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

06.14.14

HP’s Former Open Source Leader Helps Expose HP as a Fraud on ‘Open Source’ Issues, Reveals Microsoft’s Role in SCO’s Attack

Posted in Free/Libre Software, HP, Microsoft at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”

Bruce Perens (years back)

Summary: Thoughts and analysis of HP, which despite pretending to have embraced Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) is very much a Microsoft ally, managed to a large degree by people from Microsoft

HP is a scam when it comes to “open source” support. While their hardware is quite Linux-friendly (my wife uses an HP laptop), their extreme/radical policy of self interest in the server room and on the desktop continues to show. Their recent openwashing campaign, which I have campaigned against (they are claiming to invest in FOSS only for marketing purposes, just like IBM), should not impress too easily. What comes to mind is HP’s negative lobbying against FOSS and stories we have heard from Perens (former HP manager for FOSS). It’s all just a charade, intended for the most part to increase sales but also to attract talented staff (recruitment).

HP’s history has been quite well documented in this site for nearly 8 years of its existence. HP is an ally of Microsoft and many of its managers these days are people who worked for Microsoft. In order to keep selling GNU/Linux servers (hardware with GNU/Linux sells better) HP is trying to maintain an image that would appeal to geeks. However, it’s all fake, it’s a façade. Perens proves it now in part by repeating what he wrote some years ago [1]. The stuff Perens says about SCO and HP is dynamite, revealing a huge extent of collusion against GNU/Linux. HP was well aware of it.

Years ago in Slashdot Perens explained how HP offered him AstroTurfing help, i.e. it offered to spawn agents of propaganda if he needed it. To quote Will Hill (from last night): “Yes, I was just thinking about that the other day. He said this in 2008…”

…just about every PR firm offers to help “manage the perception of your company in online communities” these days. What do you think that means? Astroturfing Slashdot, Youtube, etc. In my various manangement positions it’s been offered to me. Indeed, some of the companies offer to create negative publicity for your competition that way – HP had a publicity firm for its Linux activities that told us it would do that when we wanted. I never asked them to do so and hope nobody else did either. This stuff is just standard these days. You’ve got to expect it.

As Hill adds: “There’s a grim similarity between that and government astroturf programs revealed by Snowden. Greenwald recaps well that in “No Place to Hide” by showing us that government hires teams of psychologists and has made a science of disrupting online discussions and deception. The point of it all is “strategic influence disruption.” The targets not terrorists but “hactivists” like Anonymous, environmental groups and people who might compete with the plutocracy. We should not be too surprised by the similarity because both programs are run by the same people – 75% of the spy complex money goes to private contractors and HP is probably one of them.”

There are some new examples of what seems like AstroTurfing by Microsoft. Some Microsoft lies (a placement) got posted in “CFO World”. It is an evidence-free denial of Microsoft collusion against public. This is how propaganda works.

Meanwhile, returning to the subject which is HP, watch Microsoft booster Julie Bort going into propaganda mode, claiming that HP has “Plans To Destroy Microsoft Windows” (we countered a similar bit of propaganda some months ago) and then calls HP CEO “gutsy” for inviting Microsoft’s CEO. This is utter deception, a sort of PR which seeks to portray Microsoft has burying the hatchet and smoking the pipe of peace with rivals. Here is a portion: “Moments after HP announced its grand new plans to compete with the Microsoft Windows operating system, Whitman was thanking Microsoft for being a major sponsor of the conference and inviting the company’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, on stage.”

This very much shows whose bed HP is in. The company, despite trying top appear as a backer of FOSS, is very much serving Microsoft’s agenda, still. HP is pretending. Yes, HP only pretends to be a friend of GNU/Linux in order to drive server sales to geeks. We know this also because not too long ago HP lobbied against GNU/Linux in Europe (amid national migrations), saying it would be more expensive than Windows. We covered this several times back then and also showed in over a dozen posts that around the same time HP was appointing Microsoft executives to executive positions at HP. The same happened in Amazon, but that’s another story.

There are other interesting bits in the new interview with Perens, including his take on dual-licensing, but most relevant to us was the following bit:

Perens: At some point I accumulated enough credit for achievements that it became unnecessary to fight over it :-) . But I am hardly without flaws. Most visible might be that I want to get things done and don’t mind trampling others if that’s what it takes. I try to keep my ego down enough so that I get through those narrow doors.

The worst problems I saw at HP had little to do with Open Source. What I remember most was the sadness. There were and are many smart people there, and so many of us were conscious that the company was in a sort of death spiral and that we couldn’t do anything about it. The “pretexting” scandal was to the discredit of the board, the general counsel actually took the 5th in front of Congress on national television! Carly (the CEO) asked all of the employees to take a voluntary pay cut in the same month that she and other Board officers sold tens of Millions of dollars of HP stock. I remember my boss (a Section Manager, now the CTO) announcing at a meeting that an employee had gotten a “Reinvention Memo”. That meant lay-off, a sarcastic re-framing of HP’s “Reinvent” motto that showed how even upper managers like him were in despair. There was a series of ill-advised acquisitions of second-best or declining companies that HP failed to turn around, and then sold for cents on the dollar two years after acquiring them. The Compaq merger put the company at the very top of a business with vanishingly-small margins.

There was one really bad day that I guess is safe to talk about now, more than 10 years later, because the information is already in the public and thus no longer subject to NDA: Microsoft showed HP their plans to sue the Open Source projects for the Linux Kernel, Samba, Sendmail, and a list of other projects. Someone immediately shot me an HP VP’s memo recounting that meeting and concluding that we should back off of Open Source before the lawsuits started. When I passed it to my boss, I was told to keep it quiet. But I was hired to be an Open Source community leader first, and an HP officer second, and keeping quiet about that meant betraying the Open Source developer community. I just hated that and it poisoned my involvement with HP.

Microsoft eventually used SCO as a proxy to achieve what it disclosed to HP that day. I’d been warned long before that happened, and could do nothing until SCO announced their damaging but ultimately unsuccessful jihad against Linux.

What I think is worth remembering about HP is that it was once the great tech company that people wanted to work for, as Apple or Google might be for many today. I think a lot of what made it great left with Agilent. The Test and Measurement business was a low-volume, high-margin business that required lots of too-highly-paid old smart people who worked in expensive labs in Palo Alto, California. That became the most costly place to do anything largely due to HP’s own success. But Test and Measurement was also the brain-trust of the company, and lent its creativity to all of HP’s other aspects. So we lost a lot, I think, when Agilent was spun off of HP.

HP’s problem regarding Open Source and Linux was that systems running Linux competed with other HP lines running HP-UX or Microsoft, and HP was structured as Organizational Silos. Each line had its own sales-people, and different lines competed with each other for the same customer. HP-9000 folks were always complaining because Linux undercut HP-UX and thus HP-9000, as were folks who sold Microsoft Windows systems based on x86. If I said anything in the press about Open Source or Linux, a customer would ask one of those single-line sales-people about it, and it would come back to my boss as a complaint rather than a sales opportunity.

HP was always to some extent in Microsoft’s pocket, although they were also aware that Microsoft had screwed them and would continue to do so. HP de-emphasized further development of the HP 9000 hardware because Microsoft had told them in the late 80′s that they were soon to have an enterprise-quality NT. HP believed it, but MS failed to deliver for a decade. That lost HP Billions while Sun Microsystems took the engineering workstation market from HP. The HP officer who made that decision of course went on to be a Microsoft executive.

What we did achieve at HP was a good process for deciding what to do with Open Source when individual opportunities came up. If you wanted to incorporate Open Source in a product, or you had a business reason to Open Source something, we resolved the legal issues, the community issues, we even handled some security aspects and achieved a reasonable level of reuse. That could all be achieved by middle managers. So, everybody in the company knew that it was OK to use Open Source, but there was a process you had to go through. It wasn’t particularly expensive, it did sometimes sink multiple days of some engineer in doing paperwork, but that’s just due diligence and we ended up on a better legal footing when we used Open Source than otherwise.

There were things we decided not to Open Source because there was no good business reason for doing so. We weren’t UNICEF, so there had to be a business reason for everything. There were times when legacy customers would have gained benefit if we brought one of HP’s nine legacy operating systems to Open Source, but untangling the proprietary software that originated with third parties from the rest was too difficult. There were a few times when it was decided not to Open Source a legacy product because we were afraid that IBM might use it to sell their hardware against ours. Once that happened with a system that had only 5000 existing customers, and it would have been better for the customers for HP to open it but the decision – not mine – was not to do so.

I’ve since helped other companies start their own internal Open Source Process, and still do so today.

What we never achieved within HP, what I never had the power to do, was: to get HP to completely stand behind any innovative product regardless of what that meant for old-line products, to make innovation the #1 job of the company, and to grow a brand-new company from the old one every year that they were in business. They needed to embrace disruptive technologies as a pioneer rather than have the disruption done to HP by competitors. I think they tried to kill the Silo organizational structure after I left, I don’t know how successful that was.

Let this remind us that neither HP nor Microsoft has changed. In fact, many people from Microsoft moved to HP and there is now Microsoft agenda at HP. Microsoft’s FOSS moles too are now working for HP, in very senior positions in fact. Both companies deserve to be treated as a pair and the same goes for Dell; these are historically (in recent history) Microsoft hardware companies.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

    Microsoft eventually used SCO as a proxy to achieve what it disclosed to HP that day. I’d been warned long before that happened, and could do nothing until SCO announced their damaging but ultimately unsuccessful jihad against Linux.

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. White House Intervention Harms Android and Every Software Developer on the Planet

    US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli urges the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to let APIs be covered by copyrights, rendering almost every program a potential copyright violation



  2. Microsoft Lobbying in India Shoots Down or At Least Weakens Free/Libre Software Policy

    Microsoft's covert efforts (lobbying with the help of public partners like NASSCOM) to eliminate an India-leaning software policy in India is finally paying off



  3. Propaganda Mode for UPC Agreement Whilst EPO Increasingly Grants Patents on Software

    In order to make the Unitary Patent a reality (towards a 'no place to hide' patent approach) misleading claims are being made



  4. Patents Are Not Source Code

    Ford is once again misleading regarding Open Source, mischievously associating a patent pledge with Open Source



  5. Links 29/5/2015: ALT Linux 7.0.5, Google I/O 2015

    Links for the day



  6. Links 28/5/2015: SourceForge Hijack, RIP Marco Pesenti Gritti

    Links for the day



  7. Censorship on Reddit Has Gotten (Condé) Nasty and Silent, Even Actively Silenced

    Condé Nast has turned Reddit into a platform of censorship after the acquisition



  8. The Supreme Court of the United States Helps Patent Trolls

    In an unforeseen kind of ruling, the same court which slapped down a lot of software patents last year is now legitimising the actions of a patent troll



  9. Patent Lawyers Fight Hard for the Future of Software Patents

    Media that is dominated by patent lawyers and targets an audience of patent lawyers refuses to accept the post-Alice reality



  10. Fortune Glorifies Patent Troll Jay Walker (Patent Utility)

    Jay Walker, a patent troll, creates a Web-based trolling/'licensing' service and the corporate media helps him



  11. Stealing Android's Thunder, Making It All About Apple and Microsoft During Google I/O

    Misleading articles and conjoined media/analyst attacks on Android coincide with Google's event where major Android announcements are being made



  12. British Government May be a Step Closer to GNU/Linux (on the Desktops, Not Just Servers)

    The British government stops paying the criminal company that blackmails its members, thereby increasing the possibility of complete escape from proprietary software



  13. Microsoft's Patent Allies LG and Sony Agree to Put Microsoft Inside Android

    LG and Sony (of Rockstar Consortium) follow Samsung and Dell in Microsoft's campaign to turn Android into 'Microsoft Android' using patents-induced pressure/leverage



  14. Yet Another Major Security Deficiency in UEFI

    UEFI is inherently insecure, more so than the alternatives which it strives to replace, including Free/libre ones



  15. Links 27/5/2015: Fedora 22 is Out, Mandriva Liquidated

    Links for the day



  16. Patent Scope at the EPO is Totally Out of Control, UPC Will Make Things Worse

    A look at the practical issues with the EPO, where patent scope and litigation scope have been vastly extended so as to benefit multinational corporations and possibly patent trolls



  17. Links 26/5/2015: Reviews of Kubuntu 15.04, Linux 4.1 RC5

    Links for the day



  18. Süddeutsche Zeitung Says Talking Helps While EPO Management Back-stabs Other Side of the Table

    German media gives the impression that there is peace and harmony now that Benoît Battistelli and his circle of power speaks to staff, but nothing is said about simultaneous (albeit covert) attacks against that staff



  19. Large Corporations Call the Shots in US Patent Reform

    A reminder of where we stand on the issue of patent 'reform' in the US and who is controlling or shaping it



  20. Microsoft Puts Proprietary Windows and Hyper-V Inside the Free Software-Centric OpenStack

    OpenStack, which celebrates rapid growth in this month's event in Canada, is facing a proprietarisation threat from Microsoft



  21. Microsoft's Secret Lobbying, Bullying, and the Long History of Blackmailing Politicians Around the World

    British media covers Microsoft's abuse in the UK, but there are many similar incidents, and not just in the UK



  22. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Benoît Battistelli and Four EPO Suicides

    German press article from April 2015 (with translations)



  23. Links 24/5/2015: CrossOver 14.1.3, NTFS-3G Vulnerability

    Links for the day



  24. Links 23/5/2015: Fedora 22 to May 26th, Netflix in SteamOS

    Links for the day



  25. The Patents Production 'Industry' (Patent Lawyers) Still Fights Hard to Salvage Software Patents

    A review of recent writings about software patents and patents on business methods in the United States, demonstrating that patent lawyers have gotten very vocal and sneaky (trying to evade the rules)



  26. Patents as a Marketing Strategy: USPTO Now Part of the Advertising Industry

    The existence of publicity patents, or patents whose sole purpose is to advertise some products, serves to discredit the US patent office, which was originally set up to promote science and technology



  27. Microsoft Blackmails and Extorts British Politicians Over Open Standards and Free Software-Leaning Policies

    Microsoft's digital imperialism in the UK getting defended using blackmail, reminding a lot of Brits that Microsoft is just as evil as ever before



  28. Microsoft Gives Another Bug a Name, This Time Logjam™

    The Microsoft crowd is good only at marketing, even when it comes to small bugs in software



  29. Links 22/5/2015: Fedora 22 Final Release is Near, Canonical IPO Considered

    Links for the day



  30. More Utter Shame Unveiled at Battistelli's EPO: Intimidation Tactics With Help From 'Control Risks'

    The unaccountable thugs who run the EPO have hired London-based spooks to help silence their opposition and their critics


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