10.19.20

Java’s James Gosling is Wrong. Free Software Advocates Never Suggested or Insinuated That Money-Making Was Ethically Wrong.

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Java at 9:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Go proprietary software because might makes right

Summary: The honorable James Gosling mischaracterises the stance of Free software advocacy, portraying it like it is an issue of money rather than respect for users

THE best way to attack a popular movement is to distort or misrepresent its beliefs, views, goals and so on. Black Lives Matters, for instance, is described by some people as a “terror group” because of the action/s of one or two people (among millions).

First, a clarification: I myself make money (or a living) only from Free software. It does not pay a lot of money, but it helps keep the site going and it puts food on the table, without having to resort to unethical practices with immoral software. I know that it’s perfectly feasible to make ends meet without getting involved in proprietary software. Many Free software developers whom I speak to say and do the same. They’re not very wealthy; heck, some are relatively poor, but they’re happy with what they do. Unless you spend decades working as a Microsoft mole (e.g. Miguel de Icaza), you’re not very likely to become a millionaire.

“Unless you spend decades working as a Microsoft mole (e.g. Miguel de Icaza), you’re not very likely to become a millionaire.”And then there are some high-profile success stories, other than Red Hat. How about Canonical’s founder? Mr. Shuttleworth showed that you can become a billionaire with Free software, even at a very young age (he was quite prolific in the Debian-Private mailing lists before he sold his company and became one of the richest South Africans, who like Elon Musk left the country). As one article recalls [1]: “Shuttleworth left South Africa for the Isle of Man in 2001, taking a small proportion of his substantial fortune with him. The rest remained in South Africa in a block loan account. Eight years later he attempted to move a further ZAR2.5 billion offshore, but in the meantime, the South African Finance Ministry had issued a circular imposing exchange controls on the removal from the country of sums exceeding ZAR750,000. Shuttleworth duly applied to the Reserve Bank to exchange the funds. The bank imposed a 10 per cent exit charge on the transfer.”

Another article [2] put it like this: “What’s in a name? Mark Shuttleworth, it turns out, was indeed shuttle worthy. When the superrich computer nerd rocketed off into the cold black nothingness of God’s armpit, he apparently behaved like a proper astronaut—although he puked a bit of orange juice, he didn’t go acid-trippy like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, even though it was actually 2001. South Africa’s second most famous internet billionaire dropped $20 million to become one of the world’s first space tourists, a trip he treated himself to after selling his Thawte Consulting to VeriSign for $575 million in the heady dot.com boom days of 1999. And what did Shuttleworth learn as he stared into the icy void and contemplated his own insignificance in the face of the Infinite Mother?”

“Like many other superrich businessmen (usually but not always those people are male), he doesn’t like to pay his fair share of tax.”The VeriSign deal made him a billionaire from a South African perspective and currency. Later he was bickering about his taxes/levies. Like many other superrich businessmen (usually but not always those people are male), he doesn’t like to pay his fair share of tax. But either way, he was a rich man back then and he remains very rich to this day.

There’s also the obscenely rich Linux Foundation, which does not even use Linux itself, it’s just milking Torvalds and his brand. It shows the absurd intent and immorality of proprietary software types, enriching themselves at the expense (or backs) of those who do all the heavy lifting.

Unlike the Foundation, there’s a community-led effort which registered as a non profit [3] and from their latest publicly-available filing: “We held our annual conference on OCTOBER 12, 2018 and OCTOBER 12, 2018. On October 12, we had seven all day professional tutorials for systems administrators to gain hands on instruction and deeper understanding of Free Software in addition to a track of talks on the mainstage. On October 12, we held an expo for attendees to learn about free software projects and 6 tracks of talks, including a track for career development.”

About $50k and breaking even. Not bad. At least they cover the expenses that they have. Then, outside GNU/Linux, we also have the FreeBSD Foundation, which pays or paid its executive rank about $150k a year [4]. Usually they spend prudently and they’ve so far saved up to about 4 million dollars, having received a lot of money half a decade back. They recently improved their Web site and celebrated a very important birthday.

“It shows the absurd intent and immorality of proprietary software types, enriching themselves at the expense (or backs) of those who do all the heavy lifting.”So now we come to this widely-watched video entitled “Disagreement with Richard Stallman [RMS] about Free Software” (conversation between James Gosling and Lex Fridman). As discussed in IRC yesterday, Gosling is basically wrong. He misframes what RMS actually preaches or publicly says. As Alexei noted, “when I look at companies like PostgresPro and EnterpriseDB, I see them as being all over the place. Which develop free software, they must be in complete poverty. RMS doesn’t employ free software licensing for his speeches. Which is a very concrete practical example of that he does not think “information must be free”. And he said numerous times that he has no objections to the artwork being copyrighted and even pointed it out as a possible monetisation strategy while having the code free. So yes, these people are clearly disagreeing not with RMS, but with a strawRMS they erected themselves in their own minds.”

Gosling suggests that the position of RMS extends to “information must be free” (he talks about software being free — as in freedom — not information). Gosling insinuates that RMS pursues freedom in the sense of gratis, e.g. all movies should be free. But I never saw RMS saying that. Contrariwise, in his DMCA protest he gave a speech saying people should only go watch the films that are really good. RMS talks about freedom of software from an ethical perspective, but Gosling (who really ought to know better) puts or frames that as an economic issue, as if RMS wants to drive him into poverty — to the point where he cannot feed his kids (Mr. Lunduke used a similar attack spiel in an older interview with RMS). This is really, really dishonest.

“Judging by the types of jobs/positions Mr. Gosling has had (and corresponding pay grades), he’s likely a millionaire himself and he left a legacy that’s mostly freedom-respecting (Java). So why attack RMS, whose personal wealth is probably a lot smaller?”“Like I said,” Alexei added, “RMS doesn’t care that much about artwork copyright, that applies to film as well.”

Free software insistence doesn’t mean money cannot and should not be made. In fact, we have plenty of examples where people leveraged Free software to become obscenely rich. Judging by the types of jobs/positions Mr. Gosling has had (and corresponding pay grades), he’s likely a millionaire himself and he left a legacy that’s mostly freedom-respecting (Java). So why attack RMS, whose personal wealth is probably a lot smaller? Seems unnecessary and unfair, as Java uses the licence of RMS (GPL).
_____

  1. South Africa forces billionaire emigrant to pay exit tax | STEP
  2. Shuttleworth, The State and the Ubuntu 2.0
  3. Ohio Linuxfest Corporation – Nonprofit Explorer – ProPublica
  4. The Freebsd Foundation – Nonprofit Explorer – ProPublica
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