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03.02.13

Dubious Editorial Control in ZDNet

Posted in Deception, Vista 8, Windows at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vista 8 in ZDNet

Summary: Continuing the tradition of Vista 7/8 as a whole category among non-brands

AS WE STATED a couple of years ago, ZDNet is strongly suspected of having received money from Microsoft in exchange for editorial control that favours Vista 7, essentially corrupting ZDNet as a source of news (not that it ever published more than bias, flames, etc.) and we never received confirmation of this from ZDNet; they dodge the issue. I did ask them.

Notice how, for instance in the above image, the site promotes a product’s trademark, not a company, and also a version for that product. It makes no sense. It’s like having catagory called “Android Jelly Bean” in the top-level menu. Vista 8 marketing is reportedly enjoying a budget of over one billion dollars. Some of that money may be in ZDNet‘s pocket, in exchange for editorial control over sections. Fortunately, Vista 8 has failed despite the astroturf; Will Hill made the following two images on Vista Hate (H8).

Vista 8

Vista 8

Turning Open Source to Proprietary-Only, Microsoft Style

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 6:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The openwashing strategy advances

Washer

Summary: How Microsoft is characterising as “Open Source” code which is actually an addendum to proprietary systems

Our many articles about Xamarin explained just how close this firm really is to Microsoft. It is simple to show this by following public data on money and employment.

Michael Larabel writes about what is effectively rebranding of MonoDevelop so as to more closely resemble Microsoft (Xamarin is enhancing and openwashing Visual Studio now, whilst also promoting .NET, C#, and so on).

Supporting Linux though isn’t a primary goal by Xamarin developers but will continue to be supported. “MonoDevelop will also keep working on Linux. There may be some rough edges with MonoDevelop 4.0 on Linux, since for this release we put our focus on Mac and Windows, since that’s what Xamarin’s customers use.”

Again, GNU and Linux do not matter to the Mono guys. It is the Novell mentality. Proprietary platforms are favoured. Speaking of Novell, its gift for Microsoft, the Hyper-V Trojan inside Linux, advances a bit, allowing Microsoft to better control Linux as a ‘slave’ in hypervisors.

The bottom line is, a lot of stuff which Microsoft calls “Open Source” is just promotion of proprietary software such as Office, Windows, SQL Server, etc. Ignore misleading Microsoft whitewash such as this piece from Wired which says:

Microsoft is on a mission to make nice with open source software. That’s no secret.

No, Microsoft just wants to make open source software a component of proprietary lock-in. There is a PR campaign related to this and we oughtn’t be fooled by it.

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

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

IDC Still Turns Data Into Microsoft Propaganda in Servers

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers at 6:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Server rack

Summary: IDC counts just money (benefiting expensive offerings), not actual share

Techrights wrote a great deal about IDC, which Microsoft routinely pays for propaganda. Here is a new rebuttal to the methods IDC adheres to so as to make Microsoft look like a leader (for being too expensive) while in fact it’s a follower:

On a base of $869 that other OS adds $1K to $4K to the price. Even assuming the base model is pumped up a little, it’s easy to see a typical server for schools or small businesses to cost twice as much with that other OS as compared to GNU/Linux. That suggests server unit shipments with GNU/Linux could be close to unit shipments with M$’s OS. I like that and GNU/Linux’ share is growing much faster than M$’s. Then there are the damned CALs…

Further, IDC states $51billion in servers amounted to 8million units, about $6K per server on average, so the average server hardware cost $6K with no GNU/Linux OS or $2K to $5K with no OS from M$. The GNU/Linux user gets a lot more hardware for the money, 200% to 20% more. That’s a lot.

Come on, IDC. You know the units shipped. How many units shipped with GNU/Linux and how many shipped with that other OS?

Matt Oostveen needs to be named for his role in the following article, where IDG is pushing IDC (part of IDG) line, showing certain collusion between publication and analysis or advertisers (sponsors). The article’s headline may seem pro-Linux, but the body is not. It is not unusual for IDC to state something like, “Linux grows to X” where X is some unrealistically pathetic and misleading figure.

New Complaints About the US Patent System and Another Upcoming Reform

Posted in EFF, Patents at 6:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Passing money to the lawyers and white-collar multinationals (1%) at the expense of everyone else

A thousand dollars

Summary: Many agree that the USPTO fails to promote innovation in the United States, changes are expected to come

The United States has got a system which brings rise to patent trolls by the nature of patents it breeds and legal process which harbors these. Here is a new rant about this system:

We have an incentive system at work in the apps ecosystem. Angry Birds has been downloaded one billion times, Temple Run more than 150 million. Other developers see the potential for great financial reward with their work, which encourages further development, risk taking and invention. This benefits not only developers but also smartphone owners and our economy.

Ideally our patent system would be humming alongside this app freight train, rewarding original and unique ideas, conferring exclusivity on the truly novel. Unfortunately, it has been doing the opposite in many cases, creating undue burdens on this vibrant sector due to a few bad actors. Developers have grown fearful of receiving letters from patent trolls seeking nominal license fees for seemingly unrelated patents, written long ago in many cases.

Our system facilitates, even encourages, the two business models of patent trolls. Some trolls seek overly broad patents and pursue large tech companies for hefty paydays. Other trolls seek similarly weak patents, but choose thousands of small tech companies as their quarry, seeking seemingly small “license” payments. With both types the initial math is simple: convince the target company that fighting in court is hundreds of times more expensive than merely licensing the dubious patent, even if you win.

Here is the EFF’s latest rant about patent trolls and software patents:

Beloved podcasts like the Adam Carolla Show and HowStuffWorks are under attack. They and other podcasts are getting sued for, well, podcasting. And they’re not the only victims—developers are being targeted for building mobile apps, and offices around the nation are being attacked for using ordinary networked scanners. These creators are only a few of the thousands of victims of one of the biggest threats to innovation: patent trolls.

Patent trolls are entities that don’t create products themselves, but instead buy patents and make money from lawsuits. Trolls often make broad claims of infringement based on patents of questionable validity, and most defendants choose to settle because of the outrageous nature of patent litigation. It is risky and expensive—and trolls offer settlement amounts that, although incredibly burdensome, are cheaper than a lawsuit, which can often cost well into the millions of dollars.

More recently the EFF talked about the SHIELD Act, which we wrote about before. It’s one of those suggestions that just don’t go far enough. There is a lot of pseudo-opposition to software patents out there. IBM lobbies for yet more software patenting while OIN, which it helped create, continues its latest PR offensive that helps not the removal of software patents but their perpetuation. “Patent Progress”, another attempt to address the patent issue (with Julie Samuels playing a role), is actually addressing software patents quality rather than existence. Gérald Sédrati-Dinet said, “a good question to Julie Samuels would have been “do you support abolition of #swpats ?” Don’t ya think?” There are other groups that do not go far enough in their campaigning, e.g. Peer 2 Patent, the Patent Busting project of the EFF, Red Hat’s advocacy by people like Tiller.

A lot of government propaganda is based on the fallacy that patents mean innovation, but the reality is that patents can actually reduce and slow down innovation. Here is an observation about China’s changing attitude towards patents:

Techdirt has been writing for a while about China’s policy of providing incentives to file patents — regardless of whether those patents have any worth. That’s led to a naïve celebration of the large numbers now being granted, as if more patents corresponded to more innovation.

Until now, this problem of junk patents has been confined to China, and the companies that operate there. But last year China went even further with its subsidy system, offering to pay the fees for filing overseas, presumably to encourage Chinese companies to build up patent portfolios in foreign markets that can be used for defensive or even offensive purposes. We’re now beginning to see the effects of this further distortion to the patent system, as Australian businesses struggle with the flood of new patents there.

Well, in the US there is this new push for reduction of patent-trolling, but there is nothing about software patents just yet (except lip service).

But in an interview with CNET, one of the bill’s co-sponsors says that this time the political winds are more likely to favor passage.

With this bill in Congress, we are gradually finding out which corporations strongly oppose software patents and which one secretly promote software patents (a controversial view to hold, with immediate PR penalties). IBM, unlike Google, supports software patents and worries more about patent trolls. Google says that the US patent system ‘over-rewards’ ideas while taxing the ‘hard part’ of innovation, so the companies to support in this whole debate ought to include Google now. Google recently opposed software patents as a concept. It is important not to get distracted by 'soft' reformers or lawyers.

UEFI Restricted Boot: Torvalds Asks Developers Not to “Please Microsoft by Doing Idiotic Crap Approach”, Petition Set Up to Nail Microsoft for This Antitrust Abuse

Posted in Antitrust, FSF, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Photo by Alex Dawson, 2002

Linus

Summary: “Because it really shouldn’t be about MS blessings, it should be about the *user* blessing kernel modules,” Torvalds explains

THE MAN who habitually dismisses some Microsoft critics proves his older statements to be somewhat hypocritical. He too treats Microsoft exceptionally.

Torvalds recently made headlines by using strong language and addressing a controversial subject. It is about UEFI with restricted boot and here is some more relevant coverage he generated, helping to raise awareness of the issue:

  • Torvalds blasts Howells, Garrett over secure boot

    A push by Red Hat kernel developer David Howells and ex-Red Hat developer Matthew Garrett to get code supporting secure boot merged into the mainline kernel to meet some of Microsoft’s requirements has led to a sharp rebuke from Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

    Howell made a request for a patchset to be pulled into the mainline kernel last Thursday, writing, “It (the patchset) provides a facility by which keys can be added dynamically to a kernel that is running in secure-boot mode.

  • Linus Torvalds blasts Microsoft in sweary tirade

    Linux guru Linus Torvalds is at it again. After telling Nvidia to go forth and multiply, the outspoken Torvalds has decided to share some of his thoughts on Microsoft’s signing techniques in a heated online argument with fellow Linux developers.

    The developers were discussing ways of improving the Linux kernel with a bit of code that makes it easier to boot on Windows 8 PCs. The process of booting Linux on PCs shipped with Windows 8 has been complicated due to the widespread use of UEFI firmware with Secure Boot feature enabled. Red Hat developers emailed Torvalds to discuss the addition of new keys to the Linux kernel, which should get around the issue.

  • No Microsoft certificate support in Linux kernel says Torvalds

    Red Hat’s Secure Boot support is a case of the company wanting to “deep-throat Microsoft”, according to a forthright posting from Linus Torvalds on the Linux kernel developer mailing list. Torvald’s comments were made in response to plans by a Red Hat developer to extend Linux support for Secure Boot. The comments have given rise to an ongoing discussion, during which several prominent kernel developers have shared their thoughts on Secure Boot support in Linux.

Moreover, as it turns out, US citizens can now sign this petition calling for the White House to get involved to tackle the antitrust abuse (reports suggest that Microsoft’s fine for antitrust abuses in Europe is only weeks away).

James Bottomley wrote about this in his blog, but being former Novell staff who had worked on Microsoft projects, we expect no strong opposition from him. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, a Novell-sympathetic writer, wrote this followup:

No one, but no one, in the Linux community likes Microsoft’s mandated deployment of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Secure Boot option in Windows 8 certified PCs. But, how Linux should handle the fixes required to deal with this problem remains a hot-button issue. Now, as the debate continues hot and heavy, Linus Torvalds, Linux’s founder and de facto leader, spells out how he thinks Linux should deal with Secure Boot keys.

Swapnil Bhartiya, not a strong critic of Novell because he likes SUSE, sure isn’t a fan of what Microsoft is doing here. He is in good company when he writes along the same lines of Torvalds, whom he interviewed last year:

There is a heated (heat is a bit colder word) debate going on within the Linux community over how should Linux handle the Microsoft’s secure boot keys.

In an ongoing discussing Linus Torvalds has made some suggestions which he believes put users in control of their system and not Microsoft.

Torvalds was sarcastic when saying, “let’s please Microsoft by doing idiotic crap approach.”

This attitude is not exactly news (Torvalds alleges that so-called Secure Boot has nothing to do with security). “Because it really shouldn’t be about MS blessings, it should be about the *user* blessing kernel modules,” Linus Torvalds believes. He basically agrees with Richard Stallman and the FSF then.

Dr. Garrett, on the other hand, continues to push for the agenda that Microsoft hoped for, facilitating its control over Linux, Here is part of this whole long discussion where Torvalds says:

So instead of pleasing microsoft, try to see how we can add real security:

- a distro should sign its own modules AND NOTHING ELSE by default. And it damn well shouldn’t allow any other modules to be loaded at all by default, because why the f*ck should it? And what the hell should a Microsoft signature have to do with *anything*?

- before loading any third-party module, you’d better make sure you ask the user for permission. On the console. Not using keys. Nothing like that. Keys will be compromised. Try to limit the damage, but more importantly, let the user be in control.

– encourage things like per-host random keys – with the stupid UEFI checks disabled entirely if required. They are almost certainly going to be *more* secure than depending on some crazy root of trust based on a big company, with key signing authorities that trust anybody with a credit card. Try to teach people about things like that instead. Encourage people to do their own (random) keys, and adding those to their UEFI setups (or not: the whole UEFI thing is more about control than security), and strive to do things like one-time signing with the private key thrown out entirely. IOW try to encourage *that* kind of “we made sure to ask the user very explicitly with big warnings and create his own key for that particular module” security. Real security, not “we control the user” security.

Sure, users will screw that up too. They’ll want to load crazy nvidia binary modules etc crap. But make it *their* decision, and under
*their* control, instead of trying to tell the world about how this should be blessed by Microsoft.

Because it really shouldn’t be about MS blessings, it should be about the *user* blessing kernel modules.

Quite frankly, *you* are what he key-hating crazies were afraid of. You peddle the “control, not security” crap-ware. The whole “MS owns your machine” is *exactly* the wrong way to use keys.

Sam Varghese, consistently an opposer of restricted boot, says that it would put “Linux is at Microsoft’s mercy”:

Linux companies or organisations that have paid for, and obtained, keys from Microsoft to ensure that their distributions can be booted on secure boot-enabled devices, have to abide by the terms of a contract or else may have their keys revoked.

Whatever some Linux developers with past in Novell may say, at least we know Torvalds’ approach is perhaps more similar to the FSF’s than his employer’s.

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