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07.02.15

Microsoft Gradually Embraces, Extends, Extinguishes Linux Foundation as a Foundation of GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Vista 10, Windows at 3:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Linux Foundation now helps Windows, too

Linux Foundation

Summary: By liaising with (or hijacking) existing members of the Linux Foundation, as well as by paying the Linux Foundation, Microsoft turns the Linux Foundation into somewhat of a Windows advocacy group

After the public embarrassment at DockerCon 2015 (causing GNU/Linux software to be tilted in Windows' favour) and more Microsoft payments to the Linux Foundation we can’t help wondering if the Linux Foundation is no longer dedicated to the promotion of GNU/Linux, the operating system. Microsoft is increasingly using its presence and pawns in the Linux Foundation in order to advance Windows at the expense of GNU/Linux. Hyper-V was an early example of that. It’s a Window program and it is proprietary. Why would the Linux Foundation bother supporting that? It was the Microsoft-bribed Novell that did this at the time. Microsoft has moles. In fact, the Linux Foundation now employs some former managers from Microsoft. Can it get much worse than that? One of the worst sites on the Web, a site that mostly rips off other Web sites without any attribution whatsoever, went with the misleading headline “Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation” and some other sites which speak about the Linux Foundation’s R Consortium are emphasising Microsoft [1, 2] as if Microsoft is now the official steward of R. For Microsoft, and by extension for Windows, this is clearly an attempt at buying out a language along with developers. As Linux Veda put it: “The creation of this consortium comes on the heels of Microsoft’s acquisition of Revolution Analytics at the end of January this year. Revolution Analytics are the leading commercial provider of software and services for R. It has been suggested by commentators that Microsoft’s competitors had joined this consortium in an attempt to keep R open.”

“Last month we showed how the Linux Foundation actually promoted Vista 10 because of AllSeen.”Here is the press release from the Linux Foundation and some resultant coverage [1, 2, 3]. Mac Asay, who had tried to work for Microsoft, suggested this “embrace” by Microsoft. In his own words:

Given R’s non-corporate nature, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the community’s response to my recent suggestion that Microsoft owned the R code and should consider contributing it to a foundation.

To paraphrase the response: “There already is a foundation — and the foundation, not some corporation, owns the code!!”

I’ll admit that I was taken aback. After all, my primary contention was that re-implementing R to get around its underlying GPL license would sacrifice R’s great community. I hadn’t bothered to take the time to dig into the provenance of the R code, as it wasn’t material to the bulk of my article. Why wasn’t that community grateful for the compliment, and indifferent to my eensie weensie faux pas?

Because the essence of R is important to its community, and that essence can’t be purchased by any corporation.

A reader who linked to the above article told us that Microsoft is “infecting a GNU project” here. It’s easier to see now why Microsoft bought an R company. It’s all about “developers developers developers developers” (Ballmer’s words) and it’s about them using Windows. Why is the Linux Foundation going along with this? Probably the same reason it goes along with horrible UEFI, Intel being a key financeer of the Foundation, even going back to the OSDL days. It’s all about who is paying. The Linux Foundation, and prior to it OSDL, is supposed to exist so that companies cannot snatch Torvalds with a huge salary but instead they will pool together money to pay Torvalds et al. This pooling mechanism is now being exploited or even compromised by Microsoft, which cleverly knows it can bribe or infiltrate the foundation (Nokia, Novell, and so forth) while the Foundation itself is defenseless as it’s not built to decline funds or repel (even ostracise) members. We wrote about this many years ago because Microsoft destroyed some consortia in this way exactly — by paying off to discredit/dilute/distract/alienate collective efforts, e.g. OSA. Zemlin’s Foundation should learn from other foundations which were cleverly destroyed by Microsoft (Android too is 'work in progress').

Watch this new article promoting proprietary Windows and framing it as “contribution” to “open source”, the context being the eerily-named AllSeen Alliance of the Linux Foundation:

Microsoft has contributed open source code called the AllJoyn Device System Bridge to the AllSeen Alliance in order to help connect legacy and purpose-built devices to the Internet of Things.

Last month we showed how the Linux Foundation actually promoted Vista 10 because of AllSeen. This is the same operating system which, according to the news a couple of days ago [1], “will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends’ friends”. Yes, AllSeen indeed.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends’ friends

    Those contacts include their Outlook.com (nee Hotmail) contacts, Skype contacts and, with an opt-in, their Facebook friends. There is method in the Microsoft madness – it saves having to shout across the office or house “what’s the Wi-Fi password?” – but ease of use has to be teamed with security. If you wander close to a wireless network, and your friend knows the password, and you both have Wi-Fi Sense, you can now log into that network.

Microsoft India Still Lobbies and Lies About Free Software in Order to Knock Down Policy That Favours Free Software

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 2:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Indian CEO, but still bullying India, just like Steve Ballmer

Satya Ballmer
Superimposing Nadella and Ballmer

Summary: Microsoft continues to bully Indian politicians who merely ‘dare’ to prefer software that India can modify, maintain, extend, audit, etc.

Back in May we wrote about Microsoft's lobbying India (both directly and by proxy) because it ended up weakening a Free software policy. Microsoft is single-handedly attacking India’s independence, albeit it is sometimes assisted/accompanied by IBM, Oracle, Cisco, etc. Microsoft is by far most prominent in this line-up because it is even eager to go public in the press, trash-talking Free software in cheeky/sleazy ways (accusing/ridiculing messengers), whereas IBM is more careful not to be seen doing that. All of these companies are hoping to water down India’s Free software-favouring policy to just about nothing, but Microsoft now has the nerve to talk trash [1, 2, 3], including a quote that led to the headline “I am a firm believer of open source, says Microsoft’s Bhaskar Pramanik” (don’t laugh yet!).

This is the most misleading headline (click-bait) we have found, possible chosen by the editor for an interview that has nothing at all to do with “open source” and was already refuted by other sources in India anyway. Here is the key part:

Q. Your comment the government almost mandating open source technologies for projects? Any response from the government to your communications?

A. I am a firm believer of open source. I feel it creates innovation and leads to lots of opportunities for new startups. But it’s not the only solution and to believe that it is the only solution for India is, which the current policy seems to imply, I think is incorrect. My position is very clear – you go anywhere in the world the policy is all about technology neutrality. I think the challenge is to make it mandatory for somebody to used open source. While the government is saying we have not made it mandatory under the optional, they have said very clearly that if you don’t use open source, you have to justify. As far as the government is concerned, in this in this day and age, which government offices is going to say otherwise. There has been no formal response from the government so far.

Basically the quote in the headline is just a preparatory lie. The truth starts after the word “but”. He basically says that “the only solution” is to maintain the status quo of being prisoner of Microsoft (India as a client state, effectively colonised in the digital sense as if it lacks engineering talent). He would have us believe that allowing proprietary lock-in with no qualms would level the competition by continuing to assure Microsoft monopoly and Free software a few scraps (if anything). Microsoft keeps painting itself as the victim here, as if Microsoft has a God-given right to anti-competitively dominate the market and anything which challenges this is inherently anti-competitive.

“Microsoft keeps painting itself as the victim here, as if Microsoft has a God-given right to anti-competitively dominate the market and anything which challenges this is inherently anti-competitive.”Expect Microsoft to continue to bully the government of India, directly and by proxy (as it has already done so). Given how Microsoft was caught blackmailing British politicians only months ago (while Microsoft claims to have changed), expect much of the same to be at least attempted in India. Putting in virtual charge an Indian liar in chief without tact won’t be enough for Microsoft to win back India, perhaps the world’s biggest hub of software developers. Microsoft’s influence in the Indian government is quickly eroding because truly talented developers want code, not binary blobs with BRIC-hostile back doors.

Patent Lawyers and Corporate Media Nervous About New Patents Barrier/Reality (Less Patents on Software and Business Methods)

Posted in America, Patents at 2:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The rich and the powerful, as well as their lawyers (whose job is to protect their money and power by means of government-enforced monopoly), carry on whining after the Alice case, in which many abstract patents were essentially ruled — by extension — invalid

IT REALLY oughtn’t be so shocking that patent lawyers and other non-producing profiteers (or large businesses that employ these lawyers) do not like Alice — an historic high-level case that still serves to invalidate many patents on software, irrespective of all sorts of bogus ‘reforms’ like the Innovation Act [1, 2]. The Innovation Act is one among a couple of misleadingly-named brands which claim to be about a so-called patent ‘reform’. Media which covers the Innovation Act still cites patent lawyers, patent maximalists, and lobbyists regarding this so-called patent ‘reform’. Here is one new example that says: “A coalition of universities, inventors, venture capitalists and small businesses continue to oppose House-introduced patent reform legislation, which could be considered by the House floor in the coming weeks.” Another new one is equally shallow. Dean Chambers cites WatchTroll excessively (notorious for promotion of software patents), so these people are still tilting the debate in the media while activists against software patents remain passive, quiet, and generally inactive. Where have they all gone? Where is FFII? Where are the journalists who slam monopolies on software development? Tumbleweed. Antagonism to software patents mostly goes unheard these days, so lawyers exploit this and conquer the minds. It’s rather sad, but it is true.

“Whenever lawyers don’t get their way in a system which they perceive as theirs (to use against actual scientists who produce things) they like to whine about ‘non-conformist’ elements such as judges that ‘dare’ to question some abstract patents over triviality, prior art, lack of merit etc.”The plutocrats’ media, Fortune Magazine in this case, is meanwhile glamourising patents assigned to giants. The article from 4 days ago says: “Considering that Bessant has convinced BofA CEO Brian Moynihan to spend $3 billion for new software development annually—twice what the bank used to spend when she took on her job five years ago and roughly 17% of the bank’s annual information technology budget—it’s in BofA’s interest to safeguard that investment. Behind Bessant are more than 110,000 employees and contractors.”

This is a puff piece that uses the propaganda language of patent lawyers, e.g. treating patents like “assets”, even when these are business methods and software patents. It is gross propaganda against public soberness/sobriety and it is a damn shame that opposition to software patents isn’t there to set these writers straight.

Patent lawyers (i.e. parasites profiting from technology’s destruction) are very concerned about software patents’ demise and one of them, David Bohrer (Patent Trial Practice, Valorem Law Group), uses Patently-O to protest against courts which ‘dare’ to rule/declare patents invalid. He wrote these words yesterday:

While early resolution of patent litigation is laudable, motions directed to the pleadings generally may not consider matters outside what is pled in the complaint. Yet this is what courts are doing — they have been coloring outside the lines when deciding whether a patented software or business method is an ineligible abstraction. They are looking beyond the allegations in the complaint to discern “fundamental economic concepts.” Independent of anything pled in the complaint, they are making historical observations about alleged longstanding commercial practices and deciding whether the claimed invention is analogous to such practices.

Oh, cry us a river, Dave. Whenever lawyers don’t get their way in a system which they perceive as theirs (to use against actual scientists who produce things) they like to whine about ‘non-conformist’ elements such as judges that ‘dare’ to question some abstract patents over triviality, prior art, lack of merit etc. Remember Andrew Y. Schroeder, patent lawyer who wrote to a patent examiner who rejected his application "Are you drunk? No, seriously…are you drinking scotch and whiskey with a side of crack cocaine while you "examine" patent applications?" He was really bullying the examiner for not just acting as a passive rubber-stamping machine (remember that 92% of patent applications in the US end up enshrined as patents, making the examination process farcical).

Rude and aggressive lawyers are the norm perhaps, not the exception (despite the suit and the shallow façade). After getting the EFF sued for insulting a patent (the EFF eventually evaded this lawsuit, thanks in part to public shaming) Daniel Nazer picks on another bogus patent (instead of stupid he now says “bogus” and “terrible”). Here is what it’s about: “Like all of the patents we highlight in our Stupid Patent of the Month series, this month’s winner, U.S. Patent No. 6,795,918, is a terrible patent. But it earns a special place in the Pantheon of stupid patents because it is being wielded in one of most outrageous trolling campaigns we have ever seen.

“Patent No. 6,795,918 (the ’918 patent), issued from an application filed in March 2000, and is titled: “Service level computer security.” It claims a system of “filtering data packets” by “extracting the source, destination, and protocol information,” and “dropping the received data packet if the extracted information indicates a request for access to an unauthorized service.” You may think, wait a minute, that’s just a firewall. By the year 2000, firewalls had been around for a long time. So how on earth did this applicant get a patent? A good question.”

Another “patent dies,” says IP Kat because the ruler in the case “found the claim to be obvious.”

We are hearing about more and more of these patents that go to court and are ultimately ruled/deemed invalid. This devalues patents as a whole, discourages lawsuits, and most importantly reduced the incentive of one to apply for patents on software and other abstract things.

Translation of Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ Speech Against EPO Management and New Parliamentarian Interventions

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More political fire targeting the EPO’s management, adding up to over 100 parliamentarians by now

DAYS ago we wrote about an intervention by Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, who had already intervened before regarding EPO abuses. He has since then uploaded his short speech to YouTube and SUEPO has a translation. “Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’,” it said, “a French Member of Parliament, made an intervention at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 25 June 2015.

“Mr Le Borgn’ explained the rollback of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office (EPO) and referred to the Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights from Mr José María Beneyto, Accountability of international organizations for human rights violations [...] The intervention is available on YouTube. A transcript is available here.”

We have made it available below as HTML in English, for future reference and permanent record.

Intervention by Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ (PS)

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg on 25 June 2015

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69s1vXjEo5M

“Thank you Mr. President. My question relates to the suppression of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office.

International organizations are most often accorded immunity from judicial intervention by virtue of the agreements and conventions which brought them into existence, or by headquarters agreements. This immunity allows them not to be arraigned before the courts of the state or states in which they are established. This is understandable and is good policy in particular with regard to the independence of the organization.

But immunity from judicial intervention does not mean creating a place not subject to the rule of law, or of lesser law and lesser right. Accordingly, a person working for an international organization, and there are tens of thousands of them on our continent, starting here at the Council of Europe, cannot be deprived of the right of being heard before a court, in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Again, but this time by virtue of Article 11 of the Convention, the right to collective action must be guaranteed. This includes the right of a staff union organization representing the employees of the organization likewise to be heard by a court or tribunal, where defence can be provided both individually and collectively. Thus it is that the Court of Appeal at The Hague summoned the European Patent Office on 17 February this year, suspending its immunity, which rarely occurs, is almost unprecedented, and in any case a rare thing, in order to protect the collective rights of some 7000 staff members concerned.

There can in fact be no doubt that policies which are at odds with the fundamental rights consecrated in the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter are developing under the cover of immunity from court intervention. Restriction on the right of association, reduction of the right to strike, impeding the right of collective negotiation, depriving an organization of any recourse to the courts, and failing to implement a court decision, which unfortunately is the case with regard to the judgment of 17 February, are profoundly unacceptable developments. I would therefore like to take the opportunity of this free debate to set before our Assembly, naturally, but also before the Committee of Ministers on which our 47 Member States are represented, 38 of which are also members of the European Patent Office. Two years ago the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved the report by our colleague José Maria Beneyto on the obligations of international organizations to answer for their actions in the event of violations of Human Rights. In the extension of the Beneyto report, this matter of the respecting of social rights, both individual as well as collective, of the staff of international organizations was deemed worthy of being extended, investigated, and, above all, strengthened.

I know the European Patent Office. I esteem all the added value which it provides for the European economy, and I appreciate the excellent work of its staff. But I am also aware of the climate which prevails within it: Management by fear, the impeding of collective action, failure to recognize warning signs, and absence of any independent mechanism of supervision and internal monitoring. I make appeal to the Member States, from whom the European Patent holds its legitimacy, to act, because now is the time to act.”

According to Florian Müller, there is more to it; he has found more questions from politicians. The EPO’s management is under more fire from many more politicians, “17 Members of the European Parliament” by Müller’s count. Here is the one with more names on it. Bear in mind this one is just one of several:

Kostadinka Kuneva (GUE/NGL), Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL), Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL), Pablo Iglesias (GUE/NGL), Lola Sánchez Caldentey (GUE/NGL), Stelios Kouloglou (GUE/NGL), Paloma López Bermejo (GUE/NGL), Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL), Fabio De Masi (GUE/NGL), Tania González Peñas (GUE/NGL), Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL), Neoklis Sylikiotis (GUE/NGL), Kostas Chrysogonos (GUE/NGL), Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL) and Miloslav Ransdorf (GUE/NGL)

Subject: Violation of labour and trade union rights in the European Patent Organisation (EPO)

The Dutch appeal court recently ruled (case number 200.141.812 / 01 / 17-2-2015) that the European Patent Organisation (EPO) violated workers’ labour rights deriving from the EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Consequently the Dutch court, exceptionally, has not accepted the immunity EPO enjoys as an international organisation, since this immunity cannot allow for human rights violations. Nevertheless EPO declared it would ignore the ruling pleading execution immunity.

There is definitely strong momentum being built. Regarding DDOS attacks against this site, we are going to visit attorneys tomorrow regarding legal action against Amazon (which refuses to say who used its AWS facilities to repeatedly attack this site).

Links 2/7/2015: KDE Plasma 5.3.2, antiX 15

Posted in News Roundup at 12:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • NHS IT failures mount as GP data system declared unfit for purpose

    The towering scrapheap of NHS IT failures may about to rise further, with the increasingly expensive GP Extraction Service IT system deemed not fit for purpose by the government’s spending watchdog.

    Costs for the GPES IT system, which is supposed to extract data from all GP practices in England, have ballooned from £14m to £40m, with at least £5.5m wasted on write-offs and delay costs, said the National Audit Office.

    The GPES has so far managed to provide data for just one customer – NHS England – who received four years later than originally planned.

    The NAO said the need for the service remains and further public expenditure is required to improve or replace it.

  • Alton Towers apologises for taking up to an hour to evacuate passengers from monorail in searing heat
  • Science

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • What We Call Security Isn’t Really Security

      Well, it’s probably no shock to you that the security industry can’t agree on a definition of security. Imagine if the horse industry couldn’t agree on what is a horse. Yes, it’s like that.

    • UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends’ friends

      Those contacts include their Outlook.com (nee Hotmail) contacts, Skype contacts and, with an opt-in, their Facebook friends. There is method in the Microsoft madness – it saves having to shout across the office or house “what’s the Wi-Fi password?” – but ease of use has to be teamed with security. If you wander close to a wireless network, and your friend knows the password, and you both have Wi-Fi Sense, you can now log into that network.

    • Former L0pht man ‘Mudge’ leaves Google for Washington

      L0pht co-founder and CTO of Veracode Chris Wysopal told Security Ledger software remains among “the last products that has no transparency to what the customer is getting, adding that the “pseudo-monopolies” in the industry can simply refuse to co-operate with third-party testers.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Finance

    • Economic Update: Pope Questions Capitalism

      We have fun with why US govt leaving Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York and we celebrate rising UK movement against austerity. Second half of show interviews veteran reporter Bob Hennelly on the Pope’s statement about ecology, environment, and a failing economic system.

    • Socialism Means Abolishing the Distinction Between Bosses and Employees

      Regulated private capitalism. State capitalism. Socialism. These three systems are entirely different from each other. We need to understand the differences between them to move beyond today’s dysfunctional economies. With confidence waning in whether modern private capitalism can truly be fixed, the debate shifts to a choice between two systemic alternatives that we must learn to keep straight: state capitalism and socialism.

  • Privacy

    • WikiLeaks: New intelligence briefs show US spied on German leader

      On Wednesday, WikiLeaks published two new top-secret National Security Agency briefs that detail American and British espionage conducted against German leaders as they were discussing responses to the Greek economic crisis in 2011.

      The organization also published a redacted list of 69 German government telephone numbers that were targeted for snooping. That list includes Oskar Lafontaine, who served as German finance minister from 1998 to 1999, when the German government was still based in Bonn—suggesting that this kind of spying has been going on for over 15 years at least.

    • VPNs are exposing sensitive user data due to IPv6 leakage vulnerability

      A STUDY has found that 11 out of 14 virtual private network (VPN) providers are exposing personal information through a vulnerability known as IPv6 leakage.

      This is damning for such privacy services, many of which have seen increased use since the Edward Snowden PRISM revelations of 2013.

    • Orfox Is The Guardian Project’s Latest App For Bringing The Tor Browser Experience To Android, First Alpha Release Is Available

      The Guardian Project, the group behind previous efforts to bring Tor and other privacy-preserving software to Android, is working on a Tor-friendly browser built on the desktop equivalent’s codebase. This app, named Orfox, will replace its WebView-based predecessor Orweb.

  • Civil Rights

    • TSA Asks America To LOL At Traveler Who Had $75,000 Taken From Him By Federal Agents

      The TSA runs a fairly entertaining Instagram account, if you’re the sort of person who is impressed by pictures of weapons seized from stupid passengers. That would be the extent of its social media prowess. Its blog is pretty much a 50/50 mix of Yet Another Thing You Can’t Take Onboard and Blogger Bob defending the TSA’s latest gaffe.

      One of the TSA’s official Twitter flacks tried to loft a lighthearted “hey, look at this thing we came across!” tweet. She couldn’t have picked a worse “thing” to highlight, considering the ongoing outrage over civil asset forfeiture.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Europe to end mobile roaming charges by June 2017

      Lawmakers agreed a final proposal to scrap roaming charges and introduce rules based on “net neutrality”. Roaming charges are a part of life when you travel abroad and customers are penalised that just have to use their mobile phone for data. The good news now is that nonsense will come to end in June 2017, there will however be the usual fair use policy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • UK police seize thousands of Android streamers modded for piracy

        Set-top boxes help deliver streaming services like Netflix and Now TV into our homes, but they’re also giving rise to less-than legal methods of watching films, TV shows and sport. As manufacturers have embraced the open nature of Android, enterprising users have found ways to install apps that facilitate piracy, which has become a business in its own right. This week, a number of police forces conducted raids on sellers of “pirate” Android streamers, confiscating thousands of units in the process.

      • Supreme Court won’t weigh in on Oracle-Google API copyright battle

        The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Google’s appeal of the Google-Oracle API copyright dispute. The high court’s move lets stand an appellate court’s decision that application programming interfaces (APIs) are subject to copyright protections.

      • Supreme Court Won’t Hear Oracle v. Google Case, Leaving APIs Copyrightable And Innovation At Risk

        This is unfortunate, even if it was somewhat expected: the Supreme Court has now rejected Google’s request to hear its appeal over the appeals court decision that overturned a lower court ruling on the copyrightability of APIs. The lower court decision, by Judge William Alsup (who learned to code Java to understand the issues), noted that APIs were not copyrightable, as they were mere methods, which are not subject to copyright.

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