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.

@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.

@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.

· · Web · 2 · 1 · 3

@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
@ArneBab @jens @be @cadadr these (ryf.fsf.org/categories/laptops) are all thinkpads from ~2008, like the one I have (mine is an X200), refurbished and, I supposed, reflashed with libreboot; the people doing so are doing an really useful service, but once they are out of used thinkpads from that era they aren't going to be able to provide more computers of that kind (and they are starting to get a bit too limited performance-wise).

@valhalla @ArneBab @jens @cadadr System76 is now making new laptops which you can configure with super powerful hardware that have coreboot preinstalled.

@be @ArneBab @valhalla @jens Yeah, they respect our freedom with contributing great hardware and a neat desktop OS. No need for an RMS-Likes-This rubber stamp.

@cadadr @be @valhalla @jens And that’s exactly how freedom dies. There is a point to preventing a dependency on blobs only another party can change, and ironically it’s the OpenBSD folks who put it best: openbsd.org/lyrics.html#39

@cadadr @be @valhalla @jens "The SPI flash will be read only so the firmware blobs can’t be modified without the user knowing." ← *without the user knowing*: this is the point. puri.sm/posts/librem5-solving-

@ArneBab @jens @be @cadadr I don't really see the difference between having to trust e.g. intel for the original firmware (a compromise that in many cases one is forced to do) and having to trust them for updates (assuming that such updates come with relatively strong assurance that they are indeed coming from intel, but that's a matter of security, not freedom).

Of course I would very much prefer not to be forced to trust them in the first place, I'm just talking about the two alternative compromises (upgradable proprietary firmware vs proprietary firmware flashed on a chip).

@valhalla @ArneBab @be @cadadr Honestly, the best way I see out if this at the moment is RISC-V. No, the architecture won't magically change the mindsets of blob loving companies.

But since the barrier to entry is so much lower, at least there's a chance for new businesses going the free/open route from the start.

It's not happening yet as much as I'd like to see, though. I think that would be a very good long term lever to apply.

@jens @valhalla @be @cadadr I think one big challenge is that we’ll need to find ways to finance that in a way that does not create incentives to compromise software freedom or user freedom.

@ArneBab @jens @be @cadadr I'm also looking forwards to some decently open RISC-V board, or possibly even device: when one will be available from e.g. Olimex I will be in full shut-up-and-take-my-money mode (assuming that's an affortable amount of money :) )

but the barrier of entry for it is not that low: to make a risc-v chip that is suitable for general purpose computing (with comparable power requirements to other existing processors) one needs foundry technology that is really available only to the usual big names (or to people who want to make really huge amounts of chips).

There is more potential in the micro market, which is also a good thing, but pretty irrelevant for the problem of computing freedom for the end user.

@valhalla @ArneBab @be @cadadr yeah, but ARM has a successful business licensing designs without actually making chips. Companies in the RISC-V space are doing the same. All we need them and their customers to do is not to go for proprietary firmware with the devices they make from the chips.

@jens @valhalla @be @cadadr So we need enough GPL licensed base-designs that companies save more by building libre HW than they could earn extra with proprietary extortion? Or at least make sure that copyleft designs are more well-known?

@valhalla @jens @be @cadadr I see a difference, because if you trust them for updates, then you create an incentive to move features from free drivers into proprietary firmware.

If the free software drivers start depending on additional blob-features and that breaks the machine, we can undo the change. But most won’t do that, if the machine keeps working.

That’s what the history of expanding blobs in the Linux kernel showed, which is why we now need Linux Libre to avoid proprietary blobs.

@be @valhalla @jens @cadadr I now discussed in that thread, and it ended with marcan42 claiming: “the line between HW and SW is blurring, and the FSF has zero clue how to deal with it” — and me linking to the FSF high-priority project for libre firmware fsf.org/campaigns/priority-pro

He didn’t even make the minimal effort of firing up a search engine with his claim, else he would have seen that the FSF has libre firmware and the blurring line between HW and SW as one of the high priority projects.

@ArneBab @jens @be @cadadr they come with coreboot, but not libreboot, because they use recent intel chipsets that don't allow the complete removal of proprietary bits from their firmware, which is a step back from the x200, and the price to pay for more recent hardware.

And honestly, if that's the only compromise you need to take to be able to work, you're already in a good position, but it's still a compromise, and it's something that is currently getting worse, not better, even if there are people willing to make personal sacrifices to adapt to platform that are a bit better in this regard.
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