Free Software is About Software Ownership

“Free software” is a confusing name/term. The “free” here means freedom. So it is freedom software. But to exercise freedom you need something more. What is that? You have to own the software. Therefore, free software is about ownership of software.

All software is free software for its owners

Take any software. Who owns that software? User, seller, developer, lawyer or whoever it is, if they have the ownership of some software, then that software is a free software for him/her/them. Majority of software/programs used nowadays are owned by software companies. So we can say majority of software/programs are free software for those companies.

Private software

These companies can sell software, modify software, share, or ‘open’ their software. They can have or exercise full rights over it. Others — including users — have limited ownership; only things which are allowed by the owner/company. In other words, these software programs are privately-owned software. So let’s call them private software.

Problems with private software

There are lots of issues with private software. As a user, you can only run the software if you’ve paid the license fee. You cannot use it in a different way from what they they allowed (for example, a 10-user licensed software cannot be used by 11 users). You cannot give it to a friend. You cannot modify anything in there. You cannot know what the software does behind the scenes. The list goes on.

Public software

Because of all these issues, in 1983 a person named Richard Stallman began a movement. Its aim was to give full control, full rights and full ownership of software to the person who uses it. That was the Free Software Movement. At that time it was an Utopian idea. Nobody cared for it. But because of his and his group’s persistence and commitment they could made it a reality. So software got public ownership. That is Free software. Let us call it public software.

Impact of public software

What will happen if the public gains ownership of software? Then, no private person can control software.

– Cannot sell copies of software.
– Companies can charge a price for software (maximum) only one time.

In effect, companies will lose control and profit. Will they accept that?

No way. Anything that that is publicly owned will cause reduction in profits of companies. Look around and learn about the idea of public education, public health care, public housing, public utilities etc. So, they will find ways to destroy the idea of public ownership. If anything publicly owned is still existing, they will make it corrupt and finally dismantle it, because people don’t understand their value when they exist and they are always distracted.

They know that if you attack anything directly, that will always strengthen that. Understand please, they have 10,000 years of history in ruling humankind. So to attack public software they’ve created decoys. Then they attribute some ideas of public software to those decoys and they’ve slanted the game.

For all these games there’s no need for any secret conspiracy or anything like that. The system is self-sustaining. So it will work automatically. Whatever we do in this system, it only strengthen the system unless we’re consciously and purposefully doing something against it. Still, that also not 100% effective.

So instead of dealing with public software, i.e. Free software, they are playing with decoys. There are lots them now. Open Source (OSS), FOSS etc. are among the notable examples.

What do OSS and FOSS do?

They imitate the Free Software Movement. They turned the idea of public ownership of software upside down by ignoring the user or removing the user from the picture. They marked users as dumb and passive actors. (They appear only when talking about their dumbness, which means “user friendliness”.[joke]) Now, who is in the picture? It’s the software providers. Who are they? Programmers and mostly companies.

They hide companies as next twist. They put the spotlight on a poor, intelligent, isolated, expert programmer who is trying to save the world from some “xyz”. With these two twists they completely changed the narrative.

Then again, they introduced another twist. That is changing the objective. Instead of user’s ownership they use “Opening” of source code. Does software closed in some container? What you mean by open? What a stupid idea. Source code is always open. Problem is whether you have rights or not. They are just fooling all the people, who should get full ownership of software in the first place.

By hiding the user they removed the politics of ownership and rights of users. By hiding the companies as the main actors, they concealed the profit motives and vested interests of companies. By hiding the objective of free software, they reduced it to nothing. Now there is nothing left in free software. What a perfect decoy!

From 1998 onwards they not only started but exacerbated this. Since companies are backing them they have had huge funds, they could literally buy all media, pundits and of course the developers. Now all these developers are doing Gig 2.0, which means unpaid voluntary work for companies, dreaming that their code is saving the planet (which actually is destroyed it by the same masters themselves). Media is flooded with their narcissistic “success” stories. These high-end organised works may have completely destroyed the Free Software Movement within its founder’s lifetime.

First-generation Free software activists retired. Second-generation Free software activists are in the OSS/FOSS trap. Third-generation Free software activists actually don’t know what Free software is. These people think that the OSS/FOSS things are the movement. The bad things these companies are doing stomped/stepped on the movement, too. They fired the founder from his own organisation. But there is a complete silence from these kids. They are busy writing gratis code for the masters. This is the situation now.

Wake up, Free software friends

This is nothing new. Think about the Great Depression. People suffered a lot. They politically organised and forced the person in charge to implement their demands. The New Deal era began. Then what happened to it? Gradually it got destroyed, causing another great depression in 2008. So, if we loosen our attention a little bit, they will turn things upside down in their own favor. Same thing has happened to the Free Software Movement, too.

Software freedom is like democracy. Initially it was just ‘there’, albeit only for white land-owning men. There were other people and they protested to get representation. With a long struggle — one by one — new groups got chances in democracy.

Like the above, nowadays software is only free for the private owners. We cannot let this current status quo continue. We have to fight to get the ownership and rights. We have to end this rebranding of Free software by OSS/FOSS kind of ‘corporate pimps’. So let’s work for a strong software freedom movement that empowers users as well as developers.

Long live the GPL.

Note: This is part of the software freedom series. To see all posts please go to FSM category.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

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Your Code Will be Counted in a One Dollar-One Vote World

Around 300 years back human society moved or transitioned into a new order. It’s nowadays called democracy. Therein, elected representatives shall rule the country instead of kings. Seems like a good idea. But there is one problem. To elect a leader you have to cast a vote. Only land-owning white men got right to vote. After a long struggle all the people got the right to vote. We got democracy.

But somebody said this democracy is a system by which to protect the minority from the majority. That’s good, right? You’d think so. But who are the “minority” and who are the “majority”? Usually they lie to you. So you may get the wrong image in your mind. The real minority is the rich people… and the real majority is the poor people.

What will happen if all the people get a right to vote? The poor will win. Have you ever seen that anywhere in the world? Sometimes, somewhere, for a short period of time. Then things will turn upside down.

How do they do that?

There are lots of ways for this thing to happen. Here I am looking at one particular tactic which is interesting to me. That is “One dollar-one vote.”

As per democracy, the rule is “one person-one vote.” That will not give the ‘desired’ results (for the rich). So they use their ‘money power’ to buy democracy. That tactic is called “one dollar-one vote.” There are rules that stop the amount of money spent on elections. But with Citizens United all control is gone and corporates are given First Amendment protections. (But Stallman will not get it.)

In the 2016 US election, the richest 0.01% of Americans – 24,949 very wealthy people – gave a record-breaking 40 percent of all campaign contributions. Corporates gave $3.4 billion dollars in contributions. Whoever got most of the money got a more successful campaign, silenced all opponents, and won the election. So the dollar is counted in elections. One dollar, one vote.

Censoring free speech with code

People should get freedom of speech. But in the Free software movement, since 1998, you get some people showing this “one dollar-one vote” mindset. Here, they’re kind of saying, “one line of code, one word.” Meaning — if you write one line of code for a future corporate takeover, then you can say one word. The more LOCs you have, the more you can talk. “Show me your code” — what a barbarian Citizens United thought it is. It is nothing but pure censorship. Shame on you. In modern societies people must have/get rights of speech.

The Free software movement is a user’s rights movement

It is a political movement started by Richard Stallman in 1983 to free all computer users from the chains of software. It does not care how you’ve developed the software. It cares only about whether the user owns the software or not. That is the main question. Of course it creates problems and causes damage to corporate greed.

Its survival depends on how much free speech (about its politics) can happen. And it is clear that those who are trying to suppress that free speech have vested interests like Citizens United.

That is wrong. Ignore them. So people without code, please speak up for the movement loudly.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

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The Free Software Movement Should Come Out From the Box

Majority of the software freedom activists are software developers. When Richard Stallman began this movement back in 1983 there were no working free software systems. So the movement was in dire need for software developers — to build the system. Developers who were getting motivated by Stallman joined the movement and developed tens of thousands of Free software programs. They continued with the movement. So most of the people in the movement were developers.

Not a developers’ movement

These developers focused more on the engineering side of Free software programs. Actually, the movement was really political. It’s about users’ rights. But most of the developers still never get it, especially the newly-joined ones (after 1998). To them, users’ rights are secondary, or they may not be aware of those rights at all. They see Free software as a charity — something to be gifted from/by them.

Because of that, those ‘diluted’ propitiatory groups — groups such as OSS, FOSS etc (1) with lots of money from corporates — could re-brand, hijack and even forced the founder of the movement to resign without the real beneficiaries knowing what was happening. (2)

Users are in the dark

The real beneficiaries of a Free software program are its users. There are millions of people on this planet using Free software daily. But they don’t know anything about software freedom and why they got this software for free. They are not aware of their rights. It’s just like slaves in the old world’s slavery.

So those who are really committed to software freedom must change their perspective. From now onwards we have to think from a user’s rights perspective and mobilise users of Free software. They should know what rights they ought to get.

Avoid traps that distract

When some crime happens various people will shout, “we need stronger laws so that nobody will repeat the crime.” Then politicians spend lots of energy and time to make changes in laws and systems. But the same crimes will be repeated after some time.

Why is this happening? This is because we are not analysing these issues deeply. Superficial changes may look good, but such an exercise is useless.

1. No new laws are required

The recent events in the Free software community make people think that there is something wrong with the community. That is correct. But it not because of inadequacies in the laws of software freedom. The laws of software freedom are already there. So no need for new laws or regulations. We don’t have to consider the developers at all. If there is a demand for GPLed software, you will get many developers to work on it. GPL is ultimate. No need of amendments.

We want everybody to follow the GPL licence. Of course it’s an ideal case. So, just have a think and make some adjustments for specific cases. But never spend more time and focus on finding exceptions. Any exception we add is an anti-Free software clause. So exceptions should be verbal.

2. Transforming users into developers will not help

Let’s say there is something wrong with a door. You have to fix it. For that you don’t have to buy all the pertinent tools and learn carpentry. All you have to do is just call a carpenter. He will fix it.

It is the human way of doing things. We are extremely social animals. We divide work to get maximum efficiency. Other animals do things by themselves with instincts. Because doing your carpentry work by yourself is costly and risky you may not try going for that. Everybody knows that.

But programing is a ‘cheap’ activity. It does not cost you much. Also, it’s an interesting kind of work; it’s fun too. So people may get exited about seeing their first “Hello World” program displayed on a screen. But actually it’s a rabbit hole.

Let’s say you are an accountant. You go to work for 8 hours, you can use the rest of the time as you like. Then you get a copy of an accounting Free software program with minimal features. Since it is a Free software program you will be having its source code and all the rights. Then, in your free time you start to learn programing, start fixing bugs, then adding features etc. You spend a huge amount of time on it. Soon you will become an expert programmer. You may get lots of appreciation. You will become “famous”.

Now, one day some company sees potential in this software and wants to buy it. You may even get more exited. Such and such big company is having discussions with you, and finally they give a huge amount of money. You and the team accept that. All are happy.

Do you think it is right? Most of the people out there think that it’s right. For your contribution you got enough money. To live, software developers need money.

Privatisation of Free software

Tens of thousands of people are working in Free software development as volunteers. All new software developments are built on top of older knowledge base or software. So how can your team sell your software to a propitiatory software company? Looks like capitalism has found free labour.

Till now capitalists have considered natural resources, slave labourers etc as free gifts of nature. Now they have a new item in that list. That is Free software developed by apolitical programmers. It is privatisation of Free software. It is unethical. It is wrong. But it is profitable for propitiatory software companies.

Why is this happening? Because the Free software activists don’t have strong political beliefs in what they are doing. They are alienated. They don’t see the real importance of their work. If you are not careful, then the programming, the fetish about your own software etc makes you apolitical and alienated.

I can get tens of thousands of software developers, but hardly can I get even a few dozens of Free software activists with strong Free software politics. So we should not spend time and energy to teach people programming. Its not the job of Free software activists.

Similarly, users need not fix or develop the software by themselves. They can hire a developer to fix it for them and for the whole world.

Politics is the most important thing

Whereas politics of the Free software movement is most important, it’s “boring” as per popular culture. That itself is the evidence that it is important. So we all have to spend more time and effort on that part. Even after 35 years many people and media attribute to Stallman a movement which is opposite to his. What a shameful situation. It is our failure. That happens because of lacking political teachings. That forced him to resign — because of a stupid smear campaign.

This should not have happened. We have to work hard to make the political side of Free software more mainstream.

The real political movement

You may have seen lots of protests by the environmentalists in front of fossil fuel companies. You may have seen healthcare activists protesting against drug companies and hospital lobbyists. They are not building their own ethical energy companies or ethical drug companies or teaching people how to make drugs. They are politically acting for the system to change. That is the human way to do things.

Similarly, our problem is also political. Politically it has to be fixed. The Free software programs developed till now are a demonstration of that. Stallman was showing that it is possible to develop software for the community. Now we need the real political movement. Think about a situation like hundreds of people protesting in front of a propitiatory software company and demanding Free software. We have to achieve that. Sure, it is a ambitious plan. But it is possible. Even users knowing about their rights would itself be a revolutionary thing. So let’s work for a strong Free software users community.

Note: I am not against users learning programming. There may be lot of Free software users who became good programmers. But I see only very few people in this world being attacked for talking about politics of software!
____
1. https://neritam.wordpress.com/2019/11/21/oss-foss-are-diluted-propitiatory-software/
2. https://danielpocock.com/what-does-fsf-censor/, https://debian.community/google-money-censorship-free-software/


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

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Linux is junk, but GPL is for ever

Once in a while people used to say that the lovely programs they used becomes obsolete. Then talk about its nostalgia.

What will be the status of linux kernel after 100 years? Lets say 50 years? Will it be there supporting the new technologies of that time? I don’t think so.

Linux like all other technologies may not able to adapt to those new environments.

Where as GPL is eternal. As far as there is software, the rules of GPL will be valid.

I am not discrediting the huge work of linux community creating and supporting the first working GPL supported kernel.

I am a C++ programmer by myself. But the short sighted, selfish, egoistic, stupid way programmer in free software community thinking about their work forcing me to write these words.

So don’t be fetish about software you write. Spread awareness about politics of software freedom.

Note: GPL means Gnu General Public License. Because of this license thousands of developers joined to develop linux kernel for Gnu project. Linux kernel was compiled by gcc compiler which is part of the bigger Gnu project. Young Linux Torvalds got motivated by the gcc compiler’s GPL license and he also released his code under GPL.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

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It All Began With Stallman

Free water

The water we drink was once upon a time free. It was a free gift from nature. Gradually that changed. Even 20 years back people in my village could not believe that in cities they sell water. But now it’s a reality everywhere and soon enough water became a political issue. So lot of movements began to free water from private hands (back to the Commons). Wherever water gets privatised there are people in newly-formed organisations and parties that fight against it. Even though we don’t have a single global movement to free water, we do not say to those who are fighting against water privatisation that “you work is good. But water was free before you began your movement. That’s why others have got chance to fight against privatisation.”

Is that what you say to people who put their lives at risk in the name of fighting against corporate greed? No sensible person would tell you that. You have to remember that a lot of people lost their lives fighting against water privatisation. We have to respect their effort.

Political movements will come about and changes occur when there is a political issue

Like water, once upon a time software programs were also free. Everybody enjoyed software, code, and its freedom. But unlike water when it was privatised the issues were not visible. Nobody understood what would happen if software became private. Nobody could (fore)see that the software would change badly, becoming a chain on its user’s body.

Stallman personally faced the issues of propitiatory softwares. Lot of other people may also faced those issues. They just signed agreements with the companies and moved on. But Stallman did not accepted that. Its not simply a dislike of the restrictions on him by the companies. He foresaw the danged of propitiatory softwares on human society.

So in 1983 Richard Stallman began a movement to free the computer users from the chains of proprietary software. Since he is a computer programmer he doesn’t have to wait for anything.

He began his work on freeing users from the proprietary software chains. But one person cannot complete this colossal piece of work or task. So what Stallman did was, after completing his first program he shared the source code and the rights to its users and said writing proprietary software would be unethical. He asked other programmers to not write/code proprietary software, since it does not respect users’ freedom. Lots of people joined forces with him. Even young Linus Torvalds was motivated by the GPL licence of GCC, so he released his code under a Free software licence.

Anyway, it all began with Stallman. And it’s still with Stallman. Till now nobody on this planet has ever had any idea, or a sentence or a word other than what he said. All of them are just repeating whatever he said — that software should respect its users. It is not a greatly complicated thing. It’s a very simple idea — like saying water must be free.

Hiding politics

But you may know that a whole range of groups are saying a lot of things about software around us — things like OSS, FOSS etc. Somebody said things about now we have anything from open source space craft to open source ice creams. It came to such a point/level that the word has no meaning at all. Really — think about it — they are all impostors who have just bolstered ‘diluted propitiatory software’ to hijack the revolutionary movement that Stallman began. And for the profit of corporates. Because they see the Free software movement as a threat to their profits.

But if you see the technical aspect of Stallman’s work, you may think that his software is not fast or fancy or special or there may be delays. Actually, it’s stupid to think like that. Or a tactic leveraged by propitiatory software companies, intended to hide his real contribution. Stallman’s real contribution to humanity is his politics of Software Freedom. That idea influenced a whole lot of discourses. The sad thing is that the impostors reframed it in their terms. The common progressive people too use their own terms, thinking that it is them who are the revolutionary user freedom movement. A few days back I heard an independent media person talking about the impostors’ software helping them at the time of WTO protests in Seattle 20 years back.

We have to end that takeover. We need more people like Stallman who defend users’ freedom and Free software politics in the Free software movement, rather the dumb software workers just obeying money power. For that to materialise we have to build a committed users’ community that supports software projects without taking corporate money — a community that demands, “We want Free software!”

Note: this doesn’t mean that he is unquestionable a leader or a god. On lot of issues I disagree with him.

“Once GNU is written, everyone will be able to obtain good system software free, just like air.”

Richard Stallman


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

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OSS, FOSS are diluted propitiatory software

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.

Nothing new

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.)

If you are not mixing the issues, then there will be more clarity in the public sphere. More discussion in terms of users’ freedom will happen. More people will support Free software. Sure, it’s a hard path. But that is the right path. So be with the movement that respects users’ freedom. After all, that was the initial purpose of the movement.

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
India

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The ‘Software Ethics’ Decoy

Nowadays I am seeing a lot of articles which talk about ethics of/in software. That made me wonder, what happened to the world? Does everyone become saints and angels except Saint IGNUcius? Most of these are coming from the OEM/open source software world. It is not a surprise to me. They will do anything to make “the system” happy.

Their “ethics” are so vast that you may wonder how many “ethics” exist in this world. They worry about a lot of things in this world — things like slavery, indentured servitude, gambling, tobacco, adversely addictive behaviors, nuclear energy, warfare, weapons manufacturing, and war crimes. The list goes on. I appreciate their wide-open minds or the ability to see all these (un)ethical issues. Have they ever asked a question about why these many (un)ethical issues are occurring in this small world of humans in few millennia compared to life on Earth?

Does/should software have any ethics?

Before answering this question you first have to ask/answer, “why software?” Software programs are required for the people to run their computers or to do their computing. Software is also a product in the market. It serves its customers (called “users”). (Somebody told me that there are only two industries that call their customers “users”; one is technology companies the other are drug dealers.) Whatever. As per the market rules, sellers should be trustworthy and a seller respectful to its users. Don’t cheat. So the first level of ethics in software is how you treat your customer/user.

Now tell me, “open source” people, where do you stand on this? Tell me who respects users at an ultimate level? What is your level of care about users?

Computerised hotel

Initially, at a time when computers came into our society in India, there was lot of business adaption to it. Mostly for record-keeping, account-keeping etc. but they advertised that their firm is computerised. Since back then computers were something like an advanced ‘sci-fi’ thing, nobody had seen it in an ad which gave the public a ‘selling point’. Computerised hairdressing, computerised tea shop, computerised hospital, computerised hotel etc. Some shiny computer will be there, but all other things will be old. Customers will have to suffer from an old system, but they may get a bill from some computer. Great, right? But you may have to pay more. But they don’t tell that. You will not notice also.

From this perspective, a customer is getting very little extra benefit. So from the customer’s viewpoint it doesn’t matter whether you use computerised billing or not. Important things for a customer are what he/she gets from the product. But customers are ignorant and are easy for manipulation experts to fool. They will fall into the trap created by corporate PR. Good example for this may be soft drinks. It destroys one’s gut/intestinal health and even dental/tooth health; entire bodies might also get ruined/decayed by drinking that. Still, people are so fond of it. Cigarette, fossil fuels etc. — those kinds of things are extreme. Exxon knew that CO2 makes global warming worse and climate change faster even in the 1960s. Check what they did after that.

Now tell me, if the software engineers developing a software program respect women, does the customer get any benefits? It’s OK. No… No… It’s a great thing. It’s great that you respect women and consider all humans as equal. Thank you very much. But what user will get from it?

I want my software to serve me. So whatever ethics these “open source” people tell me about are are just a PR piece of work (like cigarette and fossil fuels).

GPL as the ultimate ethical thing a software program ever gets

In 1983 a person with high ethical values asked some genuine questions about software. The result was a silent revolution in many aspects of human thought and in many disciplines. (That is his contribution to humanity. Not a few coded lines.) He made it reality — whatever he preached with great personal sacrifices.

He and his movement defined 4 rules for software. It’s commonly called the GNU General Public License (or copyleft). It gives its users full power — full control over what they buy/get. Users’ rights are the most important ethical thing for a piece of software.

So, the ultimate “ethics” of software is something like the GPL. Dear ethics preachers, tell me your ethics with respect to your own users

Your ethics are punishing people

It is not a surprise that your ethics are punitive in nature. You are just sadists. You serve only the bosses. You target individual persons and isolate them, applying/imposing your ethics on them (him/her). You create a villain out of them and ask the community to lynch them. This is classic fascist tactics.

Political problems need a political solution. It’s not about an individual person’s set of ethics. Unethical system forces unethical behaviors. So work for system change. For that you have think and work together with all the people. You cannot solve it individually. You cannot solve it by ‘cancel culture’.

Your ethics are just a decoy

1. User friendly

For supposed care about users, people who use software, you’ve created another decoy called user friendliness. You assume that the customer is dumb, and you will do all the things that are good for the so-called ‘dumb’ users. Of course software should do its work as perfectly as possible. But that is not the only thing. You use it distract the users from their rights and also to loot them like the colonialists in the name of ‘civilising’ (as colonists did in the past centuries).

2. User rights

Like priests you are shouting a lot of “ethics”. We know that it’s a just a decoy. Just to divert away from the real ethical issues. Really ethical software empowers its users. You want to hide real ethics. Because it’s damaging your bosses’ profits. It ends your bosses’ control over users. It stops surveillance capabilities long exploited by your bosses. It destroys psychological manipulation capabilities of your bosses.

So you created a decoy. With all your media power you made it a central issue. But we know that you are frauds. You are just diverting attention of people, using these phony issues related to software. I am not saying there are no other issues in our society. But users’ freedom is the number one issue in software. Because it’s not like many other products. All other issues come only after that. Once you free the users, then you can think about other issues. So stop playing games. Stop your ‘ethicswash’.

First try to accept GPL-like licensing. Then add more ethics on top of it, if so you’ve needed.

Rulers have no right to define ethics

The same government and politicians who lynched innocent people in unending wars cannot be considered as a custodian of ethics. It is the society that ought to make a decision on what is ethical or not. Remember that the government was against freeing slaves. So no government, no companies, no organisations should define ethics and press/impose that on people. If they do it, it’ll be just a CoC, a code of censorship. Revenge, punishment and ‘cancel culture’ are themselves unethical. It’s a fascist programme.

So we have to realize these corporate tactics. Please do not be fooled those tactics. Let us unite together and fight for user’s freedom and user’s rights.

Note: This has nothing to do with Stallman’s case. It is a completely different issue. All he did (or ‘committed’) was a thought crime. He did nothing wrong. Your ‘thought police’ punished him, in oder to destroy the software freedom movement, for your bosses’ profit and power.

Appendix: Free software is not an ethical issue, it’s a users’ rights issue


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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Social Justice Warriors Are Like Policemen With Guns on the Street

American police is killing about 1,000 black people every year. Those are innocent unarmed black people. You may be wondering why police is killing these poor people. You may think that American policeman are bad, brutal criminals. Please don’t think like that. American police is brave, it is patriotic. They cannot kill people without any reason. There is reason for these killings. It is the “fear for one’s life.”

Yes, a policeman often says “I feared for my life.” Who on Earth can execute a suicidal mission apart from the CIA-funded religious fools? So you have to understand the situation of the policeman. He may be peacefully laying on his mother’s lap and drinking breast milk. Immediately a phone from his office rings and asks him to attend a situation. He jumps from his mother’s lap and puts on his uniform, armed to his teeth (and nails). Drives to the place. There he sees a ‘monstrous’ man, right on the street. He gets frightened and within seconds fires 40-50 shots at that very scary ‘thing’. Just like that; only this ‘thing’ has happened. So you cannot blame policemen. They are frightened. (Those who planning to visit the US, please don’t scare them.)

A similar situation has been happening to and affecting our social lives too. We have lot of social justice warriors. I don’t know what exactly makes the criteria for this title. Maybe you have to post something in social control media and feed the monstrous surveillance engine. Then they may give you the title of “SJW”.

Anyway, these social justice warriors are like American policemen in the street with military-style assault weapons. They may be studying mechanical engineering at a slave owner-founded company, US military and foreign brutal dictator-funded elite college.

Like the American police, these people are so tender and sensitive. They cannot even bear the sound of tree leaves in the wind. So wind stopped blowing in the US. (If it happens, it will be a hurricane. Thank global warming.) So these people are very sensitive and are always inspecting things around them. As soon as they see something that they don’t like, they get frightened. They start shouting, crying and immediately want to eliminate the unpleasant things that scare them.

There is no option for that scary thing. All it has to do is to cancel itself. Once that happens these SJWs move on and start waiting for the next scary thing (scary to them).

Since the dollar is ruling this world this kind of behavior is spreading to other countries too. So beware if you are grown-ups.

Note: This has nothing to do the with a girl who asked for Richard Stallman’s resignation. She just became a random spark. If she did not do that, the system would find somebody else for that task. So don’t blame her.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


ലേഖനം മലയാളത്തില്‍ വായിക്കാന്‍
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Why Users Must Dictate the Free Software Movement?

For a capitalistic market to work all the things should be available in scarcity. Then, only those things get a selling value. Supply and demand rules decide that. If there is more of something or a greater quantity, you will get less per item (lower price). If a thing is abundant, then it will not have any value. Example that’s common is air. (I cannot write water because we’ve polluted it so much that nowadays clean water is scarce. Soon, air will also become like that).

Selling abundant things

We cannot copy physical things. But software is not physical. It’s a digital, virtual thing. You can create it once, then it is there. Copying makes it abundant. Because it costs nothing to copy software. So it has no intrinsic value.

But software programs are very important and a critical creation. How can a capitalist leave it as free/commodity when, as the whole, the nature of capitalism is all about putting a price tag on everything possible and trying to expand to make a profit? With surveillance capitalism they are selling our private experiences and emotions too.

So, to put a price on software you need to stop copying. Naturally you can’t quite do that since laws of physics don’t allow it. Copying is natural. What else they can do? They made laws that made copying a criminal act. Simple. People will have to go to jail if they copy. Recently, a person named Eric Lundgren completed his jail sentence just for copying and distributing Microsoft software which is available for free in their website. So copying is a very big political issue.

Free software politics

This is the place where Free software begins. It is a political movement to defend the right of a user to own and control the software.

Free software is not too bothered about how software is produced at the first time/in the first place. You can do it with one hand, or with two hands, or while blindfolded or with a single individual or with a larger group, or with a 100% women group, or with a 50% women group, or with old management or without new management, or with object-oriented methods, or with structured programming methods, or with waterfall model, or with agile model, or with 500 while loops, or with 159 if conditions… you name whatever way suits you. It doesn’t matter. Free software doesn’t care.

The Free software movement is only focuses on things done after the production of software. It’s about how software reacts to the users or to society in general; only after the production. All other issues (happening before its release) are general issues specific to that particular person or a group or a company. It should be and will be addressed by the government and the society.

Citizens’ role in Democracy

There are lots of definitions for democracy. Most popular one may be Lincoln’s – that democracy means the government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a system that’s supposed to work for the people. Is it like that anywhere in the world? Can you tell where or give an example of a country? None. Nowhere is it working for the people fully.

For example, there is this study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page of Princeton University. They found that 70% of all the decisions taken by the American government are against ordinary citizens, which means means the 99%. So, we can say that the government is working for the top 1% and people are voting against their self-interest. WHY?

Simple answer may be, the people are not in power. They are distracted and divided and fighting each other over silly issues. So the minority took power and controls everything. WHY?

People are not dictating or exercising their power over the government. Sometimes you can see people coming to the street and chanting “this is what democracy looks like!” But this happens when they become too frustrated about the situation. They are not united. They easily get caught in the traps the ruling class puts. Anti-Iraq war movement, Occupy Wall Street movement etc. are just some of the examples.

Users must dictate the Free software movement

Free software freedom is for its users. They should be in power. They should dictate. But our system does not let it happen so easily. You always have to fight for freedom. You have to be vigilant. Otherwise the rich minority will take it (since it’s profitable for them). They are not bad people. It’s happening like that because the system is designed in that way.

So, in order to make the software users-subservient (serving its users), users must act; they have to demand that. But there will a time when all the people in this world might live in peace, harmony and enjoy cooperation. At that stage nobody will need to do any extra activism. But ’till that time, users must dictate Free software’s agenda/movement. It is the duty of Free software activists to empower the users to feel involved at such a level.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


ലേഖനം മലയാളത്തില്‍ വായിക്കാന്‍
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Free Software Freedom Is Not A Freedom Of Choice

Freedom of choice is a popular idea. Mostly it is associated with markets. Usually when we hear the word “freedom” market automatically comes into our minds. We distribute things through the market. We, the consumer, buy things by paying money to the sellers in the market. If you want soap, you can go to the market and ask for a soap. Shopkeepers give you one when you pay money.

What’s in a market

Let’s say that initially there is only one company that produces one type of soap which is available in the market. For you it doesn’t matter. After all, the purpose of soap is clean your body. Sometimes it causes you skin allergy or some other issues. You may stop or reduce its use or you may find a workaround to fix/address the issue. Life goes on. Then, after some time, a new company comes up with a new kind of soap. You will be happy to test it and will have found it’s better than the first one. So now you have the ‘freedom’ to choose the new product that’s in the market.

Later a 3rd company comes into the picture. Now there is competition in the market. More and more products appear in the market. Companies are using advertisement to promote their product. Initially they were telling the properties of the product. But now they are selling a lifestyle. You buy a product that has your favorite star as brand ambassador. You want to be with that specific class of people. It’s beautifully mentioned in the book No Logo.

But in some communities people don’t have the ability to choose products as they’re absent from the market. There, the government is distributing goods as a ration, or limited bases. Sometimes it may be with good intentions that with limited resources they are trying to provide maximum utilization, with intended justice to all. Sometime the rulers may be looting and nothing will be left for people.

Whatever the reason, you see 2 types of market. That makes you think, “which is better?” Market with choice or market without choice? That becomes the million-dollar question to most. Of course all people will support a market with choice. Problem solved. Everything is fine. All of you people, go home.

Reality of Market Freedom

This is the propaganda of the ruling class, intended to hide the facts and distract us from the real freedom. They always do this. Invert ideas that empower people. Lot of things happen when you say “freedom” to mean freedom to choose.

First of all, your action is only a choice between a number of things. You don’t have a say. Just choose whatever is available. That makes you just a passive subject. For that you have to pay. That part, most of the time, will not be visible in the PR work. Those who provide the choices become more important than others. You worship them. You believe that protecting the integrity of them becomes a responsibility for you. They can exert pressure on you. These things all happen invisibly. You will not realise it.

If you consider “freedom” the ability to choose or opportunity to choose a product in the market, then you are undermining the very meaning of freedom. It makes us old passive slaves who just obey the rulers. There is no question about the product, there are no questions about its content, no questions about its price, no questions about the market. All we can do is choose one or another. It’s a dictatorship.

So freedom is not an ability to choose.

What is Freedom?

Initially all are free within the limits of nature. Then human institutions like slavery and religion impose restrictions and limits upon humans. After that the word “freedom” comes into existence. People want to break that chain, as everyone wishes to be an independent person who can do whatever s/he wants, just like the ruling class. Meaning, all should get the same opportunity to define the society.

Freedom is not a buying process. It’s the ability, for example, to define what buying is, define what the market is, define what the product is, even define what money is. But the reality is that we are living in times where we don’t even have the right to know what these things are. We don’t even have the right to know content in the foods we eat.

So please don’t get so easily fooled by these games — or words created by the ruling class. Freedom is about people’s power in the society. Not the 1%. It’s about who is in charge.

Fight for freedom is a never-ending task

Why?

Because the ruling class will always try and perpetually tries to undermine it for their self interest.

They already came in 100s of groups and companies with 100s of different tactics. Most of the time a freedom-loving majority could not understand these attacks. This is true for the Free software movement as well as other freedom movements experienced. In the case of the Free Software Foundation, it reached to a next level by firing their own founder based on some lies.

So, we should understand that our freedom is not somebody else’s charity or favour. It’s a result of our painful struggle for it. To keep the freedom as it is we need always be vigilant and active. Do not get fooled by the tricks they play to enslave us. Free software’s freedom is not a freedom of choice. It’s the freedom of users to take control of software. Let’s unite to defend software users’ freedom. Long live the 4 freedoms of software.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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