Is it even price engaged on FOSS anymore?

Is it even price engaged on FOSS anymore?


I don’t know how to introduce this post other than the quiz within the title:
is it even price engaged on Free and Start Source Instrument anymore?

I if truth be told were asking myself this for the previous week or two, and it’s downhearted
for me; I deem within the energy of Start Source to empower users and to supply
them again a watch on over their machines.

Exploited FOSS

However that belief of mine has been severely shaken by several things passed off this
week, things which moreover made me reconsider things that passed off extra within the
previous in addition.


First, the log4j vulnerabilities passed off. The maintainers labored to repair
it, and what quit they bag?

Log4j maintainers were working sleeplessly on mitigation measures; fixes, docs, CVE, replies to inquiries, and heaps others. But nothing is stopping of us to bash us, for work we are now not paid for, for a operate all of us dislike but desired to assign ensuing from backward compatibility concerns.

— Volkan Yazıcı (@yazicivo) December 10, 2021

So, it appears to be like to be that many of the pattern work on log4j is now not funded, and
what’s funded is pitifully small.

Here’s the maintainer who mounted the vulnerability that’s inflicting millions(++?) of dollars of spoil.

“I work on Log4j in my spare time”
“continuously dreamed of engaged on birth supply stout time”
“3 sponsors are funding @rgoers’s work: Michael, Glenn, Matt”

Of us, what are we doing.

— Filippo ${jndi:ldap://} Valsorda (@FiloSottile) December 10, 2021

And endure in thoughts, there are of us bashing the maintainers for screwing up something
they actually did as volunteers!

Here’s something that happens all of the time. When a vulnerability is
found in a significant half of utility, of us bitch to maintainers whom
they beget got by no formulation as soon as thanked, helped, or paid.

OBS Studio

Moreover from this week:

— Naaackers (@Naaackers) December 16, 2021

Race, it’s that straightforward: TikTok stole code from an Start Source mission.

The license OBS Studio is under, the GPL, requires any individual who distributes
the code to any individual else to post their changes in supply code, and TikTok
obviously did now not quit that.


Here’s now not from this week.

Attributable to Amazon started offering Elasticsearch, it used to be relicensed. Some
of us perceived the switch poorly, and I will’t blame them.


An organization “provided” Audacity and added spyware. The same company moreover did it
to MuseScore.


These items are now not gorgeous one-off pass things; they are patterns within the utility
industry. In fact, they’re so pervasive, they beget got a name: sunless patterns.

Here are some more examples.

Adverts in Paid Merchandise

Including ads to utility appears to be like to be to be in vogue, with Microsoft doing it to Windows,
even though of us pay for Windows.

That moreover goes for “perfect” TV’s. Adverts bag added later, after that you just might perchance need had it for
some time.

Spyware and spyware and adware in Paid Merchandise

Windows moreover has spyware, and likewise you better deem that perfect gadgets quit in addition,
even as soon as you paid for them. Race, that entails Apple merchandise.

Companies Pushing Subscription Gadgets

Even worse is when companies push subscription models as soon as you already provided
their product, or they fabricate it animated to cancel a subscription.

  • Adobe switched their Ingenious Suite to Ingenious Cloud.
  • Toyota needs customers to subscribe to use some distance away initiate.
  • A host of companies expose you the technique to subscribe online, but must call to

Why quit they quit this? Easy: on yarn of a subscription model brings in constant,
limitless income. It’s precisely what MBA suits admire. And they don’t are attempting to lose
it as soon as they bag it.

Shortage of Maintainer Consideration

Coming again to Start Source, it’s glaring that there’s an immense deficit of
something we desire more of: maintainer attention.

It makes sense why there’s scarcity; in spite of everything, that is work accomplished by volunteers
of their “free” time. They are going to now not beget grand free time in any appreciate!

And but, these projects are significant infrastructure.

xkcd 2347: Dependency

xkcd 2347: Dependency

Companies that count on these projects are admire runaway logging companies: they
are mining a scarce handy resource and now not ensuring its sustainability.

The logging companies realized the lesson, and it’s time the utility industry
realized it.


If straight up ignoring licenses, admire TikTok did, wasn’t ample, there’s now
another intention companies can extract designate from FOSS with out paying again: GitHub’s

I’ve written earlier than about the hazards of GitHub Copilot, and while the
hype and pass press beget died down, the hazards beget now not.

I’ve been busy to quit something; I if truth be told beget written licenses to manufacture GitHub
hesitate earlier than utilizing my code as input to Copilot, and I’m currently attempting to
safe attorneys to again me solidify those licenses.

Sadly, I will finances very puny, about one hour’s price of time for the
attorney I might per chance beget outmoded, and he thought I needed five hours’ price of labor.

I if truth be told beget contacted a couple of non-profits for again, but I don’t quiz of to bag any
on yarn of they doubtlessly beget better fish to fry.

However even though I solidify the licenses, what stops GitHub from ignoring them by
claiming that their Terms of Service lets in them to use my code?

And beyond that, what stops other companies from utilizing Copilot to launder my

My Hesitation

Earlier than all of this went down, I used to be engaged on Rig, a fresh fabricate machine, individual who
would scale from small projects, to clear projects, to everything
in-between, including fully disbursed and cached builds.

The guidelines are so extraordinary, if truth be told, that they’ll own the premise of a
Nix-admire equipment manager, an occasion-essentially based supervision machine that is liable to be
vastly more effective than systemd while more straightforward to use than s6, and a DevOps
deployment machine.

In fact, to place into effect the DevOps deployment machine, no changes shall be desired to
Rig in any appreciate; it is going to quit that with out any out of doorways again.

In essence, Rig would were ready to manufacture disbursed programs in precisely the
same intention it might per chance probably per chance well fabricate a single mission: you specify targets and their
dependencies, and Rig would quit the comfort, including parallelization.

However…will it even matter? Would Rig even be a uncover operate to the enviornment?

The glaring answer is yes, but it’s now not if truth be told easy.

Since companies take Start Source utility with out a care on this planet, what’s
to end companies from stealing Rig and embedding it into their proprietary

What’s going to end them from utilizing Rig to survey on users? What’s going to end them from
utilizing Rig to feed users ads and manipulate them?

What’s to end them from utilizing Rig to backdoor every half of utility that
they fabricate with it
, or to distribute a model to users that might backdoor
whatever the users fabricate with it?

In other words, what’s to end companies from utilizing an Start Source Rig to harm
users better than it might per chance probably per chance well again?

Start Source or Bust

K, well, perchance essentially among the finest technique to motivate users is to now not liberate my code as
Start Source? Presumably I will beget to gorgeous provide binaries.

That received’t work on yarn of Start Source has form of eaten the utility industry;
other programmers received’t use your stuff unless it’s Start Source.

Pointless to claim, those programmers are all too chuffed to cowl their code from quit
users, who don’t know better.

Since my utility will diagram programmers, I will’t fabricate it closed supply, or it
received’t bag outmoded. Easy as that.

It’s even worse; Linux distros will most regularly refuse to even equipment your utility
if it’s now not Start Source.

I’m stuck between a rock and a exhausting build. If I fabricate Rig Start Source, it is going to
completely quit more harm than ideal, no matter whether or now not I bag paid! And if I
don’t, it received’t bag outmoded anyway.


Ever since I started attempting to now not write unhealthy posts (admire this one), I
beget tried to counsel ways of fixing the concerns I if truth be told beget complained about in
every post.

However…I will’t quit that here. I don’t beget any solution.

Here’s depressing, to affirm the least. It’s depressing on yarn of I look no
different other than to supply up on writing utility entirely. Despite everything, I
can’t bag a job, I will’t fabricate money from writing Start Source utility, and
what Start Source utility I quit write might per chance quit up harming more users than it

I had to net I couldn’t bag a job, but I peaceful thought I might per chance write utility
in my spare time and again the enviornment.

Became I repugnant? Is it now most now not liable to enhance the enviornment with Start Source?

I don’t beget the answers to those questions. Till I quit, I possess admire I will beget to
default to doing nothing.

When you occur to might per chance need thoughts about this, please be at liberty to contact me.

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Ava Chan

Ava Chan

I'm a researcher at Utokyo :) and a big fan of Ava Max

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