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01.20.10

Novell’s Latest Acts of Misery

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers at 7:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A reader’s comments on Novell’s latest deeds and some other interesting items from this week’s news

Regarding an issue that we mentioned before (a few hours ago), one reader wrote to say that “Novell tries to undermine Red Hat support customer base.”

“I just have come up with a piece of news in Spanish,” he writes, “but with a letter in English from Red Hat. Probably you already have dealt with it in your site but I am sending it to you just in case…

“Every day Novell behaves more and more as a full subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation. Since they got the money injection from MSFT they behave like those zombie caterpillars that have been inoculated the wasp’s eggs (don’t watch the video at lunchtime).

“Every day Novell behaves more and more as a full subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation.”
      –Anonymous reader
“On the other hand, it is something similar to what Oracle tries to do with their RHEL clone “Unbreakable Linux”, only they at least changed the logo and had some other product that was the true drive for customers asking for support under GNU/Linux (their proprietary database software)

“Let’s not forget that those corporations (Novell, Oracle, Microsoft) whose core business is privative software are not (and won’t ever be) friends of software freedom. It is a shame that Novell got to acquire SuSE Gmbh. (I used to love SuSE Linux back in the days when it was developed an independent free software company)”

In other news this week, Novell tells the India Times that it’s a “mixed source company” when asked a simple question: “What’s Novell’s vision of open source?”

From this article:

After its joint patent agreement with Microsoft in 2006, open SUSE maker Novell developed a lot of rivals in the open source community globally.

Novell, which itself develops products based on the Linux kernel, now says its vision is to be a ‘mixed source’ company focused on core engineering products. Maarten Koster, president Asia Pacific, of Novell, talks to ET, about how rival Sun Microsystem’s buyout by Oracle is going to benefit Novell and of course the future of open source software businesses.

[...]

What’s Novell’s vision of open source? Is it okay to exit a business or region, if it does not suit your corporate vision?

We are a mixed source company. Though we provide open source and open platform enterprise operating systems and software, we like to call ourselves a heterogeneous company. If I gaze the crystal ball, I don’t see open source software killing proprietary software business or vice versa in future. Both will continue to exist. And it’s the customer who will make them work together.

Novell UK is in a terrible shape these days (disarray even, following the departure of many managers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]). Watch the following gem from this week’s news: (also here)

Way back when I was running technical support for the likes of Novell UK our customers had no way to get connected unless it was at a tradeshow or a local user group meeting and even then it wasn’t a really “close” connection.

Novell is said to be “Bleeding to Death”, so its actions against Red Hat are probably just acts of misery.

“Now [Novell is] little better than a branch of Microsoft”

LinuxToday Managing Editor

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 20th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Microsoft Hypocrites Denounce Google Over Books While Taking Away Books from the British Public

Posted in Europe, Google, Microsoft, Search at 7:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft and its new allies are still trying to derail Google by criticising the same type of action Microsoft is engaging in without the public’s permission and also at the public’s expense

YESTERDAY we showed that Microsoft sued Google, this time directly for a change [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Now watch this from yesterday’s news:

Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo!, and other opponents of Google’s Book Search settlement have proposed an alternative to the controversial legal pact, calling on the US Congress to appoint a “public guardian” to oversee a national database of digital books.

Microsoft wants public control of the books, eh?

We have already explained the role of Yahoo! in this case. After the virtual takeover by Microsoft it’s just another sockpuppet. “Microsoft Yahoo Deal Approval Gets Deadline in Europe,” says this report from yesterday:

Remember that proposed Microsoft Yahoo search and advertising deal? It’s still awaiting regulatory approval, but it might be a step closer to its destiny soon, no matter which way it goes.

It will probably pass at the end, despite sanity and because of lobbying.

“The Microsoft shills are really out in numbers to *** on the iPhone,” said to us a reader this afternoon. “That article isn’t so much news as it is speculation and casting aspersions. Shows what kind of job CNet’s editors are doing.

“I guess they must be really upset at the public acceptance of the death of windows mobile. Playing the Microsoft game, they can’t dare bring further attention to the growth of Maemo and spectacular rise of Android by mentioning them, so the obvious point to attack is the now ubiquitous iPhone.”

“Playing the Microsoft game, they can’t dare bring further attention to the growth of Maemo and spectacular rise of Android by mentioning them, so the obvious point to attack is the now ubiquitous iPhone.”
      –Anonymous
I personally distrust CNET because of its actions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. They have many trolls (commenters who are given free laptops from Microsoft for example) and advertising money comes from Microsoft to land in the pockets of people who run CNET.

“This is hot air,” our reader adds, “because the Bong is only an advertising front end for Wolfram Alpha. If users are curious about privacy, then they’d be asking about Wolfram Alpha’s data retention policies.

“But Microsoft plays on that kind of ignorance, otherwise people would go straight to wolframalpha or else avoid Microsoft completely by going to Google, Cuil, or Baidu.”

Microsoft is losing to Google in a very major way, so it is desperate to hurt Google in every possible way.

Going back to the issue of books, Andy Updegrove writes about “The Alexandria Project” (reference to the great libraries of lost knowledge) in a very timely fashion. Here in the UK Microsoft has not only taken control of the British Library [1, 2, 3]; according to Glyn Moody, Microsoft is now taking control of the Royal Society too, just as it did with NASA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and with Feynman lectures on the other side of the Atlantic.

People are getting excited about the news that William Stukeley’s Life of Newton is now available online, apple-falling tales inclusive. Just one problem: the super-duper groovy page-turning version only works with Microsoft technology – the same one that infects the British Library’s holdings too.

It’s rather clear what Microsoft is doing here (which makes its action against Google’s Book Search a case of total hypocrisy). Against Monopoly has just published this post about “Creating Artificial Scarcity Of Artwork To Boost Value”

New Opinions on Mono, Miguel de Icaza, and the “Windows Stratagem”

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Windows at 6:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Miguel de Icaza
Miguel de Icaza, Microsoft MVP

Summary: More perspectives arrive in response to a technical/legal analysis of Moonlight and Miguel de Icaza’s highly-deserved Microsoft MVP award

A DAY ago we wrote about Richard's analysis of Moonlight, which Jason from Mono-Nono responds to as follows:

Will we now hear The H’s author decried as a “zealot” or ”fearmongerer” for pointing out de Icaza’s obsession with emulating and promoting Microsoft technologies? Or, perhaps, a word of apology for painting RMS in such lights for his equivalent statement?

I suspect the latter shall not happen, though some may call me a cynic.

Moonlight can be used, at least in the short term, if you have obtained your software through Novell. Otherwise, you are cast adrift in a no man’s land where it is not always apparent what is permissible and what is not.

Even though I think the author is too kind here, I am also pleased that he is not merely parroting the (failed) attempt by Team Moonlight to pretend that the new “Covenant” is some sort of improvement over the old – which was downright offensive in the first place.

[...]

[T]he Mono developers have appeared to gain strength and unity from adversity and see themselves as united against the rest of the world.

This is the most brilliant insight of the article, and it articulates something I have long found fascinating. Team Mono has a core of supporters that are simply not interested in the truth or discussion. They will adopt (and endlessly repeat) any argument that they think supports their cause, and they will immediately dismiss any argument with any means that they think supports their opposition.

The Mono and Moonlight proponents/developers are acting like an extension of Microsoft, almost like a cult. Who would be this cult’s leader? To quote a brand new comment from ZDNet:

Miguel de Icaza, Microsoft MVP?

Yep, it’s true. The open-source rabble-rouser who was prevented from hosting a session inside Microsoft’s 2005 Professional Developer Conference has been accepted into the ranks of the company’s “Most Valuable Professionals” less than five years later. He announced the news on his blog.

De Icaza is the leader of the open-source Mono project, sponsored by Novell, which previously set off alarm bells inside Microsoft for its ability to expand Microsoft .NET applications to other platforms, including Linux. Relations between de Icaza and Microsoft have warmed following the Redmond company’s partnership with Novell.

He’s also on the board of the Microsoft-supported CodePlex Foundation, Meanwhile, Mono spin-off project Moonlight, an open-source implementation of Microsoft’s Silverlight interactive technology, has won the blessings of the Redmond company.

One of our regular readers has just caught up with the news about Miguel de Icaza’s Microsoft MVP award [1, 2]. He asks us: “Please decode his reference to “ECMA CLI”, and is the other end of the OS spectrum missing this and why would ‘Windows developers’ want to know about it?”

Any takers in the comments?

He concludes with: “I guess this is more of the let’s get ‘open source’ onto Windows stratagem. What could be more open than that?”

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

How Microsoft Exploits the Term “Open Source” to Marginalise Freedom

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Mail, Microsoft, Mono, VMware at 6:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another timely reminder emphasising the need to dodge ambiguous terms that are easier to exploit

Mike Trausch’s new rant about the FSF’s philosophy echoes what we see coming from those who are fixated on market share. Treating freedom like it’s a popularity contest is not the way to go. Trausch is an advocate of Mono, so his resistance to the FSF makes a lot of sense.

Over at The Source, which is the newer Web site of the guy behind Mono-Nono, the importance of the term “Free software” is explained and defended very rationally:

“Open Source” was supposed to be a synonym for “Free Software”, the whole trick was to make it more acceptable to commercial interests. It is easy to see how a company might be skeptical of anything “Free” being good business.

But, consider this situation now: Government is not a commercial interest and the concept of “Free as in Freedom” should be quite attractive to the government of a country that likes to pride itself on being “Land of the Free” and all that!

So the strange thing here is that proponents of the “Open Source” label have so lost sight of the the core aspect of “Free Software” – Freedom – that they can’t even bring it up when it is applicable! They talk about “open standards” and “royalty or patent encumbered formats” without talking about individual freedom.

According to this new press release, visionapp has just “appointed Richard Seibt (57), CEO at Open Source Business Foundation (OSBF), as a new member of its supervisory board.” Well, the Open Source Business Foundation (OSBF) boasts Microsoft as a member. We wrote about this at the time it was first announced. This is why the term “open source” is an open door for Microsoft to invade and dilute. We saw this many times before.

Speaking of Microsoft’s poisoning of Free software, we have already explained that when VMware bought Zimbra it was essentially former Microsoft executives taking control of a major Microsoft competitor, which they can neglect just as they did with SpringSource. Yes, VMware is run by Microsoft folks and it has already neglected Free software projects it bought. To quote a new blog post from Dana Blankenhorn:

[T]his does not make VMWare an open source company. As its open source policy states, VMWare does release some components of its software as open source, but it doesn’t support them. Instead it sells commercial alternatives.

Those who trust VMware probably just don’t pay enough attention (or think wishfully), so we append some more links below.

Related posts:

“Emergency!” Says Microsoft as It’s Losing Market Share; All Versions of Windows Are Vulnerable

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft responds very urgently to the gains Firefox and other Web browsers are making as more vulnerabilities start to surface; Microsoft also throws FUD at Firefox, just as it does against GNU/Linux

INTERNET EXPLORER is under attack [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Microsoft calls it an “emergency”, but the emergency is that Microsoft is losing market share, not that customers are at risk. Microsoft had publicly belittled this issue… until governments started to speak out and complain.

This is the real emergency:

German government IE warning leads to spike in Firefox downloads

Following a warning last Friday from the German Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik, BSI) concerning the security hole in Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla has said that it has recorded a “huge increase” in the number of Firefox downloads in Germany. According to a post by Mozilla’s Ken Kovash on the Mozilla Blog of Metrics, more than 300,000 downloads of the open source browser took place during the recent Friday to Monday period. Similarly, Opera also reportedly saw downloads of its browser in Germany more than double.

“MS to issue emergency patch for potent IE vuln,” heralds The Register:

Microsoft will release an emergency update that patches the Internet Explorer vulnerability used to breach the security defenses of Google and other large companies.

Even the BBC wrote about it, having previously served as Microsoft’s mouthpiece amid these embarrassing incidents.

SJVN has just published “Who cares if IE is patched soon?”

Microsoft is now promising us that they’ll have a patch for the latest IE security hole … real soon now. So what? This problem, while it’s been exploited the most in IE 6, it exists in all modern versions of IE and it can be exploited in every version of Windows from Windows 2000 to Windows 7. And, I’m supposed to trust that Microsoft will ‘patch’ it right this time and that it won’t blow up on me again? I don’t think so.

SJVN is right. Governments complained due to a pattern of shoddy maintenance/stewardship from Microsoft, not because of this one incident. Enough it enough and taxpayers are paying the price while Microsoft and its ecosystem are profiteering from malware.

Microsoft is publicly defending the already-poor reputation of Internet Explorer. It does so right now “by spreading FUD against Firefox,” says Glyn Moody. He cites the following article:

With world governments advising citizens to switch from Internet Explorer to alternative browsers, and an unpatched security hole in at least two major versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft has to do something to restore faith in its browser. Easiest way to do it, apparently, is by saying that other browsers are even worse than IE.

The FUD against Firefox is made out of fabrications and secrets. It’s not even worth quoting.

Very recently we also caught Microsoft attacking Linux [1, 2] in order to defend Windows Mobile. So, Microsoft is finally just attacking rival operating systems and Web browsers when its own products come under scrutiny. Microsoft is miserable enough to descend to the final stage per Mahatma Gandhi, who said: “First They Ignore You, Then They Ridicule You, Then They Fight You.”

Linux is not taking Microsoft’s insults without rebutting. Jim Zemlin, the head of the Linux Foundation, has just shot back at Microsoft for its remarks. Here’s the background he provides:

Last week, David Coursey reported that Microsoft entertainment and devices boss Robbie Bach made the prediction in an analyst briefing that Linux on mobile will lose. Why? It’s choice is a bad thing for customers and that there is too much Linux in the mobile marketplace

But wait. There’s more. Since we’re discussing operating systems, check out this new article from The Register:

Windows plagued by 17-year-old privilege escalation bug

A security researcher at Google is recommending computer users make several configuration changes to protect themselves against a previously unknown vulnerability that allows untrusted users to take complete control of systems running most versions of Microsoft Windows.

Well, is anyone surprised at all? Not the Slashdot crowd, that’s for sure. Microsoft never pretended to be a master of security until it became a huge threat to its survival. Microsoft must pretend now. Why? Because there’s potent competition.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

“Technet.microsoft.com Hacked”

Posted in Mail, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More security breaches in Microsoft’s own back yard; Hotmail abandonment further advocated

“T

echnet.microsoft.com hacked,” says a reader to us via E-mail, but he probably means “cracked”. According to the screenshots presented here, it is akin to defacing and it sure looks embarrassing for a company which claims to produce the “most secure” everything.

Rogue on-line pharmacy sites, claiming to sell legitimate medicine to naive shoppers, continue to be a problem. This quick note is about one approach used to insert advertisements into forum discussions that completely cover up the legitimate discussion page.

This is a normal type of event. There are many other examples of Microsoft sites getting cracked, more times than one can conveniently list here. The same goes for Apple. By contract, Google’s main site never suffered a security breach (none that people are aware of) and the same goes for Red Hat, unlike Fedora.

Another service of Microsoft which falls victim to crackers on a regular basis would be Hotmail (Gmail accounts were accessed illegally due to Windows malware, even this month [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]). Hotmail failures are a very broad subject that we’ve covered in, e.g.:

Here is a new essay giving 10 reasons not to use Hotmail. This may be handy for those whose friends, colleagues or family members are still stuck with Microsoft’s Hotmail.

10 reasons why not to use Hotmail

Did you ever try to explain to a friend why he or she shouldn’t use Hotmail? There are many good reasons to avoid Microsoft’s services, but these reasons are not so easy to explain in a clear and unambiguous way.

People who care about the security of their E-mail would trust Microsoft for nothing.

“Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren’t so irritating.”

Bill Gates

Novell Slammed for Spreading Disinformation About Google

Posted in FUD, Google, Java, Mail, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, SUN at 4:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: David Berlind catches a bashful Novell after it use of FUD tactics against Google, leaving Novell’s PR people with no choice but to retract statements

Groupwise is a major loser in Los Angeles. This is a dangerous development to Novell because it may lead to other deployers of Groupwise to follow the “Los Angeles model”. Ian Bruce, Novell’s PR Director, was publicly denounced for attacking Los Angeles after its decision [1, 2, 3]. It is a terrible PR move, but Bruce is relatively new at the job (his predecessor decided to quit Novell in 2008).

Bruce did not learn his lesson the first time around; he is pretentiously doing it again, only to be caught off guard by David Berlind, who did an excellent job deconstructing Bruce and his PR team. It looks very bad for Novell, which will need to mend its message to the public after the “Berlind treatment”. Here is how he put it in his blog:

Had Novell’s director of public relations Ian Bruce not responded to my blog post about Google’s choice to change Gmail’s default transmission mode from the less secure HTTP (Web) to the more secure and encrypted HTTPS (Secure Web), I would have never seen his own blog post on Novell’s Web site entitled On Google, e-mail security, and cloud. But I’m glad I saw it. It’s evidence of how some vendors might be too quick to throw fuel on the fire of misinformation in order to draw positive attention to themselves.

[...]

I mentioned to Bruce that his post and the way in which it connected the China/Google incident to a positive message about Novell left a bad taste in my mouth.

In reply, Bruce said “the leading disadvantage of cloud is perceived to be security and my point is that this incident is just going to reinforce that perception. We as an industry have work around the perception that cloud-based computing is inherently insecure. That was more of the point. There may be some security issues with Gmail.”

Which is where I interrupted him and asked “But what security issues with Gmail?” Bruce then asked me what has been reported and I updated him on what is known about the attack.

In response, Bruce said “If people or the browser were involved, then I would revise my post. The main point however, whether real or imaginary, is that there’s a perception that the cloud is insecure and as an industry, we have to correct that perception.”

In response to our call, Bruce has so far replied in the comments area to my original post. In that reply Bruce wrote:

I agree we’re still learning what was at the root of the security breach – when I wrote my 1/13 post the details were very sketchy. The latest news suggest IE and not PDF vulnerabilities, and the WSJ reports Google is investigating its Chinese staff, but the picture is still incomplete.

My intention in my post was to point out that whatever the cause, the news from Google will only exacerbate existing concerns about cloud security overall, and this will slow adoption.

In a follow up email, Bruce said to expect a revision to his original blog post on Novell’s Web site.

Also in the news this week:

Los Angeles agreed in October to replace its Novell GroupWise collaboration system with the hosted Google Apps software tools.

Interestingly enough, while Novell throws FUD (which it cannot defend) right at Google’s face, Novell also collaborates with Google in the sense that it tries to make Pulse compatible with Wave. Novell is trying to latch onto Google’s success (or ride the Wave), based on this news article from ZDNet Australia, which says:

Novell announced plans for Pulse in November last year, and is scheduled to release the product later in 2010. Initially it will be offered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) package.

[...]

“We need to continue to work out where the line is between Google Wave the product and Wave the technology. We need more use cases like Novell Pulse to figure out where that line should be.”

It is important to remember that Google’s eternal CEO, Eric Schmidt, actually came from Novell. He was also on Apple’s board until not so long ago — a fact that’s pointed out in Business Week now that Apple and Google are directly competing against each other (just like Novell and Google, especially when it comes to E-mail and collaboration).

Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, both 54, spent years in separate battles against Microsoft (MSFT) while Schmidt was at Sun Microsystems (JAVA) and Novell (NOVL).

Schmidt was a proponent of Java not only when he was at Sun but also when he was at Novell; how sad it must be that Novell is now antagonising Java by promoting Microsoft and Microsoft’s poor imitation of Java.

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