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09.28.19

The GNU/Linux Community Feels Increasingly Isolated, Homeless and Orphaned in a New Age of Corporate Takeovers

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 3:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft loves Linux, I don't think so

Summary: The corporate slogans and lies that are tossed about by corporate media remain as unconvincing as ever (no matter their repetition’s frequency); GNU/Linux is being raided

I HAVE BEEN USING GNU/Linux since I was a teenager. The last Windows version I had was Windows 98. When I ‘joined’ the ‘Linux’ community and developed software with GTK it was a job to me. The software was GPL-licensed. It was made available to all on my Web site and on SourceForge. 18 years later there’s hardly a SourceForge (it’s a shadow of its former self), a lot of Free software is controlled by Microsoft because it bought the largest Git repository, and as we noted in the previous post about the Linux Foundation (LF), Microsoft and IBM “Linux” is gradually becoming something else. The FSF is no longer RMS (albeit RMS insists he’s still in charge of the GNU project) and Torvalds doesn’t seem to be in charge of Linux.

“To put it simply if not bluntly, Linux is now owned and controlled by few large corporations.”What on Earth is going on? My job is still technical and some clients compel us to put code under a Microsoft site (GitHub). All their systems use systemd, which from a technical point of view appears to offer little or no advantage (except Red Hat IBM control over copyrights and development).

To put it simply if not bluntly, Linux is now owned and controlled by few large corporations. The fight to do the same to GNU is still ongoing. So what have we all worked and campaigned for? Is our work being ‘stolen’ by billionaires, who try to strip off or weaken the GPL?

We sure live in confusing times.

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A Single Comment

  1. Canta said,

    September 28, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Gravatar

    Exactly my feelings.

    A few days ago I was thinking about it. I believe there are two main tricks corporate people do to hijack our values and principles. It’s hard to explain it in few words, and I’ll do it badly (it requires a proper conceptualization), but I guess it kinda goes this way:

    1) “Freedom” may mean a lot of different things, many of them contrary to FSF and the GNU project principles. Different people joins the movement, but with different interpretations of “freedom”. Then there’s a fracture, an it’s a juicy wound for bloodsucker parasites. Happens all the time, with every single concept around everywhere. Suddenly, a few years passed, and you see lots of folks throwing shit to each others like mad apes, all of them screaming “freedom”. They realize what’s going on, if ever, only when all is full of shit everywhere already, and now part of the job of defending and promoting “freedom” is clearing up that mess: which happens to annoy all the people who actually likes their shit and the place as it is right now, so their “freedom” feels attacked, and the wheel starts to spin again. Add “I have to pay the bills” to that, and you have the perfect ecosystem for a disease like Microsoft to grow and live happily ever after.

    2) We had some principles as tools on the fight against the likes of Microsoft. I’d like to focus in one particular example: Internet Explorer. Microsoft won a few browser battles, but eventually lost that war. The web now belongs to Google and a few others. The tool that made Internet Explorer dissapear was a strong bias from the web community towards innovation (and not freedom): there was activism and organized groups pushing the web technologies agenda, and that agenda was TO CHANGE. Mozilla may had been an angel of Free Software in that front, but as innovation was the stronger principle in the web community other corporate members as Apple, Google, or Netflix were able to install their own crap. And the trick is: they did it with cheers from the people. Because they were actually pushing innovation, and web people loved innovation. Microsoft’s conservaturism on Internet Explorer, and its long lasting strategy of broken and non portable APIs, was a disaster for it as soon as Windows shifted to second, third, or even maybe fourth place in terms of operating system usage (because of the mobile paradigm). But innovation is not freedom. And so innovation, which may have helped defeat Microsoft in that particular front, is now the tool of the enemy of freedom, and also Microsoft’s tool. Today we need to defend against things like systemd, which are “free”: but it changes things constantly, and so we are very far away from free on our day to day choices, as we are forced to follow its changes in order to keep understanding the jargon and the common issues in our field. Of course, that is a simple and very brief example: there are a myriad of tiny bits of information here and there that forces us to be constantly focusing on “what’s going on” in order to keep in touch with the reality of our field. So, we basically dance to their rhythm and not ours, wich may be a very clear definition of “non-free”. And is a non-freedom that was possible through the high-valued principle of innovation. I myself entered the GNU/Linux world running away from Microsoft: but not because of the political view (I was ignorant of it back then), but because MS was constantly changing the rules of how to do stuff with .NET, and trying to push new Windows versions through my throat, which even required for me to change my computer in order to be up-to-date; and here in Argentina computers aren’t cheap, and then we have to deal with new versions and old versions, and so on, and so on, and so on. “Innovation” was a cancer already in 2008.

    Outside the IT field, I can think of at least one defense against all this. It’s called “rights”.
    We in LATAM are very cautious on the use of the F word (freedom). Because here it usually means “free market”, which means a primarization of our economies, and therefore the turning of our countries into colonies through economics. LATAM is in constant resistance against certain acceptions of the concept of “freedom”. Right-wing economists will always tell us around here about how we should deffend our “freedom”, and that we should have “equal oportunities”, and that we should abhor the idea of the state regulating stuff and putting taxes in things because that hurts the market. I always answer them the same thing: “I don’t have freedoms, I have rights: I don’t have the OPPORTUNITY to eat, and to have a house to live, and to go to the hospital or the school, but the RIGHT for those things. The warrant of those rights is the state. And even when the state is a poor warrant of rights, it’s light years above the market, wich is the warrant of nothing but profit for some.”

    I have no idea how, but I’m guessing we need to develop some entities that operates as warrants of rights in our fields of knowledge and human praxis. Maybe the states, maybe something else. What I’m sure is that the community ecosystem we were living so far is too fragile to subsist beyond one or two generations without falling into corporate traps. And, from this point of view, I can say RMS was always right when endorsing Free Software principles into the Human Rights field.

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