Just got to read the cooperative software manifesto, and I like it, especially

People who are coerced into using proprietary technology deserve our empathy and invitation into our movement, not condescension.

Y e s ! This is one of the most toxic aspects of FSF and RMS. You can't expect me to harass my peers into using software that hinders their work. You can't both gatekeep free software and call yourself the leader of computing freedom.

While we agree with the Ethical Software Movement[, ...] proliferation of incompatible copyright licenses which prohibit software from being legally combined creates more obstacles than opportunities for our movement.

This too I like. Licences are dangerous stuff, and also generally useless stuff so long as they don't hold in court. IMHO we should use licences to keep source open and community to achieve and protect software freedom.

Language is constructed collectively and is always evolving. It is counterproductive to our movement to refuse to collaborate with people because they use the words "open source" or "free software" to describe their work.


IIRC @be is the author of this document, I wanna say thanks, this is really nice.

@cadadr @be I don’t live an ascetic lifestyle, yet all my tools except for some required for work and some games are free software — except for the bootloader. And I wish I could get games as Free Software, too, but those don’t yet have the quality I want.

No Free Software was as good as proprietary software until people decided to use technically inferior tools to avoid the golden cage of proprietary software. → draketo.de/english/tale-of-fox

@ArneBab @cadadr I'm not sure what that has to do with the post you responded to?


@be @cadadr The post says "failed to create a world in which humans in technological societies can live without using proprietary software unless one chooses to live the ascetic lifestyle of Richard Stallman" — that’s wrong.

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@ArneBab @cadadr What you said is consistent with that. You have to use proprietary software for work. I'm guessing by "bootloader" you meant the firmware of your motherboard? Free bootloaders have been widely available for a long time.

@be @cadadr Yes, I mean the firmware. And for work the only unfree software I need is zoom, because free software has not caught up with it yet — no free software fulfills the requirements yet. For the bootloader, I actually mean the BIOS. The reason is that I didn’t install a new bios because that was too high risk in my opinion. I have a presentation laptop that uses a free bios — bought off the shelf, as it should be. From a respects-your-freedom-certified webstore.

@be @cadadr Yes. We also tried Jitsi and Nextcloud. Our requirement is 100+ videostreams muxed together live.

@ArneBab @cadadr Yeah unfortunately Jitsi still doesn't scale very well AFAIK :(

@be @cadadr But there’s something I see where we really failed: People can avoid copyleft via SaaS. We have the AGPL to preserve copyleft in services, and thanks to the GPLv3, we can move software to AGPL, but few communities are willing to move to that.

@be @cadadr to be fair, scaling video-calls are a hard problem. But I wish that it were Free Software, not proprietary software, where technically superior and easy to use tools appear first. Blender is one of the few examples of that (and for blender there’s an unusual history behind this).

@ArneBab @be That's not really wrong. Just that "proprietrary software" morphed and moved out of your computer. It's on the web, in your cities infrastructure, in your appliances, on your governments servers, and in your mobile phone.

This is why free software fundamentalism is misguided, obsolete, and serves the privileged. It's a privilege to be able to learn about it (it's difficult and takes a lot of time), privilege to be able to use it (you're lucky, but many others have to use openly exploitative software like MS Office and Adobe CS who lock you into their tools through industrial vendor lock in and lifelong subscriptions, and many others lack the know-how to switch and don't have the time to learn), and a huge privilege to be able to use it for most of your computing needs, let alone all.

And even then, we're far beyond what free software, licences, and copyleft can ever achieve. We've a full blown social issue at hand, and that exploitative software has receded from desktop computing does not mean it's disappeared. We are using mostly or completely FOSS within a definition of computing that's become obsolete around 2010.

@cadadr @be Free Software is the minimal requirement. Being Free Software does not ensure that it’s good. But if it’s not Free Software, it can’t be a good tool for society.

Even back in 1990 Free Software was used in servers in a way that sidestepped copyleft. What changed is that the boundary between client and server shifted so we now actually see that proprietary software.

Yet, here we talk about that on a fully free service run by a roleplaying community (at least the instance I use is).

@ArneBab @cadadr @be it depends on your definition of free software fundamentalism. The kind that refuses to use non-free software, or the kind that strives to replace all non-free software with free alternatives?

The former is increasingly unrealistic and privileged. The latter is increasingly necessary.

@jens @cadadr @be I want people who refuse all non-free software — those are the ones who take the hard road and use crappy workarounds that can one day become good solutions.

They show the way we still have to go. They use LibreJS and refuse to support services that don’t work with it. They ensure that you still get notifications via email.

Hard RYF-checking gives an incentive to go the full way.

I also want people who improve or replace the crappy workarounds to become usable for everyone.

@jens @cadadr @be We are finally at a point where using no unfree software is viable for many people by simply buying a "respects-your-freedom" laptop, and now we’re giving up on radical free software idealism?

For the first time you don’t actually need a lot of skill to get fully free software.

My no-proprietary-shit laptop was bought as-is and I didn’t have to change anything (not one bit!) to have a fully working presentation-laptop that I then used to give lectures at the dual university.

I can agree with that wish, @ArneBab - but as @cadadr said, so much of what we're using is non-free and we have no easy means to change that. If I ignore obvious things like my mobile phone, I know that the router sitting there on my desk is running non-free software. I know the DECT phone is. The microphone most likely is; it has enough knobs to fiddle with that it's almost certainly running a little microprocessor with some non-free firmware.

This doesn't mean I *want* this, but...


@ArneBab ... avoiding this would basically have me give up on the Internet. And downstairs the modem, the router on the corner of the road, etc, etc. are all running non-free software.

It's not realistic, because it doesn't stop at your actual computer.

It's still something we need more of.

@cadadr @be

@jens @cadadr @be as long as there are some people who decide to give up on anything unfree, these are the ones who blaze the trail that others can follow and widen so more and more people can use it.

Yes, there is a battle going on, but when I did my civil service we had a staff training session with a company advisor, and he said: Most companies do not fail because they are bad, but because people give up before they win.

@ArneBab @cadadr @be People who decide to give up on anything unfree are going to be standing at speaker's corner, because there is no purely free path anywhere on the Internet.

Also, not to speaker's corner. The public transport ticketing system is not free software.

@be @jens @cadadr I watched that. That’s why I said „most people can avoid unfree software“ and not „all people“. Having a proprietary defibrillator in your chest is a horrible thought. But there are people who hack their medical devices. And once there’s better copyleft firmware for them, at least some companies will ship that.

@jens @cadadr @be That’s a bigger thing then: Yes, I want a fully free software society, but the first step is not to have unfree software on devices I own.

The next step is to get states to agree that public money means public code: publiccode.eu/

And alongside that to get more and more people to avoid anything unfree.

That is a long fight. But we already won the first few battles.

@ArneBab @cadadr @be Public code is a difficult proposition. You're effectively fighting an assumption in most policy makers that economies only work trickle down. And that assumption is fueled by existing participants in the economy.

Public money isn't spent *on the public*, it's spent *on the economy* with assurances of some sort that the economic boost will benefit the public - in job creating, as well as creation of other conveniences.

@ArneBab @cadadr @be I mean, I applaud the effort and would sign it with my org (if and when I manage to create it). No problem at all.

The issue is, that until a sufficient percentage of the companies participating in the economy sign up to this kind of thing, it isn't likely to happen. So that project must be in it for decades.

I'm participating in a few publicly funded projects. If it's grant money, you can get a sense that public code is supported.

@ArneBab @cadadr @be The moment you move away from that towards innovation funding, and things get complicated. You almost invariable need to create international consortia as well as national consortia to get approval.

This is EU-political, but also somewhat *sensical*. It's supposed to prevent that money flows unevenly to states or business tiers. So some consortia will always look for SMEs to be included, to check that box.

But the bigger companies tend to be most influential.

@ArneBab @cadadr @be So for these projects to release code publicly *by default*, you need to convince corporations with decades of history in proprietary exploitation and thousands of employees to shift their business model towards one based on public code.

Or you wait for some of the smaller players who've already signed up to grow big *and not lose this mindset in the process*.

It's very simple on paper, but in practice, not so much.

@ArneBab @cadadr @be Because *of course* policy makers listen to the big corps - and have to - when those wail about how they can stay competitive if regulations change. They'll always wave the threat of job losses around, and no policy maker wants to be responsible for *that* (whether it's real or imaginary).

TL;DR bring a ton of patience to the table.

But yes, I'd sign that in a heartbeat.

@jens @ArneBab @cadadr That's why it's important to have successful companies who are already doing it well have their voices heard.

@jens @ArneBab @cadadr For example someone from System76 recently testified for the Colorado legislature in support of a right to repair bill saying it would support their business and independent repair shops, not destroy jobs. youtube.com/watch?v=fGle6z9KfZ

@be @ArneBab @cadadr Absolutely!

Analogous to public code, for what it's worth, is alltrials.net/ - if you do not yet know it, I think that you should take a look.

Different field, similar impact, similar proposed solution.

@jens @cadadr @be but … more and more stuff that once was proprietary electronics becomes proprietary software now, so it becomes eligible to be replaced with free software.

@jens @cadadr @be And when my son needed a system for homeschooling and the school demanded MS Teams, I installed it on that system. It works.

While there is now proprietary software on it (external requirements, even illegal by German data protection law, but the school did it anyway, the alternative was that my son would have lost all interaction with classmates), it is totally awesome that this works.

@ArneBab @cadadr @be No arguments there, but that is not what people meant about FS fundamentalism, I think.

@ArneBab So, you chose not to live the ascetic lifestyle of Richard Stallman, but instead installed proprietary software in order for your son to be able to live like his peers in technological society.

I don't see where you base your disagreement with this part of the manifesto. Should we criticize you and treat you with condescension for your choice?

@jens @be @cadadr

@clacke @jens @be @cadadr No, I do not live an ascetic lifestyle, and I do not need proprietary software.

For my son I had to install proprietary software, because of decisions of his school — which I very much criticize, and which you should criticize, too.

You claim that life without proprietary software is ascetic, and that’s what you get wrong.

Free Software already reached a state where life without proprietary software no longer needs to be ascetic for most people.

@ArneBab @jens @be @cadadr The paragraph in the manifesto is exactly about that: To criticize the school for their choice but not shun you for your choice, as your choice was much harder and free software needs you as an ally.

Because of uninformed or misguided choices made by your son's school, you had to make a choice between free-software purity and integration in mainstream society.

Likewise, we have a tablet with Zoom on it, because it's the only way to participate in school right now. I would prefer for the school to use BBB or some other free software, but I haven't found the energy to influence them on this.

@clacke @jens @be @cadadr Then where is the difference to the stance of RMS? He is makinng just that point: gnu.org/philosophy/free-softwa

I make compromises every day, and I am aware of that. But nowadays a life purely in Free Software is no longer ascetic, because many people chose to refuse proprietary software — and build their alternatives.

To realize that this is a compromise—and not do it too often—a stance for purely Free Software is needed. The goal is to live without proprietary software.

@clacke @jens @be @cadadr Sadly the original toot is gone now, so I don’t find the link to the manifesto anymore. If I remember it correctly, the point I objected to was that it stated that principled Free Software is no longer relevant.

"what use does it serve?" — it is a goal to strive for. If we set a compromise as goal, then we will never reach the actual goal: to be free of proprietary software.

@ArneBab @jens @be @cadadr You won't find it in the philosophical documents, but it's there in the praxis, in the way rms talks to people and in the way several people here on fedi reacted to the linked FOSDEM talk by Sandler and Kuhn. Because this attitude exists, this manifesto explicitly speaks out against this attitude.

@clacke @jens @be @cadadr After also discussing on the linked twitter-thread I fear that both are mixed up in my memory. Could you link the manifesto again so I can re-check it (can’t find the link anymore)?

@clacke thank you! I now have a bookmark …

This has the generalizing phrase “failed to create a world in which humans in technological societies can live without using proprietary software unless one chooses to live the ascetic lifestyle of Richard Stallman”, and while this is referencing a talk as source, it is not true in general: Many can live a non-ascetic life without proprietary software, but no one can be sure that they will not have to use proprietary software at some point.

@clacke this phrase is extremely strong, yet it’s not true in its generalizing, and it makes this personal in a way that I consider as not appropriate.

That RMS supposedly avoided talking about capitalism felt odd, so I looked for it quickly, and RMS did write quite a bit about the problems of capitalism. Example: stallman.org/empire.html

Also you can simply search for capitalism on stallman.org and find lots of scathing criticism of unrestrained capitalism.

@ArneBab It's easy to criticize "megacorporations", "Big Pharma", "tobacco companies", "vulture capitalists", "Big Telecom" and "unrestrained capitalism" while still maintaining that capitalism basically works and these are failure modes that should be addressed.

All these qualifiers aren't necessary for someone who sees capitalism as a fundamental problem.

@clacke These qualifiers prevent generic pushback.

"unrestrained capitalism" makes it pretty clear that capitalism on its own does not work. Not so different from the manifesto (which says that it’s not opposed to exchanges of money) just less easy to categorically brand as the enemy.

You can only make such a general claim against the dominant form of payment while there’s still another group that doesn’t make that, otherwise the whole movement gets endangered (anti-commie-laws are a thing).

@ArneBab @jens @be @cadadr I have a laptop that runs libreboot, and I'm happy with it even if it's starting to get a bit old and there are some things that it just can't do (say, doing any significant work while on a video call for more than 10 minutes).

But it isn't free from proprietary software: the hard disk is running thanks to a proprietary firmware, the wifi card is running thanks to a proprietary firmare (yes, even the ones with “free” firmwares, I've looked into them and they are just shims over a non-upgradable proprietary firmware stored on the card), probably¹ the external keyboard I'm using is running proprietary firmware, and I don't know what else.

¹ some of it may have been destroyed when the keyboard suffered moisture damage and the chip that controls the backlighting died.

And if I want to change this computer, I need to buy another one of the same model, there isn't anything more recent than this that isn't a significant step back in freedom, and these of course are no longer produced, so it's not really something that is going to be a sustainable alternative for long.

@valhalla @jens @be @cadadr Do you mean these? ryf.fsf.org/categories/laptops

Point is: If people earn enough money creating these laptops, they can go forward to create more freedom respecting products — and push free software deeper into the hardware.

What you call proprietary firmware now was proprietary electronics and proprietary ROM in earlier times. Vendors are pushing software deeper, so we can push *free* software deeper, too.

The next step is Libre Hardware.

@ArneBab @valhalla @jens @be This discussion is revolving around the same point, going nowhere.

Nobody's debating your points. Yes a libre laptop with libre hardware is a great achievement. But it's, as the turkish idiom goes, only as big as the ear on a camel. It's a small achievement and it's not where the "meat" is.

If you limit the sphere of influence of proprietrary software to devices you own, in this day you can achieve a lot, if you have the time or the money. But most people can't afford that, yet often when it comes up free software folk will regularly say "buy new device". If one can't "afford" free software because they lack the money or time, that makes it a privilege.

But even if all that were solved, and I'm all for all that being solved, no counter arguments there, that's a tiny part of the problem. An insignificant part. RMS style ascetism is old and comical because it's tied up in an old definition of proprietrary software, one that lives on your computer, one that ultimately does not have much hold of your data. The problem is, a lot of free software folks, especially the leadership, are stuck in yesterday's world, fighting a battle which the "enemy" has long abandoned.

Today, we're in a world where code is not even that much valuable. What's to be gained from open sourcing Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, or Google? It's the data they hold that counts. You could have all GAFAM's source code tomorrow and that wouldn't help anything. So my point is that

personal computing freedom is important but no longer in the centre of the struggle for software freedom
we've a lot more at stake than the "4 freedoms", with our data having become a commodity
still today no truly Free hardware exists, and approximations are infeasible
there are orders of magnitude more code that we interact every moment of our life outside what's found in our personal devices, and that they are not on our devices does not mean we're not users of it
ultimately none of this invalidates that personal computing freedom is unimportant, but the point is that the frontier has moved, what's at stake has changed drastically, and, going back to the original topic, Free Software philosophy, tooling and institutions is no longer capable of helping us go forward.

That last point means we need to get out of our echo chambers, pull our heads out of sand, and come up with new tools and narratives, and set new goals, instead of yelling at our boss in the comfort of our warm, secluded, private shower.

Sorry for the wall of text.

@cadadr @valhalla @jens @be Yes, it revolves around the same point, and you’re right that compatibility is important, but that is not so big of a change from before. I’ve lost a lot of data and connections in my life, and all of these without proprietary javascript. ICQ took my data with it, the replacement with a free client didn’t help when the servers disappeared.

We’ve already interacted with proprietary servers in the 1990s.

Free Software on individual devices is the first necessary step.

@cadadr @valhalla @jens @be We’ve made huge steps forward and proprietary vendors are trying to create new dependencies, because they see their monopolies crumbling where Free Software takes a hold.

Android hurt a lot, because it forced people to start with a clean slate. It meant that many of the libre tools built by volunteers over the years were no longer available. Otherwise none of the proprietary messengers and web-services would have gotten such a dominant position.

@cadadr @valhalla @jens @be The reason why I’m arguing here at all is that it looks to me like you don’t even see the huge steps forward we made.

And how much we lose if we forget that this is a necessary requirement for everything else.

@cadadr @valhalla @jens @be My wish is that we reach a world where people only buy free licensed stuff and where everything we interact with is copyleft. With stuff being anything from software over artwork to physical spoons and bicycles.

I’m doing my part for that by creating a copyleft roleplaying system.

@cadadr @ArneBab @valhalla @be no, I think this wall of text gets it back on point.

There's something in communications analogous to a black box, the black channel.

The point is, you can secure communications by either controlling the communications device: software, hardware, wavelength, etc. That's a white channel approach.

The black channel approach is to treat the communications device as untrustworthy, and layer over it...

@cadadr @ArneBab @valhalla @be ... a communications system that is safe in itself; that adds encryption, and reliability, etc - all the things that the black channel cannot be relied upon.

I think far more important than free software in every corner of our devices is to create such trustworthy overlays that treat the underlying system as part of the threat.

And of course that layer needs to be free in order to be trustworthy.

@cadadr @ArneBab @valhalla @be that in no way means no effort should be made to replace untrustworthy components with trustworthy ones. Absolutely.

But following such a bottom-up approach is incredibly time consuming, and the target will keep shifting before sufficient headway can be made.

It's a worthwhile goal for sure, but not effective alone. So no, I do not think that free software on our devices is the right first goal at all.

@jens @cadadr @valhalla @be For this, that layer must be independent enough: Whatever is part of the threat must not be able or allowed to limit the layer.

You could use that as argument for ignoring the unfree wifi chip. But only as long as that unfree wifi chip does not start to deep-package-inspect everything you do.

That means you can start a self-securing layer on an unfree system, but if you don’t at the same time strive to push back the unfree parts, you’ll get the same shifting target.

@jens @cadadr @valhalla @be I’ve been working on the Freenet Project for the past 7-8 years, and it creates a trustworthy layer on top of networking. But people using it on Windows will never get the same security as people using it on fully Free Software.

On the other hand (making the point to also look at the environment, not only your device) we are currently seeing proposals to only allow a small defined set of ports on routers which would severely disrupt some of our security mechanisms.

> we have a lot more at stake than the "4 freedoms", our data is at stake.

One, the "4 freedoms" remain at stake even now, so GNU/FSF/whatever are useful.

Two, for everything else, EFF and its ilk are useful.

Why rail against RMS for not getting GNU/FSF to do EFF's job?

@ArneBab @valhalla @jens @be
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