everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
*originally posted:* nov 2021
ive been working on free software for more than a decade. it may sound like a lot, but mostly i was talking, writing some code and using free licenses. there was a lot of learning and investigating new ideas, especially later-- and there was some experimenting with ways to promote free software.
the way people are conditioned to accept software is when its distributed with hardware. i wish it was as simple as giving away usb sticks, but of course it isnt. want to give the gift of free software? give someone a computer with free software on it.
i dont like purism, system76 or gnu/linux. the raspberry spy is worse than all of the above. these are definitely not paths to software freedom anymore, theyre only paths to having free computing co-opted. gnu is controlled increasingly by ibm and microsoft, and the fsf doesnt give a shit-- as usual. the fsf is a former organisation, corrupted straight to its core (the software and the leadership) and it cannot control even its own compiler, let alone its operating system, which it outsources to microsoft.
at the centre, gnu/linux runs a kernel that not only co-opts the movement, it has done so for more than 20 years. gnu resisted this unfortunate marriage, and it ought to do so again-- but circumstances have ensured that gnu will remain in a loveless (and exploited) marriage to corporations that dont want users to be free.
the fsf has abandoned its mission.
of course when i say that the fsf is corrupted straight to the software and leadership, i dont deny that efforts have been made to fix the problem-- theres no question. but if we put aside relatively small efforts and look at the big picture, these efforts are nothing to cling to hope about.
stallman is back, but theres no sign of this changing much. any change of any sort will be spun as positive, but i think its just a way to grab donations. as a former member i have no faith in the organisation at all. the fsf was a vehicle for just two things-- stallman himself, and his lifelong quest for free software. i say lifelong, but hes practically retired now. i wish it werent true, the movement continues to fall apart and hes either stopped (or been stopped from) putting it back together, but these days it seems like its more about licenses and fsf funding than it is about freedom.
hey, thats a typical trajectory for non-profit corporations. its exactly why people start new ones (not that i love any of the new ones either, though there is one i will neglect to mention here that i hope will manage to pull through).
funding the fsf wont make them stand for anything again, even those with a sincere desire (i would presume this includes stallman himself) will find the state of the organisation will never allow it. if the members cant fix it, and the leaders that want to fix it cant fix it, we have to assume that the trouble is either the organisation itself, or the people who really control it.
im aware of the (alleged, likely) differences in funding between corporations and members. i think its been a long time since weve been given the whole story about any of it, and weve been fooled by silent donors before. either way, i think the bulk of the problem exists between the corporations who USED TO fund the fsf, and the ones the fsf wants to stay on "good terms" with, either for purposes of future funding or who knows what.
lets imagine a board that has certain obligations by charter, oversight that has certain interpretations of those obligations, several precarious (lets be nice and say "diplomatic") situations regarding various projects and governance of those projects, and whatever the boards sincerest motivations, they either somehow dont know better, dont care, or have to care more about something none of us care about at all.
the fsf seems to be entirely unaccountable to its own mission, it has for years, and like any narcissist (or marketing executive) when pressed for details we are given everything except what we requested in terms of answers. we have misgivings about funding, and we get mountains of data about where the fsf money was SPENT, rather than full details on where it came from. of course the latter is impossible to give anyway, but the real point is WE WONT GET ANY STRAIGHT ANSWERS.
EVER. the fsf has spent the past 5 years dancing around and pulling our dicks. (dont even bother, anybody who wants to have their dick pulled and is over 18 can go into a store and BUY ONE). when stallman came back, things were supposed to change. obviously ruins are not rebuilt in a day, but the fsf continues their stupid dance.
the fsf doesnt do freedom anymore, only politics. by this i mean, anything that NEEDS TO BE DONE is never done, it is PLAYED AT on and on and on in an endless cycle of bullshit and broken promises. the broken promises CONTINUE to mount. look at your fucking operating system. what a fucking joke. look at gnu itself-- what a fucking joke. microsoft gnu-- talk to the developers! they are in fucking denial and will bullshit you, deliberately or otherwise. not a clue in the whole fucking bunch. once again, i am thinking of a single exception and ill leave them out of this. but thats not nearly enough anyway.
stallman is acting as an ADVOCATE, but NOT a leader-- and thats to be expected because the situation that broke the movement has not been fixed, no ones standing up to defend the movement. everyone is waiting for everyone else. (thats by design, too-- not theirs, but it was definitely by design). the corruption at the fsf and in the gnu project may no longer look exactly like the revolving door between corporate lobbyists and government, it may only look like a flagship that has rusted and infrastructure that has corroded. but its fucking done, all the same.
a movement that is so fucking spineless that it has to sugarcoat the worst tragedies of free software for the past decade is a movement that will never get up again. since THE FSF IS COMPLETELY FUCKING SPINELESS, anyone standing up will have to be outsiders. the sfc has betrayed us, lied to the public and joined open source. they can spend the rest of their lives trying to find a way to live with themselves, i dont give a shit about that. they only cared about themselves, and they pretended to give a shit about freedom.
but as will become clear the moment this movement DOES find a way to pick itself up, the fsf is not the free software movement. rather importantly, neither is (or ever was) open source the free software movement. these are not quibbles over a name as they are dishonestly (and spinelessly) portrayed; one actually stands for something. the other never did. open source NEVER, ever stood for anything. it sometimes lied and pretended to.
stallman has been too charitable to traitors. since he founded the movement, he has the right to be magnanimous. i wont call him a traitor to his own movement, and i dont think he sold us out or ever intended to. this is an important distinction: stallman is honest. maybe not QUITE 100%, but closer than the rest of us on average, so the quibbles are not of much importance. really.
but the result is that free software is run more by traitors than by allies. ibm controls gcc-- defy this and show otherwise. it cannot be done. the best the fsf can do is rebrand and redefine their goals so it looks like theyre not failing. i mean thats a corporate pr move, its exactly what corporate pr would tell you to do in their situation. its bunk though. its bullshit-- theyre lying. this is about image, not freedom. and when you give up freedom for the image of freedom, open source is exactly whats left.
microsoft controls gnu. again, defy this and show otherwise. you need to define gnu, what it exists for and what it consists of, and youll find that microsoft absolutely controls it. gnu developers will pull your dick about technicalities, but its no better than when the fsf gives you the information you didnt ask for (about their budget) because the information relevant to your doubts isnt something they are able to provide. its not. theres not a damned thing we can do about anonymous donors, except wait for the truth to come out.
and its stupid (even dishonest) to paint it as the vast majority of donations are from members, because whenever a corporation waves a giant donation (even one that pales next to the collective individual membership dues) who among you is a sucker enough to think they wont ever dance for that money? theyve done it before, theyre still dancing to the tune, and we are supposed to think that because the money is (allegedly) gone that its just a coincidence that gnu still sucks and that the fsf is promoting projects that are github-based.
i mean, the fsf (which supposedly cares about your freedom) IS STILL PROMOTING SOFTWARE THAT YOU HAVE TO HELP MICROSOFT TAKE OVER GNU TO FULLY PARTICIPATE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF. i wish i were ONLY talking about gnu itself, but this the very thing-- no matter how dire the situation you outline as an example of how royally the fsf is screwing up-- NEXT YEAR ITS STILL WORSE!
theres NEVER serious improvement.
and in my opinion, that makes their fundraising drives as good as a scam. they DO NOT fight for your freedom. they LAY DOWN for corporate takeover.
2015, they laid down for a takeover.
2016, they learned nothing at all.
2017, they made excuses.
2018, they didnt bother standing up when 1 in 5 projects in the free software directory were suddenly owned by microsoft.
2019, they lied to the public, albeit for a good (understandable) cause-- but they never apologised to the people they lied to, and i still think they owe that apology. not that it will fix the rest of whats wrong.
2020, they sat on their laurels.
2021, all hell broke loose-- i still think it was a stage production. and then: basically, sweet fuck-all.
but in 2022, they will fight for your freedom!
to be honest, youd have to be some kind of idiot to think so at this point.
the fsf doesnt fight anymore. it waits for hell to freeze over. it makes (pathetic) excuses for everything it fucks up. it DOES get attacked unfairly by open source, but then (this is unforgiveable) it completely fails to educate people about the very threat that stands to destroy the movement.
as a result, the movement continues to be destroyed. nobody really even knows why, and roy is still full of shit (hes the only person who even appears to be educating people, but some of it is factual and a fuck of a lot is trolling and twisting facts).
sorry, you fake 501(c)3 arseholes, this is not what fighting for our freedom looks like. this is what bullshit politics and fundraising looks like. you dont even deserve your members, since you dont offer what you claim to.
the fsf is trying to coast on previous achievements-- it has nothing new to offer anyone. id say taler is a potential exception (at least stallman seems to believe in it) but lets take that as a given-- since the fsf doesnt stand up to corporate takeover, developing taler now just means that taler will be controlled by microsoft or ibm in the future. so even taler shouldnt be counted. why not let microsoft or ibm develop it, since theyre going to ultimately co-opt it (or shut it down) anyway?
gnome has betrayed the public even worse than the fsf has-- will gnu ever stand up to them? of course not. theyve dragged the movement down year after year for decades, and the latest betrayal is staggering. the fsf doesnt care, theyre too busy pretending to give a shit and asking for more money. WHAT WILL IT GET YOU? a fat fucking load of nothing.
gnu will still be co-opted, undefended, drifting evermore towards corporate control-- thats not freedom. its EXACTLY what gnu was created to get us away from.
even calling gcc free software at this point is a joke, no one is going to pull it back away from corporate control. these are turning into corporate-owned projects that are merely subsidised by grants and free labour. it ought to be illegal. but this is how corporations get tax-free work done for free, which they can sell and make NEARLY 100% profits on.
free software for slave wages.
i believe in the idea of free software, and i dont believe that telling the truth about whats happening is going to hurt as much as help. on the other hand, spending the next 10 years bullshitting isnt going to help as much as hurt. and the fsf is bullshitting.
if you dont do anything about the corporate control, all the fsf is doing is acting as a plantation. its hardly as terrible as splitting up families and forcing hard labour with the constant threat of death or other violence, but even if its more cushy its the same disregard for ethics and its absolutely exploitation-- not freedom.
people are being told under false pretenses, if you give your time, your money to this cause, we will help you stand up to having your computing controlled by monopolistic arseholes.
then, when the monopolistic arseholes come along and hijack the entire fucking freedom train, the same people who asked for your time and money will tell you OVER AND OVER FOR FUCKING YEARS AT A TIME, "dont worry, theres a reason this is okay" and "the code is under a free license" so even if the same monopolistic fuckboys find OTHER WAYS to control the software (by hijacking development, by hijacking organisations, by poaching individual projects and entire centralised repos stallman warned against) youd think an organisation that gave a shit would be sounding the alarm, not saying "throw more money and time at this, please-- it will magically improve even though we REFUSE to talk about any of these issues at length".
this is a fucking scam, in free softwares clothing. its the tax-free corporate software plantation, also known as the fsf.
youre paying money (and offering labour) for freedom, and youre getting jack shit plus corporate control.
and all you had to do to get corporate control before, was do nothing at all.
watch these companies continue to destroy the linux kernel and everything around it.
watch mozilla continue turning into east motherfucking germany.
watch the fsf take its thumb out of its fat lying useless arse, grease up the other one and shove it in, so it can sit on it for another five or ten years.
ill say it again: open source is EVEN WORSE than this.
but they just keep getting harder to tell apart, because the fsf is turning into the same scam that open source is.
FREE SOFTWARE IS NOT. its simply being marginalised, by the same fucks that claim to be fighting for it.
what im really trying to say here is-- dont wait anymore. it will never work.
if you had an idea for advancing the free software MOVEMENT, just fucking do it already.
if youre already doing it, and still believe in the idea, do more of it. find a way.
its time for the movement to put a sinking ship behind and get on with it. the fsf is done. gnu is done too, but im not against some salvage work (i will laugh if you think even 2/3 of it can be saved, but the best of it certainly could be).
monopolies love turning software into fashion-- they create applications, nebulous interfaces, they drag the public through fads that recycle the same ideas and plots like the movie industry. get ready for gnome, the sequel. get ready for another buggy, bloated kde. let the industry fool not just the public, but a movement that used to know better, that software and applications are interchangeable terms. we still need software, but most of these applications are going to be turned to shit by the likes of gnome and collabora. then what?
the fsf just goes with the flow, this is what they call "fighting". its fraud. then they kiss and make up with the people who stuck the knives in our backs.
being a fucking pushover is precisely the opposite of fighting for anything!
libreplanet is a worse corporate-dick-sucking contest than even github, and should be scrapped. im sure caring slander can start a new awards showcase for corporate backstabbing and co-opting efforts, if the linux foundation itself isnt good enough for the purpose. all the open source people pretending to be free software people will surely continue to give control of our computing back to corporate masters while throwing parties for themselves, its what they do best.
they always throw a fucking party after stabbing us all in the back. how else would we know this is what we all worked for?
anyway, you can throw away your money if you want to, thats whats great about money. you can give it to liars and scams if it pleases you, and many will continue to do so.
only if you want to save free software and start seeing progress again, will you stop funding these liars and thieves, and put your time, energy and other resources into making sure users (not corporate monopolies) have control of their computing.
all youre going to get from the fsf is a bunch of silly artwork, before the artist who drew it fucks off to draw more comics with kde, and the two get together to defraud humanity itself.
free software will never be anything again but a lie and a scam, unless people more honest than dave get together and make it actually stand for something. and open source, never even was.