12.14.19

Gemini version available ♊︎

Guest Article: The Free Software Movement Should Come Out From the Box

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Article by Jagadees

Box

Summary: “From now onwards we have to think from a user’s rights perspective and mobilise users of Free software. They should know what rights they ought to get.”

Majority of the software freedom activists are software developers. When Richard Stallman began this movement back in 1983 there were no working free software systems. So the movement was in dire need for software developers — to build the system. Developers who were getting motivated by Stallman joined the movement and developed tens of thousands of Free software programs. They continued with the movement. So most of the people in the movement were developers.

Not a developers’ movement

“The real beneficiaries of a Free software program are its users.”These developers focused more on the engineering side of Free software programs. Actually, the movement was really political. It’s about users’ rights. But most of the developers still never get it, especially the newly-joined ones (after 1998). To them, users’ rights are secondary, or they may not be aware of those rights at all. They see Free software as a charity — something to be gifted from/by them.

Because of that, those ‘diluted’ propitiatory groups — groups such as OSS, FOSS etc (1) with lots of money from corporates — could re-brand, hijack and force the founder of the movement to resign without the real beneficiaries knowing what was happening. (2)

Users are in the dark

The real beneficiaries of a Free software program are its users. There are millions of people on this planet using Free software daily. But they don’t know anything about software freedom and why they got this software for free. They are not aware of their rights. It’s just like slaves in the old world’s slavery.

So those who are really committed to software freedom must change their perspective. From now onwards we have to think from a user’s rights perspective and mobilise users of Free software. They should know what rights they ought to get.

Avoid traps that distract

When some crime happens various people will shout, “we need stronger laws so that nobody will repeat the crime.” Then politicians spend lots of energy and time to make changes in laws and systems. But the same crimes will be repeated after some time.

“From now onwards we have to think from a user’s rights perspective and mobilise users of Free software. They should know what rights they ought to get.”Why is this happening? This is because we are not analysing these issues deeply. Superficial changes may look good, but such an exercise is useless.

1. No new laws are required

The recent events in the Free software community make people think that there is something wrong with the community. That is correct. But it not because of inadequacies in the laws of software freedom. The laws of software freedom are already there. So no need for new laws or regulations. We don’t have to consider the developers at all. If there is a demand for GPLed software, you will get many developers to work on it. GPL is ultimate. No need of amendments.

We want everybody to follow the GPL licence. Of course it’s an ideal case. So, just have a think and make some adjustments for specific cases. But never spend more time and focus on finding exceptions. Any exception we add is an anti-Free software clause. So exceptions should be verbal.

2. Transforming users into developers will not help

Let’s say there is something wrong with a door. You have to fix it. For that you don’t have to buy all the pertinent tools and learn carpentry. All you have to do is just call a carpenter. He will fix it.

“Tens of thousands of people are working in Free software development as volunteers.”It is the human way of doing things. We are extremely social animals. We divide work to get maximum efficiency. Other animals do things by themselves with instincts. Because doing your carpentry work by yourself is costly and risky you may not try going for that. Everybody knows that.

But programing is a ‘cheap’ activity. It does not cost you much. Also, it’s an interesting kind of work; it’s fun too. So people may get exited about seeing their first “Hello World” program displayed on a screen. But actually it’s a rabbit hole.

Let’s say you are an accountant. You go to work for 8 hours, then use the rest of the time as you like. Then you get a copy of an accounting Free software program with minimal features. Since it is a Free software program you will be having its source code and all the rights. Then, in your free time you start to learn programing, start fixing bugs, then adding features etc. You spend a huge amount of time on it. Soon you will become an expert programmer. You may get lots of appreciation. You will become “famous”.

Now, one day some company sees potential in this software and wants to buy it. You may even get more exited. Such and such big company is having discussions with you, and finally they give a huge amount of money. You and the team accept that. All are happy.

“Till now capitalists have considered natural resources, slave labourers etc as free gifts of nature.”Do you think it is right? Most of the people out there think that it’s right. For your contribution you got enough money. To live, software developers need money.

Privatisation of Free software

Tens of thousands of people are working in Free software development as volunteers. All new software developments are built on top of older knowledge base or software. So how can your team sell your software to a propitiatory software company? Looks like capitalism has found free labour.

Till now capitalists have considered natural resources, slave labourers etc as free gifts of nature. Now they have a new item in that list. That is Free software developed by apolitical programmers. It is privatisation of Free software. It is unethical. But it is profitable for propitiatory software companies.

“Similarly, users need not fix or develop the software by themselves. They can hire a developer to fix it for them and for the whole world.”Why is this happening? Because the Free software activists don’t have strong political beliefs in what they are doing. They are alienated. They don’t see the real importance of their work. If you are not careful, then the programming, the fetish about your own software etc makes you apolitical and alienated.

I can get tens of thousands of software developers, but hardly can I get even a few dozens of Free software activists with strong Free software politics. So we should not spend time and energy to teach people programming. Its not the job of Free software activists.

Similarly, users need not fix or develop the software by themselves. They can hire a developer to fix it for them and for the whole world.

Politics is the most important thing

Whereas politics of the Free software movement is most important, it’s “boring” as per popular culture. That itself is the evidence that it is important. So we all have to spend more time and effort on that part. Even after 35 years many people and media attribute to Stallman a movement which is opposite to his. What a shameful situation. It is our failure. That happens because of lacking political teachings. That forced him to resign — because of a stupid smear campaign.

“Even after 35 years many people and media attribute to Stallman a movement which is opposite to his.”This should not have happened. We have to work hard to make the political side of Free software more mainstream.

The real political movement

You may have seen lots of protests by the environmentalists in front of fossil fuel companies. You may have seen healthcare activists protesting against drug companies and hospital lobbyists. They are not building their own ethical energy companies or ethical drug companies or teaching people how to make drugs. They are politically acting for the system to change. That is the human way to do things.

“So let’s work for a strong Free software users community.”Similarly, our problem is also political. Politically it has to be fixed. The Free software programs developed till now are a demonstration of that. Stallman was showing that it is possible to develop software for the community. Now we need the real political movement. Think about a situation like hundreds of people protesting in front of a propitiatory software company and demanding Free software. We have to achieve that. Sure, it is a ambitious plan. But it is possible. Even users knowing about their rights would itself be a revolutionary thing. So let’s work for a strong Free software users community.

Note: I am not against users learning programming. There may be lot of Free software users who became good programmers. But I see only very few people in this world being attacked for talking about politics of software!
____
1. https://neritam.wordpress.com/2019/11/21/oss-foss-are-diluted-propitiatory-software/
2. https://danielpocock.com/what-does-fsf-censor/, https://debian.community/google-money-censorship-free-software/

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Gemini at 2,000: 86% of Capsules Use Self-Signed Certificate, Just Like the Techrights Web Site (WWW)

    As shown in the charts above (updated an hour ago), the relative share of ‘Linux’ Foundation (LE/LF; same thing, same office) in the capsules’ certificates has decreased over time; more and more (in terms of proportion) capsules choose to sign their own certificate/s; the concept of ‘fake security’ (centralisation and consolidation) should be rejected universally because it leaves nobody safe except plutocrats



  2. [Meme] UPC: Many Lies as Headlines, Almost Exclusively in Publishers Sponsored by EPO and Team UPC to Produce Fake News (Lobbying Through Misinformation)

    Lest we forget that EPO dictators, like Pinky and the Brainless Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos, have long littered the EPO's official Web site as well as publishers not directly connected to the EPO (but funded by it) with disinformation about the UPC



  3. EPO as the 'Ministry of Truth' of Team UPC and Special Interests

    The 'Ministry of Truth' of the patent world is turning the EPO's Web site into a propaganda mill, a misinformation farm, and a laughing stock with stock photography



  4. Microsoft 'Delighted' by Windows 11 (Vista 11) Usage, Which is Only 1% Three Months After Official Launch and Six Months After Release Online

    Microsoft boosters such as Bogdan Popa and Mark Hachman work overtime on distraction from the failure Vista 11 has been (the share of Windows continues to fall relative to other platforms)



  5. Links 27/1/2022: Preinstalled GNU/Linux (Ubuntu) and Arch Linux-Powered Steam Deck 30 Days Away

    Links for the day



  6. Don't Fall for Microsoft's Spin That Says Everything is Not Secure and Cannot be Secured

    Microsoft keeps promoting the utterly false concept that everything is not secure and there's nothing that can be done about it (hence, might as well stay with Windows, whose insecurity is even intentional)



  7. At Long Last: 2,000 Known Gemini Capsules!

    The corporate media, looking to appease its major sponsors (such as Web/advertising giants), won't tell you that Gemini Protocol is rising very rapidly; its userbase and the tools available for users are rapidly improving while more and more groups, institutions and individuals set up their own capsule (equivalent of a Web site)



  8. Links 26/1/2022: Gamebuntu 1.0, PiGear Nano, and Much More

    Links for the day



  9. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 25, 2022

    IRC logs for Tuesday, January 25, 2022



  10. Links 26/1/2022: No ARM for Nvidia, End of EasyArch, and WordPress 5.9 is Out

    Links for the day



  11. Why the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is Still Just a Fantasy and the UPC's Fake News Mill Merely Discredits the Whole Patent 'Profession'

    Patents and science used to be connected; but now that the patent litigation 'sector' is hijacking patent offices (and even courts in places like Texas) it's trying to shove a Unified Patent Court (UPC) down the EU's throat under the disingenuous cover of "community" or "unity"



  12. Links 25/1/2022: Vulkan 1.3 Released, Kiwi TCMS 11.0, and antiX 19.5

    Links for the day



  13. Gemini Milestones and Growth (Almost 2,000 Known Gemini Servers Now, 39,000 Pages in Ours)

    The diaspora to Gemini Protocol or the transition to alternative 'webs' is underway; a linearly growing curve suggests that inertia/momentum is still there and we reap the benefits of early adoption of Gemini



  14. [Meme] Get Ready for Unified Patent Court (UPC) to be Taken to Court

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC) and Unitary Patent system that’s crafted to empower EPO thugs isn’t legal and isn’t constitutional either; even a thousand fake news 'articles' (deliberate misinformation or disinformation) cannot change the simple facts because CJEU isn’t “trial by media”



  15. The EPO Needs High-Calibre Examiners, Not Politicians Who Pretend to Understand Patents and Science

    Examiners are meant to obstruct fake patents or reject meritless patent applications; why is it that working conditions deteriorate for those who are intellectually equipped to do the job?



  16. Free Software is Greener

    Software Freedom is the only way to properly tackle environmental perils through reuse and recycling; the mainstream media never talks about it because it wants people to "consume" more and more products



  17. Links 25/1/2022: Git 2.35 and New openSUSE Hardware

    Links for the day



  18. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 24, 2022

    IRC logs for Monday, January 24, 2022



  19. Links 25/1/2022: GPL Settlement With Patrick McHardy, Godot 4.0 Alpha 1, and DXVK 1.9.4 Released

    Links for the day



  20. Proprietary Software is Pollution

    "My daughter asked me about why are we throwing away some bits of technology," Dr. Andy Farnell says. "This is my attempt to put into words for "ordinary" people what I tried to explain to a 6 year old."



  21. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XV — Cover-Up and Defamation

    Defamation of one’s victims might be another offence to add to the long list of offences committed by Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot, Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley; attempting to discredit the police report is a new low and can get Mr. Graveley even deeper in trouble (Microsoft protecting him only makes matters worse)



  22. [Meme] Alexander Ramsay and Team UPC Inciting Politicians to Break the Law and Violate Constitutions, Based on Misinformation, Fake News, and Deliberate Lies Wrapped up as 'Studies'

    The EPO‘s law-breaking leadership (Benoît Battistelli, António Campinos and their corrupt cronies), helped by liars who don't enjoy diplomatic immunity, are cooperating to undermine courts across the EU, in effect replacing them with EPO puppets who are patent maximalists (Europe’s equivalents of James Rodney Gilstrap and Alan D Albright, a Donald Trump appointee, in the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, respectively)



  23. Has the Administrative Council Belatedly Realised What Its Job in the European Patent Organisation Really Is?

    The "Mafia" which took over the EPO (the EPO's own workers call it "Mafia") isn't getting its way with a proposal, so it's preventing the states from even voting on it!



  24. [Meme] Team UPC is Celebrating a Pyrrhic Victory

    Pyrrhic victory best describes what's happening at the moment (it’s a lobbying tactic, faking/staging things to help false prophecies be fulfilled, based on hopes and wishes alone), for faking something without bothering to explain the legal basis is going to lead to further escalations and complaints (already impending)



  25. Links 24/1/2022: Scribus 1.5.8 and LXLE Reviewed

    Links for the day



  26. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 23, 2022

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 23, 2022



  27. [Meme] Team UPC Congratulating Itself

    The barrage of fake news and misinformation about the UPC deliberately leaves out all the obvious and very important facts; even the EPO‘s António Campinos and Breton (Benoît Battistelli‘s buddy) participated in the lying



  28. Links 24/1/2022: pgBadger 11.7 Released, Catch-up With Patents

    Links for the day



  29. The Demonisation and Stereotyping of Coders Not Working for Big Corporations (or 'The System')

    The war on encrypted communication (or secure communications) carries on despite a lack of evidence that encryption stands in the way of crime investigations (most criminals use none of it)



  30. On the 'Peak Hacker' Series

    Hacker culture, unlike Ludditism, is ultimately a movement for justice, for equality, and for human rights through personal and collective emancipation; Dr. Farnell has done a good job explaining where we stand and his splendid series has come to a close


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

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

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

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

Recent Posts