EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Monopolies Erode Freedom, Freedom Erodes Monopolies

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:26 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Welcome to Gitrepo, professor

Summary: “There are so many reasons that GitHub makes projects less free.”

Recent articles from Techrights have spawned discussions with a hundred comments or more, and one of Tom’s articles was translated into both Spanish and Czech.

Many of these comments contain confusion as to what the “big deal” is about the GNU Project being eroded by GitHub, while one claims that singling out the GNU Project is “sensationalism” — wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that all software is being eroded by GitHub?

If you haven’t heard it before, it’s news to you (or to me). The recent articles have possibly led to more responses than all the similar articles we did combined; one problem in the article (my fault, really) was that I had made a single comment about how the redirects appeared to be made after Stallman was ousted.

“Whether you dispute or agree with this point, RMS is no longer the FSF President, and this is the context in which the phrase “rms was ousted” was written.”That was probably an error — note that when that comment was made, it was not intended for an article. It was intended as a “heads up” or a lead for people at or close to Techrights.

But it certainly has sparked a debate. I honestly felt that this was redundant and too small a thing to cover, but the responses have proven otherwise. It would be foolish to squander the opportunity to address some of the misconceptions about the GNU-Hub:

1. RMS wasn’t ousted

Actually, we have reasons to believe he was deliberately given misleading information, leading him to step down. Various factors (some of which we predicted months ahead of time) make the realistic definition of what happened to rms closer to “being ousted” than voluntarily resigning.

Officially of course, he resigned. More truthfully, it seems that several deliberate and dishonest actions fed into his stepping down. The reasons for our predictions and the confirmation of our suspicions came from very different places. It’s not at all unrealistic to say he was “ousted”. It’s almost ridiculous, however, to say his resignation was “voluntary”.

2. RMS is still head of the GNU project

Again, this is officially true; and Elizabeth II is still technically the head of state, but she can’t actually use her power for very much except bestowing it on other people.

Whether you dispute or agree with this point, RMS is no longer the FSF President, and this is the context in which the phrase “rms was ousted” was written.

“There are so many reasons that GitHub makes projects less free.”Note also that there have been two further coups since he “voluntarily” resigned as President; one to fake his resignation from the GNU Project, and another to try to “vote” him out of the GNU Project. It would be naive to assume that these various (and closely timed) efforts to unseat him from all forms of influence were unrelated; though it is technically possible they are not from the same groups of actors.

This is all highly relevant, however, since rms has made it clear that GitHub is wrong for Free software. To quote, “GitHub does things that are quite bad for Free software and is not interested in changing them. If you want to move off Savannah, please pick some other place.”

3. GitHub doesn’t make software projects less free

There are so many reasons that GitHub makes projects less free. The FSF lists several of them — when people “refute” this notion, they always seem to leave part of the reasons out. Perhaps this is because there are so many (it’s also because the people who refute this don’t care about or necessarily even consider your freedom).

Above all, joining GitHub helps one of Free software’s most tenacious enemies — it hands control over to a company that continues to promote software patents, attack copyleft, and attack (and try to control) various software projects, including the Linux kernel. Let’s not pretend there is any reason to trust Microsoft. There are plenty of reasons not to.

4. GitHub isn’t controlled by Microsoft

This one is just funny. Microsoft’s M.O., not just recently, but throughout the history of the company — has been to try to control every competitor in the industry. Along those lines, GitHub is probably the best thing they could have ever purchased.

Microsoft goes out of their way to control companies they don’t own — you think they don’t control companies they literally own? That’s marketing/P.R. nonsense. It’s pure nonsense.

5. Git is distributed, GitHub doesn’t lock users in

Git was developed by Linus Torvalds, and its future is tied into Microsoft via the Linux Foundation — which is practically a Microsoft front group by now.

“Let’s not pretend there is any reason to trust Microsoft. There are plenty of reasons not to.”But the lock-in that makes GitHub so successful is a “side-channel” attack on project autonomy, not unlike their similar tactics against proprietary software. Techrights has covered side-channel attacks on software freedom for years now — if you can’t attack GPL-licensed directly, just attack copyleft, attack the FSF, attack rms, and lock users in with years worth of community exchange they can’t practically move to any new service.

The effects of lock-in are obvious to behold, but somehow the lock-in itself remains something users (and fans) are in denial about.

In short, if you suggest that people leave GitHub, they will state the reasons why it’s not practical to do so — this includes naming the very causes of lock-in as things they can’t afford to leave behind. But if you suggest that lock-in occurs, they will say it doesn’t exist.

Discussions of lock-in efforts that work around the license will invariably shift towards mentioning the license. Do people not know how much effort Microsoft has made to erode and minimise the effects of the licenses that are supposedly impervious to Microsoft? This is a corporation that seems to take over entire organisations, just to get at their code, activists and licenses.

6. You can’t blame the GNU maintainers, they only move to GitHub because Savannah sucks

Of course you can blame the GNU maintainers. Both the FSF and rms have made it perfectly clear that moving to GitHub is a bad idea — you can blame the developers for not heeding the warning. RMS is still the head of the GNU Project, right? Officially, at least.

“As you can perhaps tell from this list, a lot of excuses are being made for doing the wrong thing — against the Chief GNUisance’s advice and/or leadership.”In practice, the maintainers aren’t listening and quite a few have moved to remove rms from his position. They are hopefully in the minority, though the problem isn’t “all GNU maintainers” — it’s many of them. It’s enough that we can certainly blame GNU maintainers.

As you can perhaps tell from this list, a lot of excuses are being made for doing the wrong thing — against the Chief GNUisance’s advice and/or leadership.

As rms pointed out in 2015, if people aren’t happy with Savannah (a platform forked from SourceForge when it was still Free software, which provides the GNU project with more autonomy than most other solutions — a clear advantage in and of itself) there are better options than GitHub — GitHub was already among the worst options even before Microsoft owned them.

So hating Savannah isn’t a legitimate reason to use GitHub; it is a legitimate reason to consider other options, the worst of which by far is GitHub. Yet due to lock-in and network effect, people take the path of least resistance (a path associated for centuries with erosion of freedom and autonomy — freedom requires vigilance, does it not?) and then try to paint that as a reasonable, logical decision.

If you don’t care about freedom — which is exactly the accusation being made here — then yes, it is somewhat reasonable and logical (within the context of a very glib and superficial decision process).

“The GNU Project couldn’t move to GitHub without drastically changing the nature of the GNU Project.”If on the other hand, freedom still matters — there is absolutely no reasonable way that anybody would move a GNU project to GitHub.

This is basic litmus test stuff here. The GNU Project couldn’t move to GitHub without drastically changing the nature of the GNU Project.

7. The GNU Project isn’t that important anymore (we’ve actually heard this recently).

The various attacks we’ve documented on the GNU Project over the past few years suggest otherwise. It’s also really a change of subject; like a bank robber saying “I only took Pound notes, and they’re in a giant slump anyway since Brexit”. They were still valuable enough to steal though, right?

Also, if the GNU Project doesn’t matter, why haven’t all GNU/Linux distros switched to the BSD versions of everything? Like the BSD version of Emacs, for example. (Wait, there isn’t a BSD version of Emacs?) I don’t use Emacs, though I know there are several clones. Most of the Emacs fans I know are using the “real” Emacs though.

8. Why single out GitHub and Microsoft? There are other monopolies

This comes up so often, it probably originated at Microsoft (I’ve read stories on Techrights that suggest it might).

“It’s good that people are making all these excuses. It means they suddenly feel the need to justify this series of very bad decisions.”It really shouldn’t be necessary to explain, when one company is doing far more than any other to control Free software and the GNU project, why we would single out that company above the others. That’s just common sense, but it gets questioned anyway because that’s just how P.R. campaigns work — against common sense.

IBM also does a great deal of harm in this regard, but we talk about that all the time. So not only is there a perfectly good reason to single out Microsoft — we really don’t single them out, at least not to the exclusion of talking about other problems with other companies.

It’s good that people are making all these excuses. It means they suddenly feel the need to justify this series of very bad decisions.

We are (and were) aware of the fact that not all the changes are recent; for example, GNU Radio and GNU Aspell moved to GitHub in 2016; Microsoft didn’t purchase it until 2018. And we’ve known this since May.

That doesn’t change the fact that the GNU Project has continued to erode. Perl (which is not part of the GNU Project, but the most important parts of the GNU Project rely on Perl) just moved to GitHub two months after rms resigned. ALSA (GNUsound has modules for ALSA and Jack, which are both now based on GitHub) and NPM both moved farther into GitHub since the Microsoft acquisition was announced, and Techrights has talked about Python being bribed into Microsoft’s clutches for months.

“GNU is THE Free software project, the cornerstone of the Free software ecosystem.”We are singling out the GNU Project for the same reason we put stress on Microsoft’s efforts to control it; Microsoft is one of the worst actors in this regard, even bribing people to join GitHub (people defending the GNU-Hub debacle have said perhaps they enjoy getting “free” hosting on the enemy’s dime; we think the bribery suggests that Microsoft is clearly investing in control — there is nothing “free” being offered here, and it’s pretty naive to think there is) while the GNU Project is the most important Free software project. GNU is THE Free software project, the cornerstone of the Free software ecosystem.

Funnily enough, the only thing that led me to notice this happening to the GNU Project, was trying to get an idea of how much it had happened to other important projects. We started tripping over projects close to (then within) the GNU Project. So of course we wanted to know how compromised the GNU Project had managed to get.

Certainly people dispute GNU’s importance, because (as with Nokia Handset) you have to devalue your enemy first, before you can destroy (or own) them. Whether that’s rms or the GNU Project, you can’t expect people attacking your freedom to say that it matters.

You can tell that freedom is under attack when monopolies gain influence. One erodes the other, if you are giving into Microsoft and Github you are sacrificing freedom and autonomy. They’ve gone to great lengths to get people to do just that — and they still do. The fact that people are denying this is a story by itself; it might as well be the 11th coup in the past year.

Long Live rms, and bring back GNU someday.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Slashdot

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New

  1. Mega Setup, Mini Budget

    For a sum total of under £800 (eight hundred British pounds are about USD/$1043) one can piece together a versatile working environment (my latest additions, as of 5 days ago, are the 4 plastic plants)

  2. Twitter Appears to Have Taken Vendor/Platform Lock-in up Another Notch, Having Become Almost as Malicious as Facebook

    Twitter jumped the shark

  3. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, August 11, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, August 11, 2020

  4. Infographic by Marcia Wilbur: Where's My Refund?!

    Tweet by Marcia Wilbur:

  5. Links 12/8/2020: New GNU Emacs, GXml-0.20, WordPress 5.5, and Mozilla is Laying off 250 Staff

    Links for the day

  6. You Just Know Somebody is in a State of Retreat When the Strategy Becomes to Discredit One's Critics (or Collectively Paint Them All as Wrong/Crazy)

    A goulash of bullcrap from Bill Gates doesn't add up; it seems like his media strategy has warped (or fallen back) onto discrediting his critics as though they don't exist, don't know anything, or are simply jealous

  7. United States v IBM Archives/Resources

    As the massive case against IBM monopoly (United States v IBM; 104,400 pages of trial transcripts and 17,000 exhibits) predates the World Wide Web it's difficult to find comprehensive literature about it any longer (Wikipedia and more modern sites are instruments of revisionism and reputation laundering)

  8. History Goes in Cycles

    Just like antiwar activism was 'quelled' or 'pacified' half a century ago nowadays we're led to think that software freedom is just fine and there's nothing left to argue about (except words and other petty nonsense)

  9. Looking Back at the Real Story of Microsoft

    Let's take a moment to examine what Microsoft was all along (since its formation in 1975)

  10. Europe Deserves Better Than Today's EPO

    Overly restrictive society with countless monopolies (even on seeds!) will neither serve people nor will it breed general acceptance

  11. European Patent Office Management Swims With Sharks and Liars

    It has become increasingly if not abundantly evident that European Patent Office President Campinos is no better than Battistelli as he’s still a ‘darling’ of patent litigation trolls and their front groups/lawyers

  12. Linked In to Pedophilia

    As the above articles show (one published a couple of days ago), the 'Web of Lies' and the incredible deceit/cover-up run deep and we still lack answers from those who enabled what Salon has just said involved "trafficking five or six girls a day."

  13. Whistleblower Aid Already Showed Cover-up of Bill Gates 'Contributions' to MIT

    The Goodwin Procter report which failed to actually investigate whether Gates and Epstein jointly directed payments to MIT (the latter was already dead) can be understood differently in light of the above leak, which was published earlier this year

  14. IRC Proceedings: Monday, August 10, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, August 10, 2020

  15. Proof (Archived Original Letter): Bill Gates Lied to the New Yorker, BBC and Others About Connection of MIT Money to Mr. Jeffrey Epstein and Their Close Relationship

    As the article (“The anatomy of Bill Gates’ Jeffrey Epstein-facilitated MIT donations”) put it at the time (just 2 days before Dr. Stallman received all the heat at MIT), “Secrecy in the funding of academic programs is highly problematic, as University of Virginia professor Siva Vaidhyanathan explains in a long Twitter thread. “Companies and the billionaires who run them are always bending research agendas (and sometimes even results) to their interests,” he writes. “Anonymity would prevent any examination or accountability.”” But there are more high-level Microsoft links to Mr. Epstein; “Hoffman invited both former MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito and Epstein to an August 2015 dinner in Palo Alto with Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel. He tells Axios that he invited Epstein at Ito’s behest, and only because Ito vouched for the convicted criminal, saying that he had successfully cleared MIT’s vetting process.” In 2016 the article “Bill Gates talked to Reid Hoffman about being on Microsoft’s board of directors” was published. “Furthermore,” it notes, “Gates and Hoffman have a lot in common: They both hold board seats and advisory roles, and no other formal status or day-to-day obligations, at the tech companies they founded.”

  16. All This Happened While Bill Gates' Engineer Was on Trial for Amassing Child Pornography

    While MIT relies on the word of someone who repeatedly lied about his relationship with Mr. Epstein (refuted even by MIT itself), the record shows what happened just when Bill Gates’ own engineer faced conviction for pedophilia (the media diverted attention to Dr. Stallman just days after the above E-mails came to light)

  17. Links 10/8/2020: Popcorn Computers Pocket PC, Finnix 121, GhostBSD 20.08.04, EasyOS 2.3.8

    Links for the day

  18. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, August 09, 2020

    IRC logs for Sunday, August 09, 2020

  19. Release: Bill Gates' Engineer Busted for More Child Pornography Than Reported in the Media

    Based on our analysis, which was repeated carefully twice, the sum of recognised hashes turns out to be about 7,500 (7,430 objects), which is more than was reported in the media after the arrest of Rick Allen Jones at Bill Gates' mansion

  20. Links 10/8/2020: KPhotoAlbum 5.7.0 and MX Linux RC

    Links for the day

  21. UserLibre: What I Want You to Get From This Book

    "Corporate-backed lies run the world, and the FSF used to get in the way."

  22. Even the Mainstream/Corporate Media is Trying to Study Why (or If) Bill Gates and Epstein's Sex Abuse Ring Were Closely Connected

    People in the media are eager to understand why Mr. Gates was so close to Mr. Epstein and even flew his plane (despite having several of his own)

  23. The Incredible Demise of News Sites About Patents

    Sites for (and by) patent lawyers/attorneys seem to be perishing, which means it's hard to know what's going on

  24. Understanding Users and the Three Kinds of Computers: New, Slow and Broken

    "Understanding the user is the first step towards a practical response to misconceptions."

  25. The Good and Bad of a (GNU?) BSD (not GNU/LINUX) Future

    "The software industry now occupies Free software's own territory. No longer is it Free software vs. Windows and MacOS, it's Free software vs. GIAFAM-co-opted Free software."

  26. Links 9/8/2020: Popcorn Computers Pocket PC and New Interview With Richard Stallman

    Links for the day

  27. Education and Free Software

    "If students learn how to code, they'll be able to figure out the applications."

  28. Features Considered Harmful (Revised)

    "But the benefits of Free software, free candy and new features are all meaningless, if the user isn't in control."

  29. If We Weren't Silencing Founders, Critics and People We Just Don't Like

    In the long run, history is rarely very kind to tyrants, especially the ones who did little more than lie to people and demand things that served no real purpose."

  30. I Would Have Supported the Coup (Under Very Different Circumstances)

    Richard Stallman's (rms) ordeals are showing us how not to deal with a founder; this is how power transition could be done instead, according to figosdev

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts