OSI is a market strategy, coldly thought and carried out in a magnificent way, whose main goal is exterminate Free Software philosophy. When the market understands the meaning of Free Software philosophy, it’s reach and it’s consequences by hackers adoption, became clear that something has to be done. They can’t allow the digital revolution, the end user empowerment and the break on capitalist production method. The capital and it’s companies must keep it’s control over the market ans costumers.
The main goal is reframe Free Software, make in it innocuous, impotent, powerless, just technical and whenever possible, replace it by Open Source. Free Software philosophy would thereafter, gradually exterminating it’s original meaning.
Methods are many and acts on multiple fronts with different subjects. On this article I’ll try to show how the strategy was carried out. So, take a deep breath, open your mind and follow me.
Founded in February 1998 by Eric Raymond and Bruce Perence https://opensource.org/history,, so 15 year latter than GNU Project and 7 years latter kernel linux get in the GNU operational system. Many distributions already warrant an easy way to install and distribute Free Software. Therefore Free Software philosophy was already being broadcast with the software itself. So they must to react as fast as possible.
Lets take a look on the terms of Open Source definition:
- Free Redistribution
- Source Code
- Derived Works
- Integrity of The Author’s Source Code
- No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
- No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
- Distribution of License
- License Must Not Be Specific to a Product
- License Must Not Restrict Other Software
- License Must Be Technology-Neutral
Read it again and try to find any social or political reference. In fact, it’s obvious how it’s seeks for neutrality, for cleaning, for technicality. No attempt to go beyond the code itself. They resume it on this sentence:
“The promise of open source is higher quality, better reliability, greater flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in”
Quality, reliability, flexibility and cost… en at the end the no vendor lock-in. Even so, it didn’t mention freedom not once. Why?
Goodbye Free Software, Hello Open Source
February 8th 1998, Eric Raymond publish this little article called “Goodbye Free Software, Hello Open Source” where he explain a bit about OSI motivations. Read it yourself on http://www.catb.org/esr/open-source.html and the follow me here. I’ve found a couple of very interesting things:
- “Free Software” term makes a lot of corporate types nervous;
- Our commitment it with technical excellence;
- Everybody should change the term “Free Software” by “Open Source”. Open Source Software, Open Source Model. Open Source Culture….;
- Linus Torvalds was one of the very firsts to use the new term;
- Other grate guys like Jon “maddog” Hall, Larry Augustin, Bruce Perence and Phil Huge also adopt the new term. Maddog still use FOSS until today;
Then there is no room for speculation: the main goal is replace “Free Software” by “Open Source” to please the market. This is how a counterrevolutionary organization born whose objective is introduce a new definition to software freedom, that’s begins with grates names of the Free Software community converted to the new order. This people will spend the next two decades – almost – spreading and encouraging Open Source concept as the same time attacking Free Software Movement philosophy.
You can say that this is Eric’s personal opinion and it don’t reflects OSI’s. Well, I do think you have to be to much innocent to believe on it. Erin wasn’t a regular activist, he was OSI founder and his opinion was very important one. Having quoted by name all this grates from the Free Software community proves that he spoke on behalf of the group. Last but not least: did you really expect to see a public document where OSI admits that this is the reason of it own existence is exterminate Free Software philosophy?
During the last two decades many methods was been applied to accomplish the mission. What all of it has in common are the half-truths to take the side of it’s interests.
- Mix technical, legal and philosophical concepts
On the technical aspect, the access to the code and the collaborative development, Free Software and Open Source are the same. In the legal aspect, the licences, on 99% of the cases warrant the software 4 freedoms , making Free Software and Open Source identical. The major difference is the philosophical one, where Open Source rejects Free Software and try to replace it.
- Repete that Open Source and Free Software are the same thing
This one take advantage of the natural hackers disinterest with social-political-ideological matters to spread that Free Software and Open Source are the same thing. This is one of those half-truths easy to believe on, because the differences are in the field of ideas ans not on the code itself. As Free Software concept most famous and already understood by the community, there is no interest to pint the differences, so as much spread that both are the same the better.
It is a way to sweeten the speech to the most brave Free Software philosophy advocates, but is specially efficient on the new ones. Those, on they firsts contacts with the software freedom universe get the message that Open Source and Free Software are identical no matter what.
- Replace “Free Software” by “Open Source
As expected they use more and more the term Open to replace an reframe Free. Then the open word becomes synonymous to freedom. VIP speakers uses the term and communities and it’s principals get it fast and do the same because this is the way meritocratic societies work. Users group, softwares and conferences are built using the new term. OScon, Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Hardware, OpenOffice, you name it.
- Quantity is more than quality
The market share mantra has been repeated exhaustively. What matter is rise the number os users, even if they don’t understand well what software freedom is about. This is the financial argument being mucho more released than the freedom one.
- Drop the GNU
Linus Torvalds didn’t create a operational system. Every body knows that Linux is a kernel. The operational system name is GNU. But is part of the strategy drop the GNU label. Remember Linus is one of the firsts do join to the new Open Source concept, so it’s not surprising when he says that “is ridiculous have to call the operational system GNU/Linux”.
It’s quite interesting realize that linux project is unde GPL licence, even so, Linus is a strong Open Source advocate.
There is no way to deny the strategical importance of removing GNU label from the operational system name. If the main goal is to establish a new brand and a new idea, the best way is eliminate the old one.
- criticize Free Software ideology
Eric Raymond was always the most explicit, but the criticismo to the “movement ideology” has been huge like always. Arguments like “do code is what matters” shows the anti philosophical attitude. It’s like the Free Software Movement was just about do code. We need to remember that it’s main goal is the user freedom. Do code is important, but secondary.
Religious, party and economical nicknames are used recurrently to disqualify the philosophical importance os the movement. Shiites! Petists! Communists! They say.
- Override market issues over philosophical ones
Economical and corporate issues became more important than the ideological alignment whit Free Software main goal. Quality and cost are shown as more importante advantages than users freedom, specially from the vendors lock-in. This kind of argument attracts the companies.
- Frontal attacks to Stallman behavior
Richard Stallman is not a regular person. He has serious interpersonal difficulties. No deviation of character or moral. He just don’t deal with people. Some people says that he suffers from Asperger’ Syndrome, but he never confirmed that. The fact is the method exploits covertly his bad interpersonal behavior to depreciate the Free Software Movement philosophy. They make a direct association between Stallman inpatient and rudeness to prove that Free Software philosophy is also rude or intolerant.
- Systematic persecution of conservatives
Any one that oppose against Open Source terms must be excoriated. Personal accusations, community destroyer, agitator, communist, crazy, radical, Shia, etc… are welcomed nicknames. It’s not acceptable be against market interests, the capital and the freedom of choice.
This is the fascist brotherhood that make me create the term OSIst. They are Open Source advocates and work hard and conscious to extinct Free Software philosophy.
At the beginning Free Software community believed on the benefits of heaving another group of users defending users freedom, even under a more pragmatic point of view. Arguments like smooth the speech to get corporate acceptance seem interesting. But “when you dance with the devil, you don’t change the devil, the devil changes you”.
- Private social networks compliance
Companies like Google emerge using Free Software under Open Source label. Using legal loopholes, on GPL and OSI licences, they used and got all they wanted. Specially because basically they do Saas – Software as a service and don’t distribute copies of it softwares, so it don’t hurt GPL V2. This was celebrated as prove of Open Source quality and then as a model that should be copied and expanded. Quickly almost all Free Software communities all around the world start to feel right using Google solutions, it’s e-mails, discussions list, on-line drives and all the set of tools. The cherry cake was when Android arrives.
Once activists where coopted by Google facilites, have a Facebook and WhatsApp account didn’t represent any trouble. Then Free Software groups was no longer resistance centers out of market standards. It became just another activists group inside the big bubble of proprietary social networks.
- Market unethical strategies acceptance
Companies that use ir invest on Open Source starts to behave like regular companies and start to use unethical strategies. The community reaction is the thermometer. The first explicit test was the spyware distributed by Canonical on Ubuntu 12.10. Despite the harsh criticism by FSF, most of users and communities believed that the fix to remove the spyware was enough.
It’s like the hidden activation of a spyware where a system bug and not a commercial strategy. Open Source people seem this issue just like that.
- Moral relativism with non free software attached
The extent to which Open Source get stronger, Linus Torvalds decides increase the amount of bobs/drivers/firmwares non free on kernel linux. This increase make the kernel compatible with much more devices since there is no need to do reverse engineering. All you have to do is accept ￼manufacturer terms. Ths sudden compatibility was celebrated by many, even knowing that means distribute more and more non free software.
Into the distributions, Ubuntu was precursor with no shame to install this non free drivers without inform users. The best example of this kind of thing is Android. More than 85% of smartphones market uses linux kernel to run mostly non free softwares.
- Geometrical hypocrisy increase of community exponents;
Free Software Movement exponents, slowly, aligned with Open Source precepts. By using Google non free software tools, by using Apple devices, by accepting proprietary blobs on kernel, by taking operational system name change, by adopting Tux – Linux mascote – as Free Software symbol, by the furious criticis at Stallman. By all of it together.
Major confirmation of it is FLISOL – Festival Latinoamericano de Instalación de Software Libre which became a Ubuntu Install Fest. This activists truly believe they are spreading Free Software but they are perpetuating OSI perception with it market complacency.
- Gradually IT companies became closer at Open Source
Big companies analyse risks to take advantage decisions. Open Sources grown adoption shows that Free Software subversion term already took place. There is a no risk perception and the gain to it business adopting the collaborative production model, it’s quality and lower production costs.
Open Source works like a tool to strengths it market positions, so it’s look nothing like the original Free Software ideas, that is ensure users freedom.
- Linux Foundation release a animated 6 episode documentary to tell Linux history. GNU word is no mentioned once. It is very notorious how they confuse, deliberately, kernel and operational system. http://www.linuxfoundation.org/world-without-linux
- On a recent TED interview Linus Torvalds said “Free Software is how we use to call Open Source back then”. Its a loud and clear message: do not say Free Software, say Open Source. Its like Open Source was Free Software evolution. At 00:04:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CGbyz8UzCY
- Except FSF, nobody else seems to critique the huge increase of proprietary software on linux kernel. It seem that the possibility to remove them is good enough.
- It’s not unintentionally that “Microsoft ♥ Linux”. Now that Linux is the operational systems name and it’s ideological bias is pro market, the it’s safe to love Open Source. https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/windowsserver/2015/05/06/microsoft-loves-linux/
Sure you can disagree with all of it and call me a conspiracionalist. That was everyone said when we talked about Google reading your emails. That was everyone said when we alerted about lobal surveillance. That was everyone said when we alert about communities getting week when it migrated to proprietary social networks. That was everyone said when we alert about Free Software conferences being losing it’s philosophical alignment.
OSI is a market strategy, coldly thought out and ingeniously
OSI é uma estratégia de mercado, coldly thought out and carried out in a masterly way, whose objective is exterminate Free Software philosophy.
And it is succeeding.