everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
*originally posted:* feb 2022
the gnu operating system will collapse by 2029. thanks to relativity, we can simultaneously state that "gnu is dying" and "gnu is dead" and be correct (or close enough) on both counts. it is a simple matter of relative distance and observation.
if you get close enough to gnu, you can see that it is already lifeless. it doesnt matter if developers poke it with a stick or attach strings to move it marionette-like around the internet, its head (including stallman himself) has been cut off and mounted on the wall of open source. the body of gnu may still be warm, but it takes more than warmth for life to exist.
those who are far enough away are looking at a gnu that is still alive. it doesnt matter if we argue with them or not, the view we have now will reach them in due time. there will be no point saying "i told you so" when they are trying to figure out how they are going to do their computing without the gnu project and the linux kernel-- many of them will probably just buy a mac. we can try to imagine, based on how much more these ridiculous status symbols have gotten since the passing of jobs, what kind of absurdities those people will find themselves dealing with in the future. for the gnome developers and (by then) crumbling linux foundation, it will be a just punishment.
for those who actually care about freedom, but did not bother to see that the new fsf was selling a bill of goods, it will be particularly difficult. our goal should be to get ready to catch them when they fall-- if not out of sheer mercy on the user, then at least because it makes a future for the free software movement more likely to exist. we will do it for the legacy of its founder-- but also for the continuation of the movement itself.
the goal of free software is for all software to be free. the goal of the fsf it seems, is for free software to become less free-- that is also (and was since the late 1990s) the goal of open source. free software giveth to users, and open source giveth back to monopolies, while pretending to do the opposite. the lie has enjoyed such incredible success, it is even propped up by the traitors running the fsf.
many people will invite stallman to their new home away from exile-in-place. it doesnt matter, stallman will remain a hostage of the fake fsf until the end. tom cruise will escape the control of his handlers before stallman does-- he is convinced (or willing to play along with the notion) that they are his friends.
it doesnt matter if greg is sincere or competent or neither, because the new fsf (exactly like the new osi) does not require (or work based on) the services of a leader at all. the new fsf is not "driverless" anymore than a remote-administrated server is "userless", but it is most certainly headless. demonstrating with its politics and intrigue one trope from the american version of "the office" after another, the fsf is a boat with dwight standing at a fake wheel, yelling "dont worry michael! im taking us to shore!" if you replace dwight with stallman, or stallman with greg, the course will be exactly the same as it would be otherwise. the entire organisation (at this point) from its processes to its "leadership" to its mission, is as far from real as a lineup of cardboard cutouts.
what of the good people still there? there are always a few. like stallman himself, those few are either operating under the same cult-like farce, campaign of gaslighting and coup-run corporate cult as the former leader, or they are (like stallman perhaps is) completely aware of the farce and trying desperately to work "undercover" to fight the impossible odds. this is admirable, but its too late. the fsf IS NO MORE. it works SOLELY for corporations and open source. this will not change.
it also doesnt matter if they replace every single corporate donor with handfuls of (non-corporate) associate members. that might have helped before the coup, in fact it would have been a very good idea. today it is a smokescreen for the fact that the fsf is already institutionally corrupt and working against its own mission.
even if you put dwight behind a real wheel instead, he isnt going to be able to do anything with it if the mechanism is completely jammed and the ship is running at top speed. you can argue that perhaps he could try to "un-jam" the mechanism, but i think you would be missing the point: nothing good will happen next. indeed, nothing good has happened for years straight. and in my opinion, every one of those (recent) years that the fsf was taking money, it was scamming people.
i still do not blame stallman for this. the real scammers are known to everyone, people simply do not care. techroy certainly does not care, techrights faps constantly at its own reflection and bullshits anyone who will listen-- it is an endless stream of selfie photos that its author takes in front of every third post in his rss feed: "here we are in front of the epo! heres we are in front of the fsf! here we are in front of the former ceo of github as hes hauled off in chains!" bonum fabula frat!
but as interesting as that treadmill is from moment to moment, it is still useless. the illusion of progress is one of the best-selling products today, and quite far from being a new market.
it doesnt matter how the fsf is funded now, because it has already been reconfigured to run entirely at the behest of corporations. lets take the january revelation that associate members can now nominate board members. this is first of all, a desperate move in the best of circumstances. but these arent desperate circumstances for the fsf from the point of view of those in control, it is a corporate coup that has become a corporate occupation.
now your friend can buy you a nomination. but that doesnt matter, because youll be up against real competition. but you wont actually, because there wont be any real competition. if you think the fsf raised their standards for board members, they actually lowered them and cut out any hope for a candidate actually worthy of the position-- if a 30-year-old stallman were to apply for the fsf board today, he would be vetoed immediately by (only two existing members are required). why? because they changed the board member requirements to have absolutely NOTHING to do with the integrity of the organisation. they did the same thing as the fsfe, which is restructure the board to guarantee corruption and kick out whistleblowers as a matter of policy.
the fsf is more corrupt in early 2022 than it was in early 2021-- not less.
all theyve done is pave the way for EVEN MORE (not less) corporate control of the organisation with their actions leading to and including policy changes made as recently as january of this year. THIS. IS. A. FARCE! the same thing happened to osi during the phipps adminstration, and he was not only with ibm but he also signed the anti-stallman letter and techroy is STILL sucking up to him (in the past few months) in email and/or social media, which of course he claims to not use. (he also claims to host his own website, which-- ha!)
the reason it doesnt matter anymore who funds the fsf, or who leads the fsf, or what we do to save the fsf, is that everything is now locked into place. no one trying to save the fsf even knows what is wrong with it in the first place. would you ask the best doctor in the world to cure an ailment without knowing what it is or even what the symptoms are? youre asking them to guess. in medicine, thats dangerous. in politics, its farcical at best.
the fsf is not going to un-abandon its mission-- corrupted organisations do not do that.
the coup has targeted both the fsf and gnu (and the leader of both, rhetorically and strategically) for years running. even the new fsf policies would prevent stallman from ever becoming head of the organisation in the first place. the gnu.fools policies are designed to be discriminatory against the neurodiverse, but these people have the fucking gall to throw around the word "ableist." theyre absolute liars, and trusting them is absurd.
but insomuch as the fsf has kicked out stallman, dragged him back and stuck him in the corner (while pretending to help him, while lying to him and to all of us) and then thrown the doors open for microsoft and ibm and whoever else to run the fsf NOT FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS like before, NOT FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, but ONLY FOR HUNDREDS of dollars thanks to their new policy (WELL DONE, ARSEHOLES) the gnu project is faring no better.
the fsf used to give a shit whether you sold the crown jewels to the enemy-- not anymore, its just a suggestion. thats what happens when a coup gets rid of the leader and you PRETEND to bring him back. stallman never left the gnu project, some traitor FAKED HIS RESIGNATION. the fsf did nothing. gnu did nothing. then AFTER THIS there was ANOTHER COUP within the gnu project directly-- the fsf did nothing. gnu did nothing. THIS is what they call "fighting for your freedom"-- DOING FUCKING NOTHING! and occasionally sabotaging their own policies further.
the effects of this doing nothing are as plain to see with gnu as they are with the fsf-- EVERY PART OF GNU, from the debugger to gcc to the most-tedious-to-replace utilities drift farther TOWARDS completely corporate control. once again, the steering mechanism is jammed, the fake wheel and fake captain simply help to hide the fact. they might as well put a tesla in charge of the fsf-- whats the worst poor elon can do? the current president loves github. so do the gnu developers. so do the emacs maintainers.
the whole thing is exploitation posing as a "fight" ("JOIN US TODAY, SO WE CAN *COLLABORATE WITH MICROSOFT AND IBM* FOR YOUR FREEDOM!) but once again, fake progress is one of the top-selling products of this era.
all the fsf and gnu do now is use (MOSTLY) unpaid labour to prop up monopolies. this is not just a scandal, it is an organsition pretending to have a mission it is actively working against-- to EXPLOIT LABOUR. volunteers are led to work under false pretenses-- people engaged in human trafficking (yes, daniel said it first) do similar when they pretend to take people from developing nations to "the usa" and they find themselves in some "territory" not far from home, working in a sweatshop they have no way of leaving.
WE SHOULD BE PROVIDING A WAY FOR THESE EXPLOITED AND UNPAID LABOURERS TO LEAVE. gnu has gone from being a free operating system, to a software sweatshop based on lies and corporate bullshit. its no better than what lobbyists did to schools when they replaced education with marketing. all the signs are there, all the precedents exist as a warning-- the fsf does not warn anyone because it has sold out and doesnt work for users anymore. it never will again.
if you paid money to the fsf in the past three years, you should be given a refund-- it was for NOTHING. i at least, told people not to give them money. so did a board member, and they responded by creating an anti-whistleblower policy. that (as is the new norm at the fsf) is NOT how you fight for freedom. it is however, an almost guaranteed prelude to FURTHER corruption, which is why good (and competent) organisations dont create anti-whistleblower policies in the first place! they never needed one, they shouldnt have one! it speaks volumes that one was created, and techrights drank the anti-whistleblower kool-aid and called it: PROGRESS!
but how can you prepare for the collapse of gnu? first, by not using the linux kernel as much. linux is the poison that brought gnu to its knees in the first place-- linux will only benefit from gnus death, and it never deserved to; linux deserves to die right alongside its victim. BUT BESIDES THAT, LINUX WILL NEVER BE FREE! users of the linux kernel will never be free, and that should be a deal-breaker. go ahead and use it as a stepping stone, like you already do, but lets not kid ourselves about linux having a future. its got the same future as the macbook, dont be ridiculous.
i also recommend not using gnu software as much. forking it is a perfectly reasonable alternative, so if you want to fork (for example) gnu wget and move the rest of it off github and call it something else, thats great-- do it. it wont hurt anything. what youll probably find is that bill gates was right about measuring lines of code as a metric of progress, and if you think this is an endorsement, look how many lines of code windows has and read the actual gates quote. the best way to fork gnu wget is to make it lighter, and people are more likely to rewrite it than try to strip it down. but im not against it being forked! it could have done the gnu project a lot of good, actually-- as a means of quality control.
the only good of a completely hypothetical freedom 3 is a completely hypothetical good, and the gnu project has clearly treated freedom 3 in a completely hypothetical fashion.
YOU GET completely hypothetical freedom! why not use it, and make it ACTUAL freedom? of course, the gnu project was never actually DESIGNED that way-- not by stallman, not by the other developers, and LEAST OF ALL by ibm. so fuck your freedom 3, i guess! the freedom to rewrite gnu from scratch is what you get in practice. which one is that? oh right, freedom -1, the one you had before the fsf even existed!
the actual reason im a fan of openbsd is that its the most FORKABLE operating system that ACTUALLY WORKS. ill take freedom 3 IN PRACTICE over freedom 3 hypothetically. and believe me, openbsd has its own problems. the chief gnewsance and i have seen them in action. then again, im using openbsd (with my own text editor and shell) to type this. its nice to have an operating system. i figured, since i was telling people to find (or even build) lifeboats for the fsf titanic, the least i could do is climb into one and show that it works. otherwise its like saying "you all go ahead, ill be right behind you!" i mean if theres a fixed number of lifeboats thats very noble, but if we are doing salvage and building our own, a demonstration is worthwhile.
am i tempted to say boycott gnu? sure, but its too late for a "boycott" to fix it. its not a boycott, it is simply fleeing a disaster. maybe some of gnu could be salvaged, and i would personally (even now) like to see it be more than something you download from the internet archive for a "taste" of retrocomputing history. i dont know how much of gnu can or will actually be salvaged, but im not at all against people trying.
so why not just stay? you can do that too, but in so doing, youre helping to prop up apathetic (sometimes dishonest) developers who in turn prop up a corrupt organisation exploiting not only them, but also every donor, every user, every person who thinks gnu is still alive.
the spirit of gnu is dead. the REALITY of gnu is dead. the FREEDOM of gnu is a farce, but the increasing CONTROL of gnu by corporations? that is the most real thing about it.
gnu exists to put users in control of their computing.
instead, it puts microsoft and ibm in charge of users.
gnu is a fucking lie. it wasnt before, but it has been for years.
im not saying people should boycott a lie. im saying, that supporting it is supporting the exploitation of users-- NOT their freedom.
so yes, gnu is TRULY fucking dead. it stands for nothing.
everything the fsf is doing today is a dance around the truth.
fuck them, the organisation is comprised of 1. traitors 2. the naive and (at best) 3. people who are NOT AT LIBERTY to say anything about whats actually going on.
"not at liberty" is the only thing gnu will ever make you.
it was a good run-- time for a replacement. shall we get started LOOKING, BUILDING and doing research now?
that way, when the rest of the world gets a clue about it, they dont have to say "what the fuck do we do now?"
those who went ahead will already have an answer.
implied in all this is forgiving those who didnt know any better. why not? the goal is still for all software to be free and for users to have control of their computing. do you want to start with hopeless corruption, or a gnew frontier? how you spend your time and effort is still up to you, but i think its more ethical to tell you:
DONT SPEND IT BEING EXPLOITED BY LIARS AND CORRUPTION.
its only a suggestion, like when stallman said DONT USE GITHUB.
yeah... that was a good idea. too bad knauth wasnt listening. too bad the other gnu developers didnt really care.
oh, and among the other things that dont matter:
it doesnt matter if we are "ready" or not when gnu finally collapses. obviously its preferable.
what matters is that we will (hopefully) have been working on solutions for some time, when everyone else finally admits to themselves "shit, we really needed to fix this a long fucking time ago".
no worries, those who care about freedom will be helping when theyre ready. no need to wait for them, when some of us can get started yesterday. thats the plan, and theres no time like the present. unless youre techrights, then the plan is to wait three more years and pretend that far more has improved than it has.