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GNU is Not Unix Software Hardware

FSF Announces Hardware Endorsement Criteria 273

Posted by Soulskill
from the ideals-inside dept.
sveinungkv writes "The Free Software Foundation has announced criteria for the hardware endorsement program 'Respects Your Freedom.' From the announcement: 'The desire to own a computer or device and have full control over it, to know that you are not being spied on or tracked, to run any software you wish without asking permission, and to share with friends without worrying about Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) — these are the desires of millions of people who care about the future of technology and our society. (...) With our endorsement mark and the strong criteria that back it, we plan to bridge that gap and demonstrate to manufacturers that they stand to gain plenty by making hardware that respects people's freedom instead of curtailing it.' While it currently contains some requirements that many may find broader than what they personally need, the remaining criteria would make the FSF endorsement a useful tool when looking for devices that give the owner control over the device they have bought and paid for. The criteria are still open for feedback."
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FSF Announces Hardware Endorsement Criteria

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  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:26PM (#33910868) Journal

    How about the right to make money off of something that millions find valuable that you labored to create, without fear that someone else will make a copy of it and start selling it themselves?

  • Good news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by melikamp (631205) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:27PM (#33910884) Homepage Journal
    IMHO, this is good news. Now more than ever before, we need people to understand the difference between open and locked-down hardware, and to help them make rational choices while shopping. To me, it is unthinkable that my personal computers should be remote-controlled by a third party, but the crowds are only beginning to wake up to the pain that proprietary platforms are causing them.
  • Re:Good news (Score:1, Insightful)

    by wjousts (1529427) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:29PM (#33910900)
    Keep dreaming. Nobody will care about a FSF endorsement, most people have never even heard of them and I'm sure they don't have any kind of budget to really push this.
  • by TruthSeeker (461299) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:32PM (#33910936) Homepage

    Because of the "incompatible endorsements" part, I doubt that hardware manufacturers will bother with it. Which is too bad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:33PM (#33910940)

    "Any product-related materials that mention the FSF endorsement must not also carry endorsements or badges related to proprietary software, such as "Works with Windows" or "Made for Mac" badges"

    No big manufacturer is going to put up with that. This simply means the idea won't fly. Not that it had chance in the first place, but it was a good idea, with this - it goes into the ground. I don't like "Works for Windows" labels myself, but they are 1) required to inform the customer that the hardware will work with Windows 2) not going away. We could only hope that "Works with Free Software" is added to those.

  • by Julie188 (991243) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:33PM (#33910944)
    It is totally fair that if you want the FSF's endorsement you've got to open all the software on the product, and license any software patents. I love how the FSF always defines the outer edge completely in favor of the person that buys the product, rather than the one that creates it. I don't think the typical product creator will be interested in this because it seems like it will create a giant boiling vat of legal implications and who wants to sign up for that? But so what? Eventually a happy middle will be found.

    Julie
    www.opensourcesubnet.com
  • by melikamp (631205) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:34PM (#33910956) Homepage Journal
    Stop pirating English. You didn't help to create it in any significant way, so why do you feel entitled to use it in communication? The idea that you alone labored to create a piece of software or work of art is just a fiction in your head. You are merely adding a few bricks on top of a gigantic skyscraper, but then you want to claim all floors above them as your property? Nice try.
  • by Monchanger (637670) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:36PM (#33910976) Journal

    That right doesn't conflict with the right of a consumer to their property.

    That's where innovation and brand come in. Just because you release your specs doesn't let a competitor compete with you until they've had time to get those specs into production and build a distribution network. By then it's too late for them to compete for market share.

    There are a zillion cheap iPod knockoffs and other devices which do basically the same thing. Apple made a fortune on digital music players before anyone else and continue to sell theirs because they built a device consumers believe is superior to the generics.

    The fear is actually a good thing- it keeps them innovating and staying at the cutting edge of development and not sitting on their asses.

  • Re:Good news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mnrasul (1677458) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:38PM (#33911012)

    Keep dreaming. Nobody will care about a FSF endorsement, most people have never even heard of them and I'm sure they don't have any kind of budget to really push this.

    worst case scenario - there is no change and status quo remains

    ideal scenario - it works

    If no one tries, there is definitely no change. so I am all for it.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:43PM (#33911086)

    ... the F$F endorses ...

    Err, "F$F"?

    You mean you wish to emphasize, by a clever use of the dollar sign, the fact that you think the FSF is a multi-billion-dollar pit of money-grubbing, avarice-crazed wackos who worship wealth like it was a deity and who think that "profit" is a justification for any and all actions, up to and including slavery, mass slaughter, wholesale destruction of environment etc?

    Now, I've heard the FSF being accused of being a bunch of pot-dazed, lazy hippies, but the "apex of corporate greed" is a rather new one on me. Does Armani even make Stallman-sized suits?

    Could you elaborate?

  • by Millennium (2451) on Friday October 15, 2010 @02:52PM (#33911216) Homepage

    OK, so apparently the idea behind the "Works with Windows" and "Made for Mac," and similar being incompatible is that a user might think that the hardware requires these pieces of proprietary software. However, wouldn't the FSF's endorsement itself be sufficient clarification that this isn't the case? This seems more a matter of ego-stroking, much in the same way that they insist on the "GNU/Linux" name as another condition of endorsement when there is, in all likelihood, precisely one person on the planet who cares about the difference.

    I'd admonish the FSF that injecting petty politics into what should be a technology-based endorsement doesn't do anybody any favors, but frankly, I'm not sure I have to. These two requirements alone will ensure that nobody ever applies for this thing.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:03PM (#33911350)
    Not really, this whole present bit is the direct result of manufacturers failing to implement things to the appropriate standard. And the reality is that some manufacturers are already moving in a direction which would allow them to get the endorsement.

    But ultimately, there's the very real possibility of cost savings here, as if they're using freely available tools and using open standards, they don't have to worry about supporting a hundred different platforms, as the tools would be there to add the support.

    I may have missed it, but I didn't see any requirements that a manufacturer support platform X, just that the tools and the other necessities be free software.
  • by SiliconEntity (448450) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:30PM (#33911688)

    I know people have trouble accepting it, but I want to offer once again the philosophical principle that true freedom implies the right and ability to commit yourself and to constrain your future actions. This principle should be very acceptable to the FSF, because it is the basis for their argument that the GPL is more free than BSD style licenses. Superficially, the BSD is more free, because it let's you do whatever you want. But the FSF argues that the GPL is actually freer, because it let's you do whatever you want only as long as you let others do whatever they want with the result. Imposing this limitation on freedom, paradoxically, increases freedom.

    And really, this should not seem paradoxical, because we see the same principle all the time in everyday life. Every time someone signs a contract, he commits to performing certain actions and thereby limits his own freedom. The same thing happens when two lovers promise to be faithful. The point is that the essence of true freedom requires the ability to voluntarily limit your own freedom.

    This is where the FSF, along with much of the network community, has gotten off on the wrong foot with some of these hardware technologies, in particular Trusted Computing. These technologies allow you to make credible commitments to limit your own freedom. You can promise to run only certain software to handle certain data, and failure to honor your promise can be detected.

    It should be clear that, as with contract, marriage, and other areas where we make binding commitments, as long as these kinds of promises are voluntary, allowing them actually enhances freedom. Yet the FSf doesn't see it that way. They are so angry and upset at the notion that people may make promises only to run certain code that they are doing all they can to make such promises impossible to make credibly.

    I can understand the concerns that these technologies could be made mandatory. That would obviously be an unacceptable infringement on freedom. But we don't eliminate marriage just because some people are unfairly forced into marriage in certain cultures. We don't eliminate contract just because some are coercive. We fight the unjust arrangements while recognizing the value of a system which allows people to make binding commitments.

    The same approach should be applied to Trusted Computing. We should support voluntary adoption of the technology, while vigorously opposing efforts to make it mandatory.

    Unfortunately I don't see much prospect of the FSF changing its position on this issue; Stallman is not notoriously amenable to reasonable persuasion. But I hope the larger community can start to look at these matters with open eyes, and not feel obligated to follow the FSF in lockstep.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:44PM (#33911844)

    The rule specifically states that you *cannot* also badge your product with a "competing" (ie, a similar endorsement scheme to the FSF's) scheme such as "Works with Vista/XP/7" or "Made for Mac", even if all other parts of their criteria are met (and in doing so, just so happens to also work just fine with Mac and Windows). That is shooting themselves in the foot, since 1) the Windows and Mac endorsements/compatibility testing is very widespread, effective and useful system, 2) this idea from the FSF is a good idea (more consumer product information is good) but is setting itself up to be incompatible.

    So, they either convince manufacturers to drop the Mac and Windows compatibility badges in order to carry theirs (and thus, make it harder for consumers than it was before - not much harder, but adding a needless speedbump) or they convince manufacturers to run multiple packaging schemes for the FSF-badged line of otherwise identical product, which would add cost to the whole operation and create logistics complexity where it need not exist.

    Neither of those options is a good starting point, so I don't see this getting off the ground, although it really should.

    Do they really think so little of their target demographic that their excuse is "people might get confused and think it requires the proprietary compatibility badges" - if you are looking for hardware that has the blessing of the FSF, you really aren't going to make that mistake. I think the real reason is just sour grapes/cutting off their nose to spite their face.

  • by Macthorpe (960048) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:45PM (#33911854) Journal

    Of course, it doesn't really help discussion if you only answer the points you want to, either.

    So, because I'm interested: how does restricting the badging on hardware products help users to be more free? Surely it only helps them to be less informed?

  • by Microlith (54737) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:49PM (#33911908)

    I want to offer once again the philosophical principle that true freedom implies the right and ability to commit yourself and to constrain your future actions.

    Which is valid in the case of things like contracts, but generally those tend to be two-sided. EULAs tend to be almost entirely one-sided contracts where in exchange for basic operation of the device you are giving up all ability to "own" the hardware. Can't quite phrase it like I prefer, but there it is.

    the FSF argues that the GPL is actually freer, because it let's you do whatever you want only as long as you let others do whatever they want with the result. Imposing this limitation on freedom, paradoxically, increases freedom.

    True, but it's a forward freedom instead of an immediate freedom. BSD guarantees immediate freedoms, at the expense of forward freedom.

    This is where the FSF, along with much of the network community, has gotten off on the wrong foot with some of these hardware technologies, in particular Trusted Computing. These technologies allow you to make credible commitments to limit your own freedom. You can promise to run only certain software to handle certain data, and failure to honor your promise can be detected.

    Trusted Computing is generally not a problem at all so long as you, the user, hold the keys. The problem arises, and the FSF is entirely right about it, when you the user hold none of the keys and have no option to get out of the cage. It's not so much you agreeing to run only certain software, so much being told as such and having no recourse.

    I can understand the concerns that these technologies could be made mandatory. That would obviously be an unacceptable infringement on freedom.

    Well, they may not be made mandatory, but there is certainly a desire from many entities (Microsoft, RIAA, MPAA) to make them de-facto.

    Stallman is not notoriously amenable to reasonable persuasion.

    He's amenable to what he sees as reasonable, of course ;)

    But I hope the larger community can start to look at these matters with open eyes, and not feel obligated to follow the FSF in lockstep.

    I don't think the larger community does follow the FSF in lockstep. Instead, the FSF charges on ahead with their more extreme vision and the rest of us slowly push towards that while making the compromises that they won't. But there are some lines where attention must be paid lest the FSF's polar opposites, the fans of lock down and anti-user security, do an end run and try to shove us all in the box.

    But beware, there are more than a few people on slashdot these days who will aggressively attack you for suggesting even bare minimum levels of openness.

  • by melikamp (631205) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:49PM (#33911918) Homepage Journal

    If those few bricks make the structure actually work, then yes, I will claim it as my own. What? I can't profit off of it? Oh well, I'll just keep my ideas to myself.

    Please, do. With millions of people connected to the internet, we won't miss you. There will always be enterprising companies and individuals who will invent new useful things: enough incentive for that is provided by the first mover advantage, not to mention many people's natural desire to be recognized as experts in their field. Years will run by while competitors are struggling to reverse-engineer and understand original inventions, and during that time inventors will have a de facto monopoly, with none of the terrible economic consequences of copyright and patent laws.

    Saying one is standing on the shoulders of others and therefore has no right to lay claim to their work is just an excuse to leach off of others hard work.

    Stop using English, stop using Mathematics. As you say, you have no excuse. Get off your ass and come up with your own languages.

    And seeing others get the recognition and rewards that come from claiming one's work is inspiring: whether it's seeing become a billionaire or going down in history as the person that made the breakthrough.

    Of course, it is entirely possible to get recognition for and to monetize free software and free art, and we see it happening everywhere these days. This argument is completely misplaced.

  • Re:Good news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:51PM (#33911940) Homepage

    They use different words. They don't say "It's great that my phone is locked down." They say "It's great that the app store protects me from viruses and stuff" (Whether it does or not is another matter, but it's definitely a popular perception), or "it's nice that everything I buy on the App store always works", or (on the developer side) "it's nice to only have to test on one platform". People feel protected by the locked down nature of the device, developers feel insulated from a lot of the complications of multiple OS versions and handsets.

    In the minds of "average users" PCs are hard. They do mysterious things for no apparent reason and you have to pay an expert to come in and figure out why. They don't always run the software you bought for them. They get viruses and slow down over time for no real reason. We know (mostly) why they do the mysterious things. We know why they get viruses and slow down over times. We know Windows XP drivers won't necessarily work with Windows 7, but for a lot of people these are mysterious "things" that "happen" without discernible reason.

    People want to be protected from that. They like that they get all their apps from the app store. The apps always work, and they have at least the illusion of protection from malware. They like that when their iPhone gets old they can go buy a new one and it will work the same, even use have the same programs and settings (iTunes makes it stupid easy to back up a config and restore it to new device).

  • by fotbr (855184) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:54PM (#33911974) Journal

    Wait...so to have the FSF badge, which most people won't care about, you have to give up the "Made for Mac" / "Works with Windows" badges that people actually DO care about?

    That doesn't seem like a smart business decision to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2010 @04:15PM (#33912250)

    No really, that's one of the requirements: you have to refer to it as "GNU/Linux", not just Linux. You also have to emphasize "Free Software" over "Open Source". Go read the doc, it's really in there

    The MacArthur Foundation ought to take back the Genius Grant they gave RMS.

  • by massysett (910130) on Friday October 15, 2010 @04:50PM (#33912690) Homepage

    So they're all about the freedom of users, except when the user wants to run proprietary software?

    How is my freedom restricted merely by buying a device that bears a "Works With Proprietary Software" sticker if the device can also run Free Software?

    How is my freedom restricted if I choose to run proprietary software?

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Friday October 15, 2010 @05:00PM (#33912818)

    The majority of the comments that say the manufacturers won't go for it is in response to the exclusivity requirement - the need to either have the FSF badge (assuming the product qualifies), or the Made for Mac / Works with Windows badges, but not both. The reason appears to be entirely political, since the idea that people interested in the FSF badge would be "confused" about it appearing alongside other badges like those.

    That is why it won't fly - manufacturers are not going to drop the "MfM" and "WwW" badges in favour of the FSF one entirely down to consumer base; there are going to be a lot more people who want to know at a glance if the product is Windows or Mac (or perhaps even both at the same time!) compatible than there are people looking at the FSF's endorsement (at least at this very early stage in its life cycle).

    So, the idea is a good one. The exclusivity requirement is *totally brainless* and will almost guarantee the project will be DoA or have extremely limited penetration in the market, defeating the entire object of the exercise.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday October 15, 2010 @05:29PM (#33913170) Journal

    The specific example they give in the text is ""Works with Windows" sticker. I don't see how it is an endorsement so much so as a statement of compatibility. Rallying against such stickers is, essentially, running against interoperability with non-"Free" products.

    Not that FSF doing that would surprise me in the slightest.

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