09.02.20

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We Still Need More Stallmans

Posted in Action, Free/Libre Software at 12:13 am by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

RJCD
Photo sources: Daniel Pocock, Richard Stallman, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange

Summary: For Free Software to free everyone, more will have to be done to spread both greater technical proficiency and greater advocacy for what (Bruce) Perens now calls the “differently-technical”

Activists are not born or bred as such. At some point in their lives, they experience (often first-hand) some injustice which they decide is important enough to stand against. As they were not activists previously, they often lack experience or know-how, which they find along the way.

For rms, it was the injustice of non-free computing, and the preservation of a culture. Computing was largely a free endeavour, which gained fetters of NDAs and eventually copyright restrictions and low-quality patents. (Software was not copyrightable in the United States until 1980).

“For Free Software to free everyone, more will have to be done to spread both greater technical proficiency and greater advocacy for what Perens now calls the “differently-technical”.”Although sometimes painted as elitist, because it was an effort that requires a technical skill, it is fairer to say Free Software was an anti-elitist effort, because it works to keep this technical act from being locked up by monopolies and the rich and powerful. This does not mean we don’t benefit from trying to put this power (and its benefits) into the hands of everyone. In principle, this is what Free Software has always worked to do.

For Free Software to free everyone, more will have to be done to spread both greater technical proficiency and greater advocacy for what Perens now calls the “differently-technical”. Although I dislike overly politically-correct terminology (because it becomes a distraction from real progress, and is frequently condescending), I think Perens does a fair job justifying his use of the term. If you work as a scientist at CERN and don’t know how to code or install Fedora (many at CERN already do), then you are most certainly a “technical person” regardless.

“Often in the rush to add features, people forget to maintain the things that already work well and are relied on.”With that said, I was expecting a much more difficult process for installing OpenBSD. I didn’t even read how to do it (beyond skimming the downloads page). But then I’ve used dd before, haven’t I?

I don’t think we just need to put friendly layers on top of everything though, we also need to keep everything “hackable” (not in the security sense of the term, but in the sense of remix and easy access to the system for experienced users). Often in the rush to add features, people forget to maintain the things that already work well and are relied on.

OpenBSD (the system I’ve paid the closest attention to recently) is happy to break things that don’t work and aren’t relied on, but they treat the system as an entire thing — and the best things they kill often make their way to places where they can be salvaged and maintained independently. They are not (unlike the corporations interfering with GNU/Linux) constantly destroying “their own” (our) ecosystem, nor (unlike said corporations) trying to control things outside of their own development.

“For many years (debatably, Perens is doing a good job of laying bare some of the failures involved) corporations involved themselves with our movement at an arguably safe distance.”New FSF president Geoffrey Knauth may support rms, I am told he does, but he does not support our freedom. On the contrary, he will (I believe) continue to drag the entire FSF further away from freedom. This is not about purity, it is about staying independent of corporate corruption. Calling that “purity” is both cynical and misses the point. For many years (debatably, Perens is doing a good job of laying bare some of the failures involved) corporations involved themselves with our movement at an arguably safe distance. They had opportunities to make trouble, but they were not really “in control” of what we did.

FSF classic

Today, we have the opposite: they are not fully in control of what we do, but they are more than a potential corrupting influence — they dictate too much of the process (through “donations”, through corruption and bribery and even censorship) and they manipulate even more than they control. Almost nobody is fighting this — but it would be terribly unfair to say nobody does at all.

Let me be 100% clear about my opinion of the new FSF: it will not fight against these problems — it is part of these problems. Geoffrey Knauth will not fight against these problems, he was the one handling the bribe money!

“We have loads of evidence, but the effort of reaching a level worthy of the word “proof” is frankly, an ongoing process against a tech press that also takes money from the organisations in question.”Now, before Roy has to deal with a lot of paperwork over that remark, let me clarify it immediately — what I am NOT saying is that the new FSF President was necessarily “aware” of, let alone played an active role in the bribing of the FSF. Rather there are a few things WE are already aware of:

1. The FSF was corrupted, at least for a while (I do not believe it will recover and I’ve said that many times. I think it is even naive to believe it will recover).

2. There were corporate interests (sponsors) involved, and money involved and / or favours done. We have loads of evidence, but the effort of reaching a level worthy of the word “proof” is frankly, an ongoing process against a tech press that also takes money from the organisations in question.

“Both science and actual justice (however rare these wonders may be) have in common a willingness to look at issues from opposing or different angles (often not just two) for those situations where the truth is elusive or a bit complicated.”Even Perens himself talks about this these days (why doesn’t rms or Knauth?). Perens co-founded the organisation that was a conduit for all this corruption — but he has often turned around and criticised it for doing so. (More about this later).

3. I am not aware of ANY DIRECT role Knauth played in any of this. If I were, I would have already said as much. Rather, we know that GitHub has played a role, and sadly, the president of the FSF is an active GitHub user.

4. It is POSSIBLE (to be fair) but real work to believe that as treasurer, Knauth had no awareness of what was going on. The benefit of the doubt has to be present, because if we want fairness for rms and Assange (who a lot of people don’t like), then we also have to bestow people we don’t trust or like with the same — at least sometimes. This does not extend to organisations who have spent decades lying and stabbing us in the back. For those, we should know by now that they can’t be trusted.

And that’s really part of why all this needs to be said — we are asked to TRUST people who SUPPORT those who have spent years lying to us and exploiting us. Sorry, but that’s a pretty obvious deal-breaker, especially when we can already connect such compromises to the ousting of rms and the destruction of the FSF.

“This article is an endorsement of some of the things Perens has said, it is NOT an endorsement of Perens.”So I am most certainly NOT saying that Knauth was aware, let alone party to the corruption going on. But if he wasn’t even aware of it, that’s kind of sad — maybe the sort of thing you should resign over (as Perens did) rather than be promoted after. Maybe I don’t know anything about what a treasurer does, and someone else can explain this better. I know of one incredibly pedantic person in IRC who would probably keel over if he stopped playing Devil’s Advocate, and this is another opportunity for him to be useful.

Both science and actual justice (however rare these wonders may be) have in common a willingness to look at issues from opposing or different angles (often not just two) for those situations where the truth is elusive or a bit complicated. But in general, P.R. and the so-called “media” tend to be more interested in playing off a certain angle than finding the truth.

“So you have LibrePlanet, ousting rms with the help of the GNOME director’s signature — you have members of the GNU Project trying to convert the project to be able to oust and cancel both contributions and Direction by the same sort of means; conflating a couple of (very) minor interruptions by an organisation’s founder with a “lack of safety”…”So to be perfectly clear, I’m not confident that Knauth played an active role in the corruption, but I’m MOSTLY confident he will not play a significant role in reform. In short, he is TODAY’S FSF president — where the organisation (even rms himself, for different and nearly understandable reasons) responds to ongoing corruption with soundbites and glitz, cashing in on trust built over the years not unlike Mark Shuttleworth waving away the question of whether Ubuntu is worthy of root access on your computer by saying “you’ve always trusted us before!” It really doesn’t answer the question.

This article is an endorsement of some of the things Perens has said, it is NOT an endorsement of Perens. He is saying that a single organisation isn’t the answer — I applaud this, and he is saying that he doesn’t want to admin it — I applaud that as well. Perens knew for years that OSI had a plan to oust rms, and when he was ousted, the methodology was not entirely unlike the original plan. People went ahead anyway, and what’s happening with the GNU Project is a combination of That Plan and Microsoft’s continuing efforts to take over what THEY call “Linux”.

So you have LibrePlanet, ousting rms with the help of the GNOME director’s signature — you have members of the GNU Project trying to convert the project to be able to oust and cancel both contributions and Direction by the same sort of means; conflating a couple of (very) minor interruptions by an organisation’s founder with a “lack of safety” (and ESR thought they would conflate Free Software with terrorism — NO, Mr. Raymond, thanks to your plan to oust rms, they conflate SPEAKING OUT OF TURN with terrorism! Now you can crown yourself King of the SJWs! Don’t like Molly? It’s your own bullshit that CREATED her!)

“So while Geoffrey Knauth and the Fake FSF (Free GitHub Foundation) keeps turning Free Software into Open Source, and Microsoft keeps turning Open Source into proprietary software (even working to change the OSD itself!) Knauth is the captain of a ship going nowhere.”And what will the FSF do? Save the GNU Project? NO! They will make it impossible to fight the encroachment of Microsoft and GitHub, they will wave their hands and say “blah blah Freedom” but their ACTIONS won’t fit their words.

That’s exactly what Open Source is.

So while Geoffrey Knauth and the Fake FSF (Free GitHub Foundation) keeps turning Free Software into Open Source, and Microsoft keeps turning Open Source into proprietary software (even working to change the OSD itself!) Knauth is the captain of a ship going nowhere.

And THAT is exactly why we need more Stallmans.

“Even Nat Friedman, Miguel de Icaza, Stormy Peters. GNOME is NOT on our side, it has not been for ages.”We need more Stallmans because the FSF won’t provide freedom or fight for US.

We need more Stallmans because GitHub is a MONOPOLY. The presence of other small companies does not make GitHub not a monopoly — there were always other companies besides Microsoft. What makes Microsoft a monopoly is the way that it can buy and sell practically anybody.

Anybody? Even Nat Friedman, Miguel de Icaza, Stormy Peters. GNOME is NOT on our side, it has not been for ages.

So will Geoffrey Knauth help fight the co-opting of Free Software?

No.

Will the FSF help fight the co-opting of Free Software?

No.

Does the FSF stand for your freedom?

“Why did the FSF sell out rms (and with him, all of us)?”Not really. Anybody can say they stand for your freedom. But when people actually do, you can see what happens — When rms stands up for us even when other sell out, you see what happens. When Assange stands up for a Free Press even when the press itself has sold out (to the costs of hundreds of thousands of lives or more) you see what happens. When Chelsea Manning and Debian/FSFE’s Daniel Pocock stand up, you see what happens–

They get attacked by the very people who benefit from what they do.

But why?

Why did the Guardian and the Intercept sell out Assange (and with him, all of us)?

Why did the FSF sell out rms (and with him, all of us)?

Why did Debian and FSFE sell out Pocock (and with him, all of us)?

Why did the United States government attack Chelsea Manning?

“The Guardian and the Intercept, the FSF and Debian, the FSFE and even the USA have all become ruled by the people with Money — they do NOT care about your freedom. They are doing it for the money.”In all of these instances, there were people speaking up — they were ultimately speaking up FOR US and therefore (very arguably) in a way that should be commended by the so-called Press, the FSF, Debian and the FSFE, as well as the U.S. government.

Why did the opposite happen? The sponsors.

The Guardian and the Intercept, the FSF and Debian, the FSFE and even the USA have all become ruled by the people with Money — they do NOT care about your freedom. They are doing it for the money.

It is this corruption that leads to unnecessary wars for profit, hiring politicians with cushy retirement packages, corrupting so-called not-for-profit organisations by increasing their not-for-profit budget so they can afford more glitz and P.R. bullshit at the expense of their actual mission — which amounts to DEEDS, not P.R.–

The press can be bribed (Techrights has explained this in great detail and continues to show people examples) and every example here of someone being cancelled, persecuted and censored was mostly about Money and Power.

“Corruption like this ruins people’s lives, not only incidentally but deliberately, as good people stand in its way.”For rms it was the companies looking to attack Software Freedom who provided the corrupting influence. For Pocock it was probably Google (he has published details about Google corrupting both Debian and FSFE). For Assange and Manning, we may have to guess? But illegal and unnecessary wars come from those who profit from wars — wealthy dictators and wealthy corporations that make war into a business, rather than about defense.

This corruption has destroyed both the FSF and the country it started in. It has probably destroyed Debian, but I haven’t cared about Debian since 2015 and Daniel Pocock has far more to say about them than I do. It certainly helps explain why Debian got so corrupt that I no longer care — I was a passionate supporter of Debian until about 2015.

Corruption like this ruins people’s lives, not only incidentally but deliberately, as good people stand in its way.

Geoffery Knauth does NOT stand in its way, and that’s just one more reason the FSF will not come back.

But people like rms CREATE things like the FSF. When people eventually figure out that the FSF won’t be saved, they will stop trying to save what has fallen to corruption and instead work to create new things that serve similar purposes.

“I get that not everybody who supports rms supports Assange, not everybody who supports Assange supports Pocock.”After all, rms did NOT try to save the hacker culture as it was — he created something new instead.

One thing that is still worth trying to salvage is the GNU Project, because it would be a setback to lose the true flagship of Free Software (GNU > FSF, really).

The problem is that the GNU Project has also fallen to corruption — people attacked Stallman’s website to try to fake his resignation, they have had ongoing coups (plural) to try to oust him from GNU even after he was ousted from the FSF, and the people trying to do that ARE ABSOLUTELY BULLSHIT. I don’t care if it includes Neil McGovern and the President of the United States — as recent history proves, corruption means any unqualified asshole with the right connections can find a seat of power and authority.

Just like Bill Gates.

If that’s your measure of who to trust, we desperately need a new one.

I get that not everybody who supports rms supports Assange, not everybody who supports Assange supports Pocock.

“So this is less about the victimisation of the people mentioned — and more about the deeds that led bad people to attack them — as well as the corruption necessary for that to take place systematically, and the people who profit from the upheaval and culture of intimidation and control it is designed to create.”I don’t think Pocock is even going to lead anything. Nor likely will Manning.

Rather, all of these are prominent activists, and although they could use more support, they have the support of many of us.

Because when nations and organisations stop caring about freedom, PEOPLE still do. Not always enough people, but it would be terribly unfair to say it was nobody.

You could easily add to this list a certain activist who takes inspiration from Pamela Jones, and they would fit in the picture. But it would be seen as self-serving in an article published here, so it goes without saying.

This is less, I might add, about the victimisation of the people mentioned. Anybody, good or bad, can become a victim. But some people victimise good people to make them look back, while others paint bad people as victims to make them look good. It isn’t proof either way.

So this is less about the victimisation of the people mentioned — and more about the deeds that led bad people to attack them — as well as the corruption necessary for that to take place systematically, and the people who profit from the upheaval and culture of intimidation and control it is designed to create.

“It is worth fighting for the GNU Project, but if we fail then it is worth recreating it as much as possible — whether by moving the pieces into a new project or starting similar projects, or probably both.”There will be more Stallmans, however rare they are at such scale. There will be many more activists, and when they find organic, grassroots ways to work together as true volunteers (not serfs being exploited as cheap labour by corporate sponsors) then they will add up things even greater than we have achieved so far.

It’s probably more a question of whether it’s in the near future or the more distant future.

But there’s very little question as to whether the FSF will truly lead that fight.

It won’t, it can’t — it lost when it gave up on rms (and us). Nobody is going to buy the Guardian and make it what it used to be.

They’ll just start a new publication.

The GNU Project is also a publication, of a sort — it is published, it is available to the public and even under a public license.

It is worth fighting for the GNU Project, but if we fail then it is worth recreating it as much as possible — whether by moving the pieces into a new project or starting similar projects, or probably both. (Note that HOW we do this matters a great deal; if we do it on GitHub or if we make lack as much autonomy — from corporate takeover — as the current GNU Project under the new FSF, it doesn’t really solve anything).

“I think it is FAR more likely, given all that I know and have experienced first-hand, that Pocock is a whistleblower — not the opportunist Debian and FSFE now paint him as.”You can attack rms, you can attack Assange and Manning, you can do the same to Daniel Pock. The accusations against him were so vitriolic, and the claims he made dovetailed so much with what was going on in other situations (like Debian) that I spent literally day after day going over his mailing list and blog, looking for reasons to believe that either he or Debian / FSFE were full of shit. I was as sceptical as I could manage to be.

It’s true that if accurate, Pocock’s claims would support many other things we knew — but if they were not, they wouldn’t help us at all, really. So I tried very, very hard to be impartial. I didn’t just read his work, I pored over it. And I looked for a way it could be untrue.

I have long supported his work, because I believe it is valuable. It’s possible I was mistaken, though I am not the only person vetting his findings — there are people with more experience (and sheer volume of work) doing the same as I did. I think it is FAR more likely, given all that I know and have experienced first-hand, that Pocock is a whistleblower — not the opportunist Debian and FSFE now paint him as.

And that says loads about Debian, not much about Pocock — except that he has fielded all of this abuse, not unlike rms has, to stand for something.

“That makes people like Pocock and Chelsea Manning a different sort of hero — not always leader, just a vital actor.”Not everybody who does this sort of thing will become the sort of leader that rms is. Daniel Pocock may not alone inspire the thousands upon thousands that rms has.

However, this is not just about inspiration — activism is work, it is deeds. It involves making important decisions for yourself, before you can advise other people.

Pocock then, is extremely useful not just for the work that he does, which is extremely valuable — but also as an example of how someone can show us how to stand up to bullies, how to stand up to corruption, how to work for freedom EVEN when the organisations that claim to fight for us are actually failing us.

RMS matters more than the FSF — not because he is rms, but because he created things like the FSF and the GNU Project. Yes, he had loads of help, but it really doesn’t take anything away from that help to say he created both the FSF and the GNU Project.

Most of us will not create either the FSF or a GNU Project, but what we can do is stand up for freedom whether they continue to or not.

That makes people like Pocock and Chelsea Manning a different sort of hero — not always leader, just a vital actor.

But most importantly, a vital actor who (like rms) does not let a corrupt organsition stop them from fighting for freedom.

That’s the sort of hero we need the most of right now. We need leaders too, but even more than we need leaders, we need people who demonstrate integrity, even when it is uncomfortable.

“We need leaders too, but even more than we need leaders, we need people who demonstrate integrity, even when it is uncomfortable.”The FSF can be Safe Space for corporate corruption, while WE stand for our OWN freedom. But it would be nice of course, to have some organisations that stand with us too. The important thing is to not let those organisations push us around, just to please their sponsors.

Sorry, FSF, FSFE — you can’t fight for us AND sell us all out. That one is truly either / or. I just don’t care if Knauth “supports rms”. All the people who betrayed us claim to support us too. All the people handing the entire Free software ecosystem to Microsoft claim to support us.

Thanks, but no thanks. We have these people who still stand for something, who still make certain that the truth makes it from those who censor to a public that has the right to know. And until there are more, they will have to do.

“All the people who betrayed us claim to support us too. All the people handing the entire Free software ecosystem to Microsoft claim to support us.”I’d rather have ordinary people who (still) stand for my freedom, than even the highest-budget organisation in the world pretending to care. That’s something that money just can’t buy.

I’ll put this thought out there, for those who want to be a leader like rms:

Maybe it was inevitable for the FSF to use him the way they did. I’m not saying the other founders were in on it, only that maybe 501(c)3 not-for-profit orgs are simply too weak (by virtue of the rules they must adhere to) to prevent this sort of takeover from ultimately happening.

That doesn’t absolve the people who participated in the ousting, nor is there necessarily a better way on paper (for-profit organisations have mountains of their own problems — and a 501(c)3 is probably better than those are, even if they are eventually doomed to be taken over).

The only real safety the truth has — when you think about it, the truth in time becomes the only safeguard against corruption — is that some people take risks to make it known when everybody else has decided to “play it safe”.

“The only real safety the truth has — when you think about it, the truth in time becomes the only safeguard against corruption — is that some people take risks to make it known when everybody else has decided to “play it safe”.”Free Software revolted against corruption and power, and now some GNU developers and Debian “leaders” act like rms and and Pocock are “revolting” individuals.

But they ARE “revolting” against lies and corruption and treachery — and that’s exactly why they’re of value to us, but not (anymore) to these organisations and backstabbers.

Nice words like the U.S. Constitution (which the Bill of Rights amends and becomes part of), the Debian Social Contract, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights serve a purpose after the organisations and states that “own” them have abandoned them — they provide a measuring stick against which we can compare the corruption and political decay we now face.

“There is no inconsistency — liars continue to lie, money continues to corrupt.”They are the promises that were made, and the promises we can now say were undoubtedly broken. You can’t patch up that kind of betrayal with fancy animations or new t-shirt designs. Debian and FSFE cannot repair that with just words and promises. Neither can the FSF. Those promises have lost their currency and their value — don’t ask us, don’t promise us — SHOW us what your organisations can do.

We know that isn’t much, now that your sponsors have pushed you to attack us — proving to all that they own you.

Your empty promises make no sense at all, FSF. How do you propose to stand for OUR freedom, when you have demonstrably committed to fettering both yourself and the very best of your own people — without so much as a decent explanation, or any sign of remorse?

The FSF on blah blah blah “freedom”: SUPPORT US! HELP us Fight for YOU.

The FSF on its role in stabbing rms AND his supporters in the back: “…”

“And people who actually stand for your freedom continue to suffer, while everybody who plays it safe (only at a cost to the best, as well as the rest of us) gets a fucking promotion.”You stand for nothing. You develop for Microsoft. And you can’t (you won’t!) defend your own founder’s freedom — let alone ours. You work with FSFE, even though they do more to tarnish your image than rms ever did.

There is no inconsistency — liars continue to lie, money continues to corrupt. And people who actually stand for your freedom continue to suffer, while everybody who plays it safe (only at a cost to the best, as well as the rest of us) gets a fucking promotion.

That’s not really fighting for our freedom, though — for that, we still need more Stallmans.

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    Spying, censoring, and abusing projects/developers/users are among the perks Microsoft found in GitHub; the E.E.E.-styled takeover is being misused for perception manipulation and even racism, so projects really need to take control of their hosting (outsourcing is risky and very expensive in the long run)



  28. Links 29/11/2021: FWUPD's 'Best Known Configuration' and Glimpse at OpenZFS 3.0

    Links for the day



  29. President Biden Wants to Put Microsofter in Charge of the Patent Office, Soon to Penalise Patent Applicants Who Don't Use Microsoft's Proprietary Formats

    The tradition of GAFAM or GIAFAM inside the USPTO carries on (e.g. Kappos and Lee; Kappos lobbies for Microsoft and IBM, whereas Lee now works for Amazon/Bezos after a career at Google); it's hard to believe anymore that the USPTO exists to serve innovators rather than aggressive monopolists, shielding their territory by patent threats (lawsuits or worse aggression) and cross-licensing that's akin to a cartel



  30. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VIII — Mr. Graveley's Long Career Serving Microsoft's Agenda (Before Hiring by Microsoft to Work on GitHub's GPL Violations Machine)

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley was promoting .NET (or Mono) since his young days; his current job at Microsoft is consistent with past harms to GNU/Linux, basically pushing undesirable (except to Microsoft) things to GNU/Linux users; Tomboy used to be the main reason for distro ISOs to include Mono


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