[ANSOL-geral]Richard Stallman: SCO smear campaign can't defeat GNU community

Rui Miguel Seabra rms arroba ansol.org
Wed Jun 25 18:27:02 2003

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Richard Stallman explica porque a campanha de medo e desinforma=C3=A7=C3=A3=
o da
SCO n=C3=A3o consegue derrotar a comunidade GNU:


   SCO smear campaign can't defeat GNU community
   By Richard Stallman
   June 23, 2003

   SCO's contract dispute with IBM has been accompanied
   by a smear campaign against the whole GNU/Linux system. But SCO made
   an obvious mistake when it erroneously quoted me as saying that "Linux
   is a copy of Unix." Many readers immediately smelled a rat--not only
   because I did not say that, and not only because the person who said
   it was talking about published ideas (which are uncopyrightable)
   rather than code, but because they know I would never compare Linux
   with Unix.

   Unix is a complete operating system, but Linux is just part of one.
   SCO is using the popular confusion between Linux and the GNU/Linux
   system to magnify the fear that it can spread. GNU/Linux is the GNU
   operating system running with Linux as the kernel. The kernel is the
   part of the system that allocates the machine's resources to the other
   programs you run. That part is Linux.

   We developed GNU starting in 1984 as a campaign for freedom, whose aim
   was to eliminate non-free software from our lives. GNU is free
   software, meaning that users are free to run it, study it and change
   it (or pay programmers to do this for them), redistribute it (gratis
   or for a fee), and publish modified versions. (See

   In 1991, GNU was mostly finished, lacking only a kernel. In 1992,
   Linus Torvalds made his kernel, Linux, free software. Others combined
   GNU and Linux to produce the first complete free operating system,
   GNU/Linux. (See [23]http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html.)
   GNU/Linux is also free software, and SCO made use of this freedom by
   selling their version of it. Today, GNU runs with various kernels
   including Linux, the GNU Hurd (our kernel), and the NetBSD kernel. It
   is basically the same system, whichever kernel you use.

   Those who combined Linux with GNU didn't recognize that's what they
   were doing, and they spoke of the combination as "Linux." The
   confusion spread; many users and journalists call the whole system
   "Linux." Since they also properly call the kernel "Linux," the result
   is even more confusion: when a statement says "Linux," you can only
   guess what software it refers to. SCO's irresponsible statements are
   shot through with ambiguous references to "Linux." It is impossible to
   attribute any coherent meaning to them overall, but they appear to
   accuse the entire GNU/Linux system of being copied from Unix.

   The name GNU stands for "GNU's Not Unix." The whole point of
   developing the GNU system is that it is not Unix. Unix is and always
   was non-free software, meaning that it denies its users the freedom to
   cooperate and to control their computers. To use computers in freedom
   as a community, we needed a free software operating system. We did not
   have the money to buy and liberate an existing system, but we did have
   the skill to write a new one. Writing GNU was a monumental job. We did
   it for our freedom, and your freedom.

   To copy Unix source code would not be ethically wrong, but it is
   illegal; our work would fail to give users lawful freedom to cooperate
   if it were not done lawfully. To make sure we would not copy Unix
   source code or write anything similar, we told GNU contributors not
   even to look at Unix source code while developing code for GNU. We
   also suggested design approaches that differ from typical Unix design
   approaches, to ensure our code would not resemble Unix code. We did
   our best to avoid ever copying Unix code, despite our basic premise
   that to prohibit copying of software is morally wrong.

   Another SCO tool of obfuscation is the term "intellectual property."
   This fashionable but foolish term carries an evident bias: that the
   right way to treat works, ideas, and names is as a kind of property.
   Less evident is the harm it does by inciting simplistic thinking: it
   lumps together diverse laws--copyright law, patent law, trademark law
   and others--which really have little in common. This leads people to
   suppose those laws are one single issue, the "intellectual property
   issue," and think about "it"--which means, to think at such a broad
   abstract level that the specific social issues raised by these various
   laws are not even visible. Any "opinion about intellectual property"
   is thus bound to be foolish. (See

   In the hands of a propagandist for increased copyright or patent
   powers, the term is a way to prevent clear thinking. In the hands of
   someone making threats, the term is a tool for obfuscation: "We claim
   we can sue you over something, but we won't say what it is."

   In an actual lawsuit, such ambiguity would make their case fail, or
   even prevent it from getting off the ground. If, however, SCO's aim is
   to shake the tree and see if any money falls down, or simply to spread
   fear, they may regard vagueness and mystery as advantageous.

   I cannot prognosticate about the SCO vs IBM lawsuit itself: I don't
   know what was in their contract, I don't know what IBM did, and I am
   not a lawyer. The Free Software Foundation's lawyer, Professor Moglen,
   believes that SCO gave permission for the community's use of the code
   that they distributed under the GNU GPL and other free software
   licenses in their version of GNU/Linux.

   However, I can address the broader issue of such situations. In a
   community of over half a million developers, we can hardly expect that
   there will never be plagiarism. But it is no disaster; we discard that
   material and move on. If there is material in Linux that was
   contributed without legal authorization, the Linux developers will
   learn what it is and replace it. SCO cannot use its copyrights, or its
   contracts with specific parties, to suppress the lawful contributions
   of thousands of others. Linux itself is no longer essential: the GNU
   system became popular in conjunction with Linux, but today it also
   runs with two BSD kernels and the GNU kernel. Our community cannot be
   defeated by this.

   Copyright 2003 [25]Richard Stallman. Verbatim copying and
   redistribution of this entire article are permitted without royalty in
   any medium provided this notice is preserved.

   Richard Stallman is president of the [26]Free Software Foundation and
   author of the [27]GNU General Public License.

  20. http://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.html
  23. http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html
  24. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html
  25. http://www.stallman.org/
  26. http://www.free-soft.org/
  27. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html

+ No matter how much you do, you never do enough -- unknown
+ Whatever you do will be insignificant,
| but it is very important that you do it -- Gandhi
+ So let's do it...?

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