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“Open Source is Dead. Long Live Free Software”

Posted in Deception, FSF, FUD, GNU/Linux, Ubuntu at 8:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Matt Asay banner

Summary: Response to the usual anti-Richard Stallman crowd and their latest incitement against Free software (and to a lesser degree Ubuntu)

THE headline is a response to Matt Asay’s latest “Free software is dead” wishful thinking. He is one of those opportunists who believe that they can simply relabel GPL-licensed software “open source” and then magically declare the FSF “irrelevant” and Free software “dead”. It doesn’t work that way.

“Truth be told, Asay has disliked Richard Stallman all along.”Richard Stallman does not shy away from politics and this comes at a cost. Truth be told, Asay has disliked Richard Stallman all along. This fact has been raised here many times before. Like with the Shuttleworth incident, Stallman has been smeared again recently. Free software supporters should not be dismayed, however, because these latest smears against Stallman typically come from pro-Big Business writers (e.g. Apple users/advocates) and also people of the Big Press. They look for triggers to justify their disdain and then make convenient excuses for an outburst du jour.

Speaking from experience, I have not found a single person who agreed with the FSF before those ‘incidents’ and changed his/her mind. I have seen about a dozen criticisms of Stallman's remark and none surprised me. The shrewder complainers ‘sell’ the illusion that things suddenly changed; but it could not be further from the truth. In the case of Tux Machines, for example, the Shuttleworth/Ubuntu unrest was nothing new. The editor expressed similar sentiments several times before.

One reader of ours writes: “I think the renewed sexism attack should be counted as an attack on rivals last week. It was dirty and indirect but it was an attack.”

On he goes saying in reply to Wallclimber that “the best way to diffuse that is to look at the context and diffuse the lie.” She said that “what’s bad about these recent attacks is that they know exactly what buttons to push to get people worked up… I think everyone’s nerves are a little on edge lately.”

“Today many people are switching to free software for purely practical reasons. That is good, as far as it goes, but that isn’t all we need to do! Attracting users to free software is not the whole job, just the first step.”

Richard Stallman

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  1. Charles Oliver said,

    September 28, 2009 at 10:57 am


    I have to agree, this current sexism crap directed at Stallman and Shuttleworth is a brick bat for people who wanted one. It’s nothing to do with reality and it certainly wouldn’t stop me from using Ubuntu or donating to the FSF. Has it changed my mind about RMS? Nope. I still think he looks like a loon but has insight that is ahead of the curve. Has it changed my mind about Shuttleworth? Not a jot.

    Why? Because I’ve heard the emacs virgin joke direct from the horses mouth and I’ve read the Shuttleworth comments, hopefully in context. Frankly, when your arguments fail, you go for ad hominem attacks. All this proves are that arguments are failing.

    One of the advantages of free software is a great deal is done remotely. It doesn’t matter what’s between your legs, it matters what’s between your ears.

    I thought Jo Shields was a girl for a while (especially with that name). [[Thanks for the link to mono-nono btw, it's nice to come across a place where Jo Shields posts really sensible and not the kind of stuff I've read on the Ubuntu forums etc.]]. I wasn’t sure about Havoc Pennington (what kind of name is that anyway). Most of the time I don’t notice the sex of the developer of the software I use unless I send a patch. The fact that there are few women in Free Software probably has more than a little to do with the lack of women in engineering degrees but of all the places, Free Software is probably the best place for anyone to get into. The entry requirement is … well there isn’t one: write something good and people will use it.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 28, 2009 at 11:14 am


    According to this thesis, the male/female ratio in computer science is high, but how much it varies specifically in FS would be interesting.

    Today women are more likely to attend and equally likely to
    graduate from college as men. In 1999 women accounted for over half of
    undergraduate enrollment (56 percent) and graduate enrollment (53 percent) at American educational institutions (National Science Foundation, 2000). Yet, female undergraduate enrollment in computer [...] Furthermore, science (and mathematics and engineering) remains low. not only has the percentage of women in undergraduate computer science not increased in recent times, over the past two decades that percentage has been decreasing. In 1984 women accounted for 37 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer science; by 1996, that figure had dropped to 25 percent (National Science Foundation, 2000). Additionally, those undergraduate women who have enrolled in computer science have left the major at a higher rate than their male counterparts (Cohoon, 2001). Additionally, women still account for less than 25 percent of computer science graduate degrees, despite a dramatic overall increase in the percentage of women graduate students (National Science Foundation, 2000).
    Pearl, et al. (1990) elucidate why these systematically low numbers of women in computer science constitute a problem…”

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