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Re: Web versions

From: Jean Louis
Subject: Re: Web versions
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2021 23:52:16 +0300
User-agent: Mutt/2.0.6 (2021-03-06)

* Alfred M. Szmidt <> [2021-03-15 22:43]:
>    I just cannot see clearly how is Javascript trap relevant to
>    WebAssembly as the Javascript trap is about proprietary software.
> You could replace Javascript with Webassembly and the Javsscript trap
> would make an equal important point.  The reason why the title
> mentions a trap is that they can get caught up in where they do not
> know if the software (web page) accessed is really free software or
> not, and start depending on it without any idea that they have even
> been caught.

Large number of people spawn VPS-es today, they have no idea if it is
"free" software and even so, if they hear free they may not know what
it means. All they want is to run their Wordpress or other instances.

People may start depending on remote services, and that may be
different kind of trap. We shall isolate here the subject as if
subject is running free software in Webassemble or "who does that
server serve?" -- those are different subjects.

Many applications delivered on Google Playstore are also free
software, users cannot know that easily, they just click and play. I
am using F-Droid, I assume software is free, yet there are freedom
issues in some of those as well, also related to remote servers,
spying and similar.

Users are advised to ask if it is free software or not. There is work
for GNU in future to make users aware of it. The hypothetical
awareness campaign in the future shall not impede development of free
software in WebAssembly. Just as with Javascript liberation, we can
have software running remotely on any computer equally through
WebAssembly. It is something like general layer where piece of
software will run on various operating systems equally.

How I understood it, it will run locally on users' computers, so that
may offer more liberties that could be given by free software
developers. Users' data for example, could remain on users' computers,
instead of being processed on remote server.

There are now many Javascript application such as notes, where all
users' data remain in the browser, nothing is stored on the remote
server. That is good development.

By considering just one bad hypothetical possibility one shall not
impede on freedom zero, as to allow developers or not to "bless them"
to develop the free software because it will be trivial for users to
download and run such. So what? Better so if it is trivial.

I would like to present GNU Health to hospitals in East Africa and
help, what if the management of some medical hospital can easily be
helped with Webassembly container, then this could be good. At this
moment I do not know how it can be, or how it can work, I did not
study much of it.

> Compare this with normal software, which you have to at download, with
> that comes a small threshold for investigating about the program.  If
> If i just point you to you can't (easily) see if
> it is free software or not before you've run the program.

That treshold will come only at aware users. Majority of users just
download and run, in fact, the rush is so great that any treshold for
investigating about the program is useless. Maybe you have played
games in past, those who did, one must remember that often there is no
time for demo, not even reading any instructions, click space, fire,
and go. Millions of users are game players. They will not bother
looking into licenses. Millions will abuse licenses anyway, who
cares. Not all the world is Western World where licenses are
observed. People in third world countries do with software anyway what
they want, copy, duplicate, modify anyhow (peek and poke, or change
free software), sell anyhow, including illegally re-license as
proprietary. Who cares? Is anybody going to come on ground to third
world countries to find out some license abuses? Only largest
companies like Microsoft will ask largest companies to pay.

Some people will look into it, I just don't have a feeling that number
is considerable.

It is true that we, who are aware, we can see when software is
free. So we will be able to see that in Javascript area and also in
Webassembly area. It is equal to web link. Differences are small.

Yet we are minority. Majority will skip and go to what they want.

And those issues are not related to freedom. That people do not read
licenses is clear. 

> Web browsers make it so trivial these days to run any random code and
> it is very easy to start depending on software you do not control
> anymore -- without even noticing it.  Could you make this free
> software? Sure, but that isn't the point here.

So it will be with Webassembly, people will run various codes without
knowing, but that is not a fact that one can use to say: "now, don't
develop for Webassembly" -- it is also not enough now to say "it is

Would free software developers create more free software for
Webassembly than proprietary, then we would not be in this situation
of fear. The situation comes due to objective power of proprietary
vendors to manipulate with people. This is not related to Webassembly
alone. Github is one proprietary vendor who specifically earns money
on free software and manipulation and trap of users into proprietary
services. It tells us that when corporation has money they will do
anyway their manipulations with people, regardless of the platform, or
the underlying philosophy such as free software. Microsoft is already
using GNU software in Windows to promote proprietary products, without
mentioning much or anything of the freedom. Licenses are there, but
majority of Windows users will not find or get what it means.

Major problem lies in the liberty of corporations to manipulate with
users' data and thus users. GDPR and other data protection laws can do
something against it.


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