Chapter 8: (Don’t Let’s) Throw Caution to the Wind
Summary: “As it will become crucial to explain, the effect of all this dancing around truth and reality was to transform a volunteer force primed to bring freedom to users into cheap labour for an industry that exploits everyone in it — all the way to the very top of Open Source itself.”
Before we muck up our not-quite-pristine software platform with more projects, it would be wise to talk about why this is done only with some trepidation.
The projects most relevant to the next chapter are desktop environments or DEs, window managers or WMs and toolkits or libraries. The choices we make there decide what kind of crappy developer politics we end up saddled with.
“The choices we make there decide what kind of crappy developer politics we end up saddled with.”Of all the laughable farces in the world, one of the greatest is that you can separate a project from “politics”. As someone recently said online (maybe it was Tom) politics enter the equation the moment you’re talking about Free software. This idea of any project being “apolitical” is itself a political stance. It means that certain kinds of politics (not just the party/electoral variety either, I might add) are discouraged or forbidden in a project.
One of the most famous scams to avoid the subject of “politics” is Open Source. Open Source was created to talk about / sell / exploit Free software, without mentioning either freedom or organisations that work for it. Open Source is the pseudo-apolitical, “Don’t mention the war” corporate-friendly sell-out version of the Free software movement — so much so, that its flagship organisations own co-founder Bruce Perens resigned after just a year of Open Source selling out the movement it hijacked.
Pretending to be apolitical is an industry unto to itself, and industry loves to say that political discussions are forbidden, because if they weren’t you could call them on their own political atrocities.
“Pretending to be apolitical is an industry unto to itself, and industry loves to say that political discussions are forbidden, because if they weren’t you could call them on their own political atrocities.”Once again, this is not just about politics tangential to Free software itself. Discuss Open Source for long enough, or discuss the ethical implications of software withing an open source project for long enough, and someone will mention that political discussions are either “divisive” or a “waste of time” — basically to “Shut up and (don’t say anything unless you) code”.
You will reasonably expect the next chapter to be about graphics. But this book is about user freedom, and the next chapter is about graphics from the perspective of user freedom. Some people will say “just choose your graphics layers based on their technical aspects”. If you do that, you could end up with lock-in as well as the exploitation of users and developers. Maybe that’s great for you, but its exactly what this book exists to discourage as much as possible.
Because so many Free software projects are actually Open Source projects, and because these projects eschew “politics” and ultimately sell out their own users (along with developers who aren’t on board with the changes), it is absolutely necessary to examine the Open Source Initiative as the archetypal example of this political bait-and-switch routine.
Let’s start with Bruce Perens — I like to start with Perens, because I believe he is (at the very least, was) the most sincere person in Open Source. Perens and Eric S. Raymond founded the Open Source Initiative in 1998 — more than a decade after the Free Software Foundation was started.
It doesn’t bother me that the FSF doesn’t have a monopoly on promoting Free software, nor did it bother Perens. Perens is the author of the Debian Free Software Guidelines, or DFSG. I happen to like the DFSG, even though I’ve lost all allegiance to Debian. Of important note is that the DFSG was the basis for the Open Source Definition (OSD) itself. That’s how integral Bruce Perens is to Open Source.
“ESR still hosts the Halloween documents on his own website. These are based on memos leaked from Microsoft (verified authentic) regarding their practices towards competitors.”Eric S. Raymond, I believe — made Open Source what it is today. I don’t think its accurate or fair to say he alone was responsible for the state Open Source is in. He may have made the decisions that led us to where we are now. He absolutely did not act alone.
The paradox of ESR is that he was very vocally anti-Microsoft (Microsoft is not a company, it is a Cult and empire — so for a moment, it may help to think of ESR as anti-empire. Though whether he really is would only be a guess) to the point of publishing the “Halloween documents” on the OSI website. From there, things get weird.
ESR still hosts the Halloween documents on his own website. These are based on memos leaked from Microsoft (verified authentic) regarding their practices towards competitors. They prove that Microsoft considers Free software a competitor, that they intend to fight, thwart and if possible exploit it, and some of the overall methodology they might use to accomplish this.
“The farce of Open Source is this elaborate footwork around the idea that you can actually fight corporate hegemony without ever really talking about corporate hegemony.”Raymond’s comments were hardly sympathetic to them, though today Microsoft has very arguably done to OSI exactly what the Halloween Documents said they would do to Free Software and Open Source.
For years I’ve tried to figure out the paradox of Raymond letting Microsoft do to his own organisation exactly what he condemned them for, and I have still only come up with two possible conclusions — one is that he lied about his true feelings originally (I very much doubt this, it is also less charitable than my other guess) and the other is that he’s too proud to appreciate and admit the irony — I think this one is probably on the money.
The farce of Open Source is this elaborate footwork around the idea that you can actually fight corporate hegemony without ever really talking about corporate hegemony. Just wave your hands about “practical development methodology” and you’ll hoodwink the empire into doing the bidding of the tech world peasantry! I don’t picture Raymond rubbing his hands conspiratorially and cackling so much as I imagine him thinking he could pull this off.
“In the Open Source cult, mocking the empire they originally exposed (OSI no longer hosts the Halloween documents, instead their board of directors plays host to Microsoft themselves) is precisely the problem, and being “constructive” (pretending to not have any political qualms with Microsoft’s actions against users, while pretending you can reform them with a “better design methodology”) is the real answer.”At any rate, Open Source acts like Free Software is a “Cathedral” full of sacred cows, while Open Source is (or pretends to be) very laid back, invisible-hand-like, replacing all “wasted time” concerns about freedom with de facto freedom itself.
As it will become crucial to explain, the effect of all this dancing around truth and reality was to transform a volunteer force primed to bring freedom to users into cheap labour for an industry that exploits everyone in it — all the way to the very top of Open Source itself. Microsoft and OSI are both corporate cults, and OSI promotes an ideal that you can somehow beat the cult if you worship just the right way — turning it against itself.
While Open Source points and laughs at the sentimentality of Free Software and treats it as pompous, naive and even hateful, its worship of industry monopolies is revealed by the complete lack of a sense of humour about people mocking the empire itself. For all of Free Software’s alleged sacred cows, nothing is more sacred or hallowed to Open Source than the empire. Throw the smallest stone you can find at one of the corporations under their protection, and the “morals” and politics of OSI will be revealed not only to peons like you and me, but even to Linus Torvalds and Eric S. Raymond.
“Unfortunately, this systemic and philosophical failure is not limited to OSI, but is likely to play out in every project (as it has with too many) that caters to Open Source over Free Software.”In the Open Source cult, mocking the empire they originally exposed (OSI no longer hosts the Halloween documents, instead their board of directors plays host to Microsoft themselves) is precisely the problem, and being “constructive” (pretending to not have any political qualms with Microsoft’s actions against users, while pretending you can reform them with a “better design methodology”) is the real answer.
Unfortunately, this systemic and philosophical failure is not limited to OSI, but is likely to play out in every project (as it has with too many) that caters to Open Source over Free Software. One of these is a movement; the other is a conceit. █
Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)
Ubuntu and Fedora Project Serving Microsoft
The Ubuntu ‘community’ as well as the ‘community’ component of Red Hat (IBM) don’t view Microsoft as a rival; over a decade ago Mark Shuttleworth accused Microsoft of “extortion” and “racketeering” (his words), but now he’s paid to change his tune
(Don’t Let’s) Throw Caution to the Wind
“As it will become crucial to explain, the effect of all this dancing around truth and reality was to transform a volunteer force primed to bring freedom to users into cheap labour for an industry that exploits everyone in it — all the way to the very top of Open Source itself.”
Links 7/8/2020: Mesa 20.2 RC, Radeon Software for Linux 20.30
Links for the day
“A graphical interface is better, for some things — sometimes. But it will also put a lot more on our plates.”
IBM and the Bomb: Series Index (on 75th Anniversary of Atomic Bombs Being Dropped on Civilians)
Today seems an apt time to remind readers that IBM participated in the creation of the only bombs ever to be dropped in a war (not tests) and this tradition carries on because IBM is still profiting from it, to this very day (countless billions made by IBM during the Cold War too)
Freedom is Personal
“Before I say anything else, note that there are literally hundreds of GNU/Linux distros, and I put in a lot of work to rate which were the least encumbered by corporate politics — directly or indirectly.”
Links 7/8/2020: Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS and GNU C Library 2.32 Released
Links for the day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, August 06, 2020
IRC logs for Thursday, August 06, 2020
Our Collective Privacy is Under Unprecedented Attacks and Privacy is Now Conflated With Bad Hygiene, Not Just Criminality
At warp speed the “War on cash” or “War on anonymous transactions” is moving ahead; now that COVID-19 infects a lot of people we’re led to assume that mass surveillance saves lives not because of counter-terrorism but because of contact-tracing or whatever (in practice it’s hardly effective, but it’s conditioning people to give up any remnants of their privacy)
The Psychology of Developers
“It turns out, there are ways around a free license — you can make software “less free” or more imposing, without changing the license at all.”
Social Justice is Fine… When It is Not Just a Shallow Marketing Ploy
Don’t let well-meaning concepts such as “Social Justice” become mere buzzwords or tools of corporate propaganda (greedy people’s objectives disguised as populism)
Site Upgrades Likely Coming Soon
After more than 28,000 posts are published it might be time to move from the WordPress x.9.x LTS to something newer (5.5 is about to be released); we explain why it’s not as simple as it might first seem
Focus on the Big Issues, Not the Words
The pattern that is emerging in recent months if not years is that words hurt and therefore contributors to code must shut up about injustices, including corporate misbehaviour
Computing vs. Marketing
“The important lesson here is that Windows is NOT a computer — it is actually a horrible thing that people DO to a computer, and to themselves.”
Release: Several Police Reports About Searching the Home of Bill Gates’ Engineer (Stockpiles of Child Pornography Found Along With Illegal Firearm)
The final part of the first installment from Seattle PD, this one focusing on people who searched the home to find a lot of underage pornographic material being amassed
Video: Microsoft-Sponsored ‘Copyleft’ Conf (Keynote Sold to Microsoft, a Serial GPL Violator and Primary FUD Source) Features Previous FSF (Co)President and RMS Ouster
There’s now a video online of the debates in CopyleftConf 2020
“…the real crime (OLPC founder Nicholas Negropontes word for it) is that schools aren’t teaching computers at all — they’re doing application training.”
[Meme] RMS Succeeded by a Microsoft Sponsor
Congratulations to the FSF, which elected a president almost a year after pushing RMS (its founder) out; but questions need to be answered by the new president, who apparently sees nothing wrong reinforcing the Microsoft monopoly, participating in a PR ploy designed to distract from the notorious ICE contract, and even paying Microsoft (as if it deserves the money)
Controlling Your Computing
“We at least want our software to be free, and for a while, that was possible. We want software to be free again, so let’s talk about what made it free, what made it less free, and what could hopefully improve in the future.”
User Libre: Free Computing For Everyone, Start With Perfection
“As the threats to user freedom evolve, so too must the response to those threats. So long as freedom remains the first priority, worthwhile responses will give more power to every user, and keep limits on how much control can be imposed by developers.”
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, August 05, 2020
IRC logs for Wednesday, August 05, 2020
Release: Search Warrant and Reports on Findings When Bill Gates’ Engineer Arrested for Pedophilia
Readers can finally see all the details about what was taken (portable drives, laptop, desktop etc.) and what was found when a search was executed at the home of Bill Gates’ engineer while he was at Bill’s house (where he worked regularly); as far as we are aware, the police never searched Bill’s house and computers
Links 6/8/2020: FSF Has New Chief, LibreOffice 7.0, Linux App Summit Goes Online
Links for the day
Links 5/8/2020: Wayfire 0.5 and Plasma Browser Integration
Links for the day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, August 04, 2020
IRC logs for Tuesday, August 04, 2020
SUSE is Still Pushing Microsoft Proprietary Software and Bragging About the Novell Patent Collusion With Microsoft
SUSE seems to have learned no lessons after the aftermath of its (or Novell’s) Microsoft patent scam, which had been negotiated partly by Miguel de Icaza (now working directly for Microsoft) before causing Novell to collapse and offload its patents to Microsoft (‘TikTok operandi’ or asset stripping); the past cannot be left behind if SUSE — like Novell — celebrates and perpetuates that past
Release: 29 Pages of Internet Access Report About Pedophile Working for Bill Gates at His Home
As we’ve found nothing too sensitive in the document, today we’re finally disclosing and publishing the second release (first one published yesterday); this includes network addresses used on the devices of the engineer of Bill Gates, who had a laptop and external hard drives (portable) with plenty of child pornography (imagery and videos)
Links 4/8/2020: Kodachi 7.2, Collabora Office 6.4
Links for the day
[Meme] Nadella is Doing With Donald Trump What Ballmer Did With Elop and Icahn to Steal Other Companies (Nokia and Yahoo, Respectively)
The illegal (attempted) confiscation of a Chinese company to distract from or compensate for Microsoft’s collapse reminds us that Microsoft is only getting worse and more malicious under Nadella, who is happy to liaise with a hugely corrupt and racist regime
We Don’t Really Know How Many People Died With (or From) COVID-19 and How Many Will Die After Home Recovery or Release From Hospital
The coronavirus pandemic that began last year as an epidemic (COVID-19) is still a very serious problem, even half a year after its widespread arrival in Europe; it’s important to emphasise the importance of not down-playing this problem (which is far from solved) because social control media is full of junk