EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.23.20

Microsoft Lost More Than 15 Million Web Domains in One Month!

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 3:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On a positive note…

Man and helicopter

Summary: Microsoft’s presence on the Web is being reduced to ridiculously low levels; sooner or later Microsoft will turn from ‘king’ of parked (unused) domains to master of nothing

DO NOT lose sight of the big news about Lenovo (expanding the line of hardware with GNU/Linux pre-loaded) or the Firefox 81 release (which the press didn’t bother mentioning, instead spamming “Linux” feeds with Microsoft’s proprietary software/vapourware, which is neither original nor available… and very few GNU/Linux users would ever bother with). There’s this major shift going on that not a single press outlet has been covering this year and it’s about Web servers. The latest report/survey from Netcraft takes note of Microsoft’s ‘deep dive’ — a sharp dive that’s part of an ongoing trend.

“With about 5,000 Microsoft layoffs this past summer one wonders if there’s plenty more to come.”For a couple of decades (almost) Microsoft was getting to game the numbers by hoarding parked domains, making IIS seem more prevalent than it really is. Bruce Perens condemned them for this distortion of statistics more than a decade ago. Well, guess what happened…

Microsoft down sharply in all categories assessed, but here’s what happened when it comes to domain names, including those worthless parked ones:

Approximately 15 million domains have switched from Microsoft web server software to OpenResty, a web server which adds LuaJIT support to nginx. This represents a 5.97 percentage point drop in Microsoft’s market share of domains, and, accordingly, a 6.71 percentage point increase for OpenResty. OpenResty now powers 34.5 million domains, giving it a 13% market share and gaining it third place behind nginx and Apache. This huge swing is driven by GoDaddy migrating its customers’ parked domains from GoDaddy’s own hosting infrastructure to Google Cloud.

Microsoft also experienced a large loss of 49,600 web-facing computers (-3.1%), unrelated to the GoDaddy OpenResty migration. The largest increase in web-facing computers was seen for Apache (+19,100), though this was not enough to re-take the lead from nginx, which became the largest web server vendor by this metric last month.

Long story short, in 2020 IIS (and Windows) have totally collapsed when it comes to Web hosting — and by extension servers at large. With about 5,000 Microsoft layoffs this past summer one wonders if there’s plenty more to come. Watch out, IIS team. You’re increasingly dealing with a niche market that rapidly diminishes.

09.22.20

What the Efforts to Remove Dr. Stallman Reveal About the Agenda of Large Corporations (Looking to Absorb the Competition, Remove Freedom, Spread Proprietary Software in ‘Open’ Clothing)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 1:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Guix Petition Demographic Data, by Figosdev | Red Hat/IBM Got ‘Tired’ of RMS. Is It Getting ‘Tired’ of GPL/Copyleft Too?

A decorative metal
Caging us in by taking down our leaders

Summary: Richard Stallman’s (RMS) positions and foresight are usually correct; at the moment we’re losing access to key people whose leadership positions are essential for the independence of cornerstone projects

THE ‘cancellation’ of Dr. Stallman didn’t start in 2019. It started before that, some say around the time of a certain LibrePlanet event. We wrote about that event several times months before he ‘resigned’ or ‘stepped down’ from his position at the FSF.

To better understand what’s going on or what happened we must explore further back in time (than September 2019). We must consider what set the scene and the tone for ‘cancellation’ of principled people, typically for expressing the ‘wrong’ view. All that was needed was a ‘trigger’ event… then some distortion and ‘spilling of beans’ as in past stories and ‘old beef’ (things said like a decade earlier).

It “depends on what the real goal of the CoC is,” somebody told us this morning, as “the real goal is to oust non-corporate technical leads; that blue-haired * [link/reference to Lamb's girlfriend with that description in GitHub] is just a distraction.”

“To better understand what’s going on or what happened we must explore further back in time (than September 2019).”Shawn wrote in response in IRC a few hours ago, “that makes sense” (he had contributed to some of GNU/GCC).

It’s the “same with the hostile attitude towards GPLv3,” he added. “I have been at GCC and LLVM conferences (both before and after they got intensely corporate) and the LLVM ones are all “I can’t talk about that” [...] and also NDAs are a “I’m stupid and not a political person” [...] at GCC conferences you don’t get that “I can’t talk about my work” attitude, which makes it much healthier.”

I told him that may change or has already changed, citing LibrePlanet with their “Safe Space” concept (where it means nothing to actual safety in practice, it’s more about gagging potential critics and even an opinionated RMS himself).

“RMS was put under pressure to justify his assertion that LLVM was like a corporate plot (not his words) against GCC and — by extension — against GPL/copyleft.”Shawn quoted, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…”

MinceR said it “sounds like LLVM isn’t really free software” and Shawn (who is good at compilers) noted that “as RMS said, it is a platform for non-free compilers and he realized GCC could go that way when Steve Jobs asked him if he could release Obj-C as binary blobs linked to GCC [...] there is a real opening right now for a good portable language for FPGAs as Verilog has many problems and because FPGAs are not the same as ASICs mainly because FPGAs perform things in lock step to the clock…”

For those who miss some context, here we have LWN outlining things as follows: “During a discussion on the GCC mailing list about the comparative performance of GCC versus Clang, Richard Stallman weighed in to argue that LLVM’s permissive license makes it a “terrible setback” for the free software community, because contributions to it benefit proprietary compilers as well as free ones. The original topic was Eric S. Raymond’s suggestion that GCC should allow non-free plugins—an idea which, unsurprisingly, Stallman does not find appealing. “To make GCC available for such use would be throwing in the towel. If that enables GCC to ‘win’, the victory would be hollow, because it would not be a victory for what really matters: users’ freedom.””

“We’ve contacted RMS for a potential interview (not related to this topic) and hopefully we can say more some time soon.”RMS was put under pressure to justify his assertion that LLVM was like a corporate plot (not his words) against GCC and — by extension — against GPL/copyleft.

“I have to say that RMS is right here and ESR wrong,” Shawn added, “while there are cool thing that can done with a more open compiler, losing control over having a libre compiler is not worth it [...] The nonfree compilers that are now based on LLVM prove that I was right — that the danger was real. If I had “opened” up GCC code for use in nonfree combinations, that would not have prevented a defeat; rather, it would have caused that defeat to occur very soon. [...] the whole point is that if you are going to be anti-social, the GNU project is not going to help you do that [...] The only code that helps us and not our adversaries is copylefted code. Free software released under a pushover license…”

We’ve contacted RMS for a potential interview (not related to this topic) and hopefully we can say more some time soon.

Erosion of Free Speech and Tolerance of Opposing Viewpoints in Free Software Communities

Posted in BSD, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It is by the goodness of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either.” –Mark Twain

Computer lecture

Summary: The concept of free speech is being reinvented by oversensitive people who nowadays expand the list of exclusions/exemptions (from scope of ‘permissible’ speech) to politics and criticism of large and highly abusive corporations

THERE is this old and pseudo-philosophical conundrum about free speech in general, e.g. tolerating the intolerant. Or questions like, are we tolerant for not tolerating speech that we perceive to be inherently intolerant?

“Having received about 40,000 comments in this blog, there are many that I strongly dislike; but we never censored comments, not even ones with racial slurs in them.”The subject isn’t new. The debate isn’t unprecedented. There are, however, things that can be said in the context of free-as-in-freedom software.

Free speech absolutists have to be quite tolerant (and no, we’re not talking about nazis who disguise themselves as “free speech”) because they need to not necessarily respect but let words be spoken/written/published despite loathing those words. Cultural differences too are a factor.

Having received about 40,000 comments in this blog, there are many that I strongly dislike; but we never censored comments, not even ones with racial slurs in them. Those are just a reflection of what society is and we draw the line at physical threats (those are a special case and there are well-established laws for dealing with them, even restraining orders and arrests).

A speakerYesterday in IRC someone brought up Gab; well, Gab isn’t an ordinary site because there are many violent cults there, ones that seek to implement ethnic cleansing and death threats are commonplace there. So put Gab aside as a special case. What’s special about it isn’t mere racial/ethnic agitation but its uniquely violent nature (including members proceeding to mass murder, based on things that inspired them in Gab, legitimising those acts). The management of Gab obviously does not condone such violence and it cooperated with authorities when it had to; but those who block Gab (e.g. Fediverse factions) have some legitimate grounds for doing so, noting the large proportion of violent (in nature, explicitly) output emitted from there.

So again, just to clarify, when we speak about free speech we do not include (within scope) every single utterance of nonsense, especially not calls for genocide. There have long been laws for dealing with these, aside from the realms of speech alone (many murders are preceded by threats, whether it’s domestic violence or disputes over drugs; there’s an interest in prevention of lethal/fatal violence).

Some hours ago Derek Taylor (also known as DistroTube) published this video/view entitled “If You Support Free Software, You Should Support Gun Rights” (similar to the sorts of things ESR likes to say) and last week he published a video that uses words like “virtue-signalling”, “social justice warriors” etc. (coming across like part of a group that’s widely perceived to be intolerant). I’ve spoken Derek Taylor online but not offline (he’s in the US, very far from here) and I largely agree with him on many technical things (I strongly disagree with his older stance regarding Torvalds and Stallman — a stance he may have changed since). But in Daily Links there’s no reason not to include this “pro-gun” video, even if many of us do not share his views. The feature image for that video is of him holding a rifle. Stay classy, eh?

It’s truly regretful that, putting “wings” aside (the political duality — a superficial binary standard), a certain polarity in the Free software world now deems people or classifies people as either “left” or “right” (some go further and simplify with “anti-Trump” or “pro-Trump”). This is partly the reason why ESR, both co-founder of the OSI and for a period of time chief of the OSI, got banned by the OSI earlier this year (‘canceled’ from mailing lists, at least). His views on Free software — oh, sorry… Open Source — licensing did not seem to matter because his choice of words seemed political on the ‘wrong’ side of politics. This isn’t the way to have an healthy and productive debate about software and ethical issues. Sure, we don’t all agree about politics. And if ESR thinks that there’s “vulgar” form of “Marxism” somewhere, let him say it. One doesn’t have to agree with him. To outright ban him (from his own creation) says a lot about the lack of will to come up with a counter-argument. This is to be expected somewhere like China. Do we really wish to go down this route?

What I find a lot more concerning, personally at least, is censorship of people not for the ‘wrong’ political worldviews (the people who suffer the most from it call it ‘wrongthink’ or similar terms) but for criticising bad corporations. Here’s an example that is very new and very disturbing:

bsd.network

Language of dictators: “if you give me lip about this, especially as a “joke”, you’ll get blocked and/or lose your account” (and he’s not joking! Not tongue-in-cheek a statement!)

As an associate of ours put it: “In the bsd.network link [...] we see what CoCs are really about.”

We recently saw the same thing in Rust/Mozilla/Reddit (banning Microsoft critics).

In an act of recognition and solidarity we recently reproduced many articles from Daniel Pocock, whom I believe got in trouble for doing ‘too much’ complaining about corporate influence if not takeover by large corporations such as Google and Microsoft (both pay Debian and the FSFE) — two companies which his technical work (SIP etc.) seeks to make obsolete.

Dig a little deeper into the context of the above quip/toot and find this (pinned even):

bsd.network CoC

So the CoC seems to have been magically extended to, “do not criticise Microsoft” (an OpenBSD sponsor by the way; this is no secret). Do we want to go down this route of making it impermissible to criticise large corporations and oligarchs, especially those who pay us? If so, isn’t that just bribery for silence? Are we enforcing politeness here or merely covering up misconduct and censorious behaviour?

09.21.20

Guest Post: The Worrying State of Political Judgement in Free Software Communities

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:17 am by Guest Editorial Team

Original version in Spanish, to be found here

Banco en Argentina

Summary: A look at what Mozilla has become and what that teaches us about the Web and about software

A

month ago, David Teller published a blog entry explaining in great detail the process behind the controversial XUL+XPCOM elimination from Firefox upon its “57″ version being released.

That decision, as I was saying, was controversial because it implied losing the huge add-on ecosystem Firefox had: one of the main reasons for using Firefox in the first place, instead of just using Google Chrome. And it was so controversial that, in fact, there are still people who are angry about it three years later, even though these people just stopped using Firefox back then. In my echo chamber, everybody saw the move as a shot in Mozilla’s own foot. And the reasons justifying the move were the ones we’re getting used to in contemporary informatics: “speed”, “security”, and “what users want”.

That last part may be a bit unfair, because a good chunk of the justifications were about the many difficulties Mozilla had to face in order to continue to sustain Firefox development. But my point is that those difficulties will be there no matter what they choose, and that’s why I’ve excluded development from that list. Maybe there’s a whole other debate to be found in all this, but it is not the one I’m interested in right now, and so I just let the issue be dealt with here.

“That looks a lot like what started to happen in the late ’90s with the Windows ecosystem.”Teller’s post tells us stuff about historical details of XUL+XPCOM, things that happened around the Web, and the problems Mozilla has faced while sustaining Firefox, in the face of a migration towards another system as was widely decided. His post is excellent and definitely a recommended read — so much is like this, that it became a somewhat popular focal point and an object of debate, getting to have a comment section at least as interesting as the post itself. Now, for a few weeks I wanted to write about it…

I’ll get right to the point: Teller wrote about “competing with Chrome” in his post, and different people argued about that. It got up to a point that Teller ended up editing the article (with an edition note at the end), replacing the “competing with Chrome” phrase with “as fast, as stable and as secure as Chrome”. And I believe this detail is in the core of a very general problem.

One can see, for example, that the first comment available is from Jeremy Andrews, who maintains Pale Moon in Solaris. And Andrews argues against this idea of “competing with Chrome”, on “why would somebody do something other than competing with Chrome”. He says the following:

(…) I’m doing it for the people that have been left behind since about 2007 when the iPhone and Facebook changed the world. The people that still mostly use their desktop PCs and like being able to tweak or customize everything. People who largely feel that they’re being asked to accept that the freedom and choice of the early Internet is being phased out in favor of security, top-down decision making, centralization, and lack of real choices. (…)

Daniel Eriksson then responds this other commentary:

(…) Up until 2010 I was always excited about new technology since it always gave me new possibilities and made it possible to do more in a way that suited me, and then that changed. Now I worry about new releases of software, fearing what useful function or option might have been taken away this time. (…)

That looks a lot like what started to happen in the late ’90s with the Windows ecosystem. Who didn’t start to keep old installers from previous versions, or even portable versions (which back then was just copying the install directory), because new versions were a problem in many ways? I must still have (somewhere) some CDs with a Winamp 2 configured as I pleased, because newer versions were crashy and asked for extra resources. And this practice (keeping old versions) entered in times of crisis when a thousand bits and stuff suddenly had online installers and dependencies, and thus version checks or even protocol changes made it stop working, leaving no other choice but to install newer versions. And this kind of stuff is happening in Free Software today: with “user-friendly” Gnome using UIs (or even program names) that are every day becoming more dumbed-down while breaking old stuff, hellish dependencies at the heart of entire systems (I’m looking at you systemd), QT going private, x86 being deprecated as if it were no longer in use anywhere… and, of course, an obese World Wide Web that no longer allows you to read a simple blog entry in a netbook given so much JavaScript for notifications and tracking. Not a good path.

“Let’s please keep aside for a while the whole privacy issue in this, as it’s absolutely secondary to my argument: the problem here is political and epistemic.”But the “competing with Chrome” mention raised a debate full of exchanges that I recommend you check out. I’m interested in the justification behind “competing with Chrome”: telemetry. I’m not sure if that’s a technical or a commercial name for the thing, but it means “data from the users”. Let’s please keep aside for a while the whole privacy issue in this, as it’s absolutely secondary to my argument: the problem here is political and epistemic.

Epistemic, because all evaluation criteria for reality is being contrasted against data clouds that replace it. Political, because I suspect this is at the core of all the bad changes in last few years in software communities in general, and Free software in particular.

As a programmer, and as a person of science, I understand the value of data. But as an activist, and as a person of art, I also understand its limits. Data is just a single ingredient of several ingredients needed when constructing a map of reality. The others need to be taken at least with the same priority as data. Today, in every aspect of technology, and even in sciences as well, we seem to be living within some spiral and recursive tendency between the act of compiling data and generating any idea of possible future around it. And this is seductive, not just because data is powerful and a thing of our times, but also because it heals or even resurrects our devastated modern search of objectivity: that security which only some unquestionably legit truth can give in order to guide us across the ocean of uncertainties that is the future. Data brings access to a very peculiar way of truth: Aletheia.

“What does Mozilla need telemetry for? And looking at this from the “competing with Chrome” perspective, much more than “what users want”, what this question seems to bring about is, “Mozilla wants to behave like Google”.”But it’s a mirage that previous generations already faced, at the same time they rediscovered how possible worlds and possible futures are also linked with hopes, ethics, and principles, that can and sometimes should take a distance from data instead of embracing what it says. And here’s where politics and art have some lessons to teach.

There are the bias issues. Yet, very frequently bias is evaluated as a defect in judgment, which has the consequence of getting away from objectivity; and I’m more likely trying to vindicate it. Biases do exist, and even when it’s true that biases have palliatives, they don’t translate data into full objectivity either. When we add to that the detail that software development is not necessarily a science, there’s room for the question of what’s the deal with the presentation of objectivity in data, or even data itself.

What does Mozilla do? With its software, with its users, with the data…

What does Mozilla need telemetry for? And looking at this from the “competing with Chrome” perspective, much more than “what users want”, what this question seems to bring about is, “Mozilla wants to behave like Google”. And this is troubling. But not because of “data privacy” (the boogeyman of contemporary progressives in informatics), but because it’s politically aberrant for Mozilla’s history.

Mozilla is supposed to be a non-profit foundation, that used to be a champion of a free web and a great empowerer of users. Mozilla was the one rising up and fighting against Microsoft on the Web, achieving what was the utterly unlikely outcome back then — a triumph that is invaluable today: making the Web not Microsoft-centered. Firefox fought against Internet Explorer in an endurance battle for an entire decade, until Apple and Google entered the ring and finished any hope of Microsoft controlling the Web, for good. And also, let us remember the days when all of us had to make our web pages IE6-compatible, when banks and state offices were forcing us to use IE to access their systems, when a good chunk of the Internet didn’t work without Windows-dependant plugins, or how close we were to get that horrible ending, how lunatic it sounded for a state or any other future. We owe to Mozilla our eternal gratitude and respect for having battled that battle in the way it did. Damn… we should have epic songs about it, for future generations to remember.

For a time (that lasted years), Google recommended Mozilla Firefox for their Web sites, un-recommending that way Internet Explorer. Eventually Google Chrome appeared, based on Safari’s code, for only years later having its own engine/code. Google then started to centralise more and more its Web operations around Chrome — to the point where today it is the de-facto new IE (and, not-so-ironically, even the renamed IE now has Google’s code). But today, unlike back then against Microsoft, Mozilla seems to want to follow Google’s steps instead of fighting it: it takes their browser as a reference instead of having a critical stance. And in the middle of that scene is… data: something that back then didn’t exist, at least not in the way we know it today.

And the thing is, data effectively indicates that users prefer Google Chrome. But that happens in the same way that data from 20 years ago would have suggested the same about IE. Most likely it would also tell us that IE was faster than Firefox here and there (like starting up, as it was integrated well within the OS), or even that the infinite technical problems IE had could not matter less to people (given that IE was used for a much longer time than it should have been tolerated by anyone, and not precisely because of “user experience” or any other metric like that). I’m sure many of us had friends who used the web without ad blockers, and thus they experienced that as the only way there was to use the web, and of course they do that with Google Chrome. And, yeah, I know that counts as “data”. But it’s kinda pointless for what we want from the Web, isn’t it?

However, my problem is not that there can be biases in the interpretation of data: my problem is the actual interpretation Mozilla chooses. Because 20 years ago Firefox would have interpreted “we need to do something against Google Chrome, or it will swallow the whole web in its culture otherwise”; and today it reads like, “we need to be like Google Chrome”.

And here’s where we need to look at Mozilla from some safe distance. Because that blog entry from Teller was posted on the same week Mozilla was laying off hundreds of people. And this post of mine is being written the same week Mozilla cancels yet another couple (two) of services. And this, of course, is deeply related to Teller’s mentions of development and maintenance costs, as stated in his post.

Mozilla is behaving much more like a for-profit business rather than a non-profit foundation. It looks at data in the same way any other enterprise: looking for revenue. It’s sharing the same biases private business do, because it is following the line of “where and how” to make money; and that logic always points to hegemonies to the detriment of minorities (with the notary exception of economic elites).

“Mozilla is behaving much more like a for-profit business rather than a non-profit foundation. It looks at data in the same way any other enterprise: looking for revenue.”And the thing is, the problem is real. This financing problems, and the costs of operation once reaching a certain scale, are not problems experienced exclusively by Mozilla. It’s the same thing that leads Canonical to making deals with Microsoft, then Red Hat being sold to IBM, and the deplorable current state of the Linux Foundation. All free software communities are — year by year — more besieged by financing needs, as the direct result of their operations’ scale/growth. This is because Free software had indeed won many battles, maybe even entire wars, and this is the cost of those triumphs: this is the logic of centrality in capitalism, that free software communities in general don’t seem to be facing as a crucial issue.

However, I expect more from Mozilla, and there’s this point where I start to seriously worry. Because Mozilla is a political reference, and clearly it doesn’t seem to find a way around this. Let me take a deviation for a few seconds, so I can put it in terms of concrete examples.

I know nobody who turns their cable or ADSL modem off during nighttime, or ever. That means that, even when it’s not being actively used, unlike in the dial-up times, our houses are all day long connected to the Internet. That means they’re basically a little potential datacentre. What stops us from serving contents from our very houses? Technologically, the changes needed are almost silly; the real limitation is entirely cultural. And that culture leads us to that; any common person, or even advanced user, today can’t have a clear idea of where to go if they wished to have their own Web site somewhere. In the same way, it’s frequently argued that the “Internet isn’t free” and that it has maintenance/infrastructure costs for being like we know it: fast, 24/7 online, accessible from all around the world, etc. Yet, why does the Internet has to be like that? Why can’t there be Web sites that work just under/during certain hour ranges, like any other human operation that precisely gets cut in time periods in order so save costs and to respect sane work conditions? Why couldn’t my personal Web site work only when I say so, from time x to time y, which is basically when I turn on and off my personal computer inside my house? Why should I guarantee that somebody from Hong Kong or Norway or Ethiopia can connect to my Web site, if I couldn’t care less about the ability to make it happen? Why can’t my Web site be available only to a certain local community that I choose, while having the option of also hosting my site internationally on Amazon or Google or whatever? And why does everything have to be fast? What’s the big deal with waiting for 30 seconds or even a minute in order to access some content, if the important thing there is the content (and not its speed)?

More very basic ideas: the Web is obese, let’s make it lose weight. Why can’t there be other mainstream hypertext languages, more text and styling focused (instead of “structure”) and less complicated to maintain for browser makers? Why not wind up having as a parameter “it must work well in third world countries” or “in 15 years old hardware”, rather than being all the time behind every silly novelty for-profit business make? Isn’t it true that out there exist millions and millions of people in need of stuff like that, given that the thing now seems to be to looking for “data” and “markets”?

“Mozilla’s case is representative and symptomatic: it’s conceiving the Web as an space for market before culture; or even worse, reducing culture to market.”These are fast, accessible, almost silly questions, with very simple answers, which give different ideas corresponding to many different futures for the Web. Apply those same questions to our messaging services, e.g. “who compiles which data through which means and towards what ends”, or “how do we get informed about what stuff, et cetera.” Anybody can think of stuff like this. However, Mozilla, one of our champions of old in the defense and creation of a user-oriented Web, an organization that could be working on stuff like this and easily get results in the shortest time, today puts its efforts into trying to do what Google does. And that’s in a big way just because it has bills to pay. But also there’s a lot of it because of the people that form the Mozilla teams, and the people that form our communities; because in the last 20 years lots of people got inside, and even lots of younger people from a whole different generation. That means people with very different cultural and political formation, which not only generates dissent and needs but also shifts from original or foundational principles. From there, things start to operate with lots of human factors, but it’s also a strong vector of corporate cultural influence. That way, we suddenly have lots of people thinking that Microsoft “is no longer evil”, that increasing speed in things is a need, that we must face politics with a frenetic impetus that leads to very little space for critical reflection (and thus things from ultrapolarization to the RMS cancellation), and that frequently confuses or conflates “novelty” with “progress”.

Mozilla’s case is representative and symptomatic: it’s conceiving the Web as an space for market before culture; or even worse, reducing culture to market. When one does that, what such bias cuts off are many absolutely crucial facts to think about when envisioning a better future Internet, and even better informatics in general. Facts like that are important to many, many of us, who do our stuff without any lucrative spirit, “for free” (as in both free beer and freedom), and that’s most likely a very good and large chunk of current informatics which work well because of that. Facts like “profit logic” are not the only a human logic, and there’s room-full of people all around the world very eager to work on thousands of initiatives, if the conditions are adequate, and without meaning important costs for Mozilla; and that logic, which is very closely related to Free Software history, looks much more closely into the works of activists and artists rather than “producers” or “employees”. Facts like that include the observation that the Internet from 20 years ago was very different, and today we have other big players involved: today, access to the Internet is legally considered a right all around the world. Why doesn’t Mozilla focus on working closer to or more closely with nation states as a revenue source, while working on lots of initiatives related to technology rights, and generating “data” from that other perspective? Apply that to Latin America (where I’m from) and we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people (not at all a small “market”) who also need “solutions” (and not in a commercial sense), and moreover don’t have the same problems as people from the US (which I guess may be the main origin of all the data Mozilla gets from telemetry). Wasn’t the Internet an international thing? Right? Then why are Internet not-for-profit organizations behaving like the whole world needs another Google? Why not even reach out to the UN in order to get funding, in exchange for work on human rights initiatives related to the Internet? The Internet is a thing of relevance to the UN since decades ago (until now), and Mozilla has a curriculum to show off.

From that point of view, the very real financial need looks more like an excuse, and the problem is the political path they’re taking much more ferociously, even before the financing factor. And this is a critique that also applies to any Free Software community. The “as in free beer” is not just a clarification, nor a joke: wherever the money comes from is a big problem, and a political one. Because if we’re slaves to money, when our software gets into the news, then the next step is to become another monster; “not-as-in-free-beer” looks like a very shy way of saying “for-profit”. And this thing will keep on happening again and again and again, until we as the community face the very core problem of our relation with capitalism itself, and perhaps the question of what our stance on it actually is. I believe this is part of the crisis Free Software is dealing with right now.

“…any financing or initiative evaluation has to come with political principles as parameters.”But there’s room for a clarification here, regarding Mozilla. Asking Mozilla to come to Argentina to fix our informatics problems is unfair and absolutely out of place: it should be Argentinian groups — the ones reaching out to Mozilla if they want that to happen. Yet, that “competing with Chrome” impetus from Teller’s article gets Mozilla very far away from any possibility of dialogue with any actor other than an economic leviathan: because that’s against what it’s pretending to compare itself. When the enemy was Internet Explorer, even when it’s true that Firefox worked notably better, that wasn’t the reason all of us Mozilla promoters defended it for, but its role in a better future for the web. Today, when I CAN’T honestly say something like “Chrome works better than Firefox” (as “better” is a much different concept than “some animations are smoother”), it seems that “working better” is the only metric to look at. And that is not the case. That’s wrong, actually.

The thing happening with Mozilla then is something to worry about, because it looks to me like the same as what happened to other references from older ages. And this is something that has a solution in politics rather than in software or in money. Our communities need referents, with a clear political vision, showing the way: any financing or initiative evaluation has to come with political principles as parameters. And this is especially needed in order to guide all the youngsters wanting to be a part of their generational changes: an absolutely necessary guide if we don’t want things like the cancellation of Stallman to happen again in some other way (that brutal disinformation campaign from enemies of free software was successful and effective among younger people, and we didn’t had a strong and sound response from Free Software referents in defense of RMS). Our communities and political organizations just CANNOT be SO sensible to corporate influence, and while that keeps happening there’s no debate about any software or any “data” that could protect us from the next corporate operation against our rights. We need guiding words for organizing resistance, much more quickly (faster) and much ahead or before our need for financing.

As a closing note, just as an observation, I believe it is pretty much graphical why I’m writing this. I read that Teller’s post during my lunchtime break on a working day, and I tried to write a quick response in the comments section. Then I happened to realise that the blog had Medium as their comments technology; and I happen to have a Medium account that I actually think I created to answer another Mozilla employee’s blog post, only some years ago but didn’t remember the password. So I asked for a password reset, and hoped to let the thing work for another time (when I get the password/access back). Two days later, after several tries, I still didn’t have my password, so I gave up and went to use a third party ID service: Medium offered Twitter and Google, as well as several other options. I also have a Twitter account that I never use, so I choose that; but at login time, Twitter told me that Medium “needed” to access some private data of mine — stuff that I don’t remember right now (or cannot recall exactly what was it), but I do remember it was scandalous: something like “my private messages”, or “my contacts list”, or stuff like that, which in no way I would have allowed. So I went back to log in with a Google account, which I also almost never use, and this time Google offered me two links about privacy policies and data collection that I frankly just ignored while feeling defeat. By that time, Teller’s post was already edited — specifically the the part that I wanted to comment on (the one about “competing with Chrome”), and so I had to change my comment before posting it. But even then something else happened: the next day I went to check if anybody answered my comment, but the comment just wasn’t there. I published it, and it wasn’t anything rude so I don’t think it got moderated, so it had to be shadowbanned in some way: I didn’t bother to log in again and check it out.

So, here’s my point: if for having a dialog with somebody from Mozilla I have to enter into a blog hosted in GitHub (Microsoft), allowing a third party to access my data (Medium), to even having to log in to that third party system using another third party credentials (Twitter or Google), and even then end up censored somehow… if Mozilla’s people don’t see a problem there, or ever tried to say something about “what people do” or “what data tells” in front of that… then I’m afraid we should be very worried about the state of political judgement in our political organizations.

Git is Free Software, GitHub is Proprietary Trap

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 1:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The country shall be independent, and we will be satisfied with nothing short of it.” –Samuel Adams

Thai Political Crisis Breakup: Git is Free software, Self-hosted; better regain control of my work

Summary: More and more people all around the world understand that putting their fruit of labour in Microsoft’s proprietary (but ‘free’) prison is misguided; the only vault they have is for human beings, not code

THE campaign to remove projects from GitHub has been partly successful. Some high-profile projects consider leaving, some have already left, and many new projects reject GitHub from the get-go, instead opting for a variety of alternatives including bare-bones Git.

“Microsoft had planned to buy GitHub for a very long time (4 years before it actually happened), since the death of CodePlex and the loss of control over developers everywhere.”GitHub is not and never was Free software. It’s a classic example of “embrace and “extend”, so Microsoft is perhaps a perfect match for it. Microsoft had planned to buy GitHub for a very long time (4 years before it actually happened), since the death of CodePlex and the loss of control over developers everywhere.

The worst one can do is put any code on GitHub; it’s being chained to the ‘network’, contributing to GitHub’s ‘network effect’, which in effect embodies monopoly.

More and more people now understand this. Our Delete Github wiki page exceeded 50,000 views last week and people habitually suggest additions to it. It’s not a ‘shame list’ but somewhat of a watchlist; it’s also a bit of a “TODO” list. We’ve long had something similar for Mono applications and it recently exceeded a quarter million views. Just putting out there a list of programs/projects can have a positive effect.

The fate of GitHub will be the same as CodePlex’s. We heard that GitHub staff (what’s left of it anyway; many left in protest) saw a decline after Microsoft had taken over. Watch what Microsoft did to LinkedIn (about a thousand layoffs this past summer) and the loss of Skype monopoly, not to mention what happened ton Nokia (complete and utter disaster). Don’t put your code (work) in a “burning platform”… GitHub now operates like a cult, like Microsoft.

GitHub is bad

09.20.20

Daniel Pocock on Codes of Conduct and Their Potential Dangers in Practice

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 11:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Source: Distributing VoIP applications and packages (around 11:40 – 15:40)

Summary: In Debian we’ve already witnessed several examples where Codes of Conduct, if put in the wrong hands (in the Linux Foundation it’s corporate hands), can achieve the very opposite of their intended goal and its a true shame as well as a travesty for legitimate victims of real abuse

“BE EXCELLENT to each other!”

We totally and wholeheartedly agree.

In fact, as pointed out earlier this year, those who like using this phrase often disregard it themselves. Whether it’s Mr. Lunduke or Mr. ‘OpenRespect’ (Jono Bacon), there’s endless hypocrisy or an overt case of double standards. And therein lies the grudge…

“Being “excellent to each other” also means respecting other people’s rights, including free speech rights.”We’re generally a respectful site and we don’t use bad words (“bribery” isn’t a bad word; it’s definitely not a curse word; IRC logs occasionally contain vulgarities, but we don’t heavy-handedly police the speech of guests).

Being “excellent to each other” also means respecting other people’s rights, including free speech rights. Censoring people and attempting to ‘cancel’ them is arguably anti-social and detrimental to open debates/discourse. We’re not talking about slander or threats here. Yesterday we added a video of Rowan Atkinson and we wish to do so again, albeit it’s a YouTube link (Google does not respect free speech):

Hours ago we noticed that Daniel Pocock is back to Planet Fedora. Well done, Fedora. It’s gratifying to see them making the right call. Free software communities and Free software-centric companies like Red Hat (as per its site’s preaching; ‘Open Org’ and all that) need to listen also to dissent and truth-telling. It’s not always easy/convenient and sometimes it seems undesirable from a PR standpoint. But inclusive debates that deal with difficult subjects are our strength, not our weakness. No monoculture should be fostered as though it’s instantaneously desirable (with no questions or concerns raised about it).

Brute hulk vs intellectual hulk: Ban him!!! I was just a tad offendedPocock isn’t a bad person. His ‘problem’ is that he’s ‘too’ ethical; like Richard Stallman, if or when he sees something wrong/unjust (like Fellows losing their voice inside the FSFE), he speaks about it. Politely. Equipped with facts. If his speech is suppressed (censorship/self-censorship), he lets the Canary out. We should commend that, not condemn that. But those standing to lose from the Canary’s singing change targets and focus on the messenger, not the message. Then, things like a Code of Conduct become handy to them. It is a slippery slope — as slippery as the burning of so-called ‘witches’.

See the video at the top again; we share his position that in principle and in theory Codes of Conduct aren’t a bad thing (abuses do exist and they need to be tackled seriously and promptly, subject to due process of course!), but there’s opportunity for mischief and misuse/abuse by those given power and authority to enforce rules with little consideration for the rights of the accused (burden of proof is disproportionately light on the accusers’ end). Should we allow witch-hunts to overrule reason? Should we let anti-harassment teams themselves become a source of harassment (against potentially innocent volunteers)?

Polite Captain America: Before a witch-hunt commences, does anyone want to attempt mediation?

What’s lovely about the Free software world is that one way or another, sooner or later (eventually), people see what’s going on and can properly assess the situation, including social affairs within a community. An informed community is a powerful community. This means that justice can be reached and injustice be seen then undone/overcome. Let’s hope Debian is next to admit its mistakes. The facts are available for everybody to see. If we’re courageous enough to embrace the full freedom of software, then we’re capable of tolerating a broader spectrum of views, facilitating more free speech and more accountability for those who strive to take it away (usually a form of cover-up, distracting from one’s own misdeeds).

09.19.20

Video: Free Communication With Free Software – Daniel Pocock – FOSSASIA Summit 2016

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, Videos at 10:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The 2016 FOSSASIA talk from Daniel Pocock (Debian) about Free software alternatives to Google, Microsoft Skype and so on (Microsoft started paying Debian in 2016)

FOSSASIA about Daniel Pocock: “Professional software engineer and consultant. Daniel Pocock has developed enterprise grade solutions for some of the giants of the financial services industry, including secure connectivity for UBS (using Apache Camel), the first customer-facing WebRTC contact solution on Wall Street at Interactive Brokers, enterprise-wide real-time monitoring for Barclays Capital (based on Ganglia) and a wide range of real-time financial trade capture and risk management solutions for Thomson Reuters. Despite the highly proprietary nature of these enterprises, Pocock has remained a champion of efficient, cost effective open source solutions to meet demanding business requirements. Pocock actively contributes to a range of free software projects with a focus on real-time communications (RTC) and VoIP, in particular, Lumicall, JSCommunicator, DruCall, reSIProcate, Ganglia and flactag. Pocock is the author of the RTC Quick Start Guide and is part of the team behind the O’Reilly book Monitoring with Ganglia Pocock is a Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora Developer and an OpenCSW package maintainer. He is a licensed radio amateur with the callsigns VK3TQR and M0GLR.”

GNU is Also a Brand, But It Boils Down to Philosophy and Principles, Not Greed or Corporate Identity

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 7:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Politicians laughing or only two political perspectives

Summary: Why the goal of GNU should be freedom rather than so-called ‘world domination’ (the objective of large firms with shareholders)

THE history of UNIX goes half a century back; GNU goes more than 35 years back (way more than Linux) and there are various related concepts such as POSIX. We also recently learned about the role Richard Stallman had played in BSD becoming free. Back when the FSF was very young and even before it existed there were already a number of important movements set in motion.

“We also recently learned about the role Richard Stallman had played in BSD becoming free.”“LPF is some kind of FFII predecessor,” the FFII’s President told us in IRC earlier today, pointing to this Wikipedia page which says:

League for Programming Freedom (LPF) was founded in 1989 by Richard Stallman to unite free software developers as well as developers of proprietary software to fight against software patents and the extension of the scope of copyright. Their logo is the Statue of Liberty holding a floppy disk and tape spool.

How many people even knew about this? Stallman was willing to form a sort of coalition with proprietary software developers for the high-priority task of abolishing software patents. This wasn’t about power and money but about ensuring — to use the name above — “Programming Freedom”. Stallman didn’t earn 16 honorary doctorates and professorships for nothing; those who care about facts can see the contributions.

There tends to be this urge or a tendency to measure the importance or “success” of people and institutions based on money and brand recognition. GNU is different because its goal is to free or to liberate code and programmers. In the same way that to may musical artists what really counts is the quality of their work, possibly its reach, not purely monetary parameters (which mostly concern the copyright monopolists/cartels, sometimes referred to as the “music industry”).

“There tends to be this urge or a tendency to measure the importance or “success” of people and institutions based on money and brand recognition.”Some people still wrongly measure the relevance of organisations based on how much money they have in the bank. The Linux Foundation operates at a loss and wastes lots of money on ridiculous and self-harming (to Linux) things while raising money from literal sellout. Is that “success”? Becoming a de facto lobbying/pressure group for companies that predominantly produce proprietary software?

An avatarWhen lots of hackers (programmers) joined the Free software movement they didn’t do so for money as much as for recognition/fame for making the world a better place and for helping fellow engineers. GNU or the GNU Project (many pertinent projects) is a lot bigger than Linux, yet many people wrongly call GNU programs "Linux commands".

The concept of “world domination” (used a lot by “Linux” types) has always baffled me somewhat. I mean, what is the real and ultimate goal? Liberating people? Or just “market share”? The biggest market share (on the client side) now goes to Android, which has Linux in it. Does that mean that people now enjoy freedom?

“When lots of hackers (programmers) joined the Free software movement they didn’t do so for money as much as for recognition/fame for making the world a better place and for helping fellow engineers.”It’s convenient to think of everything in corporate terms that are easily measurable (revenue, number of clients/users etc.), but for GNU types the whole paradigm is inherently and profoundly different. Focus more on freedom and less on “market share”; some would argue that “market share” tells us how many people now enjoy or have access to software freedom, but in practice (as the example of Android/AOSP shows) it’s an optimistic oversimplification.

People in the GNU/Linux world are sometimes accused of barking at new users, having long discouraged widespread adoption (“market share”) of the operating system. In practice, however, they guard against turning GNU/Linux into yet another DRM platform (such as Chrome OS) and in theory they have good intentions (without a lack of exceptions here and there; elitism is a problem in the technical context, just as it is in racial or nationalist contexts).

“People in the GNU/Linux world are sometimes accused of barking at new users, having long discouraged widespread adoption (“market share”) of the operating system.”To change the world compromises may be needed here and there, but too many concessions lead to assimilation that devalues and ‘dilutes’ any potential change/reform. Richard Stallman is often maligned/mocked as too ‘backwards’ (not adopting the latest buzzwords and hype) or unproductively stubborn just because he still stands for the same standards he adhered to when GNU was born. People who do or say bad things about him typically turn out to be hostile towards GNU and whatever GNU stands for. It would be conceited to completely disregard their gripes and complaints (they want proprietary games, “apps”, Clown Computing and Facebook), but what they strive to have is just another corporate brand, typically “Linux” (with the same characteristics of whatever comes out of Apple and Microsoft).

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts