyleft aggression.

A lot of people use BSD and similarly licensed code, but they're more likely to release their own open source work as GPL for reasons stated above. It even could be argued that BSD-licensed operating systems have a 100% market share, because I can think of no noteworthy operating system that didn't borrow some code from them - most famously Mac OS X, but Windows and Linux as well!   :wink:

The X server (the core GUI foundations that most UNIX-based operating systems use) is permissively licensed, but most noob-friendly desktop environments (ex. KDE, Gnome, Xfce, ROX, etc) are not.  There are a few less popular window managers that are permissively licensed (ex. Enlightenment, Fluxbox, JWM, and the Compiz 3D effects engine), but that is becoming ever less relevant as more and more software is starting to function though the Web browser.  This is good news, because there's finally a real possibility of a permissively-licensed open sourced Web browser coming about some time in the future, all thanks to Google's Chromium!  The current version of that browser still isn't entirely stable, still married to Google's motives, and still uses some GPL code, but its BSD components will inevitably be used to create a new browser some time in the future, which I see becoming a backbone of a complete permissively licensed desktop environment with AJAX-powered widgets.

Fortunately my favorite database tools (PostgreSQL and SQLite) are already permissively licensed, as are many other great server-side components (ex. apache, ssh, pureftpd, bind, cyrus, qmail, etc), and a sufficient selection of shell tools and scripting languages.  I never found any serious need for a complete IDE, so I've always used free non-copyleft editors like vi and SciTE.  The biggest GPL'ed villain in an average developer's software stack is the GCC compiler and the rest of the GNU toolchain, but it may soon be possible to replace it with Clang, and perhaps even new programming languages like Google's Go, or Apache Foundation's noble efforts to rebuild all Java components (and a complete application server) under their permissive business-friendly license.

Unfortunately there are still some gaps in the permissive software stack that current software just cannot fill.  For example, we have a great BSD-licensed BitTorrent library, but all of the GUI clients that use it are GPL'ed.  We also have a similar situation with BSD-licensed multimedia codecs from Xiph.org (ex. ogg, vorbis / theora), but there doesn't seem to be any permissive media player program out there (except playing them in Chromium via HTML5 audio / video tags), and since most video you come across online is in other formats non-permissive software like FFmpeg or GStreamer is most often needed for conversion.  Of course I have no moral qualms about just using a Windows box in addition to my primary BSD boxes, with the Windows box doing all my shady P2P and codec crunching for me and spitting out a nice standards-compliant HTML5 interface for playing any multimedia files that I need.  ;)
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 02:58:24 PM by Alex Libman »
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #33 on: December 29, 2009, 09:48:13 PM »

Bah, I wanted to post the above-quoted rant on several Anarcho-Capitalist forums, but ended up only posting it on one small forum where it didn't really take off, and more recently on the FSP Inc's forum.  I'll post it on more forums in the future - unless someone beats me to it of course.  (Just please let me know about it, so I don't annoy the same forums with a duplicate.)  Needless to say - the text is public domain.  ;)

An interesting terminology started to evolve on that FSP forum thread: RL for Restrictively Licensed software (ex. GNU), PL for Permissively Licensed software (ex. BSD), and PD for Public Domain.  Not sure if it's a good idea because it'll make my threads less visible to the likes of Google, but it does save a bit of typing in most of my paragraphs.


In other BSD-related news, from OpenBSD journal (undeadly.org) -- Call for testing: pcc and the OpenBSD kernel --

Quote
Michael Dexter from BSD Fund writes in with an update on pcc developments:

Quote
Anders Magnusson (ragge@) reports that pcc can now build a bootable OpenBSD -current x86 kernel and that amd64 support is coming soon. Your testing using a fresh snapshot is greatly appreciated.

Please report any bugs in the pcc bug database and be as precise as possible. Code samples are welcome.

We'd like to thank Jonathan Gray (jsg@) for finding many code-generation bugs that were revealed by the kernel and also the dozen donors who contributed a total of over $750 to this effort this month, bringing us less than $3,000 from our goal.

This is great news for software projects in general, as it is another step to try to diminish the GCC monoculture and for OpenBSD specifically as this marks the first architecture kernel that can be compiled with this compiler with hopefully many more to come.

PCC should not be confused with Clang + LLVM, which together form another BSD-licensed C compiler that has been used to compile FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD.

Take that, Richard Stalinman!   :twisted:
« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 12:25:09 AM by Alex Libman »
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #34 on: January 02, 2010, 09:59:39 PM »

News from the desktop BSD front -- PC-BSD 8.0-BETA Released --

Quote
The PC-BSD Team is pleased to announce the availability of PC-BSD 8.0-BETA (Hubble Edition), running FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE, and KDE 4.3.4

Version 8.0 contains a number of enhancements and improvements. For a full list of changes, please refer to the changelog. Some of the notable changes are:

  • FreeBSD 8.0-Release
  • KDE 4.3.4
  • Brand new System Installer, allows the install of PC-BSD or FreeBSD
  • Run in Live mode directly from DVD
  • Updated Software Manager, allows browsing and installing applications directly
  • Support for 3D acceleration with NVIDIA drivers on amd64

Version 8.0-BETA of PC-BSD is available for download from our mirrors, and will be available shortly as bittorrent from www.gotbsd.net. Also, our Pootle Translation [WP] page has been updated with the latest strings, translators should now be able to finish localizing PC-BSD into their language.

In order to prepare for 8.0-Release, please report any and all bugs to our Trac Database [WP]!


Direct DVD torrent links: x86, x64.

PC-BSD is a great way for people addicted to Microsoft or GNU software to replace the core of their operating system without giving up a fancy GUI or ease of installation, package management, and other administrative tasks.  Most new users should probably wait for the stable release, but this is a good opportunity to get your feet wet (ex. via VirtualBox).
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AL the Inconspicuous

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« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 08:28:42 AM by Alex Libman »
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #36 on: January 10, 2010, 11:59:26 AM »

OK, I no longer advocate using FreeBSD... 

Man, I'm so pissed about this I can't stand it.  FUUUUUCK!  :cry:

Commies, every single one of them!  Not a single pro-Linux / FreeBSD forum out there where you wouldn't get ostracized or banned for discouraging government violence.  They make the old WiN^WaReZ groups seem like havens of wisdom and integrity in comparison!  I posted my opinion on the FreeBSD forum thread that was pushing for government intervention in the Oracle / Sun deal and I had my account AND ALL MY POSTS fucking deleted by some retard mod!  Even the posts where I was submitting bug reports and helping other users!  FUUUUUUUUUUCK!!?!!!

OK, fine, there might still be one free operating system that isn't totally FUBAR'ed, which is OpenBSD.  Sure, it might be the slowest [2] and least supported major UNIX operating system, and it can't boot on my fucking Gateway CX200 laptop without freezing it to the point where I have to take the battery out just to turn it off (no OS, not even the early Haiku builds, has ever screwed it up so badly!), but at least its philosophy isn't based on government force...

After all, the brains behind it, Theo de Raadt, is well known for his Howard-Roark-like commitment to his values, and his outspokenness against the Iraq War did push a lot of government funding away from his project, and his avoidance of copyleft components does seem to fit with my philosophy perfectly, and he chose to live in Canada's most fiscally-conservative province, etc...  All that seems to indicate that he's a kind of person whose operating system I can proudly use and contribute to without contradicting my Anarcho-Capitalist values!

But I didn't want to spend any time falling in love with this operating system just to discover that its being managed by government-loving assholes, as turned out to be the case with Windows, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, etc...  According to some speculation and quotes (search this link for "taxes" and this link for "let the FCC") that certainly was a possibility...

So I've decided to put common courtesy aside and just e-mailed the guy to ask where he stands!

Here's what I wrote:

Code: [Select]
Theo,

I'm a big fan of all your open source work, with a history of promoting
OpenBSD and its components in some places where I've been employed over
the years, like [NAMES OF COMPANIES DELETED].

Of course you've probably gotten thousands of such "thank you" e-mails
out of the blue before, so I'll just jump to a somewhat impolite
question that I'm really hoping you will answer.  There seems to be a
lot of speculation in some Internet circles about your personal
political opinions, one example being at tinyurl.com/yjzyyeg ...

Now normally I didn't let stupid things like politics get in the way of
good software, but lately my libertarian / Anarcho-Capitalist /
Objectivist philosophy has become a very divisive issue for me,
especially in my increasingly zealous avoidance of software communities
that I see as benefiting from government force: not just proprietary
software but Copyleft as well.  (One could read a summary of my
political philosophy as it pertains to software at tinyurl.com/ykwakf4).

Earlier today I also had a falling out with the FreeBSD community as
well, after a moderator on their forums banned me for my outspoken
opposition on a thread promoting the HelpMySQL.org petition, which I see
as advocating unjustifiable Nanny State interventionism.  This incident
has finally encouraged me to end my addiction to Copyleft multimedia and
blobs on desktop computers, entirely devoting myself to running OpenBSD,
as well as promoting it for technical as well as ideological reasons to
other libertarians in our growing movements.  That could end up becoming
a major campaign, including a customized OpenBSD distribution with a
"Free State Project attitude", but I'd really like to know your opinions
on these matters beforehand.

You probably can't really stop someone from drawing a gun-toting Puffy
holding an Anarcho-Capitalist flag with a sign that says "Taxation Is
Theft", but I'd really like to know how that would make you feel before
I run with the idea. It might have been inappropriate of me to create
this idea in my mind that OpenBSD is particularly compatible with my
philosophy, so I'd really like to get some feedback from you beforehand,
not just what I am allowed to do with your work but also your opinions
on the issues I've mentioned.

I really hope you will reply (in due time of course - I'm sure you have
more important things to worry about).  I would appreciate being able to
quote from your reply on open Internet forums, but I welcome you to
indicate in your reply if/where you don't wish to be quoted, which I
promise to respect.

Either way, once again - thank you very much for your work!

Best regards,
Alex Libman


(EDIT: I initially thought there was something wrong with their mail-server, but then I remembered that some people configure their mail-servers to ignore incoming connections that aren't white-listed the first X hours because spammers tend to give up trying to redeliver sooner than legitimate mail sources do.  Never seen one set the timer to over 6 hours before...)
« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 11:30:17 AM by Alex Libman »
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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #37 on: January 10, 2010, 12:05:24 PM »

Ah, idealism meets the Real World. (TM)

The real irony here is I suspect rms is ready to hear the message of liberty.
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BobRobertson

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #38 on: January 10, 2010, 02:51:11 PM »

The real irony here is I suspect rms is ready to hear the message of liberty.

Now THAT is something I would really consider a GoodThing(tm, reg us pat off).

He has been very convincing as far as he went, like Milton Friedman in that, but he's stopped short. Likely due to the scientist hubris that "it would work with the right people in control."
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"I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776 to acquire self-government and happiness to their country is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be that I live not to weep over it."
-- Thomas Jefferson, April 26th 1820

AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #39 on: January 10, 2010, 03:06:44 PM »

Richard Stalinman is enemy #1, or maybe second only to PETA in his nuttiness and hatred of individual rights.

I counted like 35 different calls to violate people's rights on his personal homepage alone (mixed in with feel-good propaganda, of course, that is how would-be tyrants always operate).  If I had to pick just one it would have to be this: a call for universal government to end all tax competition:shock:

That alone should encourage every free-stater with even a nanogram of moral integrity to abandon GNU software for good!
« Last Edit: January 10, 2010, 03:15:44 PM by Alex Libman »
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digitalfour

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #40 on: January 10, 2010, 03:58:28 PM »

Hey Alex, vi or emacs?


 :lol:
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #41 on: January 10, 2010, 04:11:09 PM »

Umm, vi (nvi / vim), obviously.  If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to use an emacs editor, I'd use mg.  I can survive with mg and I can do pretty much everything with vim, but I don't like using them for programming or other tasks that involve jumping between files a lot.  Also, I'm trying not to go blind before I'm 40, and console fonts do stress the eyes more than antialiased GUI, so I'd rather use an editor like SciTE instead.

If your question was meant to suggest that I'm engaging in some pointless "holy war" with the GPL vs BSD thing, well, you might as well say that about all aspects of liberty.  Is tyranny vs freedom another "holy war" cliche where you'd stand aside and giggle while the nerds fight?
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digitalfour

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #42 on: January 10, 2010, 04:36:03 PM »

I was being totally serious. Just like always.

Why don't you start some new thing?
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #43 on: January 10, 2010, 04:59:48 PM »

I'll have to find a way to clone myself first.  Unfortunately my clones are never perfect copies - they always forget to put breaks in their switches or dangle their curly braces in all sorts of ungodly places...  :roll:
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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #44 on: January 11, 2010, 12:16:15 AM »

I'll have to find a way to clone myself first.  Unfortunately my clones are never perfect copies - they always forget to put breaks in their switches or dangle their curly braces in all sorts of ungodly places...  :roll:

You are not fooling anyone. You ARE the imperfect clone. You killed the original, jealous of - of all things - his perfect hair.
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"If you're giving up your freedom to have freedom you don't have freedom, dummy."              - Mark Edge (10/11/08 show)
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