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)

11.17.20

The Real Richard Stallman is Not Coming Back

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, OSI at 3:09 am by Guest Editorial Team

By figosdev

Coming down

Summary: “Free Software was created to defend the freedom of every user, not to coddle monopolies or excuse actions taken against users in bad faith.”

Many people have worked to end Richard Stallman’s career, and the good news is that he will continue fighting.

While his career with the FSF has ended (he has no real authority left there, mostly people pretending to help him and others working against him directly), his activism continues behind the scenes, encouraging other parties to respect the freedom of users. We know this for a fact, and I take some comfort in it.

But while he will continue to fight, much unlike the watered down new FSF, there are things the “Real Richard Stallman” would do that this one will not.

Free Software was created to defend the freedom of every user, not to coddle monopolies or excuse actions taken against users in bad faith. It does not excuse mass surveillance, controlling users or silencing activism.

Open Source has excused and literally promoted all of these things.

And while people complained that Open Source was not promoted by Stallman, that he refused to endorse its wishy-washy corporate entryism, refusing corporate entryism was exactly what Free Software needed to do to survive.

It failed.

“Open Source doesn’t love anybody, they only love when you don’t show integrity.”Open Source does not make exceptions for its sycophants; when you cave to Open Source, you are dealing with bait-and-switch scams and shell games. Open Source pretends it is Free Software, while saying it is also something else. This “something else” is an attack on users as well as freedom. It’s much too easy to find examples of this, just say: “OK Google, violate my privacy”.

Open Source pretends to be neutral and both Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu have spoken about the side that neutrality takes in oppression, but either way it suffices that the neutrality of Open Source is nothing more than sheep’s clothing; Open Source joined the war on users that Microsoft declared in internal memos decades ago and they also sought to rebrand Free Software so they could redefine and control it.

The tech press (which even ESR spoke disparagingly of with comments in the Halloween documents) paints this as a paranoid conspiracy theory, but even in OSI (which ESR co-founded) Microsoft has too many people in control today, and some want to literally redefine the Open Source Definition.

This is not a theory.

But we know this about the Real Richard Stallman. He has never supported Open Source as an alternative to Free Software. He even said that Open Source people “treat him like shit”.

It's comingBut as I was saying, Open Source does not make exceptions for sycophants. Torvalds promoted Open Source and slighted Free Software for years, pandering to corporations who don’t care about freedom. For Torvalds, and Open Source, this is just a development methodology. He has recited Open Source’s mantras for decades, but despite his lack of integrity as a person overall, there is one thing they couldn’t get Torvalds to do: make sacrifices in the way he maintained the kernel. This is his one good point, and it is the reason he had to go.

It’s not really because Torvalds is an asshole. All the people who control Torvalds today are assholes; they’re bigger liars and they’re slowly destroying and co-opting the Linux kernel, just as “Linux” co-opted GNU. If you talk to them, or even watch the way they’ve treated Linus, you can tell that even if Torvalds is a scumbag, these people are corporate bullies who treat Linus like shit.

Open Source doesn’t love anybody, they only love when you don’t show integrity. No exceptions are made, not even for Linus; bow to Corporate or GTFO.

If you matter to Open Source, it certainly doesn’t matter if you’re an asshole. Steve Ballmer is a HUGE asshole. It never mattered. The only “crime” of Ballmer’s that Microsoft cared about was him losing money. This is business, they care about results, not personality. IBM thinks we could do better in terms of a leader, but they happily and literally worked with Hitler. Obviously the right amount of money can buy a LOT of understanding.

Torvalds has stood year after year in the way of backdoors and other bad moves for the kernel, so credit where credit is due. But this is why Torvalds is not in control anymore. And that brings us to what they’ve done to Richard Stallman.

For a while I referred per comments made on another article to Stallman as “rms”. Today, I will do that in the past tense.

RMS was Stallman’s hacker name. Richard Stallman is, I think, when he referred to it as his “mundane name”.

RMS is dead, but Stallman is still fighting.

We know rms is dead, because he was outspoken, did not bow to false compromise, and never stopped fighting.

So at least one part of rms still lives on, because Stallman is still fighting. That really is better than nothing.

But he is no longer outspoken, and we really need him to be. The things that are happening now are just as atrocious as when they were mere outspoken (and seemingly hyperbolic) warnings. It seemed hyperbolic to equate SOFTWARE with human rights. And yet today we are being showered constantly with examples of how very basic human rights (as in the Constitution or the more globally relevant UDHR) are eroded and/or threatened by technofascist gizmos that are too popular for George Orwell not to rise from the dead and yell “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!” Old George is coming back, folks, any day now.

“So at least one part of rms still lives on, because Stallman is still fighting. That really is better than nothing.”On a regular basis I find memes that honestly and reasonably compare the destruction of riots to the destruction of the so-called “polite society” — we live in a “polite society” that uses torture and chemical warfare (albeit mostly “softer” torture and “softer” chemical warfare, but either way, methods and chemicals that are banned for being unethical and immoral) on protesters engaged in activities which are protected by the First Amendment.

Or at least, were protected by the First Amendment. Now that Biden is in, expect those rights to continue to erode, as they did with Trump. But then we are still talking about the world here. Those who were horrified (as was I) by the recent tear gassing and rubber bullets of protesters and journalists ought to pay closer attention to the history of how G7 protesters are treated even before 9/11. This sort of corporate tyranny is nothing new (but it is definitely still getting worse and more common).

And you have people saying that Trump’s actions regarding the pandemic are akin to exterminating people.

While rioting is not the method of protest that I advocate (I still lean towards being outspoken, and I think most protesters actually prefer this to rioting) I am forced to cede that the people saying “‘polite society’ is worse than a riot” are not at all likely mistaken. “Polite society” is full of war crimes, engineered poverty, countless resulting deaths, and the mass murder and endless exploitation of civilians.

But then many of the same people who defend rioting on a regular basis are dead-set against Richard Stallman either being outspoken against corporations engaged in mass surveillance capitalism or in favour of due process.

I know I’m painting with a broad brush here, I know there are loads of exceptions. But the overlap and inconsistency is still boggling.

Anyway, the methods used to put a leash on Torvalds and Assange and the methods used to put one on Stallman are too similar to ignore. It hasn’t stopped there either, because political correctness is now being wielded as a way to yoke all developers of mainstream software (whether mainstream and non-free, or mainstream and under a free license) into indentured servants of projects that have been taken over by corporate donors who then force even original authors Linus and Guido to do things the way the monopoly wanted, or get out.

I note with great sadness that Guido showed less integrity than Linus in this regard. It’s real sadness as although I don’t love the Linux kernel anymore, I do love Python. (And PyPy more than Python, but it is still an implementation of the Python language). Guido is a talented developer and it’s very sad to watch him not only sell out, but sell every user out.

As I have said many times, I do not think Stallman has sold out. I think he was sold out by others. GNOME Guix (working together with Deb Icaza among many others) are some of the biggest traitors, but so is ESR who still has the audacity to claim to be Stallman’s “friend”.

“If you make a list of the 20 worst things about Open Source you can think of (from a Free Software point of view) you can use that as a watchlist for what’s happening to Free Software itself.”Eric, real friends don’t stab people in the back the way you did. Perens knows it, and anybody who knows what happened knows that. You’re a shameless opportunist living in the shadow of a great man, who you created a name around your jealousy of for years and years, you’re NOT a “friend”. You are far closer to being the Cain to his Abel; a person who would slay his own brother simply for being favoured.

And all of what you call “Open Source” is made in your image, much like which president after you sold OSI directly to Microsoft?

Even ESR was ultimately ousted, the same way they did to Torvalds. And while I undoubtedly sympathise more with ESR than with the people who ousted him, it is (clearly) not very much; it’s the principle of the thing. Whatever I may think of him, the way he was ousted was wrong and ultimately bad for all of us. As with Linus and his owner Jim, the lesser of two evils was screwed over by the greater.

My beef with Open Source was not created by Richard Stallman, it was created by Open Source itself. I originally, and foolishly, bought into its vapid rhetoric years ago. “We are like Free Software but more reasonable,” they said. They have a facade of being friendly, inviting, helpful, and above all Laid Back. The GPL is like slavery, Free Software is hateful, we are nice people who don’t care what you do. Stop choosing software based on licenses and just use what works for you!

What a bunch of crap. Open Source acts like Free Software is full of sacred cows (and a couple of those really are annoying) but to Open Source, every monopolistic corporation that participates in the smallest way is a sacred cow. Yet users are not. These sacred corporations can literally murder people, but Open Source advocates who catch you criticising actual human rights violations will smear you personally, and act like the Microsoft logo is a thing you can be “bigoted” against.

Open Source is one of the biggest, stupidest lies in the world. It’s not laid back, it’s not friendly, it’s not fair (it assassinates anyone whose integrity gets in its way) and it just sells Free Software out to Microsoft.

As I’ve said in other articles, I made my way into — then out of — a cult as a teenager. I know how they get people who are longing for community, I know how they gradually (and abusively) nudge people into doing their bidding, I know how they try to keep people from leaving, even when anybody is allowed to leave.

As I realised that Open Source had the same levels of bullshit and the same two-faced reality once you supported them, and that Open Source really does indoctrinate and use people, I grew disgusted with their attacks on freedom and their constant lying and apologies for companies that act in bad faith.

It would only be a service to cults to refer to things that aren’t really like them as cults, but I know one when I see one. You may find only the disguise at first, but when the lying never stops and the double standard keep piling up, you know it’s bullshit.

If you make a list of the 20 worst things about Open Source you can think of (from a Free Software point of view) you can use that as a watchlist for what’s happening to Free Software itself. And “rms” would be (and once was) outspoken about those things. I’m very sorry that rms is no longer with us. But I believe Richard Stallman is sincerely doing his possible best, and also that it is more than most people would do in your situation. Most people, including myself, would have given up a lot sooner.

“Until he was hanged, rms was a public advocate of freedom. Now the real fight and the real advocacy is done quietly, safely.”Richard Stallman should not be less outspoken, he should be more outspoken now than ever before.

But he won’t be, and this is why–

People are human.

You can’t always get a human to part with their values. That’s a strength (yes, in some instances it is a shame). I do not think that Richard Stallman has sacrificed his values. Nor do I think he has stopped trying. That’s to his credit. As I said, most of us would have given up after the 20+ years of abuse and slander he’s withstood. I’m not saying he’s perfect, fuck knows he’s loaded with faults as we all are. But he is undoubtedly a good person, and the hate of many (with the added weight of the corporate sycophant tech press even ESR used to condemn) is strong.

A lot of people in Stallman’s situation would act like more of a martyr. While Stallman acknowledges and is (of course) unhappy about the abuse he has received, the vast majority of time is spent fighting and (until recently) advocating.

Until he was hanged, rms was a public advocate of freedom. Now the real fight and the real advocacy is done quietly, safely. I’ve made it clear that in his situation, I don’t think most of us could do better, not after fighting openly and withstanding regular slander for as long as he has.

He’s got a right to be tired and he said that he would fight as long as he lives, and he’s still keeping that promise.

But there will be no more substantial advocacy (public advocacy at least) from Richard Stallman, because that outspokenness died when rms did.

Free Software advocates are under literal surveillance, not just from the NSA and GCHQ, but from Microsoft. Not only this, but 20 years ago Microsoft (read the Halloween documents) said they wanted to closely monitor Free Software developers and poach the best ones for themselves.

Now they’ve got Guido, I don’t know if Miguel de Icaza really counts as “the best”, but remember we are talking about Microsoft standards of quality here.

Of course you can cause a lot more trouble with mass surveillance than just poaching the best developers. The point is, rms the Real Richard Stallman would never be quiet or accept false compromise around Microsoft GitHub. He was openly against GitHub even before it was owned by Microsoft, and for much smaller reasons.

RMS has shown more accurate foresight than nearly any other technologist when it comes to freedom and civil liberties, but he is not without a few blind spots. I think one of them is that he squandered an opportunity to consider the full implications of what Lawrence Lessig proposed to the FSF board when he was there. To me that was always the FSF’s greatest drawback.

“RMS has shown more accurate foresight than nearly any other technologist when it comes to freedom and civil liberties, but he is not without a few blind spots.”While Oliva says that copyright has “nothing to do with free software”, I said the DMCA was a perfect example of how wrong that is and this was before Joe “RIAA” Biden came back into politics, ensuring that the next few years will not just try to fuck us harder with patents (THANKS GNOME! Assholes…) but that copyright will be standing beside patents and waiting for another turn.

For people not directly taxed by the DMCA, international trade agreements like CAFTA, NAFTA, ACTA (failed) and TPP/TTIP (failed) along with the “EEE-Eww…” have worked to establish a global system of censorship and corporate theft that makes WIPO look like Elmo’s World.

But copyright has nothing to do with Free Software. If that’s true, then neither do patents. .oO Que porra é essa?

Rather I think that Free Culture advocates actually know more about copyright than Stallman and Oliva combined (and even that is plenty more than nothing, I’m sure) and Free Software is weaker against copyright threats because of this.

Free Culture advocates, in turn, are often weak on Free Software. Stallman noticed this and it’s plain to see. But I have long noticed that Free Software advocates who support Free Culture are often stronger Stallman supporters and stronger Free Software supporters compared to the average, at least. They tend to be more informed and are often more passionate. This is what Free Software has squandered, because there are more people who care about the right to remix than the right to control their software, and they are ultimately twin rights (even if most Free Software advocates and Free Culture advocates haven’t noticed).

Stallman also truly underestimated Microsoft. Somewhere along the line, his necessary tools for converting software into Free Software became the hammer to every corporate nail, and Microsoft has often been treated as “just another nail” to be hammered with the GPL if possible. This is tragic, and its shortsightedness has led to the FSF’s downfall. Never giving up is one thing, but Free Software has wrapped itself in a warm blanket of hubris while the fortress comes down.

Today, Richard Stallman promotes software attainable only by dealing with the corporate surveillance put in place by Microsoft. His address to LibrePlanet was a watered down appeal to promote EXACTLY what the FSF has focused on of late — tools like Jami and BigBlueButton, both of which are controlled by Microsoft. One person said the video was “scripted” which I find too horrible and un-Stallman-like to contemplate. Though I don’t deny it sounds more like a script than the man himself. As holographic Whitney Houston told fans about “some of the songs ‘I did’” following her death, that video seems to betray an outside interest. Of course the differences between the new FSF and the old are sometimes subtle, even slightly plausible.

“You build GNU IceCat, Jami or BigBlueButton, Microsoft’s stocks go up and then they fight even harder against your freedom with patents and surveillance.”If GNOME has taken the fall for patents, then the FSF has taken the fall for GitHub, and some might say that Free Software has little choice if all the real alternatives to Zoom and Teams are developed on Github, what is the FSF supposed to do?

For starters, they could point out how incredibly bleak it is that ALL ALTERNATIVES involve dealing with the same company that pushes (and builds continuing revenue from) the same software patents that harm Free Software.

You build GNU IceCat, Jami or BigBlueButton, Microsoft’s stocks go up and then they fight even harder against your freedom with patents and surveillance. Not to mention that they continue to use GitHub to co-opt and steer key projects like Python.

RMS would never, ever stand for this. But Richard Stallman does.

I can’t be any clearer that I understand why he would at his age and at this level of concerted and corporate effort to betray him and his supporters decide to choose his battles.

You could even argue that he has always warned us about relying on the “Cloud” (which is what GitHub is one of the more horrific examples of very easily the most horrific for Free Software development) and specifically about GitHub, so why would he need to lead a campaign against the more recent and more horrible effects of doing so?

Instead, I argue that rms is gone. But I also said that he isn’t coming back. And here is why…

Stallman is an old man. He is still fighting, and that’s inspiring. He has fought for his entire career, which is inspiring as well. The fact that Free Software exists at all, we owe to this man and (obviously) many others, everybody knows that. Nobody has ever fought as much for Free Software as Stallman; not ESR, certainly not Linus, not Perens, Lessig, de Raadt, Eich, Guido, Roio, not even Oliva (who wouldn’t deny this is true for a moment). Though I deeply admire the practically absurd lengths that Lessig has gone to (along with his friend, Aaron Swartz) in the name of freedom.

Old men do generally soften as fighters. The exceptions are few, and I still think this has more to do with machinations than age because that’s where the actual evidence points. But age is most certainly a factor. We are up against time itself, as Stallman is mortal.

But whether it is due to his fight getting softer, or being stifled or both, this trend is only going to continue.

And if we do not lend our support to this cause, and be the outspoken advocates against the destruction and co-opting of free software that rms was, then it will not make rms fight much harder. I am confident he is fighting as hard as he can right now and that is not the mark of a sellout.

Obviously the best way to honour the (continuing) legacy of rms is to join Richard Stallman in fighting for the freedom of all users, not just the freedom granted by a Free Software license alone, but the freedom granted by a Free Software license with people defending everything that license stands for.

“The FSF tells him to promote GitHub, and he does. They give him a platform, as long he says exactly what they’re saying already.”That’s exactly what the FSF has abandoned, and why the FSF is no longer fighting for anyone. They aren’t fighting for users anymore, they are (not unlike Creative Commons, which always had this problem to a saddening degree) only fighting for the use of certain licenses. Any way you can work around the license to limit the ability for users to have control of their computing — the FSF will do VERY little to stop you, or even condemn what you’re doing. They will even promote you!

Essentially, if we do not pick up the fight that rms fought during his lifetime, then Stallman will not be able to either.

But if we do pick up that fight, as we certainly ought to, then Stallman will not need to. At this point in the game, he will let us do that part for him.

Unless someone has plans to make him immortal, now is as good a time as any to pick up where rms left off.

As for Richard Stallman, he is still an ally, he has not sold out (at least I am 99% certain he hasn’t) but he does not fight like he used to. He chooses his battles, and very key problems are not fought anymore.

The FSF tells him to promote GitHub, and he does. They give him a platform, as long he says exactly what they’re saying already.

That’s not rms. It’s just what’s left of Richard Stallman.

But make no mistake he may have been forced out of full time public activism to being something a little closer to being a politician…

(I’m sorry, having watched the video that’s what I must conclude).

He is still on our side. He INVENTED our side. And the more you learn about the layers and layers of the history of computing from the time Stallman became active onwards, the more evidence you find that this is even understated by his supporters. Because until they do extensive research, even many of them don’t know just how true it is.

That honour isn’t going anywhere. Recognition is often fickle, awards are frequently given to the wrong individuals, but honour is immortal.

“Recognition is often fickle, awards are frequently given to the wrong individuals, but honour is immortal.”Richard Stallman was and still is one of the great minds and great human beings of the 20th and 21st centuries.

But “rms” will be missed, much more sorely if we do not take up his mantle. We know Stallman Was Right, but the battles that need to be fought continue to present themselves. If we do not meet those challenges with the passion and integrity that the FSF has put aside forever, we will lose. Open Source may have “won” for the time being, though users are still becoming less free for such a cynical corporate victory.

Open Source “wins” by taking whatever side looks like it’s winning. It’s what allows people like Bryan Lunduke to smirk and slander rms, then go work for Purism and have a friendly interview with Stallman, then later start attacking Free Software (using all of Open Source’s time-tested bullshit) again.

Free Software wins differently, by staying vigilant about what we are actually fighting for, and making sure all of its reasonable compromises are reasonable and not simply giving in to a hostile corporate takeover of what is supposed to be activism.

Long live rms, long live Richard Stallman and happy hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

11.12.20

Just-Released Footage of Dr. Richard Stallman (RMS): Open Source People “Treated Me Like Shit”

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, Interview, OSI, Videos at 10:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: This Richard Stallman video from 2001 was released earlier this week; in it, Stallman explains what the Open Source ‘movement’ did to him just a few years earlier (and then there’s some more stuff like his speech about DMCA and less related stuff in between because it’s raw and uncut)

Previously in this series: Newly-Published Richard Stallman Video From 2001, Where He is Explaining “Open Source” 3 Years After OSI Was Established | New Video Release by Marcia K. Wilbur: Richard Stallman (RMS) and Larry Lessig

11.11.20

Newly-Published Richard Stallman Video From 2001, Where He is Explaining “Open Source” 3 Years After OSI Was Established

Posted in Free/Libre Software, OSI, Videos at 5:32 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Summary: “I hope this video piece inspires others to demand freedom,” Marcia K. Wilbur said about this video she made two decades ago and has just belatedly published

Marcia K. Wilbur recently published her old footage of Dr. Richard Stallman (RMS) and Prof. Larry Lessig.

“Well,” she has told us, “the videos are posted and my site is holding up (so far so good).”

“I hope this video piece inspires others to demand freedom!”
      –Marcia Wilbur
Wilbur is technical and she has spent a lot of time on this lately. “While there [were] a lot of videos of RMS interviews in the past available to view online,” she said, “the rally interview the night before the San Francisco march [see context regarding the Dmitry Sklyarov situation] where RMS discusses open source and demanding freedom is not only historically significant, but inspirational.”

DMCAThis video isn’t long. There are much longer videos.

She said, “I hope this video piece inspires others to demand freedom!”

“Those issues are very much relevant right now because of DMCA takedowns at Microsoft’s GitHub, demanded by allies of President-elect Biden.”“I’m glad to place this content in the public domain,” she added. “Video editing was done with vlc, ffmpeg and some kdenlive. Video editing does take some time. What day is it again? My first attempt to convert the analog video in 2001 was using xawtv with ffmpeg. The video and audio did not sync too well then. A little better now, but the camera was a sony hi-8 and the person behind the camera… was a novice without a tripod! Enjoy.”

The overall/total set seems to contain 7 new videos in total (thus far), including the one we linked/embedded already. Maybe can do one post about each pair of related videos, giving the necessary context and exposure to each. Better a release two decades late… than never. Those issues are very much relevant right now because of DMCA takedowns at Microsoft’s GitHub, demanded by allies of President-elect Biden. DMCA was correctly foreseen back then as a massive threat to Free/libre software.

10.26.20

The Downfall of Free Software Leaders (and Their Projects or Missions)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, OSI at 3:44 am by Guest Editorial Team

By figosdev

Hijack, Cancel

Summary: “Cancel George Orwell, and happy hacking.”

Normally when someone says that a leader has failed, the aim is to put someone else in charge. But that’s a moot point when a leader hasn’t committed any crimes, and no one better is around to take their place.

If someone has done something so horrible for the project that they have disqualified themselves, we don’t have to pretend that’s impossible. The point of this article is the many coups taking place (or in some instances, a similar failure) and of course, in a coup the rising parties insist that the leader is no longer fit. They will launch countless ad hominem attacks that have nothing to do with the person as a leader, insisting that it is a real cost to the project — even that it is more cost to the project than it can withstand. RMS withstood two decades of such attacks, which alone should cause people to question their ultimate success.

“RMS withstood two decades of such attacks, which alone should cause people to question their ultimate success.”But we can still say that it’s possible for a leader to be that much of a problem, even if attacks for the purpose of taking over a project are more commonplace (and they are extremely commonplace).

Presumably, at one point Mozilla was an organisation that cared about your freedom. They used to offer a good browser, although they were on the “Open Source” side of Free Software, and that side really is about co-opting a movement for corporations.

Mozilla really didn’t have a “leader” in exactly the sense that GNU or Linux did; it was sort of an escape pod for Netscape, the latter being eventually taken over by AOL. Netscape had two founders, neither of which were really leadership figures for Mozilla in the way that rms or Linus Torvalds were. The closest thing Mozilla had to a leadership figure in this sense was Brendan Eich, and even then this was more apparent after the fact than during his tenure.

“For better or worse (I’d say both) Eich is the author of JavaScript. He wrote it for Netscape, and with Mozilla (which he co-founded) he rose to the level of CEO.”I never really liked Eich personally, though his importance to Mozilla is undeniable. Not every leader is a hero, and I don’t think of every leader as a hero (just look at American leadership today) though with or without the status, some of the leaders we’ve lost were nearly as vital as heroes would be. For better or worse (I’d say both) Eich is the author of JavaScript. He wrote it for Netscape, and with Mozilla (which he co-founded) he rose to the level of CEO. As the author of JavaScript at least, we can put Eich in a similar category as Python’s Guido van Rossum.

What’s happened to both JavaScript and Python is a partial but significant takeover by Microsoft and Github. However, we’re getting ahead of the story.

Eich gave money to a political (lobbyist) group that operates legally in the United States. Please note that I joined the many people condemning this and calling for his resignation. Eich did not publicly advocate his position against gay rights, nor did he mistreat his LGBT coworkers. The only reason we knew about his actions at all was due to a California law requiring such personal funding to be disclosed.

We were right at least, to condemn his actions. Whether we were right or wise to call for his resignation from Mozilla is a more difficult question now, at least for me. I’m not sure I can prove it was the wrong thing to do, but I feel that it almost certainly was.

“It is possible to support a project without liking its leader, but obviously this is a side point.”Either way, in light of the broader pattern of this sort of political tactic, the bigger picture makes this a very real and serious problem. Complicated ethical questions aside, I think we did ourselves a disservice at the behest of people who were much worse than Eich. That was clearly the goal. Complicated ethical questions aside, we owe it to ourselves to examine whether we want our values to be hijacked and used for dishonest schemes and purposes, the way they were hijacked and used to unseat Eich. If it were a single example, and didn’t lead to similar and even more frivolous instances of the same sort of issue, perhaps we could model the way we do things after that lesson. But we should definitely look at the broader context which has followed that event over the years.

Linus Torvalds of course, is an asshole. He’s also in many ways a hypocrite. I find him opportunistic and dishonest, at least politically as well as in a corporate setting. I do not like Eich personally, but my personal feelings about him are closer to neutral. I don’t like him, I don’t particularly loathe him (as a person or as a developer) either. I find Torvalds despicable at least.

Some people can separate the artist from the art — when it comes to appreciating music, I am rarely capable of doing so. Bono is an exception to this, I really think he’s a terrible human being, but when he writes he goes somewhere incredible and comes back with lyrics that (in my opinion) transcend his humanity. I can’t say I’m a fan, but I love his writing and even his performance. I certainly appreciate U2 more than Casey Kasem did.

“I don’t think it would be fair to say Torvalds led the coup against Free Software. We know who really lead that coup.”Besides, U2 isn’t just Bono, right? I mean I have nothing bad to say about the Edge or Adam Clayton (or anybody else associated with them, other than the record labels). It is possible to support a project without liking its leader, but obviously this is a side point.

I haven’t liked Torvalds for a long time, but we always knew he would eventually hand the project off to someone else if we could stand the wait. It’s worth looking at what happened with that, but even if I loathed Torvalds and thought his kernel was important to our movement (indeed I did both for quite a while) it was possible to hope for a day when someone better took over for him.

Torvalds has, since pretty much the beginning, enthusiastically supported the coup against Free Software known as Open Source. It’s possible to support it without understanding this as its real purpose, and Open Source encourages people to assume good faith — Open Source may not deserve that, but it certainly encourages it. So you can (in my opinion) support Open Source without knowing better. But I really think Torvalds was being selfish and opportunistic, and for many years he was nearly at the centre of that coup.

I don’t think it would be fair to say Torvalds led the coup against Free Software. We know who really lead that coup. I’ve spent literally years trying to get to the bottom line of what happened with Open Source, and I think it’s more fair to say that both Torvalds and ESR were led around by the ego, than to say they truly led the charge themselves. I think it’s a lesser crime to be exploited for your opportunistic selfishness than to be the true engineer of an attack on something really good — but if you think it’s less insulting to their intelligence to say Torvalds and ESR led a coup against freedom, please be my guest. It’s simply not the conclusion I’ve found the most evidence for.

“It was like that with the crusades, it is still like that with the War on Drugs. Humanity keeps falling for cures that are worse than the disease, because they make bigger promises than saner options can.”ESR was perhaps, a high ranking General in the coup — but we know (because the leadership discloses where its leaders come from) where Open Source gets its orders from today. And to anybody who has defected from the FSF to the even more nakedly corporate and ultimately fake OSI — you should be ashamed.

Perhaps the greatest sucker punch in the history of the human race, is the hijacking of morality. It’s an ingenious (and of course, dirty) maneuver; not only do people fail to see it coming, but after the fact they are convinced it was from an ally.

History has too many examples of this, from the fascism of the earlier-to-mid 1900s to crusades and holy wars:

“Hello, we’d like to go around torturing and killing thousands of random people, please.”

“You can’t do that! It’s illegal and it’s really mean!”

“No, this is different! It’s for MORAL reasons, you see…”

“Oh, why didn’t you say so? Go on, then!”

“Thanks very much!”

“In this contemporary example, the disease is intolerance. And we fall for it, and let fascists (not for the first time) hijack our morality in the name of morality itself.”We seem to fall for this again and again, which means there is clearly some deficiency (nobody’s perfect, right?) or vulnerability in the human psyche that leads us to think that if someone’s approach to morality is extreme enough, they must themselves be a moral example. Looking back from a safe distance of hundreds of years, this kind of endemic stupidity is Hilarious (just watch Mel Brooks lampoon the Inquisition).

The most cynical way to twist this is that I’m advocating lesser-evilism. In fact there are people advocating lesser-evilism right now, proposing that if we are given a choice between two fascists who support treason, we should actually work to replace one with a lesser one. In fact we should entirely reject both, and demand someone who is NOT an abject traitor to the people. Failing to do so is the worst sort of lesser-evilism. Though it’s fair if you note the parallels between that and what I am saying.

Instead, what I am saying is that if the lesser evil is already in charge, (please note that this is in the context of Free Software politics, of people like Torvalds and Eich; I only mention other ongoing pageants in contemporary politics because I realise someone will make the comparison anyway) then it’s very silly to replace them with someone who is actually worse because they make bigger, bolder promises.

“So we let immoral, dishonest, fascist and bigoted people become the thought police.”That’s the sucker punch — “We know you’re tired of all this immorality and injustice, so won’t you please let us raise the devil’s own personal army to come in and clean this up for you?” But we can’t talk about all of history’s examples of this, because Mike Godwin is a dumb fucking shit. (Just kidding Mike, but I’ll probably always say you are. Your “law” is about as useful to politics as luminiferous aether to CERN).

It was like that with the crusades, it is still like that with the War on Drugs. Humanity keeps falling for cures that are worse than the disease, because they make bigger promises than saner options can.

In this contemporary example, the disease is intolerance. And we fall for it, and let fascists (not for the first time) hijack our morality in the name of morality itself.

“Hello, we’d like to subject everyone involved in Free Software — erm, I mean Open Source to stacked moral tribunals, please.”

“What do you mean by ‘stacked’?”

“We intend to favour corporations as a rule; we will attack individuals for moral shortcomings, but give multinationals like NaziBM a pass.”

“Isn’t this a bit like the House Un-American Activities Committee?”

“Not at all! That existed to oust COMMUNISTS — we’re doing this to get rid of Bigots!”

“Hmm, that does sound entirely different. Go on, then!”

“Thanks very much!”

What could go wrong?

“Out with Eich, in with spying on users and DRM. That sounds a lot like justice and progress, be it social or otherwise.”So we let immoral, dishonest, fascist and bigoted people become the thought police. But since it’s all for a good cause, of course we let them. Isn’t that really our moral duty?

Out with Eich, in with spying on users and DRM. That sounds a lot like justice and progress, be it social or otherwise.

But it wasn’t just Eich. As I was saying, we did the same thing to Torvalds. Sure, he’s an asshole. More than Eich, he’s an asshole who attacks software freedom. But unless you can fork it into something different, it’s his kernel — I mean he’s the author. And the people who are coming closest to forking it (that is, the very foundation that Torvalds indirectly or nearly lends his own first name and certainly his registered trademark to) are not at all better than Torvalds. They’re bigger assholes and worse hypocrites.

And although both Torvalds and ESR participated in leader cancellation tactics, that alliance with the dark side did not prevent them from being disposed of in the very same fashion. Open Source even co-opts its own posterboys.

“Open Source even co-opts its own posterboys.”Getting back to waiting for someone better to take over, they attacked that person the same way they attacked Eich and Torvalds, so they could move the future of development towards someone who is far worse and far more corporate than Torvalds or Ts’o. I don’t even know one bad thing about Ts’o, incidentally. But that won’t stop us from making something up and seeing if it sticks!

So we aren’t just using this to oust assholes in leadership positions to replace them with people who are worse — we are using this to prevent perfectly decent successors (lxo?) from having the reins handed to them instead. We are doing this to fight bigotry, yes — but also we need corporate-friendly people in charge, that’s just as important. Every single time.

Fortunately Mozilla has seen the error of its ways, the FSF is no longer in any position to stand against a Microsoft GitHub hegemony, JavaScript and Python have been duly assimilated, and we are all better people.

Though somehow, for some reason — all of this “progress” screams to the very heavens of pure bullshit.

Now that we are finally liberated from backwards-thinking schmucks like Brendan Eich, who is left standing to save us from these fascist corporations?

“It’s really not a problem to have multinational corporate masters in charge of all our activism, in fact it’s for a very good cause; it’s only a problem to refer to a repository as “master”. Clearly, that’s where we need to draw the line if we want humanity to improve.”Guido von Rossum wasn’t so bad. He actually went along with all the nonsense he was supposed to, but at one point he stopped toeing the line, and really that’s the same as bigotry.

It’s really not a problem to have multinational corporate masters in charge of all our activism, in fact it’s for a very good cause; it’s only a problem to refer to a repository as “master”. Clearly, that’s where we need to draw the line if we want humanity to improve.

But as to actually having new masters? We can’t draw the line there, because they promised to cure bigotry. And if you’re against the cure, you support the disease.

“Cancel George Orwell, and happy hacking.”The article makes more than one reference to the violent act of “sucker punching”, and contains several unplusgood violations of the Code of Conduct of the LibreParty of Cambridge, Oceania.

The article you describe DOES NOT EXIST, and for the betterment of humanity we insist that you stop trying to suggest that it does.

Cancel George Orwell, and happy hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

10.25.20

[Meme] Captain Zemlin and Neil McGovern’s Ugly Legacy in GNOME (His Predecessors Work for Microsoft Directly Now)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNOME, Microsoft, OSI at 5:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Will Deb Icaza (OSI’s GM) follow the footsteps of de Icaza? Will McGovern follow Peters and de Icaza on their path to Microsoft? Will Zemlin go work for these "puppies"? McGovern’s friend (OSI) set his girlfiend (OSI) up for a job at GNOME, so many of these things are connected.

Welcome to OSI, Welcome to Linux foundation

OSI board

Microsoft Tim's interview with Neil McGovern

Summary: The Linux Foundation is already ‘sold’ and Microsoft Tim‘s interview with Neil McGovern, published a few days ago, was rather revealing (comments on the article/interview were also harsh)

10.20.20

Stick a Fork in the Open Source Initiative (OSI). OSI is Dead. Microsoft Bought OSI.

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, OSI at 12:00 pm by Guest Editorial Team

No wonder the GM (the only salaried employee of the OSI) and both OSI co-founders stepped down this year (one was even banned by the existing leadership)

OSI infiltrated

Summary: OSI leadership proudly showing early signs of ‘prognosis negative’; the OSI can never and will never recover from this; Microsoft killed it

THE OSI is infiltrated and it is infiltrated very rapidly. The company which stands to gain the most from the OSI’s death is leading the charge, obviously while totally distorting the brand. It did this in many institutions before, so this is just the latest.

“This would only be considered “news” or an “emergency” if we hadn’t already pointed it out before.”The writings were really on the wall when the Microsoft-led OpenJS entered OSI (same person who’s now in the management above Linus Torvalds, salaried solely by Microsoft).

“The .NET Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization,” says this new press release from the OSI; it makes it sound like Microsoft is a charity or something…

Not funny.

Maybe they think the same about Bill Gates with his tax evasion apparatus.

This would only be considered “news” or an “emergency” if we hadn’t already pointed it out before. Notice who’s quoted in the press release above (screenshot from RSS feeds). It’s akin to the Linux Foundation boss of Linus Torvalds, who wants to throw Linux into GitHub (proprietary and Microsoft-controlled).

OSI used to help people get away from Microsoft. Now working for .NET. For Microsoft…

Stick a fork in OSI. GitHub and Microsoft are paying them (basically the same company via several vectors) and ClearlyDefined (another arm of Microsoft) now receives a majority of the OSI’s budget, so the money basically flows back to the giver, reinforcing the monopoly. Nice racket you got there… a cost-free entryism campaign (that funds itself, at the expense of other OSI sponsors).

That’s what OSI does these days. It helps proprietary software monopolies. Their president, working for Salesforce, is quoted above as saying: “I’d personally like to enthusiastically welcome the .NET Foundation to the OSI’s community of open source practitioners. Organizations that support developers by fostering growth, learning and shared resources are the future of open source. I think it’s safe to say that we’re looking forward to learning from each other.”

So OSI works for Microsoft now… “enthusiastically”… and the interim new GM, Deb Nicholson, whose accomplishment at the SFC was raising Microsoft money every year to sell them a keynote speech at copyleft conferences (whilst SFC worked hard to oust Richard Stallman), is the person whose name appears as “Author” of the press release.

The term “Open Source” is meaningless garbage now. Don’t use the term. Speak of Free/libre software instead. Otherwise it’s safe that assume we’re talking about openwashing (of proprietary software, i.e. a lie).

The OSI probably died the moment it took Microsoft’s money (bribe). But now we’re seeing all the symptoms of the OSI going down the vortex. When the OSI dies or becomes irrelevant to the point where people laugh at it… Microsoft won’t care. Maybe this is just what Microsoft hoped to accomplish all along. Microsoft doesn’t promote “Open Source” but “Inner Source”, i.e. outsourcing all the code to the proprietary software monopoly of Microsoft (GitHub). It’s always about monopoly and control. They call it ‘ecosystem’…

Want another example of “Inner Source”? Edge. As of minutes ago, Joey Sneddon once again promoted Microsoft’s proprietary software and spyware. Sneddon isn’t a GNU/Linux proponent but opportunist, and he has long been doing this kind of Microsoft promotion, so it’s not out of the ordinary (albeit always disappointing regardless, just like the OSI itself).

Open Source is committing suicide. I quit using the term, earlier this year I quit covering/following news that said “Open Source”, and now we’re seeing the very end of OSI. It won’t last long this way…

“I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. [...] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”

Microsoft's chief evangelist

10.15.20

ClearlyDefined is Just Microsoft Land Grab (Which the OSI Now Actively Participates in)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OSI at 9:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Meet the People Behind ClearlyDefined (Mostly or Clearly ‘Microsoft Proxy’), Where Most of the OSI’s Budget Nowadays Goes and Flows

Clearly Microsoft

Summary: Today’s OSI isn’t a protector of the Free Software Definition or even the Open Source Definition; it’s becoming little but a vessel serving Microsoft’s agenda, centralising things for Microsoft to command and control

LAST month we watched the new President of the OSI speaking about finances, having served as treasurer and having seen the GM of OSI (their sole full-time member of staff) quitting abruptly without an explanation. Something isn’t right at OSI, which earlier this year was abandoned by one co-founder and then banned the other. The OSI is becoming a Microsoft/GitHub enabler and a lousy licence endorser/enforcer, choosing openwashing over Open Source (let aside Free software as per FSD).

“The OSI is becoming a Microsoft/GitHub enabler and a lousy licence endorser/enforcer, choosing openwashing over Open Source (let aside Free software as per FSD).”Recently I’ve received a number of alarming (but not alarmist) E-mails from prominent people in the Free software and Open Source world. They don’t wish to be named, but they share my concerns. Bluntly speaking, they think that OSI became rogue. Maybe that’s why the GM quit some months ago; he wants nothing to do with it, albeit that’s mostly a guess. People don’t just quit their job at the middle of a pandemic, especially if they already work from home. It’s not like he was a millionaire; his salary is clearly visible in the IRS filings and it’s not unreasonable (unlike Mozilla and Linux Foundation salaries, which many find outrageous).

“I’m reading through this a bit more,” one reader and developer told us. “Like the “reader” interaction,” she added. “So, a few things…”

She asked: “How can OSI be a parent and a partner to ClearlyDefined?”

“Maybe that’s why the GM quit some months ago; he wants nothing to do with it, albeit that’s mostly a guess.”“According to this “about” section of their website: “ClearlyDefined and our parent organization, the Open Source Initiative, are on a mission to help FOSS projects thrive by being, well, clearly defined. Lack of clarity around licenses and security vulnerabilities reduces engagement — that means fewer users, fewer contributors and a smaller community.”

“Then the “about” page,” she correctly noted, “the same page… lists OSI in the section for partners (as well as Microsoft).”

From the article we published very recently: “So most of the OSI’s budget goes to a programme that’s mostly Microsoft staff and is controlled by Microsoft, hosted on its servers etc.”

She asked: “Is there a public budget I can view?”

“It’s almost like the OSI rapidly becomes an extension of proprietary GitHub, which is antithetical to software freedom and a mechanism of Microsoft colonialism.”Well, the IRS filings take a while to go public. So the latest budget we generally know from the Q&A section/session with the OSI’s current president and former treasurer. We cropped the relevant part of the video and set that aside. He said this not once but twice (that ClearlyDefined receives the majority of the budget or about half).

“Some other concerns about ClearlyDefined,” our reader noted: “Curate data through these people. No thanks…”

Is Microsoft now the ‘daddy’ of “Open Source”? That’s an ambition for sure, but Microsoft is a proprietary software company and opponent of software freedom. And here’s where it gets grimmer; Microsoft apparently wants to not only control the projects in GitHub with “Stars” and other nonsense. Our reader found the following about voting and rewards:

Voting?

“While ClearlyDefined is focused on data, the project will develop a modest amount of code. Code committership is independent of data committership. As such, code committers are elected by a vote of the existing code committer community as described below. Code committers have complete control over and responsibility for the operation of the harvesting, curation and serving infrastructure of the project.”

Wait a second… the focus is data and a modest amount of development? Code committers are… Elected?

…and finally, this… recognition and promotion… or Badges! We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

Ohhhhhhhhh… a badge. That’s a great reward. So, these people are trying to gather data and create some centralized system – where we store source and vote on, stating they can help projects and – giving badges are considered a reward hahahahaha

As a developer, you know – and knowing devs… would you ever consider a “badge” important in your line of work.
As a dev, here are a few things I consider a “reward”.

A job well done.
Code compiles and works – after a new feature or update!
Someone thanks me for all that I do.
Someone asks for assistance with my software and I can help.
Someone finds a fix I can implement into the code to improve the software.
People are using my software.
Users are helping each other.

Take the badge (a virtual reward of nothingness) and put it where the sun doesn’t shine… Seriously!

Hey! I have a good idea… what about a badge! Who do they think they are? I don’t want a gold star from ClearlyDefined… not when I have the community. This seems like another “side path” away from community.

To quote their own site’s charter:

Recognition and promotion

The project may, from time to time, run programs that recognize and reward the efforts of a project to become and remain ClearlyDefined. For example, a badging program would enable eligible projects to show they are ClearlyDefined, thus increasing consumer confidence. Such recognitions may be made relative to a specific domain such as licensing or security, or in relation to the overall ClearlyDefined effort.

It’s almost like the OSI rapidly becomes an extension of proprietary GitHub, which is antithetical to software freedom and a mechanism of Microsoft colonialism.

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