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"Oekonux" - what does that mean?

"Free Software" - what does that mean?

  • Characteristics of Free Software

    • Any software can be Free

      • GNU/Linux, Apache, Gcc, Perl

        Examples for system related software

      • KDE,, Gimp

        Examples for applications

      • Software for router, mobile phones, ...

        Examples for embedded system

        Shows how deep software is integrated in our every day life

    • The actual product is gratis

      However: Price plays a role, but is not crucial

    • Source code is available

      Important for the most of the following four rights, which every user of Free Software has

      • Software may be used for any purpose
      • The sources may be studied and changed
      • The software may be distributed arbitrarily
      • Changed versions may be distributed arbitrarily


    Free in the sense of freedom

  • Keyword: Free Software Licences

    • Licenses express the rights of the copyright holder

      • Govern under which conditions someone may do something with the software

        Proprietary software also uses licenses

      • Especially: Use, modify, distribute

      • Software licenses are based on copyright

        Copyright is based on state power

      • Rights or restrictions beyond copyright need contracts

    • The genius hack: Use the copyright system against itself

      • Copyright creates scarcity by denying rights
      • Copyleft creates abundance by granting rights
    • Two main license types: GPL and BSD

      • Though many licenses exist

        Since a license is a contract it's easy to invent a new license

        But it's rarely useful

      • Lists of Free Software licenses by FSF and OSI

    • Main difference: May a licensee close sources again or not?

      • BSD: Software may be distributed without sources
      • GPL: Sources must be kept open
      • More than 50% of Free Software projects use the GPL


    Fundamental facility to embed Free Software in the law system

    Inherits the security from the law system

    Inherits the power of the law system

  • Mode of production of Free Software

    This is a very important characteristic

    • Without money

      Developers finance themselves by other means

      Similar to other hobbies

    • Effort ist taken on a voluntary basis

      • Necessity of concrete solutions to problems

      • Selbstentfaltung of the developers

        Programming is fun (for some people)

        Other activities may serve the Selbstentfaltung also

    • Manifold self-organized in small, independent groups

    • International in the Internet


    Often a high quality results

    Quality is a direct result of the mode of production

  • Keyword: Selbstentfaltung

    The notion plays an central role in Oekonux

    • More than self-realization

      Self-realization focuses too much on the isolated individual

      Selbstentfaltung understands humans as formed by their relations

    • Responsibility is part of Selbstentfaltung

      Taking necessities into account belongs to responsibility

      Responsibility needs to be recognized individually

      Responsibility is learned and therefore coupled with the norms of the society

    • Selbstentfaltung is "autonomy-in-interdependence"

      • Dependency is not reduction but extension of own possibilities

        Because others from whom I depend create possibilities by their actions I would not have if only by myself

    • Selbstentfaltung of the single person is direct precondition for the Selbstentfaltung of all

      • And vice-versa
    • Potential for Selbstentfaltung is essential feature of humans

      See critical psychology (Holzkamp)

      • Content is different for every individual

        Particularly it's not necessarily political correct


    In general Selbstentfaltung is a desirable goal

  • Free Software and commercial influences

    • Companies engaging themselves

      • Distributors and Linux-Companies (SuSE, RedHat, small ones, ...)

        Have an interest in the actual state, because they emerged from it

      • Hardware and others (IBM, Sun, ...)

        Especially for hardware companies GNU/Linux is simply useful

        Because of this they have an interest in the actual state

    • Licenses prevent privatization

      • Gnu General Public License (GPL)

      • Other licenses

        These partially allow re-privatization (BSD)

    • Quality accrues from the absence of alienation

      Only then creativity can fully unfold

    • Wage labor contradicts Selbstentfaltung

      Is alienated because it is aimed at a third goal (making money)


    Free Software can develop only without money

    This ultimately prevents a drastic commercialization

    Otherwise Free Software is destroyed

  • Perspectives of Free Software

    • Free Software is becoming more and more important

      • GNU/Linux on the desktop, too

        On servers GNU/Linux is already widespread

        Public administrations are early adaptors

      • GNU/Linux on embedded systems

      • Tempestuous development

    • Dangers

      • Software patents

        In Europe: Years of struggle with many people from the Free Software scene

    • More and more people are inspired by the idea

    • The principles of Free Software in other fields, too


    Linux World Domination ;-)

Special features of Free Software

  • Free Software is not a simple hobby

    • Has high societal usage

    • Direct competition with commodities

      After a commodity market has been established

      With big success

    • Very modern product

      With very modern means of production

    • Develops international

    • Mainly written by professionals


    Hobby, but in a new quality

    Other hobbies don't combine all of these features

  • Free Software is not a commodity

    • Without exchange

      Nothing must be exchanged

    • Exists in abundance

      There is no scarcity beyond technical limitations

    • Open sources make secrets impossible

    • Cooperation instead of competition

    • Absolute quality claim

      Result of the use-oriented way of production

      For commodities it suffices if the buyer believes in quality relative to the competitors

    • Call to contribute (inclusion model)

      With commodities only a small circle may contribute (exclusion model)


    Free software is as worthless as the air to breathe

    Only commodities may have an (exchange) value

    The use value is independent of this

  • Free Software is not a gift

    • A gift is based on a personal relationship

      May exist before and/or after a gift

      • For most people Free Software is anonymous as a product can be
    • A gift often creates an obligation

      • Taking Free Software creates no obligations
    • Producers of Free Software do not think in terms of gift

      If at all then as a gift to mankind


    Calling Free Software a gift is wrong

  • Keyword: Scarcity

    • Deposits

      • Determined by nature and unchangeable
      • Also products with respect to a certain point in time
    • Limitedness

      • Portion of the deposits available to humans
      • Is changeable by technical and other means
      • May occur when need is bigger than offer
    • Scarcity

      • Is determined by society and can be produced

        Mineral oil has not always been scarce

        Today for information commodities scarcity must be produced

      • May occur when offer is bigger than need

        Yes, this is insane


    Scarcity is not a law of nature

  • Keyword: Rivalness

    Term to classify goods

    • Rival: If consumed by one not available for a second
      • Example: Food
      • Rival goods can be limited
      • Abundance of a rival good makes rivalness less important
    • Non-rival: Each consumption is independent of each other
      • Example: Information, sunlight
      • Inherently not limited
      • Scarcity must be imposed by external means
    • Anti-rival: The good is more useful if it is consumed by many
      • Happens through network effects
      • Example: Telephone
    • Markets of material goods are based on rival goods


    Free Software is an anti-rival good

  • Keyword: Excludability

    Term to classify goods

    • Excludable: Others can be excluded from using a good

      • Matching legal concept: property

      • Can be cast onto everything

      • Can be hard to maintain though

        For instance: Information goods in Internet age

      • Necessary to create scarcity

    • Non-excludable: Others can not be excluded from using it

      • Anything which can not be private property?

      • Non-excludable goods are often public goods

        For instance: Roads

    • Each market is based on excludable goods

    • Free Software made non-excludable by the license

      • Chance of contributions rises when more people use it
      • Regardless of how many "free ride"


    GPL society: Extending principles of Free Software to rival goods while dropping exclusion

  • Cooperation in Free Projects

    • Informal

      Roles suited to the project's need rather than a fixed set of roles

      No formal qualification needed

      Self-appointment as a general tendency

      Official appointment as acknowledgment of a existing practice

      No votes on people

    • No fixed boundaries

      For instance: No clear division between producers and consumers

    • Voluntary

    • Variable over time

      People come and go

    • Variable over intensity

      People start and stop contributing as they like

    • Unequal

      Everyone may contribute as s/he likes

      Some have more influence than others

      Different abilities are appreciated


    Cooperation is voluntary, variable and unequal

  • Keyword: Maintainer model

    Software development is most of all a social process

    Maintainer model is a frequent way to organize

    Here: Doubly Free Software projects

    • Voluntarism as fundamental pre-condition

      • No alienated incentives
      • Makes possible and requires personal decision
    • Self-organization as fundamental pre-condition

      • Without external command or alienated goals

        Visible for instance in release dates

    • Maintainer keeps the project on course

      • Makes binding decisions

      • Supervises adherence to internal project standards

      • If necessary cares for further development

      • Organizes consensus ("Nobody needs to object")

        Not: Animosity

      • Can not command other participants

    • Mutual dependence

      Participants need the functions of the maintainer

      Maintainer needs the participants

      • On failure: Fork

        Productive forks are rare


    Balances conflicts in Free Projects in an optimal way

  • Free Software = Selbstentfaltung + digital copy

    • Selbstentfaltung is the central motor for production

    • Digital copy as a means of production is

      • Lossless

      • Available to all by computers

      • Possible about big distances (Internet)

      • Universal for all (digital) information goods

        The content of the information good is not relevant for the copy operation

        Analog to electric motors of the industrial era


    Possibility of digital copy is a new quality

  • Keyword: Internet

    • Digital copy on a planet-wide basis

      Inherits the features of digital copy

    • Lifts space limitations of cooperation

      • No limitation in size
      • Globalized and across cultural boundaries
    • Lifts time limitations of cooperation

      • No fixed time frames
      • Makes possible real time as well as asynchronous processes
    • As a medium has little inherent limitations

      • Makes topic oriented coppoeration possible
      • New projects and forks are always possible
    • Combines individual use with common access

      • Everyone can be active based on individual decision

        Also meaning: As producer or consumer

      • Everyone has access


    As a tool the Internet offers a lot new features

  • Free in the sense of Free Software

    This freedom is indicated by the capital "F"

    • Absense of alienation

      • Needs to result from the direct needs of those involved

      • Self-organization

        Not organized by principles alienated from the project

      • Voluntary participation

        Including voluntary taking over of responsibility

      • Enables Selbstentfaltung

    • Freedom is result of the process

      • Results are Free because of the process

        Can be used by anyone who needs them

        Implies that they are available without payment

      • I.e. unlimited externally

    • Freedom is pre-condition of the process

      • The process doesn't work without Freedom

        Freedom enables contributions from all sides

      • I.e. unlimited internally

    • One's Freedom enables the Freedom of others

      Instead of limiting it like in abstract freedom


    Defines several positive feedback cycles

    This is where the power comes from

  • Keyword: Germ form

    • Something structural new existing in the old

      Not the new in a small version

    • Features of a contemporary emancipatory germ form

      • Global networking

      • Absence of exchange value and exchange

      • Self-organization

      • At the forefront of the development of productive forces

        Technical, but also social

      • Makes Selbstentfaltung possible

        Also as part of the development of productive forces

    • Germ forms can be assessed only historically

      However, one can try to recognize germ forms


    Free Software has characteristics of a germ form

  • Keyword: Five-step

    • Germ forms develop in a five-step

      Five-step is a general model for development

      • Formation of the germ form

      • Crisis of the old form

      • Germ form becomes an important dimension of development in the old form

      • Germ form becomes dominant

      • Restructuring of the over all process

        All phases can take a long time


    Free Software is in third step

  • Criticism: Germ form thesis

    Exists inside and outside of the project

    • Free Software is useful for capital

      Only for some sections; more important: useful for non-capital

      Points beyond capital structurally nonetheless

    • Free Software is financed by the value system

      Every germ form is in the beginning embedded in the old

    • Immaterial production is fundamentally different

      Yes; important is what is dominant

    • Just nerds in patriarchal structures

      After all nobody can exclude women formally

      Interesting question: Why do women don't want to self-unfold in this Free Software?

    • Free Software works in a meritocratic way

      There are no means of force in Free Software, so power has no substance

    • Assessment of the germ form questionable


    Everyone may make up his/her mind

Germ forms and other models and ideas

  • Dam building vs. ship building

    Picture to make clear to distinct approaches to politics

    • Dam building
      • Useful to dam against rising tide
      • Goal: Defend the old
      • Conservative approach
    • Ship building
      • Useful to use the rising tide
      • Goal: Journey to new shores
      • Progressive approach
    • Building dams and building ships are totally different approaches
      • But they can complement each other


    Free Software is ship building

The way to the GPL Society

  • The utopia

    The possibilities are outlined

    GPL society means a formation of society, which is based on the principles of the development of Free Software

    Until now it can be imagines only in rough outlines

    • Means of production make Selbstentfaltung possible

      • Useful: Maximum number of degrees of freedom
    • Useful activities are Selbstentfaltung

      • Societal and individual utility is directly intertwined

        In part for this other means of work / machines are needed

      • Automation makes necessary activities superfluous

    • Information and goods are Freely available

      • Free availability is precondition of the process

        So everyone can use all means to self-unfold

      • Free availability is result of the process

        Becaus of openness and inclusion model

      • This is what the capital "F" means

    • Overcoming of the labor society

      • No labor, no commodities
      • No exchange, no money
      • No alienation
    • The most important productive power is the human Selbstentfaltung


    The freedom of the single becomes the precondition of the freedom of all

    And vice versa

  • Free information goods

    Which hints are there today?

    • Well-known ones

      The idea to limit access to information is a historical relative new idea

      • Science?

        Currently there are very different and contradictory developments

      • Free cooking recipes

    • New ones

      In the Internet a number of things developed

      • Wikipedia

      • Indymedia

      • Wikis, Blogs

      • Free music

        This does not mean copyright violation by P2P


    The idea of Free information goods gets more and more friends

  • Keyword: Creative Commons

    • Licenses for "Some rights reserved"

      Copyright: "All rights reserved"

    • Four license building blocks

      • Attribution (BY)

        Demands attribution of the source on copies

      • Noncommercial (NC)

        Denies permission of commercial usage of the work

      • No Derivative works (ND)

        Denies permission to derive works

      • Share Alike (SA)

        Demands keeping the license on derived works

      Copyleft equals SA+BY

    • Big, international movement with good "marketing" (

      • Adaption of license terms to national law systems

        3rd Oekonux conference: Presentation of the Austrian variant

      • Many million of works under Creative Commons licenses already


    Creative Commons further the transfer of the idea of Free Software

    Transfers idea to arbitrary information goods

    Probably no initiative which does this with more success

  • Free material goods

    • Concrete projects

      Until now it is mainly a matter construction plans

      • Free electronic and hardware projects
      • Free car projects
    • In capitalism information is an important precondition for material production already

    • Material production becomes more and more an appendage of production of information

      This is analogous to the fact, that today agricultural production is a appendage of industrial production


    Information society creates a fundamentally new situation

    GPL society brings meaning to the notion of information society

  • Keyword: Fabber / Rapid Prototyping

    Rapid Prototyping is the more official term

    • Fabbers are universal fabrication machines

      • Materialize three-dimensional things from digital data

      • Typically by "baking" some amorphous, fine-grained material

        Allow for constructing things which are difficult to create otherwise

      • Actually exist

        Today: Mostly used for building models

    • Fabbers have some interesting features

      • Link digital data and material world closely

        Bringing the logic of digital data to the material world

      • Universal for (parts of) material production

        Like computers for information: "One machine to rule them all"

      • Allow material production for individual needs

    • Industrial robots are equally interesting


    Fabbers transfer important aspects of the digital world to matter

  • Other successful Free Projects: Wikipedia

    • Web-based encyclopedia

      • Transnational, multi-lingual endeavor
      • Based on Wiki technology
    • Produces useful products

      Is well-known for this reason

    • Grows fast

      • Attracts "normal" people
      • Attracts knowledgeable people
    • Free in the sense of (Doubly) Free Software

      • Freedom is pre-condition and result of the process
      • Voluntary participation
      • Unlimited externally and internally
    • Challenge: Quality assurance

      • Difference to Free Software: No "technical truth"

        Software runs or not

        An encyclopedia article always reflects an opinion

      • Actions are on their way

        Result of those actions is of general interest


    Wikipedia is a very interesting Free Project

  • Other successful Free Projects: Open Access

    • Free access to scientific information

      • Growing movement in the scientific communities

        More and more acceptance in the scientific communities

      • Based on Internet technology

      • Aligns well with scientific tradition of open flow of thoughts

      • Based on established methods of peer review

    • Produces useful products

    • At the forefront of the development of productive forces

      Science is a pre-condition for production with ever increasing importance

    • Free in the sense of (Doubly) Free Software

      • Freedom is pre-condition and result of the process
      • Unlimited externally and internally
    • Challenge: Counter movement to lock away scientific information

      E.g. patents


    Open Access is a very interesting Free Project

  • Keyword: Automation

    • Today

      • Destroys jobs
      • Only capital is interested in automation
    • GPL society

      • Extends possibilities of Selbstentfaltung

        By reduction of unpleasant activity

        By the creative process preceeding it

        By the empowerment of the users

      • Everybody is interested in automation


    Much more will be automated

    Today automation is still impeded

  • Keyword: Need

    • Is neither good nor bad but requires satisfaction

    • Needs are determined by society

      By fashions and (structural) coercion

      So this is variable

    • Way of satisfaction is determined by society

      The need for mobility does not not have to be satisfied by cars


    Other societies - other needs

  • Criticism: GPL society

    • Some necessary activities will always be done only under (structural) coercion

      Nevertheless: They need to be abolished

    • How to prevent e.g. ecological unsound Selbstentfaltung?

      Don't know


    Partially this can be decided only historically


  • Possible actions

    About this we did not think very much until now

    • Support Free Software

      • Use it yourself and recommend it to others
      • Report bugs to the developers
      • Write Free Software yourself
    • Use standards

      Proprietary standards harm Free Software

    • Think further together

    • Make available your products Freely

      • Is easy for digital products
    • Start your own Free project

Oekonux/Introduction/Complete (last edited 2007-04-27 16:05:07 by StefanMerten)

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