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11.19.19

Guest Post: Open Source is Not Free Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Article by Jagadees.S: “You cannot support both Free software and Open Source software at the same time”

Very different

Summary: “If you look at human history, you can see lots of similar ideas, movements, intellectuals who are affected by the power of the ruling class like this.”

IN 1983 the Free software movement began to free users from the chains of propitiatory software. At that time nobody gave or ascribed much importance to it. Companies and developers thought it was some Utopian idea and one that’s never going to fulfill its goals. So none cared about ‘the ethics’ at that time. Only the leader, Richard Stallman, was there. Later on lots of people got motivated by Stallman’s reason, commitment, and with their own political values they joined the movement. To everyone’s surprise, against the odds, a fully functional and complete “freedom software” stack appeared in the early 1990s.

Attack from inside

As usual, for-profit entities realised its value and jumped onto new opportunities. But they didn’t like the idea of users’ freedom. They only wanted their own profit. So they created a decoy for this great movement, mostly as a distraction. It was called the Open Source movement. Stallman called them freedom subtracted software. (Actually he is wrong. We should not relate to OSS with respect to Free software.)

“Companies and developers thought it was some Utopian idea and one that’s never going to fulfill its goals.”They joined in with the Free software movement and started collaborating with Free software activists. New collaborations of this kind may be called Free and Open Source software (FOSS). Since they had support from businesses, further development became faster and more people joined the movement. They also had support from the media and re-branded the entire Free software movement to their name.

Because of these tricks Free software politics vanished from the public discourse and even Free software activists don’t like to talk about Free software politics. This happened not as a natural thing. It was created for the corporations by this apolitical Trojan horse called OSS.

There is no conspiracy. It is the way the system works.

Nothing new

If you look at human history, you can see lots of similar ideas, movements, intellectuals who are affected by the power of the ruling class like this. A very good example is democracy. 60 years ago people died to get elections or to earn voting rights. But now, who cares enough to go out and vote? What is the voting percentage in the US? Even if they go, will they get a chance to vote? Whether their votes actually get counted is another issue.

Think about the media. It has a very important role in society. But now, what does it do? It’s just a stenographer for the ruling class.

OSS, FOSS are diluted propitiatory software

You can either be with Free software or with propitiatory software. This is clear. No confusion. But when an amorphous group appears this gets messy. Messy for the Free software movement. Because the propitiatory for-profit software idea is clear; they have money, media and political power.

“They also had support from the media and re-branded the entire Free software movement to their name.”The idea of Free software is new and complicated for the ordinary person. So this diluted Free software group is actually an attack on Free software itself. Their vicious attack had grown into such a level that they forced the founder out of the movement.

But a lot of Free software activists are working with this so-called FOSS without knowing the damage it is causing to the Free software movement. Please consider OSS as on the propitiatory software side. If they produce anything which is compatible with the GPL, then they take it and leave everything else behind. Never saying the words OSS or FOSS…

The purpose of Open Source is to move the frame away from users’ freedom and destroy the Free software movement. OSS, FOSS and all other kinds of these PR phrases work similarly; they are the same. So why are you still saying FOSS? Please end that relationship.

We have to understand that anything other than Free software is propitiatory software. There is no middle ground. There is no friendship. There is no cooperation. Just take whatever is under GPL from wherever possible. That’s all.

Be with users’ freedom

You can’t keep your legs in 2 different boats. You have to choose. There is nothing wrong about being with propitiatory software. If you want to make a profit, then do it that way. No problem. With Free software, if you cannot find a way to make a living, then join a proprietary company. Then, in your free time, contribute to Free software. Nothing wrong with that. That is far better than the OSS kind of half ethics. Half ethics end up with no ethics. You have to be either a person supporting users’ freedom or you’re with for-profits. (Remember you are not going to end capitalism with few lines of code. Profit is a reality. And these companies are not evil. The system is evil.)

“So be with the movement that respects users’ freedom. After all, that was the initial purpose of the movement.”If you are not mixing the issues, then there will be more clarity in the public sphere. More discussion in terms of users’ freedom will happen. More people will support Free software. Sure, it’s a hard path. But that is the right path. So be with the movement that respects users’ freedom. After all, that was the initial purpose of the movement.

Note: For this to happen you have to be economically independent as I’ve mentioned in the post “Do not make Free software your source of income; it will make you weak, politically”. It’s not a Free software movement issue. All the social movements have this problem.

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