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Ubuntu Has No Open Respect, Needs Introspection

Posted in GNU/Linux, Mono, Ubuntu at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open Respect

Summary: Suggestions for Canonical regarding eradication of Internet trolls in Ubuntu Forums and discouragement of trolling by Mono boosters who masquerade as Ubuntu members (or use such a duality)

I DON’T know exactly what’s going on inside Canonical, but after almost 7 years with Ubuntu (my first one was 4.10) I sense that the company got rotten from the inside. I was defending it when it came under scrutiny or dangers from all sorts of directions and spent many days of my life advocating its use. But I am almost done carrying water for Ubuntu, especially because its parent company is harbouring Mono boosters as members who troll this site in IRC and other means of communication. It’s understandable when this is done by former Microsoft employees who now promote Mono (they pulled the same tricks in our IRC channels before), but when people associated with Ubuntu engage in trolling, that’s too far and it shows what Canonical must cope with. Canonical needs to also remove people who are blatantly against GNU/Linux (e.g. a community which openly states this) in Ubuntu Forums because their presence there is, by definition, malicious. It’s not about censorship, it’s about behaviour. Rather than censor Mono critics (or push them away), Canonical should consider kicking out people who only try to cause trouble because they want Canonical to fail (and do so by trashing Canonical’s own platform, Ubuntu Forums).

“his shows the hypocrisy in boasting “Open Respect” banners in Canonical blogs while members with “ubuntu” cloaks (i.e. accepted for affiliation) are out there disrespecting even those who respect Ubuntu.”We are not going to feed troublemakers by naming them, but those who provoke to make up smears (based on answers from people who are not spokespeople or anything like that) are trolls who pretend to be “just curious”. It’s a trolling technique. It’s sometimes called baiting, too. This shows the hypocrisy in boasting “Open Respect” banners in Canonical blogs while members with “ubuntu” cloaks (i.e. accepted for affiliation) are out there disrespecting even those who respect Ubuntu. I contacted Canonical’s community manager for Ubuntu some hours ago and there has been no reply yet.

Trying to associate any site with rude people whose responses provide a convenient excuse to slam a platform rather than its message is a low blow. If Canonical allows people to do the same sort of thing by pretending to represent Ubuntu, then maybe it’s time to throw the towel on Ubuntu. There are many better options out there and without some ground rules there is anarchy. If “Open Respect” was ever to become a Ubuntu motto, then it must also become recognised as a top deficiency; there is a lot of work to be done there.

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  1. dyfet said,

    January 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm


    While there are plenty of ways for one to become an Ubuntu “member”, and it may be some are as much about politics as about achievement, it is not clear to me that there is even a process to remove a troublemaker once made a member. We do know that many people from Microsoft have the lowest ethics and openly exploit and abuse organizations. If this is so, then I think Ubuntu, organizationally, and through it’s member boards, will need to find a way to close this loophole.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It goes about 3 years back (at least).

  2. olafura said,

    January 20, 2011 at 7:01 am


    This blog seems to read like a conspiracy nut page and I know that you don’t mean to. And I’m not saying that Mono isn’t possible bad for GNU/Linux, but even GNU made a version of the .Net framework.

    I think you should be more factual rather than calling people names and talking about the evil people.

    I would love to read about how Mono is corrupting the GNU/Linux ecosystem by examples and what can be done to fix it. Should we remove a part of it. Are some of the products that are using Mono using parts of it that is unclear where the legal standpoint is.

    Constructive criticism is always good but trolling isn’t.

    And really posting in an article that you contacted Canonical Community Manager hours ago and haven’t gotten an answer is a little bit …

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Writing a blog is not trolling. If you examine what led to it, you may find out that it’s actually a response to trolling.

    Constructive criticism is what this post has been and a day later I spoke to Jono Bacon about it.

    Regarding Mono, this post is not intended to be an overview of the issues.

    techwrongs Reply:

    Way to be anti-free. If you don’t like pro mono people, they should be banned! That’s a great way to make a case for GNU being free you fucking dildo.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Watch your language, please.

    I didn’t ban or suggest banning pro-Mono people.

    techwrongs Reply:

    I’m sorry, but we have something in the US called “Freedom of Speech” that allows me to say whatever the fuck I want to say without censorship or limitation, douche bag.

    Let me quote your words for you.

    “Canonical needs to also remove people who are blatantly against GNU/Linux (e.g. a community which openly states this) in Ubuntu Forums because their presence there is, by definition, malicious. It’s not about censorship, it’s about behaviour.”

    Kicking out, banning there is no difference. Anyone that is pro mono is by your own definition blatantly against GNU.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    See the comment from “January 20th, 2011 at 1:25 pm”. It’s not about Mono at all, it’s about people whose sole intention is to sabotage the forums.

    techwrongs Reply:

    What it is about is not getting your way, so you are crying about it here. This is nothing but a feeble attempt to boost your ridiculous ego because in your mind you actually believe that someone on the internet cares that you exist.

    Newsflash, we don’t.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Nobody forced you to come here.

    twitter Reply:

    Short answer: only use .NET/mono to port large bodies of legacy code to software freedom. Avoid code written in .NET/mono and use alternatives. Using mono for new software gives Microsoft the ability to call you a patent infringer and framework leach. A quick Google search of Techrights will provide you with all the documentation and links you need to convince yourself.

    Roy has provided most of what you are asking for and reached his conclusions based on this research before most people noticed. The FSF and Richard Stallman have basically reached the same conclusions about mono now and warn against using .NET frameworks for anything but porting existing work to software freedom. Writing new software with C# and .NET has been compared to sticking your head into the mouth of a lion.

    Canonical does not seem to want to learn the lesson and this makes it easy for Microsoft to abuse them in the future.

  3. mario said,

    January 20, 2011 at 8:01 am


    This post lacks any hints of what was actually said that got you in rage mode. And as this it provides zero factual “Suggestions for Canonical regarding eradication of Internet trolls in Ubuntu Forums”.

    If you can’t be bothered to identify the perceived misbehaviour; you cannot expect it to be evaluated and dealed with by the community. And if you only take it as opportunity to blame Canonical for user opinions, then this is nothing but a smear campaign and not an honest attempt to discuss any misbehaviour.

    One-side arguments don’t fly, if you refuse to back them up.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There was no “rage mode” and linking to insults would achieve nothing. People who are involved have context.

    mario Reply:

    Why don’t you keep it to the people involved then? What’s the point of spamming news sites, if you pretend it’s a private matter?

    Back up your name calling and community smearing.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    You accuse me of “spamming news sites”, “name calling”, and “community smearing.” Yet you too provide no evidence for such claims/accusations.

    mario Reply:

    Unlike you I can provide some evidence, and more importantly I do. It’s simple because all your fine descriptions of Canonical and Ubuntu users are on this very page:

    - “rotten from the inside”
    - “trolls”
    - “rude people”

    I don’t know where you got the idea that labeling people as “trolls” is anything but name calling.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The “rotten from the inside” is a popular metaphor.

    The term “trolls” means “Internet trolls”

    “Rude people” is not “name calling”.

    Try again.

    mario Reply:

    Well if it’s okay to use these phrases sans any evidence, you agree that it’s okay to calling you troll?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    No, because I don’t intrude online communities of my detractors to provoke them.

    mario Reply:

    If you find requests for evidence too provoking, maybe you should stop visiting reddit and Ubuntu communities then.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I don’t visit them. Sometimes I read pages, I don’t participate, except when I submit bug reports to Ubuntu (because I use it).

    mario Reply:

    Wow, that’s a lot of comments just to avoid backing up your article claims.

    But here’s another topic to eschew the issue: Why don’t you just use Gnewsense? Are you a freedom hater?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    You don’t understand my principles (or choose to misunderstand).

    mario Reply:

    Oh, I understand your principles: Trolling ubuntu forums, to write a rant about it, and don’t back up claims when called out.

    As for the Gnewsense vs. Ubuntu issue, I admit, I’m choosing to misunderstand. But maybe you could help rationalizing it in another “article”. If you hate Mono or whatever so much, why don’t you support a distribution that does that do? Why keep pestering Ubuntu and its user base, when there’s a way to prove your point?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I defend Ubuntu almost all the time. You don’t seem to know what I write about.

    twitter Reply:

    This is the second time in the last week or so that you have come here to smear Roy. Roy’s case is simple but you chose to misunderstand it and characterize it as an attack on the entire Ubuntu community. Your intent is about as obvious as Roy’s is.

    Roy has built a solid case for the dangers of using mono/.NET. He noticed before most free software advocates because of his focus on Novell and use of Open Suse. The FSF has reached the same conclusions, perhaps independently. The case is obvious to anyone who bothers to do their homework.

    Those who would like to ruin Ubuntu and Canonical has rudely pushed mono into the distribution. Roy has done a good job of documenting this and you can find it if you look.

    Canonical would do well to listen to Roy, the FSF and also police their forums better.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s true and very consistent that people who disrupt Linux forums and express their hatred of GNU/Linux also openly promote Mono and Moonlight. I think it’s very telling and I gave examples.

    The Mad Hatter Reply:

    I’ve also been attacked by the Mono community for having an opinion that they don’t like. As a matter of fact I’ve also been added to the enemies list. It’s quite an honor.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    These people who allow no criticism of Mono only repel potential adopters of Mono. By attacking people rather than their message they try to impose self-censorship.

    mario Reply:

    It’s amusing how someone else jumps to the rescue and conveniently changes the topic from Ubuntu smearing to blaming Mono.

    Again onto your deaf ears: Nobodys is asking you for censorship. Just proofing your accusations.

    The Mad Hatter Reply:


    Had to reply to Roy, because the blog settings only allow three level deep comments.

    The Mono Troll issue, the Gnome Troll issue, and the Ubuntu Troll issue are part and parcel of the same thing, specifically an attempt to limit speech by intimidation. In some cases the same people are behind it (and yes, I do know who some of them are).

    The people involved don’t use rational argument. They often blame people who don’t like Mono (like myself) for other things, like trolling forums, or lying about the details of the situation. Curiously they’ve never, ever, been able to provide proof, which leads me to believe that they assume that Roy and I are doing the same things that they are doing.

    Now I don’t know about Roy, but I do know that I’m not doing those things. So why do they think I am? Because they are doing it themselves. Check Verofakto’s Enemies List where he claims people are nymshifting. The only problem is that whenever I track down someone who’s nymshifted, it’s a Mono/Gnome supporter.

    With the exception of Lefty’s stalker. I don’t know what it supports, but it makes the Mono boys look like saints.

  4. mario said,

    January 20, 2011 at 9:56 am


    Here’s your reddit spam. Same link submitted FIVE times to see what sticks:

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’ve no idea who that poster is. I don’t have an account in Reddit.

    Nice lie you got there…

    mario Reply:



    Nice lie you got there…

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s not a lie. It’s true.

    mario Reply:

    That’s not how it appears to be. That seems like a protective assertion by someone who is publishing articles full of wild speculation.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    See the post which was published to explain Techrights when it was conceived:


    mario Reply:

    Do you have some sort of RCD? I’m not interested in your site. I’m asking you to cease spamming. Delete your reddit sockpuppet accounts and find a new hobby.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I don’t have any sockpuppet accounts anywhere. Stop libeling me.

    mario Reply:

    Stop playing dumb.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’m not. This discussion is getting inane. You lost the argument and you make stuff up.

    mario Reply:

    What actually happened is that you were caught lying (again) and just keep adding more of it.

    There’s broad agreement that it’s your sockpuppet accounts, but you keep trying anyway because you’re either incapable of recognizing the shallowness or belittling other peoples intelligence. It’s both inidicative of a dissocial personality disorder.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There’s broad agreement

    Whose agreement? Your neurons’? This is libel, simple. Still going to repeat the lie?

    mario Reply:


    Stop spamming. You’re not quite the cleverst person around, and it’s easy to spot.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That’s not me. I told you already: I never posted in Reddit. Quit the libel.

    mario Reply:

    Newsflash. Your word isn’t worth anything. You’ve spoiled that a long time ago. Stop the lying, stop the spamming, get a grip.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Neither lying nor spamming.

  5. techwrongs said,

    January 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm


    You sound like a butthurt little kid there, Roy. Did your zealotry and anti-freedom tirades demanding that everyone bend over for you get yet another account banned on Ubuntu Forums?

    I have a tip for you, go fuck yourself you retarded little dweeb.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks for the politeness, Sir.

    Did your zealotry and anti-freedom tirades demanding that everyone bend over for you get yet another account banned on Ubuntu Forums?

    I was never banned from *anything* *anywhere* as far as I can recall. Your question is akin to me asking you, “have you beaten yet another wife of yours?”

    Just repeating lies won’t help them stick, not if you do so in a platform where I reply.

    By the way, thanks for selecting a name that’s one of our headings (“techwrongs”), which stands for technologies we do not support… kind of like Mono.


    techwrongs Reply:

    >I was never banned from *anything* *anywhere* as far as I can recall.

    So you claim. The butthurt of this article implies otherwise.

    > By the way, thanks for selecting a name that’s one of our headings (“techwrongs”)

    Imagine all of the good things that I will do with it.

  6. Clanky said,

    January 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm



    Firstly what on earth do you think gives you the right to dictate to Ubuntu who should and shouldn’t be allowed to participate in either Ubuntu Forums or any other part of the project? You and Boycott Novell are an irrelevance, get used to it and move on, you are of course entitled to your opinions, you are not entitled to force everyone else to share them. You have had your say and no-one wanted to listen, live with it.

    Secondly, the idea that there is some kind of community aimed at boosting mono as you keep repeating is a fallacy, if it wasn’t then you would not need to keep repeating it ad nauseum to try to make it sound like a quasi fact, yes there are trolls on the internet, yes they bait people to attempt to get a reaction, but what is Boycott Novell if it is not a troll website?

    You are pathetic Roy, give up!

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Writing one’s own blog is not trolling. Look up the definition rather than cheapen the word like people have cheapened “terrorism”.

    Firstly what on earth do you think gives you the right to dictate to Ubuntu who should and shouldn’t be allowed to participate in either Ubuntu Forums or any other part of the project?

    I did not dictate anything. My point is, people came to *our* platform to provoke and disrupt.

    Clanky Reply:

    Ubuntu users use Ubuntu’s platform to air their views, just because they disagree with your views does not make them trolls Roy.

    What is this “Free, as in agree with me or shut up”?

    The simple fact is that most people view your opinions as being either completely irrelevant or damaging in terms of the FOSS community, you will not change that by demanding that anyone who disagrees with you be silenced.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Where/when did I make such a demand? I am a proponent of free speech. What I oppose relates to decisions, not debates about them.

    Clanky Reply:

    When you make comments such as ” Canonical should consider kicking out people who only try to cause trouble” and post a rant about people who boost mono it reads very like a demand for censorship, when in the same post you feel the need to state, “this is not about censorship” it shows what truly is your real agenda.

    You talk about our platform Roy, what have you actually contributed to Ubuntu which makes you think that Ubuntu somehow owes it to you to be listened to?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That was referring to trolls, whose site states very clearly that they are against GNU/Linux. They enter Ubuntu Forums (especially back in 2009) to ruin the forums, so that’s where free speech amounts to sabotage. I was not referring to Mono there.

    The only people who were ever kicked out of our IRC channels were trolls who tried to destroy the channels or people who came there just to threaten other people.

    techwrongs Reply:

    “That was referring to trolls, whose site states very clearly that they are against GNU/Linux.”

    Provide evidence of these “trolls” or fuck off, GNU troll.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    You’re too rude. My conversation with you ends here.

    techwrongs Reply:

    No no, the conversation ends here because you are completely full of shit, have been called on it, and you have NOTHING.

    Cry to your fucking mother, loser.

    Mikko Reply:

    techwrongs should eat a bar of soap!

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    We’ve never deleted any comments, so rude and vulgar ones stay too.

  7. mario said,

    January 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm


    Okay, time for conclusions. Roy has been asked numerous times for proof. He did not provide any. The smear claims in this post against the Ubuntu community have not been backed up in any form whatsoever.

    It’s safe to consider it another fabrication. What likely happened is that he trolled the Ubuntu forums in the same fashion and got a likewise trollish response. Well, too bad. That’s what happens when people play dumb.

    Also: You don’t get to put out demands if your contributions are mostly rudeness, not code.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I write Free software.

    techwrongs Reply:


  8. Mikko said,

    January 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm


    i see a lot of trolls here

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Open Respect.

    techwrongs Reply:

    Respect is earned, not demanded. If you want to be respected, try respecting others for a change.

    Mikko Reply:

    why respect trolls ?

    twitter Reply:

    I agree. New names, same old message.

    mario Reply:

    I agree too. But the Schestowitz asserted he never ever went to reddit or created sockpuppets.

    twitter Reply:

    I don’t see any reason to doubt him. Roy has neither the time nor the need to play sockpuppet games with Reddit.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I don’t even like Reddit. I would never join that site.

  9. Adrian Malacoda said,

    January 20, 2011 at 8:32 pm


    I’d have to agree about Ubuntu forums, sadly. I don’t post there (I don’t use Ubuntu) but I do browse from time to time. Anything related to software freedom issues gets shelved into a sub-subforum called “Recurring Discussions” and anyone who says anything negative at all about Microsoft or Apple (or uses the hated three-letter word “GNU”) gets a mass of forum members dogpiling onto them and calling them a zealot or a fanboy.

    Examples of this from a single thread:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=10343804&postcount=19 (“very loud fanboys”)
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=10343863&postcount=21 (“experience the world beyond your mother’s basement”)
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=10345204&postcount=50 (“a certain zealot demographic”)
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=10345958&postcount=66 (“you FSF types sure know your scripts”)

    Of course, the zealots and the fanboys don’t get to hit back, because of that pesky thing called the “code of conduct.” The same names (including even forum administrators) keep showing up in most of these discussions – one surprising example is Mr. David Nielsen (a Banshee contributor who was covered here before I think), a.k.a. “gnomeuser,” proudly proclaims in his signature that he is “GNU free” and values “reality over ideology,” whatever that means. Now, personally, I tend to ignore the Mono fights but the fact that a “GNOME user” can reasonably claim to be “GNU free” (GNOME is part of GNU) dumbfounds me to no end. Perhaps he doesn’t know the history of GNOME, especially its founding, which was due to the very ideology that he dismisses so arrogantly (Qt was non-free at the time). It doesn’t really bother me that Mr. Nielsen is a Banshee developer, but it does bother me that he’s a flagrant ingrate.

    It’s quite irritating when there’s valid reasons to not like how a company acts, but whenever you try to discuss it with anyone, they gloss over it saying “get over it, they’re a company, they have to make money” as if that by itself justifies all of the things it does. It’s even more irritating when the same people who accuse you of being on a “hate bandwagon” or being irrational also insult you because you happen to believe in some sort of software freedom ideal that they don’t. Furthermore, they disrespect the very people (such as Mr. Stallman) who dedicated over 25 years so that they can enjoy freedom in their computing while at the same time lionizing people like Mr. Gates, Mr. Ballmer, and Mr. Jobs who don’t want them to enjoy such freedom. If anything, it’s a very serious case of Stockholm syndrome (to use the term very loosely).

    It’s perfectly ok with me if not everyone is a zealot who lives in their mothers’ basement. No one can be forced to believe in anything. I just wish, at the very least, that these people showed the bare minimum of respect towards those people who were there, and still are here, working to preserve that freedom that they take for granted. If Mr. Bacon wants to promote respect in the community, here’s a good place to start.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I don’t think it’s unique to Ubuntu. It’s just that Ubuntu attracts many new users. Still, explaining to new users the concept of freedom takes patience and perseverance.

    Adrian Malacoda Reply:

    It’s definitely not unique to Ubuntu, and I’m not blaming Ubuntu or anyone formally associated with Ubuntu for any of it. It’s not unique to new users, either. It’s an artifact of the proprietary software culture that we (software freedom advocates included) live in. In some ways Microsoft itself is an artifact of this culture, and it’s quite fun watching them and the other “evil empires” struggle in vain against Android and GNU/Linux.

    It’s not even unique to software. For some reason, people generally don’t like to think. When you advocate for anything (including things only tangentially related to computers, such as environmentalism) you make people think. People like it when the thinking is done for them – this is why things like entertainment and advertising are big business, and why sports are emphasized above academics even in schools.

    Now, considering how “digital” our lives have become, much of what we do is done through software. Software freedom is essentially academic freedom – sharing and learning are among the most important things in an academic perspective, and free software emphasizes both (hence why it’s always compared to books, science, math etc). But the “heroes” that people look up to aren’t thinkers, teachers, or professors. They are athletes, entertainers (politicians fall under this too), and movie stars. Thinking is a chore, and smart people are “weirdos” or “dweebs.”

    Code is an expression of thought, therefore, free software is essentially freedom of thought. People make the mistake of assuming free software is about software, and this is where “open source” (the thing that’s kind of like free software, but with the support of the Apples and Microsofts) came from. But I don’t even blame the OSI for any of this, and I don’t have any real issues with “open source” developers. They might not be “GNU freetard zealots” but they’re not actually “enemies.” It’s more like two sides of the same coin – “open source” is about software development, whereas “free software” is about the ethical issues of computer user autonomy and control.

    Sadly enough, the “practical open source methodology” has a much greater chance of becoming “mainstream” than the GNU ideals of software freedom. People just generally don’t like thinking, with a handful of exceptions (the ones who can actually “get” the freedom thing). It doesn’t help that 15+ years of being “blind Windows haters” sort of diluted the original GNU message down from “freedom from monopoly and control of one’s own computing” to “Business is evil! Money is evil! Big bad corporations are evil!” which makes an almost-impossible feat even more almost-impossible.

    I assure you, it’s not Ubuntu’s fault in the slightest. In a sense, it’s not even Microsoft’s fault – they didn’t cause it, they’re just very keen on exploiting it.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Well stated, Sir. Mind if I turn this into a post attributed to you?

    dyfet Reply:

    I like this very much also. I had thought all this long thread had demonstrated is that Roy has much more patience with deliberate idiots and their sock puppets than I ever could. This had made me think much more deeply about the original article, too. Our communities are based and built on trust, and this is something that the exploiters can never understand, for they see it as a weakness to try and attack rather than for the strength that it actually is.

    Adrian Malacoda Reply:

    I don’t mind in the slightest :)

    twitter Reply:

    I don’t share your pessimism and low estimation of people. Everyone understands freedom because no one likes arbitrary restrictions. This is a message that is easier to convey as non free software runs it’s course and becomes ever more restrictive, intrusive and obnoxious. Free software is built on the abundance of intelligence and talent that your neighbors possess. This disproves that people or lazy as it helps build a healthy society.

    The hostility you experience when advocating free software is not due to some sort of natural intellectual laziness, it is the intentional result of billions of dollars worth of advertising. Companies like Microsoft and Apple would foster identification and customer loyalty with their advertising. They use emotional appeals, outright lies paraded as research, select bribes, petty gifts, flattery, “schmoozing” and other encouragement that we see every day and is well detailed in “Evangelism is War”. When the customer identifies with Microsoft, criticism of Microsoft is taken as a personal affront. Non free software companies take advantage of this when they portray critics as an irrational and unpleasant minority. You are the victim of a culture that is intentionally intolerant and hostile, not a victim of human nature.

    Non free software companies are by no means alone in this strategy but free software is particularly venerable to it. The general idea is to invert society’s normal trust pyramid. People first trust those closest to them and consider their neighbors impartial observers. In a world of free publishing and access to information, they are correct. Anyone who cares can know about as much as anyone else about any given subject and share their knowledge with their neighbors. Those who would control things from afar must restrict knowledge and convince people to trust companies over their neighbors. They use media monopolies to create the impression that all good things come from a few “innovation” rock stars and their benevolent patrons. They would also convince you that your neighbors are pedophiles, terrorists, thieves of “intellectual property”, “ranting nutjobs” and so on and so forth, especially when that neighbor is a subject matter expert at a local university. The more you know and the more you attempt to influence your neighbors, the larger the PR response and smear job will be. Participatory communities suffer doubly from this attack on society, science and culture.

    Software freedom is as large a threat to this kind of control as it is a victim of it. Free software proves that your neighbors are often experts and that cooperation is often in everyone’s best interest. It also grants people the free and unrestricted access to information that all of us deserve. Software freedom is giving people tools and a platform to combat all sorts of social injustices.

    The best way to combat persistent corporate propaganda is to live well with software freedom. You won’t be able to help your neighbors with non free pinch points like professional sports broadcasts and you should not bother unless you have an overriding interest in that sort of thing. Find people with common interests that you can share the powerful and satisfying world of software freedom with. Avoid conflicts over tangential and unrelated things and build local communities. Successful sharing is a satisfying experience that makes up for the roadblocks and hostility that non free software bullies create.

    Adrian Malacoda Reply:

    It is indeed not “natural laziness.” But powerful forces have made it the cultural norm in the West (especially North America), and although Microsoft contributes very heavily to it, I think it’s safe to say it existed before Microsoft came into being (which is not to exonerate them in the slightest). I think the more appropriate word would be “conditioning.” I did not mean to blame people for the actions of companies like Microsoft.

    Proprietary software folks are comfortable in this situation because they sell products. It’s easy to sell products, because people who have been conditioned in this manner have been trained (so to speak) to buy products. Free software is not a product like Windows or Office, or even a single distro like Ubuntu or Debian. Free software is an idea, and in order to “sell” the idea, we’d have to prove how freedom is worth more than other things they value (i.e. the ability to watch YouTube or talk to people on Skype).

    I do not think free software is against “human nature” in any way. People don’t like artificial restrictions, and people like to share. Many people who use proprietary software get it through an unauthorized means (a.k.a. “piracy”) and might have to break some technological restriction (or “crack”) it to use it. They might even give their friends copies of it.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I agree that conditioning may play a role. People are discouraged from sharing as this new cartoon helps show:

    • IRIS Distribution targets file sharing

      An odd campaign by IRIS Distribution, a record label representative, is targetting children with the slogan “I share everything but my music.” The image of adorable woodland creatures depicting an “i’m totally ignoring you” rabbit wearing headphones and a confused looking raccoon attempting to share a ball with his rude buddy attempts to get at the problem of digital file sharing.

  10. vexorian said,

    January 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm


    Adrian Malacoda, those links scare me really, I tried to reply to some because they were so wrong. But it appears ubuntuforums are going through issues since there is no activity for a week and all the buttons to post appear gone?

    “Contrary to the opinion given by a certain zealot demographic, GNU is not an operating system. GNU is a politically motivated philosophy + a small collection of tools. Some of these tools make up a toolchain that is used to build software an output of which could be an operating system. ”

    The guy completely forgot to mention that one of the tools in the “small” collection of tools is the compiler that enabled Linus to compile his little student project and that know is still used to compile Linux even for the most faux-pragmatic Linux distributions. Or that Linux is a kernel that for long needed GNU to work. That ubuntu is still dependent on GNU to do many things and that we probably need more accurate ways to differentiate GNU-Linux distros from things that use Linux and not other things and turn out to be very different from the ubuntu-kinds (aka Android).

    But of course, since the GNU project comes from the FSG, calling things GNU/Linux “charges things politically” . That is as non-sensical as claiming that because Microsoft is a company that promotes proprietary software instead of free software, “windows” is a politically-charged name. And also forgets that Linus has “political” views of his own, which would mean that “Linux” is politically charged as well… That the “politically” charged issue was brought by a Ubuntu Forums Administrator, shows the size of the issue we have here.

    But I am just ranting what I cannot post in ubuntuforums. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I used to hang in ubuntuforums, sometimes trying to help and sometimes to share some scripts and howtos (a couple of which never appeared in the forum after I sent them for approval and I never had a reply as to why they weren’t approved). And also to inform people about events and also about what the whole freedom thing is. But I got inactive in the forums and blogs and stuff for a while because I had other things to do (like updating my zlibbed game, participating in programming but also because it got frustrating. Back in those times , I think the problem was not as large as what Adrian shown in his links, it seems that some opinions climbed the forum administration ladder. For example, that post bashing freedom proponents for leaving in their mothers’ basements (such a childish insult) wouldn’t have been accepted in the ubuntuforums I used to use. I am not sure what happened.

    Anywa,… I think that if people just leave ubuntuforums and other sites that become dominated of self-proclaimed pragmatists , they will win. We should probably try to spend more time in ubuntuforums and also in other places instead of just sticking to techrights comments and identi.ca. I am not saying that we should stop the discussions in the more FSF-friendly places, but that we certainly need to cure the disinformation reign in other sites. If it is not ubuntu’s fault or the fault of the new users, the it is ours for failing to inform.

    We need to go to those sites, clarify things when necessary. Teach people that software freedom is not just a philosophical asset but also a practical one that has a weight when grading quality of software. The story of GNU and how that small list of packages was and is still necessary to make Linux (a well written and maintained Kernel, but a kernel still) able to become an operating system. And also to out the trolls that seem to force their philosophical views (the call of libertinage to use any software disregarding the license, patent encumberment ) on others and blame anyone who disagrees with them of being “zealots”. And we need to do it in a civilized non-rude way, so that they don’t have any legitimate excuse to ban the discussion.

    If at the end of the day, the discussion gets banned even when we try to be civilized and calm in it, then we can just take the discussion to more public spheres and call the biased moderation out. Within time, they will have to open some space for it.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    People have “defenses” that lead to insistence on not receiving — let alone accepting — new ideas. Indoctrination creates some of these defenses (e.g. words like “nerd”, media characterisation of good people like whistleblowers). I think it makes it exceedingly hard to convince some people to accept GNU philosophy, which to them is more ‘radical’ than “Linux” or “Ubuntu”. You’re faced with the monumental task of beating a multi trillion dollar PR industry that knows darn well what it’s doing and how.

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