The Father of GNU Hates on ChromeOS, Cloud Computing

An article in The Guardian features the comments of Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, who has some ugly things to say about Google’s new ChromeOS operating system. A few years ago, Stallman warned that making use of cloud-based computing was "worse than stupidity" because it put user data in the hands of those that operated the servers.

This week he is calling Google’s ChromeOS a scheme to "push people into careless computing" by forcing them to save a minimum amount of data locally. He also says that he is deeply concerned because it takes private data and puts it out into the "cloud," which law enforcement agencies in the United States have easier access to:

"In the US, you even lose legal rights if you store your data in a company’s machines instead of your own. The police need to present you with a search warrant to get your data from you; but if they are stored in a company’s server, the police can get it without showing you anything. They may not even have to give the company a search warrant."

Chrome had a "soft launch" last week, which Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, got pretty excited about:

"For me, these announcements were among the most important of my working life – demonstrating the real power of computer science to transform people’s lives. It’s extraordinary how very complex platforms can produce beautifully simple solutions like Chrome and Chrome OS, which anyone can use from the get-go – as long as you get it right," he wrote. "As developers start playing with our beta Cr-48 Chrome OS computer, they’ll see that while it’s still early days it works unbelievably well. You can build everything that you used to mix and match with client software—taking full advantage of the capacity of the web."

Stallman remains unimpressed:

"I think that marketers like "cloud computing" because it is devoid of substantive meaning. The term’s meaning is not substance, it’s an attitude: ‘Let any Tom, Dick and Harry hold your data, let any Tom, Dick and Harry do your computing for you (and control it).’ Perhaps the term ‘careless computing’ would suit it better."

He also warns that freedoms may be at stake if people continue to move towards what he calls "careless computing":

"I suppose many people will continue moving towards careless computing, because there’s a sucker born every minute. The US government may try to encourage people to place their data where the US government can seize it without showing them a search warrant, rather than in their own property. However, as long as enough of us continue keeping our data under our own control, we can still do so. And we had better do so, or the option may disappear."

Source: TechTree

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  1. 0
    CyberSkull says:

    I find no faults in his logic.

    This is one the reasons I am a proponent of the home server. Imagine your own server at home that your cell phones, tablets & laptops can securely access anywhere. No privacy or 3rd party legal issues since it would all be yours do with as you please.

  2. 0
    Dan says:

    Many folks view rms as a paranoid kook who is bitter that Linus Torvalds gets all the credit for the GNU project and angry about the compromises that have been made over accepting propritary components into free software (like .mp3 and flash).

    But I completely agree with him in this case. I want nothing to do with cloud computing and storage.

  3. 0
    Left4Dead says:

    I had the "pleasure" of sitting at the same dinner table as Richard Stallman once a few years back.  I had no idea who I was sitting with at the time until he stood up and started talking.  But before he even got up to speak, I had determined that he had (and still has) a few screws loose.  He was unkepmt, wore a T-shirt, well-worn pants, sandals – in the dead of winter in the midwest U.S., had that awful beard and hippie hairdo, and ranted on about miscellaneous/useless topics.

    His attitude, stature, and self-presentation says "senile Biblical prophet".  The GPL is his bible and anything that doesn’t fit into his philosophy and his organization’s control (i.e. anything not under the GNU GPL) is evil.  Take whatever Stallman says with a pound of salt.

    That said, I don’t use any Google tools other than search because Google doesn’t offer tools to do what I do anyway AND I like control over my data.  Putting your data in a general-purpose cloud is risky but I could see a corporation/business getting use out of such a scheme as long as the business maintained the server farm – a return to the dumb terminal era.  There will probably be software to do localized "cloud" computing eventually and Google’s tools and ChromeOS will merely be a side note in history.  But who knows?  Maybe ChromeOS will wipe out a huge chunk of market share of Windows, Mac, and…Linux.  Linux has worked hard for its, what, 10% desktop market share?  I’m more interested to know how ChromeOS affects video games.  This is GP after all…how does this article relate to video games?

    – Left4Dead

    Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

    -- Left4Dead --

  4. 0
    Kincyr says:

    sounds to me like this guy has a lot to hide from the cops

    岩「if Phyllis Schlafly wants to undo Women’s Rights, she should lead by example and get back in the kitchen」

  5. 0
    Thad says:

    MS isn’t compatible with everything, it’s just the platform most people use; there’s a difference.  A Windows executable isn’t going to run on a Mac any more than the other way around.  I think the analogy you’re looking for — something that’s cross-platform compatible but slow and unwieldy — is Java.

    The notions of Linux’s difficulty and Apple’s incompatibility are, in many ways, 1990’s throwbacks.  Yes, I know we’re all gamers here and Apple and Linux are at major disadvantages in that arena, but for the average user who just uses the Web, E-Mail, and Office, a Mac isn’t going to provide any serious compatibility issues, and Ubuntu is probably usable enough.  And both those platforms are more versatile than ChromeOS.

    (Incidentally, contrasting ChromeOS with Linux isn’t strictly accurate, as Chrome IS Linux-based.)

  6. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    This is exactly why I don’t like ChromeOS, or any other cloud computing for ‘regular people.’  It isn’t even a legal issue for me.  If someone hacks Google, which has happened a few times, you wouldn’t want them to have access to your whole system, would you?

    Then there’s also the problems of hardware and software compatibility that nobody has been able to overcome.  If you’re compatible with everything, you have a slow and giant code – e.g. MS – and if you’re streamlined, you’re either somewhat difficult to use – e.g. Unix/Linux – or not compatible with anything – e.g. Apple.

    At least it’ll make computers cheaper.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  7. 0
    edmoss87 says:

    In my opinion, ChromeOS is no substitute for Windows/Linux/OSX. I strongly doubt that ChromeOS will replace them. I obtained the VMWare image of it months back, tried it, thought it was interesting but haven’t used it since. It’s really meant for ‘companion’ systems, a Netbook perhaps; great if you just want to switch on the system and have a web browser up-and-running in a few seconds, but that’s pretty much it.

    Data storage is cheap now, you can get huge hard drives and memory cards for a small cost, the only problem is if you have numerous devices to synchronise, which duplicates your files. Having access to your documents anywhere there is an internet connection is useful (I should know, I made a piece of software that allows you to do just that) but, as I said before, not a substitute for local storage.

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