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06.09.12

Goodbye Oracle

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Oracle at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Larry Elllison on stage
Photo from Oracle Corporate Communications

Summary: Linux talent leaves Oracle

ORACLE has a bit of an opportunity to heal its PR wounds if it drops the case against Android (Google) by not appealing. For the time being, Oracle continues to be seen as a foe of Linux to some degree and it’s not going to help database sales (many run it on top of GNU/Linux and the buyers love Linux).

Linux developers have grown more suspicious of Oracle, it’s not just Android developers (who are sometimes the same people as Linux developers). Oracle’s best known Linux developer (at least in my view) is leaving the company. Time to say goodbye to Oracle:

Chris says on the mailing list, “From a Btrfs point of view, very little will change. I’ll still maintain Btrfs and will continue all of my Btrfs development in the open. Oracle will still use Btrfs in their Oracle Linux products, and I’ll work with all of the distros using Btrfs in production. Fusion-io really believes in open source, and I’m excited to help them shape the future of high performance storage.”

So basically Btrfs will continue to live (it’s Free software), but not necessarily be maintained by Oracle staff. Will Oracle’s attitude lead to the departure of more Linux talent?

Where the Relationship With Microsoft Led Novell

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Novell at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mad Magazine cover

Summary: Antitrust updates (Novell vs. Microsoft) and a look at SUSE 5.5 years after the Microsoft deal (a lesson to Canonical)

THE pattern of posting at Groklaw suggests that Pamela Jones has returned to full-time (and beyond) capacity. She is back to covering Novell-Microsoft antitrust and she has some new transcripts:

Here’s the transcript of day 4 of the trial in Novell v. Microsoft, as text, making it Friday, October 20, 2011. The day opens abruptly, with the judge, the Hon. J. Frederick Motz, telling the lawyers, before the jury arrives, that he’s angry with Microsoft. Novell had filed two motions for a jury instruction to deal with some things Microsoft improperly said in its opening statement, statements that violated what the judge had allowed it to say. Microsoft’s opening statement was given by David Tulchin, who gets an earful.

There is more here (it’s a bit old). For those who notice that OpenSUSE is suffering delays amid work on the next release it ought to become more apparent that Microsoft deals just never pay off the in the long term. SUSE has descended to obscurity. Canonical should watch out.

Red Hat Criticised for Advancing Microsoft’s UEFI Agenda

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat at 11:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Customers? What about users?

Red Hat-Microsoft page

Summary: Bloggers sound off and rant about what Red Hat has done

IT HAS not been a good week for software freedom. Canonical gave Microsoft more control over GNU/Linux and rather than file a formal complaint (e.g. antitrust) about Microsoft’s trap Red Hat decided to dive right into it.

One Free software-aware journalist calls this a “bad idea”:

In November 2006, when Novell signed a patent licensing deal with Microsoft, the free and open source software community, for the most part, was predictably appalled.

But recently when Red Hat announced that it had signed a deal with Microsoft to ensure that Linux could be installed on PCs that were Windows 8-capable – in other words, those that supported secure boot – there was very little outcry. Red Hat is now trying to justify this act.

In Novell’s case, it was a last-ditch – albeit foolish – attempt to try and revive its business. After a series of unwise decisions that saw it lose its number-one position in the networking business (and yes, Microsoft, took it for a ride during those days), Novell had come to the point where it was willing to try anything. SUSE Linux was looked upon as some kind of saviour after Novell bought the company in 2003 but battles between suits and geeks ensured that neither party’s tactics were implemented.

Hence Novell got into bed with Microsoft. One of Novell’s best and brightest, Jeremy Allison, found the atmosphere suffocating and left the company in disgust, ending up later at Google.

But after Red Hat announced its Judas Iscariot act recently, the scenario is very different. Hell, we even have the announcement of the deal being made by the wispy-thin Matthew Garrett, once a renowned flame-master on mailing lists, but now one of the best and brightest at Red Hat, one who pledges allegiance to peace, civility, diversity, and probably the Dalai Lama too.

Carla from LXer (and former editor of Linux Today, book author, contributor to Linux.com etc.) is also upset about what Red Hat has done. To quote:

Tim Burke of Red Hat wrote a masterful apologetic for Microsoft’s strong-arming and takeover of the most basic operation of a computer– starting it up. Executive summary: We are in this 100% with our good friends in Redmond.

Allow me to hit the high points:

“One security threat that has been getting a lot of interest lately is the ability to ensure the integrity of the early boot sequence”

Only because the richest software company on the planet is utterly incompetent, and incapable of building a secure operating system. So instead they bully the rest of the world into trying to mitigate the security disaster that is Microsoft Windows.

“The mechanism used to confirm the integrity of operating system software…uses traditional key signing and variations of checksumming… Performing the checks early is crucial as it provides a safe, verified starting point.”

ORLY? Key signing is the answer, eh? Oopsie, no it isn’t, as the Flame malware proves. Flame spoofs Microsoft’s own Certificate Authority, takes over Windows Update, and fools Windows computers into thinking they’re installing genuine proven-trusted signed Microsoft code. See:

Microsoft Security Advisory (2718704) Unauthorized Digital Certificates Could Allow Spoofing

Flame malware mimics a Windows update

Flame Malware Hijacks Windows Update Mechanism

Those wacky malwares, don’t they read Microsoft press releases on how Microsoft realio trulio this time for real has made Windows like all secure?

This is not the first time that we write about this annoying move from Red Hat, but it’s good to see that other than apologies from Fedora members and Red Hat employees we mostly found opposition to Red Hat’s move. We praised Red Hat many times before (I recently interviewed their CEO), but not everything this company does is praiseworthy. Microsoft got its way and Red Hat staff seeks to justify what Red Hat has done. To quote:

The other complaint about UEFI Secure Boot is that it doesn’t add any security. There’s two aspects to this – people either think it’ll be quickly broken, or people think that the public availability of signing services will render it useless.

There are many other reasons — better reasons — to altogether reject UEFI, such as hardware obsolescence, control by Microsoft, and so on. It’s probably too late for Red Hat to retract and change course. Redmond residents who work for Microsoft are probably opening a bottle of champagne this week.

Aiding Criminals

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 10:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Al Capone mugshot and Steve Ballmer

Summary: Criticism of Canonical’s unnecessary and potentially harmful promotion of Microsoft

THE criminal history (and present) of Microsoft is not a matter of question but a matter of fact. For those who need to recall notable examples, this Web site documents many.

These days, Microsoft doesn’t get enough from its illegally-obtained monopolies; it is therefore imposing Microsoft on Linux stacks, too. One example of this is the continued attempts by Microsoft to put its proprietary software inside OpenStack — a subject that we covered here before [1, 2, 3].

But right now we are seeing more of the same strategy, wherein it’s Microsoft which sits at the bottom of GNU/Linux inside the stack (i.e. totally in control of anything on top). Techcentral and Techspot provide some coverage of the Ubuntu-Microsoft deal. “Microsoft has shown,” said the head of the Linux Foundation a few years ago, “that despite claims of acquiring a newly found respect for open principles and technology, developers should be cautious in believing promises made by this “new” Microsoft. [...] There is one other fact clear from this case. Microsoft does not appear to be a leopard capable of changing its spots.” (source)

Despite those words from Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation Executive Director, people like Mark Shuttleworth have a short memory span and Microsoft exploits this.

Michael Larabel says that Canonical “touts its new Microsoft partnership” because Shuttleworth did exactly that and Jono Bacon, the community manager of Ubuntu, claims this to be a victory for Free software (this would not be so comical to the FSF).

Microsoft’s PR/charm offence (link to Microsoft booster) is aided by Canonical in the sense that whatever companies tell competition regulators about Microsoft (e.g. B&N) will have less credibility. Peter Bright and colleagues who are Mono apologists too amplify the praises from Shuttleworth, which help nobody at all (except Canonical and Microsoft). To be fair to Canonical, it is not alone in this, but other distributions hardly brag about it.

For Mark Shuttleworth, based on his blog post, principles come later because he used to complain about Microsoft’s criminal behaviour. In IRC, iophk says: “Pushing Windows (Azure) is not going to help solve bug #1… rather the opposite. One could argue that it’s not even putting money first. No partner has ever done well before.”

“If he wants anything it is probably the continued lock-in or even extending lock-in.”
      –iophk
To quote just some of the things Shuttleworth said about Microsoft a few years ago, what they did with Novell and the following accompanying FUD he considered to be “extortion and we should call it what it is.”

“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents [...] that’s illegal. It’s racketeering,” said Mark Shuttleworth around the same time. So MS (Mark Shuttleworth, not Microsoft) knows that Microsoft’s behaviour is criminal, but now that Microsoft can help him make money (at the expense of other distros) all the principles are down the garbage can.

“Uncle Fester just wants his money,” Ryan says jokingly, but “[i]f he wants anything it is probably the continued lock-in or even extending lock-in. Money is only a tool in the control,” notes iophk. “Shuttleworth adopted the mentality of a Microsoft MVP or business partner,” I wrote in Identi.ca. “Never mind the crimes, if it helps me make money, I’ll perfume it…”

“Again,” notes another person, “it might not help him make money. Partners never survive well.”

An important question was raised by Sean Michael Kerner and it’s about the patent situation in this deal. He believes that the patent fees won’t be applied or added to Ubuntu on Microsoft’s subscription store, but it’s too early to tell:

That statement would imply that there is no patent deal with Canonical. But that hardly seems fair to SUSE then right? SUSE went out of its way to sign a special deal with Microsoft. How come Ubuntu gets to ‘play’ in the same field then?

It’s a question that I don’t have a definitive answer on. It’s the same kind of murky territory that Global organizations also face (in a significantly more serious sense, i’m just reaching and it’s not a direct comparison by any means) with China. Everyone wants to make a buck, but no one really wants to compromise their ethical standing.

I haven’t yet seen the full pricing for Azure and specifically the differences between SUSE pricing and Ubuntu pricing. Perhaps it’s just a margin thing that Microsoft builds in as a way to placate their intellectual property interests. Or perhaps they just don’t care at this point as Azure is trying to gain share.

We shall see what happens cost-wise. Remember Shuttleworth’s Invitation to OpenSUSE developers several years ago. “I know that posting this message to an OpenSUSE list will be controversial,” he noted, but still, he tried to distinguish Ubuntu based on ethical grounds.

“Canonical did advertise Windows Azure in their press release,” MinceR noted. Ryan said, “they haven’t paid Microsoft anything or acknowledged their patents afaik… they dumped Mono in 12.04.”

“Canonical did advertise Windows Azure in their press release”
      –MinceR
In Ubuntu, “Bug #1″ which is “CRITICAL” and “IN PROGRESS” is titled “Microsoft has a majority market share” and it is assigned to Mark Shuttleworth. What is he going to do about it?

To see Ubuntu lumped in with SUSE is quite disheartening because Microsoft’s propaganda/spin can adapt accordingly. Now Microsoft is selling Linux, the propaganda will say. Microsoft was hoping to control Linux distributions which are popular and one step at a time it is getting there. Let’s remember that Ballmer claims Red Hat customers owe Microsoft money (video here), so the pressure on Red Hat continues to increase. “I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it,” said Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée, but Mr.Shuttleworth has not been paying attention as of late. While bashing Red Hat and some other GNU/Linux players (whose code he preys on) he keeps saying nice things about Apple and Microsoft. So much for a flag bearer (with a private jet and admiration for extremely rich people).

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