11.26.20

Boycott ZDNet Unless You Fancy Being Lied to

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux at 9:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ZDNet is in a race to the bottom in gutter ‘journalism’

Formula 1 BAR Honda

Summary: ZDNet’s Catalin Cimpanu continues to lead the way with misinformation and lies, basically doing whatever he was doing to land that job at ZDNet (after he had done the same elsewhere)

TODAY there was a new article from Sam Varghese about Catalin Cimpanu, the liar and dramatist whom ZDNet hired to attack Linux with FUD, seeing how he had been doing that for years in another site. As Varghese put it, “ZDNet has a person on staff, Stephen J. Vaughan-Nicholls [sic], who knows the Linux very well. So why exactly the kind of dross that was published on 24 November was ever allowed to pass the editor’s knife is puzzling.”

The “tl;dr” is that (quite frankly as usual) it’s not about “Linux” and it requires shoddy users/admins to help the attacker/s.

“This got notably worse than ZDNet’s parent company collapsed.”What’s more puzzling to us is that SJVN continues to work there, even while bemoaning this Linux “security” FUD. Varghese already wrote a number of other pieces about Cimpanu’s lies, as did we and some sites that we’ve cited. Let’s face it; ZDNet isn’t really a news site but a propaganda apparatus. The above article was in Daily Links this morning, as was one piece of FUD derived from the ZDNet FUD.

ZDNet's Catalin CimpanuWe continue to urge readers to boycott ZDNet. One year ago its parent company collapsed. Let’s make sure ZDNet collapses as soon as possible as well. It’s lying and provoking for traffic, in effect spreading Microsoft propaganda, defaming Free software people, and using clickbait to annoy people who still value actual facts. This got notably worse than ZDNet’s parent company collapsed.

11.25.20

The Non-Technical (or Lesser Technical) Software User That Wants Software Freedom

Posted in BSD, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 12:44 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Open Letter to Figosdev from Mogz (a reply to this one)

Duck with Slinky

Summary: Assuming that Free software should care about what users — not only developers — really want (and need) it’s important to understand how they view the current situation (with growing waves of corporate takeover and compromises, even expulsions)

First, thank you very much for posting your open letter, and for registering my genuine concern that free software succeed, and for apologies. I really appreciate that a lot, and thank you for taking the time to respond in detail. I apologize also, for the delay in response (ill health delayed me finding your letter). Very interesting to also read your commendable history of contributing, and past posts. Reading the quotes and your responses is bringing more clarity to my questions and concerns, so thank you for that.

For example, I realise that I need to make it clearer that part of what I’m addressing is a resource loop-hole, non-tech users who deeply care about privacy/freedoms. More about that later.

Winter Fun seriesI understand what you’re saying regarding [Alex] Oliva [who] won’t fork, thus Linux won’t be fixed, and that integral large packages (perl, python) can’t be forked, and too few devs to fork halfbuzz, plus the Gnu Project aren’t making the effort to fork what they could. It was actually a relief to read things in your response that nobody else ever says, such as most devs don’t care about users/freedoms, about having contributed to bad projects, who is fine with mixing with github … that makes the list a lot shorter regarding who/what to give energy and time to, also. I don’t find it depressing to have a clear bullet-list that shortens my own list, so I can double down on what IS positive. Stopping paying attention to users/devs who ignore problems, who don’t take things seriously, for example, is very uplifting to realise further, too; no more writing to some main linux youtubers (nb not gardner) and receiving no responses, for example! To read that you too are fed up with the attitude to users is very heartening, as nobody says this stuff. No longer feeling like some kind of lone crazy person, lol. And when people see mirrored their own real feelings, they definitely feel they can relate, and it can move them to be part of things.

“I see BSD is being pointed to as the ‘bunker’, but that is a big step for any non-tech people.”There’s been an unnerving journey of realising what’s going on, but, if the only people talking about this stuff are saying it’s all too rotten to fix, that has to be looked at seriously, along with my own experiences, observations and concerns to date. A main thing I live by is that there’s a time comes when stepping out and away from something becomes critical; that frees up energies for what is timely and important to move onto, and to not step away would jeopardize what CAN be safeguarded and built in the new space. As long as everything’s been examined and understood fully before taking such a clear step, better to observe from a distance and be doing something positive with life, rather than go down with the ship.

You asked directly what sort of hope I want to see … really clear bottom-line summary about how things are, which the letter from you is already covering more. Also, what people can do, and HOW (for non-techs), in order to maintain the freedom/privacy/values that are so important.

I don’t mean about coddling infants, as you reference, but those who don’t have any tech DNA yet want to get on the BSD ship/into the new place, to support free software, respect, privacy, care about users, but know they just can’t get their head around that without clear instruction. The corporate are dumbing people down by the year, ‘bread and circuses’, ‘leave it to us’, ‘we make your life easy’ (as we siphon off ALL your data and make money) … they want people’s energies, power, everything, whereas what I mean is what empowers people, the ladder that can get them into that place, where they can then do what they do best, contributing in other ways. You can’t give a jet to someone and expect them to fly it, but if they’re a passenger on the jet, they could be a doctor, a lawyer, anything non-tech, but still play a critical part.

“If the talk all the time is about values and who/what cares about users, then let’s care about the users, actively and practically, helping them to find a ‘bunker’ and batten down those hatches, as they wait for the albeit large tornado to pass, and meanwhile can do what they can in the ‘bunker’ to hatch something new.”I see BSD is being pointed to as the ‘bunker’, but that is a big step for any non-tech people. Can there be a beginner series on running an easily installable BSD, to get non-tech people started? Are there a few people willing to do that? Are there any very beginner tutorials anywhere already, all in one place and up to date? How many non-tech users, who deeply care about privacy/freedoms, read Techrights? Are most of them lurkers, since privacy/being offline is so important to them? I have many questions, lol. If a series were done, it could be shared all across the Linux places? So even non-techs, who could number far more than realised, can take part? adding important numbers of people who really care. There’s a very vocal part to Linux, and it tends to be those pushing for Wayland and the corporate and gaming … no wonder those who care about the freedoms, or are non-tech, may often be found increasingly offline, but will be reading articles, and wondering HOW to function and, in parallel, how to add to the numbers actively making important shifts.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m talking about bringing more on board those who care about the values. I have no ability or desire to code, or become more tech … I want only to support the freedoms, values, respect, the space where people can be themselves and as happy as possible. That is the only reason I crossed over to Linux. I leave the technical aptitude to those who practice that so well, who have that DNA, while I do what I do best.

So many new users have come over in the last year. People who care and want to contribute tend to want a clear list to get on with, to know how serious things are, at the same time as beginner instruction on HOW to exit from Linux. They’re the sort of people we want, who care about privacy/freedom/respect/values, so how do we get them to the ‘bunker’, even if that ‘bunker’ is e.g. at first a non-ideal BSD install, but at least a starting place to learn, and with clear tutorials as a main priority? Get everyone who cares to the best place possible, where they can function and have a foundation that doesn’t feel like shifting sands; then the new can come through when possible.

“Those good at tech can do an incredible contribution by distilling what they know into a simple clear set of tutorials.”I can’t possibly be the only privacy-conscious and non-tech person on Linux?! So please don’t mistake any of what I say as me trying to get personal help for me; I know ‘go offline’ is my answer, if there’s no other way, but I’ve believed for a long time that there must be many users similar to myself, but who won’t speak up or ask … that’s been a theme in my life, and anyone’s life who can’t stand by and say nothing, when it comes to the crunch … and there’s always others afterwards who say they agreed! Those people can read and ACT independently, no head above the parapet stuff, via clear tutorials, and that shifts things away from the negative corporate who treat Linux as their resource to mine, and it really matters that the corporate, and corporate-supporting, lose the numbers and influence, and any kind of attention. Providing very clear tutorials would end up being very low-maintenance overall, once the tutorials are done. Gathering those in one place is also very important, rather than lots of bits everywhere that may be old or new, accurate or not. I understand you will have your own life and commitments, so my question is an open one, about if there are people who would do tutorials.

To jump to covering the depression part a bit more … it is definitely not about avoiding the real truth, which ends up freeing people up to go where IS positive. If others are reading messages mainly pointing out what is depressing, they can get the message nobody else is going to do anything, and everything’s too difficult, which makes their fight harder, and makes getting involved just about impossible. It can seize them up. ‘Let’s all be depressed together’ doesn’t work, in this instance, except briefly at the start, to know we’re all on the same page.

Just to reference the ‘not enough work/effort is going in’ too … that can’t be where things stop, and is certainly not what’s written on my page. If the talk all the time is about values and who/what cares about users, then let’s care about the users, actively and practically, helping them to find a ‘bunker’ and batten down those hatches, as they wait for the albeit large tornado to pass, and meanwhile can do what they can in the ‘bunker’ to hatch something new. Rolling over and saying we’re defeated is what the corporate want … no freedoms, privacy, respect, happiness, stable space to function, etc. There’s loads can be done about shifting across to BSD, that can bring in a lot more people that normally can’t, or have tried, to be involved in the movement. Such articles can add to the already very good truthful articles, and inspire people, and article writers, helping to generate momentum in shifting across to BSD, making it doable, if that is the definite consensus about where we all need to be going.

Those good at tech can do an incredible contribution by distilling what they know into a simple clear set of tutorials. Just as with drawing on how many non-tech users there are out there, those with tech ability not sharing what they know would be a big loss. It’s uncomfortable to be asking regarding doing this initial outlay, but if it brings in lots of non-techs who care about what matters, and the move across to BSD can gain big momentum, that could buoy everyone up and really achieve something productive. I’d rather it be me rattling off all the tutorials, but that’s a complete non-starter. I can follow very clear tutorials and be part of the shift, supporting the freedoms, caring about users, and I can contribute art to the cause. There’s no way I would put these ideas on the table if I wasn’t willing to contribute something in kind, and I know I would regret it later if I didn’t ask now.

Would expanding the range of articles be something useful to do? … focusing on other things e.g. those stepping away and how they’re doing it, those dropping big tech and how great that is, those who left working for big tech and how they’re doing better things now, how hyperbolaBSD is coming along/interview … after the critical tutorials about how to cross over! Articles from non-techs who’ve been able to go to BSD via the tutorials? How many more users does BSD have this year? By all means, the clear truth, but also articles that cover the features of the better place we all want to inhabit. Just throwing out some ideas, in case anything is useful.

“And, as you rightly say, covering the difference between open source and free software is very important; another tutorial!”Let’s also remember that the corporate psychopaths have many blind spots, not caring about or being able to recognise the things we do, thus not able to come up with the appropriate solutions either … yes, they read and watch, and their answer to everything seems to be ‘shut them down’/’invade their space’, never dialogue or connect, but there are far more non-psychopaths in the world than psychopaths, otherwise there wouldn’t have been 30 years of Linux before this corporate/psychopathic stuff started to rear it’s head. The tech sites that promote the corporate etc want us to believe there aren’t enough good people out there to make a difference, and such as Red Hat, showing their cards the very next morning like that, wasn’t very bright, so not crediting them with lots of real wisdom seems a wise thing to do!

Interesting to read the work you’ve done. I too worked with the homeless, but in non-tech ways. Background of lots of carework, then art (digital). I didn’t know about your remastering tool! It would be great to see the article about that, and maybe others reading, or just finding, TechRights don’t know about it also.

“Art can certainly lift people, get things expressed, be very unifying (in the traditional pre-PC/diversity way), and literally brightens up the world.”Thank you again for your response, and it’s refreshing to dialogue and get clearer on things, my wish being that all kinds of users can be involved, including non-techs, as, beyond all the ‘stuff’, I’m certain there are doable things that can really shift things along more in the direction we want to go, and the more numbers the better and faster things can shift.

The more I think about this, the more I think creating that place we need involves bringing in all types of user and very clear and basic documentation, as numbers and the how-to are integral to that creation. Potential new users today, who’ve just realised they need to make a shift, could see a set of BSD tutorials that are actually easier to understand than Linux documentation, and just go straight to BSD, for example. People need to be informed, included, and to have the tools, then the numbers just keep rising, along with those good at tech, and that new space takes shape. And, as you rightly say, covering the difference between open source and free software is very important; another tutorial! lol.

I agree that a non-corporate community/usergroup(s) is very important; no egos, no diversity, no PC, but just basically be decent, which I think would be there, when people are making effort to do something because they care about people being free and are all working together on the same page. None of your ‘giafam’s okay’ half-hearteds! It would also need to be solidly private/encrypted, so no big tech can get in and threaten or harm people. Maybe we’re all watching to see which of the new communities pan out better, but there needs to be one secure one we all know of and go to, yes? Gathering information, tutorials, whatever is the ladder to get more people on board, and into a new space. Information and energy frittered everywhere doesn’t seem to be working for Linux as well as it could now, so one central place is definitely important. Some direction on that I feel is important too, so users know what is the best place, where are people at, etc. I can’t access the Slated site, but understand what you’re saying about big tech’s agenda and the ways they try to take people’s freedom and power.

“My conclusion, when trying various non-systemd distros, was that it was all about enclaves and either deliberate or broken-tech barriers, which, despite relating to them wanting their own space, made it impossible to take part in moving away from systemd.”I haven’t heard Free Culture spoken of, and need to look up Lessig, for sure, so thanks for pointing me that way. Art can certainly lift people, get things expressed, be very unifying (in the traditional pre-PC/diversity way), and literally brightens up the world. Creative people tend to have plenty of ideas and inspiration to draw on, to apply to real world issues, too, so I look forward to reading more about Free Culture and what others are doing with that at this point. Great to hear that there is openness to free-as-in-freedom art being a good contribution, too! I need to balance what I do with health issues, but am used to working around that, and would be able to reliably contribute art, for sure; my pleasure.

I couldn’t agree more about Devuan too. My conclusion, when trying various non-systemd distros, was that it was all about enclaves and either deliberate or broken-tech barriers, which, despite relating to them wanting their own space, made it impossible to take part in moving away from systemd. Every non-systemd distro I tried that week ended up the same. So thanks for not recommending Devuan, lol. I run Anarchy and Mate, not ideal but as lean as possible, at this point, so fully agree with tidying up a small distro. Debian seems a massive monolith, and definitely looks like an overwhelming amount for anyone to take on. Getting away from the problems is definitely good. Am up for the adventure, for getting away from the dark, to somewhere where things can get done, in freedom and stability.

From this self-advocator, who will never stop championing what enables people to have choice and freedom, and who doesn’t feel quite as out in the forest as I did, thanking you again for not being one of those who shunned, and instead is refreshingly direct and fair, signing off for now.

Open Source Initiative (OSI) Co-founder Bruce Perens: Open Invention Network (OIN) is Protecting the Software Patent System From Reform and OSI Approves Faux ‘Open’ Licences (Openwashing)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, OSI, Patents at 6:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Well, maybe ironically he posted this in a Microsoft site. Microsoft now gets the majority of the OSI's work/budget, basically to help cement its monopoly. OSI has just advertised a job opening for its leadership because at the moment it lacks any.

Bruce Perens in 2020

Summary: Richard Stallman was right about the OSI and the fake ‘movement’ that claims to have ‘coined’ the term “Open Source” (it wasn’t a new term at all; it had been used in another context and the Free software community spoke of things like “Open Hardware” years earlier)

THE “OPEN SOURCE” so-called ‘movement’ (see Perens using that term, “movement”) turned out to be a sham. It banned its own co-founder and Perens, the second co-founder, resigned in protest earlier this year. Ever since then he occasionally explains what went wrong. Richard Stallman speaks to him about it (he told me so).

“I frequently urge people to stop saying “Open Source”. We need to speak about Software Freedom (or Free/libre software) instead.”In 2020, for the first time in more than 15 years, I abandoned news about “Open Source” completely, seeing that the majority of them were just openwashing and promotion of proprietary prisons such as GitHub (Microsoft surveillance and censorship). To me, personally, “Open Source” is dead. It’ll never come back. The label or the term “Open Source” is also increasingly meaningless. Many software licences that are called “Open Source” are not Free software-compliant. They’re an openwashing slant to help sell proprietary software and/or mass surveillance in Clown Computing.

I frequently urge people to stop saying “Open Source”. We need to speak about Software Freedom (or Free/libre software) instead. Any time we (still) say “Open Source” we help those who hijacked the term to push a toxic agenda, in effect helping a new-age monopoly by mass deception.

It’s kind of sad in a way. It’s difficult. For many years I did in fact use the term “Open Source”; so seeing what happened to it is frustrating. But it’s too late to change that now. That’s why Perens quit the OSI. That’s why ESR went on the mailing list and fought back, only to be banned by the very organisation that he had helped found.

“Open Source” has always been a sham, but many assumed it to be well-meaning; Stallman was right about it. “I had an idea though about OSI and their push on their OSI-approved licenses,” one reader told us earlier this week. She has been around this scene since the 1990s and she knows what really happened. And “still,” she says, “when clearly they are long done… since Perens did say there were licenses that never should have been approved (and I never saw any effort to improve that situation after he said it…) and since he said there were loopholes – I will evaluate a few and write up an analysis.”

Perens approved 2020In the meantime she left us with a bunch of relevant screenshots we cannot see (without a Microsoft account or spying by Microsoft). Notice these openwashers and people who speak of “virus” (in relation to a software licence, see image on the right). Those people are active in a Microsoft site (proprietary and surveillance) while claiming to do “Open Source”.

Our reader thinks the whole thing is mostly a scam. Charlatans make money from the scam.

“Meeting people in real life was an eye opener! :) At SCaLE 15x in 2017,” she recalls, “I attended the law track, where I met a Lawyer claiming to be a Free and Open Source Lawyer… who didn’t know the difference. We did explain the difference to him during happy hour.

“Although IANAL, I knew more than the lawyers present who did not have the basic understanding of copyright – Example, they were arguing a moot point because they did not have basic knowledge of functional v speech.”

Here are some more comments regarding OSI on Linkedin:

Bruce Perens

Richard Stallman once said:

“When I do this, some people think that it’s because I want my ego to be fed, right? Of course, I’m not asking you to call it “Stallmanix”!”

We’d like to see Torvalds’ reaction to people saying that he’s releasing “GNU” each time he releases a new version of Linux (kernel). He’d be more pissed off than RMS ever was…

We’re still looking for additional loopholes regarding the OSI scam and the creation of parallel ‘movements’ (like calling GNU “Linux” and Free software “Open Source” — only to be taken over by the likes of Microsoft at the Linux Foundation and OSI). To be continued

11.24.20

Microsoft ‘Moles’ Inside WINE Project? WINE Should Bring Windows Users to GNU/Linux, Not the Other Way Around.

Posted in Deals, Deception, DRM, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista 10, Windows, Wine at 7:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Published hours ago as a press release paid for by WSL (Windows) boosters

WSL and WINE

Summary: The press release above (link omitted, it was pinned in several sites) is a cause for concern; after Microsoft infiltrated OSI and the Linux Foundation (both are now GitHub boosters, in effect diverting projects to Microsoft’s proprietary monopoly) it’ll be important to watch this space

THE word “mole” may seem rather strong, but it’s in the press release. The same people who have already infiltrated Canonical to a certain degree (to promote Microsoft Windows in the official Ubuntu blog) are now picking another sort of ‘outpost’, not even elaborating on the nature of the said collaboration.

“If Microsoft genuinely loved Linux, it would improve WINE.”Those who are familiar with the antics and tactics of Whitewater Foundry would rightly be concerned. This is a move that’s anything but exciting, except perhaps for Microsoft (if it hopes to more tightly control the WINE project through these people).

WSL/MicrosoftIf Microsoft genuinely loved Linux, it would improve WINE. WSL is the very opposite of that — it’s about keeping people away from GNU/Linux and getting them stuck inside Vista 10 with all the back doors, the extensive surveillance, the DRM and so on. CodeWeavers basically sells proprietary software based on the Free software, which is WINE. Why would it wish to get closer to Whitewater Foundry? Time will tell, but it doesn’t look good. This would not benefit GNU/Linux but Microsoft’s war on GNU/Linux (it's about control, akin to what the deal with Novell sought to achieve)

11.20.20

Open Letter to Mogzagain (No Worries)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 11:13 am by Guest Editorial Team

Response by figosdev

Color feather

Summary: figosdev responds to a concerned reader of Techrights, who wants Free software to succeed

Don’t know who Mogzagain is; seems alright.

Can I call you Mogz?

People don’t usually have this many questions and comments — that’s no problem, it’s in response to a long article.

Let’s get to it:

“I’m really questioning why these are posted. Very demoralising, and this one seems to say overall that none of us are joining forces or investing assets/time/effort/support, but users should fix linux themselves.”

Let’s see — “users should fix linux themselves” is not exactly what I would say.

Linux is an operating system kernel. It takes skilled developers to maintain that. Skilled developers cover a very wide range of things, but I do not expect “users” (per se) to fix Linux.

What I had hoped was that the people already making it free (linux-libre developers) could expand into fixing other things. I actually thought this was possible — I’ve spent years polling people and trying to meet this team (or handful of individuals even) willing to take this on.

I don’t think that team exists. If there was any chance of that, I’d want to hear more details. They haven’t come up.

BSD, on the other hand, is demonstrably forkable. In other words, relatively small developer teams have simply forked BSD — kernel and all.

NetBSD was doing some things that some of its developers wanted to drastically change — the changes weren’t welcome, so they just forked it into OpenBSD. It would be nice if Linux had that, but it doesn’t seem to. I’m really not trying to project a bias or be a “pessimist” about this one. I’d also love to be wrong.

“…not meaning to be unpleasant, but it’s taken me half an hour to calm down enough to hopefully contribute something that might lift things”

Sorry about that. Hopefully some of the things that upset you were misunderstandings. Don’t get me wrong, there are people I’m willing to upset. As far as I can tell, you weren’t one of the people intended.

“if rms/oliva joined forces, steering things with a strong hand, small numbers, and refusing big tech, there could be hope”

Yes, “if” — but rms doesn’t code anymore. He mostly nitpicks things, but they’re often important nitpicks. A fine example was when he made a big deal in 2015 about parts of the GNU Project moving to GitHub. He was against it, he listed reasons. Some of the GNU developers didn’t listen. Now it’s controlled by Microsoft.

Not all nitpicking is a bad thing. It won’t produce code, but it might prevent code from doing things that harm user freedom. The GNU Project was designed to give freedom, not just to produce code.

Oliva is not going to fork Linux. Without a fork, I do not think Linux is going to be fixed. But if I thought Oliva was even going to try to fix Linux (you might think he would be the sort, I would too), then I would reevaluate the statement I made about it. Again, “if”.

“and they have the experience and ‘clout’, so it seems wrong to say the little ppl should be achieving what they could, without that support”

That’s really not what I meant or said. I totally appreciate that you got that from what I was saying, but since it doesn’t sound like you’re happy about it, I hope it helps that I didn’t mean that.

“no idea why 5 github-linked packages aren’t forked, seeing as oliva runs the libre kernel”

Let’s look at those 5 packages (there are actually more) — Perl, Python, zlib1g, libFFI, HarfBuzz

Perl and Python could be mirrored — that would help if it was an official GNU mirror. They’re going to have a difficult time justifying that when there are other parts of the GNU Project like Bison and GNU Radio that have moved there.

Nonetheless, Perl and Python are both used in build tools.

Automake for example, relies on Perl. In fact at least 54 different projects use it.

But GNU clearly isn’t going to fork Perl or Python. They’re enormous.

If we are realistic about the GNU developers, there are probably not enough people to fork HarfBuzz. But let’s be optimists and pretend that’s a sure thing.

LibFFI allows other languages (like Python) to interface with C. I’ve never used it, I’m really not sure how it works, but it seems to be required by nearly everything. Basically every graphical library brings in either LibFFI or zlib1g — and any program that uses PNG graphics brings in zlib1g.

It would be a really good idea to fork or at least mirror LibFFI and zlib1g. But the GNU Project isn’t showing the will to do this — they don’t think it’s important enough to not have things like this controlled by Microsoft.

I don’t know how familiar you are with the linux-libre project. It’s simpler than forking these projects. If you ask Oliva, I’m confident he will tell you, it’s simpler than forking these projects. I’m not underrating his skills — in fact I’m not rating his skills at all, I’m rating the amount of work he’s going to do on this.

I don’t expect Oliva to do this anyway. The only reason he comes up with regards to this is he does linux-libre.

“figosdev should consider that telling others to fix linux isn’t going to work when you tell ppl the leaders won’t unite and nobody’s really doing anything”

I don’t expect you to be familiar with the things I’ve written, but in the past I’ve talked about upgrading the Free Software movement (in much more positive terms) and then I talked extensively about saving the FSF —

I warned people that rms would be ousted. I’m not taking all the credit for that, others warned that as well. But those warnings were still written in a way that suggested we could stop it from happening.

Now he’s out, and all the points I made years ago about making certain the movement continues are more relevant and more urgent.

Maybe this approach won’t change anything, but I’ve tried being more positive in the past.

A note: Oliva himself gave feedback on my article. I won’t pretend he loved it, but he did seem to like some of the points made. He also corrected something that I would address the correction of in the article I wrote the next day.

“if rms/oliva prefer the fsf, why is figosdev writing saying users should fix everything, alone”

That’s really not what I expect them to do.

“can’t weaken a monopoly by being part of it”

I strongly agree. And this is what bothers me about GNU getting closer to Microsoft. It’s deadly, and self-destructive. The developers don’t seem to care, and that’s worrisome.

Oiaohm is absolutely correct that most projects don’t have enough manpower. I don’t expect everybody to “learn to code”, but we should at least try to teach everyone how — not only so more people can contribute, but because it’s the easiest way to increase computer literacy (as well as user confidence).

I wrote a programming language specifically to make that easier. A lot of people would probably argue that it wasn’t necessary, but they don’t know how it came about.

I was already trying to come up with ways to teach Python or JavaScript or Bash to anybody. I made lots of observations about the things that slowed people down that are NOT fundamental to coding, which I removed to create my own language.

I also took a lot from the easiest educational languages ever written.

Whether this is helpful or not, Free Software needs more people who can code. And if more people were interested in coding, it would be a lot easier to explain the importance of Free Software.

Free Software is important whether you code or not, of course — and even if you don’t core, having freedom makes it easier to do things when you can hire a person or find a friend that does know how to make changes.

But it’s a lot easier to explain that to someone who does know how to code, so even if they’re not making changes to the GNU Project, it’s easier to promote Free Software if more people are coders.

If everybody is on GitHub though, it’s sort of moot — those people are interns for Microsoft one way or another. And Microsoft doesn’t play for freedom, it plays for keeps (and control of the ecosystem).

“if rms/oliva joined forces, forked the 5 packages, and gave ppl some hope, surely a far better way to spend time and inspire users”

That really isn’t going to happen. I don’t think I implied that (ordinary?) users would do that, but certainly someone who is trusted by the GNU Project would have to do it. Some of the GNU developers trust GitHub, so their opinion isn’t going to help determine if the mirror is in a good place or not.

Even the new FSF president trusts GitHub.

“why write articles saying users should fix it all when every response is so demoralising and depressing”

Right now people are ignoring so many problems, it creates an existential threat for the GNU Project. Not taking this threat seriously could cause more trouble than being demoralising.

If people are going to continue feeding Microsoft’s monopoly, the GNU Project will not achieve its purpose.

People mark a species “endangered” in hopes of people making an effort not to kill it off, not to depress people. the result is worse if they insist on pretending things are alright when they’re almost certainly not.

“ppl need some hope, and surely rms/oliva uniting is doable and would be something really good”

‘What sort of hope would you like to see?’ Is a good question for you to be answering right now.

Hope may truly be needed, I agree. Though I don’t think it’s the only thing that is needed.

“surely it’s a waste of time to have anything to do with the fsf; they were behind rms being ousted, so have made it VERY clear which side they’re on”

I agree, but I also understand the sorts of things that might keep people there past the time that it’s reasonable. I suggested to Stallman that he should create a “more grassroots / less corporate” Free Software movement. I don’t think he’s going to, but I think it might really be necessary.

I suggest the same to anybody who thinks it’s a good idea. There are caveats with that approach, of course. There are always caveats with any decision that is very big.

“but ppl need hope, and others to be positive, so, yes, that article does have a responsibility to contribute something positive, not demoralising”

I do not consider it my responsibility to give a pep rally when there are problems this big. The problem goes beyond morale, and the solution needs to go beyond morale.

“plenty of users have helped and donated, and suddenly everyone talks like that never happened”

I have donated as well — generally to causes that were disappointing.

I’ve donated money and equipment to developers. I don’t regret spending the money or giving up the equipment, though I can at least think of better projects now — none of the projects I tried to support before GitHub was sold or Stallman was ousted have continued to help.

A lot has changed. Debian is the biggest disappointment on the software front. I worry for Python. I wish I’d given the money to PyPy, but one of the developers I gave it money to did a lot for me, I don’t really blame him for what happened.

“so why doesn’t figosdev be realistic, and thankfully brief …”

I am being realistic, you’re asking me to sugarcoat things.

Brevity is irrelevant. You decided to read my article. You could have skimmed or ignored it, you know.

“nobody’s going to work together or help; you’re all on your own, regardless of how much you may have contributed”

It’s not my fault if (too many) developers stop caring about users. If I call them on it, it’s not to depress the users.

“watching ms all day is not going to save linus”

“I would say plenty of users have donated, bugfixed, helped in countless ways, over many years … but everyone talks like they do nothing”

I think it’s more likely users have given too much support to projects that don’t care enough about their freedom — this is nearly the opposite of saying that users have done nothing.

“there weren’t issues until big tech was allowed in; now users are ‘lazy’, ‘greedy’, should fix it all themselves, and no talented leaders will combine to do anything.”

You’ve read a lot of things into what I said that I simply didn’t say.

But we seem to agree that big tech is the problem here.

“whether short of resources or not, demoralisation and lack of effort is what is preached?! if rms had that attitude 30 yrs ago, no freedom or gnu would have happened”

I can’t really improve on what Oiaohm said: “its not exactly lack of effort. the words is more those looking at the problem and seeing that the amount of work/effort going in is not enough.”

Where you get that I blame the users more than the developers, I don’t follow. I can understand why that would be upsetting, but not why you think that’s what I meant.

“if a non-optimist can achieve the incredible things he did, I suggest he wasn’t a non-optimist for real”

I would suggest that you assume that pessimists fail where optimists succeed.

Stallman is not an optimist. He is quoted as calling himself a pessimist in general.

He is a stubborn pessimist, and so am I. You might call a stubborn pessimist a non-non-optimist — but a lot of people would still think (and often complain) that Stallman sounds very negative.

Let me give you an example from my own advocacy — you tell me if this sounds like pessimism or what:

I wanted to share GNU/Linux with people. So first, I spent more than 10 years learning how to use it. I tried more than 50 distributions, easily (I’ve tried more than that). I learned Bash scripting (for some value of Bash scripting) and I told everybody I know about it, wrote about it, tried to give people copies of it.

I talked people into dual-booting. Sometimes that went alright, mostly, not great. It’s not that dual-booting is all bad, it’s that the people I talked into trying it didn’t like it.

So I stuck to installing it on machines that people didn’t want anymore. Only they still didn’t want them after that.

I set up a homeless shelter with machines running GNU/Linux, and went in on a regular basis to do all their updates over SSH (on the LAN because nobody had the user and password for the AP to configure a port, and I didn’t want to reset it for them as I didn’t want to be responsible for their network as well).

Finally I found a way to give people GNU/Linux that actually made (everyday, self-proclaimed “non-computer people”) happy: when they had computer problems, I would take a free computer and say “you can use this one if you want — if you like it, you can keep it”.

If these (particular) people had a computer and I removed software and installed GNU/Linux, they would think it was broken: “Windows looks wrong, can you fix it”. “That’s not Windows”. “Why did you break Windows?” “I didn’t, I put something else on”. “Why didn’t you just fix Windows?”

But if I give them a computer that wasn’t theirs, they don’t care what’s on it. No frame of reference as to what “broken” is. This is how a lot of people think (sadly) and they’re not interested in learning the facts. The facts aren’t any less important, and I do try to tell them.

Eventually the platform I was using became unreliable, so I created a tool to remaster distros automatically…

It’s not like I just complain. But when I spend years working around what I consider unnecessary and deliberate bullshit — yes, I’m going to call bullshit!

“the devs that are going more corporate-favouring, infecting distros and the kernel, and getting the ms dollars, is no help, but surely rms fought that 30 yrs ago, and forged a path”

And for 20 years, Microsoft has fought against him.

I think they knew that he would be a problem for them with GitHub (among other things) so they finally used an old plan from OSI to get him out.

They say it was because of some MIT emails, however they were pulling the same shtick one year before at LibrePlanet. Over a couple of interruptions, including one question for the speaker by the president of the organisation.

The emcee tried to assert their authority over the president of the organisation, and the president (Stallman) didn’t go for it. So they tried to say that made LibrePlanet “unsafe”, which is some of the most fantastical bullshit I’ve ever heard.

Point being, this is all super-rotten. But you seem to already be aware of that, which is good.

“countless ppl have stepped up and helped”

I’m really not disputing that. A lot of the things I write heap up qualifiers to every broad statement I make: “of course this doesn’t apply to everybody”. To be honest, the fact that countless people have helped doesn’t change what I’m talking about: the saboteurs we both seem to be aware of.

If we agree they exist, what’s the problem with talking about it? And if I talk about it, why do you (seem to) think I’m blaming you?

“only free software guts and determination will win this, as rms did 30 yrs ago”

I strongly agree. But if the statement “only free software guts and determination will win this” is not itself demoralising, I don’t think you should interpret my article a lot differently.

“ppl who are naturally complacent do that, but not those who care about freedom/privacy etc”

I think you believe I wrote about the people who actually “care about freedom/privacy etc”. The thing is, I was talking about the people who are naturally complacent.

“it’s so frustrating that ppl LET things be infiltrated”

Yes, it is.

“…red hat disgust me, how they leapt onto the fsf the morning after rms was kicked out”

‘We think our advice could help the FSF find better people to work with, you know, for diversity. By the way, we worked with Hitler!’

“so those saying ‘I had to take big tech money’ are shams and didn’t care about freedom/users”

Bingo.

“but where do those NOT harming linux/others go is the critical question”

Exactly. If I want users to do anything, it’s to create that place — because right now, it really doesn’t exist.

Why do I want users to do it? So that users are in control of it.

We could ask the developers to do it — but as Oiaohm correctly points out, they’re spread very thin already. And it doesn’t leave users with the autonomy they deserve. Both are real problems that I didn’t make up. I encourage users to work on those, and I provide ideas as to how.

No takers yet.

“again, what can be done for linux users who care about privacy/freedom, and rapidly are having no island to inhabit”

That is a better summary of what I was talking about in the first place.

“rms started from very little and achieved incredibly … surely we need to take him as the inspiration if we hope to get back what matters”

Again, I agree.

“those of us who care about privacy/values need an island, preferably with rms/oliva there, something like that”

That would be cool.

“…back to my point about the article, telling users to do the work, without any support/inspiration or the rich experience of e.g. rms/oliva”

I don’t recommend “without any support/inspiration or the rich experience”. Oliva is still around. So is Stallman, though he’s very quiet.

By all means, people should draw what inspiration from them that they can. I encourage people to learn more about the history of Free Software especially — because the history shows what a sham Open Source turned out to be, and because learning more about how Free Software worked from the beginning will help people understand how to “reboot” the movement. History is very informative about that sort of thing.

And as far as learning about Stallman goes — the history is very inspiring.

“I’m the least tech person on linux probably, lol, and do art, only, but used to donate LOADS, until I go so fed up with the attitude to users”

Frankly I am also fed up with the attitude towards users. A person I used to talk to wanted to set up a new organisation specifically for users of Free Software. He wanted me to be the president, I said I would be happy to work with the organisation if it existed.

“but where [are] the leaders who care, who make an effort, who value freedoms and users, instead of constantly saying ‘you fix it’, when you can’t alone”

What is really needed is a new community (an island as you put it, though I’m not sure an island is what you want per se) or I prefer larger (not too large) networks of smaller communities — so that the small communities can be self-policing and have autonomy and self-advocate.

There’s no way around self-advocacy. If you can’t do that, (hint: you’re self-advocating when you bring up these complaints of yours) other people will do it for you. When they fail to understand you, or even fail to care, you’re right back to needing self-advocacy. So that’s a must.

A lot of people are coming out of the (corporate) woodwork to say users are more helpless than they really are, and need to be coddled like infants — I’m not talking about software! I’m talking about the ways communities are run.

It’s all a sham to put corporations in charge of communities — or put another way, to eliminate community and replace it with corporations. And it’s working.

Sadly, only users can stop this. And if they join together, WE will help them in whatever way we are able. But we can’t do it for them, it just doesn’t work that way. There are too many problems now, for the organisations that existed before to solve this — and that is precisely the point of the corporations doing it this way.

It is, to put it simply, the “advice” IBM gave to the FSF after Stallman was ousted, writ large. And that’s rotten.

You know that years before this was about terms like “blacklist” and “master”, it was about putting dollar signs in Micro$oft? That was their original objective: to get communities who hated abuse from monopolies to start treating their corporate “masters” with respect.

That article became exactly 10 years old on Wednesday. All this political correctness was already in motion a decade ago, but it wasn’t about diversity, it was about bowing to Big Tech.

Diversity is great. They’re hijacking it to move corporations above criticism (International Blaxploitation Machines…)

“going offline more, using rss, having thought that was at least better than being on the browser”

Awesome.

“have tried SO much online, but there’s so much unpleasantness, lack of commitment, unfair criticism, and I have made stands, and you just get shunned”

Hopefully you do not feel shunned right now. Here we can disagree. It isn’t mandatory, but it is an option.

“I could only teach art!”

Art is very useful to the movement. Personally I am disappointed that Lessig did not have greater success encouraging Free Software to pay more attention to Free Culture.

To me, the people who really get both of these concepts are of the greatest service to each movement. If you’re an artist, and you add some free-as-in-freedom work to what we do, that’s a help. I’m hardly the only person who thinks so.

“I’ve contributed fully painted professional wallpapers, offered stuff, etc”

Cool.

“unbelievable that ppl donate to mozilla etc”

Indeed. Telling people to “donate to mozilla” is almost as silly as telling them to send donations to Microsoft!

“if you want something done, let me know now”

Maybe hang around Techrights a little more (IRC is fine) until something comes to you? (Or comes to us?)

There’s a lot going on, and (I don’t speak officially for) Techrights needs people that care about these issues.

“what can happen? … back to figosdev’s article, which may as well have said ‘you’re on your own’, as rms/oliva won’t be there, etc”

Really not what I meant.

“what are ppl to do, when the most inspiring ppl aren’t collaborating, those who have rich experience?”

I write about that too. I could just start talking about it here, though it might be redundant.

“figosdev says there’s no real point creating groups, as big tech will just take over”

Not at all, I was talking about creating groups that are more resistant to big tech. And those groups need people who understand the things you do — or who can learn them.

The idea of the groups being plural is part of the resistance to big tech — which wants to consolidate everybody (via things like GitHub, Twitter, Facebook).

Fediverse is sadly all on GitHub. Most of the tech is on GitHub — I blame the people who aren’t trying to move.

I focus mostly on the treachery of “neutral” devs and actual shills, but ultimately it’s the users who must find the will to boycott and/or salvage as much as possible that is currently controlled by GIAFAM.

“he did an article saying is it Tiny distro is best, but increasingly these solutions become more technical, beyond non-technical users, etc, or nothing will work, etc”

Everything really is tied into GitHub at this point. That’s the problem. A tiny distro is best, but only if it’s not developed on GitHub.

People who are on Windows or Apple can upgrade by moving to ANY sort of distro. Hopefully they will avoid ones with systemd, as that is another trap (also GitHub-based).

Most of the systemd-free distros are GitHub-based as well. I won’t go into the serious problems Devuan has right now, but I don’t recommend it to anybody. You know what happens if I recommend Devuan to you? I’ve done you a disservice. I’d rather do Devuan a disservice than you, and I don’t even know you.

The reason I recommend a tiny distro is it has the fewest problems to solve. It’s honestly much closer to impossible to fix something like Debian at this point than build a community around fixing up a smaller distro.

However, I’ve stopped using GNU/Linux and focus on BSD. Same logic as that which went into using a tiny distro, really — it’s a bit farther from the problem.

The computer term “booting” (you may well know this, but I’ll say it anyway) comes via the term “bootstrapping”, from the phrase “pulling oneself up by their bootstraps” — a humourous and impossible / paradoxical image of progression.

I don’t suggest we simply take users and drop them in the middle of the forest to fend for themselves. However, hard times lay ahead whether we do nothing and wait, or try to do something. It won’t happen unless more users are up for an adventure, for trying new things, for taking an initiative (just not the Open Source Initiative, please).

Users are the only people who are qualified for some of this stuff. And it’s hard to find devs who haven’t sold out already.

But you’re not alone, in fact, we are — relatively speaking, there aren’t enough of us yet. And when there are, we aren’t going to agree on everything. So we need a way to disagree on some things and still make progress on the important things.

“truth-telling is important, but the message seems to be we’re f*cked, sort it yourself”

You seem to already be as disillusioned with the FSF as I am. Consider the possibility that what I was going for isn’t “it’s up to *you*” but rather up to *us* (and you…) not up to the people who say “Support The FSF! Join Today!” Because the latter is indeed hopeless. I think you said so yourself.

However, to put it that would be even more negative. Maybe it would be clearer though…

“we’re all depressed and fed up, yes, ms buying github and red hat selling out, is really crap, but is the only solution ultimately offline?”

I was hoping for groups both online and offline — like websites and usergroups. I mean, it doesn’t have to be websites and usergroups, but that’s what I think of.

Usergroups were created to help people become familiar with stuff that now so many people are familiar with. In that regard, they may not be as popular as they were before (or perhaps they are. I’ve only been to one).

There is a lot of unfamiliar territory ahead. We have much more to tend to than what’s become mainstream.

“nothing personal, just really concerned and hope something constructive can emerge.”

That’s exactly what I would say to you, sincerely:

Nothing personal, just really concerned and hope something constructive can emerge.

Long live rms, and Happy Hacking.

(You didn’t have to read the whole thing, by the way. You could have even used grep — or CTRL-F, or hit PgDn a random number of times, although Mozilla… you know what they’re like).

11.19.20

Nettle and Sequioa for Encryption (as GnuPG Alternative)

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

RIAA insideSummary: Concerns about GnuPG’s Koch facilitating or allowing practices that aren’t secure and are even proprietary raise concern among privacy and security specialists; alternatives exist already

AS PER this previous post about integrity of encryption, we’ve decided to explore alternative encryption projects that are not Microsoft-controlled (in GitHub) and not participating in awkward schemes that are proprietary.

“Sequoia uses Nettle as the crypto back-end. The PGP goes on top of the crypto primitives [and] PGP is just a message format,” we were told.

“…we’ve decided to explore alternative encryption projects that are not Microsoft-controlled (in GitHub) and not participating in awkward schemes that are proprietary.”“Nettle is on self-hosted GitLab,” it was noted. “Nettle isn’t PGP though. It’s a generic crypto library [written] in C.”

“GnuPG develops in its own servers, I believe, [whereas] Sequoia is on GitLab”

Sequoia — already with a slightly bad sign being the choice of host (centralised Gitlab) — “looks like the only viable alternative right now,” one person told us. “It lacks smartcard support but that should not be too much of an issue right now. The people behind Sequoia seem like genuine people that care about the user more than anything else. [...] I think Koch’s actions are what made them break away from GnuPG in the first place.”

It’s important to remember the signature on this letter. A large number of these people work for companies that push non-free software and also develop on Microsoft servers (GitHub, NSA PRISM).

Guix signatures and Koch

Dolby Patents Are Being Used in Patent-Trolling Activity Against GNU/Linux, But Dolby is Said to Be a GPL Violator

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Patents at 12:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We call you a violator because that's what we are

Summary: Dolby’s serial litigation strategy [1, 2] seems to have come into conflict with Free-as-in-freedom software — the very same software Dolby is happy to exploit without complying with the copyleft licence

SOMETIMES we sit on important stories for weeks, months, and even years (earlier this year we published a story more than a year after we had received it, purely for source protection reasons). Many things we expose about the patent system are also strategically timed and belatedly disclosed. Maximising the effect of a publication while minimising risk to a source is just the right thing to do.

StopEPO examiners who read this site (there are thousands of them) very well know we had been condemning software patents in Europe and berating autocrats who promoted this agenda almost a decade before we wrote about workplace scandals. We ridiculed bogus and abstract patents that ought not be granted, anywhere. In recent years we reduced the focus on patent policy somewhat; that’s a good decision in retrospect. This was mostly strategic and the same trend can be seen across patent blogs, the EFF, and various technology news sites. Patents, as a topic, seem to be waning, and it’s easily measurable using a number of different criteria (e.g., number of lawsuits, number of articles, and so on).

“Let Dolby understand that if it contributes to blackmail against GNU/Linux, there will be public shaming and maybe GPL enforcement as well.”Our growing concern about software patents in Europe wasn’t in vain. Earlier this year we wrote about developers of GNU/Linux distributions who had contacted us, having found and read our articles. They wanted to tell us about what kept them awake at night. They’re European, but somehow they’ve been receiving threatening letters regarding software patents they allegedly infringe. Some of those patents are Dolby’s. We think it’s safe to name the original recipient of these patents, even if they’re being asserted through parasites and proxies — not out of the ordinary in recent years. Dolby itself can be sued (counter-suits), proxies cannot, especially when they produce nothing at all.

Dolby is a parasite. The name “Dolby” may be visible in some frames in some films (a glorified brand), but Dolby isn’t actually doing or producing very much. The GPL violation angle might also be of interest, as we’re being told that they’re serial violators. As one developer told us:

I’m waiting for another email / message before doing so, as we have found a few GPL violations from Dolby, which seems to suggest some prior art.

If or once we have evidence of those violations, for we have no reason to believe otherwise, we can do a separate article about that. Let Dolby understand that if it contributes to blackmail against GNU/Linux, there will be public shaming and maybe GPL enforcement as well. What goes around comes around. Stay tuned.

11.18.20

Organisations Are/n’t the Problem

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, OSI at 5:40 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By figosdev

Cross

Summary: “Our goal has to be for Free Software to outlive its founder.”

I used to think the FSF was salvageable. Now I’m pretty confident it’s not. The mission of Free Software, at least, is to give their user control over their computing.

The FSF has failed at this in spectacular ways. It is also not accountable to users — but it has made itself accountable to its enemies above all else. The FSF is subjugated, but wants you to believe it can fight for your freedom.

“More than 20 years ago, Microsoft made their plans to overthrow Free Software by overthrowing Open Source.”The greatest assets of the FSF are the Free Software Definition, the GNU Project, the GPL 2 and 3 licenses (2 because how you are going to fork GNU/Linux without it? But you can thank Microsoft and Linus for that snafu) and Stallman himself.

Clearly, the FSF has failed to manage these assets with regards to their mission. Unfortunately, they are still locked up with the FSF — The exception is the GNU Project, which is locked up with Microsoft GitHub via Perl, Python, libFFI, zlib1g and HarfBuzz. These 5 projects are controlled by Microsoft and yet are vital to the GNU Project.

Figure of Virgin Mary. Image taken in Seville, Spain.Like many others, I sought to alleviate this problem simply by creating another organisation. One of the two main purposes of that organisation was to help salvage the Free Software movement, and to work to rally other organisations to that purpose.

The most promising and rewarding collaboration along such lines has been with Techrights, albeit on a completely unofficial and informal basis. I have also tried to encourage other people to create Free Software organisations for specific purposes (typically their own) but so far nobody wants to do that kind of work. I can’t say I blame them. I have tried to show how to make that work easier.

If you can’t save the FSF, the best you can do is recreate it. When you do that, you start with the same problem the FSF had; namely that you cannot prevent the hostile takeover of a non-profit organisation without playing every single card right, year after year.

More than 20 years ago, Microsoft made their plans to overthrow Free Software by overthrowing Open Source. I don’t think there’s a single person on this planet (and I’ve spent years looking for such people) who could have done a better job than Richard Stallman in thwarting those takeover plans. But I believe the FSF started to fall apart around 2015.

“Our goal has to be for Free Software to outlive its founder.”The successes of the FSF are many, and inspiring. The majority of non-profits do not succeed as wildly as the FSF did. Stallman did not expect to do as well as he did. There is a myth that people learn how to create the perfect organisation, and then they just go and do it by some book — the reality is that people end up learning by doing, and most fail.

Our goal has to be for Free Software to outlive its founder. We know numerous attempts were made (sincerely or otherwise, sometimes it’s hard to tell) to extend the geographic and organisational reach of the FSF. We know there is a Free Software Foundation India (FSFI), though not much happens with that. There is a “Free Software Community of India” which is more active. There is not only a Software Freedom Law Center, associated with the co-author of the GPL, There is a Software Freedom Law Center India.

There is an Irish Free Software Organisation. In France, there is April. My favourite is still FACiL in Québec; their platform is the closest to mine of any Free Software organisation. If I had a mountain of assets (alas…) that I needed to put into non-profits right now, I would split it among the OpenBSD Foundation, the NetBSD Foundation, Hyperbola GNU(/BSD) and FACiL — probably not in that particular order.

“SFC may have started in sincerity, but it is traitorous.”I do not know the real motivation for the creation of the Open Source Initiative, only the official narrative and the overall trajectory and outcome. From the latter, I believe OSI was created out of jealousy, and quickly turned into a weapon (as a pawn or collaborator, perhaps even both) against Free Software. We may never know for certain, but that is no reason to be charitable. Open Source has not just attacked Free Software but all of us, relentlessly. In the past when I had more faith in Ben Mako Hill, it was due to personal dealings, writings of his, and the fact that he said at not-so-LibrePlanet that we should probably distance ourselves from Open Source. That would have been a good idea.

SFC may have started in sincerity, but it is traitorous. I would not give anybody from SFC the time of day. FSF Europe is traitorous and even dubious. We have talked about these things in detail many times, but in this article they are little more than a footnote. It is important to note however, that at some points (maybe even now) FSF Latin America has relied partly on the FSFE for some of its infrastructure. As I consider FSFLA more viable than FSFE, this is troubling. I’m not sure if it remains accurate, and I hope not.

FSFLA of course is the home of linux-libre, as well as Alexandre Oliva. Regarding both Oliva and the previous article I wrote, he brought it to my attention that I probably mixed up two conversations we had about copyright and Free Software, leading me to paraphrase him saying that those two things have nothing to do with each other.

“Stallman remains the original founding member and creator of this movement.”I do not have a copy of the original conversation, so I can’t simply quote what he did say. However, we went over what he more likely said, and what likely got misconstrued, and I have no reason to think that he is mistaken. I won’t deliberately misrepresent him, and I make a fair effort to get such things right, but this is a situation (one of many) where I would prefer to be mistaken, and I’m pleased to be.

Free Software needs leaders, and over the years I have tried to keep track of the most likely successor for Richard Stallman. I can honestly say that Geoffrey Knauth was never on this list, and I would not vote for him now or at any previous point in time. He may just be the best person the FSF can put in charge under the present circumstances, but those circumstances are still bullshit.

When Knauth says of the movement Stallman created, “What a noble idea, but one person cannot do all this” I really don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. A movement, practically by definition, is more than one person. In my opinion, he might as well say of Einstein’s theory of relativity, “What an incredible idea, but one person cannot do all this.”

“Most offshoots of the FSF have gone badly.”No, Einstein did not do “all” of it. The foundations of science were already there, and (with the unlikely exception noted in protest by — Nikola Tesla? To whom we also owe a great deal, of course) credit was given where it was due. But I think too many people have tried to take credit for Free Software the way that Steve Jobs might be given credit for the MP3 player (or Torvalds might be given credit for the GNU Project — hypothetically, of course!)

Stallman remains the original founding member and creator of this movement. He is still relevant, but the (metaphorically) drunken stewards of the FSF have seen fit to stand between the movement and Stallman, allegedly for the sake of the former. If you ask now, perhaps for the alleged sake of the latter. Whatever works, eh?

As far as I know, the leadership of FACiL is doing alright. SFC is corrupt, OSI is led by Microsoft, FSFE has an atrocity at the helm, Knauth is as tepid as John and FSF India has said very little for years. My candidates for successor included Oliva, Ben Mako Hill, Kat Walsh and Denis Roio. I am probably leaving someone out, but it was a short list and Oliva would have likely ranked highest, though I assumed geography was a problem (it’s not). So when Oliva was made Vice President I felt a bit vindicated, though we both agreed that the circumstances were depressing and unfair.

“But first, it’s important to point out that the goal is NOT to replace Richard Stallman.”Most offshoots of the FSF have gone badly. At this point, so has the original. But if you’re going to fork the FSF, one thing you should probably do in preparation for the day when it gets co-opted is to make your fork more forkable. That’s what I tried to do, but I was somewhat aware that most people probably wouldn’t want to go through the trouble.

I abandoned the idea of a forkable organisation designed to lobby the FSF for the sustainability of its own mission (at least for my own trouble) and kept what I felt are the best ideas from along the way: a library of 4-freedom Software and Cultural works (Free Software works and Free Culture works, no freedom-limiting -ND or -NC clause licenses) and an organisational alternative I refer to as a "Freedom Lab".

The idea of a freedom lab works metaphorically like this:

Suppose you have a very large office building. This office is set aside for an umbrella cause, such as Free Software and Free Culture and Free Hardware — note that my affinity for FACiL comes from the fact that like many Free Software advocates, including former FSF board member and 2016 presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig, I am also interested in Free Culture — and FACiL combines these into what they call “Free Computing”.

Instead of having a very conservative top-down approach, like the one the FSF has, this metaphorical office building rents out office space to any group of people who are interested in the umbrella cause. These groups then act like mini-organisations under the auspices of the umbrella organisation. Not-so-LibrePlanet seems to almost operate like this within or with regards to the FSF, although it would be nice to have a better example.

“If Richard Stallman was abducted by aliens tomorrow and Free Software needed a new leader in a pinch, Oliva is probably the closest thing we have.”Here’s the kicker — instead of renting office space in a literal office building, these groups simply form at will under this umbrella cause, and are encouraged to both compete (as in explore different options or methods) and collaborate on ways to advance free software. Instead of competing in a business sense, think of competing theories, advancing science towards a better overall understanding. Hence “labs”.

You do not need to register to become a scientist — you do it by practicing science. Obviously there are credentials you can attain through education, but we aren’t trying to make Free Software into a hard science in the first place — rather the idea is to have something a bit closer to scientific exploration in its approach than just relying on a guru like Richard Stallman to lead.

And here is where it’s very important to point out that this approach has lots of downsides — OSI is a perfect demonstration of those downsides, and this idea would not be complete without some effort to mitigate and account for those.

“Without both people and the will, it really isn’t a movement.”But first, it’s important to point out that the goal is NOT to replace Richard Stallman. If we had a second guru on standby for the day when he finally stops fighting, we could simply let that guru take over where Stallman left off. I’ve explored that option for years, and it counts on a lot of things that might never happen. The closest thing we probably have to such a figure is Alexandre Oliva. If Richard Stallman was abducted by aliens tomorrow and Free Software needed a new leader in a pinch, Oliva is probably the closest thing we have.

This may sound like an endorsement, though I am more reserved than that. Oliva is objectively and most likely the closest thing we have to Stallman, other than Stallman himself. If you can think of a more Stallman-like individual anywhere on earth, who is as passionate about Free Software, I defy you to produce this person.

And yet, Oliva has advanced to the level of vice president and then lost the (official) leadership role nearly as soon as it began. I blame the FSF for this, not Oliva. But although he (like Stallman) will probably fight for Free Software as long as he lives, as a leader he may not be as much of an unstoppable force as Stallman is — and we need an unstoppable force.

“One of the ways in which the FSF has failed fundamentally is that it has taken away Stallman’s platform, under false pretenses.”The point here, is that you cannot actually replace Richard Stallman. We don’t have the parts, the technology, or the budget for it. On most days I don’t think we even have the will to — and without that, all this talk of organisation is moot. A movement needs people in order to work. Without both people and the will, it really isn’t a movement.

At best, we could try to build a Stallman alternative, in much the way that vegetarians try to build a burger that people who actually like meat (per the metaphor, or meataphor — people who actually want the user to be free) would want to eat, albeit one made without the actual thing it is alternative to.

As long as Stallman lives of course, he is still (and really always will be) the father of the Free Software movement. One of the ways in which the FSF has failed fundamentally is that it has taken away Stallman’s platform, under false pretenses. That is not the official narrative, but I firmly believe (and we needn’t go into evidence here) that the official narrative is bullshit anyway.

We may not be able to restore a platform for Stallman, because although we can offer him greater welcome and more sincere respect (let’s call it fairness) than what’s left of his own organisation, we can’t force him to make use of it — Stallman’s lack of a public platform was plotted and executed by others, but remains at least partly self-imposed. But we could certainly offer it, and I believe we would do ourselves a disservice not to. It would be a lesser good for Stallman to have only a symbolic platform, but the symbol is still worth something if his place is reserved in sincerity (not only in rhetoric).

We still know that the movement will eventually lack a leader with all of Stallman’s traits, and thus eventually it will have to continue without him one way or another. When that ship has finally sunk, do we go down with it or do we build a fleet of our own?

“Science works best when it makes things as simple as they can be.”Having a somewhat federated organisation, we then move on to the business of autonomy. Having an all-seeing, all-powerful umbrella organisation at the top of these “labs” creates the same weakness that the FSF has — the ability for corporations to buy in and take over. Apart from the ability to explore different options for advancing the movement, these labs could also provide a degree of redundancy for the organisation that exists overhead — a degree of forkability.

If Richard Stallman is the father of the Free Software movement, and Free Software itself is his child, as he has said himself — then these labs could be his grandchildren. Of course grandchildren are generally raised by the parent, not so directly by the grandparent, with exceptions. But the goal here is to continue the family line.

I am in favour of cloning Stallman. I have long used two metaphors for this process — clones, and parrots.

Stallman specifically tells people not to give him a parrot. He means it literally, I will use it this way: it is better to clone Stallman than to simply parrot him.

“Watchdogging, collaboration and the evaluation of other labs is built into the structure. This is a way to mitigate the fact that some labs will ultimately turn traitor and try to sell out to sponsors or whatever.”Parrots may not be stupid creatures, but when they speak they do not use it to communicate exactly the way we do — they are mostly just repeating sounds. I’m no expert on birds, I think you might be able to train some parrots to say “Coffee’s Ready!” when they smell it brewing, but what you couldn’t do is get them to form their own sentences and justifications or reasoning about coffee. They will not philosophise with you — they just repeat what they’ve heard, sometimes on a loop.

I think that if you literally cloned Stallman, those clones would not simply parrot what he says. They would form their own logic, they would (as Stallman most notoriously does) think for themselves, even if that thinking is unconventional.

This is what I think of supporting Stallman — understanding his work to the best of our abilities, and probably agreeing on the things that matter most. Also demonstrating integrity. OSI did not do these things, and it dishonestly sabotaged (misrepresented) both Stallman and us. Stallman’s response was overly charitable; Ben Mako Hill had (though does not seem to have followed) the right idea.

Once you have a boatload of Stallman clones, they would argue among themselves as philosophers already argue with the self. If you cannot argue with yourself, you have no business arguing with other people. So the question becomes if we create even a brigade of Stallmans (like Dumbledore’s Army, but for software freedom), then what do we do with that? How would we manage such an unruly force (that is, ourselves) without stifling it?

“There is no way to completely prevent a group of people from acting like OSI — sometimes we can only address it when it happens.”Perhaps it is impossible, but again, we are taking inspiration from science. The way you determine the impossible is not by pooh-poohing the question, but by impartial analysis and experimentation. First we create these grandchildren of Stallman. If we fail at that first step, the question of managing such a crew is moot. If we succeed, we move to the next step.

Science works best when it makes things as simple as they can be. Some problems are complex, or perhaps everybody would be a scientist. But science also starts with the universe, and reduces it to the simplest rules possible for the entire universe, per our present level of understanding.

To make certain that umbrella organisations remain the servant, not the master of these freedom labs, I have written what I call the THRIVE guidelines.

“It is also incredibly flexible, but with simple, down-to-earth mechanisms designed to maintain integrity in the face of corporate meddling.”These are instructions for cats that want to be self-herding. If they prefer to travel alone, there is nothing you can do to change that. An individual can contribute to Free Software, and a group can contribute to Free Software, and not every individual absolutely has to be part of a group. But we can (as we do for Stallman) still have a place for individuals who choose to assist us. If they do not appreciate our assistance, or vice versa, perhaps another part of our network can better cater to them.

You notice that I say “umbrella organisations” in the plural. This doesn’t mean that there has to be two or more umbrella organisations at the same time, though there is no reason that some labs cannot act as an umbrella to others. The idea of an umbrella is to assist coordination and education (be informative), not to rule from above. Technically, any lab can do this for other labs (if they are inclined).

Watchdogging, collaboration and the evaluation of other labs is built into the structure. This is a way to mitigate the fact that some labs will ultimately turn traitor and try to sell out to sponsors or whatever. If we consider GNOME part of this broad network, then we already have one example. There is no way to completely prevent a group of people from acting like OSI — sometimes we can only address it when it happens.

“That is a function that Stallman provided, but in the FSF this mechanism has failed spectacularly without an adequate replacement.”In a way, this cat self-herding is not unlike kernel self-Hurding. Where the FSF is monolithic, we are talking about microkernel Free Software organisations.

It is more complex in practice, but here the components are actually simpler than the alternative. The idea is not to create a perfect or flawless top-heavy organisation, but a network with nodes that anybody can work to form more quickly and easily (and with relative autonomy) compared to the FSF.

It might not work. And without people with the will to fight for your freedom, as the FSF still claims to do — it would never happen anyway.

The advantage of doing it this way is that it does not require the level of up-front resources (or authority) that we have relied on the FSF and Richard Stallman for. It is an idea borne of the relative loss of both.

It is also incredibly flexible, but with simple, down-to-earth mechanisms designed to maintain integrity in the face of corporate meddling. That is a function that Stallman provided, but in the FSF this mechanism has failed spectacularly without an adequate replacement.

“Doing it this way also resists censorship — it takes a lot more effort to censor people like Richard Stallman (or even Oliva) when things are designed this way.”It is an idea that lets you, the user — go about building a platform for self advocacy (for you or for yourself plus others) within a week or so, if you can find people interested in working with you — even a small handful of people. And if two or more groups of people do this, it is designed in anticipation of that and provides a way to create ad hoc networks of such groups. They do not all need to work exactly the same way, so you can actually explore designs and strategies you think might help. In turn, we can observe your efforts and note possible success or ideas we can adapt to our own advocacy.

People already do this all the time when they create applications, but it is applied less often to organisations. We have a mythology that says that applications don’t exist until there is a larger organisation associated with them, though so many Free Software projects start with a single developer or small groups. It may be possible to rebuild the Free Software movement in a similar fashion.

Doing it this way also resists censorship — it takes a lot more effort to censor people like Richard Stallman (or even Oliva) when things are designed this way. We will not make the mistake that the Fediverse makes and pretend that censorship is impossible or can’t exist within this scheme. The number of separate organisations that have already been taken over by corporate interests demonstrate the folly there.

“Instead of just having such a network attacking our base, it would be ideal to have a similar network defending our movement — turning the design to a positive goal.”When they collaborate, as SFC and GNOME may have — we have some reason to think this is possible — to undo our advocacy, they are using a similar process to fight us that we might use to fight back. Their advantage (assuming we are correct) hurt the FSF substantially.

If this does not apply to that particular combination of organisations, it certainly applies to other pairs or groups of organisations. Instead of just having such a network attacking our base, it would be ideal to have a similar network defending our movement — turning the design to a positive goal. The alternative seems to be to just watch Free Software die.

You can’t create a censorship-proof design — you fight censorship with a combination of good design and on-the-ground defence of free speech. The Fediverse has the former, but it is found lacking with regards to the latter. Freedom requires the will to defend freedom, not just good design.

But a good design can certainly help those who have the will. Today, the FSF actively resists the will of those who would create the sort of technological and political reform that Richard Stallman founded the FSF to organise. We can build the internet to rival the FSF’s Ma Bell.

“The internet was strictly non-commercial until the advent of the Web. It became, not unlike Free Software itself, a mix of non-commercial and commercial space.”It really depends on what sort of people we are, though. Open Source worked to decentralise Free Software as well, critiquing the “Cathedral” and advocating the “Bazaar”. In time it replaced high tech cottage industries with technofascist mega malls, and those were all bought up by surveillance capitalist monopolies.

The internet was strictly non-commercial until the advent of the Web. It became, not unlike Free Software itself, a mix of non-commercial and commercial space.

Free Software by definition, includes both the commercial and the non-commercial; it is a false dichotomy to characterise it in any other way. But being controlled by multinational corporations is not any kind of freedom. The purpose of Free Software is to give control of computing to the user.

“The purpose of Free Software is to give control of computing to the user.”If the FSF cannot keep that promise, we do need to build something — if we wish to keep the promise of free computing for the user alive.

My feelings about that are strongly opposed to building something that’s identical in every fashion, just to have it taken over by monopolies like GIAFAM again. The FSF’s IFF systems are clearly malfunctioning — and if nothing else, we need to find a way to rebuild a better one of those.

Long live rms, and Happy Hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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