everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
=> a-response-to-jake-bauers-article.html a-response-to-jake-bauers-article
*originally posted:* nov 2021
this metaphor is not going to be perfect-- it will attempt to draw neater lines than really exist between three different things. the truth is that the three have (slightly) more in common than this metaphor can illustrate. that makes it at least a slight exaggeration or caricature.
all the same, there are experiences you will have with these three things that are illustrated reasonably here.
### non-free software
you walk down the street and find a restaurant that sells peanut butter and jam sandwiches. you give them money, they give you a peanut butter and jam sandwich.
if you tell them youre allergic to peanut butter and would like something else (or just a sandwich without peanut butter) they look at you like youre crazy and tell you to scrape the peanut butter off if it pleases you. good luck with that.
no one is going to stop you if you try to scrape the peanut butter off for a friend, but if you find a really effective way of doing so and go into business doing this for lots of people, youre likely to get shut down by lawyers from the peanut butter and jam sandwich place. read the sandwich eater license agreement.
### free software
you walk down the street and find a stand offering free peanut butter and jam sandwiches. theyre supported entirely by donations and government grants.
they have four different kinds of bread, two flavours of jam, crunchy and non-crunchy peanut butter, and not only will they offer you a sandwich that combines these the way you want, but if you want to bring your own croissant and put peanut butter and jam on that, they welcome you to do so.
they used to have the peanut butter and jam restaurant as a sponsor, but the restaurant kept trying to get them to remove choices to "streamline" their operations, so they backed out. recent government legislation has created similar pitfalls regarding their grants, and theyre not sure what to do about it.
### open source
you walk down the street and find a tour bus that has been converted into a very large and fancy food truck. they have a similar offering as the restaurant, but they use more appealing (more delicious, or even "cooler") brands of peanut butter and jam. they dont include a sandwich eater license agreement.
you can still choose what kind of bread you want, but the peanut butter and jam come from the same large container and your options are peanut butter and jam on bread or bread with nothing on it. this of course, is better and more efficient, and the way that all sandwiches should be made. nobody wants jam without peanut butter anyway, thats just stupid. if you ask for just jam or just peanut butter, all the other people there will laugh and throw sandwich wrappers at you, and the owner will call you an extremist.
there is of course, a code of conduct that strictly forbids ALL forms of bullying, hatred and discrimination. it just doesnt extend that protection to you hand-flapping neckbeards, because YOU are precisely the fucking problem it was meant to solve in the first place. i mean, cmon!
this place also takes donations and grants, and has some big sponsors like mcdonalds and walmart. eventually it is sold to the non-free restaurant, who name and style a few new locations after the food bus before closing them down 5 years later.
### so its not EXACTLY like that
its not like everyone in free software is reasonable, and everyone in open source is a dick. its not like "options" are something the free software movement invented. the most important thing about open source though, is that its perfectly acceptable to support open source, and its perfectly acceptable to encourage some non-free software use, but it is NEVER OKAY to support free software. free software is stupid, its unreasonable, the CLOSEST THING THERE IS to a reasonable version of free software is open source. it JUST IS!
thats been my experience (from promoters of open source) for years and years, and its the reason i caught on to open source and their bullshit. i was, many years ago, not just a supporter but a believer in open source.
the problem is, open source is full of shit. take the biggest success stories in open source, from the linux kernel to mozilla to android to wordpress to apache to libreoffice:
they co-opted the idea of user freedom, they sold out little by little, and ultimately destroyed their viability as projects for liberating the user, because they were never really more sincere about this goal than a marketing team, or they were simply too superficial and watered down about it. its JUST A GIMMICK. like saying a nice car will get you laid, but pretending its also the path to finding true love. (maybe your nice car even DID find you true love, but try not to miss the point here).
open source is cloying, but in a corporate way. its cool, in a marketing way. its honest, in a bullshit way. its friendly and generous, in a narcissistic way. its even sort of free, but only in an "open" way. and in practice, it has shown itself again and again to re-insinuate non-free bullshit (both code and practices) into free software. every day in open source is a step backwards waiting to happen; it captures people who are truly interested in freedom, it scams them, and sells people back to being controlled through their computing.