me, thinking out loud…

Posts tagged ‘freedom’

Software Freedom Day

Three Cheers to ‘Free Software’!
A toast for GNU on its 25th Birthday![1]

If you intend to ask, what I did on this day, I have nothing to show. I haven’t done anything that’s tangible but yes, I have re-dedicated myself to the idea of Free Software.
This post intends to shed some light on a few things (if not for the benefit of others, just as a reminder for myself)

  • Free Software is a matter of liberty, not price.
    I’ve often been in a position that required me to correct people. ‘Free Software’ is software that’s free as in free speech and not free beer. For the lack of a better word in english, the word ‘free’ which also means gratis has been used. Using the term ‘Libre’ sometimes helps and if you are in this part of the world, “mukt” is the best word to use.
  • Free Software comes along with four fundamental freedoms.[2]
    To put it simply, the freedom to use, study, share and modify any software.
  • Free Software may have the advantage of being ‘technically sounder’, but the philosophy is what matters the most to me.
  • I will do whatever is possible within my capacity to spread the philosophy and the associated freedom

Be Free, My Friend!

Here is an extract from one of Stallman’s [3] Essays:

 We must talk about Freedom

   Estimates today are that there are ten million users of GNU/Linux
   systems such as Debian GNU/Linux and Red Hat Linux. Free software has
   developed such practical advantages that users are flocking to it for
   purely practical reasons.

   The good consequences of this are evident: more interest in developing
   free software, more customers for free software businesses, and more
   ability to encourage companies to develop commercial free software
   instead of proprietary software products.

   But interest in the software is growing faster than awareness of the
   philosophy it is based on, and this leads to trouble. Our ability to
   meet the challenges and threats described above depends on the will to
   stand firm for freedom. To make sure our community has this will, we
   need to spread the idea to the new users as they come into the

   But we are failing to do so: the efforts to attract new users into our
   community are far outstripping the efforts to teach them the civics of
   our community. We need to do both, and we need to keep the two efforts
   in balance.

[2] The Free Software Definition
[3] The GNU Project by Richard Stallman


Busy without Business…

Yes, that’s what my PS’s been like.. It hasn’t turned out to be as great a learning experience as one would imagine it to be.. [or atleast I hoped, it would be…] On the contrary, its turning out to be bad…

Nowadays, there’s a certain danger of the same thing happening, even in the famous field of physics. I was shocked to hear of an experiment being done at the big accelerator at the National Accelerator Laboratory, where a person used deuterium. In order to compare his heavy hydrogen results to what might happen with light hydrogen, he had to use data from someone else’s experiment on light hydrogen, which was done on a different apparatus. When asked why, he said it was because he couldn’t get time on the program (because there’s so little time and it’s such expensive apparatus) to do the experiment with light hydrogen on this apparatus because there wouldn’t be any new result. And so the men in charge of programs at NAL are so anxious for new results, in order to get more money to keep the thing going for public relations purposes, they are destroying — possibly — the value of the experiments themselves, which is the whole purpose of the thing. It is often hard for the experimenters there to complete their work as their scientific integrity demands.

When I first read this {from Feynman’s Cargo Cult Science [Adapted from a Caltech commencement address in 1974]}, I couldn’t quite figure out what or how exactly things are happening and what exactly Feynman meant by “losing the value of experiments”. But, now I know.. thanks to my PS. A lot of stuff that goes on here..[at least from what I can see..] is quite similar to (in fact worse than) this. PS’s been absolutely disappointing.. I don’t think I’ve learnt anything here that’s worth the effort of spending my hols (too), away from home… [except for Awe-TEM] I don’t think I will be taking back anything with me.. other than may be, a knowledge of stuff that I shouldn’t learn, stuff that I should keep away for the rest of my life…

Feynman is saying this to *me*, Right now!

… I have just one wish for you — the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.

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