05.30.20

Burning the House That Richard Stallman (RMS) Built: An Open Letter to GNU Maintainers Who Opposed RMS

Posted in GNU/Linux at 10:44 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article/open letter by figosdev

House

Summary: An open letter to people who petitioned RMS to step down and who outsource GNU projects to Microsoft (GitHub)

Since many of you work for Microsoft — albeit for free, you should like aggressive, open letters. Microsoft was founded on demonising the 1970s equivalent of free software. Back then, Gates referred to hackers as “hobbyists” and made it clear that good, quality software requires kowtowing to the corporate control of software. Of course, that was bunk.

For the record, J and S wanted me to write a nice letter: “take your time, write nice, and kind email and don’t blame people if possible”.

You’ve already heard plenty of nice explanations why you should not do what some of you are doing — and you threw excuses back and went against the advice anyway. One more nice letter to traitors isn’t going to change anybody’s mind.

The GNU Project, along with Emacs, GCC and the GNU C Library, are flagships of the Free Software movement. Notice I said movement, not Foundation. There was a time when people who were truly dedicated to what they claim to be part of, actually stood up for it. Some of you still do.

Others have spent years bolstering rhetoric that co-opts both Social Justice and Free Software simultaneously, trying to disqualify the Free Software movement from promoting Free Software, so that corporations who do a great job with social justice theatre (all while using New York CCTV footage to create algorithms for racial profiling and skin-colour-based surveillance and identification) can exclusively speak for Free Software instead.

We already know what happens when monopolies who are busy using software patents and proxies to attack Free Software, gain control over who speaks for your movement — you get larger, fancier conferences (maybe not during a pandemic) and you get more money to promote their own version of what you used to be in charge of — your own freaking movement.

In other words, your organisations get paid to let corporate monopolies moderate your anti-monopoly message. That makes about as much sense as letting The Trump Organization moderate the messaging of the NAACP. It is conniving, corrupting and goes far beyond simple dishonesty and disruption.

An IBM-controlled FSF is an FSF under corporate Occupation. Red Hat is already annexed, which I predicted, by the way — along with others, I also predicted the coup to oust rms, after your little protest about LibrePlanet. We saw it coming months, maybe even nearly a year away.

The harshest and most ruthless attacks on rms came from people working for corporations that are giving substantial funding to the FSFE and the SFC. Within the group of Free Software organisations, the organisations that attacked rms the most distastefully and dishonestly — FSFE and SFC — are the ones (as far as I can tell) with the largest ties to the same corporations.

The paid employees of these companies attacking rms the most, and the staff of the FSFE and SFC accepting funding from the same companies, are all working for these monopolies in one way or another. They are working for monopolies — and against Free Software.

These people working against user freedom would love to point out that they give to Free Software, but the reality is that they “give” with one hand and take with the other. This isn’t charity, nor is it beneficial, and more than it is beneficial when public education and hospitals are sabotaged by funding from B and MG.

First they take away your platform, then they use it lie to you and lie about you. It takes some pretty brilliant P.R. to stage a series of coups against non-profits, based on weaponised nonsense like that.

I have no more patience for people who year after year, pretend that politically-correct messaging is essential to the betterment of humanity — then when they act or vote, they sign their name to actual war crimes, torture, mass murder and the illegal occupation of other countries. In the name of a better humanity, they censor people for speaking out against far worse things than the pitiful excuses they they get censored for.

Your movement is already co-opted. In the 1980s, the people who created Free Software were demonised as pirates, thieves and communists — today they are demonised as neckbeards, autists (and you claim to fight ableism — Ha!) and bigots. It was all a rather contrived excuse for people to let Microsoft control their computing — just as it is today. Just s/thieves/bigots/g and Good ol’ Bill is back in business!

Microsoft are the biggest pirates of all of course, but they don’t share much of what they steal. It actually deserves to be called theft, because whatever they take, they hoard. This is hardly different from when surgical masks were intercepted and tax money was taken from the public, to be redistributed to states more loyal to the Traitor in Chief. You want to use free software? You’ve got to buy Azure.

These companies support actual, literal crimes against humanity. And people continue to conflate things like “rudeness” and so-called “tribalism” (people grouping together naturally, based on common likes and preferred methods, and a concept of extended family) with actual murders and human rights violations. We already know where this is going, because Open Source has paved the way for nearly 30 years.

First, you say that you can do things “the same as Free Software” but “better”. Then, you have a giant public lovefest with the corporations that have spent decades attacking their own users. I know, I was there. When I joined the Open Source movement, (not Free Software) the thing that really threw me was they way they claimed to be more laid back than rms, then ruthlessly attacked people for criticising Microsoft. Wait — what? This is what you call reform!

Open Source isn’t more laid back as it pretended to be, it just has different sacred cows. Open Source can’t even tell the difference between criticising an evil corporation and “kicking a puppy!” And when I looked more into the claims made by its most popular advocates, I realised these people were rewriting history to put themselves in the centre of it.

That’s some powerful propaganda — and it worked, it put Torvalds at the centre, as a shill and a stand-in for corporate takeover in the future. Today, GIAFAM is in the centre, where Torvalds once stood. What a shell game! Swap out rms with Torvalds, and then Torvalds with Bill Gates! Watch the cup, watch the cup! Oh I’m sorry, better luck next time!

To say these are dirty tactics really does them no justice — Open Source is a Billion-dollar smear campaign and takeover of Free Software. It’s a lie, and a scam.

What I don’t know is at what point it became that. Perens seems very sincere. He also dropped out early in protest, only to return. I don’t know what to make of ESR, but it seems clear that Microsoft led him around like cattle by his ego. This isn’t a hasty conclusion — I’ve been trying to figure it out for years. This is a much more generous interpretation than the one where he deliberately sold off everything to Microsoft. I find that harder to believe.

Open Source has its own flagships — their legacy was built on Linux (a kernel), Apache and Mozilla. These were the famous brands of Open Source. Red Hat also plays a very key role.

Today, the 1980s are repeating. Microsoft and IBM are on top — IBM owns Red Hat, someone from Salesforce, Google and Microsoft is the COO of Mozilla. This is exactly, play for play how Microsoft took over the Linux Foundation.

Copyleft? You know that Microsoft has always attacked it. You’re going to put Trump in charge of the NAACP, or Microsoft in charge of copyleft, and they’re going to hoard it all for themselves.

If they cared about copyleft, they would have actually followed it instead of attacking GPL2 as “viral”, attacking GPL3 through lobbyist fronts so Torvalds would come out against it, and violating the license and pushing for permissive licensing everywhere.

I don’t hate permissive licensing (it’s really quite easy to use) but I’m certainly aware that it benefits Microsoft for permissive licensing to take over the GNU Project and Linux kernel. They’re even rewriting GNU Coreutils in Rust — with a permissive license!

Today, Mozilla, the Linux Foundation and the Apache Software Foundation (along with OSI itself) have all been co-opted, infiltrated, staffed and even stifled (they don’t criticise their sponsors much anymore) by IBM and Microsoft. The FSF was founded in the 1980s, when IBM and Microsoft ran everything — and here they are, doing it again.

But make no mistake, maintainers — YOU did this.

YOU opened the door for this.

And now, YOU continue to promote and make excuses for this.

You have at least 48% of the projects in the GNU Project requiring software that Microsoft steers and influences the development of. More than that, if you can’t fix GCC and GLIBC.

YOU know as well as anybody that if the user doesn’t have control of their computer, it isn’t really their computer — it effectively belongs to the company that controls it.

So how do you give up control of GNU to the same company, take their money and “free” hosting, then tell me you’re not selling it off! Clearly, you’ve become a bit full of crap! You effectively put Trump in charge of the NAACP, but you claim you care about humanity and human rights — you know what? BULLSHIT!

I only know of one person rms ever called a traitor to free software — Miguel de Icaza. At the time, I really did wonder if that was too harsh a word. Icaza loves Microsoft, just like you obviously do.

But today there are so many de Icazas, busy bees dragging control of the GNU Project away from its founder and into Microsoft’s corporate lair — Letting IBM redesign the entire free software ecosystem around itself. And you claim to be helping.

The people who have grown so self-important, being trusted and taken on board to help rms build his own house, are now claiming some moral right to burn it to the ground.

I’m not disputing the value of the work they did to help — that is self-evident. What I dispute is that you have any right whatsoever, after helping rms build a house for all hackers…

(Yes, God Damn You, ALL hackers — just because you want to be the thought police and say he doesn’t kowtow to people exactly the way you want, doesn’t change the fact that he HAS IN FACT welcomed people from every race, every religious belief, every gender — with greater diversity than Microsoft ever had)

…to kick him out of his own house!

YOU are usurpers, backstabbers and members of a corporate coup — serving the corporate Cult of Microsoft. YOU, who are participating willingly in precisely the same tactics that GIAFAM used to corrupt and overthrow Mozilla, OSI, LF and ASF — and IT WILL WORK to occupy and annex Free Software and GNU, just as it did with Open Source. Same tactics — same results. Same warning signs along the way! These are not difficult predictions to make!

That’s the coup that is STILL going on, right now. And YOU are part of it — you are complicit and you are party to it.

And as to the GNU Maintainers who crap out Guix and destroy its credibility as a project, how many of you work for Red Hat? Enough that it’s worth mentioning. It’s not just Red Hat, either. Plus, how many of you still contribute to Microsoft GitHub? It’s roughly 2/3 of you.

I want to point out, very emphatically, that the people who claim they are better suited to run Free Software advocacy and even the GNU project itself, are still promoting non-free software and helping Microsoft take over the GNU project. As if they haven’t done that to countless competitors, as if they have ever ceased to do that!

You may not all be doing this wittingly, but even your past contributions do not stop you from being dangerously unqualified to run the GNU project.

Which brings me to rms himself.

As I am not working for the FSF, and not working for the GNU project, I do not have to answer to rms. Though I would certainly choose his advice and examples, over the de Icaza-like traitors trying to sell off the GNU Project to GIAFAM like Open Source sold out its own flagships.

Unlike SFC, FSFE and some people from Guix, I still think rms should be in charge of the GNU Project. I also thought he should train a replacement for his position as FSF President — but someone who could nonetheless actually carry the torch for him and the movement he created.

As of this time, I can tell that nobody is qualified to do so. The FSF is taking on water, whether it’s the Titanic or just a beverage that has lost its flavour and character. The New FSF is about glib soundbites and kowtowing to GIAFAM. That’s what you get I guess, during an occupation.

Stallman should be able to retire when he wants to, knowing that the house he built is in good hands. Too bad that it’s in the hands of people who not historically, not sometime in the future, but RIGHT NOW, are busy auctioning it off piece by piece by piece to the same monopolies that have decade after decade tried to destroy user freedom, and free software itself.

Many of you undoubtedly are traitors. But you were invited to help build the GNU Project. That comes with no right to help competing contractors tear it down — that right is your own delusion and self-entitlement. Go build your own corporate flagships, like Mozilla and Apache did. Stop co-opting the one you contributed to.

I know people are afraid of GNU being forked. But their mistake is thinking a forked GNU is worse than one that is occupied by and sold off to its very enemies.

GET OUT! And take GNU Radio and GNUstep with you — hell, if you stay, you’ll only use your presence to further erode the actual mission.

It’s better to split OpenOffice development between those who care, and those who actually welcome the Oracle hegemony, than to let Oracle continue to run the show. Was LibreOffice a bad idea? It didn’t destroy OpenOffice, it helped preserve as much of it as possible. Enter the pedants to say why LibreOffice is different.

SOME FORKS ARE NECESSARY.

LibreGNU, whatever you will call it — is the future of the GNU project. The question is, will those of you who aren’t trying to raze the house you helped to build — will you ever get there? Will you build it, as rms built the GNU Project? Or will you just let these assholes continue to take bribes and sell you out?

That goes for you too, rms — you are far more respectable than your traitors, but you are too forgiving, and too soft.

I really don’t blame you for realising that realistically, you can’t strongarm these people into doing your will if they’re set against it. I don’t think being diplomatic means you aren’t fit to lead. But I think it’s very clear that you sit as leader of the GNU Project, while they continue to box it up piece by piece and ship it via Amazon to Redmond. I blame them, not you.

You still have too many de Icazas, but I do think the GNU will come back eventually, Fawkes-like, from the ashes of the house that rms built, which traitors burned down and stuck a flag in for GIAFAM. The legacy will live on, freedom won’t be lost forever, but The House of GNU Will Fall — at least for a time.

You could call the new one The Next GeGNUration, or just TNG:

TNG’s Not GNU.

But for the moment, thanks to these corporate shills in your midst, what you really have is Microsoft GNU.

My more diplomatic colleagues said that developers need a list of alternatives. They do not, such lists are plentiful. What they require is the will and the INTEGRITY to choose independence over monopolistic corporate rule — the will to stand for the things GNU was created specifically to stand against. This is what some GNU maintainers are not demonstrating anymore.

“I’m sorry you feel that way, but basically it’s the nature of the beast”.

“Maybe I’m wrong on this one, but for me, the beast doesn’t include selling out”.
(Wayne’s World, again).

I do mostly agree with rms on his essay, where he says that every step users take towards freedom helps. I also agree with rms that creating non-free software is unethical, and in my opinion it steals ownership of the user’s computer away from the user — turning into a tool against users and against the human rights that are co-opted with non-free technology — privacy, free speech, and the freedom to do basic necessary things like math and toolmaking.

While the user can (and ideally will) help, making choice after choice in favour of their own freedom — the onus and the ethics remain on developers (that’s YOU lot) to not sell out the user. Can you still do that? Well? CAN YOU? Because that’s NOT what some of you are actually doing.

In April or around then, some troll came to the GNU mailing lists to say that software freedom isn’t as important as some other things going on in the world. I think Edward Snowden would strongly disagree! I think dissidents using free software to help protect themselves would disagree! You think you’re only selling out rms? You’re selling out every user on Earth, including yourselves!

These days, even on the GNU mailing lists, people talk about how it’s not about freedom for these developers, it’s about the software.

Golly, if that isn’t the old rallying cry of Open Source.

To hell with the Open Software Foundation, to hell with the coup of de Icazas, and long live GNU.

And thank you, SO MUCH, for ALL of your help! I particularly liked that part where you tried to undo your part and undo the rest as well, and still wanted credit!

What the serious Hell is the matter with you people? Do you not know how full of crap you are? You’ve betrayed free software, and have become Microsoft Evangelists (their own term for shills) through and through. A few of you are just as slimy, dishonest and narcissistic as James Plamondon.

Not contributors — Double agents. SABS. Traitors.

Pack up your code, and go work for Bill. Stop pretending and lying that you care about my freedom, or anybody else’s. I’ve heard all the old Open Source bullshit before. I know where it goes — like Mozilla, ASF, like Microsoft Linux.

Not only is it possible for the rest of you to rebuild — in the future these people will not leave you with a choice, you know. You are already surrounded, occupied, and awaiting annexation. But it’s not to late to kick out your SABOTeurs. Their help comes with too many strings attached.

1. Steal
2. Add Bloat
3. Original Trashed

LibreGNU is possible right now, and it is possible in the future — just as LibreUNIX was possible in 1983, and LibreOffice was possible in 2010. You think you need these people — but you don’t. GNU, FSF and OSI have already suffered enough from false friends. You’re not going to reform them, and they really don’t care about your friendly, patient, logical arguments. They don’t respond to them honestly. They Just. Don’t. Care.

This year GNU is a corporate slave of GIAFAM sponsors — we hope that next year, it will be truly Free as in Freedom.

Long live rms, and long live GNU. But whatever does become of those, the freedom they stood for matters regardless — they are both proof that it can be done.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2020/05/30/open-letter-to-gnu-maintainers/

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