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12.29.08

Windows Vista Left Vulnerable Over Christmas

Posted in Microsoft, Samsung, Security, Vista, Windows at 7:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Broken glass

AS WE POINTED OUT on Christmas day, Microsoft left its users/clients vulnerable over the holidays. But there’s actually more than we mentioned at the time. One of our readers points out that new flaws were found — accompanied by exploits — that can hijack Windows Vista and predecessors (Vista was never secure anyway).

The following exploit utilizes the XML vulnerability in Internet Explorer to execute arbitrary code under Vista.

Here is another new one:

A vulnerability was reported in Windows Media Player. A remote user can cause arbitrary code to be executed on the target user’s system.

Over at The Register, it is being reported that Samsung picture frames are dangerous to Windows users (“The disc is needed to use the kit as a USB monitor on windows XP machines”). We’ve covered the follies of Samsung in the past because they stabbed Linux in the back by signing a patent deal with Microsoft.

The BBC labels 2008 an unprecedentedly bad year for security, but surely it won’t get any better in 2009, not when about 40% of all (Windows) machines are zombies and many people are out of work.

Criminal gangs generate so many viruses for two main reasons. Firstly, many variants of essentially the same malicious program can cause problems for anti-virus software which can only reliably defend against threats it is aware of.

Bearing in mind everything that people already know and witness, the BBC does write: “The vast majority of these malicious programs are aimed at Windows PCs. Viruses made their debut more than 20 years ago but the vast majority of that million plus total have been created in the last two-three years.” It later shows the Windows logo above a caption that says “Most attacks are aimed at PCs running the Windows operating system.”

Sun Responds — Gently — to Novell’s OpenOffice.org FUD

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SUN at 4:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hands and sun

SUN Microsystems’ OpenOffice.org team seems to be responding in a subtle fashion to Novell’s most recent strikes against OpenOffice.org [1, 2].

It is crucial to remember that quality assurance is nothing to sneeze at when it comes to software which stores information like medical data and people’s wages. Microsoft’s quality assurance — or lack thereof, especially in Microsoft Office — has already proven to be detrimental, so the last thing the world needs is a leading open source office suite which is equally buggy, to the point where it gets its mathematics wrong (that would be Microsoft Excel and Microsoft OOXML).

Those who favour negligence and are willing to accept no level of authority in the development can just hop onto the Go-OOXML Web site, whose opening words and introduction to the software go like this: “Go-oo has built in OpenXML import filters and it will import your Microsoft Works files.”

Yes, these are the very first words one finds in Novell’s fork [1, 2, 3, 4] of OpenOffice.org. It’s all about OOXML. Go, Go, OOXML. They even call it "OpenXML," thus lending credibility to the confusion which associates "OpenXML" with open source and OpenOffice (“Office Open OOXML”). It’s important to remember that Novell helped the standardisation of OOXML, which was a corrupt affair.

OpenOffice.org is no sinner. It is also valuable to bear in mind that Linux (the kernel) is built in a similar fashion because of the need for quality control. Patchmasters like Andrew Morton and Linus Torvalds do run a receptive cathedral, not a bazaar (Pamela Jones applied this same analogy to her work in Groklaw).

As people may recall, Con Kolivas abandoned Linux development because his admirable role was not wholeheartedly accepted, but should we fault Linux like Novell want us all to fault OpenOffice.org by poisoning our minds? This is not the first time that Novell slams Sun products out in the open [1, 2], which is uncalled for and counter productive.

Microsoft and Jimmi Hugh: Wikipedia Censorship or Just Vandalism? (Corrected)

Posted in Antitrust, Deception, Microsoft, Patents, Wikipedia at 2:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

AS our regular readers may know, Microsoft was caught more or less sabotaging ACPI as a standard in order to make life miserable for GNU/Linux. It continues to this date in the sense that GNU/Linux users and developers must often wrestle with ACPI to make it work properly. Bill Gates was personally responsible for this, as shown more clearly than just implicitly in court evidence. He mentioned “Linux” by name and suggested the use of patents, too.

The Wikipedia article on ACPI had a link to an antitrust document (which is mirrored in several Web sites) regarding Bill Gates’ wish to make ACPI proprietary to Windows. This information is highly relevant to the article, since after all it is about a standard, and Microsoft were also part of the group responsible for that standard, therefore any corrupting influence on either the standard or its implementation should be a matter of public knowledge.

About a month ago we discussed Microsoft’s manipulation of Wikipedia, sometimes through hired professionals or PR agencies.

I recently noticed that the relevant part of the ACPI article which links to the antitrust exhibit has been removed, and even more insidiously the entire “Criticisms” section has completely gone. This is clearly a case of censorship.

There are two people responsible for this censorship and the details appear in the comments.

The person responsible for this censorship is a man by the name of Jimmi Hugh, whom I believe has a particularly infamous reputation on Wikipedia. One source describes him as “a shameless character with some kind of pro-Microsoft agenda.”

“Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Links 29/12/2008: Linux 2.6.28 Benchmark, TomTom Only Exploits Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

  • KDE Forum: Kourse 1 in Progress!

    KDE Forum Klassroom Kourse 1 is in progress! This kourse is being led by msoeken & the topic for this is “Fixing KSnapshot bugs”. The Kourse started with 5 bugs as aim. Students would be required to fix them and will be guided by msoeken while doing so.

  • Kernel

  • Distributions

  • Devices

    • Visa Takes a Ride on G1
    • Linux vs Windows . . . TomTom GPS

      So, here you go, TomTom. Get your PR department out of the Service department, and start thinking of where you get your money. Do you REALLY want to forego the income you could make by supporting the very operating system that you use?

      [...]

      TomTom uses Linux. But TomTom doesn’t want to acknowledge that, and therefore ignores potential customers. Or, perhaps it’s more than ignoring potential customers. For example, there is the publically demonstrated behavior of Microsoft. Microsoft is noted for its anti-competative contracts with companies, its “buying off” companies, organizations and even political entities, and its subversion of even standards organizations. (Oh, don’t believe me. Go see for yourself. Search for the lawsuit by the DOJ [such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft] and the record of what happened at ISO with their “Office Open XML”, or their behavior in third world countries with the advent of the XO computer.) Such behavior in an individual would be considered unethical at best and criminal at worst. But because Microsoft has money they manage to get away with it. If some combination of the above is the reason that TomTom has so ignored Linux as an operating system then their shame is complete, and they deserve to be known as “that navigation company that USED to be a contender in the market”.

    • Sub-notebooks

F/OSS

Media

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Markos Moulitsas, creator of the Daily Kos on-line political magazine 08 (2005)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Microsoft and Cronies Create Another EU Lobby at Taxpayers’ Expense?

Posted in Europe, Finance, Microsoft, Patents, Standard at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Theatre of cronyism

The following is a conversation from IRC that we haven’t time to summarise properly. Do not take it at face value (we have not the time to validate), but some observations are factual.

Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft AstroTurfing, Part II

Posted in Microsoft at 5:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FOR CONTEXT, see this post about Microsoft’s AstroTurfing getting exposed. The following has just been released to the public domain.


I gather that new interest has emerged in the content of the internal
training seminars that I gave to Microsoft’s Technology Evangelists back
in the 1990’s.

As you know, I had planned to write a book on this subject back in 2003,
but so much of the core material was Microsoft Confidential that I was
at risk of prosecution had I revealed it. The entry of this material
into the public record eliminates that risk. I have recently found
myself with time on my hands, so I am now proceeding with the book.

I expect to detail the theory and practice of Technology Evangelism at
Microsoft in the 1990’s. While some may say that this is ancient
history, that can’t be entirely true, because the underlying theory
hasn’t changed. In markets that are dominated by network effects,
standards battles are still, inevitably, winner-take-all struggles to be
the first to achieve a critical mass of complementary goods. As to
whether Microsoft’s *practice* of evangelism has changed—well, you’ll be
able to judge that better than I.

The other thing that makes such a book timely is the emerging battle to
control the standards of cloud computing. This is likely to be the most
important standards battle since at least the Browser Wars, and perhaps
since the DOS Wars, because the winner will be in control of the entire
software stack from the hardware in its proprietary server farms right
through to the cloud application APIs. No part of the computing industry
will be unaffected by this outcome. For Microsoft, losing this battle
would be fatal, so it is likely to use every trick in the book. In my
book, that is.

If you’d like to help make this book available, I would welcome your
helping me find any material entered into the public record (in the Iowa
case or any other) that deals with Microsoft’s evangelism practices,
First Wave programs, etc.

Interested?

Thanks! :-)

James Plamondon


Stay tuned. A book on Microsoft AstroTurfing may be coming, thanks to James.

Links 29/12/2008: oVirt Preview; OpenOffice.org 3.0 Past 25,000,000 Downloads

Posted in News Roundup at 5:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

F/OSS

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Markos Moulitsas, creator of the Daily Kos on-line political magazine 07 (2005)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

What Samba Can Teach Us About Mono

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Samba at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Making .NET a de facto standard?

SEVERAL months ago, Glyn Moody explained why Mono and Samba are fundamentally different when it comes to patents. In other ways, the projects are similar because the older one may provide insight into the dangers of Mono.

Despite Fedora's decision to avoid Novell's Moonlight, this software might make it into Debian repositories some time in the future. “It’s clear why,” says one reader. “Fedora serves Red Hat’s interests and Red Hat is vulnerable to a patent attack. But Debian — in practice — isn’t.”

In correspondence with this reader we found out that in the earlier days the Samba project, developers were in a rather similar situation, in which NT was the underdog, so they were actively endorsed by Microsoft. “When NT displaced traditional Unices, this endorsement ceased, and in the end they even embraced the GPLv3,” says our reader. It’s important to remember that Java is currently the leader. So, Microsoft might want to ‘pull a CIFS‘ on it.

“I wonder if we’re about to see a repetition of history? Makes me think of the historical “Rome does not pay traitors,”” says the reader.

That’s an interesting point because based on my recollection, Samba used to attend some conferences or lesser formal events where Microsoft collaborated with them. It’s a bit like documentation and conferences where Microsoft, Moonlight and Mono stand together united.

Anyway, back to Samba: At a later stage, according to what Samba told the European Commission, Microsoft stopped attending conferences or inviting Samba over for collaborations. I can find the references if required, and I think it was Andrew Tridgell — not Jeremy Allison — who attested to this experience. Needless to say, Samba was upset at Microsoft for this. At a later stage, Jeremy Allison told an online radio show, FLOSS Weekly, that he had heard Microsoft tells its programmers to “f*ck with Samba”.

Perhaps Samba was too much of a risk, being an enabler of lower-cost competition which was — and still is — more stable and reliable (Microsoft prefers using the word “dependable” sometimes). That was before Christmas of 2007 when things changed due to pressure from the EU (as well as Piana et al, Eben Moglen at the SFLC and so on).

To summarise, the commonality here is that Microsoft helps some people make its protocols prevalent on rival platforms. When it becomes a de facto standard at a more universal level, then it’s all about RAND and begging for information.

Microsoft wants volunteers who lead it to API domination. Then, Microsoft can knock them out of the way.

It’s important to bear in mind that Microsoft was at first afraid of Mono, according to Miguel de Icaza (interview circa 2004). It didn’t let them become an integral part of technical Microsoft conferences, so Mono meetings were held across the road.

Microsoft must have had its Eureka moment later. In 2008, Miguel had his own Eureka moment, when he realised that Microsoft was sort of betraying him with those licensing entanglements Novell had agreed to. Samba was not so gullible in comparison. It protested against Novell even before the deal with Microsoft was signed (and immediately after). Some of Samba’s developers left Novell in protest [1, 2].

Patent protection expires

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