everything wrong with free software

 "obedience breeds foolishness"

### the-fsf-is-hurting-free-hardware-progress *originally posted:* feb 2022 this issue is actually about free software. because the fsf "protests too much" about the differences between hardware and software-- basically, the two issues are more intrinsically related than the fsfs treatment can actually grasp-- their policies regarding software and hardware freedom end up doing less for free software, and doing an injustice to free hardware. this is a repeat of their incredible blunders regarding free culture. stallman (thus the fsf) makes a lot of the distinctions between cultural and software works-- more distinction (some is valid) than is actually reasonable to make. nina paley offered some excellent critiques of the sort of nitpicking that made the fsf a terrible ally to free culture. by no means was the fsf obligated to support free culture per se. open source effectively split off from free software and then demanded agreement on things that would actually hurt software freedom. open source wanted to sell out users and create "ruinous compromise". free culture, to be certain, has serious faults of its own-- but does not actually require the level of compromise that open source cannot justify (because open source takes steps backwards, then makes a habit of it). but i say that as someone who supports (and encourages) free culture, and i still dont think the fsf is fair to it, its goals or in their representation of the idea. and contrary to what i was told by an fsf board member years ago, just because you dont SUPPORT an idea doesnt give you the right to misrepresent it. what i was told, in fact, was that it was IMPOSSIBLE to misrepresent an idea you dont support. and for that argument to be both honest and logical, you would have to have never heard the term "straw man" explained adequately. if i give the benefit of the doubt, i have to blame their argument on incredibly sloppy reasoning. i stopped funding the fsf over their mistreatment of free culture. (and for the free culture advocates that attacked stallman with lies and witchhunting, i wont support those individuals or groups either). this is a tragedy on both sides. i feel for lessig, who is far from the sole fan of both efforts. with free hardware, the fsf is doing it again. the reality of free computing is that it is moving forward faster than the fsf can adjust its course (or even its logic). if free hardware develops quantum theory, the fsf approaches it with newtonian concepts. and i am well aware of the many times open source has created a straw man of free software and said its "out of touch" for not following fads in non-free software. im not all that interested in the software fashion industry either-- but real changes matter. free hardware is making real changes. the fsfs stunted connection with these changes puts it out of touch with not only hardware, but as leah rowe (i believe correctly) explains, actually holds back the development of projects the fsf itself wants to make progress on! it would be nice, if the fsf is incapable of making reasonable statements about free hardware, if they simply left matters of hardware to others. for reasons that are probably obvious, that isnt quite practical given the fsfs mission. they have to either work with free hardware, or step on its toes. leaving them alone without any representation good or poor doesnt work from a free software standpoint. so ideally, the fsf would get this right. stallman is applying double standards to free hardware. i know he doesnt do this intentionally, and im sure there are valid reasons he believes he isnt being unfair. he seems to justify putting off free hardware until it can be defined, then when people are working on it (even those proposing solid definitions) he moves the goalposts to being about whether its practical for people to buy free hardware, then he says (accurately, but here is a double standard, if not two) that we cant yet apply criteria to only use free hardware. and i think somewhere it is implied (though its not said) that this invalidates any effort to establish the definition that is needed in the first place. funnily enough! the free software definition started with only 3 freedoms. a fourth was added later! so there really is no need to have a COMPLETE definition of free hardware to have a definition of free hardware. the fsf did not start with a complete definition of free software either, by todays standards. and the fsf did not start by only using free software either. OF COURSE THIS WAS THE GOAL from the beginning, but if the goal of free hardware is for all users (operators, owners) of hardware to have control of their computing, this is where things are headed. in that regard, free hardware is already here. free software started out with just a few projects. free hardware too has just a few projects. but the goal in common is for all users to have control of their computing. free culture also has a great deal to offer in this regard-- free software routinely looks for freely-licensed works to accompany software like video games. free cultural works that are created with free software help promote free software. by being overly obtuse in its relationship with free culture, free software practically drove it into the arms of open source instead, setting the stage for future conflicts that could have been collaboration. but with free hardware it is not merely a missed opportunity-- a feature of non-free software that a user wants to fix can too-easily (and more and more easily) be migrated from software to hardware these days. the "laws" (the limitations) of hardware that kept people from doing more bad things (at scale) arent the same as they were when the fsf was founded. and the fsf is lagging seriously behind on these issues, which it tries to excuse by saying it doesnt have enough resources, it isnt a big enough problem yet-- these two excuses nearly contradict each other. but we could (instead of fixing this) nitpick about the contradiction as well! MAYBE it doesnt have enough resources because it has routinely fumbled strategic alliances with free culture (an alliance with open source is not something i want) and so it misses out on the advantages (in awareness, for example) that free culture could bring to the table. or MAYBE it doesnt have enough resources for the inversion of that, which is that some people who care about free culture (whether it has anything to offer free software or not) are so pissed off about having other important goals (free culture, copyright reform) represented so badly by free software that they have withdrawn their (financial) support of the fsf in protest-- like i did years ago. ever since, ive tried to get the fsf to get this right so i could give them more money again. it hasnt happened yet, though ive given up on the fsf anyway. i mean, if you dont hold it against them that they screwed up royally first on free culture and then on free hardware, (now even on free speech, which free software cant exist without) the fsf has even screwed up at things they used to get right! so the fsf cant do free culture adequately, it cant do free hardware reasonably, and it cant even do the fsf (or gnu) up to the standards it had previously. all of this is terrible, in a world that relies on the fsf for anything. you might think then that i support lieplanet, but i dont-- yes they do advocate for free culture and free hardware, two points ive been trying to get the fsf to take more seriously since before 2018, but lieplanet-- while "bolstering" free culture and free hardware, sacrifices integrity and political freedom (including free discourse by traditional fsf standards) in the process! so im not going to support that. my crusade for free culture and free hardware predates the lieplanet coup, which ive been hating on since before stallman was fired from his position at mit-- in fact, since months prior to that. fortunately leah is going to unveil their alternative soon. if its federated properly, im not sure it will matter if leahs "headquarters" for the federation works the way it should. other "nodes" would be able to get things right. and if the federation works more like the fediverse (which in every way is a mountain of crap) then ill compare leahs concept of federation to mine (ive been preaching federation for years, but leah has more people and id be quite pleased if they managed to do this well) and point out why leahs wont work. but if it works-- and it really could-- then great! that would mean leah built what i always hoped someone would build. or they did it a different way that still worked, and thats also great. i never said "federation for federations sake"-- the goal was to save free software, not to complicate it further just for funsies. the "thrive guidelines" were meant to act as a sort of (opt-in) protocol to make the thing work better. i want all software to be free software-- that was the goal. and i want all hardware to be free hardware-- that is a new goal. free hardware advocates have as much right to seek that goal starting now, without being misrepresented, as free software had (and has) the right to seek free software as a goal without being misrepresented by open source. but i think on some level (and there are partly reasonable excuses for this at least-- but ultimately it is unjustified, once it reaches a certain level of conflict and interference) stallman and even the fsf (certainly some of its membership) feels that free culture and free hardware somehow "belong to" free software. stallman once said (in response to being called the "father" of "open source") that if he was the father it was without his consent and with "stolen sperm". but while free software itself is (as he acknowledges) the offspring of stallman, free culture and free hardware are (at most) the offspring of free software. (open source for the most part, is a corporate clone of free software with tragic defects). that would make stallman the grandfather at best-- free culture and free hardware do not need his consent, his "sperm" or ultimately his authority. and while i strongly feel that his input on such issues is potentially useful, his misunderstandings of these issues can also be detrimental. when people routinely defend (ADVOCATE-- exactly what people SHOULD DO over ethical and indeed, societal issues in general), stallman acts too much like the father of these other movements when his authority (and sometimes even his familiarity with these issues) is closer to that of an uncle. its (sufficiently) true that stallman invented free software. its also sufficiently true that the fsf is throwing obstacles in the way of free culture and free hardware. further, these movements legitimately (except for some of the attacks on stallman, but not their protests about this particular injustice and misrepresentation) advocate freedom with regards to computing. the fsf acts a bottleneck for these issues, sometimes overstepping its bounds and routinely demonstrating a certain (detrimental) level of ignorance about where these movements are in terms of accomplishment and goals. if the fsf simply did no harm, they would still have no obligation to help. it would likely benefit the fsf to get this right, but thats a separate matter. instead, the fsf ultimately makes decisions based on inaccurate assessments of free culture and free hardware that hurt first these movements and then (arguably with free culture, and likely undeniably with free hardware) hurt the fsf (and free software) itself. i said literally years ago, i would have supported the coup (against stallman) if it had been principled, honest and not tried to ruin his life or career. the reason was that too many issues (affecting free software) were at stake, and being handled poorly. i do see this a bit differently today-- as i had previously assumed that these problems stemmed from stallman alone, not from other factors that were moving against him in a way i would never approve of (and never have). so if the fsf is doing poorly, i blame the attackers as much as i blame the fsf. (it is still their job to fight of course, since thats exactly what they promise to do in exchange for funding). but todays fsf is at odds with not only important free software issues and free culture, but now (thanks to the fucking coup) free speech and the organisations own principles (which it used to demonstrate, but does no longer). i support none of these drawbacks-- and the fsf has shed any methods through which the public can mend this. they are truly hopeless now. the "coup" i support today is no coup, no occupation, but an exodus. either way, there will be an exodus with or without my support. the fsf has lots of money-- that is true, hackers, that is true. but they cannot fight for freedom-- thats not good, hackers. thats not good. the "coup" i wanted (ive said this before, its well documented) would have forced stallman out as president, kept him on the board, NOT transformed the board into the farce it is now, and not smeared stallman in any dishonest or unfair way. he still invented free software, he has given most of his existence to the movement, to be unfair to him is worse than ungrateful. i dont support his unfairness to free culture (nor theirs towards him) or his inadequate support of free hardware. there is not much hardware that you can buy and run without modification, without a blob of some kind. i mean if you can find a dongle that needs no blob, now all you need is a cpu that needs 1. no blob and 2. no non-free software to create ("program") the cpu. free software is still trying to become free. free hardware is trying to become free as well. the fsf may prefer that it wait until its ready to try to be free, but thats not how these things actually get done! it isnt how free software became free either. the fsf has no right to hold hardware to a more (literally) impossible standard than it held itself in the early days. free hardware must begin somewhere, and if the fsf is (truly) ethical, they will "allow" it to do so. of course, i am happy to let free software act as a voice of conscience for free hardware. a voice, but not a helicopter parent. free software is strict in its goals, because ruinous compromise wont lead to freedom. letting free software dictate free hardwares goals, when free software (at the top) isnt even adequately familiar with free hardware, would be a ruinous compromise for any free hardware movement. the exodus will happen either way. the goal of this article is to help explain why-- and to mention that i do support at least some (if not all, who knows?) of the goals of free hardware. free hardware is a very important aspect of gnew, whether you ask the advisory board or the chief gnewsance himself. it isnt important "ten years from now" as stallman has said. it matters today-- today (really, even before today) is where the fight for hardware freedom begins. and, as free hardware is increasingly a requirement for free software, free software will be forced to leave the fsf behind in search of not only free hardware, but the same unfettered discourse that the free software movement enjoyed for all of its formative days and most of its existence. the reasons to leave the fsf are not diminishing, they continue to grow. stallman will always be the father of free software, of course. i dont trust people whos ambitions require the bastardisation of history-- people mainly obscure the past to mislead others regarding the present and future. but the fsf is, with stallmans best intentions im sure, bastardising the present-- and a growing movement along with it. if stallman were not there, someone else at the fsf would get this wrong in his place. so many of us (myself included) prefer fixes and (when reasonable) upgrades to replacing things that still work. but with the fsf, the magic smoke has escaped and left us only with a whiff of silicon and despair-- and lots of promises of course, that dont really mean a thing. => https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org