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On Linux, FSF, GNU, corpos and more

I don't know much about the turmoil that falls like a storm on the free software and open-source world.

The landscape of free software and open-source software is to me, and always has been, a rather hostile place. The entire community is a seemingly nice place, but each of the tribes is hostile in one way or the other.

The Free Software Foundation

Starting right in the meat, the FSF is one of the worst offenders when it comes to making the community hostile. It is actually hostile by design: hostile to companies in particular, but also hostile to change.

The copyleft movement promoted by the FSF always was a rough split in the community of open-source software of libre software advocates, i.e. political activists, and the open software development, i.e. the developers and users that want the flexibility and accessibility of software.

As a small developer, a very small company owner, and someone with a rather free mindset, I feel imprisonned by the activities of the FSF.

The GNU Project

Very much like the FSF, as they adopt a very similar policy, they are offenders. But a huge difference is that we here are talking not about political activists but developers that partake in their ideology to better the world around them.

The GNU project is maintained by mold-breakers, very open-minded cliques of developers, some of them creating very very valuable software that empowers beyond their community. For example, my respect for the GCC and the Guile project is immense. Those projects made sure to empower and radiate beyond their community. The GNU Make project is also a very strong tool making team.

This community manages to be wholesome despite its ideology, and is slowly abandonning that ideology for it is not favorable to their individual projects.

Corporations

Corporations do a very very ambiguous role in those communities. A biological analogy would be a symbiotic parasite: they find a good project, use it for massive profit, while contributing to it. I am not innocent here as a small company owner. I think that I am using other people work.

I feel grateful, oh genuinely grateful, for every line of code I can borrow from OpenBSD.

But I am afraid that, one day, the projects that parasites feed on will be completely eaten by the parasite.

The Linux community

I don't trust Linux. Linux is neither and open-source project nor a free project. It is not a commercial project, but it is not a community project either.

Linux is a chimera. Time made it large and arcane. Contributions from all walks of life made it great, but are now a downfall: the kernel has too much complexity to be of use, too many ramifications, dependencies, NDA protected blobs, and became anchored into mindsets that drift it away from being a community project towards being a corporation collaboration project.

I like Linux. I don't trust Linux.

Individuals as political activists

I would love to kindly ask you to be political, to make a difference of human beings, projects and ideas.

I would also like it if — if your only F/OSS activity is advocating, yelling at others, and publishing angry blog posts — you could leave the community that was originally one of computer science and getting our printers to work on arcane operating systems.

If you actually work on the technical and scientific part of your respective project, I want you to think not about individuals and groups that are only politically related to you and look at a bigger picture, and think about what is best for the community you are creating in the projects you work on — and that may involve wrapping that opinion, and folding it in your backpocket for a while.

Individuals as developers of open-source and libre software

Keep at it, glory comes to those that work the task and never give up.

Alas! I exclaimed, despite Man's high position,
I tremble for us and our feeble condition!
The way to depart from this world and its strife.
Is revealed by you creatures, true masters of life.
So little we take and so much are we quitting
That at our last hour only silence is fitting.
— Ah! wild passer-by, this I well comprehend,
And was pierced to the heart by your look at the end.
It said: "Strive if you can, that your soul may aspire
By devout contemplation to raise itself higher,
Attaining in that way the stoical pride
That I had for my birthright, with nature my guide.
To groan, weep or pray is the coward's disgrace.
Accomplish with energy all that you face
And follow the path that your fate will supply,
Then suffer as I did, and silently die."

La mort du Loup (The death of the Wolf), A. de Vigny

On Linux, FSF, GNU, corpos and more
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