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Freedom To vs. Freedom From

From: Jonathan S. Shapiro
Subject: Freedom To vs. Freedom From
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2006 10:37:24 -0400

Marcus responded to my question about Flexibility with a very
interesting (to me) response. He said that the "Flexibility" idea is a
reduced form of the real goal, which is "Freedom".

Many of the arguments and policies that are emerging for Hurd in this
list are about "Freedom to". Freedom to debug. Freedom to inspect.
Freedom to reverse engineer. These are all good things, and in a system
that is presumptively single user (or multiuser, but all collaborating
without deceit) these are probably the only things that you need to

My question is: what rights should the user have concerning "Freedom
*from*"? Freedom from interference by other users. Freedom from spying
by other users. And so forth.

Real systems today are *always* multiuser and *never* collaborative.
When you point a web browser at my web page and run my javascript code,
your machine instantly becomes multiuser, and if you don't assume (at
least in the general case) that I'm out to get you then you're a moron.
Like it or not, a successful Hurd needs to ensure "freedoms from" in
order to be effective in a connected environment.

The interesting thing here is that "freedom to" and "freedom from"
invariably involve conflicting choices that must be balanced and
architectural compromises that must be made.

If the real purpose of the "Flexibility" goal is "Freedom", then it
seems like a good idea to enumerate *both* types of freedom so that we
can remember all of them at the same time.

Who will start?


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