Stallman's Latest Scheme

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, May 18, 1999

from the interpret-this! dept.

Richard M. Stallman has announced a plan that will eliminate proprietary, closed software and the "GNU/Linux" boondoogle in one step. RMS is advocating a new operating system called "Gnuix" in which all software is interpreted, not compiled. The system will execute software directly from the source code, making closed software impossible.

The Gnuix system is far from complete, but much of the groundwork has been laid by RMS and the GNU Project. It will be based on the HURD kernel. The most important part of the system is PIG, a code interpreter capable of directly executing programs written in C, C++, Java, Perl, etc. The PIG acronym (or "multinym" as RMS says) stands for any of "PIG Isn't GNU/Linux", "PIG Is Gnuix", "Pretty Innovative Gadget", "PIG Is Great", or "PIG Interprets GPL software", depending on context.

As a side benefit, the name "Gnuix" was carefully chosen to prevent "The GNU/Linux Problem". With "GNU" built into the name, the GNU Project will get the recognition (or should that be ego-gratification?) it deserves. However, RMS detractors have already begun to call the system "GNU/Gnuix" in protest.

Many hackers are concerned about the feasibility of such a system. One Linux enthusiast said, "RMS wants to create a system entirely based on interpreted software? That's ludicrous! Just look how slow and bloated interpreted Java is. Moreover, there's no guarantee that eliminating binaries will increase freedom. Companies could release source code under restrictive Microsoft-like End-User License Agreements, or they could have more liberal licenses but distribute obfuscated source code that nobody can understand or modify."

RMS vehemently defends his latest get-free-quick scheme. "While performance of interpreted programs isn't as good as compiled binaries, the increase in freedom far outweighs the decrease in performance. Besides, interpreted languages such as Perl seem to work just fine. I doubt that Gnuix software would be any slower than MS/Windows software anyways."

As far as the freedom issue, RMS says, "The Gnuix system will not run any closed, proprietary software, period. The PIG interpreter will only execute GPL or LGPL licensed source code, thus preventing any non-free 'open source' software from being used at all." He added, "My plans for World Domination are coming together quite nicely..."

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