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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] fedora core 2 will include subversion (and not gnu

From: Tom Lord
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] fedora core 2 will include subversion (and not gnu arch)
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2004 19:37:46 -0800 (PST)

    > From: Neal Becker <address@hidden>

    > The test releases of fedora core 2 include subversion.  The largest 
    > to wider adoption of subversion has been the difficulty of installation. 
    > This barrier is now gone.

I want to also say: bullshit.

    From: Cameron Patrick <address@hidden>

    > Why don't /you/ act, if you care about tla in Fedora?  Perhaps make
    > your own rpm .spec file - I've seen ones for more complicated packages
    > that fit entirely on one screen - and see if you can convince Red Hat
    > to include your package.

and: why bother?

Red Hat has no _legitimate_ claim to being leaders in the free
software movement.   We should resist, rather than embrace,
perceptions that their projects matter at all.  We should call out
their hypocrisy and cynism and encourage each other to overcome their
dominance of the community.

It seems to me that the free software movement is, deep down, about
creating actual cooperation among programmers and users and actual
empowerment of users with respect to their computing environments.
It's not just a movement to get people to use the GPL -- it's more
than that.  Free software licensing is necessary to achieve our goals,
but not sufficient.  The movement has to be understood as being about
more than just a technical issue of licensing -- as being also about
how we organize as a society to build and manage computing systems.
The mere _right_ to cooperate is just an inert abstraction: the actual
_practice_ of cooperation is the true origin of our interest in that

Licensing and rhetoric alone fail to be sufficient when businesses
learn _new_ tricks -- new ways beyond simply using unfree licenses --
to divide and conquer users and programmers.

One new trick, an example of why licensing alone isn't sufficient, is
the positioning of commercial GNU/Linux distributions as a platform
for running proprietary applications.  In this trick, commodity
hardware combined with a GNU/Linux operating system are, for
customers, just a cost-effective alternative to (for example) running
Oracle on Solaris.  I find it shocking when vendors embrace this
strategy while hypocritically claiming to be members of the free
software community.  RMS has recently written that today's agenda for
the GNU project is, in part, to finish replacing these unfree programs
-- if these vendors were not hypocrites, they would be embracing that
agenda publicly and aggressively rather than building a business
around "making Oracle deployment more affordable."

Another new trick is various forms of platform lockin -- the kinds of
problem that Bruce Perens is trying to solve.  Once again, the vendors
are revealed to be hypocrites: they are happy to embrace free software
licensing when it lowers their costs or enables them to extract work
from volunteers who contribute to free software --- and happy to turn
their back on that community by forcing users to sign restrictive
agreements to receive platform updates; and by failing to adopt and
enhance truly free distribution projects like Debian; and by failing
to work aggressively on the problem of funding free software R&D -- of
reseeding the commons on which they've sprouted up like predatory

Whenever a programmer decides to answer a bug report or add a feature
requested by a vendor operating in any of these manners, I think we
have look at the event with a critical eye.  Whenever one of these
vendors promotes a project (like fedora) and encourages people to help
with it, I think we have to ask "who benefits?"  What's really going
on in these situations?  We have vendors who are adopting the legal
framework of the free software movement, adopting the rhetoric of the
free software movement, asserting themselves as _leaders_ of the free
software movement, directing the labor of contributors to the free
software movement -- and then turning around to use these advantages
in the market by recreating exactly the sort of user-disempowerment,
user-dependence, and non-cooperative organization that unfree licenses
were used to create.  And their building these practices on the backs
of volunteers.  Something has gone wrong over the years.  The free
software development volunteers have become little more than the
unpaid R&D division of a handful of may-as-well-be-unfree vendors.

How many of you are paid by Red Hat?   How many of you have realistic
prospects of being paid by Red Hat?   And now -- how many of you write
software, without compensation, from which Red Hat generates profit?
And how many of you work on projects whose users don't speak directly
with your project at all -- but mediate their concerns via Red Hat?

The business "intelligencia" has lately become quite explicit and
shameless about this.  In the trade journals and web sites, on mailing
lists like fsb ("free software business"), at trade conferences --
they have identified a new "mystery" and a new marketing point.   The
Big Mystery, these days is: "What is it that motivates people to work
on free software?   They do it without pay -- seemingly for acclaim,
or fame, or recognition by peers."   And often this is in the context
of a sales pitch where a company distinguishes itself by its ability
to "tap into that energy" and present it to the market.

Like all great lies, there is just enough that is true about that one
to make it sound plausible.   Indeed -- love of computing, the
community fun, fame and recognition -- these are indeed, self
evidently, powerful motivators for many of us.    But that kernel of
plausibility hides a deeper truth:

The interest of volunteers in achieving fame, recognition, and acclaim
is hardly detached from economic interests.  Rather, that kind of name
recognition is one of the few roads to employment in the current
business conditions which are created by the very businesspeople who
are "marvelling" at people's willingness to work for them for free.
It is as if these businesses looked out over a field of 10,000 people
and announced "We will give good jobs to the 100 of you who can jump
the highest for the longest -- the rest of you lose" and then, turning
to their friend, said "Isn't it amazing how much these people like to
jump?  We have no idea why they are so inclined."

Who gives a flying fuck about fedora?   and why the hell should the
effort of people wanting to help arch succeed go to fedora?   Who died
and left Red Hat in charge?

Ah... right.  I remember now.  Once upon a time there was a GNU
project.  It's goal was to build a "complete system" and liberate
users and programmers from those commercial practices that would
divide an conquer us.   I wonder whatever happened to those guys.

"Who are your friends?   Who are your enemies?" -- Quotations from
Chairman Mao Tse-tung (the "little red book")

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