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How not to recognize free hardware

How not to recognize free hardware

Posted Oct 21, 2010 6:10 UTC (Thu) by grahame (subscriber, #5823)
Parent article: How not to recognize free hardware

I saw RMS speak in Perth (Australia) on Tuesday night. Fully half the talk was listing his litany of complaints; about half that time was devoted the Linux vs. GNU/Linux argument.

Much of the audience were corporate types, who didn't know that much about free software, and were definitely not seeming inspired by what I can only characterise as whining about what to anybody sensible is a fairly minor one. Certainly something that matters to RMS and the FSF, but it shouldn't have been in that speech.

Stallman was pretty amazingly rude to people asking questions, and I know a couple of people who wanted to ask questions but were put off by his rude and aggressive responses to other questioners.

I don't think RMS is a good head for the community. Someone also needs to tell the FSF that 'iBad' and so on are lame puns that aren't going convince anyone that's not already convinced!


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How not to recognize free hardware

Posted Oct 21, 2010 6:48 UTC (Thu) by elanthis (guest, #6227) [Link]

The problem is worse than that, in ways I don't have the time to explain fully right now. The gist of it is that "Linux" is an incredibly marketable, catchy, easy-to-remember name, and "GNU/Linux" when spoken out loud feels like something you have to hack out of the back of your throat. People say "XP" and not "Microsoft Windows XP" for exactly the same reason that people say "Linux" and not "GNU/MIT/KDE/Linux/etc."

A short, sweet, catchy name is going to be more popular than a longer, uglier name, whether or not it is more correct. Period. If RMS actually cared about his beliefs and his goals more than his ego, he not only would drop the "GNU/Linux" requirements, he'd also rename both the FSF and GNU to be more palatable by regular folks.

"Free Software" is an even bigger mistake, on the account that it really is just confusing to people who don't know what the term means. If I use the term "Open Source" around someone who knows jack and shit about software licensing, then the best case scenario is that they'll figure out what it means on their own and the worst case scenario is that they have to ask me what I meant. If I use the term "Free Software" around the same person, the best case scenario is that they assume I mean "software you can get freely" and worst case scenario they assume it is equivalent to "freeware." Open Source isn't confusing, and it even clearly states in relatively unambiguous terms what it means. Free Software is extremely confusing and super ambiguous. The simple fact that there are a metric shitload of proprietary apps that call themselves "free software" (because that is a perfectly valid English label for the software) is proof enough. Nobody is going to go around calling Internet Explorer 9 an Open Source project, but it's already called free software by people who (gasp) downloaded the beta for free. If I have to attach a paragraph of explanation to a term every time I use it -- not just to explain nuances of the vernacular but to make sure it isn't wildly misinterpreted as something totally different -- then the term is disastrously poorly chosen.

This is why I always use the term Open Source, why I always use the word Linux to refer to an entire class of OSes, and why I pronounce GNOME as "gnome" and not "guh-nome" (because the latter just makes you look retarded as that combination of letters already has an established pronunciation).

How not to recognize free hardware

Posted Oct 21, 2010 11:07 UTC (Thu) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

Aside, but "guh-nome" (with a short, soft, not too obvious 'guh') surely is an established, popular pronunciation? It certainly is in en_{GB,IE} and probably other !en_US locales..

How not to recognize free hardware

Posted Oct 21, 2010 14:18 UTC (Thu) by nye (guest, #51576) [Link]

Don't know about en_IE, but in en_GB it's not pronounced that way - unless perhaps in some regional dialogue I've never heard. I had no idea the desktop environment was supposed to be pronounced like that - I'd be surprised if anyone ever did.

How not to recognize free hardware

Posted Oct 21, 2010 14:39 UTC (Thu) by nye (guest, #51576) [Link]

s/dialogue/dialect/, obviously.

How not to recognize free hardware

Posted Oct 21, 2010 21:46 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Flanders would probably have pronounced it that way. ("I'm a g-nu.")

How not to recognize free hardware

Posted Oct 21, 2010 15:46 UTC (Thu) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

Established but hardly popular; as far as I know, en_GB speakers who reverse the silencing of k/g before n do so either consciously due to wilful eccentricity or unconsciously due to immersion in a wilfully eccentric subculture.

OT: gnome pronunciation

Posted Oct 24, 2010 20:49 UTC (Sun) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

Seems you're right, my pronunciation norms are biased by subculture membership. ;) Straw poll elsewhere is overwhelmingly "nome".

Free source software

Posted Oct 21, 2010 21:41 UTC (Thu) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

I have always pissed on both camps by making up my own moniker, "Free Source Software". It's very easy to say and unmistakeable in meaning.

Free source software

Posted Oct 24, 2010 8:32 UTC (Sun) by mfedyk (guest, #55303) [Link]

I like this. I'll be saying free source software from now on.


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