What is Richard Stallman’s role in Computers and Software

During 1983 Richard Stallman of MIT got some particular idea about software usage. It was about giving full rights to software users. He called it Copyleft. Its inverted copyright. The concept of copyleft was described in Richard Stallman’s GNU Manifesto in 1985. You can read more about it here. Based on that he created 4 laws for softwares. They are following:

1. The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
2. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
4. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

These all together is called Gnu General Public License (GPL). If any software which is released under this is called Free Software.

Then he started to build an operating system called GNU. Lot of people joined him in that effort. To manage all these tasks he created an organization called Free Software Foundation.

Now, if somebody asks you what is the contribution of Richard Stallman?

Without a single second delay people with common sense will tell he freed computer users from chain of control and created a system for developing software that users can own. Yes that is his achievement, that is his role. He is not a computer programer writing code to count LOC later. He is a true visionary, philosopher, one of the greatest human being ever born in our world who made world a better place.

You cannot judge him based on his lines of code. Only idiots who has no knowledge about the society will count lines of code.

His contribution lasts for ever. If people use softwares or any product that is easily copyable and breaks laws of conventional economics then Stallman’s works will be a great tool for social justice.

Fight for freedom is not a one time task. It is a war for ever. Since we live in a capitalistic system, the profit motive will create evil people who try to steal our freedom. They will always comes with new new kind of traps. Even some free software activists too get deluded in their tricks. In that never ending war, Richard Stallman is the great leader who is fighting to protect user’s freedom. And his contribution will lasts for ever.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

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35 years ago Richard Stallman started Free Software Movement

Free Software Movement is political movement to free software users from corporate control. Officially it began on October 4th, 1985. It was two years after he publicly announced that his intention to create a free Unix-like operating system called GNU.

To give software users full rights and control Stallman created a license based on the idea of Copyleft. You can read more about it here. Based on that he created 4 laws for softwares. They are following:

1 The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
2 The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
3 The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
4 The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

These all together is called Gnu General Public License (GPL). If any software which is released under this is called Free Software.

Nullius in verba


Michael Moore, please tell fossil fuel industry that renewables are not against them

The great Michael Moore come up with a new documentary named “Planet of the Humans”. There are lot of things to talk about it. But one striking thing I heard in that.

A visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and Northwestern University told the interviewer that “You use more fossil fuels to do this[manufacturing renewable plant] than you’re getting benefit from it. You would have been better off just burning the fossil fuels in the first place, instead of playing pretend.”

The meaning is clear. To build a renewable plant you have to burn more fossil fuels. This is a new information for me. He may be right. But why the whole fossil fuel industry is against renewable? May be they don’t know this secret.

We are living in a capitalistic system. US is extreme capitalist country. In capitalism its all about profit. If using renewable energy uses more fossil fuels then it will be profitable for fossil fuel industry. They don’t know this truth. That’s why they and ALEC kind of organizations are doing lot of bad things against renewable energy.

So you have to fossil fuel industry leaders that renewable make them more profitable. Some how they got wrong impression. Usually the business leaders are good in maths. I don’t know why they are wrong in this. Thank god, our scholar at UC Berkeley did a good work. So convince them to transfer at least half of the subsidies they get from government.

As per IMF study in 2015, direct and indirect subsidies for coal, oil and gas in the U.S. reached $649 billion in 2015. Fossil fuel industry is a mature industry with more than 100 years of age. No idea why still giving subsidies.

OK, let it be there. If we can give that money to renewables then it will be a great thing. Since renewables uses more fossil fuels, at the end those money with profit will come back to fossil fuel industry.

After this nobody can tell fossil fuel industry as a dirty industry. All will praise our industry leaders. No need to fight with those bad activists and the unnecessary PR work in Breitbart etc. World will become a better place.

Thank you very much Michael. You are great. Keep it up.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

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What is environmentalism

Environment means our surroundings. Why do we have to ague for our surroundings? That is the biggest question of our time. We live in that surroundings. That surroundings is changing inappropriate forms. It is not changing itself. We are all changing it. To have a comfortable life for all we have to put some control on those changes. That process is called environmentalism.

What are the changes are happening, how it gets affect us, these kind of things are not found using religious meditations. scientists does scientific studies on our environment, forest, sea, atmosphere, plants, microbes etc. All the findings they found collectively called Environmental science.

These scientists what ever they find publish that. All others have to learn these findings and make appropriate changes in their area of work. But this does not happens. Because we are living in a system of alienations and selfishness we does only those things which are profitable for us. Lot of things we will not do.

For example, take global warming and atmospheric CO2 density. We found that particular nature of CO2 in 1824. Oil companies done research on it in 1950s. They confirmed the truth. But after that what they did? Huge PR work started to make such an important issue to disappear. That is still going on.

Because of these vested interests world governments could not do any right things. In democracy government is for the people. If it is not working for the people then it is clear that they may intervene. So those vested interests worked very well in that aspect too. They divided people into different groups to make them fight each other , deluded them in entertainments so that they sleep always.

Environmentalism is the act to collect scientific information and without loosing science and simply for the common people, spread that in society, wake up those sleeping citizen, educate the rulers as per society’s decision, and organize strikes to make it happen if needed.

it’s fundamental is pure science. Not magic. You cannot know the level of Co2 with magic. There are also attempt to do such things. But it’s like vaccine as said before.(1)

1. Vaccine against rationalists


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

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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

Nullius in verba


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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

Nullius in verba


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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

Nullius in verba


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Rapes and the rise of Hindutva in India

Recent news about a rape and killing of the victim became a big issue in one of the Indian state, Telangana. Since one of the perpetrator belong to a minority religion, fake news factory of the hindutva force filled internet with lies.(1) This social media driven mobilizing poured fire in people’s mind. Very big protests happened in Hyderabad.

When Kathua incident happened, same hindutva forces with fake ids tried to started a violent movement in my state. Even secular parties fell into their traps in isolated cases. But soon it was caught and police brought the real people in front. So the violent protests stopped. Fascists always plays this game.(2)

Crime against women and following mass protest is not new thing india. Lot of protests happened. But after some time all forgot the issue and moved on to new issues.

What lesson we learned from all these crimes and reactions? Nothing. It is simply repeating. So please stop reacting. Step back for a moment and think.

Why this happening?

There are a lot of socio, political, economical, health, educational issues behind this. Without addressing all we will never stop this menace. But all want silver bullet. Because in reality all hate real changes. Our unconscious mind. We know everything.

Rape is an act to assert power. It is less about sex. The perpetrator want to show off that he is in charge. In real life he is insulted and suppressed by the ruling class. When he get a weak person he unleashes that suppression. He can do anything he want irrespective of the consequence. So reducing rape to a sexual act misses whole issues.

Why he want to assert his power?

In 2008 world capitalism failed. After that it never get back. Huge number of people lost their jobs. Houses foreclosed. But stock market came back to normal. So the rich took the whole money. Now 3 people have more wealth than bottom 3.5 billion people. There is no growth in wages. The work people do is less satisfying. They think they deserve more.

People are angry. But the rich has so much wealth. What will happen if the poor unleash their anger against the rich? They will loose all of their money. So they want to divert people’s attention as well as want to get more money. This is classic 1920s situation. There comes the fascist parties. Their ideology is based on hate. They hate minorities and attack them. This creates perfect misdirection in the real economics and politics of the country. They have full support from the ruling party. See how many rape criminal, including Kathva case, got red carpet welcome from the elected officials of the fascist ruling party. These are directions to the people.

But what happens to the the hate?

The hate will remain there in their own minds. Once they come back to home, there is no old minorities. Only wife or children will be there. The hate works there. This time victim will be own family member. Sometimes it may be neighbors or fellow travelers. There will be always somebody to hate.

According to the latest Indian government data, crimes against women increased 6 percent in 2017 over the previous year.

Movies, TV, media and ad objectifying women body

The movies and other fictional art works reduces women to an object of hero’s actions. Rape and sex are common themes in movies and TV. This gives both men, women and children wrong ideas. I wrote about it long back.(3) Violence ins movies are unbearable. They say its for originality. But it really affects people.

If you really want to end this menace

1. Stop hating others.
2. Stop paying money to movies
3. Improve public education.
4. Work for economic stability and justice.
5. Ensure system that provide better food to people. Aadhaar kind of systems actually stopped source of food for lot of poor people.
6. Media should not describe the detailed actions done in rape cases. Talk less, but do not ignore.
7. Leave social media. Social media is making people as animal.

Act positively. Blaming others or punishing will not help.

1. Hyderabad Rape Murder Case Communalised
2. Kerala hoax hartal: Ex RSS worker and whatsapp group admins arrested
3. Media and Crime against women


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


ലേഖനം മലയാളത്തില്‍ വായിക്കാന്‍
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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

Nullius in verba


ലേഖനം മലയാളത്തില്‍ വായിക്കാന്‍
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