This is a response to a user I personally respect and often read DigDeeper. I highly recommend their site for anyone interested in security and privacy. I will be following through their article Refuting Freetardism and refuting some of the sections I personally disagree with. Before reading I would recommend reading the article linked as well as Free Software to understand the GNU Philosophy for Free or Libre software. My comments will be marked after each paragraph with a #. Feel free to ctrl-f for a faster reading experience.
I am going to start at the 4 essential freedoms and comment on DigDeeper's take on the GNU Philosophy.
"The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0)."
"The freedom to run the program [...] without being required to communicate about it with the developer or any other specific entity. " - You mean that, for all those years I've been using Windows programs, I've been required to communicate with some "entities"? That's funny.
"In this freedom, it is the user's purpose that matters, not the developer's purpose" - This is actually impossible - the purpose is always defined by the programmers. And "free software" might still impose unwanted "purposes" onto you - like all the "free software" browsers on https://spyware.neocities.org/articles/. On the other hand, a non-free software might make its purpose evident and not violate it - and will provide more actual freedom than so-called free software.. Also,
"The freedom to run the program as you wish means that you are not forbidden or stopped from making it run" - this is easy to violate in the so-called "free software". What prevents me from making a program that can only be run on Wednesdays? Nothing.
#In regards to Freedom 0 the communication clause though not explicitly communicating directly with the developer or other entities such as a Windows Dev. But is talking about "Phoning Home" or telemetry to Devs while using the software. Which then can influence the Devs to add or remove features not based on the intentions of a user but the uses and intentions of the Devs. I believe you are taking the definition of Communication too literally and not mentioning the information that is communicated indirectly. I would also like to mention when purpose of software, where you mention a programs function may not be its intended purpose, like many tools, A Hammer for example has purpose, to Add or Remove nails from material, but functionally can do so much more. Your direct line of thinking is not correct. Purpose does not equate to functionality. The freedom to run the program as you wish means that you are not forbidden or stopped from making it run. This has nothing to do with what functionality the program has. As mentioned above so below. When you mention making a program only run on Wednesdays is true that you can take a Libre piece of software and make it run only on Wednesdays, but then your software would now be in violation of Freedom 0. Thus making it non-free.
"The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this."
Okay, here is where we start to run into serious problems. First of all, access to the source code is absolutely not a precondition for this. People have been disassembling all kinds of software forever - for example Pokemon games, which have spawned many hacks that improve (or claim to) on these games. No source code required! On the other hand, much of the so-called "free software" is untouched except by the people who control it in the first place. If a person wanted to modify Mozilla Firefox so that it "does their computing as they wish", they would have to have enough programming skill first. Then they would have to have the patience to wade through thousands of lines of code, find whatever is bothering them, and spend time trying to fix it. And when they are done, they might notice that a new version of Firefox came out with a bunch of essential security fixes that they will now have to implement. See? It's insurmountable - Mozilla ends up controlling FF anyway. Source code, therefore, does not always provide real, personal freedom - unlike what the freetards claim. Disassembling some simpler programs might be more practical...
#While you are correct in regards to the matter of difficulty between something like the dis-assembly and reassembly of a program like Firefox over some lower end programs like some of the older Pokemon games. This is not the argument provided. Difficulty in the amending of source code does not equate to not having it at all. As well as having the Freedom is change the software. Nintendo has also held reservations against changing their games and uploading ROMs, while Mozilla does not. For an example I would look at some previous incidents Nintendo Roms Lawsuit. In regards to your position to Mozilla ultimately control Libre alternatives due to security patches, while common in practice for most Firefox forks, is not true. You are not required nor inhibited by the source code to wait for Mozilla to patch their software if you have the technical know how to do it first. Then due to Freedom 3 then distribute your now forked and patched software.
"The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2)." - Windows programs are being redistributed all the time, and probably more people are helped that way than by freetardism.
#Though many have been liable to redistribute Windows software to help others this is not done legally which violates Freedom 2. Freedom 2 states to redistribute copies to help others to anyone anywhere. And to do this without having to ask or pay for permission to do so. For an example of this without having software that follows the GNU Philosophy, I would look into the Eric Lundgren case.
"The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this." - So here is where we come to the crux of the issue, it seems. It is the distribution of modifications, that gives real freedom, according to the freetards. But does it actually? Again, you, first of all, need the programming skill to make these modifications - skill that 99% of users don't have. Then there is the issue of your version becoming obsolete by the time you finish your changes - see Freedom 1. And of course, disassembling is still a possibility - you say it's too hard? So is programming for the vast majority of people - again, no advantage for free software to be found.
#While this may be the central point of your issues with the GNU Philosophy, where users may not have applicable programming skills to perform these actions without issue. This is not an issue the the GNU Philosophy or the Freetard line of thinking but is weighed to the user to learn these skills by editing the software they enjoy without the possibility of legal action. While a user with the core knowledge can change and edit proprietary software as well distribute that edited software, they cannot do this legally. And will often face large fines or jail time if caught due to non-free software's extensive and restrictive (Non-free) Copyrights and User License Agreements. This issue is not the knowledge of software, where your arguments are drawn from, but the legality to do so. These are all addressed in the GNU Philosophy link above if you care to read it.
Black and white thinking of freetards
"A program is free software if it gives users adequately all of these freedoms. Otherwise, it is nonfree. While we can distinguish various nonfree distribution schemes in terms of how far they fall short of being free, we consider them all equally unethical."
According to this quote, only software abiding completely by the freetards' criteria is good, anything else is "nonfree" and evil. It doesn't matter if you release the source - if you attach a "wrong" license to the software, you are equally unethical to a proprietary program. Sounds like something a cult would do - only complete allegiance is accepted - and of course, they don't look at any other criteria, so a "free software" that spies on you (or even a virus) is better than a "clean" proprietary program.
#While a software not abiding by all the freedoms is considered non-free the term they use is "unethical" not "evil". Which would be black and white thinking, but in this case is not. Even in the direct line you quoted leads not to a Black and White mentality as it states "While we can distinguish various non-free distribution schemes in terms of how far they fall short of being free, we consider them all equally unethical." Which means that in turn while unethical, there are degrees of which a piece of software can be measured. I would ask you to read through the GNU Freedoms again in order to understand this fully. As a piece of software can abide by some GNU Freedoms, but is not truly 'Libre' if they do not abide by all of them. I would also like to mention that cult like seems like a poor description to the GNU Philosophy, while I would sum them up as a form of measurement. But on the license issue, license does matter source code or not. To read more about licenses I would check here Licenses. A software license can make the dev liable in a legal sense for misuse of a program, like common Penetration Testing software. So depending on the license, legal action could be taken on the Dev, the User, both, or neither. I would read more about it and the legalities of them. Also pending on your definition of virus, if you are talking about common malicious programs, they would not be considered Libre as they would obviously break Freedom 0-3, a software that spies on you would be sending communications to another user or party, violating Freedom 0. Again I genuinely believe you have not fully read the GNU Philosophy or are severely misunderstanding it.
The license lie
Of course, releasing the source is not enough for the freetards. You also need to attach a "license" to your program which will allegedly allow others to do everything the "four freedoms" permit. The problem is - nothing prevents anyone from breaking the license. Licenses are just words on the screen - most of us have violated countless video game EULAs for example. More importantly, we also now have proof that the GPL can be revoked - https://slashdot.org/submission/9087542/author-recinds-gpl. The author of the program in question sent a DMCA request to GitHub (alleging copyright infringement), and they complied in taking it down. Here are some quotes from lawyer Lawrence Rosen's book "Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law":
A third problem with bare licenses is that they may be revocable by the licensor. Specifically, /a license not coupled with an interest may be revoked.
Unless the courts allow us to apply these contract law principles to a license, we are faced with a bare license that is revocable.
For now, I simply point out that the GPL licensors are in essentially the same situation as other open source licensors who cannot prove offer, acceptance, or consideration. There is no contract. - So, that shiny LICENSE file you have attached to your project means fucking nothing. The FSF pretty much agrees, which is why it asks you to assign your copyright to them (from https://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-assign.html [archive])
#I am not fully understanding your argument here. The license can be changed by the authority because they had no EULA so the license could be freely changed. This is not a direct argument against a license but an argument for EULA. This is even specified in the article you linked "The author reportedly notes that version 3 of the GPL did not exist when he published the code, additionally the author notes that even if there was a clause not to revoke, he was paid no consideration for such a forbearance of a legal right of his and thus said clause is not operative against him, the granter, should it exist at all." So there was no EULA to protect the users against a license change, nor was there a clause in the license. There is no clause in the license because a EULA can change based on contract dates. And a new license can also be acknowledged.
In order to make sure that all of our copyrights can meet the recordkeeping and other requirements of registration, and in order to be able to enforce the GPL most effectively, FSF requires that each author of code incorporated in FSF projects provide a copyright assignment, and, where appropriate, a disclaimer of any work-for-hire ownership claims by the programmer's employer.- This applies just to US law - the situation in other countries might be different. But, as the FSF admits, most of free software is published in the US.
#This is correct as stated in my comment above. But your previous argument is flawed because of this direct line.
Other freetard arguments
Freetardism goes deep, and to refute it all I would have to write a book. But I will try to tackle some other common ones:
"You don't need to be a programmer, just pay someone else!" - This does not bypass the issues mentioned in the section refuting Freedom 1. Besides, I can also pay for a disassembly.
#It does and you can.
"If the users don't control the program, the program controls the users. With proprietary software, there is always some entity, the developer or "owner" of the program, that controls the program - and through it, exercises power over its users. A nonfree program is a yoke, an instrument of unjust power." - Applies to "free software" just as much, or even more - that depends on the program in question. It is easily possible to make a closed source program that gives enough control to the user that they never even think about modifying the source. On the other hand, the "free software" world is full of crap where you'd have to change half of the code to regain control...might as well just use a good proprietary program then.
#This is incorrect, again you are failing to recognize the difference between simplicity and legality. Libre software may not be simple to change however it is legal to do so. I again wholeheartedly believe you are misunderstanding the GNU philosophy or misinformed.
"Proprietary software is often malware" - they even have an article with that title (archive), where they mention a bunch of issues with proprietary software. Of course, you can find many examples of so-called "free software" also suffering from those - but freetards gives those a pass, because it's "free". Mozilla Firefox alone fits most of the listed criteria.
#Again legality over simplicity. Mozilla will not sue you for making a non-malicious form of Firefox, hence why GNU Ice-cat exists. You misunderstand Libre software.
The freetards' definition of free software simply does not correspond to actual freedom. It is an example of Orwellian newspeak - a software is "free" if it abides by our arbitrarily chosen freedoms, and anything else is dirty and "nonfree" - even though "free software" does not necessarily provide more actual freedom, as shown earlier in the article - and might actually provide less.
#The arbitrarily chosen freedoms are actually fairly well thought out, while they could be improved, each builds off each-other, while also maintaining a central goal. Also the GNU Philosophy does touch the new-speak or choice of language. But you may have failed to address this or to read it entirely.
Why freetardism is dangerous
Too much focus on irrelevant shit, such as licenses, campaigns against "nonfree" (newspeak, remember!) software, rating software by whether they are "free" or not by their arbitrary definitions, or even fucking words - seriously, they want people to use only their approved words - open source, for example, is strictly forbidden! Diverting attention away from more important things, such as whether the software is actually quality, or if it spies on you (archive). But wait, we haven't actually defined freetardism yet!
#The focus or intention of the Freedoms is not to address quality but conduct. They do not force you to use the lingo, but prefer it based on specificity.
Well, let's say it is the complete allegiance to all the things mentioned in the rest of the article. So, a freetard will believe that "four freedoms" provide actual freedom to the users and are the most important things ever. He will be trying to get rid of all the dirty nonfree software on his computer. He will care too much about licenses, and not enough about quality. He will shit on "nonfree" software even if it is obviously superior. He will dismiss countless examples of free software failures. He will cite pages upon pages of GNU propaganda to correct or convert people. He will suffer from the "we good, they bad" thinking. In summary, he will act as a religious zealot would - but at least they have the excuse of acting according to God's will (right or not).
#I think this is more an attack on bad interpretation of the GNU Philosophy and not the Philosophy itself. Its not a matter of quality but of the ethic and conduct of the software dev and the software itself. If one is adept in software design in programming should feel more at home freely changing and distributing their software without the fear of legal recourse or vilification over infringement.
Does that mean free software is bad?
It is important to differentiate between open source and freetardism - freetards are doing everything to conflate these two, but we can have the former and throw the harmful ideology away. Maybe then we can recognize (and try to fix) the movement's flaws. Of course releasing the source is great, but that does not necessarily mean the software becomes more secure, more quality, or that the users have more freedom. In fact open source introduces its own set of problems, and freetardism has blinded people from this fact, so it has to go.
#You should not conflate Open Source to the GNU Philosophy, they are separate. Its a Philosophy not a development style. Quality and security is a matter of skill, licensing is a matter of legality. Which when the Freetard ideology is applied to a software, can allow more skilled users to legally and ethically change is distribute software to be more secure and of higher quality.
FOSS problems - and how to fix them
But the FOSS movement does have one massive and important advantage over closed source - the potential is there. But it will not be realized without our concentrated effort. Forget about the idea of FOSS automatically supporting your freedom - I hope I've managed to dig its grave in this article already. So, how do we awaken the giant that was put to sleep by freetard ideology?
#You acknowledge the potential but see the spreading of a philosophy that would allow a focused effort and way of thinking to be disregarded. You want to cross a river while burning the bridge. This is illogical and poorly thought out.
First of all - do not bother with big corpo abominations such as Mozilla Firefox or systemd. They support your freedom only in name - actually, they might be even worse than any old closed source software, since they pretend to be otherwise and get you to do the dirty work of fixing bugs while keeping all real control to themselves. The people running those projects are oversized school bullies getting off to being able to "WONTFIX" bugs and threaten you for daring to stand up to them. From https://igurublog.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/tso-and-linus-and-the-impotent-rage-against-systemd/ (archive):
Kay Sievers and Lennart Poettering often have the same response style to criticisms as the GNOME developers [read other Red Hat developers] - go away, you're clueless, we know better than you, and besides, we have commit privs and you don't, so go away.
#The following individuals do not follow the GNU Philosophy but they do not directly conflict with it. You should not use them as examples against the GNU Philosophy because they do not directly adhere to it.
Don't support school bullies! Generally, the more hoops you have to jump through to get involved, the less they actually want you there (except to do the dirty work, exactly according to their script) and the worse you will be treated. Look out for red flags such as threatening with bans, or double standards (archive) ("no abuse" except for us is one such double standard). Try to find a smaller project that you can actually affect, such as Ungoogled-Chromium or QuodLibet. Of course, small fry devs can still be assholes, so you'd have to check their attitude first - but it's much rarer than with big corpos. If a project has a forum instead of just github, that's even better (Otter Browser or Disroot!). Resist the culture of "just fork it!". It helps no one and only ensures FOSS will forever stay in the shadow of closed source - though unfortunately, it is the only option sometimes.
#While this is true that forking does harm Open Source software. You would need some kind of shared understanding of software development, that follows some standard, and group thinking. Like the GNU Philosophy and to use software made by those who adhere directly to it.
Besides that, avoid all the pitfalls of freetardism I've mentioned in the earlier sections of the article. The cult has easy and tempting soundbites to simply share and "convert" people, but we shouldn't be relying on them, since they're deceptive. We can only have true freedom when we stop pretending that freetard memes have anything to do with it. When an user get swarmed by Stallmanist propaganda, and then visits something like the Mozilla project and realizes he's been conned, he will only feel more alienated towards the movement. Stick to supporting actual community-based projects - let people see real freedom in action!
#I do agree with community action and the adherence to projects that support a user freedoms, in order to do so without some kind of weird or poorly designed pyramid scheme requires a common line of thought or shared philosophy. Without collective thinking or a shared ideology, you will be herding cats.
#In conclusion I do believe you are either misinformed or are misunderstanding the GNU Philosophy. If these are not the case you directly ignored many talking points that are addressed just to make an argument which is either refuting directly in the GNU Philosophy or by yourself in subsequent paragraphs. I think this Refutation of Freetardism is poorly conceived and not well thought out. Feel free to email me back to talk more about it or to rephrase your arguments. I look forward to your email.