everything wrong with free software

 "free as in speech"

### the-end-of-the-free-software-era---chapter-16---fake-progress *originally posted:* sep 2022 this chapter is going to be more of an overview-- if you want more details, have a look at the other chapters. these are issues addressed in various places in the book. with that said, this is neither a summary, nor a rehash, without introducing new topics. youll simply find these matters addressed in more detail in other chapters. you cannot, will not, have freedom without politics. the fsf should do more than just "fight for your freedom"-- it should TEACH people how to stand for their rights. this isnt going to be taught in schools. the system itself has figured out over time how to absorb a great deal of the energy that people put into demanding their rights. like a politician making a speech during their campaign, then doing precisely the opposite once elected, organisations are very good at tailoring their messages to a particular audience, drawing them in, and then doing fuck-all towards those goals. in other words, 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. there is a process for turning real organisations into these larp orgs-- there are many more for dressing up larp orgs as real ones. its a bad sign of course, when people you know are against what you stand for start donating more and more to your cause. when the damage is done, they will withdraw their support-- it doesnt mean things are (or even will be) fixed. if you think this is just about the tax-free software foundation, thats certainly where it begins. this applies far more broadly, it is not just an american phenomenon-- this happens in europe and asia and canada, mexico, south america and certainly in africa. you might say it happens anywhere that people are "on the take", but this isnt only about corruption in terms of bribery. this is about keeping politics in a holding pattern, getting people to spin their wheels on nonsense and diverting people from their own efforts at making the world a better place. "dismantled communities" (or an earlier form of it) is one of the original articles i wrote about this, and it focused on community leaders and the trolls who remain close to them. actually it was originally about open source, but open source has always sucked up to corporations and co-opted free software. it certainly does more of that lately, but the trend spans decades. more recently, after the fsf was taken over and wanted to do SO LITTLE about the people spending YEARS not only trying to cancel stallman but harass, corral and censor his supporters, i wrote about how "forced community" is like a forced marriage-- once the community is taken over by corporate trolls, there is no way to "fix" anything but try to work "with" them. this is as much a recipe for takeover as systemd and replacing gnu programs with rust programs are. even before stallman was cancelled, i wrote the thrive guidelines to show how to create a multi-organisational "mesh" that resists censorship, cancel culture (i.e. mobs) and provides a route towards BUILDING something with the various offshoots of free culture and its once-useful organisations, that DOESNT require people to work together with traitors but allows them or self-organise more organically (like we did before facebook and the fediverse-- the latter of which is controlled more obsessively than the former, despite all assurances to the contrary). the fediverse is a monument to fake progress and cancel culture, having hijacked itself to attack stallman and free software. the fediverse is as much a community of activists as fly paper is a community of flies-- its where progress and innovative ideas go to die. the mailing lists of the defunct fsf are scarcely better, if not worse. of course these progress-traps are baited with lots of messages and "campaigns" that are progressive and ecumenical on the surface. i was complaining about how fake they were before stallman got cancelled (and warning that such things would lead to stallman getting the same treatment as torvalds did) and if they pose a threat to people like stallman, they pose a threat to anyone who wants to make as much of a difference as stallman as well. basically, these are things designed to hold back progress, NOT push it forward. and as i warned in "dismantled communities" (formerly called "rebuilding communities") these are things that are based on lies, redirection and fooling people into thinking theyre fighting FOR the things these initiatives actually stand against. its a combination of corporate astroturfing, corporate image management and crowdsourcing-- instead of just being fake and selling everyone out, now YOU are invited to HELP them do it! such a diabolical setup is not the sort of thing we can count on a single organisation to protect us from. this challenge is not impossible to face, but none of our contemporary tools are suited to the task (and this is why we are constantly being handed ineffective and modern tools to face these problems with-- BECAUSE they will not work). i cant say all of these tricks are completely new, but the way in which corporations are fully entrenched in so much of what we do feels relatively new to me. the easiest way to explain it to you is to share my personal experience with it. ive loved computers (and coding) since i was a child. when microsoft, who had a near monopoly on computing (i never loved apple, though in hindsight they did do a few things at least, that are interesting or worth taking inspiration from-- hypercard in particular was pretty fascinating, though i wouldnt likely enjoy a strict clone of it) would do stupid things, i would resist them. when they came out with windows 95, i avoided it for a long time. windows 3.1 was faster, relied mostly on ".ini files" (95 made the centralised registry "a thing") and it installed from a few floppies. of course new hardware came along, dos would never support it (and older versions of windows wouldnt either) so around 2000 or so, i finally switched some machines to windows 95. but i didnt buy a windows 95 machine, nor did i copy it from a friend, nor did i go buy a windows 95 disc. someone was throwing out an old machine, and i got it for free. i told them i could probably clean it up in an hour (yes it was different than my machines, though id played with windows 95 before) but they werent interested-- theyd already gotten a new one, of course. so i got proficient with the ins and outs of windows 95 on a machine someone was basically throwing out. when they started requiring "activation" of newer versions of windows, i resisted those as well. ive never activated a version of windows, i consider it an incredible violation of "consumer" (user) rights. it was about this time i bought red hat (no luck with it) and mandrake, for about 30 dollars and 5 dollars, respectively. both were shrinkwrapped-- red hat came with a paper manual. i had more luck with mandrake (only a little). most of the difficulty i had migrating to gnu/linux (which i completed in 2007, but by then i was somewhat proficient with a variety of distros) came from trying to use dial-up with it (haha) and initially, trying to get it running while i was still accustomed to mostly running 486 machines. my windows 95 machine was a low-end pentium-- my first pentium, as the floating point bug made the whole line seem unattractive for a while. eventually i joined the fsf, put "open source" behind as the crap that it is (i was not impressed with their trickery and dishonesty) and ive been a free software advocate for more than a decade. ive always loved coding, and i learned python in 2009-- eventually i started looking for the best way to promote free software. python works on windows, but it was MUCH more fun in gnu/linux, and after talking to many people about free software and trying to give them copies so they didnt have to download, i finally discovered that the best way to get gnu/linux into peoples homes was free (as in gratis) computers. so i started obtaining more throwaway machines and putting debian on them-- with the sources and everything. since systemd installed itself on the sole machine i had running debian testing (normally i focused on stable) ive been fighting against that. that was in late 2014, and in late 2022 the problem still exists. the PROBLEM is not that systemd exists, it existed well before 2014-- the problem is that it has taken over (and ultimately helped destroy) gnu/linux. i fought against it for much less than that. i fought against systemd because it destabilised the most stable, mainstream, NON-bullshit gnu/linux distro ive ever seen-- i never thought debian would be co-opted and destroyed. this was more political than it was technical (of course when technical means are used to achieve political atrocities, that adds another layer to things where many do not understand whats going on-- this is partly why people have next to zero privacy anymore). from the moment systemd "introduced" itself, my computer did not boot properly. this was a debian machine, even "testing" was known to be more reliable than what systemd turned it into, and i spent all this time trying to "diagnose" why rc.local wasnt working. why the fuck would rc.local not be working? it was set executable, everything else is running-- oh, a very stupid init system has taken over in place of something that actually worked. great. oh, the developers are the most obnoxious dicks with serious entitlement about what runs on my computers that ive dealt with since i stopped using windows. alright, basically it was a coup. so i spent years fighting it-- mostly through technical means. its open source that stresses technical solutions only (this way, when corporations want to run the politics of everything, they can work to control what technical solutions are available to you-- and you cant form a retort because THAT WOULD BE POLITICAL!) and free software isnt (never was) that stupid. although that was in 2015. in 2011, stallman had already half-resigned from gnu, saying: > I've chosen not to have any preferences among those ethical distros. But I am not in a position to judge them on other criteria... so basically, the way you overthrow gnu and the freedom it stands for is to build a bullshit operating system on top of the existing one. AND THAT IS EXACTLY what systemd has done. and since its not TECHNICALLY gnu, the gnu people can just chase their tail trying to conform to ibms specifications. brilliant. this two-operating-system scam (im not saying its inherently bad to have two operating systems, though most of the current examples are in fact negative) presents itself all over the place: theres an os in your hard drive controller, which you have no control over; theres a second os in your cpu, which most people would have to get someone else to remove for them; the raspberry spy has a non-free, microsoft-owned operating system in the gpu. theres even a non-free os in your phone that runs underneath the (practically) non-free os in your phone. this is what happens when hardware becomes a commodity. and the fact that the fsf is a decade or two behind on that issue doesnt bode well either, but once again open source is precisely the problem here, not a solution. systemd is a cuckold, quasi-proprietary operating system for your otherwise-free os. but as systemd takes over, gnu becomes a zombie-- not just in terms of what happens at runtime, but the design of the project itself. we have spent more than half a decade being roped into working for ibm for free, and the fsf has done: NOTHING! "I am not in a position to judge them on other criteria..." THE FUCK YOU SAY! then microsoft purchased github, the largest repository of freely-licensed software on earth. i didnt even know how much of our stuff was on there. i was sure it was just little projects like mine, not like-- nearly all window managers, for example. every tool we use for spellchecking. python. firefox. oh... fuck! stallman at least, realised github was treachery. he warned us about that, we should have listened. now gnu moves towards github (go compile wget, then read WHO develops WHAT-- im not even using gnu/linux, and gnu maintainers are still working for microsoft and introducing their shit to my machine, because i installed gnu wget-- curl is on github!) and stallman does: well, nothing. but the real treachery here is that the fsf does nothing, and the GNU MAINTAINERS also do nothing! THE GNU MAINTAINERS (not just the gnu.fools or the other anti-stallman ones) ARE WORKING FOR MICROSOFT GITHUB! so on gnus own 38th birthday, i declared it dead. the date was not deliberate, i knew it was upcoming but i was not paying attention. id found the last piece of evidence i needed to state unequivocally that gnu is dead. it does not stand for anything, it will NEVER free the user, i am in favour of preserving it of course. for me as a computer user and free software advocate, the gnu project is as significant as the united states constitution-- which like gnu, has very little bearing on how free people are, or so much less than it once did that it is now a farce. i would be happy to see gnu printed out and then carved onto stone walls in some great pyramid. though it would be better yet to create a free operating system. but in 2018, i had other ideas. i started a grassroots organisation to lobby the fsf, i checked the legal requirements of such an organisation (the key is to not accept money or goods, because after that it becomes a lot more complicated) and i started getting more politically involved with various other organisations. i was still coding and working on (and working to find) technical solutions. if we dont work on technical solutions, our technical solutions will be hijacked. if we dont work on political solutions, our technical solutions will still be hijacked. the only way to free the user is to work on both technical and political solutions. i did loads of research, i talked to countless people. i tried many things-- as with the effort to discover that free computers are the best way to get people using free software, most of the things i tried didnt work. the first thing i tried was to build an organisation to push the fsf back towards liberating the user-- i also wanted them to stop fighting against free culture (free culture is also to blame here, with that said i believe very strongly that free culture is an important goal). but to keep the organisation from becoming a second fsf with the same problem (yes this presumes a great deal, but if you arent prepared for success then you have another problem) i wanted THIS organisation to be "like a free software application" and thus remixable. there are LOTS of wrong ways to do this, osi is a great example of the wrong way-- i wanted to try to do it in a grassroots way. but running an organisation is hard work, even when its small and you simplify in every way you can think of. so i had another idea: mini organisations. freedom labs. these would be like various DEPARTMENTS of a larger (and optional) umbrella organisation, (or umbrella organisations, plural) so one or a few people could just set up their own freedom lab and start advocating / researching / publishing information about rebooting and upgrading the free software movement. even before stallman was cancelled, i was trying to make the fsf more resiliant and flexible against threats like the systemd takeover. and i didnt want to be the boss-- i wanted this structure to be organic and built around redundancy, like the internet. i wanted a collective, with a highly libertarian way of doing things-- flexible, but uncompromising on key goals. the thrive guidelines were less of a coc and more of an rfc on how these various labs could interact-- when stallman was cancelled i was outraged, he should have never been smeared (everyone was lied to) and his legacy should never have been put under that sort of threat. its not that stallman is infallible, perfect, or above reproach-- its simply that hes a GOOD person who deserves HONEST treatment. he didnt get that, and it was a betrayal of all of us (though certainly him more than anybody else). it was undeniably a betrayal of the movement, and that sort of treachery (still ongoing) cannot be ignored or brushed aside as merely a "bad idea". we were stabbed in the back. researching serious ways to rebuild is necessary. rather than head that up, i wanted to design something that everybody could build themselves. ive had more luck than none. in my grand efforts to change the world ive managed to meet at least a few people who are serious. this chapter isnt about them though, its about everybody else. along the way, ive been lied to, had my time wasted, helped people who took me for a sucker, ive been smeared, warned that i should quit doing something important because otherwise (imaginary) support will be "lost"-- ive had countless hours of my time exploited under false pretenses. ive had my research co-opted and misrepresented, and ive been attacked and smeared further for defending myself against deliberate lies and CAMPAIGNS of deliberate lies. and this is nothing special, because this is exactly what MOST organisations will do to us when we try to change things. what you have to understand here, is that MOST "progress" is actually fake progress-- it sings you a song that you like to hear, then invites you to work for free and do what they KNOW is best, and they back it all up with lies and bullshit. the point is not to discourage you from working to change things, but to warn you that its actually really difficult. a lot of your energy is going to be wasted on bullshit, and fake progress. and it also isnt my wish to discourage you from collaborating. collaboration is essential-- but it is a troublesome endeavour. stallman has done more than most of us will ever do-- and even he was hijacked, exiled in place, tortured (on some level, absolutely) and co-opted. i think he stood up to it admirably. its going to be up to other people-- years from now, if not today-- to carry on this legacy. if you leave it in the hands of the fsf, or in the hands of cheap reformers and compulsive liars, then youre leaving that legacy to rot. if you really want to see free software defended, people are going to have to build (and rebuild) the things that were defeated. and theyre going to have to stand for those things, because the old institutions no longer do. its partly about starting over, and partly about learning where things went wrong-- the history is of great importance. preserve what you can, but dont waste too much time trying to reanimate the dead. some of the old bastions are lost to history. this is especially more true the more bloated and dependency-laden something is; unix was more "trivial" to recreate, many people have done so (badly or otherwise) but gnome? hopeless. bloat is just a specific type of planned obsolescence. people who oversimplify and hijack issues so they can beat their chests over "progress" that keeps going in circles (for no reason other than it being easier to fake) are keeping people from learning from past mistakes. we wont "inch our way forward" against the takeover-- some leaps will be needed, some people will slander positive (political) change because it actually STANDS for something-- when they DONT. this book isnt about all the nasty tricks that such people will pull on you. its mostly about rebuilding, and the need to rebuild. but the fake progressives ultimately side with the same people who betrayed us, and then speak against us for trying to move away from corruption and bullshit. they are in it for influence alone, and the progress they offer is fabricated, imaginary, and very minor. its (always) going to take more than that, and thats why what they offer is, in reality, basically nothing. you get the appearance of progress, sans most of the costs or the benefits of the real thing. we need inspiration, but we dont need to be lied to (nor do we need to lie to ourselves). we can work on preservation, but we cant afford to let corporations dictate the overall plan like ibm does. and making tiny, imaginary, insignificant changes to the overall plan isnt progress. the people advocating that will lie about what our real plans are, they will say the things we want to do are "too hard" while their own proposals already failed in practice, but some people just want more of the same-- while the rest of us call for real change and real progress. this book was originally about how to improve the fsf. then it was about how to protect and rescue the fsf, published right before stallman was (and he still very clearly is) nullified. forget about "cancelled"-- stallman is exiled in place and he will never be back. the intent (to which the fsf is a complacent, corrupt and guilty party) behind his permanent exile is no more noble or justifiable (or hopeful) than the capture, torture and ultimately the death of julian assange. stallman is undone, and his movement is effectively dead; neutered-- stallmans "child" (his wording) cannot produce viable offspring. this was deliberate and by design. but even so, this book became about how to salvage the free software movement. eventually, it was about a reboot of the free software movement. each version offered newer information and some new ideas. finally, this book declares the free software movement dead and gone. folks, it hasnt moved forward in years now. its time to pull the sheet over its head and stop with the weekend at bernies sequel. open source is nothing but a fake and corporate free software movement, as useful as trying to cook and eat a duck decoy, and open source is all thats left of what was. if you want to paint that as an endorsement, give yourself a nice firm smack. but hey-- good luck (rebooting it) anyway. dead and gone doesnt mean that free software will never come back. (just dont wait for stallman or the fsf, because they really wont ever be back). but theres no book about that yet. at least, this author is confident enough about it (for now) to title this version "the-end-of-the-free-software-era". this book will close with the death of the gnu project. i give it until 2029, but thats really generous. i predict very little of gnu will be salvaged. this is a terrible shame, but a mirror that is not part of any truly free os does not mean the gnu project is alive, it means it is archived-- part of a virtual museum. im all for a gnu museum, as in many ways its the most important operating system of all time. the purpose of such a museum? to learn from history. but if you want the 4 freedoms (including the 5th freedom, the freedom to remove the software) youre probably better off just taking openbsd and cutting out any vestiges of non-free software like hyperbola tries to do. you could of course, also try building your own os. i think starting with openbsd is more practical-- why openbsd? its the most forkable (and most free) os there is SO FAR. its far more forkable (in theory, and in demonstrable practice) than gnu/linux. its NOT that i think its already as free as it should be. its only the closest. and thats what i admire about hyperbola. to me, a free operating system means you have the 4 freedoms and control of your computing. systemd/linux on the other hand, is just a blob of an operating system with a blob of a kernel. its not literally a blob because you get the sources. its effectively a blob because for these projects, saying you have freedom 1 and freedom 3 is laughable-- a farce. its certainly true on paper. again, i compare it to the united states constitution in the present day. wasnt the bill of rights always true, at least on paper? i mean, those promises are still made. the gpl upholds the 4 freedoms much like the law upholds the rights outlined in the constitution and its amendments. and thats going so well. yet systemd/linux still puts microsoft and ibm back in control of your computing. here i thought we were trying to get away from monopolies controlling what we do. if not, then free software was truly never enough and thats the fucking problem. just as likely though, the rewriting (reframing) of the history of the movement by open source (and now the fsf and whats left of the movement itself) has shifted the goalposts. you know, when they shift the goalposts... its not USUALLY to bring them back to where they were when we were LESS well off. except in a counterrevolution, of course. license: 0-clause bsd ``` # 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 # # Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any # purpose with or without fee is hereby granted. # # THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES # WITH REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF # MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR # ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES # WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN # ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF # OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE. ``` => https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org