BerandaComputers and TechnologyThe Surest Path to Freedom Is Removing Your Software

The Surest Path to Freedom Is Removing Your Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 7:00 am by Guest Editorial Team

By figosdev

Notes

Summary: “Microsoft HATES users. They love (exploiting) Linux. They love getting money for “patents” on things WE created without them, specifically to get away from them.”

The Free Software movement has failed. Its goal was not just to create software, which is a necessary step — but to give the user control of their own computing.

But users don’t control their computing, organisations do — if those organisations were DOING THEIR JOB, that would help. But then those organisations get bribed by the same companies who controlled your computing before. And then those organisations stop fighting for your freedom, paying it lip service only. The FSF becomes FSFtv, and it just makes commercials for the freedom you used to have. They don’t fight at all, in fact they bend over for monopolies on your behalf. Couldn’t you do that well enough without paying for the privilege? Okay, if you need the tax write-off I understand — but wouldn’t the SPCA do just as well?

“GNOME and Emacs developers both make more things depend on HarfBuzz, which is controlled by Microsoft.”You won’t find any organisations fighting for your freedom now, only individuals. Sometimes Eben Moglen cares — he still says things that would help if people listened. Often Richard Stallman cares. He still tries to liberate your Pi (surprising, you would think he would just give up. But more power to him). Bruce Perens says he cares. Sure, maybe he does. I think Perens has done enough to us already, as well-intentioned as he seems on YouTube.

Most of these organisations are stabbing users and developers in the back though. Debian tortures developers and treats them like Amazon warehouse workers. KDE silences developers not unlike the Linux Foundation. The Linux Foundation stole the kernel, and is now putting all kinds of horrors into it.

A prisonGNOME and Emacs developers both make more things depend on HarfBuzz, which is controlled by Microsoft. The FSF allows coups and censorship against itself, its founder and even its supporters. SFC has betrayed everyone. The GNU Project is partnering piece-by-piece with Microsoft, and already relies on it heavily for more than it admits or cares about.

I used to believe in Debian. So long as you don’t enable the non-free repos, I considered Debian the very best way to be free. I tried supporting many other options, but Trisquel followed Ubuntu and GnewSense had a version that was closer to Debian-based, but GnewSense took forever to update (compared to either Debian or Ubuntu. Or Trisquel).

In the short run, Trisquel was superior to GnewSense but GnewSense was better in the long run — but it was so slow to update. Ridiculously slow. The differences between Debian (without non-free repos added in sources.list) and GnewSense are very, very small. But then things went absolutely to hell — and sticking with FSF-approved distros really didn’t help at all.

Super-arrogant (or possibly even narcissistic or sociopathic) developers like Lennart Poettering (just one major example) don’t care about your freedom, or you having control over your computer. They do everything based on the idea of making people use their software. They “technically” can’t create lock-in, because hey, the source is free, right? But they can design software using methods that Microsoft was famous for using, which make forking (or compatibility) impractical if not deliberately impossible, and push users really hard to be stuck with a single offering — not even a real choice. For something with a small number of users, this is a non-issue. When such things are moved in to replace mainstream software, it’s more like an attack.

Systemd tried very, very hard to be the only init system. They gloated about it. They mocked anybody who hated either the software or the attitude behind it. Systemd developers hate your freedom.

They aren’t alone. GNOME, which has spent years attacking Free Software on several levels (and both historically and recently) has taken over various components that used to be independent and added others, not unlike systemd did. Some projects give you choices, other projects really try to corral users.

“GNOME, which has spent years attacking Free Software on several levels (and both historically and recently) has taken over various components that used to be independent and added others, not unlike systemd did. Some projects give you choices, other projects really try to corral users.”Users know this, and these developers along with their insidious fanboys (or fangirls, sometimes) gaslight the hell out of them — responding to protests (not unlike Microsoft has) even ones from people who were already familiar with the Free Software ecosystem 10 or more years ago with lies and half-truths and corporate propaganda.

These corporate people take over communities, then control them — they add policies that give large donors control over the project (rather than even the project founders or original authors) and then they kick out the people who made it what it was.

This is exactly what IBM and Microsoft do to proprietary vendors, but to simulate those takeovers with communities of (mostly) volunteers has taken 20 years to perfect. Now you see it everywhere, from Debian to Python to Mozilla to Linux — to GNU itself.

You’re being lied to about this Every. Single. Day. And nobody fucking cares that you’re constantly being lied to about your freedom.

And they aren’t even new lies — the strategy had to be retrofit to communities (this is the what “Open Source” really is) but the lies are just recycled from everything Microsoft used to throw at “Linux” (including calling it Linux, which over time has itself become a backdoor for the takeover of GNU, which GNU actually realised and once protested).

And when this was just beginning to happen, We Told You it was. Now it’s everywhere, it’s getting much worse, and the tech press is crowing “We Won!” But we said they would do that too.

The reason this stuff is so easy to predict, is the tactics only change on the surface. These are old games, takeovers don’t really ever change the rules of how takeovers work — they just tailor them to the latest target. We know what the beginning of a takeover looks like. We know what it looks like in the next stages. We know what the “death” looks like.

These aren’t really predictions, they’re prognoses. And being scam artists, the shills and marketers constantly lie to protect the scam in progress. That’s supposed to be proof they’re not doing it.

“We smile and clap our hands while someone makes a nifty new graphic that says “there is no Cloud, it’s just someone else’s computer” — but Richard Stallman is telling you to get code from Microsoft’s computers. Jami and BigBlueButton are both developed on GitHub.”Richard Stallman was at LibrePlanet last year, talking about how you should switch to Jami or BigBlueButton. While I don’t deny that either of those are better than Microsoft Teams or Zoom, they are still controlled by Microsoft. The FSF used to care about that, but now they gave Stallman’s job to someone who loves GitHub, and Richard Stallman is promoting software with source code you have to get from Microsoft’s “Cloud”. We smile and clap our hands while someone makes a nifty new graphic that says “there is no Cloud, it’s just someone else’s computer” — but Richard Stallman is telling you to get code from Microsoft’s computers. Jami and BigBlueButton are both developed on GitHub.

On the mailing lists, the stewards of GNU are not even fighting this. There is no move to censure GNU Radio or other projects for moving to and staying on Github, even when Stallman warned them not to go there in the first place. Sure, he couldn’t stop them. And now he can’t even say how destructive it was. He has to be careful, because nobody gives a shit about his freedom either. He is not only an activist, but the founder of an entire activist movement. And he has to be careful speaking about a cause he himself started, because a bunch of fucking backstabbers and traitors have finally figured out how to control him. Mother fucker.

Emacs just incorporated HarfBuzz. It didn’t need HarfBuzz before. This is a needless dependency on one of the original high profile Free Software projects, and Microsoft can stick its flag in Emacs now — heck, it was already based on Lisp, and most of the libraries are already on Microsoft GitHub. It already needed libFFI and zlib1g (both controlled by Microsoft). This is a mockery of freedom.

Guix is becoming the GNU Project’s answer to Snap — what do I mean? Snap exists largely to put Canonical in charge of an app store, which brings in whatever non-free garbage Canonical wants to. Guix is doing the same thing with Lisp, but they’re hovering under the radar, bringing about questions from people who know better — and stabbing Richard Stallman in the back and trying to take over the GNU Project at the same time (along with traitors running GNOME).

There are no organisations at this point that aren’t somehow dirty. And the thing is — as users, we have essentially zero leverage.

“Python selling out (first to Google, now to Microsoft) is particularly tragic, because if you want to learn a mainstream programming language as a beginner, Python is (both in theory and in practice) the easiest one to learn.”The FSF doesn’t let members vote, but it has (clearly) let corporations take over. OSI had a coup and is now run by Microsoft, along with traitors like Deb Icaza. But similar has happened at the FSF. And they can’t even bother to mention the issue with Youtube-dl (Techrights has to do it for them, finding old footage of Free Software supporters, including Stallman and former FSF board member Lessig protesting the DMCA). They’re probably too busy making another pointless video for a GitHub-based project. All those corporate (buyout) donations have to go somewhere. I don’t know what the FSF spends their money on, and I really don’t give a shit either. We know where they get it from, and we know what they’ve done — and that’s bad enough.

Python selling out (first to Google, now to Microsoft) is particularly tragic, because if you want to learn a mainstream programming language as a beginner, Python is (both in theory and in practice) the easiest one to learn. BASIC has morphed over the years into a retro game development platform, and isn’t mainstream anymore — Python (along with the occasional Logo variant) has filled the niche purpose that BASIC once served — and does so much more.

Users have no say over what they run on their computer. GNOME (run by wannabe Microsoft devs), Python Foundation (owned by Microsoft) and the Linux Foundation (owned by Microsoft) and OSI (owned by Microsoft) oh! and Red Hat (owned and run by IBM and Microsoft) have the final say on who contributes, what changes, what gets dropped and what is supported.

This is NOT freedom. This is corporate rule. And if the Free Software movement can’t admit that, then the Free Software movement is nothing but a bunch of spineless cowards.

That’s a far cry from what it was — when it really was Free Software.

There was a time where if you didn’t like X, you said Fuck It, and ran Y in protest. Or maybe you created Z yourself. That’s what I did when I got tired of BASIC making beginner coding too complicated. Then I got tired of distros doing stupid things, so I automated remastering them. It’s not like I haven’t tried. Remastering manually is a pain in the ass, and error-prone. You couldn’t have paid me to create a distro that way. Nor was I interested in doing LFS (OLPC wasn’t either — they use automated remasters).

“Microsoft HATES users. They love (exploiting) Linux. They love getting money for “patents” on things WE created without them, specifically to get away from them.”But now, everything (Window Managers, Font rendering libraries, Compression libraries, Spell checking, Programming languages, most libraries for those libraries, Web browsers, most command line utilities, most init systems) all of that is on GitHub.

Users have no choice but The Cloud, and you need to download sources from GitHub just to compile GNU Icecat (Tom tried it. And I know he’s right anyway, because I’ve seen the script that gets the Jasmine library using Wget).

Alexandre Oliva, who many people (including Oliva and myself, possibly) thought would eventually replace Stallman upon retirement (and who to his credit, still watches over the shifty Guix devs) really doesn’t get the problem of GNU being so dependent on infrastructure which is run by GNU’s oldest and most determined enemy. Even when we show him the memos where Microsoft planned this move, he just doesn’t get it.

And that’s bad, because if Oliva doesn’t get it, and Stallman doesn’t get it (or won’t say anything about it) then nobody (least of all the GitHub-contributing FSF president) gets it.

FSF works for Microsoft.

OSI works for Microsoft.

Python Foundation works for Microsoft.

Linux Foundation works for Microsoft.

Mozilla works for Microsoft.

None of these organisations work for USERS.

“Join the FSF today and become an unpaid Microsoft intern, developing software you’ll never have control of again without their permission!”Microsoft HATES users.

They love (exploiting) Linux.

They love getting money for “patents” on things WE created without them, specifically to get away from them.

They love co-opting all software through GitHub.

They love the tech press saying nice things so much, they keep bribing them.

But they hate users. They love control. They plot constantly (as their very business model) against your freedom.

The only freedom they love is their own.

And Richard Stallman wants you to use Jami and BigBlueButton, and GNU Icecat (which you have the freedom to study, use, modify and share — but if you want to do that with the latest version you have to get permission from Microsoft).

This isn’t Freedom, it’s Bullshit!

So what can you do? You can take Stallman’s advice and Oliva’s advice, and throw more money at this corruption. If people are doing dumb, dirty shit, the best way to stop them is to throw money at it. It’s not enough money for them to listen, but join anyway! What’s the worst that could happen? Nothing ever changes, and you have less money. Suck it up!

Your money will then subsidise the takeover of Free Software — turning the software into Microsoft products, advocacy into advertising for Microsoft (even Stallman is doing it, it must be OK now) and volunteer work into profits for Microsoft.

Join the FSF today and become an unpaid Microsoft intern, developing software you’ll never have control of again without their permission!

Fuck All Of That.

“I think we should delete the software these people put on our computers. It’s really the only leverage we have.”So once again, what can you do?

I started running software (from cassette tapes) on a computer at age 4. You had to type LOAD (at least) and then maybe a name, to run what was on the cassette. The manual had ridiculously simple instructions (if you could read, you could do it, and I was hyperlexic) and if you pressed a few keys exactly like they were written, the program would start. It wasn’t difficult. If you were too young to read, someone would have to tell you what keys to press. But then most of the things you could do once a program loaded involved some words anyway.

So I’ve been playing with computers for a long time. I’m not likely to stop doing that now. I started writing programs at age 6. They were small and simple and ridiculous, just like the first program Torvalds wrote at 11. (He became a MUCH more talented coder, and much, much faster, obviously. I can’t even write a driver, though I’m sure it’s not as impossible as I think it is).

The point is, I love computers. They’re the only hobby I’ve kept since I was a kid.

I think we should delete the software these people put on our computers. It’s really the only leverage we have.

When I was 10, all I had to do to install an operating system was this:

SYS A: B:

I haven’t run that in a decade or more (I may have done something like it in FreeDOS at some point, but I always installed FreeDOS to the hard drive — and I didn’t install it often, it probably has a different install script) though I know that’s how you do it. After that you want to:

COPY AUTOEXEC.BAT B:

and probably also

COPY CONFIG.SYS B:

And your operating system is installed. If you have a hard drive, then it’s C: instead of B:. My third computer (second PC) was an AT clone, and it had a 90mb MFM hard drive. It had a black metal casing and was the height of two floppy drives. It went to a sibling when I got a 386. I had that until Windows 95 came out.

My first laptop was a 486DX Compaq with Windows 3.1. When the screen got too many dead pixels, I removed the lid and used an external monitor. Windows 3.1 installs from (up to) 6 floppies.

“But when I ran Windows, if there was something I didn’t like I removed it.”While people complained about Windows 95, I was running Calmira on Windows 3.1. I didn’t like 95, and I resisted it for years. I even used an ISP that supported 3.1, and I didn’t even have to bother with Winsock. Just install the dialer (no, not AOL, gross…) and click the icon.

Years later I did decide that I wanted USB support. I had an external IDE drive enclosure that let me connect any IDE drive to the parallel port, but though it was pointless at first, USB had proven itself to not be a stupid fad peripheral component. This was before I had regular Internet access, heck, this was before Wikipedia existed. I had to judge products by what I knew and what I was asked to abandon.

But when I ran Windows, if there was something I didn’t like I removed it. That includes Internet Explorer.

So I wrote a program (in QBasic) that lists every file on the computer (dir c: /b /a /s, the DOS equivalent of find / run as root) and let you move up/down (and probably PgUp/PgDn) and highlight any file. If you hit enter, it would rename any .dll to .lld, any .vxd to .dxv, any .bat to .tab and any .exe to .xex. Basically, it disabled executable files. The dir command didn’t hide extensions the way that Windows sometimes did (I always turned that stupid security vulnerability off though) and whenever I read about a vulnerability (say in quartz.dll) I would disable it and then go on about my computing for a while. You had to boot to DOS mode to be able to run this on any file, so I was already rebooted when I was trying to run Windows again.

After a while, if that Microsoft .dll wasn’t needed, I just deleted it. I know a LOT of removal tricks, enough to get Windows 95 down to 10mb (with a GUI. But by the 10mb mark even Control Panel won’t open). I would disable groups of things systematically, using my program to “rename” them, and then only re-enable what I had to. Sure, it was breaking things (but it was breaking features I didn’t care about).

When I started running GNU/Linux distros, I was still interested in removing what I didn’t need and replacing slower tools with faster ones. KDE 3.5 was actually stupidly fast. GNOME 2 was slower, but worth it for some people (my first wife loved GNOME 2, I didn’t think it was terrible — MATE deserved more respect from Debian than it got). IceWM was a favourite, but I switched to dwm (I’m running it now) because IceWM too is controlled by Microsoft. For most people, I stuck them with LXDE (Microsoft) and if they didn’t like that, I upgraded them to XFCE — especially since GNOME 3 exemplified the same relentless douchebaggery we would all soon experience with systemd.

When I became expert at removing ALL of Windows, from many different machines, I did that. And until Debian jumped the shark and became evil, I relied on it as the distro of all distros.

Then I became expert at removing systemd bullshit. And you know what? I did that for literally years, even created a distro in the process, and that fucking thing is woven into EVERYTHING. Fuck systemd! Yes, in just one day I modified a script I originally designed for Puppy Linux to remaster Debian Live so that it booted with sysvinit instead of systemd, but if that was all it really took, then Devuan and antiX wouldn’t be a big deal to anybody. AntiX does an incredible job, too bad its devs use Github.

“Python is also based on GitHub of course, and that’s what my own language is implemented in. So I moved to PyPy.”I thought about continuing with the remastering, but the thing is systemd just keeps eating features and shitting out — well, shit. You run systemd, you let IBM make the rules. That’s not freedom, it’s corporate rule. Then people lie to you about it. Finally I decided to start removing GitHub-based components (as much as possible) and try to get a somewhat modular GNU/Linux (remember when it really was modular?) running again. We can quibble about what that means, though for me the most GitHub-free distro was Tiny Core.

There is still hope for Hyperbola (it’s largely the reason I’m running BSD now) but either way, after all these years of removing Windows and replacing it with GNU/Linux, I’m now Linux-free.

But this isn’t just about getting rid of a kernel that has gone evil. This is about how Free Software isn’t free, because nearly all of it is controlled by corrupt organisations that hate users and lie to them to get bigger donations (and for Guido, a job at Microsoft stabbing every fan he ever had in the back). Some of you LIKE being treated like shit, I get that, but it’s still abuse.

So I went and removed features from MY OWN programming language. I removed the Pygame library from my FAVOURITE project in the world, because Fuck GitHub. Already Pygame was optional (to the point where if it wasn’t installed, you would just get simulated graphics with ANSI escapes) but this removed support altogether. I didn’t delete the old versions, so people can fork those if they want. But I don’t support Pygame anymore. I even increased the colour support for the ANSI escapes to make up for the lack of Pygame. (And that was just to maintain the support for a 24-bit colour hack that was never officially part of the language).

Because if Pygame cares so little that they will force their users to go back to Microsoft (a company that exploits users and tries to destroy Free Software year after year) then I don’t want to support Pygame IF I CAN HELP IT. And I could, so I did. It’s partly symbolic/philosophical, partly practical, partly follow-my-own-advice.

Python is also based on GitHub of course, and that’s what my own language is implemented in. So I moved to PyPy. I checked PyPy compatibility years ago, but I actually moved the direct support from CPython to PyPy. Because I don’t want to support CPython more than I have to. What about Youtube-dl? Does it run on PyPy? Sadly, not that I know of (let me know if you manage it). So if I need CPython just for that, then maybe if PyPy becomes popular enough, someone will either fix or fork Youtube-dl to be compatible.

I run very little software that needs Python at all, and that’s partly because I run very little software. I run what I need to, and the rest I get rid of.

“I run what I need to, and the rest I get rid of.”I can assure you, most people are not trying to remove software they don’t need.

And since the FSF will only fight for Microsoft, and Richard Stallman thinks you should trust Jami or BigBlueButton or GNU IceCat even though Microsoft has root (hopefully not when you run the software, but maybe you are building it with lower privileges than that, I wouldn’t know) and most organisations are lying to you on behalf of the same companies that Free Software was intended to free you from control by…

Is all this telemetry not a problem then? DRM in the Linux kernel?

Do we really have to compile all this stuff ourselves? If so, why aren’t we forking GNU?

Until that time, I’m afraid that the best advice I can give you — if you want to be free, is avoid all the software you can.

Before I was capable of running GNU/Linux (I was certainly interested) I told people to replace their programs with smaller and lighter ones. It made Windows faster, and it gave people more control over their computing. Not as much as the source code and a good license would give them, though today organisations are doing a pretty good job of working around those “freedoms” to control the user.

That’s what they’re doing in practice, in reality, but in theory you have all 4 Freedoms. It says so right in the license — and the thing about licenses is that even if you do nothing at all, the language in software licenses magically bends the universe and reality itself to conform to the language — like a very powerful spell.

So you can just slap a license on software and never stand for anything at all, and voila, that’s freedom. I guess… Sort of like when people go door to door asking you if you’ve heard the Good Word… for too many people it’s not about loving your neighbour or tending to the sick and needy, it’s really more about going door to door and telling people to join. More’s the pity.

So you take your (hypothetical) freedom and your organisations that are (hypothetically) fighting for you, and actually taking money from your enemies and silencing people who dissent in practice —

And I’ll install a Linux-free operating system (certainly nothing from GIAFAM) with way fewer lines of code and less corporate influence (more than none, much like in the earlier days of the GNU Project).

“You’ll never give people more control of their computing by selling out to GIAFAM. Never.”And I will hope that more people care about this stuff, enough to salvage the GNU Project and make a next-generation copylefted OS like Hyperbola could do if enough people support it.

But if you don’t care about this stuff, there’s not much of GNU to salvage. Users aren’t free, and nobody is fighting for you anymore.

Okay, a few individuals. But Free Software is slowly and surely becoming as much of a broken promise as Open Source was from Day 1.

And nobody really seems to give a shit about that.

That’s alright, I rarely install new software anymore. You don’t care about my freedom, I don’t care about your software.

It’s the only leverage I’ve got left. Throwing money at the FSF will only benefit GitHub, it seems. And liars.

No, I don’t mean Richard Stallman. I don’t think he’s sold out, I think he’s been sold out.

You can laugh if you like, but I’m doing more to have control of my computing, while you’re cutting people’s limbs off and saying “here, have a bandage for it”.

Shit, that’s really generous.

This is why I don’t give people Free Debian computers anymore — I don’t hate users that much, never did. I want users to have more freedom — not more corporate lies replacing one evil with another and calling it progress.

You’ll never give people more control of their computing by selling out to GIAFAM. Never.

“And I’m not optimistic, (You don’t say?) nor hopeful anything will change the course at this point.”Remove whatever software you can manage without — minimalism was a path to emancipation as far back as Thoreau, if not Moses. Thoreau practiced voluntary poverty to avoid paying more money that would go to wars he didn’t support.

You can do similar for your computing. There’s a lot less e-waste (and less intrusive, technofascist panopticon corporate fuckery) if you install less of this technofascist, corporate crap software with a “free as in freedom” license for many of the components. Forget the spoonful of sugar, stop eating their shit.

I do of course, still recommend using a free software license if you write software, both as a practical matter and a matter of principle. Just as importantly, I recommend not lying to, exploiting and trying to control your users. There’s no need for an ironclad standard there — users of Free Software were free enough in 2010. Most of the shit that’s gone wrong has done so since that time. I was still very happy about the way things were going in 2013, except for shit Intel was doing. (AMD, too).

And I’m not optimistic, (You don’t say?) nor hopeful anything will change the course at this point.

Freedom is for the vigilant, and people generally don’t give a shit. This is for the five or six of you that want to do something anyway. I used to say start a better organisation, and that’s a good idea too — for the five or six of you. It’s better than none. It’s at least five or six, though. Tom makes at least 3, and that’s why I recommended him for the board instead of myself. And you know what? Unlike the entire fucking board, Tom actually gets it.

Long live users, long live freedom, and fuck fake (corporate bribed) organisations — sure, that’s practically everything… and I meant it, too.

(This article is released by its author to the public domain)


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