01.07.20

Free Software Means Not Monopolies With Publicly-Available Code

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, OSI, Red Hat at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If “openwashing” is painting a proprietary whole as “open” (because of a mere portion), perhaps we need a new word for systemd (where all the code is “open” but access to it for contribution and for proper assessment is close to impossible)

OSI at Microsoft
The OSI’s Board, literally brought to Microsoft. This photograph may be suppressed as it’s very difficult to find it (or anything about this SF meeting; much like Richard Stallman’s speech at Microsoft’s HQ, which even the FSF kept uncharacteristically secret until it was over and seminally reported on by Microsoft itself)

Summary: Packages such as systemd (“packages” would be an understatement — that’s like calling Linux a “package”) present a new kind of threat, which some in the community have dubbed “Open Source Proprietary Software” (or “OSPS” for short); we need prominent groups and projects to highlight the nature of this threat, which serves to promote monopolies (open gateway into complexity, aided by silence and complicity)

THE OPENWASHING agenda at the OSI is now facilitated by the very same people who run it and profit from it ‘on the side’. Look no further than the culprit and legal hire (conflict of interest/s likely), who last week caused the resignation of the OSI's co-founder. We don’t want to name any names here.

“Look no further than the culprit and legal hire (conflict of interest/s likely), who last week caused the resignation of the OSI’s co-founder.”A growing number of people nowadays speak of IBM and systemd, taking note that it’s still being developed on Microsoft servers and long ago became far too large for people to properly study the source code (reading it is one thing; comprehending it is another). That’s just one example of ‘code dumps’ (akin to ‘document dumps’) as a substitute for freedom-respecting source code (or “code available” rather than “please modify and improve”). If one company — and one company only — develops some piece of software (which becomes incredibly bloated and impossible to avoid), how “open” is it really? This, some of our associates believe, is an issue the FSF ought to speak about. Maybe it wasn’t foreseen. There’s no need to ban anything; an advisory note of caution may suffice. But remember that Red Hat pays the FSF and gives instructions to it (in the open).

“If one company — and one company only — develops some piece of software (which becomes incredibly bloated and impossible to avoid), how “open” is it really?”Yesterday we spent some time studying the past two years’ meeting minutes of the OSI, leading up to the resignation of the OSI’s co-founder, who is no proponent of systemd. He participated in many of these meetings of the OSI, debating licensing aspects in particular. And no, he’s not present in the Microsoft photo op shown above. We previously thought he would be a decent successor for Stallman at the FSF, but seeing his public response (in Twitter) to the almost-forced resignation serves to suggest otherwise. One thing is for sure though: the FSF and the OSI both need strong leadership, which currently both lack. The person or persons in charge have earned some levels of notoriety in Debian and there are more lingering concerns over them succumbing to corporate interests and sometimes taking money from those same corporations. And please note, still no names. Our readers might know who we’re alluding to, but we describe these issues in general terms, at low risk of making it seem like a personal attack on anyone in particular.

Nothing would please IBM more than a derailed Debian, a subverted OSI, and infiltrated FSF. It would leave many people overly dependent if not reliant on grossly overpriced support contracts with people who can handle and tackle the extreme complicity they themselves created at Red Hat. Remember that IBM is a longtime monopolist — as its ongoing patent policy serves to remind us — with little evidence to suggest any of that has changed inherently (except on some superficial level). And IBM works closely with Microsoft even after buying Red Hat, which also considered selling itself to that other monopolist (Microsoft).

For those failing to see the Debian-OSI-FSF connection/overlap, look closely at OSI archives; they stated upfront there were no conflicts of interest/s, but there were relational ones. Moreover, the overlap in boards — not to mention awards — can be revealing at times. Names? Sorry, no names. We’d be accused of personal attacks and violation of privacy for daring to ‘name-drop’ anybody at all. The Linux Foundation uses a similar strategy (it’s considered “toxic” to bring up legitimate concerns, which can be spun as envy, opportunism, racism, sexism and so on).

“Yesterday we spent some time studying the past two years’ meeting minutes of the OSI, leading up to the resignation of the OSI’s co-founder, who is no proponent of systemd.”Going back to the FSF, hours ago it published a statement [1] (more text below). Having failed to meet goals/targets, “extra incentive for people to join the movement [have been extended] until January 17th. To assist us further, our friends at Technoethical are offering a 5% discount for @FSF members until this date as well.”

What does the FSF plan to do about IBM now that it’s taking IBM money? We wrote about this angle last month and back in October [1, 2].

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Extending our offer for exclusive membership gifts through January

    In the final weeks of 2019, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) welcomed nearly 300 new associate members. That is a strong achievement, but we to boost our numbers further in order to continue our work to educate others about free software and defend copyleft.

    Every day, millions of new people globally are gaining access to software, and are integrating it into their lives. We need to continue to spread the message of software freedom far and wide to reach these newcomers, and the millions of longtime software users who are unaware of how proprietary software is being used to exploit and abuse them. It’s a big challenge.

    At the beginning of this new decade, we’re inspired to dream up a freer future. To help turn this dream into reality, we’re extending our membership drive and our offer for exclusive associate membership gifts as an extra incentive for people to join the movement until January 17th. To assist us further, our friends at Technoethical are offering a 5% discount for FSF members until this date as well.

    Will you start out the new decade with an FSF associate membership?

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