11.26.14

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Gagging Critics: Micro Focus-Run SUSE Bribes Journalists in Exchange for Positive Coverage

Posted in Novell at 2:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Amid the takeover by Micro Focus, SUSE pays journalists (especially critics) who in turn become some kind of advertisements feed of Novell

RECENTLY we saw a longtime Novell critic, Sam Varghese, describing himself as "guest" of SUSE, having been approached on numerous occasions in the past (by Novell) to write some reviews and reports about SUSE or issue some face-saving PR. There was no consistency, except when it came to Mono.

The Microsoft-focused Micro Focus reminds us of Microsoft in many ways, putting aside the fact that Micro Focus, the new owner of SUSE, was Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year”.

Staff of Micro Focus has been trying to connect to me in LinkedIn as if to befriend me despite not knowing me at all. This is typical of Microsoft staff; they too have been doing this. The company habitually refers to this as "schmoozing".

The interesting thing we found out about the SUSE coverage (coming from very few journalists but in large quantities) is that Micro Focus paid for it. Eventually we would like to have list of journalists whom SUSE/Attachment (and the new owner, Micro Focus) paid to ‘plant’ such positive coverage in the media. We still see some such coverage [1,2], but we don’t know exactly who was ‘invited’ (paid) for the gesture. This is unethical at the very least. It is hard to forget how Microsoft paid for people to fly half way across the world to manufacture pro-OOXML (or ODF-hostile) coverage. Very shamelessly — and consistently — this has been done on other occasions too. Microsoft is not even shy to admit that it is bribing journalists, albeit it uses other words to describe its bribes (not just to journalists but also university professors). As Will Hill put it last night: “Wow, it’s Sam Varghese. … look at his iTwire stream. He’s cranking out Ballnix propaganda. “How to keep data safe in the cloud”, “SUSE expects storage solution to take industry by storm”, “Another Debian technical panel member quits”, “Chasing the Z/Linux market: A SUSECon attendee’s tale”, “A lesser-known star of openSUSE”. In the last four days, there are all those SuSE love stories and three Debian drama stories. That’s not what I remember Sam for. I have to admire his work volume, but what he’s saying is an odd surprise.” He said that prior to knowing about the payments made by SUSE. The day before that he wrote: “What a bizarre puff piece. Does the Microsoft press want me to be suspicious?”

“The ultimate goal is to shape the press coverage; it’s subversive.”Remember when Novell contacted many FOSS leaders prior to announcing the renewed deal with Microsoft? Several of them, such as Aaron Seigo (from KDE, now in Kolab), publicly complained about it, having criticised the Novell/Microsoft deal beforehand (we covered this extensively several years ago). He wasn’t alone. Novell just sought to pro-actively gag its critics, alleging that criticism of the Microsoft deal was not about facts but about perception and was due to bad communication (the excuse commonly used by the Gates Foundation when it gets exposed for its abuses). The ultimate goal is to shape the press coverage; it’s subversive.

Micro Focus — like Novell — sure likes to target its biggest critics and even pay them in exchange for positive coverage. Evidence of this now comes from Jack Wallen, one of the loud critics of the Novell-Microsoft deal, who now reveals that SUSE and its patrons actually paid his various expenses including travel (i.e. soft bribes) to essentially buy coverage (some self-serving coverage). To quote Wallen: “Thanks to SUSE for sponsoring travel expenses to cover this conference.” Over the years Novell partners tried to invite me to to their events, presumably as part of some efforts to change my mind.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. SUSE gets live patching

    That’s Linux. It doesn’t tend to break down, and you usually don’t need to reboot it when you patch it. Usually.

  2. Linux distributor SUSE delves into software-defined storage

    Suse logoSOFTWARE-DEFINED STORAGE (SDS) is the latest buzzphrase in the sector, and in recognition of this Linux distributor SUSE has announced a pre-release programme for SUSE Storage.

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