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

05.17.14

Linux Flaw is Not a Back Door, Unlike Many Microsoft Flaws

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security at 11:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Selective reporting to breed bias against the lesser issues

3-D text

Summary: New elements of FUD against GNU/Linux, ignoring much bigger issues that barely get covered at all

Since Microsoft is in bed with the NSA, many Microsoft flaws (with new ones added almost every month) are remotely exploitable and Microsoft does not even tell us about them all. It’s like a perpetual back door with the occasional change of keys.

Recently, a flaw that mostly affects shared GNU/Linux hosting was hyped up in Microsoft-connected sites by old FUD 'friends' who habitually do this. This was followed by some other coverage elsewhere, neglecting to say that the flaw is already widely patched. It was not even so severe. This was accompanied by a couple more FOSS-hostile articles in the British press, including one from a Microsoft propaganda site
citing, as usual, talking points from friends of Microsoft. There is a lot of FOSS-hostile propaganda these days, including this piece from InformationWeek that gets it wrong on many levels. This one example is a very crappy article framing it as a “religious” battle between “open source” and “commercial” as though these are opposites. Even Linux proponents like Susan Linton amplify these distracting reports, ignoring the elephant in the room, notably Microsoft. That’s where monstrous holes reside and prosper. Reporters should be pressured to investigate the real threats.

As many OEMs have found out (Sony being one of the latest), selling computers with back doors preinstalled is not a good business model [1, 2, 3]. It turns out that Microsoft not only gives a back door to the NSA but also the FBI (domestic), based on new leaks. To quote one report: “Microsoft worked to provide the FBI with court-ordered user data after the company began using encryption for customers who used Outlook, according to newly-released documents first leaked by Edward Snowden.

Here is more, which shows that not only Skype is affected. To quote: “Last July, Glenn Greenwald published a set of claims regarding a number of Microsoft services that were, especially at the time, unsettling: That Microsoft had helped the NSA “circumvent its encryption” relating to web chat on Outlook.com, that it had worked with the FBI to bring OneDrive (then called SkyDrive) into better fit with PRISM, and that government data collection from Skype had…”

It goes deeper than this, proving that people should wipe and freshly install operating systems they can trust on devices. Maybe the press focus on the elephant in this room. One site says “[s]oftware giant Microsoft has been left with questions to answer over its approach to the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) global internet surveillance programme after a new document was released implying that the NSA routinely collected data from the Microsoft cloud.” Microsoft facilitated this. It’s not an accident. But that’s not even the the bad part; it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is worse because Windows itself contains back doors and new ones are routinely added. It is not just about the so-called ‘cloud’.

Copyrights and Not Just Patents Become a Threat to Free Software, Making Mono More Urgent to Avoid

Posted in Mono, Oracle, Patents at 6:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Now that a relatively high court in the US views APIs as a recognised monopoly we face new risks and Mono is on very shaky ground

The other day when we wrote about patents as an issue with huge implications to FOSS we took note of Microsoft- and Oracle-backed tools such as CPTN (Novell’s patents), which OIN is quite pointless against. OIN is wrongly assuming a particular strategy of patent litigation will develop, even though companies like In Microsoft and Nokia dodge to proxies like MOSAID. Here is a new piece about OIN which focuses on hardware:

The next big intellectual property battle has been forming over hardwired and programmable chips made for mobile devices that leverage Linux code. However, the Open Invention Network has strategically deployed forces to keep Linux-powered smartphones, tablets and other computer technologies out of harm’s way. Its goal is to create a patent litigation no-fly zone around embedded Linux.

OIN does not appear too have done much — if anything at all — to stop litigation of this kind. To make matters worse, look what members like Oracle have been doing, leveraging copyright to attack other OIN members.

Here is Glyn Moody’s new take on this matter. He writes:

Last week, that “idea/expression dichotomy” was dealt a serious blow by a US court. Significantly, it is the same court – the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) – that is largely responsible for the software patent mess in the US.

Indeed, CAFC has been quite notorious for this. It is worse than even SCOTUS. Well, citing this older article, Mike Masnick explains that we should all be “recognizing that APIs shouldn’t be covered by copyright…as it makes people programming on your platform more valuable since they have more options and more flexibility. The big companies who don’t like this are being short-sighted. They’re trying to lock in developers, by forcing them to only develop for their platform, but in doing so, are inherently making their own platform less valuable.”

Now we are stuck in a mess of copyrights APIs, Jose warned us about such stuff years ago, in relation to Mono. Whatever Dalvik means to Java (Oracle) Mono may mean to .NET (Microsoft). We will revisit and expand on this another day.

Ars Technica is Still Openwashing Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft at 6:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can’t be arsed to check facts

Summary: Portrayal of Microsoft software and frameworks as “open” continues at Ars Technica, which just too happily conflates proprietary with FOSS

A week or so ago we wrote about Microsoft's very latest openwashing effort surrounding .NET, attempting to portray proprietary Windows lock-in as "open". Not surprisingly, Microsoft’s booster Peter Bright was trying to help Microsoft with this deception, writing not just in the Microsoft section but also the in the “open source” section of Ars Technica, which is biased and unreliable on software matters (worse now than ever before). Sosumi, who sent us a headsup about it, characterised this as Microsoft “spreading its tentacles”, taking over “open” using malicious proprietary software. The propaganda piece says “Visual Studio has previously supported third-party platforms” (contingent upon malicious software from Xamarin).

Here again we see the role of the Microsoft- (by proxy) funded Trojan horse which is Xamarin.

For many years Ars Technica has been promoting Mono and Moonlight, so this behaviour is not too shocking. The same is done by Wired (as we demonstrated before), which is owned by the same company (Conde Nast). What’s with this agenda?

Mozilla Cannot Claim to Teach People About the Web While Facilitating, Defending and Even Promoting DRM

Posted in DRM at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Mozilla makes an error by not staying true to the principles that made it popular in the first place

Mozilla has been trying to sell us a controversial new interface (which many people want to replace [1]) for its flagship product Firefox, changing the controversial plan with ads etc. while it is using a kids-washed marketing campaign and claiming to teach about the Web [2,3]. This is after struggling with a PR disaster (the Eich incident) that distracted from Mono issues. One sure thing is, Mozilla is going through a tough time. This is not a good thing at all because Mozilla has historically been a champion of standards and source code.

Mozilla is seemingly trying to make things worse by ignoring hostile feedback (from months ago) to its DRM plans. DRM and FOSS cannot co-exist, so Mozilla abandoned FOSS instead of rejecting DRM. Mozilla is now contradicting itself. It weakens FOSS as a whole.

Well, Microsoft and DRM boosters make it even worse, trying to bolster the case for DRM using Mozilla. Across the Web there is plenty of anger, including an expression of disappointment at Mozilla’s actions. Prominent DRM foe Cory Doctorow [4] says that this position [5] breaks his heart and Linux-centric sites [6] paint this scenario more properly than most (many journalists don’t really understand these matters). Free software people have condemned Mozilla [7,8], but there is no chance of Mozilla changing course just yet. Two of our readers have said they they would dump Mozilla over this issue (not just Firefox but Mozilla).

Truth be told, the W3C deserves a lot of the blame as well. It has been an utter disgrace in the past couple of years and Tim Berners-Lee let it be so, with Novell’s Jaffe making erroneous decisions that isolate the Web that’s already a surveillance platform of notorious proportions. Most Web browsers in use FOSS code, but the W3C decided to ban FOSS with DRM, promoting proprietary software and hence more surveillance. The W3C deserves much of the flack and it deserves much of the blame for Mozilla’s own actions.

Articles about the fiasco mostly blame Mozilla for this, but some say that it’s not Mozilla’s fault, which is partly true. Sam Dean, who is typically okay with some proprietary software like Mac OSuX, obviously disagrees with Mozilla as he says: “Now, Mozilla–a champion of openness on the web–has teamed up with Adobe to provide a Content Decryption Module (CDM) that effectively hitches its wagon to streaming video DRM (digital rights management) in the Firefox browser after years of eschewing the practice.”

In another article, Dean says that “The FSF isn’t the only organization condemning Mozilla for the move. The Register refers to the decision as an “ankle grab.””

Other sites noted the same alignment in position among “Open source advocates” and some news site wrongly frame this as “bring[ing] Netflix support to Linux with DRM in Firefox” (this is not really what the news should say).

SOFTWARE DEVELOPER MOZILLA has announced the implementation of proprietary HTML5 based digital restrictions management (DRM) in its Firefox web browser, such as that used by media streaming services.

It is much worse than that. It is an assault of Free software, it is not about augmenting support. To save/keep its biggest fanbase Mozilla will need to dump Adobe and abandon DRM immediately. A week ago Asa Dotzler thanked personally me for supporting Mozilla; well, I’m not sure I support Mozilla anymore. I wait for Mozilla to rectify its act.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Firefox 28 theme for Firefox 29 add-on
  2. Mozilla Offers Free Training for Teaching Web Skills
  3. Mozilla wants to teach you how to teach others about the Web

    Almost two years after launching its Webmaker initiative, Mozilla is launching a new online crash-course to give anyone the skills to teach other people about using and building on the Web.

    It’s called Webmaker Training and features four modules covering the basics of the Internet, how to use Mozilla’s current crop of Webmaker tools, nurturing open learning and engaging with other communities on the Web.

  4. Firefox’s adoption of closed-source DRM breaks my heart

    Future versions of the open-source Firefox browser will include closed-source digital rights management (DRM) from Adobe, the Mozilla project’s chief technology officer, Andreas Gal, announced on Wednesday.

    The purpose is to support commercial video streams. But this is a radical, disheartening development in the history of the organisation, long held out as a beacon for the open, free spirit of the web as a tool for liberation.

    As Gal’s blogpost makes clear, this move was done without much enthusiasm, out of a fear that Firefox (Mozilla’s flagship product and by far the most popular free/open browser in the world) was being sidelined by Apple, Google and Microsoft’s inclusion of proprietary technology to support Netflix and other DRM-encumbered videos in their browsers.

  5. Reconciling Mozilla’s Mission and W3C EME

    With most competing browsers and the content industry embracing the W3C EME specification, Mozilla has little choice but to implement EME as well so our users can continue to access all content they want to enjoy. Read on for some background on how we got here, and details of our implementation.

  6. Mozilla’s Route For Implementing W3C EME (HTML5 DRM)
  7. FSF condemns partnership between Mozilla and Adobe to support Digital Restrictions Management

    In response to Mozilla’s announcement that it is reluctantly adopting DRM in its Firefox Web browser, Free Software Foundation executive director John Sullivan made the following statement:

    “Only a week after the International Day Against DRM, Mozilla has announced that it will partner with proprietary software company Adobe to implement support for Web-based Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) in its Firefox browser, using Encrypted Media Extensions (EME).

  8. To Serve Users

    In the old science fiction story, To Serve Man (which later was adapted for the The Twilight Zone), aliens come to earth and freely share various technological advances, and offer free visits to the alien world. Eventually, the narrator, who remains skeptical, begins translating one of their books. The title is innocuous, and even well-meaning: To Serve Man. Only too late does the narrator realize that the book isn’t about service to mankind, but rather — a cookbook.

    It’s in the same spirit that Baker seeks to serve Firefox’s users up on a platter to the MPAA, the RIAA, and like-minded wealthy for-profit corporations. Baker’s only defense appears to be that other browser vendors have done the same, and cites specifically for-profit companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

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 Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts