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06.09.12

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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