12.11.14

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Ubuntu Core Announcement is Not About Microsoft and Hosting Ubuntu on Azure is Worse Than Stupid

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security, Servers, Ubuntu at 12:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The power of media spin makes the idea of hosting Free software under the control of an NSA PRISM and back doors partner seem alluring

IN the spirit of tackling FUD we thought it would be worthwhile to tackle spin regarding the news of Ubuntu Core (news that already appears in our daily links).

Microsoft boosters such as Microsoft Gavin try to frame it as Microsoft news, saying: “A smartphone-inspired version of Ubuntu Server for Docker minimalists has been revealed with initial backing from Microsoft.” The headline is even worse. It’s deceiving for the sake of drama.

The news is not about Microsoft. This is what is called bias by omission or selection — similar to this lousy piece from Lance Whitney, former staff of Microsoft media whose latest propaganda is now omitting an old disclosure saying that he is Microsoft’s ‘former’ staff and uses US-only spin to make Android look bad (the US is not the whole world and economic advantage favours overpriced phones).

Several readers have told us that the article “Canonical restructures Ubuntu in mobile mode; Microsoft is first partner” had been removed (we searched the site to verify this) before it was reinstated. How odd. No explanation was given and while it was gone we made a copy from the Google cache of the article, very shortly after it had been deleted, then created permanent archive of the removed version. We wrote publicly at around noon yesterday about how this article vanished after it had been posted (just shortly before we made copies from Google cache and also used archive.is). We later compared the version we had archived with what was reinstated and found no obvious differences in the text. Well, maybe the problem was purely technical, but the content of the article from Paul Gillin was curious, not just the angle. A reader of ours explained: “Below is the text of an article which just disappeared. It was online for only a few hours but contains some very incriminating statements. More might show up later, but for now this is all I have. It sure explains why the Ubuntu forums moderators/staff have been slamming RMS and censoring critique of Microsoft and His Billness – in any context.”

“The situation is bad,” explained our reader. “The previous article was not a mistake” because there is other coverage although it does not provide the Microsoft spin, including phrases such as those highlighted in Diaspora. The factual part is this:

Ubuntu Core is now available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

This, however, is not the main news. A lot of effort was put into injecting some pro-Microsoft angle. Here is where promotional spin got injected (apart from the headline):

“Ubuntu Core is the smallest, leanest Ubuntu ever, perfect for ultra-dense computing in cloud container farms,” the company said in a press release. In a twist that’s sure to prompt a double-take from many industry veterans, Canonical chose the Azure cloud from longtime Linux foe Microsoft as its first deployment platform. “Microsoft loves Linux,” said Bob Kelly, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, in a prepared statement.

“Microsoft has been a terrific steward of Ubuntu,” said Dustin Kirkland, product manager for Ubuntu Core, in an interview. “We have a very tight relationship.” The deal with Microsoft is exclusive for ”a couple of weeks,” after which Ubuntu Core is expected to be available on all public clouds that currently support the operating system.

So ‘“Microsoft loves Linux,” said Bob Kelly, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, in a prepared statement.’

This is part of the new lie which we wrote about in articles such as:

The problem with articles like the above is the pursuit for talking points to lull the victim into passivity, pretending that Microsoft is now like a “best friend” of GNU/Linux. All that Microsoft does with Ubuntu Core is put it under surveillance and back door control. That’s what Azure is about, as NSA leaks serve to demonstrate.

We could of course tackle some other propaganda if we had more time for writing (I am working full time myself). Consider this new UBM spin which pretends TrueCrypt is FOSS (it’s definitely not) and cites one bug (in OpenSSL) to pretend FOSS as a whole is less secure than proprietary software blobs. There is another ugly story making the rounds about a so-called attack on GNU/Linux machines (attributing it to a government, possibly Russia’s); all the stories we have found (over a dozen so far) neglect to say that the victim must install the rogue code himself or herself, it cannot really propagate except by the user’s stupidity or recklessness. Finally, there is another batch of stories about DCOS, which is backed by a Microsoft thug who boasted about “tilting into a death spiral” competitors of Microsoft and bankrolled Microsoft proxies. DCOS — like Azure — is attempting to control GNU/Linux guests at a higher level. IDG called it a “data center OS” that “allows single-source command for Linux servers”, potentially providing a back door. I have personally seen companies that manage hundreds of GNU/Linux servers from VSphere (proprietary from EMC, which is connected to RSA and hence NSA back doors) on top of Microsoft Windows (also back doors). Can EMC be trusted to not allow intrusion? Can Microsoft? These are rhetorical questions.

Anyone who is reckless enough to put a Ubuntu machine under Microsoft hosting sure has not been keeping up with news. Canonical too would be reckless to recommend such a thing, but perhaps it has short-term thinking, pursuing Microsoft dollars at the expense of customers’ security.

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