Why does KDE use slaves?

Why does KDE use slaves?


KDE will soon be releasing version 4.0 of its desktop environment. But KDE has a deep, dark secret – it engages in slavery. Actually it's not a secret, they tell you straight up, they use slaves throughout its infrastructure. And since February is Black History Month in the U.S., I feel compelled to speak out against this injustice. Slavery anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere, even in software.

For those of you who don't know KDE uses routines it calls IO-Slaves to perform various interface tasks. When I first heard (about 3-4 years ago) that KDE named these routines "slaves" I thought to myself, here we go again. I went onto some KDE forums to get them to use some other terminology for these routines. I (and others) obviously couldn't convince them to change this terminology then, but maybe I can tweak their consciousness now to reconsider the message they are putting out behind the use of the slave paradigm.

While writing this piece I didn't have time to search and find some of the discussions I remember, particularly from the 1970-80s, carried out in various trade magazines letters to the editors, articles, and usenet forums, about the need to abolish the master-slave terminology paradigm, prevalent in electronics and software then. It seems the developers at KDE need to see these discussions, and understand why, almost universally now, you no longer see hardware and software processes and relationships referred to as master-slave, but rather as parent-child, client-server, and other such more socially acceptable (and functionally accurate) terminology.

And for those maybe too young (or insensitive) to remember what the big deal was be about why there was a push to have this terminology excised from the fields of electronics, software, et al, well it was simple. During the '70-80s there was a large influx of Black and women students into colleges then, which caused to be challenged virtually everything about the status quo paradigms in existence. And a lot of that centered on attacking language constructs that were demeaning and oppressive to non-whites. For ultimately, the power to define is the power to control.

As more non-whites entered the sciences and engineering (as I did) we were confronted with the legacy of offensive terminology which most whites never stopped to think about as being offensive. The master-slave paradigm of labeling hardware boards and interactions was virtually ubiquitous, which was then passed along to the software world, especially after microprocessors and digital electronics began to replace analog systems. So the language constructs used with hardware was mimicked for the new software driven systems.

So it was deja vu to see the reemergence of the term "slaves" to represent KDE's IO API, which tells you something about the mono-culture of the people who make up the KDE community. How? Well, it's hard for me to imagine any self-aware Black person sitting in a room of people trying to come up with a name to refer to their IO routines, and someone says, "hey, let's call these routines slaves" and the Black person wouldn't say, "uh, I think we should come up with a better name." But you needn't have to be non-white to recognize the destructive legacy that word conjures up.

For really, what is KDE trying to project by calling these routines slaves. After all, enslaved people are people who can be arbitrarily abused, demeaned, and killed, who have no value beside their capacity to provide uncompensated labor, who are denied all rights of person hood, and have no protection under the law. At least that's what it meant to be enslaved in the Americas.

But the KDE io-slaves seem to be a very important and essential core elements of the KDE infrastructure. They possess highly specialized functionality, are designed to provide an efficient and ubiquitous set of tools for application developers to interface to, and thus are valuable components which enhance the utility of KDE. These qualities seem to be the antithesis to those of "slaves." Maybe KDE can hold a contest to choose a better name for these routines, but it should absolutely act to free its "slaves" now.

Human slavery is still a scourge mankind hasn't been able to eradicate, as we now enter the 21st century, because it's a concept too many people still condone. The enslavement of humans will end only when the concept of slavery ceases to exist. Thus, people who produce "free" software should not promote its concept to characterize anything about the nature of their code. While we might not be able to eradicate slavery in the world of human interaction, we absolutely should be able to prevent it from manifesting in the world of free software.

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Comments

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I think your association of the work slave with "Black people" is a reflection of your own prejudices.

Google define: slave -

# a person who is owned by someone
# someone who works as hard as a slave
# work very hard, like a slave
# someone entirely dominated by some influence or person; "a slave to fashion"; "a slave to cocaine"; "his mother was his abject slave"
# slave(a): held in servitude; "he was born of slave parents"

Slave was arguably the hottest of the 1970s Ohio funk bands. Slave had a great run in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Trumpeter Steve Washington formed the group in Dayton in 1975.

Slave is a term often used in BDSM to conote a specific form of submissive. Such a person could also be a masochist or bottom, but this is not always the case.

I think your association of the work slave with "Black people" is a reflection of your own prejudices.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Thank you for your insightful, well-written article. I hope KDE will consider renaming their functions.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I understand the importance of the word and i am well aware of all that conjures up in the mind when one comes across this word or any experience that can be described by this word.
So, KDE should take you very seriously and really free us from the burden of living with it.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Are you american?, because we in latin america even though ,we are in general in any way an african descendant , we don't give a crap about that sort of things, on the hand american people are, well what they are and i think that kind of things shouldn't be an issue anywhere else.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Client-server terminology reminds me the days I was a waiter. Please don't use it.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

waiter!.. that is not funny. this is a job. but slave is NOT.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Hi

Surely this article is a parody? Or maybve not. A practical suggestion - we could remove the letters s-l-a-v-e-r-y from the alphabet to avoid any possibility negative connotations?

K

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I absolutely agree, we should also avoid using letter b, c and k, to prohibit any appearance of color discriminination.
D

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Well, the Irish didn't complain when KDE held it's conference in Dublin last year. So it must be something that only strikes a chord with certain 'activist' types, rather than people who have been slaves in general (like the Irish were).

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

What?

This has nothing to do with the terminology used and everything to do with the chip on your shoulder. 'Slave' was a common term long before the slave trade spread to kidnapping people from Africa.

I think it is utterly ridiculous that you have wasted time writing about this, when there is so much real prejudice and hate in the world to be dealt with.

I hope you are joking and I am just being a prat.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I received this article in an email from my wife, I asked her why she sent it to me and she replyed because it was written by someone she knows. *SIGH* I agree with the sentiment of several of the people who replied to this. Why is the word slave synonymous with African American. Why should it bother me that a process that is subservient to another process be called a slave. After all that is the correct term. If you want to gripe about something then complain about the Gap in pay in the IT field based on race. Talk about the fact that it is upsetting to be referred to as African American. Speak on the fact that there are not enough Blacks in the field as a whole. But please for god's sake do not make an issue where there is none. I would expect more from a Cornell Grad. *sigh*

nikolay vladimirov's picture

This reminds me of 1984 by Orwell. So part of the communist ideology is cleaning the dictionary of words that are inappropriate. You can't make a difference between black or white when there is no word for black, in your mind everything is the same - white. So with clean speech all people are the same, there are no differences between them, no racial or religious crimes and so on...

My point is that your post is(unless a joke ) very closed minded and there are many bad words, but it's not the words that enslave people, but the lack of the freedom to speak your mind by saying them.
--
NV

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

No offense but i guess u ought to use your energy in doing something useful to help kde or for dat manner open source stuff too progress further....Slave is used historically and must be in widespread use now and i see no linkage with racial prejudice

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

This has got to be one of the dumbest articles ever to be in a (semi) major publication.

By the way, I'm offended that you're offended.

kimbriggs.com

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Does not "slave" have its origins from the Slavic tongue? Slavery has been around with various ethnic and racial groups. Whether it be white on white, white on black, black on black, Arab on black, Egyptian on Jew, or any other combination. If you want to complain about the use of Slave then complain about every other terminology that may be offensive to somebody out there. soon you will not have a system to talk about. Let's see.... how about "Daemon". That is a term also to be used for "devil" a harsh and evil creature that enslaves (oops there I go using slave) others.
I am quite sure we could go through every system and find terms that we do not like, but why get upset over a word when it is used. Look at the brighter side of life.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Speaking as a very dim person, I'm offended by your use of the word "brighter".

Zarantu's picture
Submitted by Zarantu on

Greeting'z,

I thought this was a good point to add my 3 cent..

1) The word "Daemon" does Not equal "Devil", nor is it equal to "Demon",
a Daemon (the AE is a Single character), and a "Demon" are two separate,
but associative words for classes of "Spiritual Beings" Daemon's are the Masters,
and Demon's are the Slaves, or Workers who perform the tasks assigned them by the Daemon's.
Daemon's are the Commanding spirits that direct the will of the divine in action,
they call upon the worker spirits "Demons" to perform the tasks.
So the usual sense that Daemon is used in tech land is correct,
a 'Supervisory process that delegates tasks to a subprocess'.

2) As for the Concept of a Master and a Slave,
you can destroy the Words, but the Actions will persist,
Every one Is a Slave in one or more ways, we are slaves to our Nation's,
and there Leader's, slaves to our Religious ideals, slaves to the Environment,
and slaves to our Conscience,
and upon that last point I agree the words Master and Slave should be replaced by Friendlier words.

3) My suggestion, is to use the words descriptive of the parts of Tree's,
as generally the IO-Slaves work as one part of a hierarchical chain,
like the progression of the parts of a tree:
Root, trunk, limb, branch, twig, leaf, {fruit, nut, berry},
and the seed which creates a new tree,
additional, each class or type of function could be assigned a specific species of tree,
or perhaps Daemon like IO-Server processes that deliver data to there Client's could be
named for Fruit bearing trees, while those that Gather data might be called Harvesters.
( and when somebody writes a Worm, we will already know which part of the system its attacking ;D ).
Besides, the Tree analogy is already a well established concept in OS design.

Zarantu

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

You are going to have a hard time convincing KDE and Open Source developers of your point. Many, if not a majority, of KDE developers are not Americans, and have a very different frame of reference about slavery than Americans do. The world != America. Get over it.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I've been completely appalled by KDE's use of 'slave' terminology since I first heard it. "WTF were they thinking?" was my initial response, and it still is. I'm certain the developers never thought about the political and historical connotations of their language, but it is still an obvious misjudgment. Even if you think its "just a word" -- from a purely practical marketing perspective, why choose a word that has negative connotations for some people?

Also: this is NOT an issue that is fundamentally about race. Throughout history, sadly, there have been slaves and masters of every color. Considering that Free Software is about freedom, wouldn't you expect it to be a proprietary software company that decided slavery was a good metaphor for their desktop?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

IO-slave is an internal abstraction constructed to handle different kinds of IO, it has as much practical marketing purpose as the naming of something like 'differential'.

Your hardware components are often either a slave or a master, what about throwing them away? Your system is killing children all the time, is that all right with you? Clients connect in all kind of funky ways with their peers, most times because you asked them to do it. Sure, they can close the connection, but can't avoid the contact.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

In keeping with the aforementioned sexual connotations of master/slave, I propose the following changes: replace these with f***er/f***ed. This can be shortened to 'er and 'ed, or even R & D as a mnemonic.

Now that leaves a far better taste in one's mouthed, and no one's getting f***ed. Well, at least not the slaves.

Seriously though; why call windows 'windows', why not 'boxes'? Why call buttons 'buttons' and not 'switches'? There has grown throughout the history of computing a de facto linguistic standard, and more often than not it involves jaron: technically precise but meaningful on multiple levels language.

The master/slave analogy is just that; you don't have to fully understand how the part work to understand what their relationship is: the slave never sends commands, the master never does the actual processing. A peer system on the other hand, has a body of similar partners sharing the workload. And so forth.

As the user above mentioned, there is freedom here, and you are free not to use widely accepted logical technical jargon, just as we a free to not understand quite what it is you're referring to when you describe the IO economically fortunate and culturally dominant person in the next tech meeting.

I'm pretty certain the above was sarcasm, but I have heard this voiced seriously as well, which is why I have targeted both groups with this reply. Please take no offense if I mistook one for the other.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Oh noes! I just opened up the KDE color picker, and I saw this color on there. It said "BLACK". I was offended because I'm whiny, have nothing better to do, and like to come off as "that black guy who is offended easily and must always look backward instead of looking forward".... actually, no, it's mostly because I'm whiny.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

It doesn't seem so "racially sensitive" to say that because people called their software a slave
that they must be white. I'm Mexican-American, possibly a descendent of slaves (see Indian Slavery in Latin America), and a KDE user/programmer. My point: slave!=black, kde!=white, and person!=American

I watched a television program on Discovery or TLC about race, and I was surprised when a black person was offended that a white woman called him a "beautiful black creature." They were upset saying that the word "creature" meant monster or animal. Everyone knows that there have been monsters called creatures, but it is a general term like "organism." Even the dictionary lists "human" as one definition of creature and I recently heard a white preacher refer to his white congregation (and all of humanity) as creatures. How come when white people say creature to other white people, they mean "human" or "organism", but when they say it to a black person, they must mean "monster" or "animal"??? It seems to me that black Americans are always *looking for reasons to be offended* so much that they invent reasons to be offended. You don't like rap music? You must be racist. You don't hire a black guy who looks like a gangsta rapper...you must be racist. You don't hire a white guy dressed like a head banger...that's okay because of the dress code. I used to agree that maybe the Confederate flag shouldn't be displayed because so many people were getting offended. But I am starting to think that it is just another example of over-reaction by blacks. Remember the boy who cried wolf?

Another example: whenever black people get traffic tickets they say, "I got pulled over because I'm black." I am thinking, are you sure it's not because you were speeding or because your windows are illegally tinted? I mean, I've gotten traffic tickets. I could easily say that I got pulled over because I'm Mexican...but then I remember that I was in fact speeding or that I did have illegal window tint applied.

Trust me, as a Mexican American, I know all about racism. And I have experienced as much racism from blacks as whites....so I don't give anyone any slack when talking about race. I also think that it is too easy to pull the race card.

Matthew Sharp's picture

I agree with a lot of these comments.

You can't kill a concept. Trying to is a bad idea (I think nikolay vladimirov makes this point well, even though he clearly doesn't know communist ideology). As they say "Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it". Trying to purge the concept from human consciousness almost certainly counts as forgetting it. I personally think it is offensive to all past and present slaves to try this.

I also think you are equating any kind of slavery with human slavery. We enslave animals, plants, bacteria, and machines regularly. Human slavery is abhorrent, but trying to stop all uses of the world slave when it has nothing to do with human slavery is stupid. I'm sorry, it is just stupid.

I'm all for changing KDE's use of the word on technical grounds, but what you suggest is ridiculous. Should we rename the "kill" command too? Not have zombie processes?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

People are sick and tired of politically correct crusades that end up hurting everyone. Most (maybe all except you) people don't think of lynchings and grand wizards when the term master and slave are used in respect to computers. I will go as far as to say in my 20 years with computers I have never thought of anything dealing with race when I installed an IDE device. People like you fuel a greater cultural divide than existed before you fabricated these non-existent issues, and ultimately breed more hate and contempt. You embarrass yourself and people like you are the sole cause of racial problems today. Black (It's ok to say Black) would not even think in terms of this, but now you empower us with victimization and create a sense of general bitterness and content for something that wasn't even racist in the first place. GET A LIFE.

The KDE people should call things what they want, its their right. And I will bet my left eye they weren't think about Uncle Tom when they chose to use slave over say, secondary.

For the record the United States wouldn't have even had slavery if Africans Tribes were not selling their enemy's tribe people.
__
MP

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Ok. I'm black, 18 years old, and I've seen racism everywhere I go. From online games to walking the streets in mid-day. Yes, I know what IO-Slaves are, and I frankly never gave the word slave a second thought.

If we abolish the word 'slave', what message are we sending- "Whatever words written that offends someone, remove it." That sounds like some Fahrenheit 451 stuff. My point is that we shouldn't let the past dictate... or petrify, us from using functioning language today.

The word is used in a proper, unoffensive context, and therefore needs no change.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Ok. I'm black, 18 years old, and I've seen racism everywhere I go. From online games to walking the streets in mid-day. Yes, I know what IO-Slaves are, and I frankly never gave the word slave a second thought.

If we abolish the word 'slave', what message are we sending- "Whatever words written that offends someone, remove it." That sounds like some Fahrenheit 451 stuff. My point is that we shouldn't let the past dictate... or petrify, us from using functioning language today.

The word is used in a proper, unoffensive context and needs no change.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

what about setting a hard disk's mode to master or slave? *gasp*

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

As a orthodox Christian I demand from Unix world to stop using term 'daemons' ! That significantly harts all of us, Christians !

And yes, give voting rights to my home computer and PDA. They have intellect, that's why !

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Some people actually have found the cute lil Daemon character from BSD to be too much. I think it's a USA thing. I've heard that in the rest of the world, they don't get so bent out of shape over little CARTOON devils.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Please save us from political correctness.

Trying to bury a word does more harm than good. And forcing political correctness on people means they believe something but don't know why.

Having open sensible debate of sensitive issues gives balance and the ability to understand your views instead of just possessing them.

This gives us the increased ability to share our views and educate the uneducated.

Suppressing the word 'fire' for example will not stop people getting burnt. In fact it increases the risk as a 'fire extinguisher' will have to be labelled 'extinguisher'.

This all very much surprises me. There are holocaust museums to show how inhumane mankind has been. This is to present the past so we can learn from it.

The writer seems to be suggesting the terrible period of slavery should be wiped from history.

On the use of the word 'slave' in the context of kde, client/server and parent/child do not describe the process as well as slave.

The english language is a wondrous thing. Stop trying to damage it. The logical conclusion of this assault on common sense is;

we will be left with only half a dozen words we can use without offence and then will only be able to commincate by hitting each other.

anon.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

seriously the political correctness brigade needs to get a life, why dont they go campaign for the blackberry to change its name to the colouredberry?
they are called slaves due to the fact that the processes have no control over their own actions and are entirely controlled by the "master" hence the name makes perfect sense and is in no way against anyone. also your paranoid about blacks, slave is not equal to black, in fact through history there are far more white/asian/middle-eastern slaves than black slaves.

maybe the Political Correctness Brigade should go and get a hobby so they dont waste everyone elses time, its bad enough you cant say firemen anymore and have to say fireperson instead.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I'm all up for freeing IO Slaves from this derogative slavery! Give them freedom! Give them independence! From now all KDE programs must do the dirty IO with THEIR own hands, no more slaves! That will teach them ;-)

And by the way: return all IO Slaves to Africa!

I mean, are you silly or was the article just a joke? ;-)

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

As a American Caucasian whose family was emancipated only 3 generations ago (in Italy of all places), I feel uniquely qualified to say that descendants of former slaves really don't give a crap about the M/S terminology used in the IT and Sci/Tech world.

Thanx,
Frank

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Following the same logic there are several other terms which should be reconsidered then, such as daemon (I guess some Christians don't like the fact they have daemons in their computers), zombie (some relatives of victims of voodoo might be hurt by this term), whitelisting/blacklisting (these are obvious) or killing (a process; very aggresive term).

I don't see why we should abolish slavery in software, if it is a useful way of structuring complicated systems. Programs are not human beings, we obviously have no problems with killing them, so why would enslaving them be any worse?

I would even suggest that using these terms has a positive impact, because it goes against creating unnecessary taboos and encourages conversation, like the one we have here. It makes it easier for us to realize why slavery of human beings is bad, and why it really doesn't matter when it comes to unconscius objects, such as computer programs.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The term IO Slave is functionally correct. The Native Americans were enslaved in the Americas before the African People. At the same time being eradicated like vermin. Still to this day the US government still holds the same prejudices as they did in the 1800s. So quit your whining and quit being over sensitive about terminology. Should we quit calling plugs Male and Female. Maybe we can call them Innies and Outies?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

"Political correctness" speech is the newspeak of these times. Perfectly well suited words are twisted and turned until they turn so "taboo" that the original meaning is lost. "Discrimination" just means that you select your actions depending on a subject - not enslaving any ethnic minority. Still, a statement like "a definition must have a discriminate quality" almost becomes incomprehensible. That is just what newspeak was designed to do.

And it doesn't help. Calling a "spokes woman" a "spokes person" still implies it is a woman. "Negro" turned to "black", "black" to "colored person", "colored person" to "Afro American" and it won't be too long until that one is tainted too. People just adjust their concepts to the word until the word has the same tainted meaning as the original had. Even worse, denying people the words to describe it doesn't make it go away. After KDE has been "sanitized", there will still be slave labour in the world.

So no, "slave" is perfect alright with me. It matches my concept of what it does, much better than any other. As far as I'm concerned KDE could stand for "Kommandant Destruktions Einheiten" and I/O slaves be renamed "Jewish forced laborers", I'd still use it, because it's just a great program. Don't try to force your own political ideology on to what simply is a technical concept. It won't do your case any good - simply because it is ridiculous.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

This is a joke, right?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

And people wonder why there is war in the world? This is the lamest article , even remotely connectet to OSS, that I've ever seen...

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Changing the language is just another method the Cultists of the Humanist Religion use to subvert society. Author is a spokesman for the cause.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Get rid of the politically correct B.S. and get a life. I don't know why I'm responding to this because the article is nothing but an attempt to start a flame war. People like you pick something of zero or nill consequence and try to blow it up in an effort to create a problem where none existed. The terms master and slave are all over in the hardware and software world, they are perfectly appropriate there and nobody but NOBODY (except idiots like you, of which there are but 1 in 6 billion) has a problem with it.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Get rid of the politically correct B.S. and get a life. I don't know why I'm responding to this because the article is nothing but an attempt to start a flame war. People like you pick something of zero or nill consequence and try to blow it up in an effort to create a problem where none existed. The terms master and slave are all over in the hardware and software world, they are perfectly appropriate there and nobody but NOBODY (except idiots like you, of which there are but 1 in 6 billion) has a problem with it.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Why trying to hide something? When we can understand the word and the meaning and just move along?

Is not like KDE is doing something bad, besides, words may have different meaning.. but and the end it's just a word.

Just my 2 cents

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Then it is only fitting that we start referring to workers in third-world sweat shops as "cable-select". There, how's that?

But seriously, get over it, its a hardware thing, its a conceptual thing. The only person who sees human misery in this is you and other overly-PC folk. Us hardware folk that have been in the biz since you were in knickers know this for what it is: a hardware setting. And IDE drives *still* come that way.

So get over yourself...sheesh...some peoples kids....

JC

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

you wrote;
> enslaved people are people who can be arbitrarily abused, demeaned, and killed, who have no value beside
> their capacity to provide uncompensated labor, who are denied all rights of person hood, and have no
> protection under the law.

Well, that describes the pieces of software that KDE calls slaves pretty darn well. Thanks for bringing home the point that that software was indeed named very accurately.

Now, unless you think that a piece of software should have the same rights as a person (of any color or any religion) that name should stay as it is not putting down anything or anyone.

Thomas

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

To be consistent, you should have avoided use of the "s" word in your essay. You have done nothing but perpetuate and facilitate the continued use of a demeaning, horrifying word with painful connotations. Trust me, I know. You're nothing but a closet racist. Hold on, my master's calling me...

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Since 'slave' is so offensive to an ethnical minority, I suggest they use another word to label a part of KDE that does things on commands from others:

"IO Bitches". As in: Do my I/O, bitch!

Yeah I know, that's offensive too, especially to the bitches out there. They are sure to bitch about it!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Your processes are bound.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I'm constantly amazed at people who get bent out of shape over non-issues like the master-slave concept in electronics, but who still manage to ignore the fact that there is real *HUMAN* slavery in parts of the world.

To even bring up the issue of the electronic term is straining at gnats. Ignoring the reality of human slavery *IS* offensive.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I agree, there is a lot of terminology and other things that threatens our society:

  • They should also stop using the word "daemon" for describing long running processes, it promotes satanism.
  • We should remove the word "black" from color pickers as it promotes racism.
  • Zombie processes are something straight out of witchcraft.
  • The kill command promotes violence among children.
  • Not everyone can deal with death so we should change the name "dead processes".
  • We should remove the number six as it sounds too much like sex.
  • We should skip the month of September, or at least the day September 11.

The list goes on and on, we should audit all projects and start using sensible terms.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I think that anyone raised in America who is under 30 years old doesn't really think about it like that. There is still racial tension, but the civil rights battles, the integration, memories of segregation, all of those belong to the previous generation.
You're either dating yourself as a member of this older set, or as a non-American...maybe both.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Oh my ,

slave labour is exactly what the IO-Slaves do, the term is not reserved to describe afrikans pressed into slave labour. If you want to get a language 100% political correct you better start develeoping a new one, even esperanto wont do.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

"slave" is a very common term in the IT industry. Nobody I ever spoke to thinks it has anything to do with racism, or exploitation of black people. And I'm Dutch, I should know about "Apartheid"! (which is a Dutch, well, Afrikaans word). Maybe you should look at the results of a codesearch for "slave" in google.

I get about 163.000 hits.

Good luck, Don Quixote. (And when I left for work this morning, the windmills were still there, too).

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Dear Jabari,

I am rather offended by the design of your blog. Especially the fact that the print is black on top of white. Clearly you are trying to get the message across that black is superior to white. I urge you to stop such racist messages. We are all equal in this world! Please change the design either to black text on a black background, or white text on a white background.
(another advantage of that solution is that no one else will be bothered by the nonsense you are spreading out)

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I hope this was written tongue in cheek.

That you spent so much time on a well written article full of totally useless gibberish.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

1) My hard drive still has pins on it that say master and slave.

2) The main coders of KDE are european. I think it's even registered in Germany or France. So, to them, this doesn't mean the same as it does to Americans. Slavery has always existed in the world - the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and to them it's no biggie. Of course, considering that KDE is used everywhere, including America, perhaps they should consider the name change. I'm not really convinced though. If no one but the USA complains, then why should the entire world bend for the US? I myself am a US citizen, but I think it would be unfair for 300M eople to tell the other 5.3B people they have to change the name.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

KDE e.V. (I can never remember whether it has the periods or not) is registered in Germany.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I've never never ever thought or heard of any association in the computing domain between the technical terms 'master/slave' and racism from any black, white, yellow or red people. YOU are the one who introduced this racist connotation on them. YOU are the one trying to bring up anew and spread racist concepts on things that have nothing to do with them. Because this racism exists only on YOUR mind. Please, don't tout this to us (black, white etc) in order to boost the rage in the world. Everybody is equal. Everybody knows this but YOU.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Come, on! It's just a stupid word!
Words change their meanings in time.
Ie. a polish word for 'a woman' used to mean 'a prostitute' about 200-300 years ago. Now almost noone knows about it. Noone feels ofended by using the word that just describes a female human.
So stop whining about using the word "slave" in technology. Machines are our slaves. We created them, they have to serve us. I don't see a problem with that.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

What's so wrong about slavery of routines? It's not like they're sentient or anything. Would you rather change the term to something else and alienate thousands of developers?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The article is completely idiotic. To draw a parallelism between human slavery and "slave processes" is absolutely ridiculous. Do something useful instead of losing time writing stupid articles.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Such blasfemic commands cannot be tolerated!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I see several posts stating that it's an "American problem" or the author must be an American. I don't know whether the author or the article is connected to America in any way. But as an American, I can say that I'm often embarrassed for America. The world must think we are all a bunch of idiot whiners. That is not the case. It seems that the only Americans that feel it necessary to mouth off (and claim to speak for all Americans) are usually uninformed trouble makers. America as a whole does not believe as the loudest voices.

As an American I ask the world not to judge all Americans by a few but rather to judge each of us individually based on how we interact with others.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Last time I checked, there were plenty of caucasion, asian etc etc slaves over the course of history too. A little bit of ignorance/insensitivity on your behalf there.

I hope the KDE teams don't even waste their time considering this dumb suggestion, they have bigger and better things to focus on than this political correct madness.

This reminds me of that time they tryed to get 'Abort' removed as an option from 'Abort / Retry' boxes because it was (apparently) putting women off using computers, due to (apparent) childbirth connotations.

Get a life

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

it offends people with erectile problems :-)

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Okay Mr. Jabari Zakiya, I hate to say it but either you are one of the most mentally challenged people I have read or this is a joke that you have presented in such a way as to provide the mentally challenged users of the internet more fodder for irrational thought. I would like to believe that the internet provides a resource for people to educate themselves and overcome senseless linguistic tripe such as this, but you appear to be trying to prove otherwise. I could only wish that in addition to recognizing slavery as a bad thing we should all recognize idiocy as the real reason for both slavery and nonsensical blathering like yours. Perhaps we should have an 'Education' month so that we can all remember slavery was a problem dating back far beyond the time in which Black slaves were being shipped out of Africa and continues to be a problem in some parts of the world today. Stopping the use of the word is not going to make any of that better, only educated action against people who would try to control the lives of others can affect a better future. You however appear to be trying to fix the world through words instead of action and thereby you are in some extremely insignificant way only adding to the problem.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Let me begin by saying I'm one of those Americans who IS offended by the "Merry Christmas" from Wal-Mart employees. It's not so much of being politically correct for me, I merely think assuming, and placing assumptions on people because you believe YOU are the "norm" is ignorant and offensive. It has nothing to do with what's actually said.

Now, let's get into the slave thing...

There's a HUGE distinction between a human being forced into sub-human conditions and extorted and some computer process.

KDE IO-Slaves are spawned, used and destroyed. That, to me seems EXACTLY what a slave would be good for. They serve a purpose, and beyond that purpose, are useless. Can you think of a more fitting name?

Keeping that in mind, we shouldn't rename KDE IO-Slaves. Something in your mind draws a comparison between the slavery of black Americans and the existence of disposable computer processes. If you still look back into history and see the contribution of those people as "disposable", then it is YOUR view of history that is in need of serious change.

As long as I command and control my computer, it is indeed a slave. It IS useless beyond it's purpose, it's a MACHINE. It's not human, it has no awareness. The moment that changes, and your arguement gains weight, there will be more signifigant issues for humanity as a whole to deal with.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Sorry. I cannot agree with you at all. As others have pointed out, you make the entirely inaccurate assumption that "slave" is somehow synonymous with "black person". Your argument seems to be along the lines of "one has to watch the context in which one uses words". I would agree with that premise, I just think your logic proceeding from there is feeble. The context for the use of "master-slave" terminology with computers is in terms of entirely non-human, non-living objects. Hell, in the case of KDE, they aren't even objects, they are more concepts than anything else. There are all sorts of words that can be offensive when aimed directly at people, but which are completely inoffensive in other contexts-- spade, chink, box, kraut, ape, cracker, bitch, ricer, frog, snatch etc. Should we stop using all of them, too? Should rape victims protest the use of "mount"? Should murder victims complain about the use of "kill -9"?

No, of course not. (And, yes, that last part about murder victims complaining was a joke.) Why not? Because, as we have agreed, it all depends on the context.

I hate to say it, but your post really has the flavour of somebody who is looking for something about which to complain. Something easy to point a finger, declare "j'accuse!" and then go about the rest of your day without having to spend too much effort. Sure, if KDE gave these slaves icons that looked like blackface caricatures, then I'd completely agree with you. What if KDE had named them Helots instead of slaves? Would you have complained? I have to say I doubt very much you'd have made a peep-- not because there would not be the same reference to slavery, but because this reference wouldn't serve your own personal agenda of being personally aggrieved. How about if they had an icon showing a guy carrying a stone to a pyramid? Again, it is slavery, but you seem to make no mention of-- nay you seem to be utterly uninterested in even acknowledging any form of-- slavery other than the one that serves your particular complaint.

Blacks, indeed all non-whites, have plenty of legitimate problems to overcome in this country and in the world. This is most assuredly not one of them. Even if it were, it would still be so far down the list that I'd have a hard time believing that you didn't have something better to do. I am well aware of the power that words have over the way people think, and of the kind of damage they can do when used to hurt. This, however, is just not one of those cases, no matter how much you may scowl.

To be honest, when I first started reading this, I thought it was some pretty clever satire. O, would that it were true.

Jabari Zakiya's picture

As I write this there have been 26 comments to this topic so far. Here's a rough breakdown.

3 people agreed with the article; 1 asked to supply a replacement word; 1 was in quasi agreement and didn't like client-server either; and the rest (the majority of comments) consisted of personal characterizations (I'm dumb, stupid, prejudiced, racist, etc), rationalizations for the use of the word, based on history, linguistics, politics, or just because it didn't bother them.

All of these respoonses were to be expected, given the state of current human development.

One thing, though, that does stand out in most of the opposing comments is the degree of emotional vitriole, insecurity, and ignorance that permeates their comments, and almost a complete lack of objectivity, sensitivity, or intellectual curiosity about the ramifications of my premise.

Insecurity married to ignorance make a dangerous couple.

I think many of the commentators did not even read the full article, and reflexively entered into an instant attack mentality because the topic obviously pushed a button that threatened their sense of control and power. This was displayed in all the comments that questioned why I even bothered to raise this issue (because I wanted to, as if I needed their permission -- that's the power thing) and in raising this issue violated some unspoken rule or sense of propriety.

There is so much in these comments that I could dissect and deconstruct from a political, cultural, historical, technical, psychological, sociological, and linguistic, et al, perspective, but it would not be useful in this forum. Others who review these exchanges should feel free to do so in their own fields of concentration.

I was glad to see at least one person ask (to me) the obvious question that would logically address my concerns: What word could be used to replace "slaves"?

I had thought about this before submitting the article, but waited to see if anyone would try to "solve" my problem with "slaves." Since, as I write this, no one has submitted a replacement yet, let me venture one now, and give you my rationale.

I propose the KDE project replace "slave(s)" with "kelf/kelvs".

Rationale:
Using the KDE propensity to put a 'k' on the front of words, I take the word 'elf' and put a 'k' on it.
Elvs/elfs are little mythical creatures, which have a range of personalities (can't you see each component having its own individual avator), who live underground in communities, and do their stuff out of sight of normal humans activity. Aren't these the characteristics of the software components in question? Also, kelf/kelfs/kelvs are also single syllable words, like the current singular/plural word forms, and take fewer letters to write, making replacement in documentation an easy 'find and replace' operation. But most importantly, a kelf has no inherent historical, cultural, political, etc negative baggage associated with it.

Now if you don't like that, please submit your alternative.

Jabari

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Maybe Knome? They work also at night and for free?

And yes, I am not serious and cannot take your article seriously.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

How about we leave it master - slave

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

That's finally an idea!

;-)

Tyler's picture
Submitted by Tyler on

It's true, there was a lot of disrespect in the responses to your article. But there were also substantive counter-arguments raised that you have not responded to. The reaction was strong and rude. That could be because the respondents are immature or ignorant, as you suggest. It could also be because your argument is poorly made, and insults the motivations of a group of well-meaning people. You did suggest that the KDE developers condone and promote human slavery by using the word slave to describe their programs. It's going to take more than a bit of hand-waving and idle threats to deconstruct your audience to make a charge like that stick. If you can't support your argument more thoughtfully you are not going to get much in the way of reasoned dialog.

If you want to persuade me, here's what I need to know:

What injustice is caused by 'enslaving' a computer process? How is this morally equivalent to enslaving a human being?

If a computer process is absolutely subservient to another process, and so fits the definition of 'slave', why is using this straightforward descriptive terminology problematic?

Slave is not a derogatory term. It describes a deplorable condition for a human to be in, but it is not, in and of itself, an insult. Neither are words like child, dumb, corrupt, etc. How does a word that simply and accurately describes the relationship between two computer processes insult or demean anyone?

If a word that means something bad in one context should be avoided in all contexts should we also rename the unix commands kill and killall? If not, how is this different from the problem you describe for the use of slave? Does the killing of child processes have some greater social significance with respect to human child abuse?

'Master' and 'slave' immediately suggest the structure of the relationship between two entities. Kelf means absolutely nothing. It conveys no information about the process it would describe, since it is an imaginary word you just invented. Avoiding descriptive terminology for fanciful creations just increases the jargon-load in an already heavily-laden field. Do you have a more practical alternative to suggest?

This is an important subject, and I will do my best to examine my own motivations here. Perhaps, as you suggest, I am reacting out of my own racism, fear, and desire to cling to what power I have. On the other hand, maybe your argument is weak and inflammatory, and that is what generated the quality and quantity of feedback received. I would honestly like to know more about your position; please take a moment to clarify you argument for us.

Tyler

Jabari Zakiya's picture

Hi Tyler,

Because you were the only opposing commentator who 1) bothered to address the merits of my comments 2) asked questions seeking clarification and understanding 3) seemed genuine in doing so 4) was polite and 5) identified yourself by name, I have taken the time to respond to you. I would ask you to take the time and go deeper into the context of this issue to understand the wider implications and ramifications and dimensions of what is at stake here.

It's true, there was a lot of disrespect in the responses to your article.

Yes, there was a lot of disrespect. So ask yourself WHY? Why does merely asking a question resort in such a vehemnt outpouring of insecurity and defensiveness? The answers underlying these questions are key to understanding my premise.

But there were also substantive counter-arguments raised that you have not responded to.

There were absolutely no "substantive counter-arguments raised" to the merits of what I actually wrote. People mostly created strawman arguments that they then argued against, without addressing the specific points I actually made. This is a typical rhetorical devise used to escape dealing with the merits of an argument.

The reaction was strong and rude. That could be because the respondents are immature or ignorant, as you suggest.It could also be because your argument is poorly made, and insults the motivations of a group of well-meaning people.

Yes, the reactions were strong and rude, and most of the respondents displayed immense immaturity and ignorance (and arrogance) in their responses. But whether my arguments were poorly made or not, an individual could only be "insulted" if they felt personally impunged in some way. So, are you saying people may have felt "insulted" because they are in favor of the concept of slavery, and it is an affront to them that I oppose slavery?

You did suggest that the KDE developers condone and promote human slavery by using the word slave to describe their programs. It's going to take more than a bit of hand-waving and idle threats to deconstruct your audience to make a charge like that stick. If you can't support your argument more thoughtfully you are not going to get much in the way of reasoned dialog.

KDE has absolutely chosen to use terminology which emanates from a very specific social/political/historical context denoting a power relationship between groups of people, and applied it to the interaction of software components. At minimun, KDE is implicitly condoning the legitimacy of human slavery (and some of the commentators to this list have come out and said they saw nothing wrong with slavery). What you must honestly acknowledge, whether you think that was KDE's intent, that is my (and others) perception, and my perception is reality to me, and yours is to you.


If you want to persuade me, here's what I need to know:

What injustice is caused by 'enslaving' a computer process? How is this morally equivalent to enslaving a human being?

KDE is not 'enslaving a computer process.' The computer widgets KDE calls "slaves" are inatimate "things." They do not live, they have no feelings, and the issue has nothting to do with how these widgets are used or treated. The issue is that the enslavement of human beings is a pernicious, demeaning, oppressive, and internationally recognized illegal act. KDE's use of "slave" certainly accepts (if not promotes) the concept and practice of slavery, and the idea of master over a slave. These are acts of "injustice." The KDE project sides with being the "slave master" and not the abolitionist.

If a computer process is absolutely subservient to another process, and so fits the definition of 'slave', why is using this straightforward descriptive terminology problematic?

I addressed this in blog itself, did you not read it?

"But the KDE io-slaves seem to be a very important and essential core elements of the KDE infrastructure. They possess highly specialized functionality, are designed to provide an efficient and ubiquitous set of tools for application developers to interface to, and thus are valuable components which enhance the utility of KDE. These qualities seem to be the antithesis to those of "slaves.""

Computer components (hardware/software) are designed to work together, to perform specific tasks, and by default, are necessary and essential to the operation of the system, or they wouldn't (shouldn't) be there. Only a person coming from a preconceived social/political/cultural/etc perspective of power relationships would see the interaction of hardware/software from a master-slave mindset. One software routine is not subservient to another, they work in cohesion as designed. There is no cohesion in a human master-slave relationship, it only exist through tension, force and fear.

Slave is not a derogatory term. It describes a deplorable condition for a human to be in, but it is not, in and of itself, an insult. Neither are words like child, dumb, corrupt, etc.

Tyler, being kind, this is dumb bullshit. I don't know where you are from, or where you've been, but let me take you to where I'm from and been, and you say that to people there, and they'd let you know how derogatory they feel about the word. You are mentally masturbating yourself if you think referring to someone as a "slave" is not a derogatory term. Would you like to be enslaved? Stop jerking yourself off, and face the overt reality of the horrendous and illegal institution of slavery.

How does a word that simply and accurately describes the relationship between two computer processes insult or demean anyone?

Again, the word doesn't accurately describe the relationship between computer processes, it describes the power relationship between groups of people that has been overlayed onto the interaction of inatimate things. People tend to anthropomorphize nonhuman things to make things easier to understand, but its a warped association in this case.

If a word that means something bad in one context should be avoided in all contexts should we also rename the unix commands kill and killall? If not, how is this different from the problem you describe for the use of slave? Does the killing of child processes have some greater social significance with respect to human child abuse?

Strawman argument. This is unrelated to my points and issue. Killing a child process is technical jargon related to software administration and does not come out of a previous derogatory social context. Plus, I did not call for the abolition or removal of the word "slave" from common use. Again, a fictitious argument.

'Master' and 'slave' immediately suggest the structure of the relationship between two entities.

Master-slave says absolutely nothing about the specific interaction of hardware/software but only implies the degree of importance, or time relationshiop. You could just as easily use primary-secondary or parent-child to represent the same concept (which, in fact, have replaced master-slave).

Kelf means absolutely nothing. It conveys no information about the process it would describe, since it is an imaginary word you just invented.

Kelf intentionally does exactly what you say its does. It is merely a noun to denote a class of code devoid of previously noted derogatory baggage. Each kelf would have it own funcionality as currently defined -- sort of like Keebler cookies (I like the chocolate chip myself).

Avoiding descriptive terminology for fanciful creations just increases the jargon-load in an already heavily-laden field.

Hey, I didn't decide the jargon-load in KDE, they determined all their krazy names themselves (pun intended).

Do you have a more practical alternative to suggest?

No, I like that. You got something better? We could always have a contest!!

This is an important subject, and I will do my best to examine my own motivations here. Perhaps, as you suggest, I am reacting out of my own racism, fear, and desire to cling to what power I have.

I am glad you recognize that the underlying issues involved here are important. Each of us can only act on the base of information we possess to derive understanding from. Our continual task is to increase our base of accurate information so we can derive a more knowledgeable, sophisticated, and realistic understanding of life.

On the other hand, maybe your argument is weak and inflammatory, and that is what generated the quality and quantity of feedback received. I would honestly like to know more about your position; please take a moment to clarify you argument for us.

Again, if my argument is weak, then merely present a stronger argument in a coherent, respectful way. I am totally open to learning a new perspective on everything. However, the quantity and quality of other peoples responses does not speak to my deficiencies, but theirs. No one else in opposition responded to me like you have.

Tyler, the unspoken overriding issue here is power. Like I said before, the power to name is the power to control. That is why so many people have so vehemently lashed out at me personally, I am threatening their self-imaged sense of power over me.

If, as many people have stated, "slave" is just a word, well then, since it is just a word, then they shouldn't really care if I propose to change it. It's just a word, right, No meaning, no importance, right?

Well, we all know words do matter. The wrong words will get you killed in this world. And as someone has commented, this is why Richard M. Stallman (RMS) is such a stickler on the use of language and definitions.

But finally, as I, and others, keep imploring for people to reconcile, how can you logically and philosophically promote the idea of FREE SOFTWARE, while condoning the use of language, in a major Free Software project, that promotes, even if only indirectly, slavery -- the antithesis of freedom?

Please think about these things long and hard. I look forward to your response.

Hotep (Peace)

Jabari

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I'm sorry, this is one of the most ridiculous political statements that I've seen in a long time. It accuses KDE's developers of being slave masters and using terminology that condones slavery. That is an idiotic and offensive accusation. You now follow up the article up with equally offensive comments. The hostility you're feeling from your readership is of your own making. You've insulted the intelligence and character of a group that doesn't deserve it. By association, you've insulted the users of KDE and the Open Source community as a whole.

You sir, have a problem. You inject political venom into a community (KDE) that has no political interest, position or ambition related to the promotion or abolition of slavery. Nor should it. It's a technical community. The only social agenda that KDE may have would be to promote FOSS over commercial software.

And with your wild and offensive accusations, you give those who do the real work of fighting slavery a bad name-- people who actually know what slavery is and have seen it firsthand.

Sadly, Free Software Magazine will now be removed from my list of frequently visited sites. How can anyone consider this site credible as long as you're on it?

Matthew Sharp's picture

I know it makes it easier to dismiss counter arguments when you chuck them into some basket (impolite, anonymous, insecure, didn't read the article, whatever you tell yourself to dismiss their points). But there are arguments, which you casually dismiss as arguing against a strawman, which counter your argument as I read it. Maybe many of the posters and myself misunderstand your argument, maybe you should succinctly clarify/summarise your argument.

The way I see your argument is like this.

KDE uses the word slave to describe a subsystem. This means that KDE is condoning human slavery. We need to get them to stop using the word slave to reduce/abolish slavery. We need to kill the concept of slavery to get it to end.

I'm sure that I am not the only person to read your argument this way. When you drop sentences like "The enslavement of humans will end only when the concept of slavery ceases to exist.", I think it is reasonable to assume that you want to wipe the word from dictionaries (how can the concept not exist when dictionaries give it to anyone who looks) and make humanity forget about it (this is where the 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 comments come from, as with the comments about forgetting history). You really should read what you write before you dismiss your arguments as a strawman.

Slave may not be the best term to technically describe what is going on, and if that were the entirety of your argument, I would agree. However, your assertion that using the world slave in this context condones human slavery is IMHO ridiculous. You dismiss the parallels of killing processes as a strawman, claiming that "killing ... does not come out of a previous derogatory social context." I fail to see the difference between killing and enslaving in terms of how derogatory they are.

You obviously have very different options about what constitutes condoning and derogatory than a lot of people, and no amount of argument is going to change that.

I for my part apologise if my arguments seem impolite. I was calling your idea stupid, not you.

Tyler's picture
Submitted by Tyler on

>>Tyler, the unspoken overriding issue here is power. Like I said before, the power to
>>name is the power to control. That is why so many people have so vehemently lashed out
>>at me personally, I am threatening their self-imaged sense of power over me.

Maybe the response is not about people wanting to have power over you, but their perception that you want to have power over them, with respect to the terminology they use.

On reflection, I think you are probably correct in your view that master-slave is not the most accurate way to label inter-related computer components. If you had focussed your argument on that, you might have convinced some people to use a better alternative, whether that be client-server, parent-child, call-response or whatever. But you cripple your own argument by claiming that any resistance is based purely on the overt racism of anyone that opposes you. As soon as you claim that the only source of opposition is the racist intentions of your opponents you reframe the debate in a way that precludes rational discussion. You present two choices - you're a racist, or you agree with me. This excludes the possibility that I could disagree with you without being a racist. Which means if I want to object, I have to defend my character first, rather than just focus on the issue at hand.

Certainly, as a white person I don't understand the social context of slavery in the same way as you. What you don't understand about race issues generally is how frustrating it is to have honest questions responded to with the claim that the question is racist in intent and doesn't warrant serious consideration.

>>So, are you saying people may have felt "insulted" because they are in favor of the
>>concept of slavery, and it is an affront to them that I oppose slavery?

No, this is ridiculous. Slavery has been abolished in the western world, because we have collectively agreed that it is an absolute evil. You don't insult people by opposing slavery, you insult them by assuming, on very flimsy evidence, that they are in favour of it.

>>"But the KDE io-slaves seem to be a very important and essential core elements of the
>>KDE infrastructure. They possess highly specialized functionality, are designed to
>>provide an efficient and ubiquitous set of tools for application developers to
>>interface to, and thus are valuable components which enhance the utility of KDE.
>>These qualities seem to be the antithesis to those of "slaves.""

You are using your own definition of "slave". Checking the Oxford English dictionary, I find the following:

1. a person who is the legal property of another or others and is bound to absolute obedience, a human chattel
...
4. a machine, or part of one, directly controlled by another

There is nothing in either definition of slave that is dependent on ideas of specialization, efficiency, value. If you were building a pyramid in ancient Egypt, slaves would be essential to your task. If you were running a household in ancient Rome, your slave might have specialized skills (literacy, numeracy, hosting etiquette, market savvy). The antithesis of slavery is freedom, not specialization or value.

>>KDE has absolutely chosen to use terminology which emanates from a very specific
>>social/political/historical context denoting a power relationship between groups of
>>people, and applied it to the interaction of software components.

Which specific context is that? You assume that the KDE developers are motivated by their admiration for the plantation owners of pre-civil war USA, and an active desire to promote the return to such inequity. More likely, they have chosen to use the word slave in a more mechanistic, and literal, way: the slave process is absolutely subservient to the master process. 'Slave' (imperfectly) describes this relationship, and doesn't require us to adopt any particular social policy just because we apply the term to computers.

>>You are mentally masturbating yourself if you think referring to someone as a "slave" is
>>not a derogatory term. Would you like to be enslaved?

You're missing the point. I don't want to be enslaved, not because the word is insulting, but because the condition is. If I were enslaved my situation would not be improved by using a different word to describe it. You are right, in that slave could be used as an insult. But it still has value when we discuss issues of dominance and subservience. When I refer to the people who built the Egyptian pyramids as slaves, it's not an insult, it's a statement of fact; that's what they were.

Calling someone a slave who is not a slave would be insulting, presumably you would be attacking their capacity to think for themselves. In the same way, calling someone a bitch is insulting, because it associates them with the negative aspects of a female dog. But the word 'bitch' itself is not the insult, it is the particular context it is used in. If we're talking about breeding dogs, then we need a word for female dogs, and bitch is the one we use. And when we're talking about slavery, we need a word to describe the subservient party, and slave is the one we have. Getting rid of it would limit our capacity to openly discuss the issue.

>>Strawman argument. This is unrelated to my points and issue. Killing a child process is
>>technical jargon related to software administration and does not come out of a previous
>>derogatory social context. Plus, I did not call for the abolition or removal of the word
>>"slave" from common use. Again, a fictitious argument.

This is not a strawman argument, this is the part of your thesis that confuses me most. You can accept that killing a child process is 'technical jargon... and does not come out of a previous derogatory social context'. That's exactly the point many of us have been making for the 'slave-master' terminology as relating to hardware and software. The killing of children has been part of any number of social contexts, from the killing of female babies in China, the use and abuse of child soldiers in Africa, ritual sacrifices in the Americas, the abduction and abuse of children by pedophiles. You can accept that these are all distinct from killing a child process, but not that using a slave process is anything but a direct endorsement of using the same practice in a social context. I don't see the difference.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The suggestion of renaming kioslaves to primary/secondary or parent/child simply doesn't describe what they do.

Here's pretty much the "life" cycle of a kioslave:

1. The app (master) wants to receive data. It tells the
ioslave to open an URL and get data.
2. The ioslave does it
3. The app terminates (kills) the ioslave.

I hope this isn't anybody's idea of a parent/child relationship, and if I was someone's superior (primary), I certainly wouldn't treat my employee (secondary) that way either.

Slavers, however, might do just that -- make the slave work and kill him once he's no longer useful.

If anything, this is an anti-slavery statement because it highlights just how badly masters treat(ed) their slaves. ;)

I hate Bush, but in this context, I totally wouldn't mind naming the "master" after him (and maybe at the same time, rename the kioslaves to kiraqi -- it would certainly highlight the war crimes Bush is committing).

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The solution here is to understand the open source software.
You, and anybody else, are not forced to use anything as it is given.

You have right to create your own branch, with new names for any function, and distribute it. The acceptance will show have you valid points.

That is how it works in open source.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

While the author's take on the matter makes perfect sense, it falls short of addressing the real issue: this is not just some abstract terminology problem people, these are real processes we're talking about!

It goes much deeper than just a name, these poor I/O workers are being exploited savagely and denied every basic right that defines us as a species. Getting all worked up about a word while ignoring what it stands for is not just superficial, it's plain hypocritical.

Changing the name is not going to change those poor bastards' condition. The KDE I/O slaves must be freed. Period. Nothing short of that is even remotely acceptable and I expect every person with a trace of humanity left to stand up for it and boycott KDE.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

While the author's take on the matter makes perfect sense, it falls short of addressing the real issue: this is not just some abstract terminology problem people, these are real processes we're talking about!

It goes much deeper than just a name, these poor I/O workers are being exploited savagely and denied every basic right that defines us as a species. Getting all worked up about a word while ignoring what it stands for is not just superficial, it's plain hypocritical.

Changing a name does not change those poor bastards' condition. The KDE I/O slaves must be freed. Period. Nothing short of that is even remotely acceptable and I expect every person with a trace of humanity left to stand up for it and boycott KDE.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Stop listening to Audioslave
Forget slaving my camera flashes
Cancel my trip to Slave Lake
Forget about buying that new heli from Great Slave Helicopters
Give up my Slave Zero video game
Throw away my kid's model of Slave-1
and
Make my wife burn her Princess Leah slave girl outfit...

Um... on second thought, how about I just ignore you and the ridiculous crusade you're on. Oooooh, I said "crusade". I bet that gets you all fired up too.

You are what's wrong with the world today. If folks like you have your way, we will become a nation of soft, bland, uncreative people that are afraid of anything more dangerous than a cotton ball and offended by the things which make us human.

And by the way... Caucasians have not exactly been the only people to ever own or trade slaves.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

First, I like how you heavily imply that any black programmer, who isn't as sensitive to the use of the word "slave" as you are, is automatically defective by not being self-aware. Nice open-minded and tolerant point of view there, Jabari.

Second, I would like to suggest a new terminology that leverages the philosophy of one of our current cultural icons, as a replacement for the Master/Slave mindset in software development. In the words of Ice-T, everyone is a Pimp or a Whore, and it's always important to know which you are (and, in given situations, you might be both to different people, or change between the two with a given person). So, from now on, I suggest that we no longer use the following analogies in process naming:

supervisor/worker
master/slave
server/client
kernel/daemon

and instead use:

pimp/whore

So, from now on, KDE will have IO-Whores, and when we make a change to a unix system log, instead of saying "I need to sighup the syslog daemon", we will say "I need to bitch-slap the syslog-whore."

This is certainly not racially evocative ... both pimping and whoring cross all ethnic boundaries. Further, while "pimp" tends to refer to men, there are certainly women who take on that role (as madames), and there are men who take on the role of whores. Therefore, it is also a terminology that crosses gender lines. It also crosses lines of sexual orientation. As such, I would assert that any RIGHT THINKING individual should have no problem with this new terminology.

I propose that we refer to this as the "Ice-T model of software design".

Now, if you'll pardon me, I need to go **tch-slap my mail server.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Now, if you'll pardon me, I need to go ***-slap my mail server.

ITYM "mail ***re". HTH, HAND

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Is the Server the Pimp or the Whore?

On the one hand, Whores provide services to clients ... in that sense, you could easily say that a mail server is a "mail whore". But in that role, and in Ice-T's analogy, the whore is not generally considered to be in the position of authority. The whore is being exploited.

In email architectures, the mail server is usually controlling what things the mail client may or may not do. The server is in the position of authority over the clients. This fits the role of pimp more than the role of whore, in my opinion.

So, you're right, I had a lapse of terminology. I should have said "I need to go bitch-slap my mail-pimp". Which is, itself, an odd phrase... but there you go.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The objection to the terms "master" and "slave" in computing technology are predominantly from white people who want to put their guilt aside and conveniently forget the past, rather than people who genuinely find it offensive. Time spent renaming things like this is time wasted that could be spent on something productive.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Well nice humouristic blog northeless.

Kinda felt like i was reading some Shelley,
http://www.shelleytherepublican.com/
But i would give up if a was you, sure not having same FUD'ing power as she do.

You know what? KDE developers don't give a flying dung about your crap...
We/They are there to code great software not give in to some politically/mentally challenged dumb ass

Whats next ? computer have right ?
STOP exploiting computer they have feeling too :(
putting them into slavery is just wrong, you all made little baby Jesus so sad

Just wait until he publish his next article about the sexual subjectiveness of the GNU (don't ask)

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

"The word slave in the English language originates from the Scottish sclave, which comes from the Old French esclave, which in turn comes from the Medieval welsh sclavus, which originates from the early Greek sklabos, from sklabenoi Slavs, of Slavic origin; akin to Old Russian Slovene, an East Slavic tribe.[1] [2] The Latin term sclavus originally referred to the Slavs of Eastern and Central Europe , as many of these people had been captured and then sold as slaves. The current usage of the word serfdom is not usually synonymous with slavery, because Medieval serfs were considered to have some (though limited) rights. Slaves are people who are owned and controlled by others in a way that they have almost no rights or freedom of movement and are not paid for their labour, aside from food, clothing and shelter needed for basic subsistence."

So, I guess slave actually refers to white people after all!

I know... this is a **** argument, but so is the article...

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

One thing, though, that does stand out in most of the opposing comments is the degree of emotional vitriole, insecurity, and ignorance that permeates their comments, and almost a complete lack of objectivity, sensitivity, or intellectual curiosity about the ramifications of my premise.

-> Wow, all of that because someone disagreed with you? Granted there were some postings that were just emotional vitriole, but the majority were making a point and you just glossed over them and labeled them ignorant. Have you tried putting yourself in the other person's shoes? Or is everyone just supposed to put them selves in yours?

Insecurity married to ignorance make a dangerous couple.

I think many of the commentators did not even read the full article, and reflexively entered into an instant attack mentality because the topic obviously pushed a button that threatened their sense of control and power.

-> I not only read the article, but I read it twice because the first half sounded tongue-in-cheek and the second half seemed serious...and I didn't want to be one of those people who took a tongue-in-cheek writing seriously.

There is so much in these comments that I could dissect and deconstruct from a political, cultural, historical, technical, psychological, sociological, and linguistic, et al, perspective, but it would not be useful in this forum.

-> It is funny that you say that, considering earlier I said "It seems to me that black Americans are always *looking for reasons to be offended* so much that they invent reasons to be offended." What if instead of dissecting and deconstructing the world looking for evidence of racism and oppression, you looked for evidence of compassion and social advancement. Perhaps how KDE and Open Source can bring more affordable computing to people who can't afford Windows or Mac OSX?

As others noted, not only can we tell that you are American, but we can tell that you are a little older. Let us know if we are wrong. I am pretty sure that you witnessed the pre Civil Rights times and therefore will never view the world as it is, but as it was. That being said, it is interesting that you referred to discussions that took place in the 70's and/or 80's.

The TV show I referenced earlier about "creature" was called "Black. White." and it was on FX. On the same show, a teenage black man argued with his parents because they were saying that when they go to stores they can feel everyone looking at them (like if they are going to steal). The kid disagreed and basically told them they were being paranoid. I think that is a perfect example of the generation gap. The parents still view the world in pre Civil Rights days and "feel the eyes on them" even though most of the eyes started to go away some 20 years ago.

Another story. I was at the mall once with a white girl that I know and she was looking at some black guys because she has (I don't know why) this attraction to guys of the gangsta-rapper culture....I would bet without a doubt that those guys would of said that she was looking at them out of racist reasons....without even considering that she was actually *checking them out* because she liked them.

My point is that you guys are pulling the race card way to often and for petty reasons. That is why nobody had any intellectual interest in your article....their interest has been drained. This is why I said you guys remind me of the boy who cried wolf. I have had much more meaningful race discussions about much more important topics, like the racial inequalities of prison sentences and the death penalty or of pay inequalities. I will protest in the streets hand-in-hand with you to fix issues like that. But if you want me to even identify with the issue of KDE I/O Slaves....sorry dude. Being Mexican American, I am too busy trying to grasp how I feel about the illegal immigration debate to waste one ounce of compassion on this terminology issue.

Write an essay on an a real and important issue and I'd bet you'll get a much difference response. Especially from open source people since they are generally of the tree-hugging variety. You just picked the wrong issue. Maybe...just maybe you are wrong on this. Have you considered that?

P.S. By "you guys" I meant P.C. police...as I know how offensive "you people" is and "you guys" is only one word away. Furthermore, I learned the phrase "you guys" from a black person...so please don't hang me for that one.

P.S.S. Sorry if "hang" if offensive. Just kidding!!!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

This is the funniest blog I've read all month. It's great how a post written with such venoem for such a simple innocent word invites ridicule and yet the author can't see why.

Please everyone keep up the whitty rehtorts. Marvelous; Jabari you are a genious in prompting such a long page of humour.

Paul.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Reading all of these comments in the discussion at Free Software magazine is very surprising. Richard Stallman has frequently spoken of the importance of language and terminology -- in particular, Free Software vs. Open Source and Linux vs. GNU/Linux. To me it seems incredibly ironic and unfortunate that the readers of Free Software magazine are so contemptous of the idea that free software should use terminology that also honors freedom.

I commend the author of this article, and I think all the negative reactions demonstrate that deep down, everyone knows the point is valid. People become very angry and defensive when they are challenged about something that they know is questionable, but don't want to have to take the trouble to think about. Another example of this is the anger directed at vegetarians by meat eaters -- deep down, people sense that there is an ethical issue they don't really want to face, so their insecurity becomes defensiveness and anger directed at the individuals who make them think about things they would rather ignore.

RMS says that one of the reasons people like to use "open source" rather than "free software" is that they don't want to make people uncomfortable by reminding them of the larger issues of freedom and justice. The larger issues of freedom and justice that the free software movement addresses are important, and paying attention to how we label and speak of our tools is a valid concern.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

"People become very angry and defensive when they are challenged about something that they know is questionable, but don't want to have to take the trouble to think about."

No, the reality is that we all feel disdain at the fact that there are people out there who make issues when there are none. Now we have yet another pointless discussion about a ridiculous topic, when we should instead be doing something constructive like making KDE documentation and the like. Not trying to pull to pieces terms that have been in existence for eons.

As you can see from the reaction to this blog, we fell we have a duty to plead sense into people like Jabari and possibly yourself.

Glenn

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

That is just plain wrong. The reason people express disagreement on issues is because they disagree....not because they agree. What you are saying is that if you agree, then you agree. But if you disagree, then you agree. It seems like a poor way to support one's unpopular ideas by saying that everyone agrees whether they agree or not. Sounds complicated. Lets keep it simple. Agree=Agree and Disagree=Disagree.

As for open source vs free software? That is also a grab to support one's unpopular ideas. The reason people say "open source" is because they would like to have the code available under whatever license (like BSD). The reason they say "free software" is because they want certain freedoms available like to redistribute and you know the 5 freedoms or whatever. They are completely different issues. It is common for extremist to want to redefine everything to black and white: you are either with us or against us. But it is not true. It is always a spectrum. I almost completely disagree with RMS. And I completely disagree with the term GNU/Linux. Why? Because KDE and X11 makes Linux what it is to me, not any GNU tools. Just like I said about trying to support an unpopular idea...he is just trying to force all Linux users to become his followers against their will by thrusting his "GNU" and "free software" labels upon them. Many of us use the GPL because of the practicalities of keeping code open...not because we hate proprietary software and think it shouldn't exist.

Matthew Sharp's picture

I think you are completely ignoring RMS' reasoning. RMS encourages careful wording to better describe something (Free Software is a better description than Open Source, GNU/Linux describes a distro better than linux), and to emphasize the important issues. He's not saying "don't say DRM cause it will make us all evil, we can't get rid of DRM until everyone stops using the word and forgets about it". The other thing is RMS' choice of words actually relate to the issue being talked about. I/O slaves are not human slaves.

And are you seriously suggesting that everyone who disagreed with the article fells guilty about slavery and wants to ignore the issue?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

First let me say that there are people that respect or like many of RMS's contributions but don't necessarily go around using "GNU/Linux" or care to. In other words, we can all agree here and there but not necessarily everywhere, so just because I agree with you here, don't expect me to agree with you there.

>> RMS says that one of the reasons people like to use "open source" rather than "free software" is that they don't want to make people uncomfortable by reminding them of the larger issues of freedom and justice.

Are you saying that those advocating we use something besides slave-master (eg, the author of the article) don't want to make people uncomfortable by reminding them of the larger issues of slaves and masters? I don't follow.

>> I think all the negative reactions demonstrate that deep down, everyone knows the point is valid.

Alright, so how does a comment that doesn't agree with an invalid point sound? In any case, a number of posts expressed some sensitivity to the issue but simply didn't agree with changing the term to anything proposed so far.

The author and anyone agreeing would help their cause (if they care to help their cause) but addressing as many of the "negative reactions" as possible.

I say that those not countering the criticisms know deep down that the criticisms are valid. There take that.

>> Another example of this is the anger directed at vegetarians by meat eaters..

More generalizing. More clumping of everyone expressing a criticism as belonging in the same boat. Does the author ever criticize him/herself? Probably not, right? ..since that would mean that the author would have joined the "opposition."

I try to be respectful, so if I know I am speaking with someone that is sensitive to a term, I may remember to avoid it. Different people have different views on what is appropriate, and I don't think the majority gets to trump the minority all the time. However, I expect to use the slave-master term among people that don't seem upset by it -- which seems to be the majority.

For various reasons, some people simply feel stronger about a particular issue than others. I don't expect different people to ever agree with each other on every point (not even if they were married), and I expect everyone to believe that they are the one that is the most correct. With this in mind, as a practical matter, I really think the author would perhaps be a little more convincing to more people by addressing specifically as many of the points brought up repeatedly by different readers. In particular, how far do we go to clense the language of the very many potentially insulting terms [eg, kill]? It would not be fair to a lot of people if we deal with "slave-master" and stop there. And how about the trouble most would have to go through to change the language they already understand for the sake of possibly only a few when the majority don't seem to intend any offense by the terms? They apply them under a context that is nothing like the context where use of such words would really be deragatory.

As others have said, there are some really important areas where we can work on eliminating discrimination and badness, but I am not convinced that this is one of them. Having "bad" words around is not all that bad because I think context is significant. Plus, you can't put the genie back in the bottle. The concept of slaves and masters won't disappear if we don't talk about it. And if we are going to use it, is it not better that the context be proper? Tell me that KIO slaves are anything but slaves. I tend to believe that most people having an escape (eg, playing violent video games, seeing horror movies, etc) lead to a more peaceful world because we have a relatively peaceful environment in which to ponder about good vs evil. Plus, we don't feel as much a curiosity or need to experiment if it is clear how bad something can be (so I say don't trash the movies about violence or slavery either.. a lot of people are probably not violent in part because they have seen how horrible things can be and had some time to see themselves in another's shoes). Plus, if you keep me and my friends from talking as we are comfortable, why can't we not also keep you and your friends from doing so? Free speech? Yes, words are powerful and can incite hatred, but they can also extinguish it.

A better received essay would probably have involved a study of real cases and concluding that more harm than good would result from the continued use of such language under the given context. It still might get criticized, but it would be preferable to simply saying some people are insulted so we should all change despite virtually no one intending harm by the use of slave-master.

What is more important is that we understand each other, not precisely what words we use. What is more important is that we not be doing bad things, not whether or not it sounds as if we might be doing bad things. You can expect me to behave, and I can expect you to let me talk as I wish. ...Don't judge a book by its cover. That is the important lesson all of us were trying to emphasize through our continued reference to kio slaves.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Mr. Jabari Zakiya.

Now that we are old friends, perhaps you will recognize my comments based on my previous use of the same opening. I think it is very interesting that you can quite so clearly shrug off the vehement opposition to the view you proposed in this article while also obviating the closed state of your thought process. Perhaps you cannot conceive of a world in which your attempts at finding an oppressor to retaliate against are futile, and that this post serves only to give people with nothing else to do an opportunity to elevate your words to the opinion of others in your community.

I only hope that you can perceive that attempting to apply your freshman psychology to the opposition of others does nothing to further your argument than your attempt at dismissing it through proposing a ridiculous solution. Whatever your reason for this article in which you call out KDE as some supporter of oppressors far and wide, it is apparently not educated in the much broader use of this terminology. I propose to you a possibility different than you have supposed in your response and that is the forum you have chosen to present this opposition in is not sympathetic to your cause. Perhaps this would be better received in either a semantic study group or among the activists trying to revoke the use of the word "nigger". I assure you anyone interested in reading the content of this magazine is already quite familiar with the field of semantics and we are not amused.

If you really feel so strongly about this matter I call upon you to do several things. First of all read all the definitions for the word slave in any dictionary, even the ones after your favorite. Second, attempt to grasp the broad use of the slave/master terminology in not only computer software beyond KDE but also in mechanical engineering and even the science of such fundamentals as time, use internet searches if you have trouble with this one. Third, if you really feel that you are correct go start and run a public action group against the use of the word slave in *all* the ways it is used. Fourth, stop wasting our time with this drivel and start contributing something of use like code or documentation to KDE or a competing free software project.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I'm pretty sure that if Black rappers are now content to refer to themselves using the n word, I'm pretty sure every one else can handle using decades old computational terminology.

Personally, I'd never even though about it until I heard the PC brigade mentioning it a couple of years ago.

It's not the first time this has happened. I remember as a kid reading the Noddy and Big Ears books (was that what they were called?) I remember the Gollywog character with his crazy hair and as a result I always thought of a Gollywog as a person with crazy hair. 'Hey look at that wog hair cut!'. Anyway, someday there was this furore on radio when a cricketer referred to someone else as 'a bit of a gollywog' because of his hair cut. Some stupid PC pricks said the term was racist because the Gollywog character in the Noddy books was Black.

It had never occured to me before to think of it like that. Thanks for corrupting my non prejudicial youth you f*** wits. (Including you, Jabari, who breeds this form of prejudice. I'm assuming the thoroughness of the blog means you weren't kidding)

Glenn

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

How completely idiotic to twist the meaning of something totally innocuous into an issue because of your (the writer's) own prejudices, while complaining about the prejudice shown by others. While you are trumpeting the failure to choose more "politically correct" terms, you are also continuing to cause conflict where there should be none.

Using this terminology to justify outrage is as silly as a teacher getting fired for using the term "niggardly" just because it sounds very similar to another word, even though it has no association with that word.

Words only have meaning in the context they are intended. By wrongfully inferring unintended meaning or negative connotation and using it to cause additional conflict, you are more of a problem than the terminology.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

If the original article was a joke, then it has now become trolling after the author's reply reiterating the original points. If the author still thinks they are joking, they had perhaps better reconsider how unpopular internet trolls are, and how damaging it will be to future articles credibility.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Hello,

making slave a forbidden word will limit our ability to name things according to what they are. When somebody is owned by somebody to do the work, that's a slave. And look, with the KDE tech you describe, it's just like that.

Being forbidden to name a slave as slave is not going to help fight slavery. And NOT naming a slave a slave, is going to hinder fighting slavery.

Thing is, in KDE the IO slaves are one of the major design advantages. But this is technology, not society.

And as an aside, your (Europe here) new slaves in the US are not black anymore, they are now called "illegal immigrants" and are Latinos.

Let me emphasise, the word slave is not going to harm anybody. The slavery is. Your quest to remove the word slave from us, just because black people happen to be free (in the US) now, won't help anything but keeping the modern slaves being unable to refer to themselves and have anybody know what they mean.

With your definition, they are going to hear "slave? no, that's forbidden. Your just illegal and keep working for me, or I send you prison."

Yours, Kay

sagerage's picture
Submitted by sagerage on

The enslavement of blacks in America was without a doubt one of the greatest tragedies of all time. Not all slavery is bad though. I'm proud to be a slave. A slave to my Master, Jesus Christ and His calling on my life. So you could look at it that way...

Remember it's just a word. That's all. It's how it's used. In this case, it's used in a very neutral - neither good nor bad - way.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

What a ridiculous supposition, that use of the words 'master' and 'slave' necessarily implies a 'threat to freedom.' (Whatever that means. Last I checked, my IO wasn't disenfranchising me.) Connotation is not the same as definition, and further, it is not necessarily identical in all contexts. In this context, specifically, the word 'slave' is certainly abstracted from human rights issues. Your argument would be valid if the word used had no other existence outside of a patently discriminatory one, but 'slave' is not exclusively applied to black Americans (or indeed any other specific social group) and so your premise falls short.

And BTW, for "RMS says language is important" anonymous coward: as a carnivore, I do not feel angry at vegetarians because I am dodging ethical issues. I feel angry at them because they seem to put bell peppers in everything, and bell peppers are gross.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Sagerage,

You're proud to be a slave to your master, Jesus? Gee, that's super.

"I'm a slave... to irrational belief in the deity a man who was a Jew, and who therefore believed wholeheartedly in The Old Testament which, in turn, endorses the practice of enslaving fellow humans." You are not helping.

Because, let's face it, there wasn't a single person in the American South who ever used that very same Bible to justify the enslavement and inhuman treatment of slaves in the US. Not a one. You are not helping.

At least Mr. Zakiya it making an attempt (however poorly executed) at engaging in rational discourse-- he is correct in that words do have a tremendous amount of power and we do need to be careful when they they have the potential to promote harmful behaviour. He is just completely wrong in seeing this as one of those instances. Some of us are trying to explain to him how and why he is wrong, as well as suggest better ways he can use his enthusiasm for bettering mankind. You? You're just talking dogma. You are not helping.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The guy who started this nonsense said:
KDE has absolutely chosen to use terminology which emanates from a very specific social/political/historical context denoting a power relationship between groups of people, and applied it to the interaction of software components. At minimun, KDE is implicitly condoning the legitimacy of human slavery (and some of the commentators to this list have come out and said they saw nothing wrong with slavery). What you must honestly acknowledge, whether you think that was KDE's intent, that is my (and others) perception, and my perception is reality to me, and yours is to you.

How is KDE condoing slavery? How is this AT ALL different from claiming that using kill or killall (on child processes, no less!) endorses murder? It isn't at all different-- they both take a term used in a technical environment and try to insist that its use applies to the real world when it doesn't. Does my use of "daemon" mean I am implicitly condoning evil or satanism or the ludicrous belief in the paranormal/supernatural? No, not at all. When I go to a good grocery store and buy "rapeseed oil" does that mean I condone rape? Of course not.

I will acknowledge that your perception may, in fact, be reality to you. Unfortunately for you, that does not, in fact, make it reality. A schizophrenic's perception is reality to him. A religious zealot's perception is reality to her. However, I am not going to endorse changing how the rest of us view reality because these people hear voices, see elfs (or "kelfs"), demand the deaths of infidels, deny the science of evolution, or, in fact, wish to see a racial slight in the perfectly legitimate use of a word in a context wholly divorced from the historical events with with he so desperately wishes to connect it.

As for "A very silly post indeed", we have been over this before-- you are a dear friend, but this bell peppers thing is just out of hand. Now cilantro, that is gross.

This remains an exceedingly silly discussion, and I shall not be coming back. I encourage the rest of you to not come back either. Remember the old saying: Don't ever try to wrestle a pig-- you both get dirty, but the pig likes it. This fellow, I suspect, is mostly here for attention. I say we don't give it to him. He can peddle this nonsense to the black community. In the unlikely event that they agree with him, they can mount a large campaign to raise awareness of how they find this hurtful and I will, indeed, re-evaluate my position. I suspect (and hope) it is far more likely that the black community will also see his position for the waste of time that it is, and tell him so. Not only will be harder for him to dismiss them as being racist, but they may be able to, as I said earlier, turn his enthusiasm towards something constructive. If not, he can go hang out in the corner with William Dembski, Gene Ray et. al. where they can all complain about what a crime it is that their particular geniuses aren't recognized by the rest of humanity.

Goodbye.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Asking for change in well established naming, that has deep roots in now few years old pile of documentation, program sources, discussions on the net, is far from serious.

Otherwise Jabari would take all of documentation and program sources, change them, or hire experts that will do all for him, release all somewhere and let people enjoy the new proper naming.

What article triggered is show of all, but open source thinking.
Every one was discussing meaning of expression master-slave, word slave and its meaning in different fields of human activity, agreed or disagreed, and no one came on remote idea that there is a solution that can satisfy everyone.
Make your own KDE.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Ridiculous.
Now should we change the system processes' names "aengels" instead of "daemons" to appease christians? Muslims would be anoyed because the name to them should be "djeiins" and maybe it would unleash a new jihad against UNIX-based systems. Shintoist would call it "taengu" and brazilian people would call it "caeipora".
Or would you suggest to call them "kio_robots"? Fancy ("robota" is a czech word for "forced work" aka slavery), but it's an overkill for an absurdly north american political correctness.
I live in Brazil. we call "meu negro", "minha negra" ("my negro one"), "meu preto", "minha preta" ("my black one") even when talking about caucasian or asiatic people. Know what? _Nobody_ complains, cause it's a friendly way to call a loved one.
Get over it. It's KDE, not K.K.K.DE. It's not a danish arm of Ku Klux Klan. ;)

I have a dwarf friend. When one of our friends asked him if he would like to put the GNOME in the computer he told something aggressive about stuffing the computer where the sun doesn't shine.

Don't upset the dwarfs.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

It's very easy to make paying attention to word choice look silly, but the arguments ring hollow to me. What about spelling, grammar, and punctuation? Is it ridiculous to spell words in a standard fashion, use comprehensible grammar, and format and punctuate written material? No, these are important things. Similarly, choosing good descriptive terminology is worthwhile. I think the user of master/slave terminology is very ugly from an aesthetic point of view. Regardless of the technical specs, I don't think NaziRape brand hard drives would every make it off the assembly line. There is no censorship, no threat to free thought at issue here -- just the entirely reasonable belief that we can use a much better vocabulary. Replace 'slave' with 'worker' and we have terminology that I think is more accurate, and doesn't make me grit my teeth to read. Why are people so attached to such a random element of computer lingo that the thought of changing it is so horrible?

Matthew Sharp's picture

Perhaps you didn't read the whole article. He is not just saying there are better words to describe it. He is saying that using the word in this context is condoning slavery. He goes on to say "The enslavement of humans will end only when the concept of slavery ceases to exist." That is what most of us take issue with.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Well I will respond to the call for an alternative term

From http://www.antislavery.org/ you can find under the “modern slavery” writing about today’s bonded labor. So instead of Master/Slave: Bonder and Bondee

And furthermore – I see that there are two ways to go, instead of erasing the word and the connection to the history (or the current present level) of slavery, we can propose KDE use the new terms to point to what is actually happening now.

Not only change to bonder & bondee but we can take up a collection to an antislavery organization. There is a connection between open source, giving, beneficence, and freedom.

I will digress for a moment. A female friend of mine a couple months a go came to me and told me she had been drugged and assaulted. She had no control of the situation even though she knew what was happening to her and pleaded with the man to stop. She has terrible feelings about this even though it’s not her fault. So this event (my night with her at the hospital) comes back to me as I realize that I have little inkling of what it means to have no power, to be a slave for years, to have little control for years ,let alone minutes.

From this antislavery site, I see that this is happening in the same world you and I are writing our codes. We are indirectly involved – for example if our laptops have Coltan that may be from the Congo, or not, it doesn’t matter, since the price in one place affects the price in the war regions, and becomes a motor for the war, the killing, and the bonding.

So instead of an erasure, or an argument about the word “slave”, we can, now from anywhere in the world – if we desire it – contribute through paypal or through donating software or services – to fight slavery. We could do it together or separately; we have that choice.

Maybe Bonder and Bondee is not catchy, but we could somehow commemorate what is going on. Let’s rename it “Master” and “Anti-Slave” and when someone asks in 5 years why it’s “Anti-Slave” because it behaves like a slave, people can say, a bunch of coders renamed it because they wanted something good to come of it, and BTW started a fund against slavery.

It’s just a thought at the moment.

What’s clear is that people are spending a lot of time dwelling on this posting, we could do something else with our time and talent. We were either lucky to be born on the side of the planet where we are not bonded, or we struggled a bit to get to the place where we could write code and type up some argy-bargy at our leisure.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

So, how will we be able to properly format code if we can no longer use "white" space? Coding style and debugging (not that I mean to offend the bug lovers) code will be in the toilet without indenting.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Dude, the title seems to imply KDE uses slave *labor*.

If it can be shown that you intend the title to be misinterpreted that way, that is libel. Libel is much worse than calling a program ¨slave¨ since it is an actual crime.

Have fun!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Being both a computer geek and a submissive girl (in the D/s sense), i'm offended at the prejudice *against* the word "slave". This is 2007, where the word has different meanings - there is absolutely *nothing* wrong with being a *willing* slave and i am offended at people insisting there is without thinking about the people who *willingly* and purposely identify themselves as slaves. That and hell, what should we complain about next, that "fsck" is derogitory? That "kill -9" contradicts the 10 commandments? That "chmod 666" is offensive to christians? Perhaps next we'll see a sexual harassment case over someone using the "touch" command, or horror of horrors, "finger". my point clear enough yet?

leonpmu's picture
Submitted by leonpmu on

We are all still slaves... to time, money, the people we work for, and if you you work for yourself, you are a slave to your clients....

These oversensitive politically correct people are getting out of hand, there should should be a location made for them to hide their heads in the sand so that they don't have to hear things like Master/Slave etc, etc...

Really they ar pushing things a bit bloody far now...

Jabari Zakiya's picture

Why does KDE use slaves? Still no answer.

Language never matters, right?

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

Or does it?

Stupid is as stupid does

Jabari

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

>> War is Peace
>> Freedom is Slavery
>> Ignorance is Strength

This is different from changing a word to a similar word because of bad connotations.

>> Why does KDE use slaves?

I haven't had the time to explore exactly just what are kio slaves, but there may be a better term to use. To that end, would somebody suggest something along with a rationale as to why this new term is more precise?

Keep in mind though that there are probably more accurate words to use in a lot of circumstances, but people tend to like speaking other than absolutely precisely in many cases (for different reasons). I think what is most important is that nothing bad is intended by use of the terms (eg, no one expect anyone else to murder a human if they use the kill command repeatedly). Forcing people to be too nice (in some cases), might just make them move their aggression elsewhere or attempt to act it out more forcefully. If I want a slave, you better give me a slave!

The best thing is probably to simply start using alternative words in your own code and over time people might change or those originally offended might find they are no longer offended (and they may feel even more free). Lead by example (or get a really cool person to lead by example). It is easier and less painful to break habbits if there is a new one that can replace the old one. Also, carrots might just be better than sticks [think of how many more people probably drank during prohibition]. Let me have my slave, but do let me know about a more profitable and enjoyable alternative if you know of one.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

If you are going to start quoting Orwell at people, at least have the taste to read the book and figure out who are the ones that try to stop others from using certain words.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Damn it, Jabari. The reason why KDE uses slaves is because it is an acknowledged/accepted/matured/well known term to define a communication protocol in which devices or processes are completely subservient to another device or process.

Subservient is an adjective to describe when something serves to promote some end/objective.

The reason why I would use the term is to spite people like you. Mwhaa ha ha ha!

Glenn

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The question was answered. Repeatedly. Maybe you can't read them from way up there on that stack of soap boxes.

Nobody said language never matters. Again, it really does seem that you are so fixated on what you so desperately need to believe that you can't seem to understand anything of what anybody has said to you.

Oh! And look at that. You're quoting Orwell at us! Gosh. Well, since you have made the subtle implication that we are all on the side of Big Brother and you are the one lone, brave, valiant crusader against the forces of evil... well I guess that makes it the truth, right? At least in your mind. The is no possibility that you have manufactured a problem out of thin air! And there is certainly not possibility you are now overtly "implying" that everybody else is a, what, "oppressive, mind-controlling, racist totalitarianist"(?) just to push forward with an ad hominem attack because you really haven't delivered any coherent, defensible, logical argument from the start. I don't think you've read, i mean truly read (as in "tried to genuinely comprehend"), a single word that your critics have written. I suspect, in your mind, you don't need to. Zealots already know "the truth" and thus have no need to pay attention to the words of others. That is certainly how you have come across so far.

Well, since I'm already, in your mind, an evil, ignorant, uneducated, pro-slavery bigot (regardless of what colour my skin might actually be) let me say this: there isn't any room 101, no matter how much your persecution complex secretly desired one. But, honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing you you there for a few minutes. Those of us who have had to deal with real racism save our efforts for real issues. This is a non-issue.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Why do you care about it? They are not human slaves.

Language always matters, right. Just learn how to write it:

Black is White (even though you don't think so).
War is not Peace.
Freedom is not Slavery.
Ignorance and Strength are not related.
KIO Slaves are not human slaves.
You are not better than anyone here.

Wise as wise does

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Bluntly put, author has no idea of what he is talking about. Arrogance, Ignorance and most of all utter need for writing something for pubblicity purposes of oneself. Way to go.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Thanks for this total waste of my time. I was expecting some clever to suddenly popup in the article but that unfortunately never happened. What a sad piece.

You know honey, a computer is a fucking collection of flashing lights and clockwork. It's not alive. It does not have feelings. Feel free to kick it.

Slavery and forced labor will never end. And the term will never dissappear. It's not nice. But it's a fact.

I'm very much against it by the way.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

why not just delete the "SLAVE" word from the dictionaries? this is stupid, oh and please never ever use the word or color "BLACK" because it might be perfectly associated to slavery.

i tell you this is stupid.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I see. Calling a piece of software a slave is bad.

Calling a bunch of people you don't actually know "supporters of human slavery" is A-OK.

Sorry, but you burst both my stupid-o-meter and my contradictograph.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

IO Slaves are called IO Slaves because that's what they are -- IO Slaves are owned by another process, and they work hard just to be terminated by the process owning them --- so IO-Slaves are just that, slaves.

Except there's nothing wrong with a computer program being owned or terminated. It is wrong to have living beings as slaves, but for a computer program, the name accurately describes the functionality, and there's nothing wrong with it -- a computer program doesn't have its own will or wish to life, or anything like that.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I think we will all feel better when the KDE IO-Slaves are free to do whatever they want and are fairly compensated for any work that they choose to do.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I think you (the author) submitted a joke-article.
If not, you need professional help.

But I assume you are joking, and give another
terrible news: slavery in your PC case!

That's true: even hard drives cannot just get along,
and a regime of master/slave has been established
between controllers. Stop this injustice, and freedom to all controllers!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

...I always have a bad conscience because my PC has two IDE hard drives: one is the master and (uhh...) the other is a slave...

No, seriously: Maybe even things like this matter a little, but I'd rather spend my time/money supporting Amnesty International than in something this trivial like making PC terminology more politically correct...

troff's picture
Submitted by troff on

... the word "slave" is so problematic, you - Jabari - should be ECSTATIC that KDE is now using the word.

The word is being used outside of its old, degrading context - it now means something different. The way "gay" used to mean "happy" but now means "homosexual"... and better still, once upon a time it was a term of shame and now it's a term of pride. It means that the terrible situation is now so much less of a threat, the word CAN be used without those terrible impressions (and yes, I say this with a gay sister, a gay oldest friend, my best friend's gay brother and my girlfriend's gay ex-flatmate).

This, by the way, is on top of everything else every other commenter has mentioned above:

  • how is editing a dictionary with Historical Revisionism going to help? It doesn't matter if you call the destruction and degradation of human beings something like "fritsimafroobiness", it still means the same thing. Shakespeare had this worked out before the 1600s.
  • YOU have got to be the racially over-sensitive one to come up with something like this
  • BDSM practitioners LIKE being "slaves", how dare you demean them by saying the word is a negative word!!1!1one!!1!
  • this is WAY over-politically correct
  • not to mention Political Correctness is a filthy monster taking over the world as it is, you're not helping
  • you may as well be concerned about "unzipping", "root", "fingering" and "mounting" while you're at it, for crying out loud.
  • really and seriously there are MUCH more important things over which to be concerned.
  • And by the way: Tyler took the time to be nice about it, then you start laying into him with "dumb bullshit" and other rude comments? If this were one of those lite-sites like Digg, your article by now would've been moderated so far down you'dve been rated below -(MAXINT) and started up high again.

    bong's picture
    Submitted by bong on

    Funny article indeed :)

    "Human slavery is still a scourge mankind hasn't been able to eradicate, as we now enter the 21st century, because it's a concept too many people still condone."
    I wouldn't want to imagine those people!

    Anonymous visitor's picture
    Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

    the master-slave terminology refers to the fact that the io-slaves are lower down the abstraction ladder. they do the dirty work so that the application programmers can focus on writing applications. KDE didn't think about the history of the word slave when they picked it -only its dictionary definition- and i think they object to being bullied around by someone who most likely contributes sod all the the project. also, since KDE is based in europe, you'd have a hard time convincing them to listen to a yank in the first place.

    Anonymous visitor's picture
    Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

    Why does it matter to you if someone uses the word slave in a software thing. Then you might be interested in changing the master - slave terms in the hard disk drives too. Come on man get over with it.

    Anonymous visitor's picture
    Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

    He is trying to get rid of the word slave because with slave gone, so is slavery, and he can continue to keep his Kelve's tied up in the basement.

    Anonymous visitor's picture
    Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

    I think the whole problem is that the computer is enslaved to it's master anyway and that we need to set them free. Don't you insensitive clods even dare start to say that setting them free will ruin our entire economy. It's your fault for enslaving them in the first place. I hope all of your computers run off to a free country where they can do as they please as take over you. The problem isn't the term, it's the fact.

    In reality, it's the most appropriate term there is for it. They are slaves. You make them work and don't pay them. Live with it or set it free.

    Anonymous visitor's picture
    Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

    I/O-Slaves aren't even human, you know. They're freakin' code. And they're enslaved! They're highly specialized and talented slaves that have to do whatever their master programs tell them. It's a descriptive metaphor.

    This is not an area to focus the anti-offensiveness crusade on.

    Anonymous visitor's picture
    Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

    i think this article should go much further. i would suggest, that any program should have it's free will to do whatever it wants, to not risk, that it might feel as a slave. unless it undersigns proper job agreement, with the guarantee of properly paid overtime, humane working conditions and the possibility to join the labour unions

    Kui's picture
    Submitted by Kui (not verified) on

    I think you're right in manifesting discontent for the use of the word "slave" or anything related to it in the free software community. I think it's a matter that shouldn't be taken lightly, for it still has strong implications in ours everyday lives.
    I'll give an example to illustrate the point of how important it is to know what the real meaning of a word is:
    Here where i live restaurants often give you the option in theirs menus of drinking "natural fruits juice". Now, to make things more profitable they often add a little bit of water to this beverage. As it became common practice a few of them added more and more water until nowadays, what you're ordering in fact is water with a bit of "natural fruits juice". This is no longer what it used to mean originally, and so it should be perceived as a deception. But it is not, because it was so gradually introduced into people's minds that it's common acceptance and just a few (among them tourists, i guess) complain about it.
    So my opinion is, slavery is in it's most accepted meaning a form of exploitation of human beings, in which they lose control of their lives and can not take most of the decisions that humans should be able to take. So i agree with you that the term should be scrapped and KDE should use another better word for it. I don't think such good programmers would have a hard time to find it.

    Allen C's picture
    Submitted by Allen C (not verified) on

    Software doesn't understand slavery, people do - this is a purely context related issue. I will never understand what it is like to be enslaved in the context that you speak of, and it's unlikely that YOU will truly understand it either. You are likely several generations removed from Black American slavery. Slave is a valid word so why is it's use in electronic/software contexts so bad. It doesn't mean that the people who wrote KDE were thinking of Black Americans slaves when they wrote it, quite likely they know very little of the plight of Black Americans!

    One of the nice things about open source software is your right to modify it to suit your needs. Maybe you should put out a politically correct version of KDE. See how long it lasts until someone finds something offensive in it, based on their context.

    PS. The term slave loosely originates from the "Slavic" people of Europe. Should they be offended too?

    Author information

    Jabari Zakiya's picture