everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
### why free software (probably) wont be called that in the future
other pages: => herding-teams.html | => the-fake-stallman-foundation.html | => oliva-ousted.html
*originally posted:* jan 2021
*updated:* aug 2021
> "the trial never ended, captain. we never reached a verdict."-- q, from star trek: the next generation
you know what i would like in 2021? a free software movement. you know what people will get instead? the fake stallman foundation.
ive heard a lot of things lately that dont add up, from the fsf being "mostly ok" while stallman is still in exile and his right-hand person is ousted, to the same person who was ousted telling me things are just about to get better-- to roy saying that stallman cant talk about systemd because of half-decade-old deals with sponsors who are no longer sponsors. which is an outright lie, actually:
weve spent literally years talking about problems the fsf cant talk about. and they still cant talk about them. so what is the story?
of course i suppose technically it depends on what else comes out about that this week. after smearing me to gain access to stallman through his handlers, roy is publishing new bits about what happened at the time. some of it it interesting and there are new details at least, but none of it seems to support the narrative that things are improving.
on the contrary, so far it seems like the latest move is to shift the blame from whoever continues to stifle the people who know what happened, to their critics (critics of the coup) and to move the remainder of the responsibility towards the people who have already left.
for example, i dont even know anybody (i know *of* a couple people, but no one i hold in any sort of regard) who doesnt think kuhn is part of the problem here. *we all seem to be on the same page with kuhn being part of the coup*, it is discussed openly. and kuhns own blog really doesnt leave much to the imagination-- he is attacking stallman, and literally saying he doesnt speak for free software. gnome seems to be mostly with sfc on this, but gnome was really always part of the problem. if theyre not working on something vital already, then theyre hijacking it-- just like microsoft. they know how to stay relevant, even as a foil.
so what better cover for the misdeeds of the few traitors still in power, than to wash their hands of their compatriots in the coup and go on just as they were, incognito. "yes, we stand against those people [who we did this with] and as it happens, we also stand against anyone who critiques us further. everything is alright now, if you dont believe us then youre with THOSE GUYS we are condemning".
its a great tactic, the problem is that it while it keeps some people from the coup outside, it also keeps some of them inside-- apparently blameless. the problem is that things are not actually getting better:
1. stallman is still quiet. why? surely not because everything is ok.
2. oliva is still ousted. its sort of beside the point whether the fsf will be ok without him, there was no need to oust him and (put another way) he was ousted without need. who ousted him? the good guys? unlikely! the whole argument that things are good with or without him makes no sense, it dodges the real question.
3. not only is stallman still quiet, but as was said in irc:
MinceR *he would have started a campaign against systemd if he did Jan 08* 16:04
yes thats the same mincer that i was complaining about an entire month ago, but that doesnt change the fact that hes entirely *correct* (and most of our interactions were friendly regardless).
so theres still time for the "secrets of the fsf" series to deal with these plot holes, but like any half-told story it is likely to create more of them than it resolves. what would be irresponsible of ron is to frame such a thing as actual resolution, but that seems to be the idea. go ahead and donate, folks-- things are actually ok!
*oliva took it back*, but he was ousted for saying that things are not all ok. and its incredible for people to respond to his ousting with the equivalent of: "*not to worry, folks, that smoking gun was never loaded!*"
thats really not sufficient under the circumstances!
this is more like a papering over, but like i said that series is still ongoing-- its too early to say whether these glaring inconsistencies will be resolved or not (its certainly not too early to doubt it) *but that wasnt the point of this article* in the first place.
the point of this article in the first place of course, is right there in the title.
too much and too little has been made of the name "free software". it is of course, the name of the movement and the (defunct) organisation that stallman founded. as with the linux kernel i have spent years trying to find the part of that movement itself that is not defunct-- but the organisiation has rotted from the inside.
if you would, take a moment to familiarise yourself with this article from more than a year ago http://techrights.org/2019/12/17/fs-urgency/ which oliva told me he liked. sorry, i realise my "links" to that website are (deliberately) inconvenient, but i still cite them. if you choose not to bother because of the way i do links there in general, you can blame me for that, its alright. sometimes a triple click will do it (not my design) but i hope to avoid "picking and choosing" which individual links are done this way and do it by website only. roy also declines to directly link to things sometimes. apologies for the annoyance.
the title is "*When You Realise the FSF is Dying, or Dead*" and the words were chosen carefully. the point of the article was not to prove (more than a year ago) that the fsf was dead, but about *what to do* when you realise it is. i am looking back at the article now, and notice it is even explicit about this point-- yet i expect some people to try to leave this fact aside if and when they talk about it.
i was certain (as i remain certain) that most people are not going to change their minds about this issue *today*. as the article says: "ample evidence doesn’t always come all at once." *that article was written for the future*. here we are a year later, and people are still not convinced. though at muckrights, the discussion looks like this:
*schestowitz anyone wanna help me proofread? Jan 08* 15:40
schestowitz *I'm trying to get people to join the FSF* Jan 08 15:40
*MinceR what for?* Jan 08 15:41
*schestowitz GNU funding* Jan 08 15:41
*Ariadne what is even the point* Jan 08 15:41
*schestowitz their infrastructure\* Jan 08 15:41
*Ariadne half the GNU projects are using github anymore* Jan 08 15:41
*MinceR what's the point of funding GNU?* Jan 08 15:41
MinceR *it's pretty much dead already* Jan 08 15:41
for the record i think its probably too early to give up on gnu, ive called again and again for its salvage, even in the aforementioned article. ive spent several years trying to get people to save the fsf.
"Still, people keep trying to save the dying machine. I would try, I did try. I’ve devoted literally years to trying. *One person even recommended I try to join the board (to be fair, I said the same to them.* We could just be blowing smoke, but I know for a fact that I was being sincere.)"
that line is only in reference to roy-- the other person who asked was already on the board.
*i still think gnu can be salvaged*, but i dont think the fsf will be. there are problems (drawbacks) with both of those things being true, but ive already discussed those before.
the problem is finding a viable part of the movement.
*MinceR afaik the FSF was taken over by crybullies* Jan 08 15:44
*schestowitz MinceR: not anymore* Jan 08 15:44
schestowitz *I go through the list* Jan 08 15:44
schestowitz *they're ousted mostly* Jan 08 15:44
*MinceR so, is RMS back yet?* Jan 08 15:44
while i think the fsf was taken over by corporations, we have all noted several means that allowed them to do so. mincers question "so, is rms back yet?" is the key one here.
but even if he was (and sadly, he isnt) there were major problems that arent resolved simply by him coming back. as noted by the community, systemd is one of them. thats a problem that has remained since 2015. *there is also github* -- there is also the "revising" (thanks for that one, you know who you are) of history that the fsf is doing *right now* to downplay stallman from within his own organisation. these are not signs of a healthy, thriving movement-- theyre just pr and marketing.
when that article was written a year ago, we could only imagine some of whats happened since-- very little of which (if any of it) is even positive. to say that things are better now, when nothing has really improved, is close to arbitrary-- the people who are out now (minus oliva-- or are we to think he was part of the coup? i never found a shred of evidence and hes not being implicated, so i find that theory that things have improved very difficult) were already out a year ago.
thats worth repeating! *the people who are out now were already out a year ago.* corrections welcome and lets get this one right, because if nothing has improved in a year then *why has the narrative* started painting things as having gotten better? theres no evidence of improvement at all, its just a claim everybody is suddenly making-- from inside the fsf. where the coup took place. a coup many of us already acknowledged took place.
so maybe the ongoing series will explain some of these things before it wraps up. but honestly, i remain sceptical.
*what bothers me the most* isnt even the problems at the fsf-- those were, as i keep saying, already noted an entire year ago.
what bothers me the most is ive spent that year looking for remnants of the movement. i had high hopes for distrotube, until i found his video trashing stallman over the same fact-twisted story that pushed him out of the fsf in the first place. my hopes sunk after that, but hearing him sound like he was about to start defending microsoft was enough for me to walk away.
and i did indeed-- just walk away. theres an absolutely fabricated story about it coinciding with something else, i still need to check the dates on that. but what i was saying was "if this guys going to defend microsoft and trash stallman, im not going to bother"-- there was no rage in it at all.
is muckrights part of all this? only in the sense that there are a limited number of places you can find the real story about what happened at the fsf. and although muckrights is on this microsoft-like "charm offensive" (http://techrights.org/2016/04/03/microsoft-build-charm-offensive/) over the "mostly ok" fsf, they still got the story *up until the present* right. which is what makes this apparent about-face so peculiar.
as ive said in => whats-good-about-muckrights.html it "is essentially the last bastion of the free software movement." that doesnt mean its the last ever, it means that not many more exist. if im really optimistic i could talk about other organisations i (continue to) like, but for some time now ive stressed that this movement needs to be a "movement" again, not just an organiation that can be taken over to silence a founder and their supporters (the fsf was censoring emails from stallmans supporters for a while, as was revealed by daniel pocock).
open source was very effective at splitting people off from free software and gnu, and co-opting the movement. it is a perfect example of what *not* to do. unfortunately at this point, getting co-opted (from the inside) and gutted by sponsors, and silencing BOTH the founder and his supporters, is also a perfect example of what not to do.
the fsf lasted a lot longer without selling out, and osi sold out the first year if not sooner (co-founder bruce perens even resigned over it, calling for people to support free software again) but the fsf has done things *to its members* and to the community that it has not answered for.
it never apologised to stallman. it never apologised to the members that were censored. *it never brought the coup itself to light* (only oliva did).
i know some articulate pr and a lot of handwaving can dismiss all of that as it indeed has, but *this is not what a failed coup looks like*, this is what an ongoing coup looks like. and while roy (for inexplicable reasons) paints this as actions that *give the appearance of* or *lead people to believe that* or *just make people suspect that* the coup is still going--
so far, none of the things that would give a solid impression of the coup being over have actually taken place!
we are essentially just expected to take their word for it.
but its too early to be sure until that series is over, so lets wait for these things to be explained or (more likely) handwaved away.
*where is the free software movement* then?
*thats the real problem*-- the free software movement is nowhere.
yes, there are a few individuals lurking around. yes there are still people talking about free software, but most of them are not fighting the github monopoly nor are many at all fighting systemd.
the *movement* isnt talking about how linux is doomed because microsoft runs the linux foundation, or how linux will always be gpl2 only and tivoisation cant be resolved, they arent talking about the sheer power ibm has over the rest of the users through monopolistic pseudo-proprietary software design--
*the movement* still seems to need *permission* from a corrupt organisation before it can even talk about a problem as something that is a problem!
and while muckrights wasnt like that until very recently, apparently muckrights is now lumping in critics of the coup with members of the coup, just as the "mostly ok" fsf seems to be doing.
*none of these things* are signs of things being "mostly ok".
so why even pretend?
but if the only place you could go (and im not tooting my own horn here-- i dont have the connections these people have) to find out what really happened are now helping the people who did it to gloss over the present and give a false "all clear"... what *does* that say for the movement?
the movement is *already* dispersed, beaten and living in exodus.
for the past year, *open source* has said "free software is dead, but thats ok really because it was successful"-- even muckrights used to cover that meme (as being the bullshit that it is-- muckrights was helping to expose it).
i dont believe that the real motivation for any of this bizarre about-face business is an example of "if you cant beat em, join em!" though muckrights too says everything is mostly ok. i dont believe the motivation is the same, but the conclusion is just as dubious.
*"Proprietary Software Giants Telling Us That “Open Source Has Won” Means That “Open Source” is Just Proprietary Software Giants"* http://techrights.org/2020/09/05/on-open-source-has-won/
*if the coup is telling us that the fsf won*, that just means that the fsf...
no, i get it-- theyre saying the coup is over. theyre NOT the coup. right?
but if theyre not the coup, then there is essentially no transparency about the corruption that first infiltrated the fsf and then acted censoriously against members.
i started paying attention to daniel pocock in part because he found corruption that was going on at the fsfe and the fsf-- but before he did, i had no idea what was going on at fsfe. only that they looked to be betraying stallman.
somehow, i think the new series has put aside just how many angles of attack there were-- we are going to set up a list of a few people who we know were responsible, and then we will say "*thats it! we found the baddies! ALL CLEAR!*"
its interesting to watch muckrights do that, of all things. the reason its interesting is because *thats exactly what the american justice system does* in their rush to resolve murder cases-- they find the first person they can nail to the crime, nail them, and say "*that was hard work but we got our man!*"
all muckrights has to do is look at how much devastation remains. *and not just because cleaning up after is a work in progress.*
*the coup isnt like a single murder case where they find one person who looks guilty* so they can mark the case as closed until it gets reopened years later. it isnt even like a single murder case where they find *several* people guilty and know one or two are still on the loose.
rather, the coup is more like a serial murder case where people are saying *we got our man* and *the crimes are still happening.*
i dont think even muckrights can explain that one to you.
what i can tell you is, *there is nowhere left for free software to establish itself.*
that doesnt mean that "free software" is dead forever, but they are *still* attacking stallman supporters and people who complain about corporate threats to free software!
the fsf is *still* complacent, and now muckrights is getting complacent as well.
free software is a *disputed brand*, *unofficially* being contested over by the fsf, its supporters, richard stallman, his supporters, and anybody who cares about the *free software definition* (which the fsf technically controls but stallman wrote) including the *4 freedoms*.
so if you even wanted to walk away from this hot mess and try to do something *unlike* open source (because free software is still being turned into open source from the inside, which is awful) *you dont have a lot of options* because the people who *own* that are still really shady.
my prediction-- and it really doesnt bother me if im wrong about this-- is that people who care about the movement that stallman created will ultimately just go off on their own and *do whatever*.
thats what happens to dead movements. they wont revive something that the fake stallman foundation still contests.
instead, they will simply keep writing software with free licenses, they will represent the true history of the movement instead of some openwashed bullshit historical revision, but *they wont take the name with them*.
why? because we dont have any control over it anymore. our movement is gone. the people left are those *comfortable* with corporate hegemony-- *its really as simple as that*, and the rest is commentary.
oh sure, there are still questions that need answers. but by the time we learn the real history of what we currently call the "present", those of us who cared the most (we arent fucking pretending) will have moved on-- by necessity.
i will be happy if the rest of the series proves me wrong. its hardly likely, though a miracle is still welcome. but dont blame me for my vote of no confidence.