The State of the Union of FOSS

The State of the Union of FOSS


Confidential White House sources have leaked to me a secretly included draft section of the President’s State of the Union address. These sources suspect that the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a suspected terrorist group, somehow gained access to the speech and included this section. It was purportedly caught at the last moment by a staffer who was literate enough to understand what she was reading. I release this copy of the rejected section, exposing myself to potentially grave peril, as a public service to our readers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you and my fellow countrymen and say to you the state of the union of FOSS is good. To be sure, there are challenges ahead, and obstacles to overcome, but the inexorable tide of history is on our side. We have passed the worst. For first they ignored us, then they laughed at and derided us, but now they must fight us, and in the end, we will win.

For the purveyors of proprietary software do not believe in freedom. They do not want to unleash the potential of computing power for the benefit of all mankind, so that we can harness it, and apply it to raise the quality of life for all humanity worldwide. No, they want you tied to their nipples, addicted to software you mostly don’t need, and can’t change, which you must wait in anticipation for their next upgrade, for the next fix to fix, which never fulfills you like that first naive exhilarating hit.

My fellow Americans, I stand before you, a righteous warrior, and occasional coder, but always a dedicated user of free software. Yes I, like many of you, remember the days when you had to carry around your own Live CD, to surreptitiously load on your computer at work, or at school, in order to use free software to make your job easier.

I too remember the days when you were forced to buy computers with proprietary software, that you couldn’t fix when it broke, or legally share with your friends and family, that you paid through the nose to use, and then were forced to pay to upgrade because of planned obsolescence. Yes, the tyranny of restrictive licenses and EULAs once ruled the software landscape, making us indentured servants to the commercializers of proprietary software.

But the flame of freedom burns bright within the human spirit. And as the yoke of slavery, once considered normal by many, and legally protected by the mechanisms of commerce and government, eventually succumbed to the forces of justice and freedom, so too shall the scourge of proprietary software.

But the forces of proprietary software are powerful, and power concedes nothing without a demand. And, thus, we must continue our fight, and fight we will. We will fight them on the land, we will fight them in the sea and air, and in the chat rooms and blogs. We will fight them in the courts, and the Congress, and the trade shows, in space and on MySpace. We will fight them wherever the battles requires. But we fight them now knowing we are no longer on the defensive, we are taking the battles to them.

Yes, we are in the ascendancy and they are in decline. Their numbers dwindle daily. They tried to derail us in the courts, claiming infringement of their patents, but now stand on the brink of bankruptcy. Their campaigns of FUD have backfired, to the point where they must seek Trojan Horse alliances with some of us, but we will not be fooled. Once a snake, always a snake!

We have the great GIMP, and the nimble Firefox, the ubiquitous Apache, and the stoic Samba. We have OpenOffice and Amarok, KDE and Gnome, Perl, Python, PHP, and Ruby. They must use our MySQL to store their data, and Bittorent to exchange it, and OpenSSH to secure it. From the server to the desktop, from the laptop to the PDA, we rule with the mighty GNU/Linux, and the BSDs.

Though we have made great strides during the year, we must continue to act with umoja, for with unity we can most efficiently grow and prosper, and ward off the last desperate assaults of the agents of proprietary software. For they will likely burn their last dollar to defeat a movement that can’t be beaten by money, than to change their ways, and embrace a path to shared prosperity.

So I leave you now this evening confident with the knowledge that generations hence forth can hear my words encoded in .ogg audio and read the transcript of this address from .odt files. For I have a dream, that one day the world will embrace the full power, spirit, and hope of the free software movement, and extend it to the full realm of human endeavors, and end forever the hoarding of resources, the restriction of information and knowledge, and the proliferation of misery.

So I say to you my fellow countrymen, ask not what free software can do for you, ask what you can do for free software. You may not be able to code, but you can do something. File bug reports, pass out free CDs, write documentation, or blogs, or donate money. But most importantly, proudly (and loudly) use free and open source software wherever and whenever you can, and show the skeptics, and educate the ignorant, that FOSS is here to stay, and is growing.

May the FOSS be with you.

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Comments

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

i guess its nice to dream, but realality is much different from this statement.

FOSS is not strong, its basically a statictical error.
sad but true is when you pay (programmers) peanuts, you get monkeys (programmers)...

all we want is commercial grade software, we'll pay for quality, but we will not NOT EVER use rubbish, free or not.

FOSS may one day gain a market share higher than statistical error, but its not going to happen until you start to produce something of quality, and innovation.
these are to keys to software success, clearly FREE is not good enough, as if it was, everyone would be using FOSS.. but they are not.

I wonder how long you will fall behind the world before this comes clear to you all. i hope its soon, as i would like to see FOSS progress too.

but mostly i want quality software, and FOSS is falling badly behind in quality.

this is not new to the FOSS movement, what is clear is that they still believe all they have to do is be FREE. but free rubbish is still rubbish, its stuff you throw away, or use if you have no choice, thankfully we have a choice, and its clear the vast majority of the world have spoken with their votes for qualty over price.

BTW: ive purchased many many computers, and NEVER have i been forced to use ANY Operating system. its NOT forced on me, its a choice i make.

choice is a great thing, if FOSS thinks destroying competition and removing OUR CHOICE is a good thing that will be supported by the WORLD,, they are just plain wrong..

FOSS NEEDS MICROSOFT,, where else will it get it's idea from.. as it does not seem capable of self innovation, but very good at copying others innovation.

ofcouse you wont agree, and FOSS is the best thing ever, but thats only true if your willing to greatly lower your standards.
if FOSS was half as good as you say,, then half the world would use it.

not less than 5% with a 10% margin of error !!

Jerson Michael Perpetua's picture

FOSS is not strong, its basically a statictical error.

The true power of Free Software does not lie on the statistics (alone) but on the shear political force that is happening. You'll never see a political and philosophical movement that is utterly wrong but stays for almost 2 decades and manages to survive; this proves that Free Software isn't wrong (by any degree). It survives not because of funding or corporate decisions but because people still continue to support it despite the FUD and ridicule that it had received (and is still receiving) through the years.

sad but true is when you pay (programmers) peanuts, you get monkeys (programmers)...

You seem to have the misconception that the FREE in Free Software means gratis or free of charge. Free Software is free as in freedom. Freedom as in you get to control the software that you use on computers that YOU own. Control here doesn't mean only to use but also to modify and redistribute. Notice that this does not have to be incompatible with commercialization. Free Software can also be commercial. It's just that common people see (superficially) inferior business models with regards to Free Software. But this is changing in a (slow) but steady state; many businesses are seeing the potencial of Free Software and free flow of information in general. This is one of the reasons why Free Software is strong; it is slow (probably because it's radical) but it's disruptive (probably why many whine ;). Also, because the source code is available in Free Software, you get to choose the developers you would like to work for the software you are using; you are not locked down to a particular software company/developers.

all we want is commercial grade software, we'll pay for quality, but we will not NOT EVER use rubbish, free or not.

How about you invest the money you pay for proprietary software to hire the programmers developing for a Free Software? That way you get quality software and receive software that you control forever. This is now working with Free Software such as GCC, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.

FOSS may one day gain a market share higher than statistical error, but its not going to happen until you start to produce something of quality, and innovation.
these are to keys to software success, clearly FREE is not good enough, as if it was, everyone would be using FOSS.. but they are not.

I wonder how long you will fall behind the world before this comes clear to you all. i hope its soon, as i would like to see FOSS progress too.

but mostly i want quality software, and FOSS is falling badly behind in quality.

this is not new to the FOSS movement, what is clear is that they still believe all they have to do is be FREE. but free rubbish is still rubbish, its stuff you throw away, or use if you have no choice, thankfully we have a choice, and its clear the vast majority of the world have spoken with their votes for qualty over price.

Generally, I hate people who whine like this but spend dough in proprietary software. If you use Free Software why don't you pay/donate for it? All those people who use Free Software and just whine are most likely those people who are free loading. Yes, you'll get quality software in Free Software but you'll also have to give the software developers a way of living. Don't demand if you are just free loading. We don't need fanatics, we need supporters that KNOW and UNDERSTAND Free Software before they whine.

BTW: ive purchased many many computers, and NEVER have i been forced to use ANY Operating system. its NOT forced on me, its a choice i make.

choice is a great thing, if FOSS thinks destroying competition and removing OUR CHOICE is a good thing that will be supported by the WORLD,, they are just plain wrong..

Contrary to these statements, Free Software isn't destroying competition, rather it is creating one. Proprietary software has this characteristic of locking down users (updates difficult, migration difficult, etc.) and hence, creates monopolies (i.e. your beloved Microsoft). How can Free Software be destroying competition? I can't quite see your point.

FOSS NEEDS MICROSOFT,, where else will it get it's idea from.. as it does not seem capable of self innovation, but very good at copying others innovation.

Free Software never needed Microsoft. Free Software was born before Microsoft became a monopoly. The whole internet is built on top of Free Software. Microsoft doesn't own the internet. Saying that Free Software are only alternatives to Microsoft's is a hasty generalization (a nasty one). Look at sourceforge and see the shear number of Free Software that are being developed; not even half of them are Microsoft clones.

ofcouse you wont agree, and FOSS is the best thing ever, but thats only true if your willing to greatly lower your standards.
if FOSS was half as good as you say,, then half the world would use it.

not less than 5% with a 10% margin of error !!

Oh well. To each his own. But at least try to be reasonable. Know facts before uttering a thing less they'll end as FUD. Free Software is strong not because it's popular, but because it's sustainable. If you are annoyed by its presence, I can tell you that you will be annoyed for many years still to come (if not forever).

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on


clearly FREE is not good enough, as if it was, everyone would be using FOSS.. but they are not.

You are confusing the issue of Free Software. Free software is about the liberty to use, liberty to tinker with, liberty to distribute and the liberty to publish modifications of the software we run on our own computers. Think free as in free speech. Do not think of free as in free beer.

With FOSS, anybody can take any piece of existing work and tinker with it to improve it for their own requirements. It can be as high quality or as low quality as needed. It can be as good or as bad as you want All you have to do is put some resources into getting it to work

The problem is, people do not want to invest their resources into improving free software. They would complain that they don't want to spend their time learning how to install/operate/improve existing. They complain that they don't want to hire a software developer to fix deficiencies.

but mostly i want quality software, and FOSS is falling badly behind in quality.
Then put your resources into improving the software if it doesn't do what is required.

this is not new to the FOSS movement, what is clear is that they still believe all they have to do is be FREE. but free rubbish is still rubbish, its stuff you throw away, or use if you have no choice, thankfully we have a choice, and its clear the vast majority of the world have spoken with their votes for qualty over price.
strawman argument. and you are still confusing the issue of Free Software. Free as in speech, not as in beer.

FOSS NEEDS MICROSOFT,, where else will it get it's idea from.. as it does not seem capable of self innovation, but very good at copying others innovation.

Microsoft does not innovate. Everything that MS does (with a couple of minor exceptions) are not innovated by them. Pretty much all they do is copy already existing innovations. In many cases, they extend and try to extinguish these innovations.

owai- I've been trolled, good job.

uslacker's picture
Submitted by uslacker on

I think we're missing the point of Anonymous Coward's posting. A business IT shop has a goal of supporting the business. Period. Whatever does not go supporting the goals of the business simply does not get done. Most businesses run IT very close to the breaking point from a resource perspective. There simply are not any resources to spend developing FOSS software to meet business needs unless there is nothing else available.(And then it will likely be kept a proprietary)

Telling IT mgrs that the software can be as good as you want it is simply ignoring his/her needs. Give me something that works, that I can get support for when I need it and I'm glad to pay for it. The source code has no value to me. I have no one who has time to understand it.

Telling an IT mgr to give back to the community misses the reality of their resource constraint. There is no time to put the invest and wait for a suitable product.

FOSS has a future. But if the community wants IT shops to increase uptake, it needs to deliver - first. Linux is a good example here.

(BTW, I know there are businesses that do this; that can invest and give back; but I believe they are more the exception than the rule. This response is full of generalizations to make the point that widespread bunsiness use is still a long way off.)

\\USlacker

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Give me something that works, that I can get support for when I need it and I'm glad to pay for it. The source code has no value to me. I have no one who has time to understand it.

Free Software will provide almost everything you require from software. Chances are, it does only part of what you require. In this case, you should invest some resources (time/money/man power) into improving the software (tinkering with the source code). When it is completed, your investment should result in software that is 100% adequate for your requirements! It will remain adequate until your requirements change and then you'll need to invest more resources into improving the software.

that I can get support for when I need it and I'm glad to pay for it. The source code has no value to me. I have no one who has time to understand it.

You don't have to know anything about code. Support for software comes from software consultants and software developers - you can pay them money and they will help you install/configure/use/improve the software. You can hire a full time software developer or contract one temporarily. There are plenty around that that will support you for your money.

Telling an IT mgr to give back to the community misses the reality of their resource constraint. There is no time to put the invest and wait for a suitable product.

Like I said before, it is a problem that people do not want to invest their resources (time/money/man power) into improving Free Software. People would rather choose to invest resources into somewhat convenient user-subjugating software. When you invest into Free Software, you don't have to give anything back! You are free to keep changes private as Free Software allows for private changes!

FOSS has a future. But if the community wants IT shops to increase uptake, it needs to deliver - first. Linux is a good example here.
Free Software already delivers what is required. If it doesn't deliver what you require, then you should put resources into making this so. However, I'm guessing you feel an investment in Free Software will cost you too much. In the short term, this may be true. In the long term, this is definitely false.

You also seem to have some sort of entitlement from the Free Software community to provide you with software that you require. We have no such prerogative to you. We provide the world with no cost Free Software because we want to share it with the world. If our software is inadequate for your requirements, then you should invest some resources into improving it.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

That's great!

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