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Re: Privileges and practicalities [was: Re: [ELPA] New package: repology

From: Jean Louis
Subject: Re: Privileges and practicalities [was: Re: [ELPA] New package: repology.el]
Date: Sat, 9 Jan 2021 10:25:42 +0300
User-agent: Mutt/2.0 (3d08634) (2020-11-07)

* Göktuğ Kayaalp <self@gkayaalp.com> [2021-01-08 22:17]:
> On 2021-01-08 11:46 GMT, Jean Louis <bugs@gnu.support> wrote:
> >>Free software is a privilege, as it is.  It requires a lot of
> >>knowledge about computing praxis and culture, internet culture, legal
> >>stuff, and politics.
> > How privilege? I don't see how is free software privilege. Not for
> > me. It should be basic human right for users to have control of their
> > data, and not to let other companies or individuals control my data.
> That’s what a privileged person would say.  E.g., I’m an ethnically
> Turkish guy in Turkey.  I look Turkish, I speak Standard Turkish with
> flawless mid-upper class Istanbulite accent, I’m a cisgender and
> heterosexual male.  And I’m highly educated individual with a family
> backing his higher ed adventure.  This means I don’t get stopped and
> searched, I don’t get harassed on the street, I don’t need to be afraid
> of the police, that I won’t be arrested or attacked for what language I
> speak, I won’t be looked down upon, and won’t have to worry about a lot
> of things women, LGBTQ+, and non-Turkish ethnicities will have to worry
> about.  There’s a whole host of experiences that I will never have to
> get to know in person just because who I am.  That’s how privilege
> works.  It has you live in a safe, protective bubble.  And it blurs the
> vision of the outer world.

Yes, it sounds like a privilege in a suppressive society. But that
should not be subject here.

> Free software is a privilege if you don’t have the time to learn a whole
> new culture.

"Privilege" is special advantage or immunity or benefit not enjoyed by
all. Because that free software is accessible and downloadable and can
be enjoyed by all people who wish, that is why I do not put it in
category of privileges.

You need not learn any new culture. All what you do is you purchase
computer with free software installed and you learn software. There is
no new culture to learn that is bound to that software.

As you discover on your way of learning what it is, maybe you feel to
wish to contribute back so you maybe file issues about software or
program pieces or whole software yourself. But majority people will
just find it useful for their life and business.

> Free software is a privilege if your hardware can’t run it and you
> don’t have the money to buy stuff that does (for most people even a
> dongle is a serious investment).

If you be practical and tell me what does not run and which device
does not work, then maybe I find a workaround for you.

So far I have installed Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre on many computers,
each computer works just fine. By chance I used mostly Lenovo
Thinkpad, but also Fujitsu, HP, and similar.

Major problem is when WiFi does not work. But because those computers
are used in a country where Internet anyway comes over mobile phone,
so we just connect mobile phone to notebook and receive Internet by
USB tethering.

Same mobile phone can connect to local WiFi and share connection by
USB tethering to notebook.

Notebooks I have purchased mostly for average price of US $200, and
mobile phone for 70 euro in Germany.

Better solution would be using Lenovo Thinkpads as described on
https://www.libreboot.org and flash BIOS to have fully free
computer. If there is problem with WiFi, a dongle or replaced chip
would be necessary.

You are right that things do not go that easy. But they can go easy if
at the time point of a purchase of computer user purchases computer
that does work with free software. That is what I am doing now and
these months, I choose particular hardware that is free.

> Free software is a privilege if you don’t get to make decisions
> about what software to use.

As employee, a person already decided to submit oneself to specific
requirements of employer, so you could maybe influence employer and
present free software as such is used also in US government, see
https://code.gov and you could also present European use cases where
free software is promoted to be used in governments.

Those programmers who do understand importance of free software, they
find themselves in such environments to produce or work with free
software. There are so many free software companies as well. So it is
matter of decision, what one wants to do from ground up.

Like a musician who says I wish to play guitar but not piano, if that
is first decision, musician may keep a guitar all life long.

Personally I am interacting with many people and we have set of
instructions which free software to use, and how to liberate devices
from spying proprietary software. Those people who use iPhone are not
asked to cease using iPhone personally. They are asked to purchase or
acquire separate device that will run free software. We purchase for
them. Staff members are not even asked if they use proprietary or not,
it is irrelevant what they personally do, but in team communication we
use free software. In general we do not tackle much the subject of
what is free software. They learn about 4 freedoms and that is all,
most of times that is not where their attention will be, as we wish to
accomplish tasks. So using free software is in my business case rather
useful than ideological.

Just like mine company, there are many other companies that will work
with people with free software. I know that Germany has many of such

> Free software is a privilege if a clan of so-called software freedom
> advocates are censoring vital information because they happened to
> like so, saying nonsense like:
> > We have fully free software that need not ever interact or cooperate
> > with non free.

I did not say or mean that you personally cannot interact. I have said
that it need not interact as it is integrated operating system.

No vital information is censored by that statement of mine. Neither I
am member of a "clan" and I do not know why you mention that. 

> This might be partially true for a software developer working only
> on free software, but it’s a privileged position because very little
> people have the chance to learn enough to do that and an even little
> opportunities exist for those who do put in the time.

If you would be more practical, I could help you. Tell me your
specific purpose or specific need. That is what we do here, we help
people find free software.

One time I had a huge need for free software to measure stock piles. I
was searching for days for a solution and then I found
http://cloudcompare.org/ and that is one practical use case where I
had troubles finding free software for specific purpose.

So provide a specific use case, what exactly you wish to solve? Then I
will look if there exists free software solution.

> Meanwhile the rest of us plebeians have to make Zoom work on our
> computers, use sub-optimal hardware, and figure things on our own.
> All the while the likes of you see themselves entitled to judge the
> morality of our choices and obligations.

If anybody says to me to have Skype, they take it maybe for granted
that I will put proprietary software on computer, so I tell them
clearly that we do not use third party servers to submit our
information over them and I tell them that we use our own servers and
so we recommed Mumble speech server for conversation over distances.

Zoom is proprietary, and so we tell them about security issues with
Zoom. It is matter of choice for me personally.


I do understand that people have troubles handling communication and
that we are as people in different societies and in different
boundaries. And then in the end it looks like a Matrix movie, you are
in a programmed society where you cannot easily liberate yourself. So
it may seem from viewpoint of many people difficult like you say.

It depends probably of how person found about the free software from
begin of learning about computing. 

> >>Most users of software _cannot_ avoid non-free software.
> > Whoever is informed well and decides so themselves can switch to fully
> > free software. People make decisions on their own.
> No.  If you have to use Zoom for your classes or meetings, you have to.
> If you need to use WhatsApp, you have to.  Nobody but a very small
> amount of people are free in making these decisions.

You may.

Me as a parent of children, I can come to school and help them
switch. If a school does other activities that are not acceptable to
me personally, like teaching children some things that I do not agree
with, then I may tell them so. If school does not comply, I change the

Would there be for me personally problem with Zoom, I would complain,
for the security issues mentioned.

I do not think that it is legal to demand private persons to install
some foreign software on a computer.

In general it is matter of education.

What you could do now is to provide the name of the school and
contacts of their decision makers, then we compile set of documents
and references and send to the school for their englightenment.

> > What GNU project promotes is free software. GNU never says to its
> > users to use exclusively free software [...]
> If you make it hard to use non-free software one _has_ to use with free
> software they _want_ to use, this is effectively a discriminatory,
> exclusionary, and unegalitarian practice.  And it’s also anti-GNU
> because this makes it _really_ hard to suggest people that they give
> free software a try.

I cannot see how GNU project is making hard for you or any other user
to use proprietary software. Nobody even asks you about that. Nobody
is looking what you do and how you use which software.

To discriminate means to treat differently, in this case, on the basis
of proprietary software.

Maybe some people individually would or could do that, but GNU project
does not do that. GNU project does not look who uses proprietary
software, that does not matter. It teaches about free software, it
does not look over your shoulder.

Every person is welcome to contribute to GNU project regardless if
they have bunch of computers running on proprietary software.

Look here: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/kind-communication.html

> Likewise, be kind when pointing out to other contributors that they
> should stop using certain nonfree software. For their own sake, they
> ought to free themselves, but we welcome their contributions to our
> software packages even if they don't do that. So these reminders
> should be gentle and not too frequent—don't nag.

> By contrast, to suggest that others run a nonfree program opposes the
> basic principles of GNU, so it is not allowed in GNU Project
> discussions.

GNU project is against any discrimination towards people.

What GNU project discriminates is proprietary software. It excludes
proprietary software from GNU operating systems like Guix,
Trisquel. Maybe I should mention again that GNU project is about
building free operating system. As it is bunch of people who
contribute to creation of free operating systems such as Guix,
Trisquel, Parabola, etc. then whoever wish to use the systems is free,
but whoever does not wish to use them is also free.

There is no discrimination towards people based on what people use, as
that is not subject of GNU. GNU provides free operating system, but
people have their choice to take it or leave it. There is nothing
exclusionary or unegalitarian.

> And it’s also anti-GNU because this makes it _really_ hard to
> suggest people that they give free software a try.

Again, GNU project is about providing free operating system. It does
not force you do anything. Nobody minds which software you use. Nobody
even tracks who uses which software, it would be impossible.

If you wish to suggest free software to people you are free. If not,
you are also free.

> All in all, if GNU wants to be a fun little software guys group like
> 9front or OpenBSD, fine, but be honest about it.  If GNU and FSF wants
> to fight for everyone’s software freedom and will continue to ask
> donations for this cause, then this is not the way to do it.  It comes
> off as entitled and disconnected.

The distinction between OpenBSD and GNU is that GNU will not provide
non-free software components like OpenBSD. Nothing changes there. For
other thoughts in your above paragraph, I cannot comprehend it and I
do not see relation to GNU. I may say that you have got perception
from somewhere, but I do not share that perception of a GNU project.

> Today, there’s nothing that’s uniquely copyleft software, maybe except
> Emacs.

Well, I cannot share that perception as a long time user of Debian
GNU/Linux, you could verify it on their website, there are thousands
of packages that are uniquely copyleft.

> LLVM and clang is as good as GCC, coreutils is better than BSD
> userland or busybox but not by a huge margin, Zsh is by no means
> inferior to Bash, etc.

You have mentioned various free software. They are all part of total
set of free software. GNU project supports ALL free software licenses
and promotes GNU GPL as primary. Please see here:

That is the official statement by GNU project. So all free software
licenses are welcome.

> OSes like FreeBSD are almost fully viable on desktop, and most of
> what works on GNU/Linux works there.  If copyleft and
> free-as-in-speech-not-beer is to remain relevant in the future, this
> whole attitude needs to change.

Well you are asking GNU project to change its stance on free
software. That is very unlikely to happen as it goes against its core
principle or founding principle.

But what you can do is to open up your project with different set of
principles and run your own organization of people. Everybody is free
and entitled to it.

FreeBSD is not a fully free OS and is thus not endorsed as such by the
FSF. One new and interesting project will be non-GNU
Hyperbola/BSD-libre system https://www.hyperbola.info where they will
provide fully free BSD-based but mostly non-GNU free operating system,
where the OpenBSD kernel will be re-published under GNU GPL license
and where systemsoftware will conform to GNU GPL.

That will become a fully free BSD-like operating system. Until then,
we have not get such as NetBSD/FreeBSD/OpenBSD/DragonflyBSD still do
not qualify fully as such due to inclusion of various proprietary
blobs. I may be mistaken, but that is what I know until now.

> > Your statements are too general and I do not see how they relate.
> You do not _want_ to see, FTFY.  There’s a reason I changed the subject
> line.  But all in all, to satisfy your unprecedented love for specific
> things and your dislike of attempting to make that last little
> connection: your attack on repology.el comes from a privileged
> position

I have no privileged position. In fact I am not developer in GNU
project, and speak only what I personally find that should be aligned
with GNU. So sorry, you are mistaken there.

Further, there is no attack on repology.el as a package, I have
verified its features and some are useful. It just does not align with
GNU project principles so I said it should not be in GNU ELPA.

But put it somewhere else, everybody is free to put it on other

> and the condemnation of even linking to information regarding non-free
> software in the form of repology.org, going so far as to suggesting
> stealing these people’s work and creating a knock-off
> ‘frepology.org’

We do not link in GNU project to non-free software. Review the GNU.org
website. You just need to learn more about what is GNU.

When software is free, like repology.org software is free, do you
allow people to discuss possibility of forking software and providing
only a subset of packages, for example those being fully free?

If you know what is free software, then please be aware that such
possibility exists, even though is unlikely in my opinion.

It is not "stealing" these people's work. It is re-using software. But
if we wish to use "stealing" term we would say that rather in funny
manner. It should be clear that free software is re-used.

So that is where you came and made objections against a fundamental
free software principle.

> comes from a privileged, exclusionary, and backwards position.  This
> whole thing represents a self-destructive anti-free-software stance
> that is detrimental to the quest for software freedom as a right for
> all humans, and only caters to the handful FOSS zealots (one of
> which is I) who have put years into learning this whole travesty of
> an online culture and surrounding issues.

I wish to comprehend everything but I cannot. There are no privileges
that I see. Nothing is exclusionary, nobody is discriminated to use
any kind of software, and there is nothing "backwards". Fundamental
principle of GNU is that it is about creation of free software
system. Some policies say that we shall not legitimize proprietary
software. That is why GNU project should not provide hyperlinks or
software descriptions in GNU EMACS. GNU ELPA is part of GNU Emacs. It
is matter what GNU project presents to users and how is GNU project
teaching and directing users, not what users are doing themselves.

So there is no self-destructive anti-free-software stance. 


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