One of the things I have problem with in software libre communities is that a lot of older or more experienced folks have a really violent behavior in confronting with criticism of their ways. I see a lot of experienced people in software libre communities, specially GNU and FSF mailing lists, that support the movement and have some logical reasons for their actions but the way they express them only makes people keep their distance from softwarer libre and its communities.

One of the reasons that proprietary software are dominating the world is that many of these companies/software have a really nice way of treating people. Many users forget their digital freedoms and rights because they see (at least ostensibly) that they are treated with respect.

In the last few days I’ve seen at least three unnecessary insults and violence in FSF and GNU communities. I and some other people mentioned that such behavior only makes people keep their distance from us.

Some people forget that our self-assigned mission and goal is to bring knowledge about users’ freedom and rights to people and not all people are technical or experienced about computers. If we’re going to criticize people who have less experience or knowledge about computers or software, then all we did till now is worthless.

If software libre is only for software developers and programmers then we should rephrase it to something that shows the goal. Software libre is not only for programmers. It’s for everybody. Software libre is to bring users freedom. We should repeat it frequently to remind it to advocates.

You don’t need to understand code or every matter in computers to support software libre. If you care for software freedom and digital rights, you have every right to talk, express opinions, act, and be active in software libre communities and nobody can stop you.

I want to emphasize that funding is a BIG issue. If we could sabotage the funding or otherwise existence of proprietary software, it might be less.

See, IRC exists, XMPP too, etc. And everyone could be at least functional using them. But they lose potential users because Slack and other proprietary stuff has both some nice features and a strong marketing budget. If we could eliminate the proprietary competition, not only would the software libre options get more use, they probably would also get more funding.

But in practice, we have to better out-compete the proprietary competition. That’s been the issue since the earliest pre-GNU days of RMS working to reverse engineer proprietary software to keep people from moving to it. It helps that we have the freedom-selling-point but that’s not enough on its own for most people, unfortunately. It’s simply easier sell if we also compete on features and usability.

To out-compete, we need funding. And it’s not merely whether software libre wins. We also want it to be better and to be as user-friendly as possible.

Now, when people get into HOW to get funding, I see a lot of repeated ideas that aren’t that effective (e.g. bounties or shaming of users for not donating).

Funding has been a crisis for software libre projects since the beginning of the movement. Change is needed for us. However, I am against commercializing the concept of software libre. I believe it’s wonderful to make money using software libre but making it a commercial concept just like how Open Source has been is wrong, I believe.

I believe we should use marketing techniques to tell people about their digital rights and freedoms they should have but making it (software libre) another form of proprietary software is absolute mistake.

The civil rights movement was an organized effort by black Americans to end racial discrimination and gain equal rights under the law. It began in the late 1940s and ended in the late 1960s. Although tumultuous at times, the movement was mostly non-violent and resulted in laws to protect every American’s constitutional rights, regardless of color, race, sex or national origin.

July 26, 1948: President Harry Truman issues Executive Order 9981 to end segregation in the Armed Services.

May 17, 1954: Brown v. Board of Education, a consolidation of five cases into one, is decided by the Supreme Court, effectively ending racial segregation in public schools. Many schools, however, remained segregated.

August 28, 1955: Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago is brutally murdered in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman. His murderers are acquitted, and the case bring international attention to the civil rights movement after Jet magazine publishes a photo of Till’s beaten body at his open-casket funeral.

December 1, 1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her defiant stance prompts a year-long Montgomery bus boycott.

January 10-11, 1957: Sixty black pastors and civil rights leaders from several southern states—including Martin Luther King, Jr.—meet in Atlanta, Georgia to coordinate nonviolent protests against racial discrimination and segregation.

September 4, 1957: Nine black students known as the “Little Rock Nine” are blocked from integrating into Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Dwight D. Eisenhower eventually sends federal troops to escort the students, however, they continue to be harassed.

September 9, 1957: Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law to help protect voter rights. The law allows federal prosecution of those who suppress another’s right to vote.

February 1, 1960: Four African American college students in Greensboro, North Carolina refuse to leave a Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter without being served. The Greensboro Four—Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil—were inspired by the nonviolent protest of Gandhi. The Greensboro Sit-In, as it came to be called, sparks similar “sit-ins” throughout the city and in other states.

November 14, 1960: Six-year-old Ruby Bridges is escorted by four armed federal marshals as she becomes the first student to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. Her actions inspired Norman Rockwell’s painting The Problem We All Live With (1964).

1961: Throughout 1961, black and white activists, known as freedom riders, took bus trips through the American South to protest segregated bus terminals and attempted to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters. The Freedom Rides were marked by horrific violence from white protesters, they drew international attention to their cause.

June 11, 1963: Governor George C. Wallace stands in a doorway at the University of Alabama to block two black students from registering. The standoff continues until President John F. Kennedy sends the National Guard to the campus.

August 28, 1963: Approximately 250,000 people take part in The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King gives his “I Have A Dream” speech as the closing address in front of the Lincoln Memorial, stating, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

September 15, 1963: A bomb at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama kills four young girls and injures several other people prior to Sunday services. The bombing fuels angry protests.

July 2, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, preventing employment discrimination due to race, colour, sex, religion or national origin. Title VII of the Act establishes the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to help prevent workplace discrimination.

February 21, 1965: Black religious leader Malcolm X is assassinated during a rally by members of the Nation of Islam.

March 7, 1965: Bloody Sunday. In the Selma to Montgomery March, around 600 civil rights marchers walk to Selma, Alabama to Montgomery—the state’s capital—in protest of black voter suppression. Local police block and brutally attack them. After successfully fighting in court for their right to march, Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders lead two more marches and finally reach Montgomery on March 25.

August 6, 1965: President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prevent the use of literacy tests as a voting requirement. It also allowed federal examiners to review voter qualifications and federal observers to monitor polling places.

April 4, 1968:Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray is convicted of the murder in 1969.

April 11, 1968: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act, providing equal housing opportunity regardless of race, religion or national origin.

Sources

Executive Order 9981. Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum.
Civil Rights Act of 1957. Civil Rights Digital Library.
Governor George C. Wallace’s School House Door Speech. Alabama Department of Archives and History.
Greensboro, NC, Students Sit-In for US Civil Rights, 1960. Swarthmore College Global Non-violent Action Database.
Historical Highlights. The 24th Amendment. History, Art & Archives United States House of Representatives.
History—Brown v. Board of Education Re-enactment. United States Courts.
History of Federal Voting Rights Laws. The United States Department of Justice.
“I Have a Dream,” Address Delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute Stanford.
Oldest and Boldest. NAACP.
SCLC History. Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Selma to Montgomery March: National Historic Trail and All-American Road. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. National Archives.

One of the common arguments in software libre communities is a struggle about the terms “Open Source” and “Free (as in freedom) Software”.

I always say that the point of our work is to spread knowledge about the four essential freedoms. I still believe that calling a software that respects the essential four freedoms “open source” is wrong but that’s not what I would argue over.

My point and my goal is to introduce software libre and four essential freedoms to people. As long as a person cares about its digital rights, I don’t care what term it uses to call that software.

Open source misses the point of the software libre but it’s also respectable as most of the times it spreads the knowledge about these freedoms. The name is important only to spread more knowledge about these freedoms.

Recently, on FSF Community Team, there was a struggle about FSF ways to spread and work about software libre. What I believe is that FSF and GNU are working more fundamentally. I believe FSF and GNU are top leaders in the matter of software libre and it’s not their job to do technical and detailed work.

I believe what they should do is to guide the community. I don’t see them as owners of the communities, I only look at them as leaders. For sure, their opinions may be different with the community sometimes but it’s completely normal.

Every community knows the best about itself, I have nothing against that but I also believe FSF and GNU are more experienced than any of us and every community can benefit from some of these experiences.

However, I believe FSF and GNU should ask the communities to do an immediate serious action. For example, GNU+Linux, as probably most popular software libre in world, lacks some serious stuff.

For example, most people still think/believe GNU+Linux is only for professional technical computer users and they have the right to believe so. It’s 2020, we can’t ask people to run an apt-get every time they want to install something. We can’t ask people to install every dependency manually to run a python script.

For sure there are a lot of great software/apps that are libre, GNU+Linux was just a general example. Action is needed for sure. Without an immediate action, software libre won’t ever dominate.

As coronavirus made it impossible for students to attend classes physically, many schools, universities, and/or educational classes are using online platforms to hold classes. Most of these classes are held violating students’ rights and digital freedoms by using proprietary software.

With proprietary business software, educational administrators are violating people’s digital rights over owning their software and controlling their computers. There are great software libre for education and/or holding online classes.

I myself have seen some classes and online meetings been held by great software libre BigBlueButton which is really featured and easy to use.

Now, Free Software Foundation launched a petition to ask students, teachers, administrators, and schools to replace their proprietary software with a software libre to stop this violation of people’s digital rights. They emailed the FSF Community Team and wrote a blog post about it. You can sign this petition on FSF’s website and join us to fight for userfreedom of students, as a large part of society.

There’s a new report about seven no-log-policy VPN providers that have collected very personal information of users, including but not limited to website addresses, user email for registration on websites, passwords, apps, files accessed, mobile operator (if a cellphone user), phone number, hometown city, etc.

It’s a really worrying news about VPNs. What’s more worrying is that they somehow managed to get the full path of the address the user visited which should be technically impossible.

VPN log full path

This can be a new era in online privacy for people. VPNs advertise about privacy and encryption a lot and this can disprove them and make privacy activists/advocates worry about new technical capabilities for online privacy violation and invading.

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Update: Mr. Stallman had some question which I answered and then he emailed his response and opinion.

As I explained in my email (for help) to Mr. Stallman, there is a crisis in Iran’s software libre community which is leading to a huge disagreement between the members of the community. Here’s my email to Mr. Stallman.

Dear Mr. Stallman,
Hello. I hope you’re well.

I know you’re a busy man so I go straight to the point. Two years ago,
some people that were/are attached/related to the government of my
country, Iran, founded an association named “Free Software and Open
Source Association of Iran”. I, and most of the community members here,
believe that they were developing tools and resources for government for
various uses, such as internet censorship.

Basically, they were doing stuff completely against the benefits of
software libre community. The thing is that this foundation was not
publicly announced to the community and we only found out about it less
than two months ago.

After we found out about it, I and my friends tried to participate in it
and take control over it by taking most places in the directing board.
What we wanted to do was to take control of the foundation to stop its
acts under the name of “free software” and limiting them from using the
name of the community.

We believed what they did is to put responsibility of their work on the
community so we decided to act, instead of being passive.

Now, the problem for us is that community members are attacking us over
our decision. They are mad and disappointed. Most of the community think
that we should have boycott this foundation.

We explained our intent but they still don’t agree that what we did was
a right thing to do. They repeatedly ask us to dissolve or rename this
foundation but if we do so, they (the previous members) will found a new
association under the same name.

What do you think is the right reaction? What is the right way to deal
with this problem?

I also attached my encryption key. Please sign and encrypt your email
message. Thanks a lot.

As usual, I’ll publish his response as soon as I get it.

I’ve always said that a community may have a leader, but it’ll never have a single owner. A community will always belong to its members. Now, how a person joins a community is a different story. For example, when we talk about the medical community, we’re not talking about every single person who ever received medical treatments; we’re talking about people who contributed to the medical stuff.

No matter you’re a doctor, nurse, hospital manager, a pharmacy employee/employer, or anyone who serves the medical system, you’re part of the medical community. Many people are getting affected by this community but we all know that not anyone who’s affected is part of this community.

Same thing goes for software libre community. No matter what part of the community or which software/thing you contributed to, you’re part of the community. Now, our community may get affected by some people more than others. For example, Mr. Stallman has a serious power over a lot of people. Or GNU project can affect a lot of decisions made by other projects.

My personal opinion, however, is a little different. I accept every user of any software libre as a member of the community. Now, with this said, let’s talk about how I think about making decisions in a community.

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Many major websites and services were unreachable for a period Friday afternoon due to issues at Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 DNS service. The outage seems to have started at about 2:15 Pacific time and lasted for about 25 minutes before connections began to be restored. Google DNS may also have been affected.

Cloudflare at 2:46 says “the issue has been identified and a fix is being implemented.” CEO Matthew Prince explains that it all came down to a bad router in Atlanta:

We had an issue that impacted some portions of the @Cloudflare network. It appears that a router in Atlanta had an error that caused bad routes across our backbone. That resulted in misrouted traffic to PoPs that connect to our backbone. 1/2

Matthew Prince

The company also issued a statement via email emphasizing that this was not an attack on the system.

Now, many people are talking about how we need decentralization on the internet to avoid such problems/incidents. People are complaining about centralization and how federation will improve things.

Until we start trying to understand why a thing is centralized, a federated alternative is doomed to fail even more catastrophically. Usually, a centralized thing is because money, security, convenience, reliability, and Metcalfe’s law.

With current federation system, we still miss some benefits and also there are some problems we should pay attention to. For example, a centralized system can have dedicated attention about security but a decentralized/federated system is more vulnerable as it works like a chain.

If one of the links in the chain breaks, the whole chain breaks. Also, a decentralized system doesn’t mean that data is stored in the air. Data is still stored in computers. I’m not saying decentralization is not a good thing, what I’m saying is that we should first write protocols and test it in various ways to be sure decentralization doesn’t affect our security and privacy, and it improves our experience.

With current systems, I can’t see a good point in decentralizing our networks except for certain matters such as social media.

Following people’s protest in Behbahan city, Khuzestan, Iran, NetBlocks reported that there was an internet shutdown in the area. Some ISPs were restricting people’s connection to the internet during the anti-government protest.

A number of people in Behbahan rallied in protest of the country’s poor economic situation and the issuance of a death sentence in response to last year’s popular protests. This peaceful gathering of the people has taken on a security atmosphere with the presence of the security forces.

Some local Telegram (messenger) channels are reporting that some people are arrested by riot police. Reuters quoted eyewitnesses as saying that security forces fired tear gas.