everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
=> what-is-mike-gerwitz-so-excited-about.html what-is-mike-gerwitz-so-excited-about
*originally posted:* apr 2021
*updated:* aug 2021
its understandable why some people who read this will think im trying to smear oliva.
ive never tried to smear oliva. i have no plans to do so. if anything, i believe that when stallman is no longer the head of the gnu project, oliva will step in. ive seen various signs of this, i could mention those to back this up, but i dont think it will help oliva or gnu to talk about those.
i have no interest in sabotaging gnu, either. i support the fact that stallman is the head of the gnu project, because its literally his project and nobody is better suited. whether gnu is in a tailspin is actually beside the point-- whatever you think (or believe) about stallman, there isnt a better person to lead gnu. this is not a statement of belief, gnu is one of the things im most interested in the future of. if someone else stood out as a good candidate for chief gnuisance, i would at least point them out as a possibility for the future.
but i think its entirely appropriate that stallman lead the project he himself founded, which is (honestly) the flagship of the movement he founded, because nobody else cares more about it or knows more about what its supposed to be than he does.
this idea of democratising every free software project is a farce and reeks of open source. lua isnt democratic, they develop privately and release their source code to the world after the fact. the only complete freedom the user has from free software is from the ability to fork; even if in many situations its not preferable to do so. a fork for the wrong reasons is bad for gnu, at least-- but the inability to fork at will is not freedom.
when osi became more democratic the result was it was immediately taken over by microsoft. such "democracy" only means that whoever has the most resources for lobbying and controlling communication will take over. that happened with debian as a software project, it happed with linux thanks to the linux foundation, and it happened to osi under simon phipps, whose signature of the anti-rms letter suggests that he thinks the fsf should be more democratic than it already is.
of course there are some nearly democratic processes in every corporation-- there are boards and committees and votes. but these are not open to the public, and the corporations that expect the public to forcefully decide who leads the fsf are certainly not interested in opening up their own corporations to the same-- to some degree they are not even allowed to, but they certainly have no such interest either way. it is very simply a double standard that caters to their own monopoly. theyre in the business of trying to control consumers, why wouldnt they try to also control the social movement to liberate consumers?
but getting back to the actual topic of this article, ive never said anything about oliva that wasnt nagging me constantly as being more likely true than not. at a time when actual coups were going on at the fsf, (which make no mistake, oliva helped expose) i couldnt shake the feeling that he was somehow at fault. its not my wish to reiterate all that, nor is it the purpose of this article. i already addressed my feelings about that in an earlier article where i determined the reason i couldnt shake those suspicions. but im not having them again.
there was a time when the fsf was under such assault from its own people that i had to take olivas stubbornness and question his loyalty. thats not an easy thing to do, when we are talking about stallmans own right-hand person. to be in that position and also be a traitor would require someone extremely diabolical. if oliva were in a joking mood he might say i was giving him too much credit (hes not one to brag, i would say "humble" fits on more days than not). but im not here to call him a traitor, hes not. on the contrary, hes probably the closest living person to stallman other than stallman himself.
and stubbornness is the right word. it is not possible to do what stallman does (or even what i wish oliva would do) without an almost superhuman tenacity and determination. "stubbornness" is our less-than-nice way of saying determination, and we need someone who is determined.
i dont think there is a better person to run gnu than stallman, and i dont think there is a better person to take over gnu someday than oliva. but this does not give me confidence about the future of gnu (which was already shaken, to be sure).
a lot of people want gnu to split off in terms of governance. i honestly think thats a fraud-- if you start adding a "social contract" under ABSOLUTELY FALSE pretenses like has already been done, and then a code of censorship, that IS NOT by any means gnu. its some kind of open source crap that will be taken over by (or hand itself over to) corporations, just like the linux kernel was. thats the primary goal of open source-- to hand itself over to corporate control in the name of freedom. it is an absolute farce, as is the gnu coup going on. they might as well call themselves "linux", they probably will, and they have supporters who dont even believe gnu should be called gnu anymore, just because linux is the term that the tech press and advertisers have used (to take too much credit for working with gnu).
oliva has helped me on many occasions. ive tried to return the favour-- at least when we werent in the middle of a coup and i acted as his inquisitor, which i certainly regret to some degree. whenever we have a disagreement, roy tries to spin it to insinuate things about me personally. he might as well say that vga was a corporate plot to be incompatible with composite video. theyre two different things for a very good reason, and theyre simply not compatible. its the same with oliva and myself.
it will surely be left out of any "discussion" (exploitation) of the subject by muckrights, that oliva literally apologised to me for inadvertently getting roy to throw me under the bus. thats what i was most pissed off at him for (in the past 6 months) and thats the misunderstanding that roy likes to exploit so that he can continue his months-long, light-on-facts campaign of innuendo. it really doesnt help oliva or me when he does that, it only helps roy.
but the point is that you will only hear one side of the story from muckrights-- a side that isnt completely true at that.
muckrights isnt a community though. youre allowed to leave a community, without a campaign of bullshit to punish you for doing so.
the side of the story that you wont hear is that oliva apologised. and its not really even his fault that roy did what he did, truth be told, a logical analysis of what oliva said would show hes really apologising for roy. but its more fair to say hes apologising for the outcome of something he had no good way of knowing would happen. i think the apology was sincere, but i dont think he can really be blamed for what roy did. he simply regretted it.
ive worked with oliva on (his) articles/blog posts sometimes. i often think his work is better than mine. part of it is that he takes more time on each piece, and consults various people before the fact. i didnt care for his latest article (i think hes still writing it) at one point, but it got to where it was perfect except for a troublesome point about copyleft vs permissive that i considered either inaccurate or (non-deliberately) misleading.
note that i was asked for my opinions on this article-- i havent seen it online, except in my email. i gave my opinions. as is typical, i dont mince words but i try to be as reasonable as i can (sometimes this means saying that something is entirely wrong-- in concept). but again, i think a lot of olivas work is better than mine. my biggest critiques of his work were on the works in progress, not the finished article. sometimes a slight change he made would make a world of difference, for the better.
but the reason i dont want to do this anymore is that when we start talking about two different things, it all comes back to it being my fault that he misunderstood. i cant correct him on a misunderstanding without him saying that its my fault and he doesnt care. i dont have the patience to deal with that. i think oliva is a great person, but part of the reason ive tried to work with him is that ive spent half a decade trying to get the fsf (and/or gnu-- another fun and ultimately pointless debate there) to take problems LIKE systemd seriously, and recently oliva told me he was working on something related to this.
it seems clear that the article hes writing now is about something else-- not that topic. which is a shame, because i know which topics are the most important for oliva to address. hes practically avoiding both of those. i have a problem with that, it is the fundamental basis of why i think the fsf (and/or gnu) are not going to be salvaged. and after railing about that for 5 or 6 years, i find it irksome that they cant get it together about this. instead they keep finding other things to talk about.
however, that disappointment is not at the centre of our disagreement. it is ultimately about nitpicking side points to death, then blaming me for correcting the nitpicking and pretending that i dont know the difference between the two topics just because im discussing both.
its a double standard, because im getting crap for addressing something that was said-- for responding-- so basically he can misunderstand something but i cant comment on that, because if i comment on that it means i dont understand?
i think thats pretty remarkable, really, when the thing i allegedly dont understand is WHAT I MYSELF HAD SAID in the first place.
by the time im getting flak for not understanding WHAT I SAID MYSELF or my own intentions, i realise that the conversation is fucking pointless. and please again note that i was the one being asked to comment in the first place.
yes, i have long hoped that oliva could assist stallman in fixing real problems. and if anybody can, oliva can-- credit where credit is due.
only i will have nothing to do with this, because i just cant tolerate this level of bullshit at this point. i stopped paying the fsf years ago, i was invited to join the fsf board BY a stallman loyalist AFTER suggesting he step down (roy has spun this both ways-- first he didnt comment on it for years, then he insinuated it was something else in an email to stallman in december, but he has since quoted an article of mine that HE PUBLISHED that explains what the actual story is-- roy is seriously a piece of work) and it was also requested that i collaborate with the gnu project.
timeline (that is, events in the order the happened) against future smears by muckrights:
* i suggested stallman voluntarily step down/choose a successor at the fsf
i wrote articles about this. they were published. people who read them know what i meant. they only lie about it sometimes.
* he was ousted nearly a year later (and very recently reinstated, but doesnt want to be president)
the state of things RIGHT NOW is EXACTLY what i proposed in early 2019-- except oliva would probably be president instead of knauth, who has committed to step down when there is a suitable replacement. if it had been up to me, oliva would have been president of the fsf during the coup, instead of knauth.
* i was asked to join the fsf board not only by a stallman loyalist, but also by roy himself (who later said to stallman that my position on stallman always bothered him, the fucking rat).
* according to roy i had a "falling out" with oliva (over an issue oliva later apologised for, but as i just said i dont think its really his fault).
* we continued to email for months, sometimes at his request, and have collaborated on articles.
* it was requested that i collaborate with the gnu project (i am leaving out some details to save the people who requested this some hassle-- id be happy to discuss facts and details if they choose to do so, but im pretty sure they wont).
in both situations-- the opportunity to join the board (i suggested someone else i thought would be better) and the opportunity to collaborate with gnu, i declined. its not that im "too good" for gnu, gnu is one of the most important projects in history and it would be amazing to call myself part of that. id love to have that bragging right, even now (with all the negative things i say about it).
i declined to join the board because everything going on there at the time was a total clusterfuck, and i knew that joining wouldnt help me fix that, so it was untenable. the person i recommended applied, but either got tired of the application process, was ignored, or ultimately declined due to other political bullshit at the fsf happening during the process.
i declined to collaborate with gnu for several reasons-- one of which is that the project in question isnt something i controlled or led in the first place, and that project has no intentions of collaborating with the gnu project.
also, there were people i considered traitors in the gnu project that i had no wish to associate with, and joining gnu (in any capacity) would have moved me closer to them. i explained this, i do not think it is understood properly by those i would ultimately be answering to if i were collaborating with the gnu project. but it wasnt a decision that was up to me anyway, so its really quite moot.
i will not be unhappy about it if gnu can find a way to right itself in the future. but i wash my hands of both gnu, and oliva, because this is going fucking nowhere.
but i dont wish to work with any of the above-- the fsf, or gnu, or oliva. if anything saves gnu, this isnt at all what it will look like.
theyve got a lot of stuff to fix, and im absolutely done trying to give input to them. some people might think thats a good thing-- for all i know theyre right. but its pointless either way.
im not documenting any of this to try to change anybodys opinion of oliva. this isnt a smear, its just "fui gente"-- and its documented because roy has already exploited this for his website, and when he (most likely) does so again, im going to quote this or point here.
it is relevant anyway that i dont consider gnu something im willing to work with.
it is relevant that they are too soft on traitors and allow giafam to take over the way they have, and ive already written about what i think about that. its a shame that the true stewards of gnu will not listen, once again-- but after half a decade of the same it certainly comes as no surprise.
techrights-bot The #gnu #linux community needs to shun #IBM rather than #fsf and RMS https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/20/its-no-nba-top-shot-or-beeple-but-ibm-is-making-patent-nfts.html Apr 21 00:03
its not that gnu is unimportant-- its that they want people to collaborate but they are also unwilling or unable to fix the biggest problems that make it untenable. the problems i have with gnu are not the same "problems" the traitors talk about-- the traitors themselves are a big part of the problems that gnu refuses to fix.
im not willing to work with that, and im done trying to help oliva write about it, too. i still recommend his blog, there are some actual gems there that gnu could learn from-- if they were going to do more than take years to even discuss problems, which they will not try to fix.
it will be fun, im sure, to find out how roy decides to spin this-- in days, weeks or even a year from now. i might even append it to this article when he does. every lie he tells about me is a lie to every single one of his readers-- he really is a shameless piece of shit.
good luck, alexandre. youll need it.