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09.24.20

The Second Wave (of Free/Libre Software)

Posted in Bill Gates, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 1:41 am by Guest Editorial Team

Looking from afar at the more distant future, we need to recognise newer perils (not fully foreseen when GNU’s manifesto was published 3.5 decades ago)

Wave and kids

Summary: Despite some major setbacks and new threats to digital freedom (autonomy is perhaps a more suitable term), progress is being made and activism must adapt to tackle newer trends

THE somewhat belated ascent of Free/Libre/Livre software is real. Many would say “we” have “won” the battle. Who is “we”? What does “winning” mean? Leave that aside; it’s all in the details. It’s both a technical and a philosophical inquiry…

“We ought not ask Microsoft for ‘permission’ and be spied on by Microsoft while developing and retrieving software.”GNU is everywhere, yet freedom is almost nowhere to be found ‘out there’ (clown computing means surveillance and oppression). Linux is by far the most widely used and deployed operating system kernel — so ubiquitous in small devices that there may already be tens of billions of “Linux computers” out there (about 10 times as much/many as Windows instances). Mission accomplished? Maybe. Depends whose…

The fight for software freedom will likely never end (and no, don’t think that a Microsoft bankruptcy or something similar means “the end”). No “fin” just because some certain Finn put his kernel in almost every computer, from large (HPC) to small/tiny (“edge” computing, increasingly a surveillance beacon of some sort).

Techrights is about software freedom, sure, but it’s also about human rights (e.g. privacy) and programmers’ rights, which means no software patents (these patents harm proprietary software development as much as Free software craftsmanship and distribution).

Wave at seaThe “Second Wave” nowadays commonly alludes to the return of a certain problem many have naively (ignorantly too strong a term?) chosen to dismiss as “revolved” or a “thing of the past”; it won’t be resolved until COVID-19 is eradicated, likely by mass vaccination. Vaccines can take 5-15 years to develop, test and make then make prevalent. If it’s fast-tracked, maybe 5 years. Maybe. Don’t fall for promises and hype from pharmaceutical giants and vaccine profiteers including but not limited to Bill Gates. It’s revealing when the corporate media treats this college drop-out like a vaccine expert; he’s meanwhile pushing his "war on cash" (India is his fertile ground for such experimentation, as he did with GMO and other vaccines — to the point where people died in his 'clinical/criminal trials'). At the moment we’re put on the highway towards something very grim; oligarchs have fast-tracked their “war on cash” (associating physical currency with “dirty” people and criminals*) and mass surveillance (as if people who don’t carry around with them a so-called ‘phone’ are a public health hazard).

This whole “Second Wave” thing — namely the implication for personal freedoms (not only software) — is a subject we hope to discuss with Richard Stallman some time soon. We also have some Microsoft leaks on the way.

Free software may have “won” (already) in some sense, but activism must carry on. Having lots of projects in proprietary Microsoft GitHub isn’t freedom but the opposite of that. We ought not ask Microsoft for ‘permission’ and be spied on by Microsoft while developing and retrieving software.

“Copying all or parts of a program is as natural to a programmer as breathing, and as productive. It ought to be as free.”

Richard Stallman

_____
* Lately there has been a British media-led smear campaign against people who insist on paying with cash, associating them with theft, COVID denial, and various conspiracy theories. It has gotten rather bad during summer. The stigma is a growing problem.

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