Bonum Certa Men Certa

A Reader Explains Why the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) Silence on Particular Issues Harms Causes of the FSF

FSF



Summary: One of our readers has decided to clarify to us why the FSF is, in this reader's personal view, doing damage to itself by discouraging particular types of dissent

SOME of our readers oppose all patents. They say so themselves. I even have such a close friend with several patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). He says patents as a whole should be abolished. He's a university professor, so there's pressure from his employer to pursue these patents. I myself am not against patents. Only software patents and patents on things in nature.



Similarly, I am very supportive of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). I also understand its limitations. Some of its members and sponsors/patrons have particular expectations and the FSF cannot alienate them, not without a high toll/price/risk. When the FSF 'bashed' Vista 7, for instance, it lost some members. They saw that as negative advocacy.

"When the FSF 'bashed' Vista 7, for instance, it lost some members."One particular reader of ours is upset at the FSF's silence regarding all sorts of risks, but "when it comes to truth," he explains, "the FSF has a GOOD track record. better than anybody. Credit is due."

Over the past few days if now weeks we've politely argued about whether the FSF should do anything. I argued that it's misguided to spend energy focusing on the FSF when the Linux Foundation (LF), for instance -- with a budget almost 50 times bigger -- does far greater damage. Unlike the FSF, passivity isn't the issue there. The Linux Foundation actively harms Software Freedom in a variety of ways. We wrote many articles with plenty of examples.

"The Linux Foundation actively harms Software Freedom in a variety of ways."Two weeks ago we clarified our position on this matter. Recognising the fact that some readers don't share our views and actively push for the FSF to "do something" (at least verbally), we've decided to air the views below. It's fine to insist that the FSF should at least say something, but the FSF saying something would not necessarily solve any of the issues.

Regardless, here are one person's views:

I know you and I differ (in small ways, because I still pay attention to your output and it's not terribly different) but I keep looking for an objective way to point out just what harm the FSF is doing -- and to whom.

Obviously, the greatest harm is being done by Microsoft. That's a given, it's basically a statement of fact. We can quibble and say its subjective, but leans closer to a fact than an opinion. Microsoft does more than any other company, perhaps all put together.

Could they do it without the help of other shills? I don't think either of us believe so. Shills do less than Microsoft does, and some of it unwittingly (not every shill thinks they're deliberately shilling, and of course the deliberate kind is worse) but shills play a vital role -- one for which they (LF for example) will be rewarded short term and ultimately discarded.

Look at all the Open Source publications folding. They were corporate -- they called it "Linux" -- in the short term that was a gain, but ultimately they folded when the hype died down. Linux is being sold off, and these publications are a disposable commodity -- a tool that is used up getting tossed out. (not to its fans, not to historical value, but certainly to the owners.) Common theme right now.

Open Source has always rewritten history, as a tactic. Offended by pretending that it all started 28 years ago, not 35? Do you know how long I've spit on that for? It's not just rewriting history, which is bad enough by itself, but it is doing it to unfairly compete and for personal gain.

I would say the FSF does very little that is "unfair" to "compete." But rewriting history is bad enough, and doing it to allow your own adversaries to move forward (even if not intentionally) is worse.

As the attacks on Free software increase, everyone is taking a softer stance -- everybody -- from OSI to Apache to LF to Canonical to Red Hat -- and mostly for different reasons. Sometimes it is about threats and harassment, other times it is about bribery, for Canonical it really is about constantly whoring themselves out, not unlike with LF. They don't like "politics" because it is too close for comfort to ethics. You don't need to look farther than Shuttleworth's hilariously dishonest justification of Unity Lens to prove that.

If I guess why the FSF is also taking a softer stance, then I do so, taking their track record into account. What is compromising them? Is it the Code of Conduct, is it an agreement someone other than RMS made regarding RYF? RYF (I always thought, and think it is a great idea) has even been criticised by the Trisquel community (Stallman parrots by the bushel) for what it has chosen to endorse.

But whatever the reason, you're far more likely to uncover it than I am. If I do, it will probably be while reading a Techrights article.

Rewriting history is an attack on truth that helps our adversaries -- if it was only helping our adversaries theoretically, if it was not actively doing so, that would not be great but it would be better than this.

As much as it helped corporations take over when they rewrote history to make "Linux" the saving grace, it is helping corporations take over when the FSF does the same.

But does the FSF rewrite history? Obviously not, in the same way nor for exactly the same reasons.

OpenRespect, Codes of Conduct, and all the advice OSI gave about "playing nice" stifled the Free software movement, all along and every step of the way. It is itself dishonest -- as you just said about Bill Gates being painted as a Saint in a recent article, you simply say your opponent isn't being "nice" and now they have to be quiet, not do whatever they were doing -- because it isn't "nice" to criticise monopolies.

But the FSF is becoming more "nice." Worse than that, we have historical accounts of the FSF coming out AGAINST things that need to be fought, if we are going to win.

Mono needed to be resisted, OOXML needed to be resisted, everything that needed to be resisted, Open Source told us to resist less.

Now the FSF is telling us to resist less.

They are changing their tune -- going from telling us that things need to be fought, to telling us many such things DON'T need to be fought.

It would be misleading if Open Source did this, but it is more misleading when trusted advocates of freedom do it.

Again, there has to be an explanation. But until we have one, the impact of this is bad.

It weakens the Free software movement, to be told that things we knew (and know) are threats, are not threats. The FSF is doing that.

If they are allowed, if it goes unaddressed, then they will have an easier time than anybody (because they are trusted) telling everyone "it's ok, don't worry, these aren't threats."

Historically, they were threats. Now they're being swept under the rug.

When you rewrite history like that, it hurts everybody who stays committed to history. It makes people committed to truth look foolish. It make it harder to talk honestly about history and about the present.

The FSF is doing harm to all of that.

It's not about attacking the FSF, but about not allowing them to prevent other people from seeking and stating the truth.

The FSF is acting like a monopoly on history, and they aren't being honest about these issues.

Considering their track record, painting them as liars is a waste of time -- one they don't even deserve. When we find out the reasons, chances are, most people acted honourably and some (perhaps even outsiders) acted dishonourably.

So it isn't about "GNU man bad" or removing all credit from the FSF. A historical account will talk about the good and bad, and the FSF is OUTSTANDINGLY, PREDOMINENTLY good!

But rewriting history is very harmful, it makes all our jobs impossible, and don't think for a minute that ideologues won't ask you to do things they have already made impossible. They will tell you to just find a way.

If you are really dedicated to journalism, and some organisation wants you to rewrite history first and then do your job despite that, you will -- ultimately -- find yourself fixing the damage done to the historical narrative first.

Because you cannot fix the world's problems with a perspective that was sabotaged to mislead.

Rewriting history is one of the biggest attacks of all. And moral courage doesn't allow it to persist, no matter how much "nice" the FSF dishes out, or demands of us.

If they are silent, we have to be louder. But we have to point out, again and again and again, that they are silent.

My opinion, you don't have to agree. But once you realise (or agree) that this is about rewriting history, you have to know that history demands debate -- while the FSF seems to want us to comply in silence.

It is truly either/or. The best weapon against the rewriting of history is to call out the people doing it, and the FSF is rewriting their own -- writing themselves out of it.

That's not something we can rightly allow -- if we play along, we are doing the same harm, adding to it. That cheats every person we talk to. It even cheats the FSF and helps whomever is hurting them.


That's one person's view (or set of views) anyway. As we stated at the top, we deem it more constructive and productive to call the those who actively harm Software Freedom. And we shall continue to do just that.

Recent Techrights' Posts

An "Efficient Windows 11 Experience" is Removing a Text Editor (Less than 5 Megabytes in Size) and Adding Chatbots That Require a New PC/Datacentre
Vista 11 24H2 update removes WordPad
[Meme] 'Secure' Boot in a Nutshell
Ask Microsoft if it is "safe" to boot Linux
A 3-Year Campaign to Coerce/Intimidate Us Into Censorship: Targeting Guest Writers (Intimidation)
Some high-profile people have told me that the serial defamer is a "monster" (their word), so why would Neil Brown wish to help him?
 
Azerbaijan: Microsoft Falls From 99.5% to Almost Nothing or Less Than 20% (Windows Down Sharply, GNU/Linux Surges)
Based on statSounter
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, May 28, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, May 28, 2024
The Campaign to 'End' Richard Stallman - Part I - Two Canceled Talks in a Row?
RMS has left Europe, so the concept of "delayed" talk is facetious or deeply cynical
On Desktops/Laptops in Andorra Windows Fell to Less Than Half, 20% If One Counts Mobile as Well
And this is a European country
[Meme] 3 Years Later
If you're going to start a fight, make sure you can handle it
When You Leave a Bad Employer and Move on to Better Things
Perhaps my main mistake was not resigning from my job sooner
No, Your Site Likely Does Not Need WordPress
I was one of the first users of WordPress
GNU/Linux in Cameroon: Rising Steadily While Windows Falls From 99% to Just 6%
If one also counts mobile (mostly Android)
Monkey See, Monkey Share
on deprivation of users
From 0.17% to 10% or More (GNU/Linux in Dominica)
Dominica isn't well known, but it does seem to have embraced Chromebooks in recent years
Links 28/05/2024: Tensions in East Asia, UK Mandatory National Service
Links for the day
Gemini Links 28/05/2024: NetCrawl and Living in Lagrange
Links for the day
Guardian Digital, Inc (linuxsecurity.com) Handed Over Its Web Site to Chatbots That Generate SEO Garbage
They need to be called out on it
statCounter Sees Microsoft Windows at Below 1% in American Samoa
Not even 1%!
Windows Down to 60% of Guam's Desktops/Laptops and Down to a Quarter Overall
No wonder Microsoft is panicking
Today in UEFI 'Secure' Boot Debates (the Frog is Already Boiling and Melting)
Over at LQ today
[Meme] A "Modern" Web's Message in a Bottle
So-called 'security'
Brittany Day: Still Chatbot Slinging, Producing Fake 'Articles' About "Linux"
random garbage produced (and censored) by Microsoft
Almost 4k Gemini Capsules, 5th Anniversary Only Weeks Away
The Web will continue to deteriorate
Microsoft: $1 Million a Day for Contempt of Court Orders (Justice Department)
Microsoft behaves as if it's 100% exempt from laws
Catbodia? In Cambodia, Microsoft's Windows Fell to All-Time Low of Less Than a Quarter.
Cambodia is leaving Microsoft behind
[Meme] Deadnaming
Guess who uses a name that was deprecated well over a decade ago?
New Press Report Explains Microsoft Severance and Quiet (Undisclosed) Layoffs
Some people will call this "loophole", whereas others will opine that it is outright illegal (but kept secret to circumvent scrutiny)
Global South is Android/Linux (Windows Era Has Come to an End Already)
I've decided to take a quick glance at South American trends for all operating systems
[Meme] Unified Patent Troll
Unified Patent Court remains illegal and unconstitutional
The European Patent Office is Sinking
Officials (or national delegates) at the European Patent Organisation have long been warned about this (by staff representatives from the European Patent Office), but they ignored the warnings
Summer in the Air
We have a good pace going on owing to health, positivity, inertia and good software tools
GNU/Linux Activity in Belize
From an economic point of view, Microsoft needn't worry about Belize, but when it comes to preserving the Windows monopoly/monoculture Belize matters
Links 28/05/2024: Back to MP3, NVIDIA Sued by Authors
Links for the day
Gemini Links 28/05/2024: Bad Beach and TLS
Links for the day
Microsoft Windows Fell From 100% to Just 7.5% in Sierra Leone
Based on statCounter
In Benin, Microsoft's Windows Fell Below 10%, GNU/Linux Surged to 6% or Higher on Desktops/Laptops
That's nearly 7% - a lot higher than the average in Africa
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, May 27, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, May 27, 2024
Delayed Series About Dr. Richard Stallman
A lot of the attacks on him boil down to petty things
[Meme] Elephant in the Asian Room
With ChromeOS included GNU/Linux is at 6% across Asia
GNU/Linux in Bangladesh Up From 0.5% to Over 4% (Windows Slid From 95% to 18%)
Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely-populated countries
A 3-Year Campaign to Coerce/Intimidate Us Into Censorship: Targeting Several Webhosts (in Collaboration and Conjunction With Mentally-Ill Flunkies)
Every attempt to nuke the current hosting failed, but it's still worth noting
Links 27/05/2024: One Month Left for ICQ, More Openwashing Highlighted
Links for the day
Gemini Links 27/05/2024: Back to GNU/Linux, Librem 5 Assessed
Links for the day
StatCounter (or statCounter) Has Mostly Recovered From a Day's Downtime (Malfunction)
Some of the material we've published based on the statCounter datasets truly annoys Microsofters
Google: We Don't Have Source Diversity, But We Have Chatbot Spew in Place of Sources (and It's Not Even Accurate)
Search engines and news search never looked this bad...
[Meme] Security is Not a Failure to Boot (or Illusion of Security Due to 'Unknown' System)
Red Hat is largely responsible for this mess
What is Secure Boot?
Security means the user feels safe and secure - i.e. confident that the machine would continue to work following a reboot or a system upgrade (or kernel upgrade)
StatCounter (or statCounter) Has Been Broken for Nearly 24 Hours. Who Benefits? Microsoft.
StatCounter is broken right now and has been broken for nearly 24 hours already
Links 27/05/2024: Chatbots Generate Hateful Output, TPM Performance Scrutinised
Links for the day
David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) Realises What He Should Have Decades Ago
seeing that DHH is moving away from Apple is kind of a big deal
Reinvigorating the Voice of GNU/Linux Users (Not Companies Whose Chiefs Don't Even Use GNU/Linux!)
Scott Ruecker has just announced his return
"Tech" in the Context of Even Bigger Issues
"Tech" (or technology) activism is important; but there's a bigger picture
A Decade of In-Depth Coverage of Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO)
The world needs transparency and sunlight
Hopefully Not Sunset for StatCounter
We hope that StatCounter will be back soon.
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, May 26, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, May 26, 2024
Links 27/05/2024: Self-Publishing, Patent Monopolies, and Armed Conflicts
Links for the day
Gemini Links 27/05/2024: Tethering Connection and PFAs
Links for the day
Imagine Canada Enabling Rapists to Harass Their (Rape) Victims
This analogy is applicable because abusers are empowered against the abused