09.15.21

(Super)Free Software As a Right – The Manifesto

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 1:59 am by Guest Editorial Team

By Thomas Grzybowski, derived from towards-super-free-software, by figos

Seagull

Summary: “Software text has long been recognized as “speech”, and is covered under the very same copyright laws as conventional printed matter.”

The notion of Free Software is a direct descendant from ideals of freedom of speech, formulated during the historical period termed “The Enlightenment” – ideals which were further developed during the period of the American Revolution and the French Revolutions. The individual and social value of “Free Speech” has become essentially iconified in the US, while perversely, the ideals of Free Software have not inherited this status.

Software text has long been recognized as “speech”, and is covered under the very same copyright laws as conventional printed matter. “Free as in Free Speech” is attributed to Richard Stallman as his essential description of Free Software. Also significantly, famed computer programming guru Donald Knuth went as far as to actively advocate for “Literate Programming”, where the main intention is to treat a program as literature understandable to any interested person who should pick it up for study.

Confusion concerning the recognition of computer programs as speech began just around 1997, just as Free Software was becoming popular and just before the foundation of the “Open Source” movement. The misdirection underlying the ideas behind Open Source are described here. Software, instead of being recognized as a mode of human expression, was classified as a type of “property” – which is a very different kind of thing.

Now, if computer programs are speech, an activity, we all have a Right to express ourselves in this way, and to share these expressions with others. Sadly, the Free Software movement has lately become shy about taking this notion where it should lead. Software, once it is viewed in all seriousness as a kind of Free Speech, the expression and use of software becomes seen as a cultural entity and as an art. Participation becomes part of our proper rights as human beings.

So, how do we advance a human right where the view appears to be faltering? We know that Free Software has a specific definition, and we know we are after something of a subset from that definition. And we know we want the result to be hopefully greater than what we see today – Super-Free (or SuperFree) software!

So, the idea of a SuperFree Software is indeed something of a paradox: by further defining what it is that makes software more free to more people (this refinement being in practice a subset within “Free Software”) we hope to arrive at something greater. The simple idea which promotes the Superfree subset of Free Software higher is this: SuperFree Software is Free Software which works better to promote more freedom.

SuperFree Software can be viewed as an art, with serious intent. As an art, certain practices or disciplines will advance the art such that participation in software freedom becomes more actual to more people. Again paradoxically, less is often more:

#1. SuperFree applications (and systems) must be modular, as simple as possible, and open in design. Transparency to any interested party is paramount. If we don’t want a feature, we should be able to safely delete that component, and the program will function as designed – minus the component. If we modify a component, only that component should be affected. Unnecessary and opaque dependencies are a bug.

#2. The replacement of understandable code with binary blobs is a severe bug. Blobs do not represent “modularity”, they implement developer takeover and are obviously a place to hide security flaws. Blobs negate the basis of Free Software as Free Speech, preventing other people from interacting confidently with code.

#3. SuperFree Software should be developed with “ease of forking” as a design goal. Freedom means you can fork: understand, modify, and share code. We must forget about personally or organizationally “owning” our software, because the “Free” in Free Software becomes a reality primarily in the sharing. And note that this is not just a moral standpoint: You and I, we WANT software to be Free, in practicality, and thus we have to make it so.

#4. SuperFree Software should teach people how to create software, not just how to use it. Training people only to use applications is to train them to be consumers, and nothing more.

#5. SuperFree Software should actively distance itself from corporate funding. Corporations are not going to stop trying to control software – because they make money from software by making it less free. We will always need to keep our mission at some far distance from them. People will argue that it’ll become much more difficult to develop significant software without corporate support – but what is more true is that it will become possible to develop SuperFree Software without the dependency (and strings) that their money brings.

#6. SuperFree Software should promote itself as a cultural endeavor and as an example for other areas of culture to emulate. Free books, Free Music, Free Culture – these things are readily possible. Synergies of efforts, laws, and productive creativity abound!

If we can produce software as described above, it will take software freedom to another level entirely– where software “freedom” is NOT dictated by corporations or corporate-captured non-profits. With SuperFree Software as a flexible grassroots movement, people will freely join, leave, fork projects as they please. Software freedom will engage with more people, and SuperFree Software will become the visible, vibrant, significant cultural entity that it was always destined to be.

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

07.31.21

Microsoft Azure Stagnating

Posted in Deception, Finance, Microsoft at 5:39 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Mitchel Lewis, former Microsoft employee

Azure chart
Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-07-27/microsoft-posts-sales-profit-gain-shares-drop-on-azure-concern

It’s not a secret that Microsoft’s future depends on Azure not only being successful, but dominant. With Google Workspace dethroning Office 365 in the cloud productivity markets, Windows needing a complete re-write since a decade ago and their consequent monopoly on exploits and ransomware attacks in the PC and Server markets, much is riding on Azure’s ability to dominate the cloud infrastructure space as Microsoft has done with the OS, productivity, and server spaces before.

One consequence of Microsoft’s dependence on Azure is that Microsoft can post its best quarter ever and investors will get spooked if Azure’s revenue growth slips in the slightest. It also doesn’t help when their CFO Amy Hood admitted that Azure slowing revenue growth still performed better than she anticipated.

“Forty-five percent was both better than we expected and driven by consumption growth, which is very good,” Hood said in an interview. “Demand is healthy. The overall execution was better than I expected.” -Amy Hood

Unlike before though, Microsoft isn’t starting at the top as it did in the OS, Productivity, and Server spaces. Instead, Microsoft was 2 years late to the market and has to compete with the likes of AWS instead and claw market-share away from them. And this is bad news for Microsoft as competing with other tech monopolies in established markets is not something that they’re especially good at; they aren’t the same company that mothballed IBM all those years ago.

The success of Microsoft’s business model relies mostly on them being among the first movers of infant markets, becoming the industry standard, and entrenching its products throughout said industry; lock-in if you will. In turn, their products no longer need to compete on quality, cease to evolve, and stagnate no differently than the human race as they have no ecological competition. Apparently, the law of natural selection even applies to markets.

In doing this, Microsoft’s frustrating, insecure, and unstable architecture renders users change and technology averse, traumatized if you will, and consequently vying to keep everything the same. Further, they can artificially inflate the switching costs of moving to their competition, derail migration efforts to their competition even if it’s better technology, and maintain dominance. Put simply, Microsoft’s products and services create a moat of sorts that keeps users in and competition out while allowing them to compete with themselves. Mitigating their defenses is much easier said than done.

Being a first-mover that optimizes their solutions for lock-in is a double whammy for Microsoft and no one seems to care; hence why they do it. This happens to be why Windows, Active Directory, Server, and Exchange are still in play today despite being legacy, expensive, complex, frustrating, and unstable for users and admins alike. It’s simply too ingrained and users/admins are rendered apathetic to change.

While Microsoft can’t exactly take credit for this brilliant aspect of their business model, they can absolutely laugh all the way to the bank at anyone who is criticizing them about their quality woes without realizing that they don’t even have to compete on quality; at least until Azure became their last hope.

One immediate problem with their tactics though is that they don’t bode well in markets that are already well-established nor is it easy to re-structure a company to engineer for quality when it’s structured to maximize lock-in. Although absolute genius goes into engineering products for lock-in, especially when realizing that all of their engineers are trying to do their best/ethical job, this heroin-esque approach to engineering is systemic and cannot be turned off like a light switch; quite the contrary. Any manager at Microsoft can and will affirm that Microsoft is a big ship to steer and such a restructuring could take years to fully implement.

As such and much like their founder Bill Gates, Microsoft isn’t equipped for fair competition, hence why they lose their ass in markets they’re late to, nor are they known for being a good sport at that. And as they have shown repeatedly with cloud, mobile, social, gaming, and laptop markets, Microsoft is consistently a fish out of water when entering well-established markets because they are not optimized to compete on quality which is the only card that a new entrant has to play against the status quo; exhibit Zoom and Slack. All of which stacks the deck further against Microsoft’s ambitions with Azure.

To highlight this and although Microsoft is doing great things in the cloud space with Office 365, they were late to the market, ironically among the last to host their own services, and are in second place while losing further ground to Google Workspace. The same is true of Azure in that it was 2 years behind AWS to the cloud infrastructure market.

Azure curve

And although Microsoft and analysts claim Azure to be second in the cloud infrastructure space from a revenue perspective, Microsoft has yet to corroborate this with data and is refusing to post individual performance metrics of Azure after a decade of production. Based on what little we’ve seen though, AWS revenue is growing while Azure revenue growth is shrinking which is the opposite of what Azure needs to do. Meanwhile, AWS revenue grew 9% in the last year.

No matter where you look, you can find Microsoft consistently omitting all key performance indicators (KPIs) worthy of mention concerning Azure financials or usage; MAU, P&L, CPA, ARPA, RPE, etc; nada. Meanwhile, you’ll find a whole host of ambiguous metrics such as vague growth rates, total user counts instead of monthly use statistics, and containers like the Intelligent Cloud averaging various offerings together. All of which takes significantly more effort than simply reporting individual performance and is frankly hard to keep under wraps for 12 years. Meanwhile, AWS has no problem reporting on AWS’s performance; they have nothing to hide.

Oddly enough though and while it’s even their policy to never report on KPIs, they definitely track them and occasionally post them but only if they exude a dominant market presence. In doing this though, Microsoft has a tell so to speak. Put simply, when products are doing fantastically, Microsoft will break protocol from time to time and report KPIs. But when products are doing horribly, Microsoft seems to hide behind their bogus policy so as to keep KPIs under lock and key while sugar-coating poor performance with ambiguities instead.

In doing this though, this being not reporting common usage and financial metrics while further hiding individual performance in the Intelligent Cloud, Microsoft has made it impossible for analysts to evaluate where Microsoft stands in the fold compared to AWS or Google Cloud. Ironically, the assessments declaring Azure to be in second place among cloud providers are speculative at best.

“Muddy waters make it easy to catch fish.”Chinese Proverb

With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see why Microsoft needs investors to believe that Azure’s position is strong and why Microsoft is working so hard to keep Azure’s performance under wraps; that dog don’t hunt. Although I can only speculate, it seems as if the KPIs surrounding Azure do not exhibit dominance or a route to dominance that Microsoft needs to project in order for share prices to keep rising while its stagnant revenue growth serves as further evidence of this.

If said KPIs did exhibit Azure’s dominance or even a route to dominance, then Microsoft would have no reason to be shy and release them in the face of increasing scrutiny of their persistent refusal to report on these metrics. And their refusal to post these metrics while muddying the waters with pointless statistics/rates and odd financial containers instead isn’t exactly a good omen so far as the health of Azure is concerned; if not symptomatic of the contrary. Put simply, if Azure truly had a big ol’ dong then Microsoft would have thrown it on the table by now rather than hiding it behind excuses and obscure metrics for over a decade.

To be fair though, Microsoft could indeed be shy about Azure’s performance for the past 12 years. Azure could be doing great for all I know. What I do know is that omission is the most common form of lying with statistics, followed by obfuscating matters with bogus metrics, and Microsoft doesn’t have an incentive to resort to these squid and ink tactics if Azure is in great shape. All stars go through an inflationary phase before they go supernova.

You’re welcome to believe otherwise though. You’re welcome to believe that the 71.355 billion Microsoft spent on stock buybacks since March of 2018 were made to benefit the shareholders too; but that’s for another day.

07.19.21

Is Microsoft a National Security Threat?

Posted in FUD, Microsoft, Security at 5:09 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Mitchel Lewis

Ransom infection vector

Despite entire industries and trade disciplines existing solely to manage Microsoft architecture and mitigate attacks against it, including a partner network consisting of 17 million+ IT professionals, 99% of all ransomware attacks still occur on Windows. Meanwhile, Microsoft architecture, including its cloud services, maintains a monopoly on botnet, brute-force, malware, phishing, virus, and zero-day attacks just the same. From individuals and small businesses to enterprises and government entities with unlimited IT budgets, everyone standardized on seemingly unsecurable Microsoft architecture are being phished, breached, exploited, and ransomed daily with no end to this in sight. Not even Microsoft is safe from this digital blitzkrieg, hence why they tell us to “assume breach”.

This isn’t to say that Linux OSs and macOS don’t see these attacks on their platforms though; they have and will again. Long-term savings and productivity advantages aside, they just don’t garner the same level of attack that Windows does, nor are they as likely to get exploited at the same rate as Windows when they are attacked. Put simply, Mac and Linux have a smaller attack surface and get to treat Windows like an umbrella against attacks due to its prominence in the OS space. Both of which are the two primary reasons why I maintain that the best thing that organizations can do to mitigate these attacks, for now at least, is to migrate away to macOS or a Linux-based operating system such as RedHat, CentOS, Ubuntu, etc.

With the above in mind though and when also accepting that there is no aspect of cyber, economic, environmental, homeland, human, and political security along with the security of our infrastructure and natural resources, national security if you will, that isn’t intricately dependent on Microsoft architecture, this reality alone is more than enough to warrant a discussion on whether or not Microsoft architecture is a consequent threat to national security. So, is Microsoft a threat to national security?


In order to answer this question, we first have to address why Windows and other Microsoft services are being breached so often in the first place. We have to see if they can be faulted for this present state, if there is another causal problem that’s beyond their control, or if anyone with their market share is destined to be a victim of their own success and dominance. And to be fair, not everyone will agree with my assessment above or below.

MalwareTech

For one and in response to a previous article where I suggested migrating to macOS and Linux to mitigate these aforementioned attacks, Michael Gillespie, and Marcus Hutchins (MalwareTech) seem to think that Microsoft architecture is exploited most frequently simply because it is the most prominent architecture and that migrating wouldn’t render you any less vulnerable. Put simply, they seem to think that differing attack surfaces are irrelevant to rates of exploitation and that macOS would be exploited at the same rate as Windows if the tables were turned with respect to market share.

Meanwhile, I’m not denying that that prominence is a factor, at all, I’m just saying that attack surface is on the same footing as prominence and that other solutions with smaller attack surfaces will be attacked and exploited at a lesser rate with the same market share which they disagreed with. However, it is also my stance that Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices aimed at obtaining and maintaining their dominant market share with low-quality products has further exacerbated this issue into what we have before us today; more on this later.

Why this matters to the question of whether or not Microsoft is a national security threat is simple. By suggesting that Microsoft is merely a victim of its own success and that anyone with their market share would see the same rate of exploitation, they’re also absolving Microsoft of responsibility for the present state of threat. But by suggesting that Microsoft’s galactic attack surface is equally responsible with their dominance for their security woes and that Microsoft wouldn’t be in the position they are in now if they had quality products that didn’t have to rely on anti-competitive practices to maintain market share, I’m naturally shouldering Microsoft with their share of the blame in the threat posed to America’s IT infrastructure at present.

One immediate problem with the prominence argument though is that those relying on it seem to resort to it in response to the suggestion of migrating to macOS or RedHat in an effort to mitigate attacks. If you really think about it though, this is irrational and shouldn’t discourage anyone from making the switch. Based on their own logic, Mac and RedHat users would still be much better off than Windows users so long as Windows remains dominant and continues to take all of the flak and function as an attack umbrella.

That said, I’m failing to see how this argument is relevant to their stance, how it invalidates my suggestion, or how it could discourage anyone from migrating to Mac or Linux so long as Windows maintains a dominant market share. If anything, those leveraging this argument seem to be unwittingly reinforcing my suggestion of treating Windows like an umbrella; all of which I’m totally fine with.

Another odd aspect of the prominence argument is that I have yet to see an actual post-mortem or a root cause analysis faulting the dominant market share of Windows as a causal reason for <insert any breach/exploit/ransomware attack here>. In fact, Microsoft doesn’t even take the prominence stance. Instead, their root cause analyses focus on the attack surface, mistakes/oversights, mitigation steps, etc. The anatomy of a breach is never reduced to “They hate us because they ain’t us.” by people who are actually paid to do RCAs for a living as Hutchins and Gillespie suggest; if only it were that simple.

Another major flaw in the prominence fallacy is that those invoking it are unwittingly implying that attack surface has no bearing on rates of exploitation or that the attack surface of each of these platforms is equal; which is bold to say the least. For one and given that attack surface is a function of the overall complexity of their infrastructure, no differently than ownership costs and instability, they might as well be suggesting that all platforms are equally stable with no variance in ownership costs; none of which could be further from the truth.

IBM chart

With Windows generating 3x+ the TCO that MacOS/Linux does, analysts can and do infer this is a reflection of disparity in relative complexity, attack surfaces, and stability because they all come hand in hand. Put simply, if one architecture generates significantly more ownership costs more to maintain over its lifespan than another, it’s rational to assume this is due to it being poorly engineered, consequently overly complex, and unstable; attack surface or otherwise. This is what software engineers refer to as software entropy.

And if they’re going to imply that attack surface doesn’t influence rates of exploitation then the onus is on them to support this stance with data and research. Just as complexity driving cost, instability, and attack surface is fundamental to engineers, so is a ballooning attack surface driving rates of exploitation. This is why engineers treat simplicity like their North Star. That said, great claims that run contrary to fundamentals and conventional wisdom tend to require great amounts of evidence; none of which has been furnished.

On top of lacking a fundamental precedent, yet another oddity of the prominence fallacy is that it lacks historical precedent. It’s important to remember that we’ve only lived in an Information Age with Microsoft at the top. We’ve never lived in a connected world with another OS dominating the market, it’s always been Windows. As such, to say that this would be the case for anyone at the top is a conjecture on its best day.

It’s almost scraping the barrel at this point, but yet another problem with the prominence fallacy is that it ignores how Microsoft obtained its dominant share of the market and why they had to resort to these tactics in the first place. Not only is it Microsoft’s modus operandi to rely on anti-competitive tactics to obtain and maintain a dominant market share, a monopoly if you will, they only have to rely on said tactics because their products couldn’t garner this market share on merit alone.

Natural selection applies to free markets in that the fittest products will naturally dominate a free market. That said, the best architecture would dominate a market naturally and wouldn’t need to resort to anti-competitive practices. And if Microsoft were the best in class, then they wouldn’t need to be optimizing their architecture for lock-in while bullying or buying out their competition at every avenue as they are today. They wouldn’t need to implore their partners to “create stickiness” by entrenching their products to further inflate switching costs.


All said, it’s safe to say that Microsoft is by no means a victim of their own success here so much as they’re a karmatic victim of their own anti-competitive practices and low-rent approach to software engineering; a digital Icarus complex if you will. There is much that Microsoft can do but doesn’t to simplify their products, shrink their attack surface, reduce ownership costs, reduce their rate of infection, and reduce the consequent threat that they present to America and the world. And to say that they aren’t complicit in the security threat that their architecture poses to America borders on the insane. But does the current level of threat that Microsoft poses constitute them as being a national security threat?

Although I’m not an expert in this regard, those that are have a few qualifying questions in order to really answer this question. IE, in order to classify Microsoft as a threat to national security, threat analysts would have to ask if Microsoft’s undue vulnerability and inorganic prominence mentioned above is a critical threat to our cyber, economic, environmental, homeland, human, and political security along with our infrastructure and natural resources.

Even Microsoft would claim that their architecture is detrimental to all of the aforementioned aspects of national security though. And given the extent of Microsoft architecture throughout personal, industrial, and governmental sectors and its rate of exploitation, it’s hard to see how Microsoft doesn’t expose all of these aforementioned categories to undue risk; a threat if you will.

Further, there is nothing to suggest that a platform with a smaller attack surface won’t have a lower rate of exploitation with the same market share while fundamentals and conventional wisdom suggest smaller attack surfaces lead to lower rates of exploitation. And as a consequence of this, it’s probably safe to say that Microsoft and its architecture is indeed a national security threat in comparison to less prominent Linux and Mac alternatives.

And given that ransomware and anti-trust has already been deemed a threat to national security, it’s not much of a stretch, at least in my opinion, to extend this classification to Microsoft when considering their history with anti-trust and monopoly on exploitation. Nor is it a stretch to suggest migrating onto modern platforms rather than crying about it to the competition exploiting weaknesses; no differently than we do with other critical infrastructure. This is why we rely on nuclear subs now instead of wooden ships.

It’s not a coincidence that the same countries exploiting the US as a whole, China and Russia, are the same countries moving to Linux as I’m typing this. It’s not just about cost-savings and productivity for justifying this move though. And mitigating the risk that Microsoft architecture poses to their national security also happens to be a primary motivating force behind their migrations. Maybe they understand something about Microsoft architecture that America is still slow to realize?

I digress, but even if my assessment above is wrong, prominence is all that matters, and Microsoft isn’t a national security threat, individuals and organizations alike are still better off abandoning the Microsoft ecosystem on any scale in favor of more modern alternatives for the foreseeable future. Although Microsoft gets a lot of criticism for the low quality of their products, hence the persistent updates (552 in 2021 thus far) and a revolving door of CVEs, few seem to see the genius behind them. Microsoft doesn’t need to maximize quality or even compete on that field of play when they can render entire organizations dependent on products of less quality.

Because of this, organizations relying on Windows will have a hell of a time migrating away from Windows and the rest of the Microsoft ecosystem which means that they’re naturally going to drag their toes in doing so; the bigger they are, the slower any attempt at a migration will go. In turn, this means that there is plenty of time for those that can easily migrate away from the madness and insecurity of the Microsoft ecosystem as a means of sheltering themselves from a barrage of attacks safely in the shadow of Microsoft for the time being.

06.11.21

New Introduction at Gemini

Posted in Site News at 7:22 am by Guest Editorial Team

A capsule
Our capsule is growing in popularity, so we devote more time to it

Summary: As part of ongoing improvements to our capsule we have a new introductory text, reproduced below

Founded in 2006, this site represents more than just a message; it serves a community and a growing software freedom movement. The goal is to work towards preserving and expanding general-purpose computing. Towards that end, the people using their computers should be in charge of computers and control what the computers do, rather than distant individuals or groups of isolated individuals. These days computers come in all forms and sizes, from handheld devices which can make phonecalls, to cars, refrigerators, radios, washing machines, and so on. This includes traditional routers, servers, desktop computers, and laptops of course.

“These days computers come in all forms and sizes, from handheld devices which can make phonecalls, to cars, refrigerators, radios, washing machines, and so on. This includes traditional routers, servers, desktop computers, and laptops of course.”As of 2021, the Techrights capsule has over 30,000 entries, mostly articles. In order to promote interest in — and put into practice — the goal of software freedom, at the moment, and for quite a few years in the past, a focus has been on eliminating software patents. Ensuring the elimination of software patents around the world, but especially from Europe and North America is a vehicle to retain control over computing for both end users and software developers because software patents threaten end users as much as developers. Furthermore, study after study shows software patents to be a general impediment to innovation. Other topics such as net neutrality, copyright reform, and freedom from censorship all play roles in advancing freedom through software. Therefore, these topics are all covered on a recurring basis throughout the course of the day. Various means, like addressing copyright through software licensing, for example, are steps towards the main goal. Though the primary focus often remains on permanent elimination of software patents.

05.30.21

Alexandre Oliva: A Conversation With Richard Stallman

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 4:20 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Live on Monday, May 31, 23:00 UTC

http://debxp.org/ldsrms/

https://stallman.org/live/stream-debxp-may-31.html

Richard Stallman is an activist for digital freedom, fighting to enable users to control their computing and their data; founder, leader and philosopher of the Free Software Movement, that for decades has resisted attacks from computing monopolists; founder, leader and hacker emeritus of the GNU Project, whose operating system millions of people, businesses and governments use, but calling it Linux.

See also: https://stallmansupport.org

RMS Brazil

RMS talk

05.27.21

How to Sign the Letter in Support of Richard Stallman Without Microsoft’s GitHub

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 8:19 am by Guest Editorial Team

Published yesterday, reproduced with permission

Letter
Letters of support or signatures are more about the message than the person; beware personification tactics (e.g. Assange instead of Wikileaks or defamed SUEPO representatives/BoA judges instead of EPO staff)

Summary: New instructions for those who want to combat a censorious trend that seeks to annul, based on lies, voices of software freedom advocacy

First of all, thanks to our friends who have set up the letter in support of RMS. Thanks to all the people who invest their time in adding the signatures that arrive everyday.

We have received requests mainly from non technical people to clarify the process of signing without using GitHub[1]. In response, we have set up this page to try to explain it as clearly as possible. Feel free to contact us if you still have doubts.

  1. Add your signature at https://codeberg.org/rms-support-letter/rms-support-letter/issues/1.
    To do this, the first step is to register.

    • Scroll to the very bottom of the page, and you will see Sign in to join this conversation. Click on Sign in. On that page, choose REGISTER.

    • Enter a username, email address, password, and the Captcha code. This will send a message to your email to activate your account.

    • Go to your email, open the message, which will have a link to a page that will ask you to confirm your password. Enter your password. You will then be told that your account has been activated.

    • Now that you are registered, go back to https://codeberg.org/rms-support-letter/rms-support-letter/issues/1. When you scroll to the bottom of that page, after the last comment, the comment field will be open.

    • You may now write your “comment,” which should consist of ONLY two lines.
      Example:

      name: Your real name
      link: mailto:my-email-address@example.com

      Note that there should be no space between the colon in “mailto:” and the email address.

      Instead of your email address, you can add your website, like this:

      name: Your real name
      link: https://mywebsite-example.com

    • Now click on the green button that says COMMENT and you are done.

  2. Send and email to either ~tyil/rms-support@lists.sr.ht or signrms@prog.cf.
    Important: The email should be in plain text not HTML. How to compose an email in plain text.

    In the subject of the email, write something like “Signing RMS Support Letter” or similar.

    In the body of the email, follow the guidelines as above. ONLY two lines, and the “link” line can be either your email address or your website:

    name: Your real name
    link: mailto:my-email-address@example.com

    Note: The procedure we have described here for sending these emails implies more work for the volunteers in charge of adding the signatures. Therefore, it is intended to be used by non technical people only, in which cases exceptions are likely to be made. The preferred method is the one described in the letter at https://codeberg.org/rms-support-letter/rms-support-letter/issues/1; that is, to send an email attaching a “patch.” The patch makes it easier and faster to add the signature.

How to write emails in plain text(#plain-text)

Each email client or email web platform has its own method for setting the composition format. Here we are describing only two. It shouldn’t be difficult to find the one that applies to what you are using.

  • GMAIL

    If you are using the Gmail web interface (at your own risk!):

    1. Click Compose (upper left angle).
    2. In the email composition window, go to the lower right angle and click on the three vertical dots (more options). Select Plain text mode.
  • Thunderbird

    1. Go to Edit -> Account Settings -> Composition & Addressing
    2. Uncheck “Compose messages in HTML format.”

References and Notes

  1. GitHub is a site that a number of people refuse to use for several reasons, among which: it requires nonfree JavaScript, it discourages copyleft licenses, it’s owned by Microsoft.

05.18.21

Blogging Pioneer Dave Winer: Pleading for Richard Stallman

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux at 6:51 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted from the original

  • I feel so sad about what’s happening to Stallman.#
  • He’s 68. I know what that’s like, I’m 65. #
  • He has fixed his whole existence on a single idea that software should be free. Not free of charge, but free to use and to adapt. It’s not that far from the kind of openness I believe in, that I believe is an ethical responsiblity for developers. #
  • It’s useful to have a person like Stallman around, consistently marking an extreme view. It’s like knowing there’s a North Star, you may not be going to it, exactly, but knowing where it is makes it possible to go other places. And some people agree with Stallman in total, and to them he’s their leader.#
  • Now, if you step back and look at what’s being said about him, basically people don’t like things he says or the questions he asks. I read these things completely factoring out the non-factual stuff, where they tell you what his questions mean in some pure sense, when what they’re really saying is what these questions mean to them. To a reasonable person imho they’re just questions. Some people don’t argue with questions, they just ask them. For the people who attack him, it’s the opposite, their questions are accusations. #
  • I think Stallman is actually a naive innocent, almost child-like harmless person. That’s based on years of observing him, being connected through communities. Maybe he did terrible things I don’t know about. But maybe you have too. Is this how we’re going to coexist? All of us worrying about who’s going to make a credible case for destroying each others’ lives? This isn’t about Stallman, it’s about your sense of justice and how far it extends, and how unfair that is for the rest of us who fear being judged by you. #
  • PS: A quote from a 1994 blog post: “I try not to get offended on principle.” I was quoting someone else, but I’ve remembered that. Just because I should be offended, doesn’t mean, if I’m not actually offended, that I have to pretend I was. #
  • PPS: If you still think Stallman should be destroyed, go see Lives of Others, a wonderful film about intellectuals in East Germany during the Cold War. #

05.12.21

System76’s First Keyboard Packs in Plenty of Surprises

Posted in Hardware at 10:56 pm by Guest Editorial Team

System76 keyboard

System76 oops

Summary: Putting the genie back in the bottle is hard, and moreover the corrective post from Joey Sneddon may cause a bit of a ‘Streisand Effect’

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