10.17.20

The Sad Story of Mozilla Keeps Getting Sadder Because Mozilla’s Managers Abandoned Users and Chose Companies as Their Clients

Posted in DRM, Free/Libre Software, Standard at 5:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The most powerful and versatile Web browser ever to exist is becoming just an “app” with fewer compelling reasons to adopt it because today’s Firefox is less user-centric and more Mozilla-centric (with buzzwords, political pandering and marketing rather than technical substance)

Firefox: At the beginning...

Summary: Mozilla’s business model keeps changing for the worse, as the “app” mentality and/or the “social control media” mindset are chosen over the needs of actual (longtime) users, limiting the extensibility of the Firefox browser in the name of “performance” or “simplicity” (as if all that users need is “dark mode” and a choice of search engines)

OVER the years we wrote dozens of articles about Mozilla and Firefox, mostly congratulatory at the beginning (when releases were stable and infrequent), but in recent times we became more critical because Mozilla is no longer the same company. It’s vastly better than Microsoft, sure, but it’s getting worse — not better — over time. Long before the layoffs we already warned that the direction that had been taken was wrong. It served to alienate both developers and users — the very thing Mozilla relied on for over a decade. Even before DRM and ‘Eich-gate’ amongst other debacles there were issues associated with privacy, which is nowadays just empty rhetoric at Mozilla [1, 2] (or a form of marketing).

“Without momentum from outside the company Mozilla might not be financially viable; it has long relied on an army of volunteers, both developers and ‘marketers’ (or advocates).”Mozilla isn’t a GNU project; in fact, there are Firefox forks that are. We don’t suppose Mozilla will champion freedom to the extent GNU does, but that’s just not the point. Mozilla seems to have abandoned not only freedom but also developers and users. This is a suicidal path. Without momentum from outside the company Mozilla might not be financially viable; it has long relied on an army of volunteers, both developers and ‘marketers’ (or advocates). Losing them isn’t an option, but Mozilla seems to have overlooked what actually made Firefox so popular in the first place.

Firefox: I don't need third-party devs anyway

Daniel (‘Canta’) recently wrote a decent article on this subject, translated/curated from Spanish by both myself and him.

“Some things can be ‘fixed’ by altering the settings, but some are not fixable.”Earlier today I updated Mozilla Firefox, which I barely use anymore (I use a mix of Konqueror, Falkon and QupZilla on older machines). I am actually a bit horrified to find that this update or ‘upgrade’ (much newer version) made things worse in several ways.

Some things can be ‘fixed’ by altering the settings, but some are not fixable. “While some DRM-controlled content can be viewed using the Adobe Flash plugin, many services are moving towards HTML5 video that requires a different DRM mechanism called a Content Decryption Module (CDM),” says the page Firefox directs me to. Embracing DRM did not help or save Mozilla, did it? It likely just alienated many people like myself, who used to advocate and recommend Firefox to people.

Firefox: People are losing passion for Firefox and rapid version inflation doesn't inspire excitement

Several usability problems became apparent when the ‘upgrade’ was done this morning. But there’s even worse stuff. When it was ‘upgraded’ to the latest ESR, Mozilla (likely not the Debian packagers) had “Recommended by Pocket” toggled (on) by default, in effect spewing crap (mental noise/clutter) at me any time I opened a tab…

“Firefox had more useful extensions in 2005 than it has in 2020 (I should know having embraced Firefox in 2004; I had used Netscape and Mozilla before that).”It certainly feels like nowadays Mozilla treats Firefox like an extension of the social control media mindset. It should instead combat/fight back against it. But look who runs Mozilla now… Microsoft and Facebook executives.

Once upon a time Mozilla appealed to geeks, who then recommended Firefox to friends, colleagues, and especially family (like kids and parents who were not necessarily passionate about computers and just clicked “the Internet”, which is what they called a blue “E”). Nowadays Mozilla fosters planned obsolescence for developers (I’ve made some contributions to Firefox in the extensions/themes sense), or ‘digital rot’ for plug-ins/extensions that worked just fine at one point (or for over a decade!). Firefox had more useful extensions in 2005 than it has in 2020 (I should know having embraced Firefox in 2004; I had used Netscape and Mozilla before that). XUL, for example, should not have been abandoned, but then again they care about money (paying their CEO over $2,000,000 per year, plus bonuses) than users and volunteer developers.

“Monoculture that revolves around GAFAM would make the Web proprietary with DRM, necessitating a move to alternatives (to the Web itself, not just to Web browsers, as DRM is now incorporated into Web standards).”Mozilla may have worked fine for the bottom line of the current management team (millionaires), but it’s not working for many of us who need a “big browser” to challenge an increasingly proprietary monopoly/oligopoly in Web browsing. Other than Firefox, all the “big browsers” (that are widely supported and considered to be “must support”) are proprietary, usually with some openwashing slant.

If Mozilla can no longer champion a free and open Web, and if Waterfox became an extension of the surveillance industry (same owners as Startpage’s), then the whole Gecko family is becoming a lost cause or a losing strategy. Monoculture that revolves around GAFAM would make the Web proprietary with DRM, necessitating a move to alternatives (to the Web itself, not just to Web browsers, as DRM is now incorporated into Web standards).

Final note: while I agree with Mozilla’s political orientation on most issues, I’d appreciate not having Mozilla’s words shoved down my throat (or up my head) every time I open a new tab. This kind of “UX” (User eXperience) is a hallmark of non-free software and it’s a symptom of what Mozilla is fast becoming. The user of the Web browser should be in full control of the browser, not having to rely on any third party to assess or rank or censor pages while pushing somebody’s editorialised messages. The browser should render pages, not be somebody’s billboard. Respect people’s judgment, resist the temptation to become a ‘net nanny’ (even at the application level/layer).

10.03.20

The Fata Morgana of ‘Winning’ the GNU/Linux or Software Freedom Battle

Posted in DRM, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 4:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We may be further away than we realise, depending on what our true goal is (and all along has been)

Fata Morgana of a boat

Summary: Many concessions are being made and compromises accepted/celebrated in the name of “market share”; “World domination” without freedom, however, sort of defeats the very purpose of the GNU Project, which became GNU/Linux in the 1990s

THE SUBJECT of DRM inside (GNU/)Linux is a difficult one. We’ll separate GNU from Linux for discussion’s sake, as DRM mostly or only impacts the latter. We see it in Steam, we see it in EME (even Mozilla Firefox has that now!), and it’s often disguised using all sorts of cryptic — at least to most people — acronyms. Last year when we studied the extent of DRM inside Linux we needed to search not for “DRM” but for other terms. We found that companies like Google, AMD and Intel played a considerable role in this agenda. That is, at the kernel level (not DRM at the application level, e.g. Steam and Chrome/Firefox). Google does this at all levels, as does Netflix (especially Web-related things), whereas Microsoft is still treated with greater suspicion (Linux folks watch closely as it puts proprietary software extensions inside Linux).

“Linux itself is everywhere, but those latest platforms, managed if not monopolised by Google, are DRM prisons.”A lot of people ‘joined the club’ or hopped on the GNU/Linux bandwagon back in the 1980s (before Linux) and most of them were geeky developers with a passion for programming and UNIX/POSIX. Later on came the ‘lesser geeks’, who could set up a system like Slackware and later on Mandriva, Ubuntu and so on. Nowadays many “Linux” users are just Android or Chrome (OS/Book/Cast) users. Linux itself is everywhere, but those latest platforms, managed if not monopolised by Google, are DRM prisons. Down to the hardware level.

The evolution of Free software seems to be something along the lines of, first it’s about liberating people from proprietary UNIX (or older systems, legacy systems, expensive and restrictive systems), then it’s about replacing Windows (which peaked around the “XP” days), and now it’s about a zero-cost drop-in replacement at the server- and client-side node. That’s why Google loves GNU and Linux so much (albeit not the GPL; Google just barely tolerates it and occasionally tries to find substitutes for it).

“Does the world suit or gradually adapt to copyleft? Or are we seeing an inverted (reverse) trend with the tentacles of Microsoft’s GitHub holding onto key projects? GitHub is supported by Google, IBM, Facebook and so many other technology giants. Why are they helping a Microsoft monopoly?”In the coming years those of us who value software freedom will need to discuss those otherwise-ignored issues. “World domination” for the sake of “market share” alone can overlook what we’re trying to actually accomplish and whether we’re being assimilated instead of actually changing the world. Who suits who? Does the world suit or gradually adapt to copyleft? Or are we seeing an inverted (reverse) trend with the tentacles of Microsoft’s GitHub holding onto key projects? GitHub is supported by Google, IBM, Facebook and so many other technology giants. Why are they helping a Microsoft-led monopoly with direct NSA access?

Fata Morgana Manhattan BeachThose aren’t easy issues to tackle because too many people are blinded by the fata morgana of “market share”; so we get things like telemetry, stores and “apps” with DRM. This isn’t freedom; it’s surrender or assimilation to the very things we’re meant to replace.

The fight or the cause of Free software won’t end with the collapse of Microsoft (or both Microsoft and Apple); the attack surface is changing and we now have a multi-faceted threat, ranging from licensing to DRM and even surveillance aspects (e.g. “LINUX” devices that are in fact bugs or listening devices — the trends whose nature we must ferociously combat).

“In the United States, a government-subsidised (CIA seed funding, Pentagon budget and so on) technology nexus is both repressive and dishonest.”Software freedom is strongly disliked and endlessly opposed by those striving to put back doors in everything; tyrants and autocratic regimes won’t allow software which empowers ‘their’ people; such software is designed to shift the power dynamics, so it’s inherently an ‘underground’ endeavour in oppressive nations. In the United States, a government-subsidised (CIA seed funding, Pentagon budget and so on) technology nexus is both repressive and dishonest. They all claim to be trying to make the world a better place (less sexist, less racist), but in practice they’re imperialistic, deeply intolerant, and strongly connected to the state. They won’t ever surrender to Free software; not without a fight.

Attribution for photos: Brocken Inaglory and Modiddy (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

09.10.20

The Web is Becoming More Proprietary and Means for Accessing the Web Likewise (Now With DRM and With Limited — by Design — Compatibility)

Posted in DRM, Google, Microsoft, Standard at 3:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’ll get harder to stay a “Gnu”

Wildebeest and Zebras in the Maasai Mara
The first time I installed IceCat was about 15 years ago (it was still difficult to install); Mozilla has changed its spots since, so more Firefox alternatives may be needed

Summary: The Web is becoming a sordid jungle of Google-oriented proprietary browsers with DRM built in; this is a very sad situation and various people are increasingly sounding the alarm about it

THE LATE 90s were terrible for the World Wide Web. All the major Web browsers were proprietary (I used Netscape when it was still primitive, but I cannot recall the exact version number; prior to that I used pre-Netscape browsers, which were light and surprisingly simple although good enough to enter every Web site). Years later I used Konqueror, which I still use today, along with Falkon/QupZilla (the latter on older machines). Sometimes, especially when it comes to WordPress, I use Firefox too (I was a very early adopter of it, some time around spring of 2004 when the name “Firefox” was set in stone; I used “Mozilla” prior to that, along with Konqueror in S.u.S.E. 8.3). I’ve tried almost every browser over the years (as part of my job I had to test compatibility). Chromium is of no interest to me and the monoculture that develops around it reminds me of the MSIE monopoly days. Sure, it’s Google as opposed to Microsoft, but the threat is still real and oughtn’t be underestimated. Google plays a big role in insertion of DRM into Linux (yes, the kernel itself). Thanks for nothing, Google! You’re part of the problem and your bribes don’t sufficiently disguise that.

“Chromium is of no interest to me and the monoculture that develops around it reminds me of the MSIE monopoly days.”Mozilla Firefox is not inherently bad, but when shipped by Mozilla (not via Debian, which I use, as an ESR) it contains some bad things. Thankfully there are forks and branches of Firefox, including some that are (or were) associated with the GNU Project. I’ve used a few over the years. Some projects like WaterFox are in fact connected to surveillance giants and should thus be shunned (same surveillance company that covertly runs Startpage), so not everything Gecko-based is harmless. Mozilla really blew it with XUL because it betrayed a lot of developers and yesterday it revealed plans to charge extension developers (basically volunteers) to become visible.

Not a good direction. Is that like some new effort at finding a business model? Charging developers to participate or get more hits/users?

A lot of people don’t seem to understand that Chromium-derived browsers are “proprietary garbage”, as Derek explains in this new video. That’s true for Opera, Vivaldi, Edge, Chrome and many more.

“Mozilla helped save the (digital) world from MSIE monopoly, which deliberately held back development/advancement of the Web (Microsoft didn’t even bother with newer versions for many years). For that alone we should eternally be grateful to Mozilla.”However, there are pitfalls and gotchas. For instance, Firefox comes with what it calls “telemetry” (basically surveillance) and Google is the default search engine (because Google, a surveillance company, pays for it). Then there’s DRM which is right there ready to be enabled (EME) and there are some side issues such as Firefox hosting sub-projects or components under Microsoft (developed on Microsoft servers, using GitHub). There’s also that concern that Microsoft veterans are now in the board of Mozilla and Facebook veterans are in top management positions. Those are people who came from the surveillance industry, nothing less!

In our Daily Links we include as many links as possible about Mozilla because it’s still important to support this company (it also makes Thunderbird with PGP support after all) and right now all the major alternatives are proprietary and Google-centric.

Mozilla helped save the (digital) world from MSIE monopoly, which deliberately held back development/advancement of the Web (Microsoft didn’t even bother with newer versions for many years). For that alone we should eternally be grateful to Mozilla.

I will, for the time being, keep Firefox installed and use it to compose/publish posts (for 4 years prior to today I used QupZilla to do this). Mozilla relies on the goodwill of geeks and their eagerness to promote it to friends/family. My wife only uses Firefox because I advised her to avoid Google. If Mozilla messes up and throws away all this goodwill (to appease the wrong groups/interests), its market share will continue to erode. Putting Microsofters inside your board is a breach of trust, as was this move. Who are you trying to impress these days?

08.14.20

It Was Mozilla — Not Google (or Chrome) — That Liberated the World Wide Web From MSIE Monoculture and O/S Vendor Lock-in, But Firefox is Likely Dying

Posted in DRM, Standard at 7:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A lot of people could not and would not leave Windows behind if it weren’t for Firefox

Panda/Firefox
It became fat like a Panda, not light like a Fox, as F for Freedom no longer matters

Summary: Mozilla’s attitude towards software freedom, privacy, and the most widely used free/libre operating system (O/S) isn’t helping the “protected media” (DRM) Fox because its biggest selling point is becoming outdated/irrelevant/neglected

THE FIREFOX Web browser is a very important piece of software. I first used it in 2004, after a colleague had recommended it to me. I installed it in S.u.S.E. and over time let it replace Konqueror and even more ancient browsers. Back then a lot of sites were inaccessible or barely accessible to me; multimedia features barely worked (think ancient MPlayer and no sites such as YouTube).

This morning someone sent me Mozilla is dead and Web browsers need to stop. I agree with the latter, not the former. Mozilla can still rescue/salvage itself.

“…we regret to see how Mozilla left out GNU/Linux on occasions (no cross-platform support, just Apple and Microsoft malware) despite the fact that GNU/Linux is the only mainstream operating system that typically preloads (bundles) Mozilla Firefox without asking for anything in return (like financial incentive).”I am very thankful for what Mozilla did to the World Wide Web. It really opened it up and in the early days it was open to many third-party developers, who contributed extensions (I even made a couple of themes for it myself). But that Mozilla is gone. Nowadays it’s spying while calling it “telemetry”, talking about justice while talking people down, outsourcing to Microsoft (GitHub) while bemoaning the closed Web, and hiring executives from Microsoft while talking to us about the harms of monopolies. Mozilla just isn’t consistent and sometimes it feels like it lacks a direction and inspiring message.

For a number of years we’ve followed Mozilla blogs very closely and promoted their messages; we regret to see how Mozilla left out GNU/Linux on occasions (no cross-platform support, just Apple and Microsoft malware) despite the fact that GNU/Linux is the only mainstream operating system that typically preloads (bundles) Mozilla Firefox without asking for anything in return (like financial incentive).

“This, we believe, is to do with a project’s leadership as in Mozilla they have more activists than engineers.”Learning about the Mozilla layoffs is painful, albeit somewhat predictable. It’s the second time in less than a year. Mozilla already divided its userbase (developers pool alike) by entering politics where there was no justifiable reason to. Canning XUL also alienated their most important fans: developers, not users. Maybe it thought that the most compelling reason for people to still choose Firefox was some shallow messaging, even in one’s newly-opened tabs. Free software is inherently political, but rarely does it shove politics right into people’s faces. This, we believe, is to do with a project’s leadership as in Mozilla they have more activists than engineers.

I wish Mozilla well, I hope Firefox will survive another decade (Gecko keeps us from complete monoculture) and I hope that Mozilla’s strategic mistakes will serve as a cautionary tale to Free software projects everywhere. See the following old posts of ours from 2014 as well as this one from February:

Keep safe, Mozilla, and keep wise. Charging people to use Firefox is a misguided strategy, as LibreOffice/TDF recently found out (and withdrew from). Making money isn’t unethical; you received billions from Google and paid millions to 'fat cat' executives. Don’t be the Linux Foundation.

07.26.20

Defective By Design is Defective By License

Posted in DRM, Free/Libre Software, FSF at 11:21 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Laptop with CD

Summary: “…”Safety” is a euphemism conflating what is “safe” with what is completely harmonious, as if everything in the world needs to be in complete harmony.”

Poor DBD. Although I hear about the FSF often, the FSF actually provides materials you can work with freely. Defective By Design provides materials you can do nothing with except regurgitate wholesale. I NEVER hear about Defective By Design unless the FSF mentions it. Let’s compare various “branches” of the FSF on this…

GNU Website: At the bottom, it says that pages are under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license.

“Unfortunately, the FSF continues to discourage freely-licensed works, maybe even on every page of its website.”FSF Website: Same license, along with a link to a little blurb about why NoDerivs (ND, verbatim-only) licenses or similar restrictions are recommended for “works of opinion”. This is an rms thing, and it’s anti-Free-Culture. I would be happy enough if they did like the GNU website, and simply used ND without promoting it for an imaginary/invented category of works.

The problem is that NoDerivs restrictions provide little benefit to the author, while preserving completely needless restrictions for the audience / remixers / other advocates. They won’t prevent misquotes, or in the instance of rms, complete character assassination — rms didn’t use any license on his emails that I’m aware of, but his words were still used to oust him from the FSF — so what good does ND on “works of opinion” really protect? (I made this point before he was ousted, and it is just as true now.)

RMS himself refutes the notion that copyright “protects” the integrity of works in the first place — as a response to people concerned about misusing or misattributing poorly-written or otherwise bad software to the wrong author. So what good is it for “works of opinion?” The answer is that it only reinforces a permission culture — which reinforces the perceived need for “protections” like DRM itself.

“…”Safety” is a euphemism conflating what is “safe” with what is completely harmonious, as if everything in the world needs to be in complete harmony.”Free culture advocates (many of whom were inspired by the work of Lawrence Lessig or Karl Fogel, both of whom have either worked with the GNU Project or FSF board — Fogel also served as part of OSI) know better than this. Unfortunately, the FSF continues to discourage freely-licensed works, maybe even on every page of its website.

To show just how ridiculous this is, recently the FSF created this blog post.

The main feature of the post is a freely-licensed infographic, specifically the CC BY 4.0 license. At the bottom of the page of course, you have the usual ND 3.0 or later license, and the usual link to why works of opinion only need verbatim copying.

This is largely out of sync with the community doing the most to create promotional materials. Of course Sacha Chua’s work is a “work of opinion” — it’s called “Why I Love Free Software.” Is it software? Only depending how you look at it; is it a scholarly dissertation? It’s her opinions about Free software. It’s both personal (which is alright) and political (which is also alright, of course.)

“Merely the founder of the entire movement, he was required to use his position to justify speaking once or twice out of turn.”You could make similar infographics from other works if they were freely-licensed, and many people look for freely-remixable works because (as with Free software) they like to promote things with all 4 freedoms — not only software.

For years, I have promoted this as a way of engaging more people with Free software and the Four Freedoms. I am hardly alone in this.

LibrePlanet: Just as DBD divides potential supporters over Social Justice Hooey and has even worked to divide the FSF guillotine-like, from its own head.

“Safety” is a euphemism conflating what is “safe” with what is completely harmonious, as if everything in the world needs to be in complete harmony. Let’s apply this ridiculous notion to recent activism, shall we? Here’s the title, and a line from the LibrePlanet petition:

Is LibrePlanet Safe?

“In a number of cases, RMS has taken over sessions through loud disruptions, including those of other FSF board members. Signatories are also aware of additional instances of RMS violating the Safe Space Rules.”

“The Civil Rights protests in the 1960s were extremely disruptive, and it’s good that they were.”Note that the outstanding crime here is that while a bunch of people have worked to reduce LibrePlanet talks to a sterile, tightly-managed, funeral-like affair, rms is outspoken, brash and actually interrupted a couple of times. Merely the founder of the entire movement, he was required to use his position to justify speaking once or twice out of turn.

This only requires a petition if LibrePlanet really needs to be controlled that tightly, that the president of the organisation isn’t allowed to say anything before some pimple-faced fascist hands him the “talking stick.” I find the whole thing similarly pompous to Jono Bacon’s “OpenRespect” — which I often think of as the prototype for all this rubbish.

To show how ridiculous it is to thought-police Free software activism to the point of total sterility, let’s compare LibrePlanet to another effort to make people more free, Black Lives Matter:

Is Black Lives Matter Safe?

“In a number of cases, Garza has taken over sessions through loud disruptions, including those of other BLM board members. Signatories are also aware of additional instances where Garza participated in attempts to stop traffic, including the passage of a Bay Area Rapid Transit train for four and a half hours.”

Black Lives Matter: This movement occasionally torches cars and buildings.

“Sometimes, freedom needs to be disruptive.”LibrePlanet: This movement will not tolerate an occasional question or comment from its own founder, unless explicitly permitted.

I may have my facts about BLM wrong, because I really don’t know exactly who is torching cars and buildings — nor am I trying to imply that BLM is directly responsible for destruction caused in related protests. Whether they are more “disruptive” than rms on the other hand, is hardly possible to dispute. The Civil Rights protests in the 1960s were extremely disruptive, and it’s good that they were. Sometimes, freedom needs to be disruptive. Go figure, while the tech industry routinely applauds its own technology for being disruptive, FSFE applauds people for stopping rms from doing the same thing.

The point I AM trying to make is that while people are in the streets causing real disruption (and a lot of this is probably necessary at this point — we are talking about a country that started a full-fledged revolution over tea taxes) rms was being removed from an activist meeting (or what used to be an activist meeting) from an organisation he himself created — over a couple of comments or questions.

Talk about a victimless crime. It was nothing but opportunism and mutiny from people such as the Executive Director of GNOME, an organisation that has time and time again betrayed rms, Free Software, and users alike. The same person would go on to use the GNOME blog as a platform for continuing to push the false narrative about rms the same week that he was ousted.

But while LibrePlanet has its own way of dividing and reducing support, the licensing they use allows you to step outside of their petty bullshit and still promote Free software with clips from videos and speeches — if you want to.

Are LibrePlanet speeches works of opinion? As much as any ND-clause or Verbatim-copying-only “licensed” work on the FSF website, absolutely.

“It’s these international trade agreements created by the American copyright cartels, plus American laws like the DMCA that turn breaking DRM into an actual crime.”Defective By Design: We replace technical locks with legal restrictions.

The funny thing about that is, DRM itself is really a legal restriction. While Half-President Oliva claims DRM has NOTHING to do with copyright, copyright is the only thing that gives DRM any real teeth.

It’s these international trade agreements created by the American copyright cartels, plus American laws like the DMCA that turn breaking DRM into an actual crime. Without these extensions to copyright law, DRM would simply fail and fail and fail again. DRM would be almost perpetually broken, and that would be that. It’s arguably more work to port the kernel to another platform — so do we call new CPU architectures DRM?

People practically always break DRM, because (I think Cory Doctorow pointed this out, or perhaps Michael Geist, or both) it contains the algorithm, the encrypted data, as well as the key — on the same machine! Alice and Bob and the whole gang are here! I’m afraid Oliva couldn’t be more wrong — The real way that DRM hurts your freedom is almost ENTIRELY about copyright.

Yes, it is implemented with technical means and puts chains on the user — and we should break those chains both on the technical and the legal level. But the technical means are really the weakest link in the chain. They are often (and I’m not the first to say this either) just an excuse to say you broke something, so that it can trigger anti-circumvention clauses. I not only withdrew my membership from the FSF over this (licensing) issue, It’s also the reason Oliva and I never talk anymore. I’d simply had enough.

“If you want a summary of the FSF for the past few years, and especially the next few years — it’s an organisation that in the name of being more inclusive, continues to harangue, assassinate and Shoo away its most passionate supporters.”So the FSF doesn’t even “Get” DRM — they don’t get the connection with Free Culture, and they have never gotten (no matter how many times people have pleaded with them) the idea that using free licenses for creative works would strengthen their connection with the people who are both more passionate (and more informed) about the problems of DRM and unnecessary restrictions on works — the Free Culture movement.

The result is an FSF that campaigns against Free Culture on every page of one website, while following (but not giving) the same advice on others — while discouraging free license for “works of opinion” — even on pages centred around a freely-licensed work of opinion! (Note that no licenses were violated in doing so, and I am not implying a license violation took place.)

ShoeTool is also freely licensed and I think this was a good choice. It’s a terrible shame that this comes about only months after the rms ousting, because it certainly didn’t feel like Christmas (or Grav-mass) that year. I sent rms a Grav-mass card all the same.

When the FSF says: “If we are to win the battle against DRM, it is important to have larger numbers on our side…”

And those larger numbers already exist, the problem is that the FSF (through DBD license choices, through draconian LibrePlanet poliices that kept me from wanting to attend — I never though rms would be too outspoken for LibrePlanet, but I thought I possibly would be) continues to “shoo” away these larger numbers.

If you want a summary of the FSF for the past few years, and especially the next few years — it’s an organisation that in the name of being more inclusive, continues to harangue, assassinate and Shoo away its most passionate supporters. Was all this division along increasingly arbitrary lines really necessary? Or is the FSF just a bunch of ShooTools?

One thing you do have to be careful of though, is the entire “larger numbers” argument in the first place. Of course we want more advocates — we want all software to be free. The danger is in what you’re willing to sacrifice (as with certain GNU maintainers moving to GitHub) just to get more people.

Monopolies care about marketshare, because if you don’t have it — you’re not a monopoly. When you have freedom, people often go their own way — that reduces the likelihood that everybody does (or uses) the same thing.

“Please do not confuse my criticism of the FSF as a criticism for those individuals who already “get” what the FSF is missing.”If you try to corral everyone under exactly the same solutions, you can say that people are free because the license is free, but you’re still trying to corral them — you’re trying to get them to do what YOU want, rather than what they want. How much does a free license enable people to do what they want, while you try to find ways around it to get them to all do the same things, without any choices available?

The new monopoly move is to use the license and find other ways of restricting the use. It happened with Tivo, it happened with the anti-GPL3 lobbying, it will happen with these political mutinies and political manipulations. The question is whether it really has anything to do with freedom — Or if the FSF is just singing its own praises from a better day, when it was a real thing.

I invite people who care about Free Culture to replace Defective By Design, with something of their own that is Effective By Design.

DBD meanwhile has the same restrictions that DRM has — you can’t remix it, and it’s (mostly) illegal if you break it. RMS cites “fair use” but that isn’t a right — it’s a defense. And it varies wildly, while Free Culture licensing is much more universal. I am not the first person to encourage DBD or the FSF to get wise about this — they would probably rather be right, than in touch with the reality of the situation. I guess that’s what “safe” means these days anyway — unchallenged, and as a result, unaware.

None of these comments are for Sacha Chua, who has not only done an excellent job and created an excellent example of a Free Culture work of opinion around the idea of Free Software (yes, I have my qualms about it, but they’re really not her fault — it’s the FSF that refuses to offer what she is correct in stating as advantages of true software freedom) but who responds to critique in a way that is more thoughtful, sincere and even cheerful than most of us could hope to manage. I only mention it now as the reply to her comment on my article which I intended to make, never posted.

Please do not confuse my criticism of the FSF as a criticism for those individuals who already “get” what the FSF is missing. I do not even suspect the real problems of the FSF are caused by the majority of staff — but by a select number of people at the Leadership, Membership and Intermediary levels, creating enough trouble (and misinformation) for everybody else.

“The difference is that rms does care about freedom (Trump does not) and the new FSF is more like Trump, in its painstaking and draconian control of anyone who speaks up from the audience.”I never expect to find allies from the “new” FSF, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any. There are still lots of people who care about Free software. But there are also plenty who care about the cause that the new FSF turns its nose up at — even their own founder, what a terrible, self-defeating and foolish shame.

The new FSF considers itself good at speaking for us, but it has long been criticised for its inability to hear. The censorship, lies and other forms of bullshit coming from the new guard, prove that rms was never the (sole) reason that the organisation was deaf to its members. The FSF simply doesn’t care to learn or ever be in touch with its community. We aren’t good enough for them, to speak for our own freedom. It’s fortunate then that we don’t need their permission — unless we are silly enough to attend LibrePlanet, and pay to be told that a stray comment is a “danger” of some kind.

That’s about as out-of-touch as you can get. I suspect that sooner or later, someone will compare rms to Trump for being outspoken and brash. The difference is that rms does care about freedom (Trump does not) and the new FSF is more like Trump, in its painstaking and draconian control of anyone who speaks up from the audience. RMS didn’t deploy secret police to remove protesters, Trump did. RMS didn’t petition to have stray commenters removed from an activist event — LibrePlanet attendees did.

If you’re truly concerned about freedom, consider that — before you redefine “safety” to mean “Everybody shuts the fuck up when WE tell them to.” It has nothing to do with what was actually being said, it was simply about crowd control.

“If you’re truly concerned about freedom, consider that — before you redefine “safety” to mean “Everybody shuts the fuck up when WE tell them to.” It has nothing to do with what was actually being said, it was simply about crowd control.”No thanks, “Libre” planet. But at least we can add our comments to your videos, which remains an option even for your ousted leader. To me, that proves how liberating free culture licensing really is.

If someone is looking for a way to re-invent, recreate or reboot the thing that the DBD website is SUPPOSED to be, starting with LibrePlanet videos about DRM might not be a bad start. Of course there are other freely-licensed materials you can use for that too, no thanks to the FSF’s often backwards policy.

You could even go further and make your own freely-licensed website for Free software itself — starting with Chua’s freely-licensed image. After all, all it takes for Free software to start being about freedom again (and for her graphic to be realistic again) is enough users and developers (and authors and artists) who really want freedom.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” –Benjamin Franklin

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

07.06.20

They Tell the Free Software Community That It is Racist While Saying Nothing at All About Trump’s Racism (Because He Gives Them Government and Military Contracts)

Posted in DRM, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 10:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If they were genuinely against racism, they would have put up a statement condemning their president in their Web sites (but they don’t)

Star Trek Rand Sulu: Your software community is racist! But they say nothing about Trump saying 'kung flu' and 'Chinese virus'

Summary: While their president compares ‘foreign’ people to a virus (using innuendo, dog whistles and racist rhetoric reminiscent of the Nazi era) the big US corporations (American surveillance giants) turn their attention to rather innocuous words inside people’s code (which almost nobody sees anyway)

WITH over 3 million cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the US the virus is now a lot more “American” than “Chinese”. Notice how the GAFAM cabal, which shames the community over the presumption of racism, never issues a statement to condemn Trump. Funny that, eh?

Who is for racism (for personal gain) and who is against it?

“A day ago we checked who in Intel is pushing to remove allegedly ‘racist’ words from Linux. It’s the person who puts TPM inside it.”The answer should be almost self-evident.

Don’t let companies like Intel or Microsoft or Google tell you who’s racist. Also don’t forget Red Hat’s (IBM) past and present. They have no moral authority/high ground to stand on.

A day ago we checked who in Intel is pushing to remove allegedly 'racist' words from Linux (no, not “slave”; it goes way beyond that). It’s the person who puts TPM inside it (we leave out names and links; it’s in IRC logs). Oh, so much for freedom and goodwill. Maybe guilt. Over one’s controversial technical ‘contributions’… (Intel also puts DRM inside the kernel!)

Readers can decide what offends them more, DRM in Linux or some curse words (which the compiler rubs off anyway).

Talk about priorities, sir. Maybe it’s more urgent to learn from the past and deal with ongoing, naked and blatant racism. Not some parameter names which someone can (mis)interpret as ‘racist’.

04.03.20

Clear Linux is to GNU/Linux What Clearly Defined is to Open Source

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux, Hardware at 6:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Clearly proprietary and clearly vague and ambiguous terms (clearing GNU and freedom off the map)

Intel: criminal inside

Summary: The idea that we need Intel to take GNU/Linux ‘mainstream’ is ludicrous; as OSDL co-founder (now succeeded in the flesh of the Corporate Linux Foundation), Intel is more about Linux (with DRM, “secure boot” and everything that lets it be remotely controlled) than about GNU and it’s not too keen on GPL (copyleft), either

“FREE as in Freedom” is the motto or slogan imprinted upon the father of Free software in a famous biography. GNU wasn’t supposed to be just “another system” or “another UNIX” but a free system. It’s a paradigm change, not a branding change. There’s substance to it rather than mere identity. If geeks and nerds wanted to just advocate “not Windows,” then they’d be able to join the millions of gullible fools who voluntarily shill for Apple with its infinite moral deficit. People who look past false choices, buzzwords and ‘lifestyle’-themed marketing stunts understand the unprecedented importance if not urgency of GNU. The COVID-19 crisis shows us how marvelously fast the “security state” can advance with no proper safeguards just because “there’s no time” or whatever. Technical means, not just legal means, become necessary for guarding one’s human rights.

“The COVID-19 crisis shows us how marvelously fast the “security state” can advance with no proper safeguard just because “there’s no time” or whatever.”This morning Phoronix said that “[t]here has been plumbing within [Clear Linux] swupd package/bundle management system to support third-party repositories to expand the [proprietary] ecosystem [sic] and now we’re finally seeing that happen.”

Speaking of Phoronix, please support the site and support Michael Larabel. They really need it right now because they got a baby a few months ago (first-born) and the wife (mother) has just lost her job. Phoronix is a very important site which investigates, benchmarks and digs things no other site does. Michael treated us well over the years; we owe or ought to look after him, too.

Now, back to Intel…

“There’s nothing inherently special about it and Intel likely uses it for optimisations that help sell more of its deeply defective, back-doored chips.”As a reminder, Intel is the foremost pusher of DRM inside Linux (we did analysis of commits last year), with AMD coming not too far behind, working with the likes of Google.

Phoronix has been one of the main pushers or proponents of Clear Linux — a distro which otherwise nobody would bother with or care about. There’s nothing inherently special about it and Intel likely uses it for optimisations that help sell more of its deeply defective, back-doored chips.

The word “Clear” is close to “Pure” (like Purism and PureOS) and maybe even transparency if not freedom. But Clear Linux has nothing to do with any of those things. Like Microsoft’s “Clearly Defined” push, it’s mostly about imposing proprietary software (such as GitHub) on people. It’s not too far from the bogus concept of “ethical” software, wherein “ethics” refer to a reduction in freedom.

“It’s not too far from the bogus concept of “ethical” software, wherein “ethics” refer to a reduction in freedom.”A better term or name for Clear Linux would be “Intel Linux”; but that would not ‘sell’ too well (if they tried it). It’s made by Intel, for Intel, and users of it are controlled by Intel. In the same way that people who choose to host a Git repo in GitHub are controlled by Microsoft.

Nice try, Intel. Take your DRM and shove it somewhere else. The BSD world would likely be even less receptive than the GNU and Linux worlds. As de Raadt put it before he blasted Intel for its defects and security flaws, “Intel [is] Only ‘Open’ for Business”. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with business, Intel’s business practices if not crimes make it clear that Intel is clearly allergic to ethics.

Disclosure: My sister and my brother-in-law worked for Intel, but that never had an effect on my position regarding Intel, based on its ethical and technical behaviour alone.

02.19.20

DRM (Proprietary Software) Already Makes Mozilla Firefox Broken, Unreliable, Undependable (Dependent on Binary Blobs)

Posted in DRM at 2:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So Brendan Eich was right about DRM? (2014): New Claims That Brendan Eich Got Abused and Pushed Out for Opposing DRM, Not for Opposing Gay Marriage Some Time in the Past

Binary
Scrambled bits aren’t the way the Web is supposed to function (except for security)

Summary: More people are beginning to realise that Mozilla resorted to self-harming DRM and self-inflicted damage that impacts Firefox; can Mozilla (re)join the anti-DRM coalitions?

THE FAMOUS fork of Firefox, Waterfox, days ago turned out to have sold out to a surveillance company, just like Startpage (they admitted this only after they had been exposed; it was mentioned here in passing and people start noticing) and I distanced myself from the *Foxes and the Chrom* of the world. I trust neither ‘camp’. I use Konqueror as my main browser on one computer and Qupzilla on the other (they’re KDE browsers that don’t ‘phone home’). There’s much to be said about privacy violations, not just DRM and other aspects.

As reported earlier this week [1,2] (already in our Daily Links), Firefox is breaking because of DRM/EME and this hardly surprises us. It was foretold and foreseen. It was a terrible idea all along and it might get yet worse.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Firefox 73.0.1 Fixes Linux Crashes When Playing Encrypted Content

    Firefox 73.0.1 arrives a week after the launch of Firefox 73.0 to address a few issues reported by users. These include fixes for a bug that made Firefox to crash on some Linux users when playing encrypted content and an issue which forced Firefox to close unexpectedly when the user exits the Print Preview mode.

    Some users also reported intermittent blank page issues when attempting to log in to the RBC Royal Bank website, so this is now fixed as well in the Firefox 73.0.1 release. Also addressed are a couple of issues reported by users on Windows systems, which shouldn’t affect Linux users.

  2. Firefox 73.0.1 Released With Fixes for Linux, Windows Crashes

    Mozilla has released Firefox 73.0.1 today, February 18th, 2020, to the Stable desktop channel for Windows, macOS, and Linux with crash fixes for users of Windows and Linux devices.

    This release also fixes a loss of browser functionality in certain circumstances and RBC Royal Bank website connectivity problems.

    Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop users can upgrade to Firefox 73.0.1 by going to Options -> Help -> About Firefox and the browser will automatically check for the new update and install it when available.

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