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The Free Software Foundation is alive!
A rebuttal to "The Free Software Foundation is dying - by Drew DeVault"
The Free Software Foundation is one of the longest-running missions in the free software movement, effectively defining it. It provides a legal foundation and organizes activism around software freedom. The GNU project, closely related, has its own long story in this organization as the coding arm of the Free Software Foundation, taking these principles and philosophy into practice by developing free software; notably the GNU operating system that famously rests atop GNU/Linux.
Today, almost 40 years on, the FSF is still kicking!
Their achievements are unmistakable and deserving of gratitude and admiration for their decades of accomplishments in establishing and advancing Free Software! The principles of software freedom are just as important today as they were yesterday, and the products of these institutions continues to remain necessary and useful – the GPL license family, GCC, GNU coreutils, and so on. Nevertheless, the organizations behind this work are evolving.
The Free Software Foundation must begin concerning itself with the following challenges:
- Applying free software philosophy to artificial intelligence
- Developing, publishing, and promoting copyleft licenses for AI training models
- Fostering a relationship between Free Software ideals and ethics in AI
The FSF is gradually making ground in these regards with their Artificial Intelligence Project Team, demonstrating that the foundation is investing its resources into the right initiatives.
In its role as the thought-leaders of free software philosophy, the message of the FSF has a world wide reach. The organization’s messaging is clear, concise, and forward thinking. Broadcasting the “GNU/Linux” success story of the open source movement has cultivated an audience of “advocates” rather than “users”; furthering its cause. The community resources and organized FAQs provide a useful entry point or reference for the community. The message however isn't strictly limited to the FSF site itself, but has also been spread thru many community events and technical conventions across the globe.
As for conspiracy theories floating around the FSF and Richard M. Stallman, well, it’s no coincidence that many people struggle to receive their crass and often times crude approach. Do you, dear reader, know the difference between the subjective and objective, fiction and reality, lie and truth? Many of the deluded and terminally mad assume that a subjective theory can be manifested into an objective truth by the mere practice of group affirmation alone, despite all protest of the later. The GPL family of licenses are essential for the future, but still few people haughty and ill tempered refuse to heed those which advocate for it on the subjective grounds of their contemporary politics.
There is still much work to be done, seeing that over 1 million npm packages use a permissive license while fewer than 20,000 use the GPL; cargo sports a half-million permissive packages and another 20,000 or so GPL’d. Does this mean that the free software movement isn't healthy? This one gets an emphatic “no!” – thanks to the open source movement and the near-equivalence between free software and open source software. There’s more free software than ever and virtually all new software contains free software components, and most people call it open source.
The FOSS community is now dominated by more people than ever before! The broader community is enjoying a rapid growth in adoption, but the message doesn't always reach these people. The FSF has succeeded where it has, but isn't able to go at it alone. This could mean that some projects in the community could be left to form insular, weak institutions among themselves with no central leadership, and leaving the overall FOSS communities vulnerable to exploitation from commercial attacks on the free and open source software brand.
Additional assistance is always welcomed by the FSF to fulfill its mission. To better promote free software ideals, I call for the following:
- Welcome more leaders! Richard Stallman and other leaders of the FSF deserve the utmost of respect for their unwavering commitment and leadership of the organization. For over 40 years they've lead the FSF thru all manner of perils and success, proving that the principals in which they stand upon are sound. As free software adoption has grown, the leadership must also grow too so that it may continue in adequately cultivating the many developing projects and communities, or else they may be at risk of capture by subversive influences that call for the reformation of the founding leaders of the organization and its core principles.
- Fortify the institution: The FSF leadership is faced with the challenge of preserving its mission while also integrating a myopic generation consumed by all manner of corrosive polarizing and fundamentally incompatible ideologies. While more leadership is needed to match the growth of FOSS adoption, the institution will be besieged by bad actors in sheep's clothing. Do not mistake words for action; pay attention to their words, but pay even more toward their actions.
- Improve outreach: Technical conventions, mailing lists, and wiki's are all fine ways in spreading the free software message, but have also fallen out of popularity over the past 20 years. More receptive avenues can be found among the influencer streaming markets, alternative social media platforms, and online tech sub-cultures. Even if this means venturing into proprietary spaces.
- Embolster the GNU project: FSF and GNU have worked hand-in-hand over decades to build up the organization. The GNU project has made for a shining example for other projects to model themselves after as a source of experience. The GNU project represents a large part of the free software brand today, and is necessary for the Free Software Foundation to embolster a continued close working relationship to demonstrate a working example of its overall success for others to see.
- Keep kicking ass, bros!
The Free Software foundation can continue to be a uniting force despite the coming challenges it faces from many sides. The FOSS ecosystem is flourishing, and the FSF is the only organization capable of stepping up to the wheel and direct its coming successes in the name of software freedom.
And now, a message from /g/
>See, Drew, rational people don't want people to be put in a certain position based on how they look. Rational people don't care whether the competent people in appropriate roles look similar or dissimilar to them.
>YOU are the one who cares about what they look like. You are the one who throws merit, content, and substance in the trash so you can collect social credit points among other lunatics and idiots just like you while thinking you're a good person contributing good things to this world. No, you and your ilk are the problem in this world. You're the ruiners of all things good. You are not good people at all. You are people with a world view warped by ideology, you are the zombies and NPCs of this era, meaning you have no awareness of your irrationality and consider what you do a good thing.
>Just like all people like you in the past that participated in all kinds of societal insanity. They too thought they were doing a good thing.
So I wrote this as a sort of contrarian rebuttal and tried keeping it close to the source. This sad dude is really preachy, not forgetting to mention a negative Nancy; so the rebuttal comes off kinda cringe and low-key cultish. I'm not actually this obsessed over the FSF!
I do have an FSF and GNU sticker on one of my laptops I got from a booth one year at LinuxFest. ;-P
Thanks for reading my blog!
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Apr 12, 2023