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10.20.19

Guest Post: Free Software Freedom is Not a Freedom of Choice

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Article by Jagadees.S

Some freedom rocks

Summary: The concept of “Freedom of Choice” and how the ruling class uses it to give a false impression of “Freedom”

Freedom of choice is a popular idea. Mostly it is associated with markets. Usually when we hear the word “freedom” market automatically comes into our minds. We distribute things through the market. We, the consumer, buy things by paying money to the sellers in the market. If you want soap, you can go to the market and ask for a soap. Shopkeepers give you one when you pay money.

What’s in a market

Let’s say that initially there is only one company that produces one type of soap which is available in the market. For you it doesn’t matter. After all, the purpose of soap is clean your body. Sometimes it causes you skin allergy or some other issues. You may stop or reduce its use or you may find a workaround to fix/address the issue. Life goes on. Then, after some time, a new company comes up with a new kind of soap. You will be happy to test it and will have found it’s better than the first one. So now you have the ‘freedom’ to choose the new product that’s in the market.

Later a 3rd company comes into the picture. Now there is competition in the market. More and more products appear in the market. Companies are using advertisement to promote their product. Initially they were telling the properties of the product. But now they are selling a lifestyle. You buy a product that has your favorite star as brand ambassador. You want to be with that specific class of people. It’s beautifully mentioned in the book No Logo.

But in some communities people don’t have the ability to choose products as they’re absent from the market. There, the government is distributing goods as a ration, or limited bases. Sometimes it may be with good intentions that with limited resources they are trying to provide maximum utilization, with intended justice to all. Sometime the rulers may be looting and nothing will be left for people.

Whatever the reason, you see 2 types of market. That makes you think, “which is better?” Market with choice or market without choice? That becomes the million-dollar question to most. Of course all people will support a market with choice. Problem solved. Everything is fine. All of you people, go home.

Reality of Market Freedom

This is the propaganda of the ruling class, intended to hide the facts and distract us from the real freedom. They always do this. Invert ideas that empower people. Lot of things happen when you say “freedom” to mean freedom to choose.

First of all, your action is only a choice between a number of things. You don’t have a say. Just choose whatever is available. That makes you just a passive subject. For that you have to pay. That part, most of the time, will not be visible. Those who provide the choices become more important than others. You worship them. Protecting the integrity of them becomes a responsibility for you. They can exert pressure on you. These things all happen invisibly. You will not realise it.

If you consider “freedom” the ability to choose or opportunity to choose a product in the market, then you are undermining the very meaning of freedom. It makes us old passive slaves who just obey the rulers. There is no question about the product, there are no questions about its content, no questions about its price, no questions about the market. All we can do is choose one or another. It’s a dictatorship.

So freedom is not an ability to choose.

What is Freedom?

Initially all are free within the limits of nature. Then human institutions like slavery and religion impose restrictions and limits upon humans. After that the word “freedom” comes into existence. People want to break that chain, as everyone wishes to be an independent person who can do whatever s/he wants, just like the ruling class. Meaning, all should get the same opportunity to define the society.

Freedom is not a buying process. It’s the ability, for example, to define what buying is, define what the market is, define what the product is, even define what money is. But the reality is that we are living in times where we don’t even have the right to know what content is in the foods we eat.

So please don’t get so easily fooled by these games — or words created by the ruling class. Freedom is about people’s power in the society. Not the 1%. It’s about who is in charge.

Fight for freedom is a never-ending task

Why?

Because the ruling class will always try and perpetually tries to undermine it for their self interest.

They already came in 100s of groups and companies with 100s of different tactics. Most of the time a freedom-loving majority could not understand these attacks. This is true for the Free software movement as well as other freedom movements experienced. In the case of the Free Software Foundation, it came to such a low level that they fired their own founder based on some lies.

So, we should understand that our freedom is not somebody else’s charity or favour. It’s a result of our painful struggle for it. To keep the freedom as it is we need always be vigilant and active. Do not get fooled by the tricks they play to enslave us. Free software’s freedom is not a freedom of choice. It’s the freedom of users to take control of software. Let’s unite to defend software users’ freedom. Long live the 4 freedoms of software.

The Assertion That Microsoft Uses Communist Tactics Against GNU/Linux and Free/Libre Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Taistoism

Summary: A study of Taistoism might help understand how Free/libre software is being undermined

THE #techrights IRC chats and various communications outside IRC have advanced to the point where we can now better understand who and what interacts regarding Software Freedom so far this autumn. Several people have even fed entire mailing lists into algorithms that can analyse the contents. It is work in progress. People believe that there’s something going on, they assume that it is partly coordinated, but in order to make sense of it or ‘reverse-engineer’ it — so to speak — we need to learn the unknowns (or what’s not publicly visible), e.g. one company instructing another, a company instructing staff or vice versa.

“People believe that there’s something going on, they assume that it is partly coordinated, but in order to make sense of it or ‘reverse-engineer’ it — so to speak — we need to learn the unknowns (or what’s not publicly visible), e.g. one company instructing another, a company instructing staff or vice versa.”Andrew Tanenbaum (creator of MINIX) said to the press just over a decade ago: “A couple of years ago this guy called Ken Brown wrote a book saying that Linus stole Linux from me. It later came out that Microsoft had paid him to do this.”

One researcher of ours is finding money trails leading directly to Microsoft among those who slandered Richard Stallman (maliciously attributing to him positions he does not have at all!). We don’t want to reproduce here the claims that are false, but let’s just say those claims have been incredibly ruinous and only corrected very, very belatedly (after persistent pressure). Apologies cannot undo the harm and retractions don’t tend to be seen as much as the earlier (defamatory) claims. This researcher might have more to show at a later date.

“Also, I’ve mentioned before,” he noted, “the political cult Microsoft uses tactics which overlap strongly with previous political movements.”

“Apologies cannot undo the harm and retractions don’t tend to be seen as much as the earlier (defamatory) claims.”He cites Taistoism, asserting that this describes how Microsoft is attacking GNU/Linux and Free software at this moment in time. He further explained: “The means to fight them would be similar. This includes the fight by proxy occurring against all FOSS projects via Malleus Hackerum (CoC) and, especially their fight against RMS and FSF. Notice that Malleus Hacerkum is used to get their people on each and every project, no matter how small, mostly by displacing or breaking the key contributors and founders.”

10.19.19

The FSF Has Two Acting Presidents Now

Posted in FSF at 1:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FSF has two presidents now. And that's cool.

Summary: Alexandre Oliva, who acted as a sort of deputy of Richard Stallman in recent weeks, sheds some much-needed light on the current situation

Alexandre Oliva:

disclaimer: this is not an official announcement of any sort, it’s just a bunch of very personal observations and expectations, based on information that’s available to the general public

roy, it’s a little more complicated than that. we presently have two vice presidents, neither being a first vice president under the bylaws, so we jointly serve as acting president.

figosdev, our small but freedom-loving staff operates under high levels of autonomy, within policies, priorities and guidance given by directors. it’s not been unusual for me to come across an announcement in FSF’s social media and think “cool!”: it’s just as fresh to me as it is for anyone else. much as I know, the emacs conf satellite idea may have been in the making for a long time, or it might be a fresh new way of putting our office space in service of software freedom. I liked it either way ;-)

as for other points you brought up, I’ve been working hard to improve on them, but, being very new in the board, it shouldn’t be surprising that it takes time to negotiate changes and earn trust from directors and supporters. the FSF has historically been conservative and cautious, with focus on the long term, so changes to details of implementation have often taken place at a slow pace. that, and the unchanging long-term commitment to Free Software values and principles have served us well, and are expected to keep on doing so

thanks for your support, and for your patience ;-)

10.18.19

Should Anybody Dictate the Free Software Movement?

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

By figosdev

A hand

Summary: “There’s a great myth, as Jagadees reminds us, that advocacy doesn’t produce software. That myth is corporate, and proper advocacy has at times produced the greatest software in the history of computing. If we want great Free software to continue, we need advocacy more than ever.”

I want to start this article out by thanking both Jagadees.S and Techrights for the service they did in bringing us the article this is in response to. My goal is to comment on that article without hijacking it; I hope it won’t be taken that way.

I also want to be careful not to misunderstand the intent of that article. It’s possible that some of what I say will be reactionary, and it’s important to me not to take the wrong way anything that was said.

Let’s start with: “We should start a second phase of the Free software movement that’s making good software and putting users at the center.”

This is a good idea overall, but the tricky part is the implementation. I want to nod to Alessandro and say that for a while now, we have talked about an organisation with a working title of the “Association for User Freedom”. If he did things “my way”, he would start simply with a page like freesw.org or Free Software Force has. This is a good way to get started on an organisation that promotes Free software.

“…advocacy for users is particularly important when “designeritis” comes in and tries to overhaul suites that tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of people use every day.”There is also a point specifically on a theme of users in the (non-binding, completely voluntary) THRIVE guidelines.

“Without some greater commitment to the needs and education of users, Free software will soon lose too much ground to corporations that falsely pander to them. This is not a call to make everything ‘user friendly.’ As a user, you are free to develop on your own terms. There are still areas in which progress could be made regarding development.”

This expresses at least mild concern about users becoming a distraction from software development. And while I think we need to do more to advocate for users (advocacy in the sense of listening to users, helping consolidate their needs into something coherent and then using that to inspire developers who wish to better design and cater with users as their audience) I think of this in terms of maintaining a natural balance.

“The software industry is a perpetual fashion victim, and in my opinion we aren’t advocating for users if we don’t give them a way to opt out of useless trends.”How we decide to support users matters just as much as whether we support them. Some developers are prone to flights of fancy, and as long as they aren’t undermining the tools we rely on and love, they do no harm. On the other hand, advocacy for users is particularly important when “designeritis” comes in and tries to overhaul suites that tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of people use every day.

The software industry is a perpetual fashion victim, and in my opinion we aren’t advocating for users if we don’t give them a way to opt out of useless trends. Not all trends are useless either — one of the best ways we can help users is to give them choices, to make choices as easy and seamless as possible, and to not force them to constantly bow to our whims.

The call to modularise and consider the Unix philosophy of “Do one thing and do it well” makes these choices easier to offer. If we have truly neglected the user, it is likely because we have done too much to neglect that philosophy.

I agree with Jagadees on the importance of freedom, not just good software: “But what if you joined the movement because the software is fast? Faaaaaast, or beautiful or secure etc. You cannot really understand what this community is for. You see it as just a company.”

“Whether Red Hat asks us to do so or not, we do end up measuring progress in lines of code or packages contributed — when these packages don’t always improve the situation of either users or freedom, as much as they improve the situation of large companies.”Open Source has encouraged many of us to treat this software as just a product of a company, when this is actually a community. That has made it easier for larger companies to come in and assist development, though these larger companies bring in some of the unfortunate habits we worked hard to escape when we traded legacy operating systems for community-based ones.

I see this too as a balance, because too often these very large contributors put their needs and priorities over ours — they overpower our communities and drag them into increasingly corporate territory. But there are some benefits to allowing their contributions as well — Red Hat encourages us to look at the benefits they bring in terms of lines of code (or even packages/tools) added.

Bill Gates (a man I certainly do not admire) is quoted as saying: “Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.”

Whether Red Hat asks us to do so or not, we do end up measuring progress in lines of code or packages contributed — when these packages don’t always improve the situation of either users or freedom, as much as they improve the situation of large companies. This was once done carefully, as with marketing, to avoid rocking the boat too much and have communities reject these contributions like an immune system rejecting an organ transplant.

“It was Free software that slowly forced corporations to play by our rules with regards to licensing, and it has taken them decades to come up with effective ways to circumvent those requirements.”But today, such contributions are so overwhelming that you are (in the words of Steve Litt) frequently given a Hobson’s choice of “take it or leave it.” We are often given this “choice” with extra “take it” and very little “leave it”, because the work of removing these contributions or making them optional continues to increase.

This should be considered bad behaviour, and not in good faith, to take the amount of choice and control we have as users — and continually work to make it more and more difficult to make choices at all. But it is defended by people chasing sponsors and corporate “contributions.” At some point, users must put their foot down. They must decide, if they are tired of this sort of treatment, that they refuse to accept any more of this degradation and manipulation of their Free software ecosystem.

It was Free software that slowly forced corporations to play by our rules with regards to licensing, and it has taken them decades to come up with effective ways to circumvent those requirements. Although it would almost certainly undermine the 4 freedoms to put new requirements on the same level — on a completely separate level, a slightly lower tier than the 4 freedoms, we can make our stand regarding choice, user advocacy and platform and UI stability.

Stability is underrated and under-catered to by companies who want to drag (control) users from one “experience” to the next. I offered to install Trisquel on someone’s notebook once, as part of my advocacy of Free software. They turned me down of course, but I wanted them to know such a thing was possible. When they found themselves using Windows 8, they finally took me up on it. They found 8 a complete nightmare, as did I when I tried it, and Trisquel offered greater stability and usability at the time than “8″ did.

Free software is not immune from similar nightmares, and if we listened to users a bit more we would know that. Projects to preserve abandoned user-facing software like MATE and Trinity should be encouraged, not treated as second class citizens (I’m looking at you, Debian — the Once Universal operating system. You’ve made too many compromises and dismissed too many users. But why you did that is very interesting too.)

“Free software is not immune from similar nightmares, and if we listened to users a bit more we would know that.”We really don’t want to drag users along like cattle. Calling that “freedom” becomes a little too cynical. It isn’t acting like a community, but a company.

“So everything is fine. Then you think that Free software politics have become obsolete.”

Another great point from Jagadees. We get so caught up in development that we forget about the freedom that made it possible. Ubuntu is such a great example of this. Named after the quality of humanity itself, Ubuntu whispers “Corporate” into everything it can get its hands on. It has a “universal” package system that is controlled and dictated by Canonical. And when the forums asked: “What are your Likes and/or Dislikes with Ubuntu Forums” I replied:

“Culturally speaking, I think the forums are far too apolitical. I haven’t expected any different in nearly a decade (I was also here around 2010 or something) but that’s my primary dislike.

Plenty of nuisances and unpleasantness are avoided that way, but in their place is an enforced sterility. I doubt I’ll ever be a fan of that. To each their own, I guess?”

At least I got away with saying that much. My favourite reply was from “super moderator” DuckHook, for the point it puts on the entire issue:

“I’ve always valued UF as a sanctuary and a respite from such conflict. Were it to turn into just another politicized, polarized, jingoistic mudfest, I would be out of here faster than you could say ‘RMS’.”

“What Canonical and its “Humanity to others” has typically done over the years is say in gentler terms: “If you don’t like it, GTFO.” Hobson’s choice again.”Mark Shuttleworth used to advocate Software Freedom to some degree, until his values diverged far enough from it to where he couldn’t fool anybody into thinking he cared about freedom anymore. Today it is a recipe for a “politicized, polarized, jingoistic mudfest” to even discuss such things. I mean, they want you to think it is. Corporate is happy to tell you that we are all better off if we just avoid those topics — and adopt corporate values instead.

If we did more to sincerely advocate for users, they would tell us how they feel about this. What Canonical and its “Humanity to others” has typically done over the years is say in gentler terms: “If you don’t like it, GTFO.” Hobson’s choice again.

Jagadees: “So all of a sudden you see the group of innocent corporate donors, even Epsteins. You will be happy with them and thank them for their support. Also, you might support their beliefs (in making money). This is the beginning of the conflict of interest.”

Stallman has made it very clear that making money isn’t a problem in and of itself, and I agree. It’s not money that is the root of all evil, but the “love of money” (over people, over integrity, over other kinds of value.) Greed, in other words. And lust for power. Taking those who lust for power too seriously puts our community (and society) in jeopardy. We should be able to comment, to mock greed, to (as Benjamin from Wayne’s World put it) “humiliate our sponsor.”

“We should be able to comment, to mock greed, to (as Benjamin from Wayne’s World put it) “humiliate our sponsor.””Otherwise, we simply put them on a level over us, and make them VIPs while we become serfs. We even let them spread this narrative that — if not for Red Hat, we would still be poking at ordinary VT screens in caves or something. (What did we ever do without them? The work that actually got us all here — useless!)

Not that we don’t want any large contributions, but we want them on our terms — we want choice. If taking your contributions means we need to abandon all of our own priorities and ignore our own needs, sorry — take your contribution and go. We must have freedom, first.

“Otherwise, we simply put them on a level over us, and make them VIPs while we become serfs. We even let them spread this narrative that — if not for Red Hat, we would still be poking at ordinary VT screens in caves or something.”Jagadees: “they want the same model of development without its politics. Model of development in this context means volunteers developing software. So they don’t have to pay for anything. Maybe once in a while they’ll give some trip to a foreign country or a podium position. Even better than the gig economy!”

I think I’ve heard the comparison of this third (corporate-first) age of Free software to the gig economy at least one other place, but it’s worth reflecting on. Yes, it’s disruptive technology — but disrupting the previous model doesn’t automatically imply freedom. It only implies change. Big companies want us to confuse something as basic as change with freedom, when it isn’t the same thing at all. They want us to think that anything other than the status quo is progress (as did Apple in their 1984-inspired commercial.)

Another gem: “Breaking a system from the outside is a tough job. It may backfire and strengthen the system. But it will be very easy to break things from inside. Ruling classes know and have known this for centuries. What they have to do is entryism — just act like they’re supporting people’s movements.”

I couldn’t agree more.

“We should start a second phase of the Free software movement that’s making good software and putting users at the center. There will be user communities. They will raise resources and fund things. They will recruit workers. Workers will develop software. Once a project is completed workers will be ‘fired’.”

This is an interesting approach. Because an increasing number of us are treating Free software as a federation, we can have an organisation (or more than one) that tries out this approach. And the model Jagadees is referring to is known traditionally as the Bounty system. I suspect that in reality this will be a combination of paid workers and community volunteers, but the call to keep paid developers at arm’s length is worth considering. With federation, we don’t all have to adopt this but many of us can try this out.

“We should teach everyone to code, and if that is too difficult to teach, we should look at the many tools (and develop new tools) that make it easier to learn how to code.”The beauty of federation is we can explore more options and methodologies towards creating Free software.

“Techies should not dictate the Free software movement. The Free software movement is for Free software users. Not developers.”

I still think it’s about a balance, and that the line between user and developer is too artificial. In my opinion, we shouldn’t just make it easier to be a user, we should make it easier to be a developer. We should consider working on friendlier development tools and the Free software movement ought to support better education.

“I think we need to take our communities back, not to exclude developers or even ban corporations entirely, but to make it clear that nobody “dictates” whether or not we all may advocate.”We should teach everyone to code, and if that is too difficult to teach, we should look at the many tools (and develop new tools) that make it easier to learn how to code. That’s something I was working on prior to this major Free software crisis — a crisis I predicted, I might add.

But I still love to code, and we should share that joy with users. Freedom is a vital goal, but empowering the user is not complete until we have invited them to our developers’ table.

I am not offended when Jagadees says “The Free software movement is for Free software users. Not developers.” We shouldn’t take offense to this. I am fond of saying that “freedom is for everyone.” Many developers have stopped listening to users, and developers have stopped listening to advocates of freedom. Everybody has more to learn, from developers and users alike.

There are still a lot more of them than there are of us, and besides — I’m a user too. I think we need to take our communities back, not to exclude developers or even ban corporations entirely, but to make it clear that nobody “dictates” whether or not we all may advocate.

“If we want great Free software to continue, we need advocacy more than ever.”And if that’s “just another politicized, polarized, jingoistic mudfest” — then let’s get our hands dirty. I know it might offend the “suits”, but I really never cared about that and I don’t know why people are fooled into thinking that’s so important these days. They’re just people, and we’ve spent too much effort on brown-nosing companies — and too little on advocacy.

There’s a great myth, as Jagadees reminds us, that advocacy doesn’t produce software. That myth is corporate, and proper advocacy has at times produced the greatest software in the history of computing. If we want great Free software to continue, we need advocacy more than ever.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported

We Don’t Know Who Will Run the Free Software Foundation, But We Know Who Will Run the GNU Project

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 4:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even after persistent toppling attempts Richard Stallman remains GNU’s chief

RMS site

Summary: Software Freedom is under a heavy and perhaps unprecedented attack; some people out there are paid by the attackers to celebrate this attack and defame people (cheering for corporate takeover under the blanket of “Open Source”), but the founder of the Free software movement remains alive, well, and very much active

TWEETS are not a good/reliable source for reporting; but sometimes (unfortunately) people write official communications there.

“As it happens RMS shot his own foot,” Bruce Perens wrote about Richard Stallman (RMS), “and no tears from me about him leaving. But 2 decades later.”

Perens and Eben Moglen were seen by us as two individuals with sufficient clout to take the position of RMS at the FSF. Now we know Perens is not likely to be interested. “After years of facilitating OSI’s assault on software freedom,” wrote a former FSF employee about the above. “Anyway, consider this, given your stance on returning RMS to the board…”

“Don’t believe the lie that the FSF rejected RMS; what we do know, for a fact (thanks to Mr. Pocock), is that the FSF actively censors messages in support of RMS.”Another former FSF intern/employee then said, “we have to remember that Bruce [Perens] actually was the one who promoted Molly de Blanc for OSI and if you look at the history there… Clearly Molly is not a leader…but established credibility through the FSF. Bruce also told us not to pursue what happened with Ian Murdock.”

“I was an early years FSF employee,” the first one responded, “and for a number of years that after somewhat closely associated but I’ve been away for a few years. Now paying attention again w/the current mess. What happened with Ian Murdock?”

“We expect RMS to still be around and very much active, not only in GNU but also in other areas.”Murdock, for those who don’t know, is Debian’s founder. Perens was an early project leader.

On went this conversation: “By “pursue” do you mean investigate? Because it sounds shady as shit.”

“His [Twitter] account was [posthumously] deleted,” I responded, “but police clearly abused him, while naked, to the point where he decided to hang himself…”

Apparently not everyone knew.

“Oh, god. I just looked it up. Oh, man.”

We still see reactions like this one years down the line.

“We also hear about some upcoming meetings with RMS in Boston.”We still keep in contact/touch with RMS and sometimes he keeps in contact with us. Sometimes FSF staff (past and present) who are loyal to RMS speak to us. They’re not happy about what happened last month. Don’t believe the lie that the FSF rejected RMS; what we do know, for a fact (thanks to Mr. Pocock), is that the FSF actively censors messages in support of RMS.

According to one of the above people, in a “presentation at LibrePlanet, RMS did mention something about promoting Free Software philosophies to maker spaces.”

We expect RMS to still be around and very much active, not only in GNU but also in other areas. His Web site has been updated to make that point very, very clear. It happened after it had repeatedly been vandalised to state the opposite (we suspect an insider or associate with access credentials did this). We also hear about some upcoming meetings with RMS in Boston. RMS isn’t ‘history’ or a ‘has been’, but some corporate agenda wants us to believe otherwise. There’s a very heavy and very persistent attack on multiple fronts at the moment.

An hour ago Benjamin Henrion told us (in IRC): “Fosdem is using Github for the devrooms, they ask for a Pull Request to submit the CFPs, I will refuse in a short letter…”

It’s almost as if FOSDEM (Europe) has been ‘outsourced’ to Microsoft. Create an account with Microsoft to talk or attend??? It is something we currently look into, e.g. who decided to pay FOSDEM this year and what for (e.g. keynote speakers’ positions). Money is toxic in this context and it has already poisoned quite a few communities. Some people online have alleged that the FSF already takes Google money (Google is not a copyleft proponent but an ‘unwilling’ user of it). Others have told us about the ramifications of Stormy Peters officially defecting to Microsoft. This defection causes problems on multiple fronts. Techrights called Peters out as a threat/danger more than a decade ago. It’s the same bunch as de Icaza of Mono and Friedman who’s now using proprietary software (GitHub) to attack FOSS as a whole. From the inside.

EmacsConf Without Richard Stallman

Posted in FSF, Humour at 2:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New: “November 2: Save the date! EmacsConf is coming to Boston” (Stallman, who lives in Boston, is not even mentioned)

This man made emacs. Sorry, people no longer know or care.

Summary: Now that emacs is being 'rebranded' this kind of meme seems apt

Guest Article: Techies Should Not Dictate the Free Software Movement

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 1:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Article by Jagadees.S

Richard Stallman in FSF site
Richard Stallman in the FSF site (a month ago)

Summary: “We should start a second phase of the Free software movement that’s making good software and putting users at the center.”

In 1983 Richard Stallman, a great computer programmer as well as a great thinker and technologist of our time, began the Free software movement. Its purpose was to produce software that respected users’ rights. Stallman did this because he saw the injustice proprietary software was doing to users. He could not bear that injustice and therefore he started the Free software movement and formulated the idea called copyleft — and along with it a licence called the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Nobody cared about this in the beginning.

“Even though Stallman dedicated his life to Free software development he always says there are lots of more important and urgent issues in this world.”He is a great programmer. So, he recruited himself; since — as he says — “no need to pay Stallman”. He began writing Free software programs which respected users’ freedom. He inspired and mobilised lot of programmers. They also joined and worked with him. So, Stallman and his whole team were the creators of Free software.

Even though Stallman dedicated his life to Free software development he always says there are lots of more important and urgent issues in this world. Since he is a programmer he is working to solve injustice in the software realm. So there is nothing special about software. He’s a programmer; that’s why he focuses on it.

How you joined the movement

But what if you joined the movement because the software is fast? Faaaaaast, or beautiful or secure etc. You cannot really understand what this community is for. You see it as just a company. Then you put yourself at the center. You see millions of people using your software for free. You feel something greater than yourself.

“So all of a sudden you see the group of innocent corporate donors, even Epsteins. You will be happy with them and thank them for their support.”Or, alternatively, you may have joined this movement after hearing Stallman’s speech or writing. You accepted the politics of Free software. Great. Years or decades of writing programs. Fixing lot of issues. You focused more on making your software better. You forget about the politics. You see it as old, boring. Also, you see that even proprietary software companies have joined the team. They may be donating millions of dollars. Nobody is against Free software even though some call it by a crazy name like “OEM Source Software” (Open Source). So everything is fine. Then you think that Free software politics have become obsolete.

Most of the time you may have been a student (at that time when you first heard Stallman’s speech). As you grow up your responsibility to a family increases. You have to meet or reach the so-called “American Dream”. But by now years have passed and you cannot reach it with your activism. So all of a sudden you see the group of innocent corporate donors, even Epsteins. You will be happy with them and thank them for their support. Also, you might support their beliefs (in making money). This is the beginning of the conflict of interest.

In the meantime you may also be bombarded with lots of “real” political issues such as the freedom to use incandescent bulbs, Right to Work, new #metoo etc in social control media. (Whereas society ignored Tarana Burke for more than a decade, #metoo became viral in just the last 2 years. There is a very big difference between those 2. Homework for you.)

Corporate interests

Decades ago the ‘corporates’ ignored the Free software movement. Because they thought it was a Utopian dream that will never realise or fulfill or reach its objective. Finally they saw the success of the movement. It had direct consequences for their corporate profits. For example, a lot of educational institutions now use GNU, eliminating the proprietary software market.

“Decades ago the ‘corporates’ ignored the Free software movement. Because they thought it was a Utopian dream that will never realise or fulfill or reach its objective.”So these ‘corporates’ cannot ignore the movement as they did earlier. Instead they want the same model of development without its politics. Model of development in this context means volunteers developing software. So they don’t have to pay for anything. Maybe once in a while they’ll give some trip to a foreign country or a podium position. Even better than the gig economy!

Breaking a system from the outside is a tough job. It may backfire and strengthen the system. But it will be very easy to break things from inside. Ruling classes know and have known this for centuries. What they have to do is entryism — just act like they’re supporting people’s movements. And then later they become the whole movement. At the end everybody will forget what the movement was for.

Techies’ conflict of interest

If you consider the movement keeping you at the center, what do you see? You see yourself or a group of people without selfish motives doing work and providing their work/output to the users. Meaning, you’re giving something to others. It’s kind of like charity.

In all of these circumstances you see the user as a charity taker. And yourself as a charity provider. Sometimes you don’t even think about users. All you care is about the software you work on with a narcissistic viewpoint.

“This is a community for the user.”This is completely wrong. It’s a myth. We have to end this myth. This movement is formed only to give full rights to users. But the techies’ self interest is betraying the movement.

You, dear techie, are just a worker. You have a conflict of interest. Whoever pays you, you are biased and obliged to them. So we cannot trust you. So do your work, take the money and go home. Don’t talk about your shallow sectarian politics here.

Free software as a people’s movement

This is a community for the user. We should start a second phase of the Free software movement that’s making good software and putting users at the center. There will be user communities. They will raise resources and fund things. They will recruit workers. Workers will develop software. Once a project is completed workers will be ‘fired’. User communities will own the software with all 4 freedoms. It’s not an easy task. But we have to work towards that. And techies should not dictate the Free software movement. The Free software movement is for Free software users. Not developers.

10.17.19

Free as in Free Speech (Restrictions May Apply)

Posted in FSF, Humour at 10:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Beware the hyenas

The Free Software Foundation defends your freedom. That's the safe space, LibrePlanet with a CoC.

Summary: When limits of speech are not safety-related rules but political correctness or conformism [1, 2]

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