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Re: Printing from Linux (was: Re: Nuance Regarding RMS)

I certainly did not mean to disparage the efforts of the people
working on the Debian printing software, who have really raised the
bar. It's great that printers usually "just work", that they're
automatically sniffed off the net, etc. Every time I print a page I
remember the bad old days and am thankful for cups-browsed and all

It seems fair to say that even in the Free Software community most
people have resigned themselves to purchasing devices with proprietary
firmware, that can be modified or even examined only with the
cooperation of the manufacturers. They're all over: printers,
dishwashers, cars, televisions, treadmills, smart microphones, mobile
phones, smart bluetooth lightbulbs, implanted cardiac pacemakers, deep
brain stimulation devices. As a community we try to work around it:
get them to use standard protocols and interfaces. To be citizens of
that world. But not RMS. He's not happy with that status quo. He's not
okay with people having radio-controlled devices buried deep in their
flesh, able to kill them with an errant pulse, their behavior
ultimately controlled by others.

I'm a practical man. My house is filled with devices whose software is
either proprietary or, at best, Tivo-ized so it serves some other
master. But RMS saw the growing dangers of this sort of situation, and
I admire his vision in the matter, and his principles in fighting it
tooth and nail, never giving a quarter, never yielding for the sake of

This is not meant to minimize the enormous efforts many others,
including you in particular, have put into getting things like
software that interacts with broken proprietary printers (my
sometimes-actually-prints but-always-happily-scans Dell B1165nfw, for
instance) to work. Rather it's to say that we may be soldiers in this
army: but RMS is the grizzled old sergeant, scarred and battleworn,
unwilling to negotiate with the enemy, unwilling to strike a temporary
bargain or sign a truce that compromises even a hair of a principle,
spitting invective at the practical politicians and comfortable
generals breaking bread with those who seek to control and subvert us,
pure to the last drop.

Sure, he smells bad, and has foul manners. He's terrible PR, a relic
and an embarrassment. And printers still aren't free, and maybe we've
made our peace with that. But he's going to keep fighting until they
are anyway.


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