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GNU is Not Unix Open Source Software Your Rights Online

The FSF Is 30 Years Old; Where Should They Go From Here? (fsf.org) 231

An anonymous reader writes: The Free Software Foundation is conducting a survey to gather feedback on where they should be focusing their efforts over the next five years. Should they concentrate on IP issues, UX issues, or something else? Is their stance on Free Software versus Open Source a battle that's already lost, and should they compromise? What do users think an ideal world would look like in 2020? And how miserable could things get? Without the FSF (and GNU), today's computing landscape would sure look a lot different.
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The FSF Is 30 Years Old; Where Should They Go From Here?

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  • To do (Score:5, Funny)

    by SeriousTube ( 2575581 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @02:57PM (#51269187)
    Get Hurd done.
    • Best comment EVAR!!! Seriously, fork Minix and get HURD done. Or, if they don't want to be contaminated by BSD licensed software, work w/ Poeterring to expand systemd into kerneld - make it microkernel, and get the entire systemd suite on it - including editord, under the GPL3 or even AGPL3 license. After that, put emacs on top of it, and they'll have everything they need.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @02:57PM (#51269193) Homepage Journal

    I'm not sure how UX issues are part of their remit any more than child labour or bees dying are.

    • If UX of a free application is worse on the whole than UX of the more popular proprietary alternatives, improving free software UX may increase the user base. In more concrete terms, there might be more GIMP users if GIMP were as easy to learn as Photoshop. User base is important because only the economies of scale associated with user base can make hardware makers willing to ensure that their products are compatible with GNU/Linux or other free operating systems.

      • by MacTO ( 1161105 )

        While it is important for FLOSS developers to look at UX, the vast majority of FLOSS has nothing to do with the FSF beyond using their license agreement. UX has also been outside the scope of FSF efforts, and choosing to put more emphasis on it is bound to alienate a lot of their supporters.

        So yes, look at UX. Yet choose the right people for the job.

      • In more concrete terms, there might be more GIMP users if GIMP were as easy to learn as Photoshop.

        Adobe Photoshop is easy to learn? Seriously? Hopefully, Gimp developers can do better than Photoshop in terms of usability. In my opinion, both Gimp and Photoshop are very difficult to learn.

        And the only app that's breaking new ground in terms of usability is Inkscape (not that Inkscape is a substitute for either Photoshop or Gimp, it's not, but it's becoming better and more usable than all the other proprietary vector graphics alternatives).

      • by armanox ( 826486 )

        I'm not sure that I would call Adobe products 'easy to learn' - I learned how to use Photoshop and Pagemaker while I was in school (running on System 7.....wow that was a long time ago). When I got into GIMP I bought a book (just like I have/had books on using Windows desktop, Linux desktop, Sharepoint, Drupal, etc; from across the years of adding new skills) to guide me,

      • As MacTO points out below, the connection is peripheral at best. If their name was the FSTETUF you might have a point.

        P.S. Do you have some phobia about definite articles?

      • GIMP isn't harder to use than Photoshop, it's just both hard to use (in the same way Photoshop is because it's a large complex powerful application) and different from Photoshop, so people evaluating it as a Photoshop replacement inevitably find it "harder to use" because they have to learn how to use it all over again.

        Believe me, if most people used GIMP and then had to evaluate Photoshop they'd be complaining about the Photoshop UI.

        As someone above pointed out, simply cloning the competitors UI isn't

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @03:59PM (#51269481)

      I'm not sure how UX issues are part of their remit any more than child labour or bees dying are.

      The user experience is make or break.

      The geek ought at least to have learned by now that "free as in beer or free as in freedom" is not a driving force for most users.

      • by thejam ( 655457 )

        The geek ought at least to have learned by now that "free as in beer or free as in freedom" is not a driving force for most users.

        RMS understood this from the beginning, but from his experience in the early days of MIT's AI lab, he saw the value of (software) freedom, and expended a heroic amount of effort in demonstrating the value and plausibility of this freedom (by jump-starting it with his own implementations), when most others thought proprietary was the only way to go. He has succeeded beyond imagination, at least for server software, wherein UX is less an issue. Now with Android, even end user-facing applications have reason

        • Android has nothing to do w/ anything RMS did. Google put in the investment and effort to get UX experts design it, so that it's easy to use. The 'community' could have done something like that while putting together things like KDE, GNOME, GNUSTEP, et al
      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

        "free as in beer xor free as in freedom"

        Fixed. You can't have both.

    • Isn't the GNOME project under their extended umbrella, since GNOME stood for GNU Networked Object Model Environment? Granted, the Networked Object Model Environment aspect has been dead for many years, but ain't it still GNU? If yes, then can't the FSF decide what GNOME should look like, and whether it satisfies their goals of total freedom i.e. GPL3?
      • by armanox ( 826486 )

        Yes and no. I think GNOME, while it is technically a GNU project, answers to the GNOME foundation rather then GNU these days, and most of the developers working on GNOME work for Red Hat.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      What they call anti-patterns, or deceptive UIs that trick the user into acting against their own interests. For example, a prominent UK electrical retailer (Currys) will add an expensive and crappy iPad case to your basket automatically if you try to buy an iPad. You didn't ask for it, and they are hoping you didn't notice it and just won't return it.

      By the way, the law says that when returning stuff like that you only need to return the item itself, not the original packaging, so be sure to destroy that so

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @03:15PM (#51269265) Homepage Journal
    They need to fight the coming tide of walled gardens and closed systems. The availability of freely programmable general computers is not guaranteed. We are seeing a rush towards closed systems like iOS and Android and corporate controlled app/software stores with signed code. I hope in 25 years end user programmable computers will still be affordable and widely available with access to the Internet.
    • The availability of freely programmable general computers is not guaranteed. We are seeing a rush towards closed systems like iOS

      The last couple times that argument was made (by betterunixthanunix and AC [slashdot.org]), the answer was "let 'em eat Pi" (AC [slashdot.org] and BasilBrush). What makes you see a rush away from things like Raspberry Pi and Arduino?

      and Android

      The last time I read the Android Compatibility Definition (CDD), it required all Android devices with Google Play to accept self-signed applications through adb install.

      • Re:Let 'em eat Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @03:36PM (#51269371) Homepage Journal
        Android is still a closed walled system. There is a rush towards closed systems and it is gaining momentum. There isn't a rush away from Pi or Arduino, but there isn't a guarantee that such systems will remain available forever. I can see a day when ISPs start requiring "approved hardware" in order to connect to their networks for example. I can also see a day when Google starts requiring Google approved apps and turns off the adb install route. It may not be today, or tomorrow, but it is a threat.
      • What makes you see a rush away from things like Raspberry Pi and Arduino?

        The boards appeal to the system builders, the technical hobbyists, a very small segment of the population. There are 700,000 ham radio operators in the U.S. 327 million cell phones.

        • What can 327million people do that 700,000 can't? The panama canal was built with tens of thousands of people. NASA employs 18,000 and spacex fewer than 5,000. Why o you have to win to be relevant?
          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            What can 327million people do that 700,000 can't?

            Constitute a sufficiently large market to enable enough economies of scale to convince peripheral makers to support it rather than making peripherals compatible only with Macs and Windows PCs.

    • They need to fight the coming tide of walled gardens and closed systems. The availability of freely programmable general computers is not guaranteed. We are seeing a rush towards closed systems like iOS and Android and corporate controlled app/software stores with signed code. I hope in 25 years end user programmable computers will still be affordable and widely available with access to the Internet.

      How exactly is that Replicant project coming along?

      • very slowly I believe, as it's the work of a single figure of volunteers and whatever handsets they use or have donated.

        Seems like an obvious candidate for crowdfunding - make a deal with Broadcom and produce a phone for under $100 piggybacking off the r Pi community to help work on the drivers.

    • Good answer.
    • by grumbel ( 592662 )

      Not disagreeing on the overall point, one problem however with the Free Software world is that those fights often go into the wrong direction. Take the app model on iOS and Android, on one side it's a framework that is used to provide a walled garden, on the other side the clean isolation of apps from each other drastically reduces the potential for abuse and in turn provides a flourishing ecosystem of applications. On your average Free Software system by contrast you always have to worry about a 'make inst

      • On your average Free Software system by contrast you always have to worry about a 'make install' wreaking havoc

        By what definition of average? I'll bet almost all free software systems have a working package manager. I don't have to worry about apt-get install doing dangerous stuff.

        • by grumbel ( 592662 )

          I don't have to worry about apt-get install doing dangerous stuff.

          Yes, but it does so by being a walled garden. The distri decides what goes into the repository, what version of the program and so on. As a user I can just consume what they provide me, my ability to change or object what they do is extremely limited and any more complex change will break the monolithic dependency tree. It's a system that violates everything Free Software should stands for, it works, but it doesn't give much freedom at all.

          • Yes, but it does so by being a walled garden.

            No it isn't. You can side-load software using any other repository system if you like (see e.g. bedrock linux). You can freely add and remove apt repositories and host your own, so you can load (or not) your own software via the main system if you like.

            my ability to change or object what they do is extremely limited and any more complex change will break the monolithic dependency tree

            They provide complete sources. You can make a deep change and recompile the enti

      • Are you for real? Open source platforms have long since abandoned "make install", with one or two exceptions. In fact, the "walled garden" metaphor was pioneered and developed by open source operating systems such as Debian (apt). The result was (and largely still is) a clean, virus free, simple installation framework. The commercial providers *copied* this idea because what they had was a cesspool. Even the concept of "distro" is precisely a curated collection of free software designed to seamlessly work w
    • by bug1 ( 96678 )

      They need to fight the coming tide of walled gardens and closed systems

      Agreed, i think they need a "free system" licence that articulates their "respects your freedom" hardware certification.
      Bring out a licence that allows developers to exclusively work for those who care about freedom.
      We need to accept that 'mere aggregation' is damaging to the future of free _sytems_, and can only ever lead to free isolated software components that form part of a system, with the choke points controlled by our adversaries.
      (but yea, watch all the hate from the 'i just want free beer' crowd)

  • Easy. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And how miserable could things get?

    Mobile-centric (we're already headed there) with mandatory identification tied together through the bullshit of a combined arms effort of Facebook-Google-Apple.

  • by nomentanus ( 838275 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @03:20PM (#51269289) Homepage
    Having watched inventions wander away from me and become private (first to the patent office with a whole bunch of cash now wins thanks to changes to U.S. law) I know how vital defensive publication is. Now I see that the OIN and linuxdefenders.org related defensive publication service defensivepublications.org has been discontinued. The website still exists, but won't take further submissions if you try to submit them. Without being able to keep open inventions open, we're in a heap of trouble. I'd like to see easy, reliable, court-provable defensive publication come first. I am suppressing several inventions right now that I believe would greatly benefit open source (etc) because such a service doesn't exist; as I wait until it does exist again. That's all I can do on my budget right now.
    • first to the patent office with a whole bunch of cash now wins thanks to changes to U.S. law

      I'm not sure what you meant by that. True, the America Invents Act [wikipedia.org] changed the priority of U.S. patent applications from the old "interference" proceedings to the first inventor to file. But this affects only priority between patent applications. Both before and after the America Invents Act, lack of novelty still disqualifies an invention from a patent. And if an invention is published by someone else before it reaches the USPTO, it is not novel. In fact, the AIA expanded the scope of prior art to include

      • lack of novelty still disqualifies an invention from a patent

        It does not, that is the point of the "$PATENT with a computer" meme.

        Lack of novelty is a meaningless phrase that means something warm and fuzzy to the public but has no true power to stop obvious inventions from being patented.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          I thought recent rulings at the Supreme Court had shut down the "prior art + on a computer = patentable" formula.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @03:24PM (#51269307) Homepage

    They need to hire more lobbyists and lawyers. get people to actually band together to be members and scare the hell out of the congress critters that are hell bent on being the enemies of the people and work only for their corporate masters.

    congress is afraid, deathly afraid of the NRA.... we need to get the FSF at the same level of fear.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      A 501c3 charity can't hire lobbyists. Did you mean FSF should affiliate itself with a PAC, much as NORML Foundation [norml.org] (a charity) and NORML PAC are affiliated?

  • Oh ideal?
    Well we could stop giving all the tv coverage to terrorists maybe even go after those mass murdering telemarketers.
    Copyright could be rolled back to a reasonable length.
    We could eliminate another disease worldwide like we did with smallpox.
    We could go back to having the option to pay for software.
    We could have a sell it or STFU law to prevent companies from claiming losses on patents and copyrights they have absolutely no intentions of ever using.

    As for worse
    Well copyright could be extended another

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Copyright could be rolled back to a reasonable length.

      Unlikely. Reversing a past windfall would likely be deemed a "taking", requiring "just compensation" pursuant to the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or foreign counterparts.

      Well copyright could be extended another 100 years.

      Unlikely. The only excuse that the U.S. Supreme Court ever allowed for across-the-board re-extension of the term of copyright in works whose copyright term had already been extended was harmonizing its copyright term with that of the EU. The EU hasn't extended its copyright term since.

      • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

        First I figure it could still be done if the new length applied only to new works after a set date.

        Second I hope you're right but there happens to be a certain perpetually protected mouse who will test that in 2024.

        How come drugs have limits but a book of cat names can go multiple lifetimes? Ridiculous.

        • How come drugs have limits but a book of cat names can go multiple lifetimes? Ridiculous.

          Because in theory, copyright doesn't apply to you if you've never had access to the older work. Patents apply to everyone. The longer term of a copyright is said to balance the possibility of independent creation.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Saturday January 09, 2016 @04:05PM (#51269509)

    GNU/Linux: Let it go. We all know what GNU has done for FOSS, but your Branding sucks.

    FS vs. OS: Seriously, let it go. Keep on fighting, but stop the infighting.

    Your branding and marketing sucks big time, across the board. Get some professionals and listen to them.

    FOSS Projects: E-Mail needs a replacement. Start building one. Encryption and anonymity as core of the specs. Build Branding, marketing, professional UX and proper Clients for all Plattforms. Yes, including Apple. Lets get going with this overdue problem.

    We need a feasible distributed Facebook Killer. Diaspora is Meh, with shitty branding and UX and others are even worse.

    Those two endeavors would have a huge positive impact.

    • GNU/Linux: Let it go.

      "GNU/Linux" is shorter than "End/user/Linux/other/than/Android".

    • by JonathanF ( 532591 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @05:09PM (#51269713)

      You hit the nail on the head, and I'd add that the leadership (namely Richard Stallman) is sometimes more of a liability to the FSF than an asset.

      It's a group built around ideas, to be sure, but it's hard to sound reasonable when your leader is the definition of unreasonable: forcing people to refer to a product a certain way (it's Linux in real life, Richard, not GNU/Linux), refusing to accept that any use of closed-source software is okay, and so on. Paradoxically, he's more trapped and enslaved than many of the people using the closed software he rails against. If Stallman were around in Tunisia during the Arab Spring, he wouldn't have been out on the streets securing real, meaningful freedom (because that would involve using the "evil" Facebook and Twitter)... he'd be too busy asking the existing regime to use FOSS.

      In other words: argue for free and open software by all means, but don't pretend as if your only options are to either switch completely to FOSS or else be forever tainted as a human being. The FSF needs a leader who is cool with you running open source apps on Macs and Windows PCs, and understands that it's the goal of free/open source code that matters, not how "pure" you are.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Saturday January 09, 2016 @08:05PM (#51270337) Homepage

        Strongly disagree. We need an FSF with strong principals. Time and time again Stallman has been proven right, sometimes decades later. He predicted the DRM, the walled gardens, renting software and media without ever really owning it, not being able to trust our computers at the hardware level.

        While this unwillingness to compromise might mean the FSF can't do some things, it provides an essential standard that everything else can be measured by.

      • You hit the nail on the head, and I'd add that the leadership (namely Richard Stallman) is sometimes more of a liability to the FSF than an asset

        Sometimes??

        FSF is stuck in quicksand until they get rid of RMS and concentrate on what people want and need, not crap like Hurd and replacing things like Google Earth.

        • I dislike RMS as much as the next guy, but HE had abandoned HURD long ago. That's now just a pet project of some people, assuming that there is ANYBODY working on it. But yeah, OpenStreetsMaps has not been the success he hoped it would be.
      • ... don't pretend as if your only options are to either switch completely to FOSS or else be forever tainted as a human being.

        No. Switching to FOSS is the ideal which we are kept from achieving by reasons of practicality. But we should aspire the complete switch, and remain uncomfortable with compromise until it becomes possible. Your flair for drama makes it seem like an either/or proposition for everyone. But I use nvidia drivers, while wishing I didn't have to, and it is fine. But purity is rather what w

    • Email works just fine. You can get increased anonymity through Tor.

      Facebook is proprietary, so it would be nice if there was an alternative, but it's unlikely that the alternative would ever become more popular than Facebook itself.

      FOSS projects should focus on building fundamental stuff that others can build on top of.

      Don't build a Gmail clone or a Facebook clone. Build a web server that can automatically scale from 1 connection per day to 1000,000,000 connections per day and back down again to 1 connectio

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @04:05PM (#51269513) Homepage

    The free software movement has been successful at achieving its goals over the last 30 years.

    I mean no doubt open source has scored victory upon victory from cell phones to supercomputers, but the FSF's goals? Most users do not use a platform or applications that gives them the "four freedoms". Users in general do not see proprietary software as wrong. In fact much of their data has moved from proprietary code to proprietary services, which use open source including GPLv2 software in their delivery but don't distribute it. I don't know any service I use using the Affero license, the "GPL for SaaS" license. And with online services the DRM is more or less baked into the service, naturally it won't work without the server side and you get to do a lot more live cheat detection and bans.

    A lot of the code that big companies has released is under the Apache 2 license instead of the GPL, things like Android and LLVM has gotten far more attention lately than the GCC. The lone exception is the kernel, but it mostly lives in its own "universe" not affecting user space and drivers have found ways to use blobs when they want to. In short, I don't think RMS is happy with the state of things, maybe not even the direction things are going. But I'm happy that open source keeps "hollowing out" proprietary software, if it runs on top of a LAMP stack or Docker container or whatnot they're interested in making the foundation stronger. Eventually the layer thins out to where OSS volunteers making something "good enough".

  • yaaa, i'm not filling out the survey until i've seen the full source code and an MD5/SHA1 checksum that shows the source code is what's actually running on the server. i wouldn't want my data to be sold out by the FSF or intercepted by the NSA due to MD5 or SHA1 collisions ohshit...

    • by ais523 ( 1172701 )

      It's here [fsf.org], linked from the footer of the page.

      I'm not sure there's any method to guarantee that the source they linked is the same as the source they're running, but given that it's AGPL (and thus doing otherwise would be illegal), it seems highly likely that the FSF is in compliance; they seem like one of the least likely organizations to commit a GPL violation.

  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Saturday January 09, 2016 @05:24PM (#51269757) Journal

    I was going to finish the survey, but then I saw this question. There's no way to express my desire for them to stop promoting diversity and participation of underrepresented groups, and I don't want to be counted among those who oppose egalitarianism in the community.

  • The FSF has dropped the ball in the last 10 years, there needs to be a campaign of awareness and a new push for adoption of the GPL. The GPL was the reason that the open source ecosystem grew and thrived in the 90s. It encouraged people to contribute, knowing that corporations weren't going to take over their work and turn it into products with nonfree agendas. Now the ecosystem is a shadow of its former self, and the world at large is infested with spying, ad-serving, nickel and diming products explicitly
  • File systems, cryptography, networking logging, a deeper understanding of safer cpu, gpu options that cannot hide malware, ship with trapdoors, backdoors.

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