Cooperation and working together

Hyperbola was and is meant to be as a complete new paradigm within free, libre software and culture. Generic historical seen most projects act with the difference between maintainers, developers and users. The maintaining and developing persons act furthermore on behalf of a roadmap or when users report problems. But there is a residing problem within this as many users do not get more deep into their system and just demand it should work.

The issues with "developer or maintainer make it just works"

As the role “user” is most focussed on exactly “make usage of the operating-system running” is surely correct. But the intention is missed to make the “user” really free from further restraints and in the further progress of time those intentions were more and more forgotten likewise the complexity of installed software enlarged further. Today the restraints are not gone, just moved into other directions and embedded deep into many systems. To name some:

  • restraint of non-free implemented firmware-blobs in drivers and / or even kernel
  • restraint of non-free services and their implementation in per definition free and libre licensed projects (making them also to be named as complete non-free in the retrospective)
  • restraint of data being added but perhaps not even free and libre licensed (to note that Hyperbola is not adding any of such projects, read therefore here)
  • restraint of packages being added into free, libre system-projects but not licensed in any way free, libre and permissive

The list could go on further, but the named points are most important as users have the outlined impression that their used system is also “somewhat” freedom oriented and that is enough. Because most the time it is just the point that the hardware should work out of the box. Learning on how to configure options so perhaps a service can run? Or a missed out piece of hardware could nevertheless work? Impossible in those definitions as this does not work out of the box and whatever else: The maintainers, the developers should look after that, because a user uses the system. Nothing more and nothing less.

But this results in several problem-fields:

  • smaller systems will not get more help and people reject them just because of those elementary failures in thoughts listed above
  • free and libre projects, full community-oriented and driven by also a minority do not get more support
  • in general free, libre software and culture is more shuttered with time passing by

The issues with "externalized responsibility"

Everyone using computer-systems for a longer period of time knows this point for sure: There is a service or any application needed, but not running correct or not even starting out of unknown reasoning. In general this is the end when we as “users” reached our individual maximum of tryouts. What is it? The application and / or service is going to be removed. But this can be quite different when we talk about free, libre licensed software: There “users” have always the chance to look into the source-code and also configuration. But why is therefore nevertheless the most known habit again the removal? The “externalized responsibility” is here to be named: As “user” I am focused on my current and wanted use-cases, but do I imagine to really debug, test and develop or configure further my installed software? Do I see the need to document perhaps this so others may also see and have possible advantages?

And here is the momentum of “externalized responsibility”: We are most time to much focused on ourselves. We differ too much within such sets of “roles”: User, developer, maintainer, administrator and many more. Anyone else should solve the current issue, while I wait as I have done enough with reporting. But is it really that enough and leaving others perhaps even with insufficient information? In the end we wait while done the issue. Sometimes we even not think of reporting any issue and support projects, we even do not think to offer time for testing or support the people giving their time financial. Why? Because we think it is just done “gratis”, done “free” and it has to be “free” because it is called “free software”.

The issues with "free software"

We have already written down major problems in the spectrum of free, libre software in a separate article. But to mention again here one major problem is the common misunderstanding and misguiding of the naming: Free, libre software for sure does not mean that projects, resulting software and system-distributions / operating-systems with packaged software are done also gratis and “for free” when it comes to demands. Yes, people engage within all those projects, out of different motivations. To draw here the point for Hyperbola: We do it with the intention to …

  • provide an operating-system oriented on basic UNIX design philosophies of minimalism.
  • create real technical emancipation as users have always complete insights in their system, running processes, services and applications with all data included.
  • not further differentiate as we want users be also developers and maintainers at minimum for their own software and reinvent their system as they want and need.

So all of this is part of an altruistic engagement. Without further support in time, helping hands and heads and also financials we cannot go on further. But the claim that “free software is always free and gratis” is not fully working: It needs cooperation and working together, always and on-going.

What are the major points causing those issues?

It would be too easy and at the same time also not correct to claim this is only caused by one group or just one generic behaviour. It is the whole situation going out of control: Companies and corporations implementing more and more their known paradigm of trademarks and patents, projects following using tademarks and patents or even creating more their own also above, developers and maintainers following the whole course without either having the point of questioning or done this and gotten not very far with it including also further frustration and users in the end just accepting. Because of? Yes, because it is marked with buzzwords alike “open”, “open-source” or “free”.

All of those buzzwords are vague and not helpful in any way. But they mark the current development going out of hands and in the wrong direction: People associate “open” with “free and libre”, “open-source” with “free software” alone without recognizing the major differences and minor intrusive placed wording misguiding people over time. For sure this was not all intentional, but it was also accepted as it helped out with more ignorance in the whole amount and also with a desastrous outcome now.

And what is the desastrous outcome?

In a whole we have a more strict perspective nowadays. For sure it is understandable that users just want a stable and reliable system working on. But we have also to confront ourself with the fact, that bad habits got in place so people just await getting not only a working system but also served at the same time all explanations, information and more. Sometimes not even with asking but just the awaitment. The desastrous outcome is in the end for all participating groups and individuals: Developers and maintainers get exhausted over time, sometimes even frustrated as they do not get helping hands when people await even more. And users get frustrated as they await a “working system” serving their expectations.

But that is not all: Over time services and generic operating-systems got even more complex. Not only inbound local complex but also enumerating outside services around the global network. So users await:

  • newest (web-)services included local to be accessed at any given time without perspective on security, privacy and freedom
  • services like wiki, forum and more all-time available, managed and working flawless
  • full capacity downloads at any time, every day, week, month and year around

And as the result is “somewhat open”, concluding in comparison “free is gratis”, all is just in relation to be “in whatever state”. Users want to use the system, ask for sure questions and await therefore support and help. Some surely give more, some will help and some maintain and contribute. But the strict difference in a matter of “roles” is kept nevertheless.

So what is the solution?

In fact Hyperbola does not even want to enforce anything from anyone. It is just the common point we want to question and for sure change on behalf of using and attending at this project: We want to shake up people a bit that free, libre software and projects can only kept active when more people get also active themself. It does not matter on which way for the start and point being of now. There is enough to do: Documentation, testing, management of infrastructure, evaluation of services, further approval of more minimalistic approaches, development, license approvals and many more possible areas where people could engage in.

We need to acknowledge that smaller, minimalistic services and systems are the way forward. Monolithic, centralized places are surely a promise of safety, but in fact they have approved to be unreliable in regards to privacy, security and generic respect for every being with interest attending.

Hyperbola is not asking or / and demanding from its users to be also developers and maintainers at the same time. But if there are issues to be reported, it is not much asked for to work together on exactly those issues. So instead of just reporting them and afterwards await something from an individual or group in the role of “maintainers” we ask to stand up for being also a possible maintainer and researcher. To test and approve as this is all part of our one special interest named technical emancipation. As already mentioned the wording “emancipation” has many meanings and in political terms, it often means to free a being from a previous restraint or legal disability that violates basic human rights. We ask therefore the people to stand up for their right of informational self-determination, to keep their data under own control and to learn together more about tools and ways to keep each other safe with a working privacy and also mindset for exactly this.

So as “user” keep in mind that you can also be maintainer and developer at the same time. Please let us work together under the philosophy of Hyperbola, which finally includes do it yourself. You miss a package? Build it and share your insights. You found an issue? Share your insights and support people supporting you more. You have interests to help? Raise a hand and get in touch. But do not await only others to help you without giving something. Not only report and await afterwards movement. That is not the mood and interest of Hyperbola as project, as said: We want to break up with the named problems of “user as common role”. All of the named points “users” await are not self-evident and in fact hard work the smaller a project is. Asking for support, for donations and time helping others is a generic point free, libre projects did and need to do also today as it is their most important point: Giving “users” a point back, but also “users” should slip out of the generic role seemingly pre-defined. It is not, it should not as everyone can be user, developer and maintainer.

And a short note in the end: We should be honest with each other, not only project-wide but also let alone wider for the whole spectrum of free, libre software and culture. The deep hypocrisy many are following gets clear when looking just strict enough: Yes, somewhat free and libre, somewhat free, but please no further restrictions or we name it “censorship” - which is not, for sure not and it is not working to describe it that way. Yes, free software, but the data is not really important or we name “non-functional”. And who is asking about the complexity of a project? Oh, it is just free and permissive licensed. Well, of course nothing is or can or even better should not be meant any way problematic. Or is there any problem when monolithic projects are not even near to get a review and concrete audit? And what happens with the next security-breach? Well, this is dishonest and we should be more clear to each other. If there is no real interest for free and libre culture, for software following this ways, let us call this “open-source” and Hyperbola is not following this course. This fails immediately with the wording “gratis”: This does not include that no helping hand is needed giving back something. And exactly this “something” can be defined, can be filled further. It just needs the will doing so, instead of just “using” why not do more at a given time? Energy is not coming from thin air and data should be handled with caution, not with self-evident ignorance. Collecting data in masses is unethical and providing packages including more and more just out of convinience is the same: Unresponsible towards all beings. So why exactly are those packages and projects including unethical principles “free and libre”? Exactly out of convinience and ignorance, shortened with answers or easy looking explanations for a cheap discourse ending most the time the same - yes, there are issues, but license is free and libre, so in the end “it just works”. Isn't that enough? No, it is for sure not enough.


Hyperbola as project has the essential goal of technical emancipation and by all further interpretation this also includes the essential point of do it yourself. Sorry not sorry, but as a small system-project we need to underline and explain this point in depth as we have thought it would be enough to motivate. As one point of failure is the missing analysis of historic responsibilities (please read here more about this) and there is no conclusion up until today while a majority of the free, libre community claims to be “free” without further definition what exactly this kind of “freedom” means or needs. Responsibility, cooperation and working together is too important than to trust reason and wait for a better outcome. The community helps the community and is steady working side by side to welcome also everyone interested in the values and principles Hyperbola is using as project!