The 2 Problems Facing Linux (and Open Source) in 2020 - Big Tech and Dangerhairs

The world of Free and Open Source Software (Linux, et al.) has some serious problems that are going to reach a critical point in the year ahead.
Those problems are not technological. As of right now Linux (and Open Source, more generally) powers every single one of the top 500 supercomputers in the world. The majority of all smartphones have, primarily, Linux and Open Source at their core.
No, from a tech point of view, Open Source is doing just dandy.
Instead the problems, as I see them, come in two forms.
1) Influence (and control) over Open Source institutions by organizations and companies who are, in most areas of their business, opposed to Open Source.
Some of the largest and, arguably, most influential organizations within the Open Source world are heavily funded by companies who are predominantly opposed to Open Source as a concept.
Microsoft and Facebook fund the Open Source Initiative. Facebook, VMWare, Microsoft, Comcast, and Oracle (all companies that focus on Closed Source almost entirely -- the vast majority of their work is closed and some of these firms take drastic legal action against Open Source projects and their users) all fund the Linux Foundation (and have seats on the Linux Foundation board).
Some of these seats cost half a million dollars per year.
Companies don't throw around that kind of money without expecting something in return.
That's not a conspiracy theory... that's just good, obvious business. If Microsoft, for example, simply wished to be generous, they would donate the half million dollars, issue a press release about how nice they are, and be hands off. Instead, they are paying for board positions to give them greater control over activities and stances of organizations like the Linux Foundation.
Again. Not a conspiracy. I'm not claiming anything unfounded or unproven. Simply pointing out the business relationships that have formed -- and that companies don't typically pay half a million dollars (per year) for nothing in return.
I want to also stress this point: None of this makes these companies, like Microsoft, evil. I don't view Microsoft as evil... simply a company focused (primarily) on Closed Source software and with a track record of attacking those that threaten their core businesses. They're just doing the business they do. Looking at how the business needs (real or perceived) of such a company can impact the organizations they have some control over (such as the Open Source Initiative and the Linux Foundation) is, regardless of your views of any of these entities, the prudent thing to do.
To me, Microsoft buying seats on the Linux Foundation board feels like a cigarette company buying a seat on the board of an organization focused on helping people quit smoking -- in that their interests are not (by and large) aligned. Or Tesla buying a seat on the board of a chain of gas stations.
Note: I have reached out to both The Linux Foundation and Microsoft repeatedly over the last several months. I genuinely want their viewpoint. To date, no response has been given.
If corporate control over a small number of Open Source organizations was the extent of the issue, I'd say this is a somewhat isolated business case. Isolated case, this is not.
One of the other big activities is of companies focused on Closed Source (and restricting rights of end users -- such as Right to Repair, and fair use of content) purchasing significant control over standards bodies that help drive the direction of the broader computer industry.
One of the easiest examples to explain is that of Microsoft, Google, and Netflix purchasing power within the W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium -- that is the self-appointed organization responsible for setting the standards that drive not just everything you see via your web browsers... but many ways that computing devices communicate behind the scenes).
This power has had direct ramifications. Most notably, at least to me, the fact that those companies pushed the W3C to adopt a policy of support of injecting Closed Source into web standards... and pushing DRM (Digital Rights Management, which restricts when, where, and how you can, for example, watch a video) as a ratified standard of "The Open Web."
In this we have a clear, well documented, example of large Closed Source companies causing significant change -- making Closed Source and DRM a standard within something that is, by design, supposed to remain fully open and DRM-free.
Regardless of if you believe those are good, positive changes (I don't, but I can see the arguments for them)... there's no denying that the changes are significant and the purchasing power of large corporations made them happen.
Those companies appear to remain committed to paying large sums of money to maintain similar control over these standards bodies and Open Source organizations going forward. As such it is reasonable to assume additional standards and policies will be pushed that positively impact their bottom line. Because, again, that's how business works.
Will those policies be ultimately good or bad for Open Source and open standards? Remains to be seen. Thus far, the track record is mixed. At best.
2) Influence (and control) of Open Source projects, institutions, and communities by those seeking to harm others.
I'm a pretty live and let live sort of guy. If people have good intentions -- to treat each other with respect and love -- I tend to like them. I've even gone so far as to publish my own, personal Code of Conduct. It reads, in entirety, "Be Excellent to Each Other."
Unfortunately not everyone within the broader Open Source world follows that ideal.
Over the course of 2019 (and 2018, before it) we've seen a steady increase in... for lack of a better word... hate. A small portion of the Open Source world that actively acts in hateful, exclusionary ways towards other members of the Open Source community. Based on what I've observed, I believe this sort of thing will continue to ratchet up during 2020 until a breaking point is reached.
Let me give two examples that I think illustrate my point. Both relate to technology conferences in the Open Source world.
A year and a half ago, at a prominent Open Source conference held in Portland, Oregon -- a keynote was given by a highly visible Microsoft employee. During that keynote, the presenter specifically encouraged those in attendance to commit crimes against people based on skin color and gender (in this case, "white" and "male" -- though the idea is horrific regardless of gender or ethnicity). He said we need people to be "willing to go to jail" that we needed "accomplices." He even had a slide talking about the need for "accomplices" against people of certain skin colors.
This was not a rinky dink conference. This was not a nobody, from a no-name company. This was a high profile person from Microsoft giving a conference sanctioned keynote presentation.
And, in it, he was seeking to divide the entire community -- to encourage racism and sexism to the point of committing criminal activity against each other.
This was not an isolated incident. These sorts of hateful calls to commit crime against other members of the Open Source community are becoming increasingly commonplace at conferences across the land.
In another example, just last month The Linux Foundation banned one podcaster from attending a conference immediately after someone complained that said podcaster once wore a red "Make America Great Again" hat.
Note: That particular situation is slightly more complex (and warrants further study if you are interested in the topic), but that does appear to have been the core of why the individual was banned. I reached out to The Linux Foundation (repeatedly, via multiple channels) for clarification. I offered them a chance to say something to the effect of "We do not ban members of the Republican party" or something similar. If the individual's political affiliation had no bearing on the banning, making a statement to that effect would have been a simple, obvious way to calm any tension. They declined to make any such statement -- or any statement at all -- to me, or any other journalist who contacted them.
There are a few similarities with these two cases -- similarities shared with the numerous other such instances over the last two years. But, at the core, both actions (one from The Linux Foundation and one from a representative of Microsoft) seek to harm someone else who, supposedly, is deemed "unacceptable."
In one case someone is banned from participating in a portion of the industry due to a perceived political affiliation (one shared by roughly half of the U.S. populace), and in the other a direct call to action to commit crimes against others based on race and gender.
Like with the concerns over Closed Source companies buying influence over Open Source organizations... these are not isolated incidents. And they appear to be ramping up.
A truly fascinating detail of all this... is that many of the individuals and organizations who are preaching hate -- or seeking to cause division and harm -- work directly with the companies buying buying control of Open Source organizations.
In fact, if you draw a Venn Diagram with one circle representing "Seeking to harm others who they disagree with" and the other circle being "Companies buying influence of Open Source"... it's pretty much just a single circle (with, perhaps, a small divot at the top).
What comes next?
If I had to make a prediction for 2020, based on the increasing activities over the last couple years... I would say that things will only accelerate and intensify with both of the issues I call out here.
It's difficult to say exactly how everything will shake out, in the end. But major divisions among the Open Source world seem nearly inevitable. Forking of major, critical projects. Communities dividing in half. Journalists being banned from events for covering them accurately. Continued threats against people who speak out against hate and racism.
As it stands right now, I know that me making the statements I make in this piece will cause me to receive numerous threats. I expect hit pieces. And that sounds just awful. But the statements I've made are accurate, factual... honest. And I stand by them.
In fact, that is likely the only way to truly combat the issues facing the Open Source world over the next year. If we all, as a group, stand up and speak out. Calmly. Kindly. But honestly and factually.
The more of us speak out against hate, the harder it will be to vilify concepts like "kindness" and "Being excellent to each other."
So here I am, making this stand right now.
I do not think that companies with a vested interest in the failure of Open Source should be allowed to fund the major Open Source organizations. That is, to say the least, a conflict of interest.
And I roundly reject the hate, racism, sexism, and overall bigotry that is working to divide the Open Source world ever further. I do not care what country you come from, what religion you are, or what your political party is. If you treat others with kindness, you're aok with me.
Both of those comments will get me attacked. Which is ridiculous.
Bullies be damned.

=== END OF ARTICLE ===

In short, the situation is pretty concerning. Is Linux doomed? Is the OSS community going to eat itself?

Relevant community thread: https://kiwifarms.net/threads/open-source-software-community.38130/ (merge?)
 
If I were to guess Microsoft's endgame here, having open sourced .NET core and created the Windows Subsystem for Linux, it's that they're trying to compete as a cloud provider against AWS. In that space, they don't care what software their customers run, closed source or open. They only care that you're paying Microsoft to run it on their servers. In that world, embracing Linux is the way to attract customers.

I don't see any potential danger there as far as open-source software goes. The problem today is that the code is open but all the data is locked up.
 

Splendid

> Moderating KF for free
True & Honest Fan
Retired Staff
I'm pretty damn sure you can get your data out. That's why you pay for storage.
 
I'm pretty damn sure you can get your data out. That's why you pay for storage.
I'm talking about the data you're not paying to store. Take kiwifarms. Why don't we, the users, have direct access to the forum database so we can decide how to access and query it? Instead, we get a shitty obfuscated HTML view of the data that doesn't conform to a schema and that is not efficient to query. Scraping the site is possible, but then, so is disassembly and reverse engineering. This is closed data in the same way that closed source software is closed.

At least, with kiwifarms, the data isn't being held closed for the purpose of selling adverts, which is what uniquely makes the likes of Facebook and Google complete cunts. Instead, kiwifarms is closed because that's the basic shittiness of the web manifested in vbulletin software. It's still the sort of thing that pisses off Dick Stallman.
 

Calooby

Oh, shit.
True & Honest Fan
It's a very rough case because it's like, if we're not going to be getting funding from these big companies who hate the little guys like us, where are we going to get it? It's clear we need right-wing, conservative techies to balance this insanely high leftist coder-base but that's easier said than done. I would bet you Trump probably thinks computers and the internet are the devil but I'm not willingly to back that up with evidence, just my opinion really.
 

Piss Clam

Squeeze me.
Windows Subsystem for Linux

When WinNT came out they had three subsystems. OS/2, POSIX, and the win32 api.

So with POSIX it wasn't anything new...of course they coded this, because they wanted to keep customers happy.
 

Coolio55

<(0_0<) <(0_0)> (>0_0)> KIRBY DANCE
Problem 3: They wanna put rust into it lol https://lwn.net/Articles/797828/
Imagine the clusterfuck. There's always the joke that Linux has always tried to keep up the pace with windows and this is the natural conclusion of that. Fucking horrible hacks on everything.
 

Citation Checking Project

Independent Journalist with a 10 year legacy
True & Honest Fan
A year and a half ago, at a prominent Open Source conference held in Portland, Oregon -- a keynote was given by a highly visible Microsoft employee. During that keynote, the presenter specifically encouraged those in attendance to commit crimes against people based on skin color and gender (in this case, "white" and "male" -- though the idea is horrific regardless of gender or ethnicity). He said we need people to be "willing to go to jail" that we needed "accomplices." He even had a slide talking about the need for "accomplices" against people of certain skin colors.

I'd like to have specifics on that. I cant take a vague claim like that on faith. Even if the conference wasn't recorded, who, when, where, and what should be filled in.
 
When WinNT came out they had three subsystems. OS/2, POSIX, and the win32 api.

So with POSIX it wasn't anything new...of course they coded this, because they wanted to keep customers happy.
I was a kid when NT came out, and I've no idea what sort of market share it had or which customers it kept happy. I knew Microsoft as the office and desktop king, and us desktop users didn't see NT until Windows 2000, by which time, Microsoft was aggressively pushing dotNET in the server space, not anything POSIX.

Now they're attracting Linux folk to their platform, which is a major change of strategy.

Problem 3: They wanna put rust into it lol https://lwn.net/Articles/797828/
Imagine the clusterfuck. There's always the joke that Linux has always tried to keep up the pace with windows and this is the natural conclusion of that. Fucking horrible hacks on everything.
Hey, Rust is fucking awesome. I want to be programming like it's 1990, not like it's 1970, dammit!

But anyone thinking Rust is the future of systems programming is optimistic as fuck. The meaning of "systems programming" is bickered to death, but one of the least re.tarded takes is to say that the systems language is the language in which the operating system was written. And your language dictates your API which is why, when you look at the POSIX API, you realise it was written entirely for C programmers. There's no point trying to reimplement this shit in Rust. If you were going to make Rust the future of systems programming, you would need to replace POSIX, and good luck with that.
 
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Kiislova

Mostly non degenerate furfag
The meaning of "systems programming" is bickered to death, but one of the least re.tarded takes is to say that the systems language is the language in which the operating system was written.

For many applications, "systems programming" means being able to do two things.
  1. Arbitrarily point "somewhere" and write "something" without the language getting in the way (where my naked pointers at?)
  2. Being able to be used "freestanding" without any major issues (as in no standard library, no operating system, no nothing)
As of right now, only Assembler and C (not even C++) satisfy these two without losing any major language features.

Oh, right, the future of OSS after this :autistic: sidetrack.
I think the two points made by OP are sorta on point. Microsoft, oracle and all these major corporations are taking over the governing bodies of major OSS projects, funnily enough throught the use of dangerhairs to get rid of "dissidentes" like Stallman himself. My prediction is that Linux itself will become heavily "tainted" with ever incresing proprietary extensions, same thing for the "open" web, but I really doubt open source as a way of doing software will ever die, people find a way to keep crunching for the greater good, or at least for bragging rights.
 

teriyakiburns

Few people in comedy have careers after age 50.
My prediction is that Linux itself will become heavily "tainted" with ever incresing proprietary extensions
The mainline kernel itself won't be, but after systemd turned up, that really doesn't matter. Enough of its functionality will be pulled into obfuscated not-quite-userspace "applications" running in arbitrary systemd modules to make controlling the kernel pointless. Watch out for wontfix poettering to introduce a way to interface proprietary modules with it, either as a "fix" for the "unstable" linux ABI and driver interface, or just because he can.
 

He Who Points And Laughs

Flavortown Refugee
The mainline kernel itself won't be, but after systemd turned up, that really doesn't matter. Enough of its functionality will be pulled into obfuscated not-quite-userspace "applications" running in arbitrary systemd modules to make controlling the kernel pointless. Watch out for wontfix poettering to introduce a way to interface proprietary modules with it, either as a "fix" for the "unstable" linux ABI and driver interface, or just because he can.
While I'm used to using SystemD (Redhat shovelware), I still don't understand why it is so ubiquitous. These days the only non-SystemD distro I use is Gentoo (OpenRC).

As to Lunduke's points. the SJW taint is the more damaging. People are being forced out of FOSS projects because of what some angry troons view as thought crimes. For technologies where the bottom line should just be the excellence of the code, this is an exceptional path to take. The CoC needs to an hero.
 
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