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10.23.09

Free Software Foundation Daemonised for Resisting Non-Free(dom) Software

Posted in Apple, DRM, FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Virtualisation at 12:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest in India

Summary: Open Core proponent compares the FSF to religion as means of daemonisation and Jason Perlow does this by showing a humourous photo from Linus Torvalds, then throwing in another insult at Richard Stallman

THE OTHER day we wrote about the “Open Core movement”, of which Mono seems to have become a part. James Dixon, the CTO of Pentaho, slams the “Free Software movement”, sometimes by playing the usual card which is to compare them to a “religion” [1, 2, 3]. The Open Core advocates are generally unhappy with the critical views of the SFLC.

“To resist freedom-hostile software is not an intolerant action; it is responsive and defensive…”Jason Perlow, a self-admitted opponent of the FSF’s values [1, 2], is now using a photo of Linus Torvalds (captured in Tokyo the other day) to smear the FSF. He conveniently ‘forgets’ that the FSF has nothing to do with Microsoft and it’s not a response to Microsoft, either. The GNU project was started in the early eighties.

It seems safe to say that pro-GNU/Linux people who are also strongly pro-Apple are those who basically go for “anything but Microsoft” and are therefore the real so-called "Microsoft haters", as opposed to genuine proponents of Free software. They basically view Microsoft — not proprietary software, software patents, and unethical business conduct — as the single problem. It’s like targeting a boogeyman rather than behaviour; like targeting “terrorists” rather than addressing the cause of terrorism.

If it’s a case of just wanting to eradicate Microsoft and not elimination of users’ and developers’ rights as a whole, what gives? And who would then wonder the tendency to accept DRM, TPM and TiVoisation in Linux, for example? To resist freedom-hostile software is not an intolerant action; it is responsive and defensive due to gradual erosion of control. Software used to be free before proprietary ‘zealots’ came along. And it’s getting worse all the time, surveillance-, permission-, and ownership-wise.

“FSF did some anti-Apple campaigns too. Personally I worry more about Apple because they have user loyalty; Microsoft doesn’t.”

Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC)

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8 Comments

  1. jimmyed2000 said,

    October 23, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Gravatar

    Bradley, I did not daemonize the FSF.

    I presented a logical argument that if you take an overtly ideological viewpoint of FOSS and apply it in all circumstances you limit the potential growth of FOSS.

    Serveral people commented on my post. No-one was inclined or able counter my logic.

    Speaking on behalf of the open core advocates, I am not unhappy with the critical views of the SFLC, in fact I would welcome the FSF as an ally. However, I think that your current views are counter-productive to your own goals in the long term – that you unfortunately ensure the survival of proprietary software.

    You have the right to object to my views, but it seems you are also unable to counter my logic.

    James Dixon, CTO, Pentaho

    your_friend Reply:

    This is the fanciest case of name calling I’ve seen in a while. Your argument is, “There are some circumstances where FSF ideology is not welcome.” As you do not welcome FSF ideology, your argument is correct but hardly meaningful. I do not know what an “overtly ideological viewpoint” or “potential growth” are, but all of this smells like the usual smear applied to free software advocates, “Those annoying people are harmful to free software.” It is especially funny when this argument is applied to RMS and others who basically created the concept of software freedom. You then advance to telling us that the FSF insures the survival of non free software. The exponential growth of free software is easy to demonstrate over any time period since the late 80s, mostly thanks to the efforts of organizations like FSF and GNU.

    The ideology of free software is simple, but I’m having a hard time understanding Open Core. Under what circumstances do you think it is OK to take away someone’s software freedom? Given a choice between free software and software that does the same thing but restricts your ability to share, why would you ever chose the restricted version? What specific task do you think free software will be unable to perform? As RMS once said, “You can’t get North by walking East.” It is surprising how many people try to liberate their software by embracing or otherwise promoting non free software companies.

  2. TheTruth said,

    October 24, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Gravatar

    “you cant get north by walking East”. WOW.

    I did not know we were on a flat earth !!!

    For a genius, he does come out with some rather odd comments.

  3. jimmyed2000 said,

    October 24, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Gravatar

    You are not really listening to me. I did not say that the FSF ideology is not welcome. I said that it is self-limiting in some cases. I am not attacking anyone or any group, I am pointing out a line of reasoning that I think is flawed.

    I agree that FOSS is growing. That is a good thing. Linux is a great example of that growth – but look at the Linux Foundation board – Novell, IBM, Oracle, Intel, AMD, TI, Motorola. Companies like these have helped the growth of Linux, yet these companies do not believe in the FSF ideology. It is by the inclusion of big companies that FOSS is growing, not by their exclusion.

    Open core does not take away anyone’s software freedom. If I write some software, it is my choice what I can do with it – I can delete it, forget about it, use it personally, share it with friends, use it at work. None of these choices limit anyone’s freedom. How can they? You make it sound like anything I do on my laptop automatically belongs to the world. This makes no sense to me.

    To quote Larry Wall (from your web site)
    ‘True greatness is measured by how much freedom you give to others, not by
    how much you can coerce others to do what you want.’
    — Larry Wall, March 1999, http://www.wall.org/~larry/pm.html

    Your ‘Open Core is the new Shareware’ seems to me to be an attempt to coerce companies (via threats of forking) to do what you want.

    I will repeat my argument one more time:
    The path to world domination by FOSS has to include the conversion of existing software vendors, future start-ups, and the mainstream markets over to a FOSS model. I say this because I don’t see a path to a FOSS future where all the existing vendors go out of business. Existing and new companies have to choose between proprietary, open core, or full FOSS. Unfortunately for most of those companies the full FOSS option is the least compelling from an economic perspective. If you create an anti-open core environment (by threatening pre-emptive forks) you now leave proprietary as their best option. So I believe that spreading an ideology that says 100% FOSS is the only acceptable model, and that anything which is 80% FOSS should be subverted and attacked, will likely result in the perpetuation of proprietary software. In addition stating that 5-10 person companies are the best ones for a open source business model further limits the potential adoption and creation of FOSS. You say above that if the FSF ideology is not welcome then my argument is correct but hardly meaningful. In order for world domination of FOSS an untold number of companies and people need to be educated and switched over – but most of those do not share the FSF ideology. I think that makes my argument very meaningful.

    Your RMS quote is relevant here – ‘You can’t get North by walking East’. That is true unless the direct path to the north is blocked by something, and walking east enables you to go around it. I think in this case Open Core is a way (at least in the short term) to get around the objections of the existing software companies and make faster progress towards a FOSS future.

    James Dixon, CTO, Pentaho

    your_friend Reply:

    Surrender is not progress. I am willing to accept that some people and companies will not agree to be civil and respect the software freedom of others. It would be better to ignore these anti-social groups than it would be to surrender software freedom. The most effective form of self limitation for software freedom is to deny its principles.

    No one should give up software freedom because it might be economically beneficial to a few companies. By your logic we would have to accept slavery and other crimes to promote justice. Justice will be universal if only we pervert it to a form big companies will accept. I don’t think so.

    The companies you mention are aggressors in a weak position. They have come to GNU because economic necessity. The same companies have forever demanded ownership of other people’s work. The success of GPL shows that people are tired of that kind of abuse and that sound economic models have been built around honest software. What you call “subversion” I call a free market in action. It would be a crime to give in to these companies now.

    You are free to do what you want for yourself with what you have. I will not force you to write code for me or anyone else. If your software comes without freedom, I don’t want it and I don’t need it. It is a toy at best and a malicious spy at it’s worst. Good luck competing with the huge body of available free software and its community.

  4. jimmyed2000 said,

    October 25, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Gravatar

    You continually talk about surrendering things and having things taken from you. How can you surrender something you don’t have? You talk as if the act of creating proprietary software takes something away from people. It cannot. This is nonsenses.

    The companies you say are ‘aggressors in a weak position’ are actively marketing Linus to mainstream software markets that are currently not FOSS aware or FOSS friendly. Ignoring the potential of other groups to help you reach your goals, and worse berating them, seems irrational to me.

    As I wrote before I welcome the FSF as an ally, but the ideology of the FSF seems to limit its ability to form alliances that would help it. Your statements above prove my point.

    James Dixon, CTO, Pentaho

    your_friend Reply:

    Proprietary software companies want to do what Tivo did and remove freedom from GNU software by restriction schemes and patents. The goal is to use free software without allowing real competition in their markets. That is a missappropriation of other people’s code that is anything but friendly to the FSF and the people who wrote the code.

    You use insults to dodge the issue. You advocate broad acceptance of missappropriation and charaterise opposition as “overtly ideological,” self defeating and somehow rude. If there were no conflict, the companies in question would use GPL 3 and thank the FSF for creating it. If you wish to contribute positively to this debate you would have answered my questions about which of the software freedoms you think companies should be allowed to remove and why. Good luck with that.

    I also smell hypocrisy in your demand for “world domination.” It would be silly of me to blindly back a collusion of companies to force on others a non free version of software that I use myself for freedom’s sake. Your “logical arguments” must include details of software freedom to gain the support of software freedom advocates.

  5. jimmyed2000 said,

    October 26, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Gravatar

    I’m sorry if you think I am insulting anyone, that is not my intention.

    I agree that companies should not be allowed to remove software freedoms that the creators granted. I’m not doing that, nor is open core company I know. However, I don’t think releasing proprietary software is removing a freedom – that freedom was never there to be removed – but I think that is what you are suggesting.

    You talk about companies forcing non-free software on you. No-one can force software on you. In the open-core model there is open source software that you can use if you want. You can also purchase enterprise features if you want. No-one forces anything on anyone, you just have choices. And there is no point in making the open source software crippled because there will be no adoption and no community. I keep hearing from SFS advocates that open-core companies make it so that everyone has to by the enterprise features. This is not true – the ratio of community members to customers in an open-core company is in the range of 100:1 to 10,000:1.

    My logical argument is that the SFS ideology is self-limiting because it prevents people forming alliances that help them achieve your goals. Where we differ is that I think there are non-FSF organizations (like open-core companies) that share common ground with you, you seem to think that there is no common ground. By stating your case, you are confirming my theory.

    I am interested to hear what you think the future looks like for FOSS. When the individuals, businesses, and governments of the world are all using FOSS software, what does the software market landscape look like? Are there only consulting companies? Have IBM, Oracle etc gone away? Who provides 24×7 support for large organizations? And, given this future, how do we migrate to it? What is the evolution from here to there? I have my own vision, with what I think is a realistic evolution, and I would like to hear an SFS one.

    James Dixon, CTO, Pentaho

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