everything wrong with free software

 "obedience breeds foolishness"

### we-may-need-socialised-computing see also: => https://muckrights-sans-merde.neocities.org/the-delusion-of-a-gnu-linux-community.html *originally posted:* jun 2021 *updated:* aug 2021 the title is written in support, more than in scepticism. i am sceptical by nature, but ive been known to follow my heart in a number of things. i dont know how much of a socialist you would call me, at least by socialist standards. they might not call me one at all. nonetheless, i think we need to find a way of living that is far more sustainable, and when i complain bitterly about the direction free software has taken over the years, i find myself willing to explore a number of solutions. one thing i care a lot about is salvaging computers. tom cares about that more than i do, and he knows more about it too. this article isnt about tom, but credit where credit is due. we have a fondness for old machines in common, but i mention him simply because his love for old machines goes farther than mine. all the same, we both care about salvaging them. back when i had an operating system that was entirely up to the task, i used to look for ways to promote free software and salvage computers at the same time. i thought it was a terrible shame, and an awful waste for people to throw their perfectly usable computers away-- or let them sit on a shelf, not being used for anything. its one thing if youre saving it because you really want to do something with it. but if you simply dont have a better idea-- a lot of people are in denial about why they have an old computer they never use. was i a socialist when i convinced people to give me those computers so i could put debian on them and give them away? by someones standards, perhaps. i certainly put some work into it, and i certainly didnt make it into any sort of business. whatever you think of this in political or economic terms, i wanted to put those machines into use again, encourage people to stop throwing them away, and to promote free software. one point im proud of is that i didnt just give them to other geeks like myself. these machines went to non-geeks, just to prove they were usable by more people. but i also didnt know enough geeks like myself who didnt already have enough computers (by their standards) so that wasnt really an option anyway. a point richard stallman likes to make is that free software can work commercially. ive never had a problem with that, ive reminded people of that myself. and i abhor licenses with a non-commercial clause, not only because they are non-free but because they are utterly confusing, there is never a very clear definition what "non-commercial" means. if you start using a non-commercial license, you may well assume youre in compliance but even efforts to clarify what (for example) the "nc" in "by-nc" meant failed at creative commons. the whole point of cc licenses was to make it easier to share and remix freely, and nc fails spectacularly, due to such a long (and UNWRITTTEN) list of things "non-commercial" could mean. can it be used on a platform with ads if you dont charge money? what if theyre your own ads? what if theyre not and you have no control over them? what if the ads are for a non-profit organisation? what if the use is at a non-profit organisation? can you use it in a store, if you own it? can you use it in a store, if you are simply eating lunch there? what if the non-profit is doing a fundraiser? these questions are not answered by the license, and its so much easier to simply say "for any purpose", which is freedom 0 in the free software definition. cc-by, cc-by-sa and cc0 all satisfy or correspond to the freedom you have with the four freedoms of free software. nc does not-- it fails at freedom 0. so when i talk about socialised computing, i am not talking about forbidding commercial use. to me, that only makes it more difficult (less free as well) for the rest of us to use the software. i am getting pretty tired of corporate meddling in free software development though. im not sure that (as users-- operators, or by extension, so-called "developers") we will ever be free as long as corporations keep trying to take over our software-- IF WE KEEP ALLOWING THEM. ive already (hopefully) made my position on "non-commercial" software clear-- i dont want it, and i dont think you likely do, either. so this is surely NOT about changing the license, or taking away from the 4 freedoms. imo we need those. in fact the whole idea is to preserve those, to protect them from corporate meddling. the reason i say "corporate" and not "commercial" is because i dont think a couple of kids with a lemonade stand ought to be worried about this. but i think red hat (certainly ibm) is one of the worst things that has ever happened to free software, and something needs to be done to stand up to these abusers. sadly, they realised that it was necessary to co-opt free software as soon as it started to go anywhere in terms of public awareness. open source was a great scam to co-opt free software, or alternatively, it turned into that almost overnight. i dont really know what eric raymond was thinking, but i suspect he was misled by his ego. its possible he deliberately intended to set us up, but somehow i think he really believed he could take on corporations (playing by their own rulebook, no less) and change them, in a way that was "superior" to focusing on freedom. either he had good intentions, followed his ego, and failed spectacularly-- or, he had terrible intentions, and succeeded wildly. if im right about his ego, he may lean towards some explanation that allows for great success by not paying much attention to what his real goals were at the time. i dont know, maybe hes easy to figure out and maybe hes difficult, but i know bruce perens left after just one year because he hated what osi was doing. somehow, eric raymond was able to tolerate it. note theyve gone even farther now, past what he may have found tolerable, but that doesnt really refute anything i think about open source or its mission. whatever the intentions were, open source was a giant fuck up for freedom and an incredible success for co-opting a movement and selling people out. but i dont expect raymond to ever admit that. instead, hes going to focus on all the "good" he did. we certainly dont need another "open source". but at this point, we may need another free software. whats wrong with the one we have? for many years, it has outsourced its most important work, and most important tools, to people who do not give a shit about why those things were made. this was justified, with copyright assignments and copyleft licenses, as if that were enough. i think that was hopeful. it was probably well-intended. i think its proving to have been a very stupid move. the chief gnewsance and i (in fact, he was the one who brought up the subject) were already discussing the problems of gdb and gcc before they kicked stallman off the steering committee (oliva told me stallman was never on it, so its no real loss-- i think he was wrong about at least part of that) and before they started moving gcc farther from the fsf (and thus from the gnu project). i wouldnt normally give a shit about moving farther from the fsf, but when they are doing it strictly because the fsf holds the copyright for the gnu project, then i find it fairly offensive. most importantly, they are moving gcc farther from free software and closer to open source-- this is the real coup, and muckrights is going to bullshit you a lot about it. theyre going to dance around this just like oliva has, and tell you that its fine as the coup continues to co-opt not only the movement, but gnu itself. i find it disgusting that these two parties insist on shielding the public from proper information about this, and sometimes (rather shamelessly) mislead them. we have not talked about solutions yet, because i generally prefer to get (and share) as much of a grasp of the problem as reasonably possible first, before turning to the matter of solutions. i have actually talked extensively about solutions, i have written many, many articles about them, and most of them revolve around things like making the free software less corporate-- less driven by sponsors, more homemade, and most certainly more grassroots. during the coup that practically silenced and hid stallman from the public, i emailed him and said he personally ought to fork the free software movement and make it more grassroots. he asked how that would be different. i think i tried to reply to that, but i was too taken aback by what at least sounded like a rhetorical question. (it probably wasnt-- i dont think stallman normally asks those as a reply the way someone more sarcastic might). at any rate, now that hes back its clear that hes going to be playing by the fsf rules. and thats not ALL bad-- people at the fsf made a notable (and apparent) effort to clear the rest of the coup from the fsf. im sceptical about this in a number of ways, but i dont doubt its a lot better now than it was a year ago (so long, arseholes). worse than that is that its pretty obvious the coup just fell back to the gnu project and proceeded to execute whatever contingencies that had been brewing there for more than a year or two already. i wrote about that in muckrights at least once or twice, im not sure roy ever covered that part of the coup-- but its certainly the same coup that started at libreplanet in 2018-- the same coup that i reported before roy did in april, which he downplayed only to pick it up again later so he could take the credit for it. theyre not really gone, theyve simply changed positions. but dont expect muckrights to hurry and tell you that the coup is still going on RIGHT FUCKING NOW because he pretends they fuck off to hawaii for half a year at a time or something. no, the coup is still going on-- right fucking now. and its been going on for years. im not very interested in any solutions that fail to address the actual problem here. one thing that might help however, is this idea of socialised computing. i dont want to define this idea for the chief gnewsance, im very happy to let him tell you what it means. im certain however, that it is possible to discuss, debate and speculate about this-- and i think its very possibly worth our while to do so. it might give us some very good ideas about how to save free software. in fact one of the main points of this article is that i am willing to throw some support behind, and further explore this idea of socialised computing. i said, at least a year or two ago, it would not be a bad thing at all to have an anti-capitalist free software movement. i said that not as an anti-capitalist, but as someone who wants more free software in the world. and i was very up front about this, as im being very up front about it right now. as the author of that article, and some others related to the topics mentioned here, i am very pleased that the chief gnewsance has taken up (to whatever extent he has) not one, but two of these ideas-- namely, an "anti-capitalist" free software movement and also the idea of gnew itself. and despite having SOME pride about it, the point of mentioning this really is not to lay claim to something that has already far exceeded what i personally put into it. i am neither the chief gnuisance (that is richard stallman) nor am i the chief gnewsance. (i am, tom promises me however, AT LEAST a nuisance, but i think he was just trying to be nice. note also, for clarification because ive mentioned him twice in this article-- tom is not the chief gnewsance either). the point of mentioning that i wrote about these things, is simply to reinforce the idea that i am supportive of them. i was supporting the idea of an anti-capitalist free software movement even before we were discussing it. now that there is a real opportunity for one (before, it was merely an idea) i am excited to see the idea being explored in more earnest. i am eager to see the direction it takes. because i will allow myself to speculate, i want to talk about some possible advantages of this as well. the main thing i want here, the thing that pisses me off the most about this corporate meddling, is i want stable apis. i do not want clown apis, or what the chief gnewsance calls "nebulous programming interfaces". for years i thought we could count on free software to not fuck us over on this-- i didnt hold gnome in great contempt, i even liked gnome 2. we had a lot of options in this regard, and if you thought gnome was too bloated there was more than one level you could step down towards something lighter. but gnome turned into gnome wtfh (also known as gnome 3) and they took over gtk, cancelled stallman, and were basically arseholes to anybody who didnt suck up to their corporate bullshit. fuck gnome, honestly. today they do to xfce what systemd wanted to do to gentoo, and that alone makes them complete bastards. but gnome is basically evil, and completely bullshit. if find gnome on your computer, the best thing to do with it is delete as much as fucking possible. like systemd, you wont get it all. fuck these people. fuck gnome, fuck neil in particular-- fuck everything LIKE gnome. i will miss gtk; only gtk 2 though. but honestly, at this point i really will not miss it very much. id rather use a gui toolkit that looks like its from 1982 than use anything from arseholes that have as great contempt for user freedom as gnome developers. and the foundation is even (slightly) worse! and i feel bad for mate-- well, almost-- i actually really admire projects that try to preserve things we love. trinity did that for the last good version of kde, and mate did that for the last good version of gnome. but what mate ought to do now is (i know, it sounds ridiculous and either way, it wont happen) abandon gtk and try to recreate gnome 2 as much as possible without all the fucking bullshit. i think thats closer to impossible, and not the most important thing in the world, but its probably too late for mate. it still needs gtk, and gtk is fucked, sorry. maybe i was too optimistic about the bloat that even gtk2 had. either way, i dont think they will save it. but i admire what they tried to do. debian lost huge points with me (i was promoting the fuck out of debian-- it was my #1 choice for promoting gnu/linux and free software, until they destroyed it) when they shafted mate the way they did. but obviously what they did for systemd was even worse-- and gnome totally helped that happen. all of this is a corporate overthrow of freedom, but there are so many different tentacles to count. you can try keeping track, ive been doing that (trying, i mean) for years. gnome is dead. and the sooner, the better. im not against people reviving it-- but before they do that, we need to change the way that software is co-opted. we need to do something to fight it being co-opted. note that as i type this, ive got two windows open on this screen-- one needs gtk, the other does not. one i rely on more, the other is something i suffer to exist here. and the window manager of course, is dwm-- because everything else i could use is either awful to use (im not a fan of the default x11 window manager, though its probably not hurting anybody) or somehow tied to github. if i go to other screens, the ratio of gtk apps is lower. i generally avoid them now. it would be nice to never need gtk again someday. its too bad qt sucks so hard now-- its almost as if theres a fucking war on. boycotting what we can is a good start, but people who care about freedom enough to boycott increasingly anti-freedom bullshit thats under a free license (or "free in license only" as i like to call it) are not here in high enough numbers yet. and the slave-owners who think our job is to make things for them to take control over later will tell us "just make more software so we can steal it". wait, no, youre the fucking problem. youre why we are here. we already made all this stuff, and youve taken control of it. stallmans clever idea when developers started getting poached, was to put things under free licenses. then when someone does get poached, they cant (in theory-- sometimes in practice, too) take the software with them and leave us stranded. he closed a loophole, and left the corporate world with one less path to exploiting and taking over our work. they can still poach the developers, of course. then they work for monopolies, not for us. but as long as the software is under a free license, we can (in theory-- sometimes even in practice) take that last "good version" and maintain it ourselves, if thats what we want. what stallman maybe didnt count on (hard to tell sometimes-- i know muckrights has a vested interest in making it seem like stallman gets this, but they have already lied about it once and exaggerated something else for a followup) is that developers would still get poached, then users would be dragged off to using things that only the developers could fix-- and then the monopolies would work to make the software harder and harder to fork or maintain, unless you are a large company. in other words, they would bloat it up with features and make it more unmaintainable (just like non-free software development does) and when it comes time for us to say "ITS OKAY! WE CAN FORK THIS!" the people that actually can have... oh, theyve already moved over to the other side to... shit. a lot of people are in heavy denial about this. roy is too, but he says that the problem is real (he sat on this, for literally years) and he acts like if we wait, maybe write "some articles" about it, the problem will just go away. nope. it took boycotts in 2006 to deal with mono, and it will take boycotts now, too. but muckrights has tried to convince people (in the past few months) NOT to boycott this stuff. its a far cry from what actually worked in 2006, sadly. because hes not doing that. or letting people do that without listening to his bullshit reasons not to. either way, its very possible at least, that the best choir to preach to about this is actually the group of people who already have a firm understanding of private corporations taking over work that already belonged to the public. and i mean the actual left here-- not the chinese government or the fake left that follows corporate lobbyists and so-called republicans to every stinking illegal war for profit (including tony blairs absolute bullshit) that the corrupt multinationalist contractors can dream of. when england was suffering and reeling from the aftermath of the war, they decided that one thing they would not compromise on was healthcare. it was smart. it helped individuals (rich and poor) and businesses alike. its still hard to run a small business in the united states, because insurance is so perpetually fucked up there and employers suffer for it too. nhs is an institution that helped save a generation (or two) from disaster. if enough people defend it, it could help save yet another generation as well. surely something like that can help save free software-- but i dont expect the fsf or even richard stallman to get behind it (i think it would be nice if he did, but i dont anticipate it). maybe even the green party usa could get behind it, but thats not my department-- its really more the job of a friend of mine. whoever supports it, what we are talking about is not so much a statist thing (i am not writing any of this as a statist, though i am aware that nhs is a national institution. to me that part of it is incidental, and im not proposing anything like a national free software system) as much as it is something that puts corporate tyranny to the side and says, very broadly, "not here, arseholes". free software just doesnt do that. it says, very plainly-- just use this license. its a very good license, indeed, but they rely too much on the license to maintain the integrity of a project. it simply leaves these corporations spending years looking for another loophole, which they found a few of years ago. and weve been telling the fsf and even stallman ever since and-- sadly, he does NOT get this. i believe he is well intentioned, but i do not believe (nor will i pretend, as some do) that he is going to help us with this. the fsf does not, will not, does not even try to, defend free software from corporate takeover. on the contrary! even well before debian sold us out to red hat, the gnu project itself sold us out to the very same company. what we are seeing with gcc, as well as systemd, is the result of putting too much trust in a corporation that does not have to care (may not even be allowed to care) about our freedom. red hat was never a non-profit organisation. (the fsf was, and that wasnt even enough). it was a for-profit business! its #1 goal is not freedom, but PROFIT! i dont really think profit itself is so bad, actually. but thats moot in fact, because I DO think profit above freedom is very bad! when making a quick buck matters more than user freedom, profit is just another way of saying "fuck your freedom guys, we need a nicer office". so what did the fsf say to these people? "please, sir! would you help us maintain gdb? can you spare us any people who can help write gcc?" and red hat patted the fsf on its little gnu head, and said "why of course we can! we are red hat, the champions of the little guy!" said every bullshit for-profit ever. including the ones that literally go around the world blowing up and firing bullets at little-- oh hey, they do that too. some people have an easy solution to this! go work for the evil death corporations, and start a petition-- then ruin stallmans life for not doing it first. and hes NOT alone-- ron howard and mark zuckerbergs evil step-nephew (no actual relation to ron howard or mark zuckerberg that im certain of) also wants to work for evil corporations and start nice petitions. and thats going to get so much done. wasnt change.org an obama administration thing? wasnt obama the original and infamous leader of the global drone war, too? lets go on change.org and start a petition to retroactively forbid... wait, thats almost as fucking stupid as working for evil overlords and saying youre changing them with a fucking petition. no, stupid, thats not how reality works at all. im not against petitions, but thats just fucking dumb. of course if think evil death corporations are actually nice because they help you read your email, there isnt much hope anyway. but some of this stuff is fixable. just not by signing your name to something nobody in power gives a flying fuck about. hell, the ceo of every large corporation on earth could sign it too. you know what THAT would change? absolutely fuck-all. because after they sign their names, theyre going to go right back to precisely what they were doing before. not unlike obama-- or tony blair. or julia reda. anyway, the rough idea of the next step towards freedom looks a bit like the one that stallman has spent a lifetime creating. and thats not a coincidence: first, you put the software you create under a free license. then, when corporations try to poach you, you stay with us-- because fuck corporations, to be honest. we know what the next step is after they poach you. then, when they try to co-opt our work, we dont use their bloated co-opted bullshit, because we know what the next step is after they make it bloated. they have all this control over users that roy suddenly gives a shit about... "where the FUCK have you guys been?" "having breakfast!"-- eddie izzard on america helping europe fight the nazis so we start by making it free software, writing and licensing it that way-- then, we DONT go to work for the enemy or help them steal it from us (im especially fond of this, even though its an extra step!) and then just for shits and giggles, we dont switch from the software we have more control over to their version which spies on us and forces upgrades and disables our plugins and... its REALLY FUCKING SIMPLE when you think about it! oh, but this does mean we wont have as many features. but we didnt have as many features when we moved from windows to gnu/linux, either. and then all these very helpful killer drone-builders said "wait! what if we give you a bunch of bullshit and USE YOUR LICENSE?" and stallman said (in whatever actual way he had to have put it) "SURE! WHATS THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN IF WE TRUST THEM WITH OUR COMPILER?" note that whether or not theres any connection at all, this too happened RIGHT AFTER they said "SURE! WHY NOT INCLUDE A MICROSOFT-GITHUB-BASED COMPILER IN GCC?" (thats d of course, because "f" was already a language). so whats the worst that COULD happen, if we outsource the crown-jewel of the gnu project (the fucking compilers you use to compile it, even) to a giant for-profit corporation that ultimately gets sold off to ibm, one of the most evil and notorious corporations in the history of the human race? WE DONT KNOW! because they still havent done their worst yet! what we do know, is that being "neutral" or "apathetic" about this is a way to lose at least SOME control over things we care about and rely on. given that the goal of free software is to give users, more than giant multinational corporations, control of their computing, thats a pretty big fuck up. but some people say that stallman says its cool, so who cares! my hope is that anti-capitalists have useful ideas about this. just like nhs was a "somewhat" (british understatement) useful idea following the great-but-not-THAT-great war growing still closer to a century ago. and im willing to hear them out, too. after all, the people who are neutral to corporate takeover are letting them simply kill off whatever was accomplished since the 1980s. i would be thrilled to hear (even an outline) from the chief gnewsance on this, and i feel we likely will, soon enough. if you are an anti-capitalist or socialist interested in free software, now is one of the better times to talk about it. i wish i could count "anticapitalista" among them. for some fucking bizarre reason, hes busy developing gnu/linux, on-- microsoft github?! thats certainly not the sort of "anti"-capitalism we need. oh, and-- im the one who said "anti-capitalist". i certainly think "socialised computing" has a better ring to it. the nhs, at least, was not created to destroy capitalism, per se. it was created to alleviate further disaster for the british. we need to alleviate further disaster for free software, too. but waiting for stallman to get this was never the right answer. its going to take more than just your name on a petition, in other words. you might have to actually, you know-- reject some of the corporate bullshit that is already in your computing. i dont expect people to change this overnight, in fact its a lot harder to do it that way. but the change has to actually matter to you, if you want it to actually change. otherwise its really just further bullshit, posing as a solution to bullshit. stallman says-- this i sort of agree with-- every step towards freedom helps. the problem is he doesnt consider corporate control of freely licensed software a problem for freedom. he might not even consider it possible, but he should know better (tivo is a classic example of corporate control of freely licensed software-- so its not like we havent seen it before). so, building on what stallman says: every step towards freedom, INCLUDING towards autonomy from corporate arseholes like nazi hat, helps. if gcc itself isnt a relevant enough example, what would it take? of course, i dont recommend simply boycotting gcc. we definitely need a compiler. for something as important as gcc, it should probably be forked. just like stallman (allegedly) said should be done with rust. => https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org