I don’t think he has ever been transphobic, but I can believe the guy who made Emacs is an ableist, and no need to argue about the misogynist part

REGARDLESS, even if he was innocent of all accusations, the fact the FSF needed Stallman back is a sign they’re not actually capable of taking their own direction. Would the FSF just dissolve if he died?

Like, yeah, I can easily argue RMS doesn’t actually hate anyone or think women and children are his toys or anything like that. I can argue that just has very, very out of touch opinions.

This doesn’t matter.

First, because he’s still not a good representative of the community when defending these ideas. If you’re gonna have community leadership, it should be as inclusive as possible, and Stallman does the opposite there.

But more importantly, wouldn’t you want to grow up past him? We should have already moved on back when he called Miguel de Icaza a traitor (oh yeah, that was something), but the FSF didn’t feel like his time was out. They’re gonna stick with him as much as they can. For what? Is his ego’s presence really worth throwing out decades of the movement he created for?

The fact the FSF just can’t let him go is a terrible sign of their own strength and independence. It makes them look more like a cult than proper activism. I really can’t imagine any other reason why you would want him back other than treating him like a god and keeping around the more loyalist adepts. It’s not an idea which should have been toyed with, let alone gone through with.

And so, maybe I don’t really agree with the letter. Maybe I do. I’m not sure, I haven’t thought well enough about this, I don’t know Stallman well enough from what I’ve read. But what’s doing the FSF here is absolute nonsense. It’s not acceptable behavior.

What are people gonna think now of the free software movement? Of copyleft? Projects adopting the GPL? I don’t want to be associated with this. No one with a sense of self-respect should. What now? Will people like Ludovic Courtès have to create their own FSF from scratch?

@xerz Would we need to start a new FSF?

Can we be happy with the legal/financial infrastructure SFC provides, as well as more regional organizations? Like the NZOSS?


@alcinnz @xerz keep in mind that the NZOSS is a *Free Software* advocacy group. It adopted the name NZOSS *prior* to Microsoft and other corporate interests actively deprecating the inclusion of Free Software within Open Source. We (the NZOSS) always refer to "Free and Open Source Software" or in our missives.

@alcinnz @xerz I, in particular, revile the corporate influence on and would like to remove it. FOSS Is about communities and achieving a power balance (equity & inclusion) between developers and users. Because at the moment, users are serfs, and developers are priests. See davelane.nz/darkage

@lightweight @alcinnz @xerz At the beginning of open source it seemed like forming alliances with companies would help propel free software into the mainstream. And it did. But with hindsight, the costs outweighed the benefits. Google and Facebook were built on free software, and yet arguably they are the greatest engines of unfreedom in existence today.

I think a critical mistake is that the original open source people assumed that the personal computer paradigm would continue. They didn't foresee that one database could contain billions of users, or that future monopolies would go unopposed.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz yes, in part that's true. Also, I think that corporations mounted a concerted marketing effort to make being principled (and sticking to those principles) look like being difficult and unreasonable. They succeeded, just like they succeeded in making "open source" no longer include Free Software within it. Marketing, sadly, works (my thoughts on that - davelane.nz/marketing)

@bob @alcinnz @xerz corporations championed "expedience" over thoughtful & strategic decision making. In effect, expedience is the *lack of principle*. And it's possible to make people who hold to principle look inconvenient and even blockers if those who promote expedience play their cards right. But look at where that's got us.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz it's watered down the principles of our open communities, who now routinely eschew open tools for "easy" proprietary ones (forcing everyone wanting to be "more open" to actively choose closed to contribute). It's insidious. It's not "prefigurative". See davelane.nz/notslack if you want more insight.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz this attack on principles (and sticking to them) is a companion to the anti-intellectualism we see being cheer-led from the US - it's fomented the idiocracy of values and digital desert of righteous ignorance and lack of personal responsibility.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz sidenote: how often have you heard someone say "be practical" with regard to a tech decision. The result is *always* to pay a "low up-front fee" (but far more later) to be monopolised (exploited) by a proprietary technology that costs far more to get out of than it got to get into.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz keep in mind, all of this "culture manipulation" has been happening without most people realising it. And it's all designed to benefit the biggest tech corporations and outsourcing everything to them. And yeah, it's worked very well. And in the process, our digital existences are (just about) all effective hostages of these corporations.(davelane.nz/mshostage)

@lightweight @bob @alcinnz @xerz I don't think culture got manipulated. The culture of free software is pretty much the same as it was in the 1990s, and it could be contended that this is a significant chunk of the problem. As situations on the ground changed we did not adapt well enough.

The corps just did what they always do. Corporations always want monopoly. They seek to drive out and externalize costs. We were too focussed on Microsoft and did not see the other stalking horses. In the last decade the corps have done a stunningly thorough job of capturing the few governance organizations of the internet, and we pretty much let them do it.

To become better I think we need a more critical analysis of what happened in free software in the last couple of decades.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz yup. I'd be keen to have a chat (offline) with you 3 (I have a bigbluebutton that'd be perfect for the task, and prefigurative besides). Because I'd love to see us all pulling together rather than falling apart.

@alcinnz @lightweight same thing! I’m paying attention to the conversation btw, just a lot to digest as of now

@be @bob @alcinnz @xerz ok - I have an urgent task for work but will post a link when I'm done. Shouldn't be long.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz and by the way, Microsoft is still one of the 5 biggest threats. They're no friend, that's for sure.

@bob @lightweight @alcinnz @xerz I think a critical part of that "more critical analysis" is critiquing the American libertarian ideology of the idolized Great Men.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz I think the major problems we face today are:
1. few of our new adherents know the history of what's come before. That's on use old timers to a point... but also on them to do some research.
2. we need to avoid making the mistake (again) of thinking that corporations can be real allies. They cannot and will not be - they re are in a structurally mandated race to the ethical bottom. They must be rejected by the FOSS community. (Here's why: davelane.nz/megacorps )

@bob @alcinnz @xerz the only people really benefiting from the self-destruction of the Free Software community are those who run proprietary software corporations, who already have more money & influence than most countries, and just want to be able to exploit (for their own inequitable proprietary gain) all the substantial fruits of our community's labour, just like they do all of the weakly licensed (mere) OSS out there.

@bob @alcinnz @xerz a reflective person might ponder whether those proprietary forces might've helped this internal schism along somehow... and I suspect, if they investigated, they'd find quite a lot of evidence.

@lightweight @bob @alcinnz @xerz Free software was always a political project. Which is why I laughed when recently some people tried to claim that it wasn't. Also similarly that 2600 should "stop being political". My guess is that Google and friends never liked their enterprise being underpinned by such a project, but they had to put up with it because their economics would have fallen apart otherwise.

What the "stop being political" means is that the situation of some people was once hegemonic, but is now no longer so. What it means to be free in the era of the desktop computer and small academic communities closely tied to the military/industrial complex is not the same as what it means to be free in the era of Facebook monopoly. We also now have a better understanding of the history of computing as a sociological phenomena, and the results of such analysis are inherently radicalising (in a good way). The traditional narratives of free software haven't really kept up with this, and couldn't because of who its "great men" were. Their standpoint was one in which - among other things - overlooking sexism was considered normal.

@bob @lightweight @alcinnz @xerz

I think this is the result of the echolalic fixation on the gpl

the community missed the political aspects of tech choices

@abbienormal @bob @lightweight @xerz Yeah, viewed through the frame of licensing we have *mostly* won the battle! But that doesn't mean everyone has the four freedoms over their software.

SaaSS is quite a handy loophole...

@alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @lightweight @xerz

I'll disagree a bit. I think one political problem has been the emphasis on individual users and not much emphasis on tech by and for communities that can support and defend themselves.

@bhaugen @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz I'm intrigued to know what that would look like... (if not based around Copyleft and the 4 freedoms)

@lightweight @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz

Consider a multi-stakeholder cooperative including organizations that use the software to make money, some of which they funnel back into the cooperative.

Code could use AGPL or one of Kyle Mitchell's collaboration licenses writing.kemitchell.com/series/ which are also a lot like a nondominium agreement nondominium.co.uk/how-we-work/

The basic thing is it's free if you are a member of the cooperative. If not, you pay.

@lightweight @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz

Could be some other form of organization, that's just an example.

@bhaugen @lightweight @abbienormal @bob @xerz Doesn't sound like anything the FSF's advocating against (caveats), more like what the wider community often (wrongfully, in my opinion) opposes.

@bhaugen @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz seems to me that is still characterised by the major downside of proprietary software: a massive implicit power imbalance between a small group and everyone else which would still make it prone to large scale exploitative (unethical) behaviour. See davelane.nz/proprietary

@lightweight @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz

Join the cooperative? Could also use AGPL if that helps with your concerns. I don't care.

But I am after a really cooperative organization that practices design for justice, so don't assume exploitation...

@lightweight @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz

But the nondominium style agreements might give some power to the cooperative vs eg GAFAM...

@lightweight @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz

Nondominium is not subjective. You are part of the agreement/cooperative or not.

@bhaugen @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz but then you need to police membership - and for an organisation, how do you define membership for individuals? For example - if someone volunteering for a member organisation wants to use it from home... how do they determine their membership (or not) status? Sorry - I'll have to read the nondominium info :)

@bhaugen @alcinnz @abbienormal @bob @xerz the beauty of Copyleft is that it's a very clear set of principles, in a remarkably concise license. It's non-discriminatory. I think many people forget how much thought went into the original concept... a lot of ideas were considered and then dismissed as unworkable... sort of like all the "ethical" software licenses now (re)emerging... which are (so far as I've seen) unworkable because they're based on inherently subjective concepts of what is ethical.

@ray @xerz @abbienormal @alcinnz @bhaugen there're lots, and depending on who wrote them, most are quite slanted... Start at copyleft.org

@abbienormal @lightweight @alcinnz @bhaugen @xerz Gotcha. Am particularly interested in comparisons with other forms like Unlicense. It’s easy to search for em, but would like to read those folks consider authoritative. Thanks for the pointer.
@bhaugen @lightweight @alcinnz @abbienormal @xerz I wrote about supporting yourself with FLOSS breifly as part of my user domestication article: https://seirdy.one/2021/01/27/whatsapp-and-the-domestication-of-users.html#making-money-with-floss

> The key to making money with FLOSS is to make software a commoditized complement of other, more profitable services. Examples of such services include selling support, customization, consulting, training, managed hosting, hardware, and certifications. Plenty of companies use this approach instead of building proprietary software: Red Hat, Collabora, System76, Purism, Canonical, SUSE, Hashicorp, Databricks, and Gradle are some names that come to mind.

> Managed hosting isn’t a basket worth all your eggs if giants like AWS can do the same at a lower price. Being the developer can give an edge in areas like customization, support, and training; it doesn’t offer as obvious an advantage when it comes to hosting.

Drew Devault also wrote a bit on doing this, from personal experience: https://drewdevault.com/2021/03/03/To-make-money-in-FOSS-build-a-business.html

I think that licenses like the ones you linked kinda miss the point. Software itself shouldn't be the thing that brings home the bacon; it's the service of making it and the services that use it that should do so. That's the world that the GNU AGPL is perfect for.

Excellent article, and I agree that the software is not the point.

Building a business to make money from software services is one tried-and-true avenue, but I'm not a businessperson.

I'm imagining a different avenue for supporting the devs and defending the software. But maybe it's just imaginary...

I wonder how the recent "platform cooperatives" manage their software development.

@ntnsndr can you enlighten me a bit?

@xerz @abbienormal @alcinnz @lightweight

Do any of them support a dev team?
Or even better with some collaboration between platform co-ops because I bet there's a bunch of common functions...

@Seirdy @xerz @abbienormal @alcinnz @lightweight

@bhaugen @Seirdy @xerz @abbienormal @alcinnz @lightweight

In my experience tech services worker coops have common functions, but the growing platform coops are still rare and diverse enough that they don't have many common needs.

Thanks for the responses.

Any of the new platform coops that include their tech workers as members?

( fifthseasoncoop.com was the first sorta "platform co-op" that I worked for and they included all of their workers as members. But they stopped having tech workers and signed on to their distributor's computer systems. Good choice for them, but shortcut a learning experience.)

@Seirdy @xerz @abbienormal @alcinnz @lightweight

@ntnsndr @bhaugen @Seirdy @xerz @abbienormal @alcinnz @lightweight Successful software projects tend to start with 1-2 full time developers (or part time but committed, consistent, and reliable) developers who can get things to the point where a community grows around it and the community is able to contribute meaningfully.

@ntnsndr @bhaugen @Seirdy @xerz @abbienormal @alcinnz @lightweight Bootstrapping co-ops is a whole other animal. The vast majority fail pretty early because there's no structure that can make up for a lack of leadership.

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@alcinnz @bob @lightweight @xerz

I was thinking aout something else

You know, the Guix people (the only free software project I got a bit close to) stress the point of the practicality of freedom

The take Emacs as an example and they set the target, for themselves, to extend what happened to Emacs and its community and software library to the whole operating system

I feel that another axis is currently disregarded


@alcinnz @bob @lightweight @xerz

The one of usability by end users

What Apple marketing used to call "user friendliness"

or "The Computer for the rest of us"

I still feel tha that's an afterthought in many free software projects, starting with Guile and Guix

The whole Posix model was set by the industry for its own needs


@alcinnz @bob @lightweight @xerz

The BeOs database file system would have made the development of a mail client way easier

We consider Thunderbird as a success but is it ?

It's a monstruos project

does a project need to be that big in order to be sustainable ?

How replicable is it ?

he community embraced the idea of bigness of the industry

Or the Lisp machines, with their lack of processes an dinterprocess communication, with the Lisp exceptions system


@alcinnz @bob @lightweight @xerz

I mean there were a lot of options and alternatives that would have made the computing less hostile to the generality of the public but the industry manouvred to kill them and the free software community played along, to some extent, in some way

For lack of awarness and for complacency

I know this sounds harsh, I'm sorry

@abbienormal To this I can just say: You're talking, in part, to an elementary OS user who objects to the bigness of web browsers. I strongly agree!

@bob @lightweight @xerz

@abbienormal @alcinnz @lightweight @xerz I'd respond that using a maildir and sendmail-compatible program for email makes a mail user-agent way easier, since it just has to read+pipe email files and delegate everything else externally a la the UNIX philosophy. The non-technical user doesn't need to be exposed to these inner workings.

@Seirdy @xerz @alcinnz @lightweight

I'm not sure it's that simple

why doesn't an effective mail client like that exist ?

I think there's something more

But I'm not sure, admittedly

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