I'd like just to say thanks for all the longstanding efforts of FSF and GNU. While one could debate minutiae to oblivion, it's hard to dismiss the core ideas, particularly in light of the continuous stream of facts and events that unequivocally validate the very real threats and maliciousness that this movement stands against.
Free Software in general contributes significantly to keeping the environment I live in more trustworthy, friendlier, and less threatening. That's no small feat and I can only express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved.
> I'd like just to say thanks for all the longstanding efforts of FSF and GNU.
I'd like to extend your thanks, by explicitly thanking Richard Stallman for his important role in creating both those organizations. The man deserves a lot of praise and respect.
> The man deserves a lot of praise and respect.
No, he really doesn't.
Just extend the saying with "for this". "The man deserves a lot of praise and respect for this." This is also how parents are supposed to raise the children too, not judging the person, but the actions. And I think we need that kind of feedback later in life too, not just in childhood.
Its easy to drift into lamenting how the vision of the original free software movement was lost. This would be missing the growing forest (the widespread adoption of open and collaborative modes of software production) for a singular tree (a specific ideology about the role of computing).
What has been happening in these four decades is that ever more segments of society (whether individuals or private enterprise or public sector) got into this mode of using and developing a shared resource (a common good). This is just an unprecedented positive development that gets lost among the avalanche of bad news. I can't think of anything remotely comparable in any other domain. We need to celebrate this more.
Now, of-course when something succeeds to grow beyond childhood it may evolve beyond recognition. A mass adopted religion might be quite different from the original prophet's visionary preaching. It may split into lots of heresies. These heresies might become more popular than the "orthodoxy". There is simply no way to avoid money and politics when something becomes mainstream.
Imho, the challenge today is not to rekindle some pure and true faith but have leaders of equal clarity of vision and purpose that will champion the underlying cause in new and specific contexts that are becoming relevant as the movement expands. The corporate world outside big tech is still largely absent from open source. Digital public goods from public entities still nascent even though they are extremely congruent with the philosophy.
Yes indeed. The alternative timeline - Windows on nearly all servers and desktops. All software purchased from ISV and closed source. Bugs galore that never get fixed because they have you locked in. Crappy software due to lack of competition.
Looking from Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM ecosystems, and SaaS products, the alternative timeline isn't much different from actual reality.
The difference is the dystopia being parts of the industry vs everywhere, and that's huge.
Webapps are just as bad as a licensed binary blob on your desktop. If not worse since they usually spy on you and you can't firewall them.
Oh. Read you wrong. Nevermind.
What webapps? Can’t really say I use many. I use almost exclusively BSD and GPL licensed software.
My earliest exposure to free software was via. GCC and Emacs. The early debates on Gnu/Linux, OSS vs. Free Software etc. were all things I imbibed back then. The ideological stand of the FSF was appealing to me when I was younger and really affected my outlook.
Over the years, I can't help but feeling that while the FSF's core message is still relevant and true, their tactics have more or less pushed them outside of the mainstream conversation on technology. This is a tragedy and I'm not sure what lessons to draw from this but I would have liked to see a larger role for the FSF in the modern tech. discourse.
I am confident that after GNU generation is gone, everything will fold back as it used to be.
We are already living it due to the rise of non-copyleft licenses, return to the shareware model only with another set of marketing names for newer generations, return of timesharing with thin clients only with newer set of nomenclature for newer generations, most relevant FOSS projects are sponsored by big corps for their own purposes as PR don't buy food and shelter, ....
The largest challenge the free software movement still faces is philosophical.
The original underpinning of the Four Freedoms is "I own this hardware; how dare someone else dictate how it operates?" That assertion falls flat in the Cloud era, yet Cloud services are way too convenient and useful to just ignore them or try to tell everyone the One True Path is up the mountain to the hermitage of traditional desktop, offline, disconnected software.
I look to the Fediverse as a potential next good model: the idea that if you run a part of the cloud, you have a vested interest in it, it's yours, and how dare someone else dictate etc.
... but it's a fundamentally different challenge than the original pioneers of the movement fought against corporations and monopoly manufacturers and sellers.
I hope it doesn't come to that, but some indications are there.
The problem is, that nowadays manufacturers and big tech giants can or do lock down their devices much more than when the Free Software movement started out. Also the hardware is way harder to reverse engineer, if possible at all. It is difficult to imagine "a new <word for freedom> Software movement" to be initiated in our times. What hardware can they rely on? How would they break the shackles of proprietary software and hardware?
<word for freedom>
Right to Repair just about covers it, IMO. You can't repair something if you can't either have access to the source code or flash the source code, or otherwise access the internals.
That's sort of my point. I don't want it to come to that but a huge of part of why it's come to that were tactical mistakes (esp. in communication) on the part of the FSF.
Been thinking about this, and imagine a solution being force multiplying the power of free hackers with LLMs, faster and faster iteration. But I don't know much.
I'm glad to see non-copyleft get more popular, personally. Copyleft comes off to me as sanctimonious in its attempt to strong-arm anyone who uses the code into following its philosophy for the entire codebase. I could be wrong, but my intuition is that no company is going to GPL their entire codebase just to use some library, so it only results in wasted developer energy when employees have to duplicate the library closed-source. (Or they just use it anyway and hope they don't get caught.)
> I am confident that after GNU generation is gone, everything will fold back as it used to be.
Nah. The wheel of enlightenment has been set in motion and is beyond stoppable.
The issue I see is corporate involvement. They (corps) like free stuff too, and has helped enormously in the adoption (most code FLOSS on most servers, AND on most mobiles!). But corps has different agenda's than activist individuals, leading to BSD/Apache/etc over (A)(L)GPL(vX) and hosted opensource-derived services like what the cloud corps offer. Patents, non-copyleft-licensing and hosted are some big obstacles to the GNU/FSF end goals.
>> But corps has different agenda's than activist individuals, leading to BSD/Apache/etc over (A)(L)GPL(vX) and hosted opensource-derived services like what the cloud corps offer. Patents, non-copyleft-licensing and hosted are some big obstacles to the GNU/FSF end goals.
The battle between copyleft and "more permissive" licenses is going to be long and slow. There is a place for MIT/BSD licenses, but there is way too much software moving that direction IMHO. Some big popular projects will need to get consumed and effectively hijacked by commercial interests before anyone sees this as an actual problem rather than a hypothetical. But first there will need to be such a project under one of those licenses.
I covered that on the rest of my comment as well.
On the one hand you have people motivated by the ideal of software "developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom".
On the other hand you have dystopian corporate whose biggest dream is slave labor and locked-in cash cows from which value is drained 'til the last drop.
There is no tactic for obtain reconciliation of two world views in direct and systematic opposition. If engaging in a tactic lead to compromising on ends for a local success, these ends are betrayed and longer justify any action.
> "On the other hand you have dystopian corporate whose biggest dream is slave labor and locked-in cash cows from which value is drained 'til the last drop."
An therein is the problem I, and I know many others, have with the FSF and it's followers. This language is just not compelling - in fact, it's a massive turn off, even if you think it's true. This comes off as the ravings of a crackpot! Consider "On the other hand, there are very real concerns about some corporations, with evidence that they are prioritizing profits over ethics, potentially leading to exploitative practices and consumers feeling trapped in long-term commitments.". IMHO says exactly the same thing, conveys the same gravity and prompts engagement.
Precisely. It's hard to argue that these "dystopian corporate" entities haven't added any value to the society. You can make a solid case that the intangible costs are too high but starting off with accusing them of "slave labor" and "locked-in cash cows" is a non starter and it's been the kind of rhetoric that the FSF has always used.
I don't (and never wanted) the FSF to dilute its message but I do think they'd benefit from someone who can communicate their ideas in a more palatable way. Perhaps it's too late anyway.
I think they often serve a useful purpose moving the Overton window... But it's why I can nod respectfully at them from over here, but not join them. The core of the free software movement embraces a radicalism that's out of line with reality and would actually reflect a worse world than the one we live in (who's going to make locked-down systems for people who don't want to be their own sysadmins if we actually kill off the closed-corporate model? I, for one, am not stepping up to volunteer to be the one who does that for all my relatives who are a stone's throw away from getting their stuff ownzed if they had admin rights to it).
That's a false dichotomy. It's possible to have a locked down device that allows full access/visibility if you jump through enough hoops.
(Android is almost there, software wise, but closed vendor firmwares are still rampant).
I'm no zealot or apologist for the FSF, but on a philosophical level, your alternate expression (and the expression above that you're amending) feel like they both miss the point altogether. I don't think the FSF cares at all about corporations, profits, or long-term commitments. Their whole point, as I understand it, has to do with whether a given license leaves the door open for the well to get poisoned. A license is either prophylactically sound or it isn't.
While I would agree that was the original purpose, the rhetoric has been closer to anti-corporation for a while. This seemed to change around the time the GPLv3 came out.
>> An therein is the problem I, and I know many others, have with the FSF and it's followers. This language is just not compelling - in fact, it's a massive turn off, even if you think it's true. This comes off as the ravings of a crackpot!
I suppose it depends on who is talking and what is being said, but the FSF message can be very direct:
Now, obviously not every small business out there are necessarily fitting such a description. Just like not every FLOW author live and breath by the stance that every single bit out there should contribute to people freedom and empowerment.
If anything, when an audience is unease with what is obvious caricatures which overstate the usual median traits, there is all the more concerns about the situation.
This reminds me George Carlin's skit on soft language:
Thanks for proving my point.
It's just "new speak".
> their tactics have more or less pushed them outside of the mainstream conversation on technology.
They always have been on the outside. There has always been, and will always be, a concerted campaign by those who benefit from closed software against the FSF.
The issue for me is more that the FSF hasn't kept up with what is happening in technology. Software these days is often a secondary concern, as you aren't the one owning the computer, instead it is all running remotely and it's really about the data and control of said data. The licenses the FSF offers, including the AGPL, are inadequate to address this.
Over in Europe we got the GDPR, which does actually address a lot of data related issues quite well. But as far as Free Software licenses go, there still isn't any equivalent or even much discussion on how to attack the problem in the first place.
FSF feels stuck in solving 1980s problems, while having little to say about 2020s problems. "Don't do it", "self-host" or "run locally" doesn't cut it when a lot of software fundamentally has to be distributed in some fashion.
>> Software these days is often a secondary concern, as you aren't the one owning the computer, instead it is all running remotely and it's really about the data and control of said data. The licenses the FSF offers, including the AGPL, are inadequate to address this.
The irony is that most cloud computing infrastructure is powered by free and open source software.
Linux, bash, docker, Kubernetes, Golang, and so many others make it happen. Even Microsoft has come around to open source with GitHub and many projects released there: https://github.com/microsoft
>> FSF feels stuck in solving 1980s problems, while having little to say about 2020s problems.
What 2020s problems are not being addressed?
Edit: Looking at your comment in another reply concerning users controlling their own data, this essay addresses the topic:
I think it comes back to trust, transparency, and the laws where you live.
Users should have choice of how their data is handled and what can be done with it. In order for that to work, they must 1) have a way to legally challenge entities who would use their data without their permission and 2) alternative ways to accomplish the work that they want to do with their data.
Laws where users live must address 1). Free software can help with 2).
Which concern specifically does AGPL not address?
AGPL is only concerned with source code, it doesn't address how to handle a user's data in any way. Giving you the source, while keeping your data under locks is perfectly fine under AGPL.
Meanwhile the GDPR has the concept of "Data Portability" and requires every service to allow users to export their data, so that they can move it somewhere else. As far as I know, there is no Free Software license with similar requirements. They all stop at the source code, which just isn't enough in a modern SAAS based world.
> you aren't the one owning the computer
Sounds to me like they are more relevant than ever. :)
This is a very good way of putting this.
Any group that advocates freedom gets pushed outside the mainstream conversation. There is continuous pressure against freedom from any centralised source of power - including the sort of people who set the parameters on what 'mainstream' conversation is. Powerful people rarely see freedom for less powerful people as something that will help them (although the evidence suggests that it is, most people can't handle that sort of indirect and trusting reasoning). Freedom was, is and will be a radical idea.
There is free as in apache/BSD/MIT, and free as in GPL. In many parts of industry, going the "purist" route and putting your library under GPL is a sure way to make sure no-one will use it (the LGPL doesn't completely solve this problem either). Whereas more pragmatic approaches to free software have absolutely taken off.
Big names like React, Angular etc. are MIT licensed, for example.
It's like the FSF invented "free 1.0", and then others came along with "free 2.0" and it's a genuine improvement. The difference here is very much one that strikes at the FSF's core message.
Being empowered to remove freedom is not a genuine improvement.
There are certainly issues with GPL software, either from the "you can't run modified software on your hardware" or "saas isn't distribution" get-out, or from the "small company X develop free software and charge for support/hosting/etc, so large company Y take that free software and charge for support/hosting/etc without giving back"
The former has attempts to tackle things with gplv3 and agpl, but the latter is a problem. A bunch of people make something cool like elsastic, or terraform, or which is free software, funded from hosting and support, then large beomouth with a near-monopoly on computing offers it with a different label as part of their provision. Companies prefer to buy from amazon/google/microsoft than random small company, and that seems somewhat wrong, but I don't see the FSF approach to marrying
1) how to keep software free
2) how to keep developers fed
When you have parasitical cloud companies
It's more like "free 0.5", not "free 2.0". MIT and other permissive licences are basically "free more me, but maybe not for you". There is only one possible reason that you want to reserve the right to restrict the freedom of others: you plan to restrict the freedom of others.
Individual freedom is easy. The King has always been free to do as he wishes. It's freedom for the entire community now and forever that matters.
Let's see 20 years from now which of React, Angular and Linux is still around.
After Linus and other key figures in Linux are gone, lets see how long it takes to still be relevant, or completly integrated in other big corp products, borg style.
Not that many of us can then watch it fold, as we belong to the same generation, however that won't change the evolution of computing world.
With the non-enforcement of the license (see vmware, various chinese companies), Linux kernel is de facto MIT, yes.
My experience as an embedded software programmer is quite the opposite. We do care about releasing our Linux modifications under GPLv2, and we do contribute to community when it makes sense.
> see vmware
from https://lwn.net/Articles/696936/: "The court ruled that he had not provided enough specificity about the code he was claiming had been used by the company. The merits of the GPL and whether the two main parts of VMware's product constitute a derived work of the kernel were not even considered."
That doesn't seem to prove anything.
> various chinese companies
HiSilicon (https://github.com/hisilicon/linux-hisi) releases its fork.
And then as a counter-example, Boox frequently (always?) refuses to release kernel sources because... basically "we don't feel like it and nobody's ever going to be able to force us anyway" reasons, last I read. The latest development I heard in this space was that folks were trying to sic some YouTuber on them who has connections in China (I believe lives there, too) to try and guilt them into abiding by the copyright law they agreed to by using Linux.
It's... not a good time.
And now we're moving to "free 3.0" (aka screw you Amazon), which is more restrictive than MIT or GPL.
There are a lot of issues with FSF's perspective and the way they were written down. Running GNU derivative in a proprietary cloud is one of them. RedHat (in)ability to make a fair profit is another. Still Google's Linux "theft" led to more openness in Android than Apple's BSD Unix rip off.
Regardless of the license chosen, sustainability of open source is a problem. (I'm still baffled by the absence of government sponsoring; why do governments around the globe continue to spend billions on proprietary IT infrastructure, databases, and desktop computers?!)
Not sure if yet another license is the answer, but yes we could do with a new model of what "free" and openness entails.
> I'm still baffled by the absence of government sponsoring; why do governments around the globe continue to spend billions on proprietary IT infrastructure, databases, and desktop computers?
It's not a project that's talked about very much because it's not the trendy flavor of OSS dev that people generally have in mind when they refer to sustainability problems—which I suspect for most people means funding their favorite niche devops packages that are of dubious merit to begin with (and that we might very well be better off for not having in the world)—but it is pretty incredible that there isn't e.g. any well-known effort by at least one US government agency to put a fraction of what they pour into Microsoft into ReactOS instead, especially after the Windows XP crisis—and even if only to the extent that it should be made stable enough for that org's own narrow use e.g. with a particular piece of equipment/application. I never hear of anything like this. Not even a hint of trials or experimentation. Why?
This is the difference between GNU and the modern, GitHub-centric open source movement. For all the criticism about barriers to entry for non-technical audiences that have been leveled at GNU and GNU-adjacent projects, GNU has always been focused on users and the types of things that humans could conceivably actually want to use, and not the sort of devops shovelware that gets chucked into a repo and inexplicably chugs along with much fanfare because it's used by several dozen enterprises on the backend despite being of no real interest to an ordinary person. GNU userspace directly empowers millions of people (including many of those working on the uninteresting flash-in-the-pan shovelware) to do their computing (for work or for play) every day.
> I'm still baffled by the absence of government sponsoring
On the one hand, I agree, but on the other hand I am relieved that I don’t have to deal with people calling my OS “ObamaOS” and unleashing a barrage of hateful spam towards maintainers because of misguided political nonsense.
Redhat had been getting a profit for like 10+ years by now. How would that not be enough?
Profitable, sure. But businesses that are poised for future success don't sell themselves, particularly to a has-been like IBM.
What would the stockowners care who pays them? I don't think they have much emotional attachment to Redhat.
IBM just have to pay more than the stockholders believe the stock is worth. It has nothing to do with if the owners believe in the company or not.
what do you mean by "fair profit"?
In case of Red Hat? Given their substantial contributions to Linux, primarily funded by support contracts, certification and consultancy I think they deserve to be profitable. At the same time, I as a user, also prefer to not pay them and have free access to their software.
For some time this was acceptable to all parties. But then companies not competing in Linux contribution started competing in the support contracts, certification and consultancy business, by giving away RedHat's free beer.
Wouldn't it be great if Oracle, Amazon (and Rocky, Alma) could continue to rely on RedHat's efforts but share / contribute / upstream revenue profits made consulting, certifying, supporting rather than freeloading on commons like RedHat? Forcing a distro fork the way RedHat IBM seems to want seems like an unwanted technical solution to a mere business/money problem.
MIT predates GNU.
GNU only took off due to AT&T wanting back the money they weren't allowed to charge for UNIX during its early lifetime, thus BSD uncertain future.
> and then others came along
GPL came after MIT (https://nitter.net/humphd/status/1112747178685026304)
> and it's a genuine improvement
Let's say you want to develop software as a job, and make enough money to live. You also have the ethics not to go into the ad-supported track-everything mobile apps business. There is still good money to be made without selling your soul, but most of it is in the B2B not the B2C market. And there, you negotiate the terms of who owns what individually for each contract anyway, at least if you have any sense.
The problem with the GPL is that its "infectious" nature does not play nicely with how the B2B world works, where you might link against your client's in-house proprietary libraries, which even though they're never planning to distribute them, they very much don't want their own IP to become GPLed as a result.
So if you want to bring in a library to make pretty graphs or something, it very much matters what the licence is - MIT is generally fine though.
(How and whether a FOSS library author should be paid for the fact that one corporation used their library to develop software for another corporation, is an entirely separate matter.)
> The problem with the GPL is that its "infectious" nature does not play nicely with how the B2B world works, where you might link against your client's in-house proprietary libraries, which even though they're never planning to distribute them, they very much don't want their own IP to become GPLed as a result.
Standard GPL FUD. Firstly, linking against proprietary libraries is fine as long as you don’t distribute the result to any third party. Secondly, no IP can “become GPLed” unless anybody chooses to make it so.
Some of the companies I've worked with, and their lawyers especially, have explicitly said that for them anything GPL in the application layer was a no-no (Linux as OS was fine though). This is on code that will never be distributed outside internal systems.
Company lawyers being weird and wrong about GPL, film at 11. The GPL paranoia strikes deep.
AGPL though is avoided by the plague by corp lawyers, and for good reasons. Hence I like it for some projects.
No, not for very good reasons.
> anything GPL in the application layer was a no-no (Linux as OS was fine though).
well, just proves how hypocritical it is
Copy-left licenses can work better for companies than non-copy-left licenses, if those companies are actually interested in improving the thing or creating the thing. They can release as GPL or AGPL and then profit from others contributing. If they released as MIT or other non-copy-left license, any competitor can use and modify without contributing back, which is the actual scenario any company should be afraid of. Copy-left actually helps companies that are not simply leeching.
Google uses GPL software all the time and links it to proprietary software all the time. Since it runs on their servers and is never distributed, this is perfectly fine.
> don't want their own IP to become GPLed as a result
This is not how copyright works. No license can magically turn other code into GPL.
You can choose between using GPL libraries in internal proprietary products, or use LGPL libraries in published products or release your product as FOSS.
The choice is yours. There is no "infection".
'The Origin of the “MIT License”':
40 years on and they still seem to think giving talks and making free software is a suitable defense of Free Software. It's passive, and has fallen apart in the face of tech companies that actively use their free software tools to make closed source software that routinely violates user's rights.
There's so much they _could_ be doing. Where's the grant program for startups working on free software? Where's their shop reselling used computer hardware with free software preinstalled, with discounts for low-income communities or libraries? Where's their work with labor unions in tech?
The FSF never adapted once thought leading and making free alternatives stopped being enough to support the ideals of their movement. They just kinda exist now.
 Workers' rights may seem orthogonal to user's rights for software, but the power imbalance between workers and the companies they work for is deeply tied in with why companies can demand their workers product software that doesn't respect user's rights, and there's interesting work that could be done here in the long term.
Yeah, I think the FSF and GNU are resting on their laurels and barely relevant.
So one of the core things for the FSF has been the GNU tools. Recently it's become trendy to rewrite stuff in Rust, and overall it seems like an excellent idea to have the core tooling of an OS being much harder to exploit, and often much more performant.
For instance ripgrep is a nice improvement on the classical grep, nushell is a better shell, exa is a better ls, and none of those is under the GPL.
There's also a project to do a straightforward rewrite of coreutils in Rust, and that is MIT licensed.
Where's the FSF's effort to modernize things and remain relevant?
I think the FSFE (Europe) is doing a lot better than its American sister foundation, with active involvement in EU politics, running campaigns, etc.
Individual GNU projects are doing fairly well on the technical side (toolchain, Emacs, Guix, Mes), but there is little to no coordination across GNU, much less with the FSFs.
FSF Asia seems to have fallen off the earth, even though India appears to have a fairly active free software movement.
I don't think rewrite in Rust is a solution to "modernize" GNU tools. Maybe another memory safe language, but Rust has severe bootstrapping issues which is a hard sell for distros that care about source to binary transparency.
The FSFe's knock-on effects (getting involved in local politics) also tends to translate to software that serve end-users.
A big issue with the FSF is that the GNU project only really serves two groups of users: programmers and power-users/commandline junkies. I belong to both of those groups. You know who doesn't? Most people out there. 99.9% of people using a computer don't give a shit on if their stuff is compiled with GCC, musl or clang. That's a fight that only concerns programmers (and one the GNU project arguably lost). The FSF simply never adapted to the idea that there's gonna be a sizable portion of computer users that will not know how to program. Too much of their rethoric is still laden on the assumption that everyone who uses a computer knows how to program (arguably an RMS relic, given his advice on learning how to program is just... unsuited for a lot of users).
If you want free software to matter, start by funding free software that your average Joe needs to use. The FSFe seems to have figured that one out to some extent - governments contract out their IT work, so if you can get in a FOSS clause on those contracts, then that's a big win for everyone.
Just look at Peertube and Matrix for successful examples (regardless of product quality -I think Matrix is fundamentally broken-, these are both tangible things a regular user can access that are a meaningful alternative to YouTube/IRC).
what bits of Matrix make it appear fundamentally broken btw? (asking from the pov of ensuring they get fixed)
On a broader protocol level, it's just a case of "unexpected moderation pitfalls". Matrix is far more decentralized than even something like the fediverse is, which comes with a couple of issues for public servers. They're not really technical issues but social ones.
If we get down to brass tacks: things like how it's technically impossible to forcibly disband a room unless all parties agree to it/are manually kicked beforehand jump to mind as an issue that's not fundamentally broken per-se but is an example of "wait, that is supposed to work like that?".
Other than that, multi-room moderation is a total crapshoot. I've tried it, it just was a mess. You end up trying to plug in a moderation bot like Mjolnir onto your server and need to do the moderation through it instead of native clients. With the most common model for chats nowadays being closer to the discord model (where a subject might have many channels as opposed to the 2 or 3 you get on IRC), this isn't really workable.
Generally speaking, matrix doesn't seem to like many channel setups very well - there's been two attempts so far from what I can tell to solve it, but both just result in attempting to bolt existing channels into a "discord guild"-esque system with optional joining like it's an IRC channel list, which isn't how most people expect that to work. This is mostly a UX thing though - I imagine someone could write a client that just assumes the solutions on this in a better way.
The rest of it just amounts to some variant on "Element sucks" (which since it's the "main" client, makes it the most used one). The easiest example I can think of is that you need to use a GitHub PWA or send manual curl commands to say, set a server ACL on a channel or take server moderation actions on one of your users is absurd/unacceptable if you want to run a public service.
The main reason I call it fundamentally broken is because a lot of these issues seem to have been there for several years and the priority doesn't quite seem there to make the experience of using Matrix easier. Element lacking good moderation components for example is something I've noticed for years on end and updates never seem focused on improving any of it.
Sorry if this is all a bit disparate in terms of complaints/haphazard complaining about Element - they mostly come from running Synapse since ~2019 (+Element, back when it was still Riot) and in my experience updates to it never seem to have addressed many of the pitfalls/unexpected behavior that Matrix runs into compared to other chat apps I've used over the years.
> I don't think rewrite in Rust is a solution to "modernize" GNU tools. Maybe another memory safe language, but Rust has severe bootstrapping issues which is a hard sell for distros that care about source to binary transparency.
That IMO is of lesser importance. It's a technical problem that's of little relevance to most end-users. It's still a problem, but one that I think can be solved.
The point though is that the world keeps on moving, and the FSF and GNU should be keeping up. If things are going to Rust, or Java, or Go, or whatever then the FSF should do its best to follow and to assert its influence there. Otherwise it'll be left in a sort of museum curator position -- taking care of old tools that few need anymore. That may be a valuable thing to do in many contexts, but is not what you want to be doing if you want to influence where the world is going.
I agree with your overall position, but where you say:
> Otherwise it'll be left in a sort of museum curator position
I think we actually need this; somebody should already be doing it. I wrote about this several years ago:
> Maybe in an alternate universe there exists an organization—or some sort of loosely connected movement—that focuses on software comprehensibility as a gift to the world and for future generations. The idea is that once software approaches doneness, the org would pour effort into fastidiously eliminating hacks around the codebase in lieu of rewrites that presents the affected logic in a way that's clearer. This work would extend to getting compiler changes upstream that allows the group to judiciously cull constructs of dubious readability so that they may be replaced with such passages, which may have previously been not as performant but that now work just as well as the sections being replaced, without any penalty at runtime.
> For example, one of the cornerstones of the FSF/GNU philosophy is that it focuses on maximizing benefit to the user. What could be more beneficial to a user of free software than ensuring that its codebase is clean and comprehensible for study and modification?
> Maybe in an alternate universe there exists an organization—or some sort of loosely connected movement—that focuses on software comprehensibility as a gift to the world and for future generations.
And like I said, I agree that this is a good and valuable thing to do, but not for the FSF. The FSF is trying to change the future, not to preserve the past.
GNU tools used to be the high end, full of features versions compared to what commercial Unix had, which is why they caught on. But you can't sit on your laurels, or others will catch up.
Eg, what do they offer as a shell? Bash. Okay, that was a great shell once upon a time, but honestly by modern standards it's painful. Even a couple decades back I was already reaching for Perl if I had to write more than about 10 lines. Since then the situation has only gotten much worse, and meanwhile we have things like PowerShell and nushell that suggest a new approach. The FSF seems nothing to offer in response.
There's nothing in this comment or your previous one that I disagree with.
<this comment was removed because of general bitterness>
Apologies to anyone who had to endure my display of contempt.
I agree with the parent comment that FSF (and friends) needs to step up their game to have any influence on the tech scene of the future.
> Maybe another memory safe language, but Rust has severe bootstrapping issues which is a hard sell for distros that care about source to binary transparency.
It is possible to bootstrap rustc from just GCC relatively easily, although it's a little bit time consuming.
You can use mrustc to bootstrap Rust 1.54: https://github.com/thepowersgang/mrustc
And from then you can go through each version all the way to the current 1.72. (Each new Rust version officially needs the previous one to compile.)
Right, Guix solved that a while back:
I was thinking about the fact that building Rust requires cURL, Python, CMake, and more, which makes the "bootstrapping graph" very complicated if coreutils is rewritten in Rust.
Rewrite it in Rust has become "rewrite it without the GPL" and that is a big problem. While there are valid reasons for permissive licenses at times, there is no valid reason to do core utils under a non-free license other than co-opting freedom. One day a new OS and ecosystem will come along and it will all be closed. The hardware will also not allow you to run free software.
Please stop enabling this with thoughtless license choices.
The 're-implement in rust' crowd is doing it for the evangelizing of rust. If they cared about free software, they would have improved the existing tools.
I long for the days when the basic unix system is unusable because everything has been "improved" and is "secure and written in rust".
> The FSF never adapted once thought leading and making free alternatives stopped being enough to support the ideals of their movement. They just kinda exist now.
To their credit, free software exists and there are many high quality examples, that outshine proprietary or big corp tech, when in capable hands. Those can be used by anyone anywhere on the planet, without having to buy a license from a shady company. We have Blender, Inkscape, Emacs, GCC, Linux kernel, Guix, and great things like Syncthing or whole OS that run on free/libre software. I dare say even Gimp is a solid choice in the right hands for many purposes, while surely not without flaws. Such projects I count as successes of the free software movement.
It is not really, that the FSF (and the GNU project) does not help at all. Without them we would be off much worse by now. However, your points about what they could do additionally still stand and you raise some perhaps good ideas.
Today there is more relevance to ensure that open source software does not become illegal, and lobbying various parliament members in the EU and in the US
For the past 40 years all open source license terms have started WITHOUT WARRANTY, but today the governments have the idea that if someone uses your software for something they do not like, you deserve jail time.
It's sometimes a little mind-boggling that the FSF has been around only a couple months more than I have been around. I'm not even sure I'd have made computing of any kind a career if it hadn't been for free software myself.
Forty years and printers are still as treacherous as ever.
The next revolution in software will probably ALSO be caused by an aggravating printer :P
They are much worse than they were forty years ago.
That's what happens when you lose sight of the original goal. A real pivot!
Inkjet, yes. But laser?
HP, yes, but Brother?
I honestly believe that proliferation of permissive non-copyleft open source licensing is what has harmed the free software movement the most. GPL used to be standard, but it's long been overtaken by short, easy to understand, do what you want licenses.
It doesn't help that you have people like the CEO of github having a keynote saying to use MIT license.
It has all been a concerted effort to convince people that to be relevant they needed to use MIT license (so that they could be taken advantage of).
>> It doesn't help that you have people like the CEO of github having a keynote saying to use MIT license.
Really? Github? Owned by Microsoft right? I wonder why they like MIT licenses....
I think it was before that https://youtu.be/-bAAlPXB2-c?t=178
I'm especially grateful for the GPL license family, for legally establishing the ideology that people need to give back. I firmly believe that it's partly why the different open source movements are as successful as they are, and to find such thing as a license like this embedded deep in the culture gave a lot of inspiration and appreciation to me.
GNU bash, GNU ed, GNU chess, GNU coreutils, GNU hello are now in https://www.exaequOS.com
GNU chess? Beat everything else we had for pcs. Wrecked them. Beat the pants off us.
GNU Chess 6.2.9 (latest) is very strong, even compiled in WebAssembly. Around 2500 ELO
Given the age of the field and the short half-life nowadays of many software, the GNU project is a huge accomplishment!
If by some sequence of miracles society manages to avoid the seemingly inevitable slide into a techno-totalitarian future, there is no doubt that Free Software will be what makes that possible.
I consider it quite likely that Stallman and Torvalds will eventually be viewed as two of the most influential individuals in human history, at least on par with Marx and Engels, but arguably even more important, provided their foundational contributions actually end up turning the tide.
Without meaning to be overly pessimistic, why would it be so certain that such salvation would come from GNU and the free software movement? The most common operating system in peoples' day-to-day computers is Android which is effectively Linux without GNU bundled in.
I think it is fair to say that without the GPL and GNU, there would have been no Linux as we know it today.
I mean that's true and commendable but the OP was speaking towards the future. And on our current trajectory the future is only becoming more and more decoupled from GNU. From the downvotes though I've either come across as combative or sarcastic I suspect.
>> I mean that's true and commendable but the OP was speaking towards the future. And on our current trajectory the future is only becoming more and more decoupled from GNU.
That's the point. The only way to prevent the bad outcome is for GNU and GPL to make a comeback. People need to understand and care about it first if it's every to prevent the bad future.
Fair enough. But does it really matter what all the dumb terminals are running, when most of the infra(servers) is running full blown GNU/Linux?
It's a hard question to answer because really it depends on what you consider relevant computing in my opinion as well as how you interpret the post I was replying to. Despite the profit dominance of Apple for example, Android smartphones are the computer of the common man worldwide and so by extension the common man is coming into less and less contact with GNU. From that perspective it's hard to say that GNU will be part of what helps "avoid the seemingly inevitable slide into a techno-totalitarian future" as the original poster put it.
> the common man is coming less and less contact with GNU.
Compared to when? Would the Android experience differ substantially if it included the GNU userland?
I'd argue no : the common man does not compile, write shell scripts or writes it's own software.
Or are you argueing that somehow GNUCash for example would be more popular?
You can look at Windows or OSX to see what is important to the common man. And it is not build tools / infra, and I think that is fine.
I'm not really sure I see what you're driving at. I mean yes, GNU's never been thaaat relevant to most people. That doesn't change that in the context of the OPs original point it's hard to see GNU as having done anything but lost ground in contemporary times. Which in turn makes it hard to see a way it'd be a path towards whatever salvation was being opined on. If the primary vehicle for GNU's propagation before was situations that saw it bundled with Linux we're now in a time where there's countless mainstream Linux devices and virtually none of them incorporate GNU.
> anything but lost ground in contemporary times.
Compared to when? The web is only growing and growing and is 90%+ GNU/Linux.
All/most SaaS'es which are displacing 'conventional' software are running GNU/Linux.
The 'AI revolution' is running GNU/Linux.
Since we're at the limit of what the comment chain permits, I'm not really sure I see what you're driving at in your followup reply to me. I mean yes, GNU's never been thaaat relevant to most people. That doesn't change that in the context of the OPs original point it's hard to see GNU as having done anything but lost ground in contemporary times. Which in turn makes it hard to see a way it'd be a path towards whatever salvation was being opined on.
We are not at the limit : you are replying too soon.
To be able to reply without pause, click the timestamp.
And even the Linux kernel might one day be changed for Zirkon.
didn't google all-but-abandon Fuchsia's development (and thus Zircon)?
There was a bunch of lay-offs in January, in July they announced the smart speakers would not use it, and AFAIU the only product using it (the Nest Hub) is supposed to be replaced by the Pixel Tablet.
Not sure, at least officially, Fuschia is still going.
I’m glad that the free software movement existed for so long and achieved a lot, giving me the opportunity to reap the benefits of their work.
And that’s exactly what disappoints me: everyone can benefit without giving anything in return. FSF didn’t find an approach to software freedom that incentivises participants to contribute. FOSS is not a business model, so we see what we see: https://xkcd.com/2347/
I believe there is a need to adopt more semi-free source-available licenses that will force corporations to finance the projects they rely upon, while granting the expected freedoms to individual users, tinkerers and contributors.
Free as in "Freedom". Big shoutout to everyone working in FSF! You make the computing world a byte less terrible :)
Ah yes, GNU, my favorite vaporware.
I have mixed feelings about this anniversary. RMS is both the reason that the free software movement is where it is today, and the reason that it has so few women involved. If we could turn back the clock, I wish we could keep the good parts but leave out the bad parts.
RMS has been subjected to a defamatory smear campaign which has falsely accused him of being transphobic, sympathetic to pedophiles and hostile to women. The attacks targeting him have largely come from people who aren't involved in free software and in some cases not even involved in the tech industry. While his behavior has been awkward at times he is absolutely none of these things and he deserves respect for his contributions to our field.
https://stallmansupport.org/richard-stallman-is-not-transpho... - Leah Rowe, who accused the FSF of being transphobic, defending Richard Stallman as not transphobic.
https://stallmansupport.org/nadine-strossen-hannah-wolfman-r... - Nadine Strossen, former President of the ACLU and a feminist icon, affirming Richard Stallman's support for women and her support for many of his positions.
I'm not sure about transphobic, as that allegation did not come up when the original "package" that led to RMS' resignation was published. It could be that new evidence has come to light since, or it could be that the allegation of transphobia is unfounded.
Some of the original allegations that I think are proven correct are that RMS:
- defended Marvin Minsky on a mailing list when Minsky was accused of sex with an underage woman, and made similar comments in defense of Cody Wilson. I believe Stallman's quote on the MIT listserv was that "[it is] normal for adults to be physically attracted to adolescents" when referring specifically to an allegation concerning someone under the legal age of consent. I think "sympathetic to paedophiles" is a defensible interpretation of such comments.
- The accusations of sexism are also supported by evidence, such as the "EMACS virgins" incident in July 2009 which RMS himself admitted the basic facts of (while claiming it was meant to have been a joke). One version of the lines involved reads "The virgin of emacs is any female who has not yet learned how to use emacs. And in the church of emacs we believe that taking her emacs virginity away is a blessed act." @daringfireball (John Gruber) also quotes a Wired article claiming RMS had a card on his door at MIT saying "Knight for Justice (Also: Hot Ladies)". I think "hostile to women" is a defensible interpretation of these facts, especially as there is testimony from women in tech who say they find this sort of thing hostile.
Please read claims 1-5 on this page. I could rehash them but the page does a better job with these issues than I would:
Regarding the "Cult of the Emacs Virgin" issue, here is Stallman's statement about it: https://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnome-women-list/2009-Novemb... - this was a reference to the Cult of the Virgin Mary. Along with references to the "Church of St. IGNUtius" he was parodying what he saw as cult-like elements of Christianity. Because Mary was female, he referenced females.
When he was informed in 2009 that some women found this joke offensive, he changed it to be gender neutral, because as he said in 2009, and continues to say today, he supports involving women in free software as much as possible.
Stallman has a long history of advocating for womens' rights and it's unfortunate for all women that a few women have decided to attack a supporter of womens' rights over a joke that probably didn't make anyone bat an eyelash when he first started using it. Standards have changed today, but he amended the joke 14 years ago....
Nadine Strossen's comments really hit the nail on the head about how poisonous this inability to forgive people for awkward statements made almost 20 years ago (and later recanted or apologized for) has become. If people on the other side are not allowed to apologize, reform and join your team, how do you ever win? If you brand them as enemies for life, short of your movement imprisoning, exiling or killing them, how does society as a whole ever make progress?
> Stallman has a long history of advocating for womens' rights ...
I 'd like to add that he regularly posts political notes on his website which make this pretty clear to anyone who cares to take a look.
There is more to the weird 'emacs virgin' thing than just the joke itself.
I have not heard the transphobic claims either.
I have come across multiple sources which describe Stallman's creepy behavior towards women, which I listed at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21008835 .
One of them worked in the same building as Stallman. She writes software under an open source license and co-organizes an open source conference, so definitely "involved in free software."
You can't trust me though. Stallman said I'm an enemy of free software since I wouldn't say "GNU/Linux" to him.
As is usually the case with these "sex pest" witch hunts, these claims require traversing several layers of hyperlinks and "someone told me" just to find a vague claim of "I just find him creepy (in a way that I can't describe!)", which seems to simply mean "dares to exist and talk while awkward and unattractive". Flirting is also not bad behavior, how else would relationships form without someone indicating interest first?
Nobody is denying that rms is an exceedingly eccentric person, often to the extent of rudeness, but this does not justify the serious insinuations of sexual harassment
Whoa, who said any of this was "sexual harassment"?
The topic was the "reason [free software] has so few women involved", and the claim is that Stallman's behavior towards women was a non-trivial contributing factor.
That does not require sexual harassment.
The counter-claim is that such allegations are "a defamatory smear campaign which has falsely accused him of being transphobic, sympathetic to pedophiles and hostile to women. The attacks targeting him have largely come from people who aren't involved in free software and in some cases not even involved in the tech industry."
I've heard about his creepy behavior towards women since around 2003, from people working in open source software. Thus, that counter-claim cannot be the complete story.
Yes, at this point the current generation of feminism has an awful track record: by conflating online rumors about "creeps" and "sex pests" with actual women's rights concerns, they've ceded cultural ground to conservatives who have promptly used their new influence to do stuff like limit access to abortions. (Stallman is unwaveringly pro choice.)
Nadine Strossen comments on this problem in one of the links I posted:
> So we see the term sexual assault and sexual harrassment used for example, when a guy asks a woman out on a date and she doesn’t find that an appealing invitation. Maybe he used poor judgement in asking her out, maybe he didn’t, but in any case that is NOT sexual assault or harassment. To call it that is to really demean the huge horror and violence and predation that does exist when you are talking about violent sexual assault. People use the term sexual assault / sexual harassment to refer to any comment about gender or sexuality issues that they disagree with or a joke that might not be in the best taste, again is that to be commended? No! But to condemn it and equate it with a violent sexual assault again is really denying and demeaning the actual suffering that people who are victims of sexual assault endure. It trivializes the serious infractions that are committed by people like Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein. So that is one point that [Stallman] made that I think is very important that I strongly agree with.
> So we see the term sexual assault and sexual harrassment used for example, when a guy asks a woman out on a date and she doesn’t find that an appealing invitation.
It's a bit humorous that you agree with the assessment "several layers of hyperlinks and "someone told me" just to find a vague claim" then don't even provide that much support for your own third-hand, fourth-hand, or higher comment.
We know from EEOC training that there are indeed ways to ask someone for a date and have it be workplace sexual harassment.
Scenario #1: "Wanna go on a date tonight? I think I can get you off night shift if you say yes." is straight-forward quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Scenario #2: Whenever employee X sees a new, young, female employee he goes up to her and, while staring at her breasts the whole time, asks her out on a date. The staff get annoyed about the continual sexual objectification and complain about X's rude behavior. Under EEOC guidelines, management acts to prevent claims they have a hostile workplace.
Both of these unappealing invitations are forms of workplace sexual harassment, which has a higher legal requirement than other uses of the phrase.
These laws have been in place for decades .. and you're right, the anti-abortion movement has been around for decades too. But it's not due to online rumors but part of a broader anti-feminist movement wanting "traditional" male power over women.
Can you dig through the hyperlinks and find a less vague account of your example?
Given the 100s of millions of men who have asked women out, this should be millions of times easier to find than the ones I found about Stallman. Examples should be everywhere, not just men's rights forums.
Given I know someone with a first-hand account about Stallman, and don't know anyone matching your story, tells me your scenario is rare.
See also <https://sterling-archermedes.github.io/>.
RMS has definitely been sympathetic to pedophiles in his writing in the past. I don't know what his stance is now, but saying it was a false accusation is revisionism, IMO.
> and the reason that it has so few women involved
It is repeated and repeated again that because there aren't as many women as men in IT, there must be some kind of badness going on.
I offer a more charitable explanation: Women don't want to, the same way Men don't want to go to yoga courses. No badness involved, just people making their decisions.
The problem with that explanation is that in the past, there were a lot more women in computing. First as operators and programmer/mathematicians, later the gender mix was following the same upward trend as other sciences.
I've seen two explanations for the dearth of women in computing: engineering culture becoming dominant in the '60s (where it was more the domain of mathematics before) and the rise of personal computers that were advertised and marketed to young boys in the '80s. The latter is very noticeable in CS enrollment numbers.
Back when people bought their punched tapes to the computers, being that computers operator was a social job, comparable to a secretary.
Look at jobs like optician, where the reverse happened: It used to be a crafts job when glasses were hand-manufactured. Today glasses are produced automatically, so the consultation and sales part has taken over and it changed from a men-dominated domain into a women-dominated domain.
No badness involved, either.
It was also much easier to "get into" it without a degree, unlike now when they want 5 years experience in CS as soon as you leave college.
The interpretation in the book "Programmed Inequality", albeit specific to the UK, is that in the early days programming and adjacent tasks involved a lot of manual labor (punching cards, moving tapes around), for which companies employed women to do it as cheaply as possible.
When tech jobs switched to requiring fewer humans, but ones with much more responsibilities and the ability to make operational/strategic decisions and to contribute to the design of the systems as part of implementing them, then companies moved to hiring men.
> in computing: engineering culture becoming dominant in the '60s (where it was more the domain of mathematics before)
That would suggest that countries in which that transition didn't happen (such as Germany: Informatik was and is a math-oriented field, the engineering side mostly ended up with electrical engineering) should see different trends. At least for Germany: no.
Have you spoken to women who have joined open source groups (I’m thinking GNU / FSF led projects, not just programs that happen to be open source)? I have, and without exception the ones I know well personally have had awful experiences, and the ones who complained were just told “Oh, that’s just how person X is”. (There is not a single X here I am hiding, it’s a pattern).
Have you spoken to men who have joined yoga courses? Same thing there: it's uncomfortable when you're the odd one out, and assholes who are going to asshole are most egregious towards those who are "other."
The underlying reason for the disparity can still be "group A people are somewhat less interested in that thing than group B people" and not "group B people actively drive out group A people." Everything else just follows because humans suck.
Show that this is a gender-specific issue because i have the exact same reasoning. I love the coding and bug hunting, but i don't want to arrange myself with certain people.
How could I do that? I can say the comments and issues were gendered, but I can’t think how to prove what you are asking.
You are right, that bar to prove it is too high. Apparently that doesn't stop people from claiming it nevertheless.
I develop free/open source software and I've never joined an open source group. I'd say that goes for the majority of contributors.
I disagree. If the proportion of women in FSF was the same as "tech" in general, then your interpetation would be "colorable" .
However, the accusation is more specifically that the proportion of women in the FSF and FOSS in general is (or at least was under Stallman) significantly lower than that of women in programming jobs in general, which suggests that there is something more going on.
Following a 2009 FSF women's mini-summit in Boston, Bruce Perens acknowledged this difference, even offering an explanation: "... there are more women who hold technical jobs than there are women who so love the technology that they will work on it whether they get paid or not. That seems to be an especially male thing."
However, that was very much not the conclusion of discussions among women in tech at the time, who were more likely to cite the sexist behaviour of some prominent men as reasons they kept out of parts or all of FOSS/FSF. RMS' name certainly came up a lot.
Rachel Kroll also wrote a post back in 2018 with the title "Choosing to stay out of the community", talking about similar issues.
 A legal term that means more or less "plausible so far, but we'd need a full trial to get a definite answer".
Take note that Rachel's post is not making any reference to sex, gender, sexism or discrimination. Its about a toxic community and not about gender issues. Its not backing up your point.
the reason that it has so few women involved
Citation needed here.
Free Software movement at this point is much, much larger than FSF, GNU and rms. Many of those communities (Like KDE which I've been involved with) have been very very welcoming and inclusive to woman. However, woman have always been under-represented there just like many other areas in Tech.
Not saying rms has not made GNU/FSF difficult for woman though. Just saying the reasons woman are under-represented go deeper than rms.
I've always wondered, say we have 10-15% of women in open source advocation/programming, why would you expect to see a higher number than that at FSF? At any organization? If you advocate for getting more women into STEM wouldn't you start in grad school/high school/college? Why would you expect it to be higher after the collegiate level when people have very very likely chosen a career path?
> Citation needed
FLOSSPOLS 2004-05 found that "proprietary software" was around 28% female, whereas "free software" was around 1.5% female. A presentatation of the results can be found at .
I agree with you that FOSS is much larger than GNU/FSF, and that many places are actively welcoming to women - the linked slides reference Debian's efforts; the python community also seems to be fairly good at this.
Do you really think all those women in proprietary software jobs aren't doing free software because of one man? They probably haven't even heard of him.
There are many more obvious reasons for the disparity that don't involve anything malicious let alone singling out one person and attaching the blame.
Anybody can make meaningful contributions to free software. Nobody has to interact with RMS or anybody else. I've made many anonymous and pseudonymous contributions just fine.
Given that there are essentially no barriers to entry to developing free software but there are significant barriers to being paid for it, I wonder why proprietary software is only 72% male when free software is 98.5% male. Are there any other fields that exhibit this disparity? Are there more/less paid male/female car mechanics versus car enthusiasts/hobbyists, for example?
Another interpretation in pre-classic critical gender theory might be that only men have reason to strive for compensating their lack of ability to give birth by a F/OSS magnus opus. Or idk Freudian or even pre-Freudian suppression of sex drive, possibly for later, more intense pleasure?
Oh, and we don't say "women" anymore, preferring gender-neutral language.
Meanwhile, F/OSS zealots are busy subliming (^1) on github, bringing their tickets and clicks and those of their users, as generative and advanced AI takes over CompSci (what has been left by the attention economy anyway).
Seriously, today's problem is more that F/OSS is being used to exploit users and form monopolies. "Cloud providers" and other capital-intense approaches only exist as a direct reaction to F/OSS abundance.
^1: in memoriam of Iain Banks who died ten years ago
Many women don't want to be around nerds. It's really that simple.
And what is the reason for that?
There is a theory by Simon Baron-Cohen that autistic people have "extremely male brains". I dislike this formulation myself - I think he's confusing the proxy for the root cause, which is that autistic people have extremely _systematising_ brains. (And yes, "autistic" and "nerd" are not synonyms, I know.)
But psychology does acknowledge that an interest in people vs systems/things is one of the most pronounced measurable and replicable sex differences; depending on who you ask this might apply to babies from the day they were born, as measured by the time they spend looking at a photo of a face vs. one of some building blocks.
(Note, the research is about _interests_, not _abilities_. Big difference.)
If you plot people on a people/things interests scale, you might see a male cluster, a female cluster, and if you zoomed in, a "nerd cluster" a bit beyond the normal male cluster.
Female nerds and women with autism do exist, and as far as I can tell, they fit in just fine into any "nerdspace" that does not single them out based on their sex/gender or act too sexist. (Personally, I find the label "extremely male brain" particularly uncharitable for women with autism.) But they are numerically a minority.
While it may be entertaining to feign hypotheses, really who cares? It's an observable fact and thus it has to be incorporated into any rational phenomenology.
But the glib answer is many women find nerds annoying. In particular, because of their desire to explain and even worse correct perceived errors without any regard for social niceties. As for why many women ultimately find those behavior patterns annoying, well that's where speculation takes over.
But we nerds are awesome and several of us shower