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01.15.20

OSI Board at Microsoft: This is How Institutions Die or Completely Lose Their Purpose/Direction

Posted in Microsoft, OSDL, OSI at 3:27 am by Guest Editorial Team

At ‘best’ they survive, only to promote Microsoft’s agenda and openwashing

OSI Microsoft photo op

Summary: The above photo (or meeting) may mark the turning point of the Openwashing as-a-Standard Initiative (OSI), which less than a year earlier took a bucket of money from Microsoft

THE above is not “fake news…”

All these people actually stood (or sat) there to take a photograph with Microsoft. Look how nonchalant they are.

“We’ve spent 30 minutes or so looking for additional notes (or photos, newer/older ones) to no avail…”This photo was taken following the spring 2018 face-to-face meeting hosted at the Microsoft office in San Francisco,” Simon Phipps explained on May 1st, 2018. “Back row: Faidon Liambotis, Chris Lamb, Simon Phipps, Allison Randal, Molly de Blanc, Patrick Masson [and] Front row: Josh Simmons, VM Brasseur, Carol Smith, Italo Vignoli, Richard Fontana.”

“The (co)founder of the OSI left in protest earlier this month.”The meeting took place a few months after this (which Microsoft staff then promoted in the OSI’s blog, having entered the Board and of course paid a lot of money to OSI less than a year earlier; they’re all colleagues and bossed by one another). This remains a very troubling episode in the OSI’s history. The (co)founder of the OSI left in protest earlier this month. We’re still seeing additional if not belated articles about it (added to Daily Links).

We’ve spent 30 minutes or so looking for additional notes (or photos, newer/older ones) to no avail… there appears to be just about no record anywhere on the Web of the above meeting. Nothing. Prove us otherwise… if anyone knows about or can find text regarding this meeting, please let us know.

“We’ve seen similar things at the Linux Foundation (LF) and we can recall the same from Mr. Cohen at OSDL… before everyone quit and formed LF to replace OSDL (rendering Cohen obsolete). He had been meeting with Microsoft in private, which upset a lot of people at the time.”This reminds us of how Richard Stallman (RMS) gave a talk at Microsoft without the FSF saying anything about it. This is exceptionally odd because usually the FSF not only announces but repeatedly advertises RMS talks even months in advance.

We’ve seen similar things at the Linux Foundation (LF) and we can recall the same from Mr. Cohen at OSDL… before everyone quit and formed LF to replace OSDL (rendering Cohen obsolete). He had been meeting with Microsoft in private, which upset a lot of people at the time. There are still some articles on the subject (even on the Web, despite Internet rot).

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

“Securing an environment of Windows platforms from abuse – external or internal – is akin to trying to install sprinklers in a fireworks factory where smoking on the job is permitted.”

Prof. Eugene H “Spaf” Spafford, father of the field of Internet Security

When Microsoft’s Actions Speak for Themselves (About Back Door Access)

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Security at 2:30 am by Guest Editorial Team

Microsoft back doors

Summary: Unwittingly, people are being reminded of the ‘special relationship’ between Microsoft and the US Army (or government); The back doors or bug doors are still there, even 7 years after Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks

“Suspect…”

That’s how our reader described the article “Microsoft patches big Windows flaw discovered by NSA” (one of several of this kind published yesterday) and specifically the above portions, which were highlighted by this reader.

We’ve written a great deal about Microsoft back doors — as there are many kinds of these — and yesterday a reader showed us how a con man CEO (faking financial performance) pretends that Microsoft fights for working encryption when it fact we know for a fact Microsoft did the opposite for at least 2 decades. When Microsoft says “security” it means “national” (i.e. Pentagon-controlled) ‘security’. Windows has been very imperialistic since the antitrust trial concluded, leaving Microsoft in tact but under tighter government controls.

01.06.20

Apologies in Advance

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 11:40 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By figosdev

Apology letter and rose

Summary: “In late 2018 and early 2019, I thought it was dangerous that the FSF had no plans for Stallman retiring or otherwise leaving, dangerous that he had no protégé to take his stead.”

Though Roy works as an official part of Techrights, and I work separately from that, we have in common a Mulder-like desire to find the truth about what’s going on. Some might assume that we are simply being critical of the FSF, though Roy is far more diplomatic (he is simply better at it and leans farther in that direction) and I am happy that I’ve been thanked, even recently, for holding people accountable and keeping pressure on those who would betray the FSF’s mission.

My primary interest is in the mission of Free software, and I make no secret of the fact that I consider free culture and Free hardware intrinsic to software freedom in this century. Acting President Alex Oliva and I have debated this at times politely and many times, heatedly though recently he said:

“I’ve often said that our first step has to be installing Free software not in people’s computers, but in their minds.”

That probably means something different to him than what it means to me; my reply was:

“As with Oliva, I take the connection between software and “mindware” very seriously and I think the FSF should not be so dismissive about this connection as it was in the past.”“Though I’m the one who has said for years that such software should be under a Free software license.”

In other words, I never bought into Stallman’s “works of opinion” shtick and have long thought the Defective by Design website would further its mission if it opened their work up to remix and the same free culture standards as Open Educational Resources. The father of free culture, Lawrence Lessig, used to be on the FSF board and won the Free Software Award. Unfortunately, just as Mike Linksvayer (someone I do not respect, but who did a decent job nonetheless as Vice President of Creative Commons) was unable to get CC to deprecate non-free licenses with clauses like -NC- and -ND-, Lessig was unable to get the FSF to champion free culture as a philosophical relative of Free software.

They have slowly (at a glacial pace) improved in this regard, and I’m happy that Shoetool is under a free culture license. In the past, they probably would have licensed it with No-derivs.

I don’t consider this kind of freedom unrelated to software freedom. As with Oliva, I take the connection between software and “mindware” very seriously and I think the FSF should not be so dismissive about this connection as it was in the past.

“In late 2018 and early 2019, I thought it was dangerous that the FSF had no plans for Stallman retiring or otherwise leaving, dangerous that he had no protégé to take his stead.”So when I felt the FSF was stagnating in 2019, I didn’t think it necessarily had anything to do with a corporate-backed coup. I published several articles on how to improve the FSF, which were written under the assumption that the FSF was simply low on inspiration and painted into a boring philosophical corner. In late 2018 and early 2019, I thought it was dangerous that the FSF had no plans for Stallman retiring or otherwise leaving, dangerous that he had no protégé to take his stead. Even earlier than late 2018 I had considered who would be ideal for the position — Ben Mako Hill and Oliva were at the top of the list.

Since then we have found quotes from the “inside” to the effect of Stallman having no replacement, so it wasn’t just us, but also evidence that Oliva was indeed a possible replacement. As in the person Stallman might choose if it were up to him. This is context and important background, but the point of this article isn’t about Oliva. It’s about the present state of the FSF in general.

I figured if the FSF was stagnating, that Stallman ought to step down and let a protégé (preferably someone Stallman trusted) take over some of the job of running the FSF. I did not consider Sullivan good for the position, and I don’t know. I don’t think he has any passion or charisma, and despite the occasional protest I think it’s clear that Stallman has much more than he’s sometimes given credit for.

“…the official narrative aside, what remains of the FSF is still the aftermath of a coup, even if Stallman did step down.”Once again, I feel it’s necessary to point out that my “let someone else be your protégé and have a clean transition” plan would have likely shielded him during the coup. He would still be on the board, he would have an ally in his position — it would be the closest the FSF could get to two Stallmans for the price of one, but Stallman would be less of a target (and harder to get rid of if he was only on the board, not the president.)

The official narrative — of which there is practically none, since the FSF has never commented on anything, even to say they were sad for him to go — Stallman himself has said he left to protect the FSF, but what’s left at the moment is hard to justify protecting, except “for the future” when it becomes hopefully a useful organisation again)… the official narrative aside, what remains of the FSF is still the aftermath of a coup, even if Stallman did step down.

And the one opportunity for members to weigh in — please note, that Stallman himself asked people to help by joining and ensuring Free software remained an important part of what the FSF stands for — the one opportunity members had to weigh in was blown when they extended the fundraiser. That’s the thing that still has me reeling a week later. So when the FSF said today:

“I’m very angry at the spin and the injustice coming out of the FSF.”“The day-in, day-out work of defending software freedom and maintaining the GNU Project depends on the generosity of donors like Dominic Walden, Donald Craig, and Etienne Grossmann. #ThankGNU so much!”

I fired back:

“They probably gave up trying to be heard and gave you people the money anyway.

The one opportunity members had to force you swindlers to listen, and you just extended the fundraiser instead. Seriously, f- — you guys. you’re not the FSF- you’re the people occupying the FSF office.”

Anybody who thinks this is some kind of turn towards nastiness hasn’t followed the other things I’ve said for the past several weeks. I’m very angry at the spin and the injustice coming out of the FSF.

The real point of this article, however, is to say that yes — I realise there are still good people at the FSF. And no, my comments are definitely not directed at them. I think enough people probably know that by now, and I still hear from Stallman now and then and from others who will remain nameless, even when I don’t expect to hear from them.

“…until Stallman is back the FSF is more of an office under corporate occupation than a Free software organisation.”I feel very strongly that any “ugliness” from me is nothing compared to the lies and injustice coming from the people who were party to this very real and increasingly understood coup, and that until Stallman is back the FSF is more of an office under corporate occupation than a Free software organisation.

It is now known, thanks to the IRC logs, that Stallman does not consider it useful (not yet) to try to get back on the board with things the way they are. I won’t elaborate on “things the way they are” at this time, but the bottom line is there is more to this story than we have still managed to get all the details of.

A side effect of the fact that we are still getting to the whole story, the rest of the truth, is that occasionally, some innocent and well-meaning person is going to get branded with the wrong team logo when they’re actually one of the good guys. Like I said, Roy is more diplomatic, though it is necessary to keep the pressure on those who are responsible beyond the shadow of a doubt.

In other words, it is necessary (in my opinion) to be somewhat ruthless with the people “occupying” the FSF until they themselves are ousted. A more ideal situation, where the “good guys” really did have everything under control, would be to treat each individual with the utmost care and presumed innocence. Unfortunately, that isn’t how you stop a coup.

“What I can’t (or anyway, won’t) do is let the people destroying the FSF simply continue unabated.”So yes, I may end up being unfair to someone, or a couple people. I really am sorry for that. What I can’t (or anyway, won’t) do is let the people destroying the FSF simply continue unabated. Many of us are trying extremely hard to piece together the big picture. We aren’t merely double checking the things we report, we backtrack and double-check and correct anything we know to be a mistake.

It’s absolutely horrific how often we turn out to be on the right track, most of the things we are discovering simply should never be as they are now. We don’t want to be right. Unfortunately, many of the things we worried about a year ago are not only confirmed — they’re worse.

So no, I firmly believe playing “nice” with the current regime is not the answer. The apology to anyone under suspicions without deserving it is sincere. I feel and I hope in the long run, that as with Stallman, those wrongly accused will be vetted by time and the continuing quest for truth and justice. So many people are trying to throw us off, but we have lots of information to work with. I still invite people who know more to let Techrights know, as Techrights is clearly the name people trust with their information about what’s really happening behind the scenes.

“As to what’s worth keeping the pressure on the FSF about — everything has shown that the right thing to about Stallman is apologise and reinstate him.”I’m also grateful to Daniel Pocock, to the debian.community team, and to everyone doing the right thing when others are simply playing along.

As to what’s worth keeping the pressure on the FSF about — everything has shown that the right thing to about Stallman is apologise and reinstate him. He should still have a protégé available to take over for him, and we now know who that would be.

Members still have no real say in what the FSF does, except hypothetically. I have always thought the mission of the FSF should outweigh the members, though the truth is that the members have no weight — they are as massless as a photon. The one opportunity members had to change the course of the FSF was during this fundraiser, and instead of responding to the failure with accountability and a learned lesson, the FSF simply decided “screw you guys, we will just keep running the fundraiser until we get our money!”

“Today, the future of Linux is also in doubt.”Well, it’s not really “your” money, FSF — that money is in the hopes that you will represent our freedom. And you aren’t doing that. You’re still caving to whatever outside interests would willingly destroy Free software.

Hurd is not ready, and that was never a problem when Linux was a suitable kernel. Hurd is simply too complicated to (maybe ever) serve the everyday purposes of a widely-distributed free operating system kernel. If there were enough coders to make it happen, perhaps it would work. The entire worldwide history of kernel development, Hurd’s own development included, would suggest otherwise. That doesn’t mean it is worthless, but it is subject to the politics and practicality that moved most kernel developers to Linux.

Today, the future of Linux is also in doubt. Despite my insisting (perhaps too optimistically) that people involved with linux-libre could probably extend the project to remove problems like DRM in the kernel and other dubious acts of possible sabotage like removing support for floppy drives (couldn’t you just make it a module, and make it so that support isn’t enabled by default?) the future of Linux looks problematic not only from the point of the software, but the point of the license. When Microsoft takes over GPL compliance for the Linux foundation, the result will ultimately be that Linux is “permissively-licensed under the GPL.”

Microsoft will have their own kernel, and Linux development will suffer further.

Hyperbola (an FSF-approved distro) has already decided to drop Linux in the future and switch to the BSD kernel. If they maintain their ties with the FSF, they will have the first FSF-approved operating system that is based on a BSD kernel. (I made Stallman aware of LibertyBSD a year ago, but at the time it looked like it could be a dead project. There are scripts on notabug that hint to the contrary, and I wish LibertyBSD the very best in the present and future.)

“Of course they should damn well apologise to Stallman, first.”It sickens me at times how blasé the FSF can be about devastating events in the Free software like this — and if it doesn’t sicken you, then you should consider that they were never more blasé about anything than the day that Stallman resigned.

It’s not that I have any problem with Hyperbola’s decision — it is bold and pioneering, in my opinion. But even though I have no respect for Torvalds as a person (it’s his numerous acts of dishonesty and betrayal, not his colourful language or personality that cost him my respect) I know he was screwed over by Jim Zemlin and, as a result, so were we. This has cost Free software significantly, and is has cost everyone who ever used GNU/Linux, and the least the FSF can do is have a moment of silence for the Kernel that made a fully-free OS possible and practical for many years.

“My primary concern for the future of the FSF, apart from ruining the work of everyone who made it what it is at its peak so far — is that it will become just another semi-retired 501c3 more concerned with fundraising than real goals, more concerned with “awareness” than what it was — a force for actually defending Free software and making development increasingly possible for everyone.”Of course they should damn well apologise to Stallman, first.

I’ve also defended certain people at the FSF, most notably the campaigns team. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe it’s possible for them to be among the traitors. Based on what I’m told, which could also be untrue (but I believe it) I don’t even believe the dumbest comments they’ve made were their own.

Someone is putting words in their mouths, and I believe these are practically kids who came in to volunteer, and have no way of knowing what they’re getting into. Being caught in the middle like that, I can’t blame the campaigns team without the hardest evidence of guilt, and I won’t let the occupying party make patsies of them. That includes Zoe, though I will critique some of the phrasing — I don’t blame her personally. This defense of the team doesn’t mean I will ignore evidence to the contrary.

“Much unlike how I feel about Stallman, I don’t admire Linus in the least. But he is undoubtedly better for the job than anybody likely to replace him, as the Linux Foundation has seen to.”My primary concern for the future of the FSF, apart from ruining the work of everyone who made it what it is at its peak so far — is that it will become just another semi-retired 501c3 more concerned with fundraising than real goals, more concerned with “awareness” than what it was — a force for actually defending Free software and making development increasingly possible for everyone.

When I say “for everyone”, I mean it literally; this isn’t the now commonly coded-language for fighting implicit exclusion with explicit exclusion — I consider that a scourge and as we suspected as far back as a year ago, I consider that sort of Orwellian gymnastics to be connected with the ousting of Stallman and Torvalds.

No, I do not like Torvalds as a person. Much unlike how I feel about Stallman, I don’t admire Linus in the least. But he is undoubtedly better for the job than anybody likely to replace him, as the Linux Foundation has seen to. The good candidates are out of the picture, and the bastards are poised to carry it forward, which is precisely the opposite of what we want for the Linux kernel or for the future of the FSF.

“The good candidates are out of the picture, and the bastards are poised to carry it forward, which is precisely the opposite of what we want for the Linux kernel or for the future of the FSF.”The FSF says they want to defend your freedom. Stallman says that he wants you to be part of the FSF so you can keep them on course. But we have shown repeatedly that members have no power, no say, and no influence — in practice. In theory, yes — members matter. In practice, they have never changed a thing. Even when they held the purse strings in December, they had no ability to change anything happening. Not Yet at least.

When members can’t sabotage the mission of the FSF, that’s a good thing. The mission should always come before donors. Sadly, I think the larger sponsors will have greater say than the community (individual) members who supposedly hold the real purse strings. (Which I don’t believe, by the way — the members-hold-the-real-purse-strings theory has a large hole in it. It’s like saying that everyday taxpayers have the real power in the United States, not corporate lobbyists, because put together they pay more taxes than companies like Amazon who pay none)

When members are powerless to right any wrongs, and Stallman asks them to join and remain so that they can somehow “represent” software freedom, the very least the FSF can offer in exchange is honest answers.

“When members are powerless to right any wrongs, and Stallman asks them to join and remain so that they can somehow “represent” software freedom, the very least the FSF can offer in exchange is honest answers.”During a coup powered by corporations, not citizens — during astroturfing that has nothing at all to do with grassroots volunteers or the people the FSF CLAIMS to “defend” the freedom of, the most the FSF can do is lie and steamroll people with glib messaging about the usual talking points.

That sort of messaging doesn’t prove that anybody is still working for you, any more than getting a voicemail greeting proves that someone is home or has their phone with them. And unfortunately, that sort of “You’ve reached the offices of the Free Software Foundation” messaging is the sort your dollars are most likely to earn you. You can also get a thermos, a backpack, and a bootable membership card that boots an operating system with a kernel co-opted by Microsoft and Jim Zemlin, a userspace controlled by IBM (developed on Microsoft’s servers) and since it’s a USB storage device, that membership card might even earn Microsoft a small royalty in the process. That money would be used to further co-opt GNU, Linux and hurt more people like Stallman.

Back when I had one, it came with a fully-free operating system and a DVD containing all the source code. Do you think you can get that with Devuan? Nope. I’ve waited five years for Devuan to get on that (I donated to them as well. Unfortunately Devuan has a perfect weapon for ensuring that support for Devuan remains minimal.) Do you think Debian is a free operating system? Not even when the FSF removes the links to the non-free repos. Debian is also occupied. As is FSFE. Trisquel is nothing but IBM/GNU/Linux. You will never be fully free with that mess.

“The only question is, who is really in charge at the FSF?”The FSF is NOT defending your freedom. The people in charge at the FSF continue their attacks.

The only question is, who is really in charge at the FSF?

It certainly isn’t the members. What a shame. And it isn’t Stallman, either — that’s a crime.

“Don’t be fooled though, they have corporate sponsorship on tap — they can effectively keep lying for free.”The FSF really can’t say it defends your freedom until it ousts this coup, ends the corruption and overthrows the occupation.

Until then, maybe YOU should tell the FSF to donate, so you can defend software freedom for them!

The FSF won’t stand for you or your freedom, as long as they’re like this. They can barely even stand up. With help from your donation, they can lie to you a little more. Don’t be fooled though, they have corporate sponsorship on tap — they can effectively keep lying for free.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Linux Foundation Failing to Support Big and Important Free Software Projects Which Seek Assistance

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 2:13 am by Guest Editorial Team

Linux Foundation and GNU/Linux user/developer

Summary: The Linux Foundation won’t support cURL and won’t even respond to it

THE Linux Foundation doesn’t seem to care about Linux. Heck, it barely even cares about anything except the proprietary patrons (the biggest “clients” of the Foundation) — the brands it keeps openwashing in sponsored ‘articles’…

A reader has gotten in touch with us, drawing our attention to an article we saw and cited (but hadn’t read carefully enough). There’s something important between the lines.

“The Linux Foundation doesn’t seem to care about Linux.”“Maybe your readers could find this interesting,” someone told us, as “I did. Daniel Stenberg wrote about how cURL received 10k from Indeed recently. In his post he wrote: “(*) = curl has previously applied for membership in both Software Freedom Conservancy and Linux Foundation as they seemed like suitable stewards, but the first couldn’t accept us due to work load and the latter didn’t even bother to respond. It’s not a big bother, just reality.”

“I would never apply to Linux Foundation. However, their lack of any response to cURL is more than a bit rude. It really does tell a story and send a message that valued projects are not even deserving of a response? Maybe the response was lost in the mail. :)

“This does open the conversation to whether there are other lead devs or projects that are facing similar circumstances and who they are.”

Our reader said she thought it was noteworthy. If anyone out there has had similar experiences, please get in touch with us.

01.03.20

Your Code Will be Counted in a One Dollar-One Vote World

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 12:56 am by Guest Editorial Team

By Jagadees

The abacus

Summary: “People should get freedom of speech. But in the Free software movement, since 1998, you get some people showing this “one dollar-one vote” mindset.”

Around 300 years back human society moved or transitioned into a new order. It’s nowadays called democracy. Therein, elected representatives shall rule the country instead of kings. Seems like a good idea. But there is one problem. To elect a leader you have to cast a vote. Only land-owning white men got right to vote. After a long struggle all the people got the right to vote. We got democracy.

“What will happen if all the people get a right to vote? The poor will win. Have you ever seen that anywhere in the world? Sometimes, somewhere, for a short period of time. Then things will turn upside down.”But somebody said this democracy is a system by which to protect the minority from the majority. That’s good, right? You’d think so. But who are the “minority” and who are the “majority”? Usually they lie to you. So you may get the wrong image in your mind. The real minority is the rich people… and the real majority is the poor people.

What will happen if all the people get a right to vote? The poor will win. Have you ever seen that anywhere in the world? Sometimes, somewhere, for a short period of time. Then things will turn upside down.

How do they do that?

There are lots of ways for this thing to happen. Here I am looking at one particular tactic which is interesting to me. That is “One dollar-one vote.”

“People should get freedom of speech. But in the Free software movement, since 1998, you get some people showing this “one dollar-one vote” mindset.”As per democracy, the rule is “one person-one vote.” That will not give the ‘desired’ results (for the rich). So they use their ‘money power’ to buy democracy. That tactic is called “one dollar-one vote.” There are rules that stop the amount of money spent on elections. But with Citizens United all control is gone and corporates are given First Amendment protections. (But Stallman will not get it.)

In the 2016 US election, the richest 0.01% of Americans – 24,949 very wealthy people – gave a record-breaking 40 percent of all campaign contributions. Corporates gave $3.4 billion dollars in contributions. Whoever got most of the money got a more successful campaign, silenced all opponents, and won the election. So the dollar is counted in elections. One dollar, one vote.

Censoring free speech with code

People should get freedom of speech. But in the Free software movement, since 1998, you get some people showing this “one dollar-one vote” mindset. Here, they’re kind of saying, “one line of code, one word.” Meaning — if you write one line of code for a future corporate takeover, then you can say one word. The more LOCs you have, the more you can talk. “Show me your code” — what a barbarian Citizens United thought it is. It is nothing but pure censorship. Shame on you. In modern societies people must have/get rights of speech.

The Free software movement is a user’s rights movement

It is a political movement started by Richard Stallman in 1983 to free all computer users from the chains of software. It does not care how you’ve developed the software. It cares only about whether the user owns the software or not. That is the main question. Of course it creates problems and causes damage to corporate greed.

“So people without code, please speak up for the movement loudly.”Its survival depends on how much free speech (about its politics) can happen. And it is clear that those who are trying to suppress that free speech have vested interests like Citizens United.

That is wrong. Ignore them. So people without code, please speak up for the movement loudly.

01.01.20

Whose Opinion Really Matters to The FSF? The Board’s, The Sponsors’, or The Members’?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 1:18 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By Ted MacReilly

Does media matter?
Do members matter? Does the billionaires-owned media decide whether to ‘cancel’ the founder of the FSF?

Summary: “Prove that you care about the Mission of the FSF — And DEFEND SOFTWARE FREEDOM.”

It’s a new decade for the Free Software Foundation, whether you find it off to a hopeful start or not. And just like in The Office, this decade the FSF has two co-managing, sort-of presidents. Well, whatever.

The two surest signs that members don’t matter to the FSF are the failed fundraiser, and the fact that Stallman isn’t in office. Why say this outrageous thing? Because it’s technically true, of course.

Theoretically, members matter a lot. And in practice, members may have influence sometimes. But you can probably tell when they do. When you fork over money to support the FSF, you don’t get any voting privileges with that membership. Maybe you shouldn’t, either — if anybody can just buy their own importance, what’s to stop everybody at Microsoft, or IBM from becoming members and… sorry, we’re getting ahead of things here.

“When you fork over money to support the FSF, you don’t get any voting privileges with that membership.”Whether you’re a corporation buying your way in, or a single person fooling yourself into thinking your opinion automatically matters (it does, but to whom?) isn’t the proof in the results?

Most members do not want Stallman gone, and enough people are unhappy enough now that Stallman has stepped down that the FSF has lost what I figure amounts to tens of thousands of dollars. That’s a pretty big screwup and the good news is, that it’s a screwup the FSF can fix — if members really matter.

Again, maybe it’s better that members can’t vote. The Open Source Initiative, an organization that used to at least feign to care about freedom or openness (or whatever it is they promote) made a change years ago where they decided to be more member-oriented. In my opinion, they’ve only gotten more cloyingly corporate and less “open”/Apple-y/developery since they allowed sponsors to take over more of their operation — Molly de Blanc even works there, and I can’t really tell the difference between GNOME and Microsoft anymore.

When did all these things become the same company anyway? When your operating system is controlled by GitHub+Microsoft+OIN+Red Hat+IBM, Debian+Mollamby+GNOME+OSI, Apple and SUSE+SAP, maybe it really is unfair to call it “GNU+Linux” anymore. Out of recognition, we should at least call it “GNU+Linux+Bloodthirsty monopolistic corporations.”

“…maybe it really is unfair to call it “GNU+Linux” anymore.”The point is, if you want to know who had a GREAT 2019, it’s IBM and Microsoft. They had the biggest coups in the entire history of their partnership. Not only have they taken over Free software, but the government is paying them extra! To quote the Halloween documents, it’s nothing but “Blue Sky” from now on.

If you’re a supporter of Free software though, it really sucks to be you. And of course we want the FSF to do something about it, but we know that all you’ve said over the past 5 to 10 years hasn’t really changed anything the FSF does day-to-day or year-to-year. We are powerless, and being told the FSF fights for our freedom.

I have worked tirelessly to try to figure out what we can do about this. There’s always the way things work on paper, and how they work in press releases, but you know programmers and techies, they want to know how things Really work. If the Halloween documents (some of which are hosted on gnu.org) are factual, then Microsoft has spent decades reverse-engineering organizations like the FSF to try to figure out how to exploit them. It figured out how to exploit the GPL, forcing them to create a patched version (GPL3.)

“If the Halloween documents (some of which are hosted on gnu.org) are factual, then Microsoft has spent decades reverse-engineering organizations like the FSF to try to figure out how to exploit them. It figured out how to exploit the GPL, forcing them to create a patched version (GPL3.)”If we want to compete with the corporations exploiting and trying to take over the FSF, we may have to reverse engineer the organisational processes as well.

(Or at least find accurate, easy-to-understand documentation… haha, gotcha.)

It’s a common assumption to assume the president has more power than they really do. We can logically assume Stallman had some, or there would be no advantage to ousting him in the first place. Now the FSF has a sort of chimera-like leadership, between a Suit who wants “unity” (find a historical example of “unity” that didn’t favor a faction closer to the leadership, they’re quite rare — Sullivan’s “unity” likely just means a shift in authority and the rest of his messaging isn’t anything to be hopeful about) and a Stallman-like hippie who nonetheless is so steeped in corporate culture that it can take veritable ages to guide him back to the land of the living.

Rhetorically, and historically, the FSF is against the worst parts of all this — that’s why we like them! If you look past rhetoric towards results however, the FSF continues to cede to corporate power. What about Puri.sm? When I think of what future the FSF might have, I think RYF is a very good idea; it’s something we need. I think the track record for RYF is good. But is Puri.sm a scam or not? Is IBM taking over the GNU system or not? Is the mailing list being censored or not?

“Too many signs of corruption remain present, as the FSF tries to double-down on old messaging against a backdrop of unconvincing sincerity and a conspicuously missing single-person-presidency.”Who do you think these guys answer to — you? They may reply, but if your questions aren’t really answered then they must know they don’t owe you anything — not even the truth in some instances, and they certainly don’t answer to you. Is this how the FSF fights for your freedom?

Too many signs of corruption remain present, as the FSF tries to double-down on old messaging against a backdrop of unconvincing sincerity and a conspicuously missing single-person-presidency.

If members had a say at all, they MIGHT manage to fix this!

SO WHO HAS THE REAL SAY here?

In the near future, we might find out that the failed fundraiser gets their attention and forces the FSF to care not just in a “we care, really!” sort of way, but in a “we have to do something different to get our numbers back up” kind of way.

Or they might just fall back on their very large, anonymous nest egg which they received before all this horror and atrocity started last year.

Or they might decide “screw associate members, let’s just do more for our corporate sponsors.”

I’m told that finance-wise, members (rather than sponsors) make up the largest part of the pie. But is that still true with this failed annual fundraiser?

“I’m told that finance-wise, members (rather than sponsors) make up the largest part of the pie. But is that still true with this failed annual fundraiser?”I admit to not caring about the numbers, at least not compared to the actions, achievements and goals of the FSF. I care about software freedom, I care about a degree of autonomy from monopolies without which software freedom is largely hypothetical — I care about the FSF fighting for us. The numbers could be sky-high, but if our freedom is suffering and nothing is being done about it, the budget is irrelevant to me.

I realise I’m wandering around a bit, but we’ve ruled out significant power by the president (as he’s not in office) and we’ve ruled out significant power by the members (whose only real “vote” is to abstain from funding. And that was never very relevant before this year.)

Minus the president, minus the members, what’s left is:

  • Corporate sponsors
  • The board
  • Corporate moles

I threw that last one in just to be thorough. We (as Free software advocates) have sympathisers in monopolistic corporations. They may likewise have corporate/monopoly sympathisers in our organisations, they certainly did not long ago.

We know the board has most of the voting power, by charter and by process of elimination.

We know the corporate sponsors have de facto power, as 2019 was like Year-Round-Christmas for monopolies who wanted to take software that’s free for everyone and make it “more free for some than others.” You can almost hear the cynical echo of Ballmer’s “Developers! Developers! Developers!” in the distance.

“You can almost hear the cynical echo of Ballmer’s “Developers! Developers! Developers!” in the distance.”We can’t get anything from the corporate sponsors, the president doesn’t really exist (not in any reasonable or worthwhile capacity) and any moles are certainly useless to our cause, so who does that leave?

The board, the board, and the board.

The board is the only real official power of the FSF.

Now, what does that tell us?

“…we know that in practice the board listens more to corporate sponsors than to us.”One, that if we want to bolster the FSF’s defenses into a force that can actually fight for us in this new decade, that we have to get to know (as well as convince) the board members to help.

Two, that if we fail, we know that in practice the board listens more to corporate sponsors than to us.

Three, that we can determine all of this by simply WATCHING THE RESULTS.

The campaigns team tells us what they want us to think.

The results tell us what we actually know!

It’s a brand new year, where we can find out if the board will ever listen to peons like us.

“…Stallman matters to your bottom line.”Reinstate Stallman, cowards! Or watch your “stock” continue to plummet. We know we don’t matter to you — our de facto importance comes down to numbers and talking sense to people who are obviously listening to corporations, all day long. But Stallman matters to your bottom line.

As to what should matter more than votes, is the Mission of the FSF. But missions are always open to interpretations. Corporations like to reshape those interpretations (both in the minds of the board and the minds of the public) and it’s common for organizations like the FSF to stray from their mission and cling more to messaging and “awareness” campaigns as they get older.

For the FSF to hold to their mission means that someone has to put them on it again. Now go back and read it again — who do you think is going to get the FSF to return to their mission in earnest? Certainly not the corporate sponsors, are you kidding?

“It’s already too corporate, you’ll destroy it if you go that direction.”Hold them to it! Or, you can just keep throwing your money towards the bidding of their bigger sponsors. That’s a very Bill and Melinda thing to do, but the failed fundraiser shows that there’s more to the world than Bill and Melinda, eh?

I hope they’ve got your attention now, FSF Board. Now, don’t talk — prove that you heard them. Prove that you care about the Mission of the FSF — And DEFEND SOFTWARE FREEDOM. It’s about more than just fundraisers and worn-out rhetorical crap like “unity”, isn’t it?

Forget about the FSF for a minute — what are you going to actually DO for software freedom, this decade? Now, what is the FSF going to do to help? If it’s going to make the FSF yet more corporate, that really won’t help at all. It’s already too corporate, you’ll destroy it if you go that direction. Some think you’ve already started — does that even matter?

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0 Or Later)

12.26.19

Coming Soon: Techrights Git Server

Posted in Site News at 11:51 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Better late than never

White columns

Summary: Improving code transparency in Techrights as the 15th year starts (2020 will be fifteenth, 2006 being the first)

Techrights strives to pursue justice by means of exposing facts. This has been true since 2006 when our primary goal was to end patent blackmail (financial demands based on unnamed, unspecified software patents).

“Our IRC logs don’t typically provide sufficient code transparency, only conversational transparency.”Over the past year we’ve become louder about the need to delete GitHub and we’ve developed quite a bit of software for the site over the past 8 months or so. In order to keep it organised — complete with version control — we’re going to set up our own, local, self-hosted Git. This will hopefully increase transparency, too. Our IRC logs don’t typically provide sufficient code transparency, only conversational transparency.

“Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.”High Court of Justice

We Need a Dumber Pre-Built OS

Posted in GNU/Linux at 11:35 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By figosdev

A gold worldSummary: What happens when Free software distros (e.g. GNU/Linux) become too ‘smart’?

Before smart phones, there were dumb phones. They made calls, got texts, maybe even had a web browser. Or if you like, they just made calls. If you didn’t want a feature, you didn’t buy the phone with that feature. It was that simple.

While the prospect of options doesn’t bother me (on the contrary, it’s the lack of options I take issue with) the regular onslaught of “features” is a burden. Using only Mtpaint, I loaded a picture of that famous van that says “FREE CANDY” in ominous red paint, and changed it so it read “FEATURES”. Don’t get in the van!

Now we have smart speakers, and the trend is becoming clearer. “Smart” means it does what it wants, or what its designers want. What you want (or don’t want) isn’t important, it will do it anyway. “Smart” in this context seems to be a zero-sum game — a smarter device creates (or asks for) a dumber user, one who is content to just sit back and let the device make all their decisions for them.

“Siri, what colour tie should I wear?” (They actually have this, by the way.)

“Hmm, on that outfit I would try the blue one with the stripes.”

“Siri, should I wipe with the 2-ply or the moistened wipes?”

“Very funny, you know that’s the smart toilet’s job.”

“It has to do with the fact that offering real options doesn’t suit designers with corporate ambitions anymore.”No, thank you, Siri.

Again, the option of a toilet that does the wiping doesn’t bother me, though it probably should. What bothers me is that if I want to take care of something myself, the basic assumption going into the design of everything these days is that I shouldn’t bother, or even care. If I want to wipe myself, I’ll just have to manufacture my own toiletries for the purpose.

This is why we can’t have simple things.

Actually, the reason we can’t have simple things is more complicated. It has a lot to do with the fact that consumers are worth more as cattle than as people. It has to do with the fact that offering real options doesn’t suit designers with corporate ambitions anymore. It also has to do with the relentless dumbing down of society, but if you’re worried that sounds a bit elitist, then so am I.

The thing is, we don’t offer things to people who want to do things for themselves like we used to. If you want an operating system that doesn’t behave like it runs Clippy as its kernel, you’ll just have to build the entire stupid thing yourself. Or use one of those distros that are basically a build-your-own-toilet kit.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that — those toilets flush larger things faster, using less water. If you didn’t have to design, saw, sand and stain the toilet seat yourself, I would get one.

“I do expect technology to evolve. What I don’t expect is for Free software to end up out of our hands. We used to mock clippy, but now he’s having the last laugh.”Basically, it’s becoming all or nothing — either you compile your own distro, or you ask it when how long until it dispenses your food pellet. But you can’t deny this much, you’ve lost half a stone since you got the thing 2 months ago.

I thought the entire point of Free software was avoiding this dystopian horseshit; I guess I was wrong. But every year that goes by, this software and the processes behind it seem less human, less community-based, more “streamlined” and above all, less free. We weren’t forced to give up necessities or well-established, reliable tools for useless gimmicks before. If it’s really free, why does it seem like everything is getting dragged out and replaced with some kind of bullshit from Apple?

I do expect technology to evolve. What I don’t expect is for Free software to end up out of our hands. We used to mock clippy, but now he’s having the last laugh.

Sure, these aren’t your typical digital handcuffs. These are softer, they blink, and they say “It looks like you’re trying to escape. Can I tighten?”

You’re free to reply, in the next major version it will stop bothering with questions and just tighten whenever the sensors determine a certain threshold of looseness.

These damned handcuffs keep getting smarter, but they’re doing the job they were made for. In the future, they won’t even need a key. Isn’t that cool?

“The solution for this in Windows was simple enough — if you don’t want Clippy, just click the “X”. But ensuring that he would never come back again? I RTFM but they changed it, again!”Maybe the solution at this point really is just to build my own from source. I’m still surprised that it’s come to that, when I’m trying to do simple tasks like run a basic, well-established text editor that doesn’t keep getting redesigned in some stupid way. I mean I didn’t think my only choices were “F — – you”, OR “LFS”.

The solution for this in Windows was simple enough — if you don’t want Clippy, just click the “X”. But ensuring that he would never come back again? I RTFM but they changed it, again!

It seems a bit late for that now, the bastard’s everywhere you turn. Why won’t you die, Clippy? Tell us what realm you came from, so you can be banished once and for all.

The freedom to NOT run the software, to be free to avoid vendor lock-in through appropriate modularization/encapsulation and minimized dependencies; meaning any free software can be replaced with a user’s preferred alternatives (freedom 4). – Peter Boughton

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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