05.05.20

Why I Love Free (as in Freedom) Software and You Should Too

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Windows at 9:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU is NOT GitHub

GHubSummary: We’re moving in a very positive direction in terms of Free software adoption, even if that’s rarely acknowledged and it attracts new types of attacks, notably entryism and attempts to collectively monopolise Free software (e.g. GitHub)

THE FSF has just recommended, out in the open (public press release or blog post), an RMS essay. It happened yesterday evening or last night (British time). This was a good sign. It showed that the FSF and GNU were getting along (there were moments of slight tension a few months ago). Richard Stallman (RMS) isn’t a name for them to keep a distance from and his stance on software issues they generally agree on. We commend the FSF for this move and we hope it’s a sign of positive developments to come. To a lot of people RMS isn’t just the FSF’s founder but also its moral compass.

RMS was scheduled to speak in Europe, but travel restrictions prevent this at the moment. Either way, the ‘cancellation’ of RMS hardly worked. He’s still around (we speak sometimes) and he’s the head of the GNU Project, which he founded nearly 4 decades ago.

“It was about a decade ago that I liberated myself from all proprietary software…”The media rarely mentions RMS anymore (it never mentions/mentioned him as much as he deserves/deserved anyway; RMS isn’t bribing the media like Bill Gates does). Focus on the ideas expressed by RMS and ignore all the ‘gossip’; a life of wealth isn’t a life of possessions and fulfilment in a life that ends with us taking nothing to the grave cannot be derived from or measured by “collecting stuff…”

As for legacy, those things tend to be measured in terms of achievements, such as technical accomplishments. RMS has long spoken about the foolishness of debt-strapped — and effectively enslavement — for one’s whole life for the expensive pursuit of material things. He used to sleep on the floor (or carpet) in the lab to save himself time and rent. There are still some articles online about it.

It was about a decade ago that I liberated myself from all proprietary software; due to social dynamics — a subject addressed in the latest essay from RMS — I still had Skype installed until Microsoft bought that company. In my earlier years at university I also used MATLAB (before moving to GNU Octave) and it’s one of those things I could not take ‘home’ because of licence/licensing restrictions. Who needs that hassle? What does that mean for one’s code (when it is entrapped or dependent on a bunch of secret code with patents on it)?

This morning I took some time to explain my work setup [1, 2], which had evolved over the years. The total cost of everything is under $1000 and there’s no proprietary software other than firmware blobs for Wi-Fi. Some people pay over $1000 just for one licence of one piece of non-free (proprietary and possibly malicious) software!

“Seeing the general trend, it’s very much possible that one day in the not-so-distant future GNU/Linux will enjoy a two-digit market share if not majority on laptops/desktops…”The outlook seems good for Free software, despite some of the negativism often expressed here (I remarked on it a decade ago). A Microsoft-connected firm, which measures Windows-centric things, says that GNU/Linux market share has surged to 3% (on laptops/desktops) in recent months. They don’t even measure Android (or Chrome OS) at all. Android market share is nowadays a lot higher than Windows’ and there’s Linux inside. Sure, Android hardly spreads freedom (most “apps” are non-free software), but it helps show why Microsoft is so desperate to restore its O/S monopoly — to the point of buying GitHub, thinking it can just buy a monopoly over Free software and a great proportion of GNU/Linux distros (about a third of the packages in Debian are connected to GitHub, as we recently demonstrated).

Seeing the general trend, it’s very much possible that one day in the not-so-distant future GNU/Linux will enjoy a two-digit market share if not majority on laptops/desktops and Valve will be vindicated for dumping “Mac” support from SteamVR in order to focus more on GNU/Linux (they still have the Debian-based Steam OS). Apple has reported appalling results due to the lock-down and GNU/Linux doesn’t have such problems; lock-down means more developers stay indoors, likely coding and hacking. GNU/Linux is still evolving, even outside the universe of systemd. Take a look at some of the amazing distros that come out of China with new desktop environments and software. Also remember the growing number of nations that made it a policy to move to GNU/Linux. Those aren’t just words; some are already implementing such migrations, albeit quietly (to keep Microsoft’s goons away).

One day a lot more people will enjoy computing freedom; as for freedom outside one’s computing? That’s another, albeit related, aspect. Judging by the way governments and corporations currently respond to the pandemic, we cannot be too optimistic.

“Be thankful not to “Linux” (merely a glorified brand, which Microsoft nowadays ‘dilutes’ by associating it with Vista 10); be thankful to software freedom and remember where it started…”With or without Red Hat/IBM, GNU/Linux is here to stay and to thrive. IBM has in fact just managed to convince the GNU/Linux-hostile Lenovo to preload Fedora on some models of “ThinkPad” (which originally came from IBM). Huawei moved in a similar direction last year.

This development happened only weeks after a GNU/Linux-friendly CEO (and also President, Red Hat’s former CEO) was put in charge. They seem serious about "The Desktop" again. As we hoped…

If GNU/Linux finds majority on “The Desktop” (which is possible by the way; “The Desktop” isn’t going away), the corporate media will likely thank Linus Torvalds instead of RMS. In the same way the media speaks to Bill Gates, a college dropout, about pandemics (instead of actual experts). That’s because money talks and Torvalds is where the big corporate money is.

Be thankful not to “Linux” (merely a glorified brand, which Microsoft nowadays ‘dilutes’ by associating it with Vista 10); be thankful to software freedom and remember where it started (three decades before Bill Gates sent pedophiles there to bribe the institution).

“Where are we on this Jihad? [against Linux]“

Bill Gates

Where are we on this Jihad? Oh, crap, they found out I'm Epstein's buddy. We need to divert the media's attention.

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