07.18.11

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Linux FUD and Android FUD

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dying sun nova

Summary: How Linux FUD which had evolved into patent FUD in 2006 later turned into Android FUD, which nowadays faces barriers because companies like Motorola fight back

THE FAMILIAR FUD tactics against Free software go a long way back. From portrayal as “communism” to portrayal as “patent violation”, Free software has faced a variety of smears and became extremely popular despite those smears. Nowadays one is more likely to come across Android FUD than to see tired FUD tactics used against GNU/Linux. Techrights has already covered some patterns of FUD against Android (e.g. diversity as “fragmentation”, even the "Nazi" smear), but increasingly we see the same abandonment of technical FUD and a transition into patent FUD, just as we recently explained in relation to Linux.

Basically, the same false premises were being applied in turn to both GNU/Linux and Android (Dalvik/Linux). First, Microsoft mostly ignored Linux, just as Ballmer pretended that OHA simply was a bunch of words on paper. At a later stage came the technical FUD (full of logical holes and fallacies) and then came the patent FUD, which in the case of Linux was really announced in 2006 when the Microsoft/Novell deal got announced, leading to this site being created.

“First, Microsoft mostly ignored Linux, just as Ballmer pretended that OHA simply was a bunch of words on paper.”The story we typically see after patent aggression is that the aggressor simply reveals its weakness. The aggressor fails to actually play the game by the rules and simply throws a fit instead. It’s a bit like the SCO case. At first it gets a lot of media attention, then the public gets very angry and boycotts the aggressor. Further down the line the aggressor is just a shadow of its former self, still very angry but hardly worth anyone’s attention.

As Google’s market cap grows it might not be long before Microsoft becomes only the 4th biggest technology brand in the US (judging by market cap). There is definitely a transition happening and Microsoft is unable to become part of this tradition (e.g. phones, Web-based services, and form factors that replace some desktops, such as tablets). It is safe to assume that Microsoft’s patent strategy is a short-term plan and by no means a sustainable strategy. It has already met the wrath of at least two companies that fight in court over Microsoft’s patent allegations, putting at risk some of Microsoft’s basis for racketeering. Sooner or later Google will be bigger than Microsoft, even though Google is a very young company.

In 2006 we dealt with patent FUD against Linux. When was the last time a server or desktop GNU/Linux vendor surrendered to Microsoft? That was years ago. We have essentially seen Microsoft changing strategies after failing to extort Red Hat, whose business is thriving and installbase is growing all the time. Android had not even been conceived (or hardly been conceived) back when Microsoft was busy extorting GNU/Linux distributors. This site currently deals a lot with Android FUD simply because it is Microsoft’s latest target, as the many small deals signed and strategically announced at the end of June helped show, ushered by pro-Microsoft lobbyist Florian Müller, who exaggerates the threats and predicts doom for Android. Here is his latest FUD which he must have been pushing to journalists like a true lobbyist. “Mueller is back,” says Swapnil Bhartiya. Yes, the Android FUD is back. That’s this lobbyist’s focus at the moment.

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13 Comments

  1. mcinsand said,

    July 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Gravatar

    Not only is this too little too late, but I give MS’ anticompetitive practices a lot of credit for FOSS being the (creeping) juggernaut that it is. BSD and Linux may only be a small percentage of the desktop now (Apple’s perversion does not count), but the genie is out of the bottle, and it has momentum. People might flip/flop between MS and Apple, but you don’t go back from FOSS, as a rule. MS and Apple force you to use a computer their way, where FOSS is about choices as much as Freedom. We’re all made differently, and I fell in love with KDE4 as soon as it was released. Okay, so that might make me weird, but I still thought it was great, just as I like Fluxbox, XFCE4, and even FVWM. Try getting that much choice from a proprietary house!
    Anyway, when MS started raising the bar by welding stuff together, they were only putting off competition while making sure that, when it came, MS would be sunk. By glomming the desktop to the OS, we lost Geoworks and DIgital Research. I am not sorry to see 1-2-3 go, in the least, but they and WP were casualties of MS office (as well as other shenanigans, I know).

    Today, we have choices between multiple distributions where MS could never catch up to their quality, stability, or configurability… not to mention ease of use. The days of MS being competitive for hardware support are also long gone. From the standpoint of performance alone, FOSS users are not going to decrease, and there are enough to keep FOSS going.

    As for the patent lawsuits, FOSS is now backed by some very big boys. Google and IBM have enough backbone to not fold to extortion. In fact, the patent trolls might dig their own graves if the backers fight, especially if antitrust can come into play.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft is going to lose this battle, one way or another. The question is, how much damage will it have caused by then (it has killed some Linux vendors this way)?

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    July 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Gravatar

    As M$ becomes less relevant, Apple might become more of a problem especially with patents.

    Apple is now valued at $336 billion. That makes anything it does, good or bad, more pronounced.

  3. twitter said,

    July 18, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Gravatar

    I’d peg the start of Microsoft’s public gnu/linux patent extortion at 2004. Halloween documents show that Microsoft started to worry about free software in the late 90s and there are a number of Comes documents showing that Microsoft was planning the patent attack before 2004. Of particular note is Bill Gate’s 1999 directive to lace ACPI with patents in order to exclude gnu/linux. The big public FUD campaign was launched in 2004 by Dan Lyons at Forbes, who put a nasty spin on a study that showed that free software was less a software patent risk than free software was. Story after story flowed from the Microsoft press after this initial lie to try to make it look like software patents were exclusively a free software problem. Novell’s deal was probably the crowning moment in Microsoft’s attack which converted Novell into part of the problem.

    Hopefully, the Barnes and Noble case can finish Microsoft’s extortion. Barnes and Noble was smart enough to not sign a non disclosure agreement and is free to publish all of Microsoft’s threats and proposals. Their lawyers have astutely claimed Microsoft’s tactics amount to judicial extortion and trust act violations. If things work out fairly, Microsoft will be forced to compensate Barnes and Noble for lost business and the cost of the case. From there, other extorted vendors should sue to recover their costs. They had better hurry up before Microsoft runs out of money or the executives try to stuff all the cash into their pockets.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Do you have a link to the document showing “Bill Gate’s 1999 directive to lace ACPI with patents in order to exclude gnu/linux. ” ? The timeline you link to starts first in 2002.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The document you want is

    http://antitrust.slated.org/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/3000/PX03020.pdf

    It has just occurred to me that one one of the main Comes vs. Microsoft mirrors is dead
    http://edge-op.org/iowa/www.iowaconsumercase.org/
    Many dead links now, with criminal evidence… should we rewrite all the links to point elsewhere? And if so, where?

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Groklaw would be the obvious link target. The Comes v Microsoft exhibits are all there and should be available for a long time to come.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Going back and changing all old URLs would take a lot of time.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    It’s harder to do mass search and replace on dynamically generate pages. Is there a way to shorted the time using a perl script?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    This requires manual operation to test the links.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Maybe WordPress has been outgrown by this site.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That’s why we created the wiki 2 years ago. It now fills some gaps (static pages, collaboration, linking). The front page of the wiki gets thousands of pageviews per day (about 3,000 non-cached recently) and it has PageRank 7. We also expanded to identi.ca and integrated this with IRC.

    twitter Reply:

    Thanks, I pointed to the wrong page. This is my run down on ACPI, Microsoft’s power management poison. Edge-op has a pdf of the 1999 memo from Bill Gates, Comes exhibit 3020, which is working as I write this. I quoted the text in my run down along with the problems noticed by Alen Cox, Linus Torvalds and an Intel engineer.

    That journal is also littered with nasty comments by Microsoft trolls and reminds me of why I don’t bother with Slashdot much these days. In this comment, one of the trolls subtlety gloats about having gamed the system to suppress my my comments there. I’m particularly peeved at how easily the site was bamboozled by Florian Mueller who is still being quoted.

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