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12.19.14

Links 19/12/2014: Robolinux 7.7.1 LXDE, Red Hat Thriving

Posted in News Roundup at 12:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux & FOSS Predictions for 2015

    You can tell it’s the holiday season — a lot of people are focusing more on the guy with the red suit who looks quite a bit like Jon ‘maddog’ Hall than they are on digital matters. This also is the time of year, naturally, where pundits make their predictions for the following year.

    However, I should admit something here. Truth in advertising: I don’t have a good record in predicting the future. I have a hard enough time predicting what to wear the following day — oh, right: clothes. But Linux and FOSS being, well, Linux and FOSS, these projections are as good as any prediction now being foisted on the FOSS public by the army of digital pundits out there.

    So what’s going to happen in 2015?

  • Slovakia – Yet Another Government Discovers GNU/Linux Is The Right Way To Do IT

    They put GNU/Linux on those PCs although they could have used that other OS and they found they saved money. The PCs are easy to manage thanks to FLOSS package-management. They were in total control of the PCs because it’s FLOSS, not code designed by some corporate salesmen, but folks who make software that works for the user. That’s been my experience in schools. That’s the experience of other folks who use GNU/Linux in the real world.

  • Desktop

    • Tipping Points

      The last few years has been some kind of a tipping point. Most OEMs are shipping some GNU/Linux units. Many retailers sell them to consumers. European governments are getting behind a move to accept FLOSS and GNU/Linux for purchases. China, India, Russia, Brazil, and several other governments have committed to FLOSS. The preferences for that other OS and its way of doing things are dying. Many schools run GNU/Linux because it is very affordable and their graduates are filling a demand for an educated workforce. Android/Linux is thriving. There’s no reason GNU/Linux cannot as well. It is better suited to run on legacy PCs than Android/Linux. Large screens matter. Mice and keyboards matter. GNU/Linux works very well with them and the performance continues to improve.

    • ​Free software GNU/Linux laptop in development

      Linux laptops are available from major computer OEMs such as Dell and Lenovo and specialized Linux vendors such as System76 and ZaReason, but the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which would prefer it if I referred to Linux as GNU/Linux, doesn’t approve of any of them thanks to their use of proprietary firmware. That may not continue to be the case.

    • Purism discovered how to make open-source software laptops even more open

      You may be rolling an obscure flavor of Linux on your new laptop and sporting a Free Software Foundation bumper sticker on your bio-diesel powered V-Dub, but chances are your open-source laptop isn’t really that “free,” thanks to closed firmware binaries hidden deep inside hardware itself.

  • Server

    • Docker CTO Solomon Hykes to Devs: Have It Your Way

      “We made a very conscious effort with Docker to insert the technology into an existing toolbox. We did not want to turn the developer’s world upside down on the first day. … We showed them incremental improvements so that over time the developers discovered more things they could do with Docker. So the developers could transition into the new architecture using the new tools at their own pace.”

    • OPNFV – Our First 90 Days

      In 2014, the widespread interest in creating a platform for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) was evident across all sectors. NFV is moving out of the labs and into the field. A recent study by Infonetics predicts that the SDN and NFV markets are expected to exceed $11 billion by 2018. We’re excited to see the industry embrace open source as the way to bring NFV to market faster.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • WTFTW: A Tiling Window Manager Written In Rust

      The WTFTW project is an X tiling window manager written in Rust. The WTFTW name is short for Window Tiling For The Win. WTFTW is written against the latest Rust nightly code, with Rust 1.0 approaching next year. This tiling window manager can be easily tested in Xnest or Xephyr.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • digiKam Software Collection 4.6.0 released…

        The digiKam Team is proud to announce the release of digiKam Software Collection 4.6.0. This release includes many bugs fixes in Image Editor and Batch Queue Mananger. Thanks to Maik Qualmann and Jan Wolter to propose patches in KDE bugzilla.

        See the new list of the issues closed in digiKam 4.6.0 available through the KDE Bugs-tracking System.

      • KDAB contributions to Qt 5.4

        Qt 5.4 was released just last week! The new release comes right on schedule (following the 6-months development cycle of the Qt 5 series), and brings a huge number of new features.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • A declining number of Linux distros might be killing distrohopping
    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • GTK 3.14, Nautilus 3.14 Land In Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet [Quick Update]

            Quick update for Ubuntu users planning to use Ubuntu 15.04: GTK 3.14 has landed in Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet. And of course, the default Ubuntu themes, Ambiance and Radiance, have been updated with GTK 3.14 support.

            Furthermore, Nautilus, an application that wasn’t updated in quite a while and was still at version 3.10, has been updated to version 3.14:

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 1 For Its Various Flavors

            While Ubuntu itself no longer puts out alpha/beta releases in favor of just testing out the daily Live ISOs, the various Ubuntu flavors still participating in the traditional release process have done their first alpha releases this afternoon for Ubuntu 15.04.

          • What is Ubuntu Snappy?

            If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard about this new thing from Canonical called “Snappy” Ubuntu Core, but at the same time trying to understand exactly what it is may leave you cross-eyed, especially with the buzzwords such as “cloud”, “containers” and “apps” floating about. Once you get a handle on it, it’s obvious that Canonical’s new baby isn’t terribly useful for those of us who are simply users, but perhaps it provides an interesting preview of what could come to the desktop version of Ubuntu in the future.

          • China Mobile launches Ubuntu contest for developers

            China Mobile and Canonical have launched the ‘Ubuntu Developer Innovation Contest’ to engage developers “with the next generation of mobile experiences on Ubuntu – which don’t revolve around apps and the app icon grid”.

            Contest submissions can include Scopes and Apps (HTML5 and QML native), and finalists will be selected for two tracks – student and independent developers.

          • First Ubuntu Phone Will Launch In Europe This February

            The first Ubuntu Phone will go on sale in Europe in the second week of February.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • LG’s webOS 2.0 TVs are coming to CES

      LG’s attempt to resurrect webOS for smart TVs is entering a new phase at CES 2015. A wide range of webOS 2.0 TVs will be displayed in Vegas, and LG is focusing on performance; the company says that starting the YouTube app from the home screen is 70 percent faster, for example, and overall boot times should be up to 60 percent quicker.

    • Phones

      • Jolla’s Sailfish OS Update 10 Is Now Available

        The tenth update to Jolla’s Sailfish mobile operating system is now available. This update is version 1.1.1.26 and is codenamed Vaarainjärvi.

      • Tizen

        • Quick Notes – Hand-Written Note App for Samsung Gear

          The application Quick Notes was created by Application Developer Piotr Walczuk. The idea behind the app is to have the ablity to write down handwritten notes on your wrist, anywhere (well almost), and is available for the Samsung Gear / Gear 2 and Gear S Tizen Smart watches.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Can Jolla Deliver the First Open Source Tablet?

        Some dreams die hard. After the KDE-based Vivaldi tablet failed to appear after three years of anticipation, Jolla is planning a free software tablet of its own. The product is off to a roaring start, having just raised $1,824,055 in its crowdfunding campaign– almost five times the original target. So, this time, we might actually see some hardware.

        Mind you, whether the tablet will satisfy everyone remains open to doubt. Although Jolla is talking loudly about being “people powered” and listening to want users want, some requests, especially for hardware, may be impossible to fulfill. The manufacturing capacity of advanced features is limited world-wide, and monopolized by large companies like Apple and Samsung.

        More importantly, exactly how free the tablet will be has yet to be announced.

Free Software/Open Source

  • The helpful stranger and meaning of open source

    I’ve been a software engineer for almost 15 years now, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I’ve been working with open source software from the get-go. From basic GNU command line utilities to C compilers, open source was there from the start.

    Even though my professional focus has changed over the years, in one form or another I’ve been living in a open source ecosystem—be it the operating system I used, the libraries I worked with, or even the integrated development environment (IDE) I used on a daily basis. Despite that, it never occurred to me to contribute to open source software until I joined Red Hat three years ago and began working on oVirt, an open source data center virtualization project.

  • Geeks give back: Be an open source tester

    Are you using open source software for free? Do you wish you could contribute, but don’t have the time to learn how a new developer community works?

    Giving cash donations is not necessarily the best way to give back to an open source community. Instead, try channeling any frustration you may feel with open source software and help with testing. It’s good for your blood pressure and good for the rest of the users of the code!

  • Eure-et-Loir department now using Nuxeo document system

    The administration of France’s Eure-et-Loir Department has implemented Nuxeo, an open source enterprise document and content management system. The solution is used to exchange documents between the department’s services and, sometime next year, also with partner-organisations.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 9.4 released

      Version 9.4 of the PostgreSQL relational database management system is out. “This release adds many new features which enhance PostgreSQL’s flexibility, scalability and performance for many different types of database users, including improvements to JSON support, replication and index performance.”

    • PostgreSQL 9.4 Increases Flexibility, Scalability and Performance

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces the release of PostgreSQL 9.4, the latest version of the world’s leading open source database system. This release adds many new features which enhance PostgreSQL’s flexibility, scalability and performance for many different types of database users, including improvements to JSON support, replication and index performance.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • WordPress 4.1 and distraction free writing mode

      WordPress 4.1 is out and one of its new features is a revised “distraction free writing mode.” I seem to remember that it had something like this before, but it was not as well implemented as it is in WordPress 4.1. Now, when you push the distraction free writing mode button, everything else fades away except what you need to write your post.

  • Business

    • Semi-Open Source

      • Open Source vs. Hosted Shopping Cart Solutions

        Given all the options and varying needs of stores, there is no right or wrong answer. Keep in mind that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Having said that, stores seeking the greatest bang for the buck (as in sales generated to investment spent), and those seeking the most flexibility for growth in the future, should highly consider open source for their ecommerce engine.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • What Does It Mean for Your Computer to Be Loyal?

      We say that running free software on your computer means that its operation is under your control. Implicitly this presupposes that your computer will do what your programs tell it to do, and no more. In other words, that your computer will be loyal to you.

      In 1990 we took that for granted; nowadays, many computers are designed to be disloyal to their users. It has become necessary to spell out what it means for your computer to be a loyal platform that obeys your decisions, which you express by telling it to run certain programs.

    • FisicaLab update

      Well, I just want to share the progress in the development of FisicaLab. As you know I want a module for thermodynamics in version 0.4.0. This means that FisicaLab needs the ability to handle data from steam tables.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Sandia looks to open-source robot tech

      Researchers at federal defense and energy laboratories are open sourcing some of the electronics and software for two advanced ambulatory robots in hopes of boosting their ability to handle perilous situations.

      In a Dec. 16 announcement, the Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratories said it is developing more energy-efficient motors to dramatically improve the endurance of legged robots performing the types of motions that are crucial in disaster response situations. The project is supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • OpenSocial Foundation Moving Standards Work to W3C Social Web Activity

      Building on the 31 July 2014 announcement of the W3C Social Web Working Group, the OpenSocial Foundation and W3C today announce the transfer of OpenSocial specifications and assets to the W3C. As of 1 January 2015, OpenSocial Foundation will close and future work will take place within the W3C Social Web Activity, chartered to make it easier to build and integrate social applications into the Open Web Platform.

    • Google delivers an early Christmas gift: Google Drive support for ODF

      Google, in a surprise move, today announced support for ODF (Open Document Format) in its products.

      I remember the days when I had to sheepishly asked people who wanted to share files with me to go back to .doc or .docx as none of the Google properties would talk to ODF files. That was quite embarrassing because I invested a lot of time in liberating those people from Microsoft’s vendor-locked file formats.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • People Who Live in ‘Flyspecks’ Shouldn’t Fling Metaphors

      I suppose you could argue that Cuba was a threat to the United States during 1962′s Cuban missile crisis–which was very long ago indeed. I’m more struck by Post reporters Juliet Eilperin and Greg Jaffe’s little geography lesson, comparing Cuba to a “flyspeck”–or, in other words, insect excrement.

      Cuba, as it happens, is 42,426 square miles in area–making it bigger than Iceland or Ireland, neither of which would probably like to be compared to fly poop.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Corrupt Greater Manchester Police Officer Jailed

      A corrupt Greater Manchester Police has been jailed after accessing police computer systems and passing on confidential information.

      Pc Katie Murray (born 22/04/1984) of Dunkirk Street, Droylsden was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and one count of breaching the Data Protection Act. She was jailed for two years and nine months.

      The information was passed on to her sister Lyndsey Murray, (born 10/05/1981) of Ruskin Road, Droylsden, and former partner, Jason Lloyd, (born 20/11/1970) of Peregrine Close, Droylsden, who were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Lynsey Murray was jailed for six months.

    • CIA Torture report

      If the history of this century has been about anything so far, then it is the bargain of national security. A constant state of war carried out on a need-to-know basis.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Making the Internet a utility—what’s the worst that could happen?

      Title II gives the Federal Communications Commission power to regulate telecommunications providers as utilities or “common carriers.” Like landline phone providers, common carriers must offer service to the public on reasonable terms. To regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) as utilities, the FCC must reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, a move that consumer advocacy groups and even President Obama have pushed the FCC to take.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Don’t make Google the whipping boy for others’ failings

        Google’s motto “do no evil” never meant that much. Google always did what it had to do for its own benefit, but it was seen as — and arguably was — a company changing the world for the better. Now it appears that governments around the world are taking the position that Google can’t do anything right.

      • Paulo Coelho Wants to Give The Interview Away Using BitTorrent

        Sony may have withdrawn The Interview but not everyone is scared of releasing the movie. Author Paulo Coelho, whose book The Alchemist has sold in excess of 165 million copies, has just offered to buy the rights to the movie from Sony. He informs TorrentFreak that it would go straight on BitTorrent, for free.

      • Researchers Make BitTorrent Anonymous and Impossible to Shut Down

        While the BitTorrent ecosystem is filled with uncertainty and doubt, researchers at Delft University of Technology have released the first version of their anonymous and decentralized BitTorrent network. “Tribler makes BitTorrent anonymous and impossible to shut down,” lead researcher Prof. Pouwelse says.

Another Microsoft Partner Markets Linux FUD Using Logo, Name, and Lies

Posted in FUD, Microsoft, Red Hat, Security at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The great power of lies and gullible journalists

Christmas lights

Summary: Microsoft’s partner Alert Logic is trying to label a feature of Linux a security flaw and even makes marketing buzz for it

IF A reporter or two can be bamboozled into printing a lie (digitally distributing it), this can lend some credibility/legitimacy to the lie and then it is possible that the lie will spread and be echoed in other reports. Hence the importance of this matter.

“They are trying to change perceptions around Free software security.”Several journalists have already rebutted something that I debunked some days ago when I first saw some nonsense about “Grinch” with a suitable “marketing” image. Here is one rebuttal among a few:

The Grinch flaw was reported by Stephen Cody, chief security evangelist at Alert Logic. Cody alleges that the Grinch flaw enables users on a local machine to escalate privileges. Leading Linux vendor Red Hat, however, disagrees that the Grinch issue is even a bug and instead notes in a Red Hat knowledge base article that the Grinch report “incorrectly classifies expected behavior as a security issue.”

The original security researcher that reported the Grinch found that if a user logs into a Linux system as the local administrator, the user could run a certain command that would enable the user to install a package, explained Josh Bressers, lead of the Red Hat Product Security Team.

“Local administrators are trusted users,” Bressers told eWEEK. “This isn’t something you hand out to everybody.”

We believe it was Joab Jackson (IDG) who first gave a platform to the Microsoft partner (Alert Logic) that used marketing buzz and a lie against Linux, soon to be rebutted by Red Hat. I had contacted Mr. Jackson, who later told me that he posted a follow-up (or correction).

Jackson’s correction may have come too late as we saw the lie spreading to a few other news sites later on (thankfully not too many sites). Here is one example of garbage ‘reporting’ (FUD and lies), generated by the FUD firm with with a catchy name, sort of logo etc. (generated by a Microsoft partner we might add). Apart from Jackson’s piece we saw at least 3 more such articles (which came afterwards). How many are going to post a correction? How many articles will be withdrawn? How many follow-ups will be published? Tumbleweed. Silence.

It is usually Windows that has zero-days during Christmas, not GNU or Linux. There was recently other nonsense with a name, claiming to be a flaw when it was actually some other malware (potentially developed by the Russian government) that users actually have to install (not from repositories) to be infected by. It was akin to a phishing attack, but it was widely used in the press (even in IDG, Jackson’s employer) to characterise GNU/Linux as insecure.

Remember what the Microsoft-connected firm did with "Heartbleed" (the name it made up with a promotional logo). It’s all about marketing and hype. They are trying to change perceptions around Free software security. What matters is what people remember, not the truth. This is all about discouraging users or buyers.

A reader has alerted us about this article from Armenia . “Note the job title of the ‘softer,” he said. Here is the relevant portion:

Armenia’s Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan received Microsoft Corporation’s Regional Director for Public Safety/National Security/Defense Robert Kosla.

Joke or real? It sounds like a joke, but they are definitely not joking. Armenia talks to the NSA’s biggest partner and back doors-loving company about ‘security’, so seeing the job title from Microsoft is truly hilarious! Microsoft is good at insecurity and lies, not security.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Redmonk is Spreading Black Duck’s Anti-GPL Talking Points After Payments From Black Duck, Microsoft

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, Microsoft at 11:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CBS pleases Microsoft

Forex

Summary: CBS’ ZDNet spreads the GNU-hostile narrative which comes from Redmonk, funded by Microsoft and Black Duck, citing Black Duck, which also comes from Microsoft and is a partner of Microsoft

Redmonk has been the subject of both praises and criticism over the years. We often agree with what Redmonk shows, but sometimes the impact of money, e.g. money from Microsoft, seems to be playing a role in analyses. It is difficult to dismiss the role of financial dependence; casting it irrelevant would be rather naïve. Whenever a company says something positive about a paying customer it’s rarely just a coincidence. The company is aware of its sources of income and develops a sort of “sixth sense” in the same way that politicians learn to love and defend their funders, not speaking out about them or voting against these funders’ interests. The Koch brothers, for example, sure have an impact on climate policies through various groups they pay. That it why money is handed out in the first place. Bill Gates does a lot of this too, e.g. bribing news sites, news channels, analysts, politicians, decision-makers etc. What we have commended Redmonk for in the past is the policy of full disclosure (well, not entirely full as proportionate contributions are never mentioned).

Microsoft pays Black Duck, which pays analysts who repeat its claims at face value on the face of it. Black Duck has in fact been paying lots of sources to help legitimise its talking points. Even the Linux Foundation is paid by Black Duck (hard to say how much, but probably enough to buy silence on criticism and free publicity at times). Redmonk has been paid by Black Duck too.

“Open Hub is just a new name for a company created by people from Microsoft.”There was a long discussion about this in Twitter (here is just a portion) in light of an article from ZDNet that relayed Black Duck’s talking points using two data points both owned by Black Duck, including its hires from Microsoft. It should be noted that Black Duck is not the only Microsoft-connected proprietary ‘think tank’ trying to tell us that the GPL is declining (in relative terms, not absolute, wherein lies a bias and spin opportunity). OpenLogic, headed by a man from Microsoft, does it too and we have named other such entities. It’s ugly out there. Analysts sell agenda, not information.

To spare readers the misinformation, the short story is that several days ago Redmonk was spreading Black Duck’s anti-GPL talking points and now it turns out Black Duck had paid Redmonk. As noted in this article, “Black Duck, the parent company of Open Hub, has been a RedMonk customer but is not currently.”

Open Hub is just a new name for a company created by people from Microsoft. Companies tend to change names to evade negative perception/publicity. Some patent trolls and mercenaries do that a lot. Behind closed doors Redmonk is not advising companies that copyleft is dying, not disclosing that its figured are biased by a Microsoft deal from 2009. It also impacts what news sites are reporting, creating a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy/bias against the GPL. Here is what ZDNet wrote the other day, not even spelling Ohloh correctly (so we can assume there’s no understanding that this company came from Microsoft). SJVN wrote: “Berkholz learned, using data from Ohlol, an open-source code research project now known as Open Hub, that “Since 2010, this trend has reached a point where permissive is more likely than copyleft [GPL] for a new open-source project.””

Remember where this entity called Open Hub came from. It’s a bunch of people from Microsoft.

Now see the bottom of ZDNet’s posts, which unlike Redmonk does not disclose the Black Duck and Microsoft connection (financial connection to both). That’s how Microsoft’s propaganda makes it into ZDNet.

ZDNet remains one of the world’s crappiest tech tabloids, especially now that it is owned by CBS. It still employs a lot of Microsoft staff (past and present) to publicly smear, bash, and insult Linux/Android. Here is a new example where a Microsoft employee writes about (bashes and belittles) Android in this very trashy tabloid (that pays him to do this). This is part of a pattern and it’s amazing that ZDNet pretends to be a news site. Under CBS’ wing it just serves sponsors. Watch the disclosure a the bottom: “Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.”

Yeah, right!

There is a lot more, including links, in the Twitter discussions. Even Redmonk staff weighed in, but has not responded to the rebuttals. Bruce Perens warned that Black Duck's claims about the GPL are "B.S.". There is too much B.S. in today’s news, emanating from people who pretend to be journalists and analysts but are actually agents of propaganda or marketing. Be sceptical and go back to the sources to assess the facts.

‘Good’ Software Patents From EA Show Cases Where DRM is a Patent Infringement

Posted in DRM, Patents at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cuffs

Summary: Where two evils collide the public benefits, or how some software patents discourage the use of DRM

SOFTWARE patents are a horrible thing because in a world where almost everything is now controlled by computers with general-purpose or specialised software nearly every action/process can potentially become a monopoly, or a milking cow of someone (usually a large corporation) who had little to do with invention, just opportunism. It puts tremendous pressure on ‘small’ software developers and offers protectionism to software conglomerates such as IBM. Software patents are in injustice for many reasons including their undeniable impediment to innovation, which makes them the antithesis of patents (where publication in exchange for temporary monopoly was supposed to encourage dissemination of knowledge and thus innovation). Abstract ideas rather than utility were never supposed to be patentable. Likewise, copyright law has been extended to cover all sort of ridiculous things (like a story/plot, based on vague similarities, APIs, etc.) even to the point of encouraging no innovation or creativity (e.g. lasting well beyond the death of the original creator). The latter is often enforced upon the public using some ugly software hacks like DRM (turning computers against their users), so the relationship is deep and inherent.

“So here we have two evils fighting against one another. “It is rather ironic when software patents do something good by discouraging the use of DRM as DRM itself becomes a patent monopoly. Such was the case in this legal case. “Between the company’s general disposition and the incredible failure of the SimCity launch,” says an article, “Electronic Arts is becoming a name associated directly with digital rights management. The most infamous DRM platform the company has used is probably SecuROM, which was noteworthy for being equal parts mega-annoying to paying customers, as well as being so massively ineffective that games employing SecuROM later became amongst the most pirated video games of all time. But, results aside, EA would tell you that it needed to use DRM to protect the company from piracy. Even if SecuROM failed, the company had to at least try, or else the freeloaders that live the highlife getting around intellectual property laws would win. Violating IP laws is wrong, damn it, and EA was going to do everything in its power to right that wrong.”

So here we have two evils fighting against one another. It is not easy to pick a side. On the one hand we have monopolies on software and on the other we have monopolies on access to data. Both are detrimental to the common good.

Richard Stallman: What Does It Mean for Your Computer to Be Loyal?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New article from Richard Stallman

We say that running free software on your computer means that its operation is under your control. Implicitly this presupposes that your computer will do what your programs tell it to do, and no more. In other words, that your computer will be loyal to you.

In 1990 we took that for granted; nowadays, many computers are designed to be disloyal to their users. It has become necessary to spell out what it means for your computer to be a loyal platform that obeys your decisions, which you express by telling it to run certain programs.

Our tentative definition consists of these principles.

Neutrality towards software

The computer will run, without prejudice, whatever software you install in it, and let that software do whatever its code says to do.

A feature to check for signatures on the programs that run is compatible with this principle provided the signature checking is fully under the user’s control. When that is so, the feature helps implement the user’s decision about which programs to run, rather than thwarting the user’s decisions. By contrast, signature checking that is not fully under the user’s control violates this principle.

Neutrality towards protocols

The computer will communicate, without prejudice, through whatever protocol your installed software implements, with whatever users and whatever other networked computers you direct it to communicate with.

This means that computer does not impose one particular service rather than another, or one protocol rather than another. It does not require the user to get anyone else’s permission to communicate via a certain protocol.

Neutrality towards implementations

When the computer communicates using any given protocol, it will support doing so, without prejudice, via whatever code you choose (assuming the code implements the intended protocol), and it will do nothing to help any other part of the Internet to distinguish which code you are using or what changes you may have made in it, or to discriminate based on your choice.

This entails that the computer rejects remote attestation, that is, that it does not permit other computers to determine over the network whether your computer is running one particular software load. Remote attestation gives web sites the power to compel you to connect to them only through an application with DRM that you can’t break, denying you effective control over the software you use to communicate with them. Netflix is a notorious example of this.

We can comprehend remote attestation as a general scheme to allow any web site to impose tivoization or “lockdown” on the local software you connect to it with. Simple tivoization of a program bars modified versions from functioning properly; that makes the program nonfree. Remote attestation by web sites bars modified versions from working with those sites that use it, which makes the program effectively nonfree when using those sites. If a computer allows web sites to bar you from using a modified program with them, it is loyal to them, not to you.

Neutrality towards data communicated

When the computer receives data using whatever protocol, it will not limit what the program can do with the data received through that communication.

Any hardware-level DRM violates this principle. For instance, the hardware must not deliver video streams encrypted such that only the monitor can decrypt them.

Debugability

The computer always permits you to analyze the operation of a program that is running.

Documentation

The computer comes with full documentation of all the interfaces intended for software to use to control the computer.

Completeness

The principles above apply to all the computer’s software interfaces and all communication the computer does. The computer must not have any disloyal programmable facility or do any disloyal communication.

For instance, the AMT functionality in recent Intel processors runs nonfree software that can talk to Intel remotely. Unless disabled, this makes the system disloyal.


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