everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
*originally posted:* sep 2021
systemd, microsoft github, cancelling stallman, and the ongoing corporate coup we are expected to love-- lies and marketing and weaponised bullshit; the free software movement needs an enema!
"user libre: free computing for everyone" updated for september of 2021-- if youve heard it all before, i tried to put it here. then i added some new stuff. if you want a real introduction to this book, its at the link below this paragraph; this page (the one youre reading now) includes quotes from each chapter.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---free-software-2.0---intro.html the-gnew-frontier---free-software-2.0---intro
> freedom cant afford to be suckered in such a way. for it to survive, people have to be wise to (at a minimum, informed of-- and that minimum too is sometimes a route to being co-opted) the tricks of those who would hijack their freedom and convert it into exploitation. the history of colonialism, in the broadest possible sense of the word, is the history of scamming freedom itself.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-01---start-with-perfection.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-01---start-with-perfection
> if we allow such compromises at all, we must be certain that they do not add up to a major erosion of user freedom. and where freedom must draw the line, is that compromises should be optional-- while freedom remains our first priority. as the threats to user freedom evolve, so too must the response to those threats. so long as freedom remains the first priority, worthwhile responses will give more power to every user, and keep limits on how much control can be imposed by developers.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-02---controlling-your-computing.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-02---controlling-your-computing
> far too much software is written around the idea that the designers know best. which is funny, because most of us have never even met. how do they know best, then? by assuming. and by their own assumptions, they do know best. the user deserves a reasonable way to address and mitigate the fact that sometimes, those assumptions are wrong. sadly, these arrogant "developers know best" types tend towards not providing a reasonable way to mitigate the faults of their own assumptions (i am grateful to developers that do a better job than this). this sort of attitude has led to an increasing shift from more easily-modified software to more entrenched software, and it affects freedoms 1 and 3 both in theory and in practice.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-03---miseducation.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-03---miseducation
> people who can code are qualified to work with free software. whether their skills are basic or advanced, the biggest problem with using free software is the fear of breaking something. computers did not always come with operating systems pre-installed; there were plenty of customers who could install an os who couldnt even write code.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-04---computing-vs-marketing.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-04---computing-vs-marketing
> if you have windows installed, it is ultimately going to run updates when microsoft wants it to; it is ultimately going to install what microsoft wants. it will talk to microsoft when they want it to. all kinds of things that put microsoft more in control of your computer than you are, are right there, on that little silver and/or black box inside your machine.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-05---the-psychology-of-developers.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-05---the-psychology-of-developers
> when free software becomes less-free in practice, most organisations stress theory over reality. it is unscientific to let theory dictate reality when the evidence for reality is more compelling, and at that point theory turns into dogma. traditionally of course, it was sound theory and free software up against marketing, open source and well-funded bullshit. but the well-funded bullshit was compelling enough (by fiat rather than fact) to change the game, and free software has (for the most part) not caught up to the reality of the situation that resulted.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-06---freedom-is-personal.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-06---freedom-is-personal
> thus, when you install openbsd (or even hyperbola) it is only the first (or second, or third) step towards free computing. they really werent kidding about eternal vigilance-- although some of it at least, is actually fun.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-07---computing-fundamentals.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-07---computing-fundamentals
> the goal of making these hand-coded dictionaries into automatic programs became the basis for the first compiler. like the basic interpreter mentioned in chapter 2, the job of a compiler is to translate codes that are friendlier to a human into numeric codes the computer understands... this was a revolution for most of us, and while it started in the 1950s, by 1964 this revolution was exactly what made a beginner friendly computer language like basic possible.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-08---dont-lets---throw-caution-to-the-wind.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-08---dont-lets---throw-caution-to-the-wind
> this book is about user freedom, and the next chapter is about graphics from the perspective of user freedom. some people will say "just choose your graphics layers based on their technical aspects". if you do that, you could end up with lock-in as well as the exploitation of users and developers. maybe thats great for you, but its exactly what this book exists to discourage as much as possible.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-09---for-the-want-of-a-pixel.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-09---for-the-want-of-a-pixel
> i didnt spend several years migrating away from windows just to have all my computing controlled by microsoft again, and their purchase of github falls perfectly in line with their plans outlined in the halloween documents. leafpad was one of the programs i used the most on my computer-- the fact that i could find a way to replace it is a bit of a triumph, though the struggle is ongoing.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-10---the-computer-anybody-can-edit.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-10---the-computer-anybody-can-edit
> talking about salvaging the fsf has turned into talking about salvaging gnu, talking about possibly migrating to openbsd has turned into using it instead of gnu/linux, remastering binary distributions has turned into finally compiling a couple of important projects from source (gnu bash and python 2, but i recommend ksh over bash because its easier to use and easier to learn) but i dont do gnu/linux anymore.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-11---rebuilding-communities.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-11---rebuilding-communities
> i was worried that i might pay good money to be treated like a bit of a serf by some glorified hall monitors, not that the policies were so slanted that they would lead to an actual organisational coup.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-12---a-forced-community-is-like-a-forced-marriage.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-12---a-forced-community-is-like-a-forced-marriage
> after code, we are wooed with real money; and what better token of trust is there than money? certainly no deal involving funding has ever gone south. after money, comes shared branding-- youll look very smart if you dress like we do! then after shared branding comes shared rules, of course. and after shared rules, comes practical takeover. now the corporation decides which projects matter and which contributors are axed. but you wanted freedom-- or didnt you actually want google instead?
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-13---the-thrive-guidelines.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-13---the-thrive-guidelines
> a lot of it comes down to accepting differences, having more than a single venue for progress to be worked on, and working together when it makes sense. this is more robust because if you get amish-shunned out of one community that has gotten a bit weird or been taken over, there are other places nearby where you can contribute instead.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-14---i-would-have-supported-the-coup-under-very-different-circumstances.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-14---i-would-have-supported-the-coup-under-very-different-circumstances
> a fraction of the gnu developers (including one of the early debian leaders-- as it was in 1998 with the creation of osi) secede and form the extremely fraudulent and public-misleading "gnu.fools" coup, in an effort to pull the ENTIRE gnu project into the same zero-tolerance-policy hell that allowed libreplanet to a. be hijacked in 2018 and b. lead to a coup an entire year later.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-15---if-we-werent-silencing-founders-critics-and-people-we-just-dont-like.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-15---if-we-werent-silencing-founders-critics-and-people-we-just-dont-like
> so next they say it isnt censorship, but we know theyre redefining censorship to exclude their own acts-- thats convenient. then they claim ownership of the communities they are put in charge of-- before, it was our community collectively.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-16---education-and-free-software.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-16---education-and-free-software
> each command is really a short program, so think of it as writing a dozen or two very short programs, and how you would tie them together... ideally, coders and teachers would work together more often, helping teachers learn how to create their own languages for teaching.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-17---the-gnew-frontier.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-17---the-gnew-frontier
> free software was always my example that reform can work-- you cant stop microsoft from being microsoft, though you can get them to try harder to fool you. more importantly, you can get OTHER large companies (like red hat) to play by better rules. ...or not. as it turns out, the more successful a corporate ally becomes, the closer they are to betraying free software. we really should have known, but we believed that strongly.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-18---understanding-users-and-3-kinds-of-computers---new-slow-and-broken.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-18---understanding-users-and-3-kinds-of-computers---new-slow-and-broken
> proprietary software is a system of collective punishment-- people are taught not to mess with anything, because then it will "break" and have to be "repaired". messing with things is generally alright-- its your computer-- but since youre conditioned not to concern yourself with any of that as long as its "working", tampering with the sacred relics will bring down wrath and harsh consequence.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-19---fake-progress.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-19---fake-progress
> politics in general have become a lot like a larp event. its all in good fun and everybody feels like something got accomplished, but when all is said and done very little changes-- all those motions we went through put us on track to end up right where we started.
=> https://nongnew.neocities.org/the-gnew-frontier---chapter-20---towards-super-free-software.html the-gnew-frontier---chapter-20---towards-super-free-software
> we tend to think of an application as something the authors maintain. but as long as we do that, we are missing an opportunity to really create a future where a community is never lost without its founders. thats not because we want the founders themselves to be expendable (they already are, too much, already). its because we want the software to be that free, we want the user to have that much control over their computing.