Open source advocate pushes for software non-freedom

Sometimes people don’t want to see how the older free software movement (a social movement which advocates for the freedom to run, inspect, share, and modify published computer software) and the younger open source development methodology are philosophically different (1, 2) and that philosophical difference leads to radical differences on the ground. Open source enthusiasts don’t like because their philosophy was founded to reject software freedom. Users need to know what they are being denied when their software freedom isn’t respected. Time after time we see this difference in action and this article promoting Skype is no different than any of the other ham-fisted attempts by open source advocates dropping their development methodology to push for software non-freedom.

Here a proprietary (non-free, user subjugating) program—Skype—is being advertised for use on what might be a free software system (unfairly referred to as a “Linux” system). No reminder of anything to do with software freedom except in a place where the proprietor thinks they can benefit from the conflation the open source philosophy was designed to achieve: “While Microsoft has long been viewed as an enemy of the Linux community — and it still is by some — the company has actually transformed into an open source champion.” tries to get you to think of “open source” but not to the extent that one would wonder if even that group’s weaker philosophy is going to be available to Skype’s users by running Skype. No mention of GNU as in a GNU/Linux operating system; any mention of GNU is far too strong a reminder of the software freedom you’re not getting with Skype. Better to stick to distracting technocratic details that are irrelevant compared with the profound problems of running Skype, details like the software’s packaging. And to reinforce the notion that open source advocates will often abandon their own developmental philosophy if it gets in the way of a powerful proprietor, we get a quote from Canonical, an open source supporting company, further encouraging users to install the non-free communications software.

Nowhere in that article will you find a reminder that not only is Skype non-free software (and that this alone carries horrible implications) but Microsoft is an NSA partner, and Microsoft changed Skype specifically for spying. Apparently the “seamless user experience” Canonical championed and the “high quality experience” Microsoft talked about doesn’t include respecting a user’s software freedom, their privacy, or the security of their computer.