The Politics of Freedom
I like say it's back, but the reality is that it never went away. In much the same way that the various political parties in the United States want to define what democracy really is, software politicians want to define what free software really is.
While the majority of the users of free software (whether it be GPLed, public domain, BSD licensed or any of the other free classes of software) are happy to use it and appreciate that it exists, there is a minority who have their own political agenda. And the one at the top of the minority list is Richard M. Stallman (commonly known as RMS), creator of the Free Software Foundation.
Most Linux users are aware of the GNU project of the Free Software Foundation the people who have made a huge contribution to the Linux effort through the creation of programs like Emacs and gcc. But not many people know that the GNU project was supposed to turn out a complete Unix-like operating system, including a kernel called The Hurd.
RMS approached Linux Journal almost two years ago and told us that we should refer to what we call Linux as GNU/Linux. While we all recognize the contribution that the GNU project has made, we declined to make this change, as it is our job to report what is happening, not to create news (something that many other magazines along with newspapers and TV news programs could learn from).
Stallman's latest idea is to rename Linux as Lignux. (I would have included particulars from the opinion RMS wrote, but it is under a copyright that allows verbatim copying only, and it is longer than the space allotted here. The gist of his stated opinion is that the GNU project has been working for 12 years to make something like what Linux is today, that Linux is based on GNU, and that the GNU project was built from other free software including X Windows, TeX and BSD network utilities. He then concludes that these components together make up what is called the GNU system.
Using this same logic we could say that we have combined the GNU system, the Linux kernel and other free software to produce what is called the Linux system. If fact, we do say it.
Perhaps RMS is frustrated because Linus got the glory for what RMS wanted to do. Linus managed to get more people working together for free to produce a commercial-grade finished product. While Linux didn't start out to be put under GPL license teRMS, Linus decided that was the right thing to do. Rms should see this as a serious conversion—it's like Linus found religion. Linux isn't a threat or a competitor; it is RMS's biggest success.
Or, put another way, why am I taking up all this space to discuss this matter? Because a split between FSF-supporters and Linux-supporters just doesn't benefit anyone in the free software community. It doesn't benefit any consumers of software—free or otherwise. In fact, it only benefits companies like Microsoft.
I have been a supporter of the Free Software Foundation for years: SSC continues to sell FSF books (none of which have ever been profitable for us, but have helped the FSF), and I have little disagreement with what RMS has to say. However, I do have a problem when he feels that everyone has to believe exactly the same things he does. I want Bill Gates to yield to the pressure of a successful free software movement and make his software freely available, rather than let him watch the infighting in the free software community over which type of free software is best.
I see two driving forces that have made Linux a success: it's good, and it exemplifies the right attitude. While the BSD crowd has been busy with infighting, and the Free Software Foundation has been trying to define what 'free' really is, the Linux community has been writing code and building a complete and successful package.
This attitude is what has made commercial vendors see Linux as a viable platform for their products. We've seen you can't go wrong if you buy IBM and then you can't go wrong if you buy Microsoft. Neither of these may have been the best answer, but both were safe answers. Linux is becoming successful in commercial markets, because once again, it offers a safe answer.
While I don't have a formula that will make all this go away (so we can get back to development on the best operating system around that just happens to contain software from various sources including the Free Software Foundation), I would like to offer one final opinion; this one is from Darin Johnson's Usenet posting, where he says, heck, you can do whatever you want with my posting. I think it offers another way to look at what is happening:
Finally, to quote someone I think we all know: “Umm, this discussion has gone on quite long enough, thank you very much. It doesn't really matter what people call Linux, as long as credit is given where credit is due (on both sides). Personally, I'll very much continue to call it Linux.”
Relax, Linus—so will we.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide