IN 1983 the Free software movement began to free users from the chains of propitiatory software. At that time nobody gave or ascribed much importance to it. Companies and developers thought it was some Utopian idea and one that’s never going to fulfill its goals. So none cared about ‘the ethics’ at that time. Only the leader, Richard Stallman, was there. Later on lots of people got motivated by Stallman’s reason, commitment, and with their own political values they joined the movement. To everyone’s surprise, against the odds, a fully functional and complete “freedom software” stack appeared in the early 1990s.
Attack from inside
As usual, for-profit entities realised its value and jumped onto new opportunities. But they didn’t like the idea of users’ freedom. They only wanted their own profit. So they created a decoy for this great movement, mostly as a distraction. It was called the Open Source movement. Stallman called them freedom subtracted software. (Actually he is wrong. We should not relate to OSS with respect to Free software.)
They joined in with the Free software movement and started collaborating with Free software activists. New collaborations of this kind may be called Free and Open Source software (FOSS). Since they had support from businesses, further development became faster and more people joined the movement. They also had support from the media and re-branded the entire Free software movement to their name.
Because of these tricks Free software politics vanished from the public discourse and even Free software activists don’t like to talk about Free software politics. This happened not as a natural thing. It was created for the corporations by this apolitical Trojan horse called OSS.
There is no conspiracy. It is the way the system works.
If you look at human history, you can see lots of similar ideas, movements, intellectuals who are affected by the power of the ruling class like this. A very good example is democracy. 60 years ago people died to get elections or to earn voting rights. But now, who cares enough to go out and vote? What is the voting percentage in the US? Even if they go, will they get a chance to vote? Whether their votes actually get counted is another issue.
Think about the media. It has a very important role in society. But now, what does it do? It’s just a stenographer for the ruling class.
OSS, FOSS are diluted propitiatory software
You can either be with Free software or with propitiatory software. This is clear. No confusion. But when an amorphous group appears this gets messy. Messy for the Free software movement. Because the propitiatory for-profit software idea is clear; they have money, media and political power.
The idea of Free software is new and complicated for the ordinary person. So this diluted Free software group is actually an attack on Free software itself. Their vicious attack had grown into such a level that they forced the founder out of the movement.
But a lot of Free software activists are working with this so-called FOSS without knowing the damage it is causing to the Free software movement. Please consider OSS as on the propitiatory software side. If they produce anything which is compatible with the GPL, then they take it and leave everything else behind. Never saying the words OSS or FOSS…
The purpose of Open Source is to move the frame away from users’ freedom and destroy the Free software movement. OSS, FOSS and all other kinds of these PR phrases work similarly; they are the same. So why are you still saying FOSS? Please end that relationship.
We have to understand that anything other than Free software is propitiatory software. There is no middle ground. There is no friendship. There is no cooperation. Just take whatever is under GPL from wherever possible. That’s all.
Be with users’ freedom
You can’t keep your legs in 2 different boats. You have to choose. There is nothing wrong about being with propitiatory software. If you want to make a profit, then do it that way. No problem. With Free software, if you cannot find a way to make a living, then join a proprietary company. Then, in your free time, contribute to Free software. Nothing wrong with that. That is far better than the OSS kind of half ethics. Half ethics end up with no ethics. You have to be either a person supporting users’ freedom or you’re with for-profits. (Remember you are not going to end capitalism with few lines of code. Profit is a reality. And these companies are not evil. The system is evil.)
Note: For this to happen you have to be economically independent as I mentioned in the post. Its not a FS movement issue. All the social movements have this problem. : 2019-10-05 Do not make free software as your source of income, it will make you weak, politically
Written by: Jagadees.S
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2 thoughts on “OSS, FOSS are diluted propitiatory software”
finally a place to address some of jagadees points.
i admire jagadees, and i appreciate his writing. all the same, there are some things he says which has nothing to do with free software. and some of those points actually confuse points of his own with points that free software makes. a few of these misunderstandings are worth addressing:
>> none cared about ‘the ethics’ at that time. Only the leader, Richard Stallman, was there. Later on lots of people got motivated by Stallman’s reason, commitment, and with their own political values they joined the movement. To everyone’s surprise, against the odds, a fully functional and complete “freedom software” stack appeared in the early 1990s.
i dont think this is true.
ive put together a careful timeline of free software events, and no software stack “appeared in the 1990s.” it was gradually developed over time, with the interest of a growing number of people.
what happened in the early 90s was that the gnu project was reaching a point where it was ready to tackle the kernel. hurd development began in 1990– http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Free_Software_timeline#1990
until that time, free software had focused on replacing the rest of the operating system, saving the kernel for later. of course in 1991, development of linux was announced. and on december 13, 1992, the first free-software-licensed version of the linux kernel (0.99) was released.
this certainly brought the gnu project more into the mainstream, though the free software movement already existed.
>> They [open source] also had support from the media and re-branded the entire Free software movement to their name.
true enough, yes.
>> The purpose of Open Source is to move the frame away from users’ freedom and destroy the Free software movement.
it seems to be something like that.
>> Just take whatever is under GPL from wherever possible. That’s all.
you may not realise how many projects are under permissive free software licenses. for example, the internet runs on gnu/linux and bsd, and bsd contributes several key packages to the free software movement.
openssl for example, and the fork, libressl.
these are free software packages, and theyre valuable to the free software movement.
i can appreciate the call for being less beholden to open source, but bsd at least existed prior to the term “open source” being coined by christine peterson. bsd existed prior to the gnu project forming or the fsf being founded.
so this instruction you offer from history is relevant, but it helps even more if we get the history right.
>> You can’t keep your legs in 2 different boats. You have to choose. There is nothing wrong about being with propitiatory software. If you want to make a profit, then do it that way.
this in particular, i have to argue with. it goes against two things stallman has said:
1. stallman has never had a problem with for-profit, as long as it is free software.
2. stallman has long has a problem with proprietary (non-free) software, regardless of whether its commercial or for profit.
so your lesson that we have to choose between these things, and that there is “nothing wrong with proprietary software” for making a profit, that is not what stallman teaches. but beyond that, i dont agree with what you say there either.
>> Half ethics end up with no ethics.
sure, but ethics are a philosophical discussion about what is and isnt ethical. ethics are not always simple and moralistic, either/or propisitions. sometimes they are very clear, but always we can have a discussion about what is reasonable.
being strict wont help much if we dont understand what we are being strict about or why.
>> Do not make free software as your source of income, it will make you weak, politically
that is a fair warning, but it isnt always true.
1. there is nobody in this world who has purposeful intention to free users from the chain of software before 1983. if its wrong please give proofs.
of course there are hackers who shared softwares. which actually gave the breading ground for the idea of software as a sell-able product in the economy. stallman indirectly tried to end that.
2. in 1980s itself first free software enacs was there. What I meant by “a fully functional and complete “freedom software” stack ” software that can run a computer. It was only came into existence by early 1990s. It doesnt mean that a big bang happened in 1990. of course its a progressive development from the first emacs. thats implied.
3. with GPL what I meant was the copyleft idea. Exactly the 4 freedoms. Anything compatible to its always welcome.
4. “bsd existed prior to the gnu project forming or the fsf being founded.” Does they have purposeful intention to free the users? If yes, then Stallman stole that idea from them. If so we can throw away Stallman right now. I am with bsd. We have to give credit to bsd to freeing users. Stallman made a mess and unnecessarily we wasted lot of time and energy.
5. I have disagreements with Stallman. He has his reasons. That is perfectly correct as a person at his position. He should stick with that. But I have different views.
Stallman accepts making profit if its free software jobs. But I have problem with making profit. But the current system is based on that. So in one shot I cant end the system. So do what ever work you like which is legal and make profit. And spread awareness of the politics you believe. Make sure that the profit and money will not corrupts you. Always check whether you are honest with your politics. If not quit job and find another job. In this I dont care what kind of work or organization it is. Its all about for unadulterated political beliefs. It is the brain.
[I am not english speaker. Please read these constructively.]
I dont have any problem with proprietary software. This is a free world. If there are people ready to be in chain what we have to do. All we can do is tell the truth. For that we need political courage. That is lost. So eventually we will reach in the proprietary system. but we will not realize it, because we lost the politics of it. or we may making revolutions in tea cup.
Its ok to have disagreements.
6. free software is not about ethics. I wrote another post about that –
so I dont care about ethics of free software. But those people in FSF who live in shallow sectarian ethical bubble I wrote that.
7. if you are not economically independent then your bosses can impose their political views on you. I am seeing it just in this Stallman’s firing issue. I talked with lot of people in my place. But none interested to talk about it. One person accepted its wrong, but warned me to not to share his words publicly. So economical independence is very important. I meant that only.