EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

02.10.13

FAT is Free (Gratis) as Long as You Serve Microsoft’s Agenda

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 8:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just so you know who’s in control…

Privacy

Summary: What EFI teaches us about Microsoft’s use of software patents

THE emergence of UEFI restricted boot is probably the latest major attack on computing freedom, or merely the denial of users’ control over their computers (booting control is Microsoft’s, not the users’). UEFI restricted boot helps Microsoft control what people are allowed to do with hardware, not just with software. This is a serious antitrust issue, but it was never pursued by those who are affected in this way. UEFI going mainstream (with FAT as part of) helps Microsoft only as long as Microsoft controls and uses it to tax every device formatted with FAT (when it is used widely by Linux-based devices). And we are talking about software patents that should never have been granted in the first place. TomTom‘s mistake is that it used Linux in conjunction with FAT, which is a Microsoft trap. This whole episode helps teach us that, for monopolists, patents have nothing to do with innovation and everything to do with control, i.e. power over others. The OIN’s CEO confirmed to us that FAT is Microsoft's method of taxing just about any Linux vendor which is claims to be paying for Linux. I recently talked about this with Dr. Garrett, who kindly provided some pointers to the role of FAT patents in UEFI. It’s similar to what we saw in Novell with patent traps like Mono, OOXML, etc. and it should be noted that the Linux Foundation — unlike the FSF — serves Microsoft’s agenda by letting former Novell staff prop up Microsoft with UEFI. SUSE does too. James Bottomley is not alone in this, but here he is in a new article from SJVN:

  • Linux Foundation releases Windows Secure Boot fix

    James Bottomley — Parallels’ CTO of server virtualization, well-known Linux kernel maintainer, and the man behind the Linux Foundation’s efforts to create an easy way to install and boot Linux on Windows 8 PCs — announced on February 8 that the Linux Foundation UEFI secure boot system was finally out.

Please don’t do this. Please file a formal complaint. And as one follower put it in JoinDiaspora.com:

This may come to you as a shock, but I’m not particularly happy with Linux Foundation going that route. Not that I don’t want to have new hardware working with GNU/Linux. It’s just that Linux Foundation is playing Microsoft’s game from now on, and they’re gonna have some pretty tough time playing it later. Once you’re cached you’re actually dead. Never allow yourself to play the game of your enemy. It’s their rules, they know the tricks and they know better than you how to destroy the enemy.

Sad, but true IMHO.

We have studied the UEFI FAT licence and found some information of relevance in Wikipedia

Disk device compatibility

In addition to the standard PC disk partition scheme, which uses a master boot record (MBR), EFI works with a new partitioning scheme: GUID Partition Table (GPT). GPT is free from many of the limitations of MBR. In particular, the MBR limits on the number and size of disk partitions (up to 4 primary partitions per disk, up to 2 TiB (240 bytes) per disk) are relaxed.[19] GPT allows for a maximum disk and partition size of 8 ZiB (270 bytes).[19][20] The UEFI specification explicitly requires support for FAT32 for system partitions, and FAT12/FAT16 for removable media; specific implementations may support other file systems.

[...]

OS loaders are a class of UEFI applications. As such, they are stored as files on a file system that can be accessed by the firmware. Supported file systems include FAT32, FAT16 and FAT12. Supported partition table schemes include MBR and GPT. UEFI does not rely on a boot sector.

There is also a talk about it in Wikipedia:

I’ve also left the information regarding FAT issues on the talk page below. These are certainly an issue for providers of EFI systems and Open Source operating systems, but I don’t think that an article describing EFI needs to get bogged down in a patent discussion: it’s certainly not an issue particularly specific to EFI as compared to any other computer technology. You wouldn’t include a huge patent debate in a digital camera article, even though they use FAT, too…

Tmassey 20:06, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Regarding FAT, many links are included there too:

According to this presentation from WinHec 2004 (page 15), the EFI System Partition (ESP) is FAT-32: EFI And Windows “Longhorn”

And Microsoft just won the case about the FAT patents: Microsoft’s file system patent upheld

So to use FAT you need to license the IP from Microsoft: Microsoft FAT license (Broken link?)

But you can do that for free if you are implementing EFI, here:

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/platform/firmware/fatgen.mspx

The standard doesn’t say anything about other partitions than the ESP, so that doesn’t rule out MacOS.

So FAT is OK when it puts Microsoft in charge, but it’s a patent trap otherwise. The whole thing is about control, it’s not about innovation, ‘respecting’ patent law, or whatever Microsoft claims it to be. The Linux Foundation must stop being submissive and acknowledge the problem for what it really is. Complicity has no excuses.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 17/4/2014: Android RDP, New Ubuntu, RHEL 7 Milestone

    Links for the day



  2. Racing to 1984: Mass Surveillance, Cracking, 'Targeted' Assassinations, and Illegal Torture

    Links for the day



  3. More Microsoft Subsidies to Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures

    Microsoft hands money to Bill Gates' close friend who is the world's largest patent troll



  4. Aiding Microsoft Under the Disguise of 'Pro-FOSS'

    Not everything which is FOSS necessary becomes, by virtue of existence, a positive contribution, as we are constantly reminded by projects that help proprietary software and/or restrictions get a strong grip on FOSS



  5. Links 16/4/2014: Red Hat PR, Ubuntu LTS Imminent

    Links for the day



  6. Links 15/4/2014: Lots of PCLinuxOS Releases, Ukraine Updates

    Links for the day



  7. Apple and Microsoft Actively Lobbying Against Patent Reform in the US

    Apple and Microsoft are reportedly intervening/interfering with US law in order to ensure that the law is Free/libre software-hostile



  8. Lawsuit by Microsoft Shareholder Targets Fine for Crimes Rather Than the Crimes Themselves

    A new lawsuit by a Microsoft shareholder shows everything that's wrong with today's model of accountability, where those who are responsible for crimes are accused of not avoiding fines rather than committing the crimes



  9. Public Institutions Must Dump PRISM-Associated Software

    Another reminder that taxpayers-subsidised services should refuse, as a matter of principle, to pay anything for -- let alone deploy -- proprietary software with back doors



  10. GNU/Linux News: The Opportunities Amid XP EOL

    Links for the day



  11. Microsoft Gets Its Money's Worth From Xamarin: PlayStation 4 Now Polluted by Microsoft

    The Trojan horse of Microsoft, Xamarin, is pushing .NET into Microsoft's console competitor



  12. After Brendan Eich Comes Chris Beard

    Having removed Brendan Eich using bullying and blackmail tactics, his foes inside Mozilla achieved too little as we have yet another man (coming from inside Mozilla) acting as CEO



  13. Healthcare News: Free Software in Health, Humanitarian Causes

    Links for the day



  14. Links 14/4/2014: MakuluLinux, Many Games, More Privacy News and Pulitzer Prize for NSA Revelations

    Links for the day



  15. TechBytes Episode 87: Catching up With Surveillance (NSA, GCHQ et al.)

    The first audio episode in a very long time covers some of the latest happenings when it comes to privacy and, contrariwise, mass surveillance



  16. Server News: KVM, ElasticHosts, Other GNU/Linux Items, and Open Network Linux

    Links for the day



  17. Hardware News: Freedom, Modding, Hackability on the Rise

    Links for the day



  18. Distributions News: GNU/Linux Distros

    Links for the day



  19. GNOME News: Financial Issues, Mutter-Wayland, West Coast Summit, Community Participation

    Links for the day



  20. KDE News: Kubuntu at the Centre Again KDE Applications Updated

    Links for the day



  21. Techrights Rising

    Effective immediately, Techrights will do what it takes to bring back old volume and pace of publishing



  22. Links: Surveillance, Intervention, Torture and Drones

    Links for the day



  23. Mobile Linux Not Just Android: Jolla, WebOS, and Firefox OS News

    Links for the day



  24. Google's Linux Revolution: New Gains for Android, Chrome OS (GNU/Linux)

    Links for the day



  25. Free/Libre Databases News: MongoDB, NoSQL, and MySQL Branches/Forks

    Links for the day



  26. Open Access on the Rise: Textbooks, Journals, Etc.

    Links for the day



  27. Finance Watch (Watching What's Not Being Watched): Economic Warfare/Class Injustice

    Links for the day



  28. Climate and Ecology Watch: News About a World Being Destroyed

    Links for the day



  29. Copyright News: DRM, Censorship, Megaupload, Hypocrisy, and Impact on the Internet

    Links for the day



  30. Sharing Works: Latest News Stories About Crowd-sourcing, Sharing, Transparency

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts