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06.08.19

The Linux Foundation in 2019: Over 100 Million Dollars in Income, But Cannot Maintain Linux.com?

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Foundation and Linux.com

Summary: Today’s Linux Foundation gets about 0.1 billion dollars per year (as explained in our previous post), so why can’t it spend about 0.1% of that money on people who write for and maintain a site that actually promotes GNU/Linux?

THE Linux Foundation isn’t what it seems; it isn’t even what it’s called. Our readers and guests often urge us to investigate further, getting to the bottom of what goes on at this relatively secretive nonprofit. Without going too deep into the 2017 IRS filing (it’s publicly available now and we shall write a lot more about it later) one can easily see that it’s not a nonprofit and it’s totally out of control. It’s more like a corporate PAC or pressure group. There are aspects to it that we weren’t aware of before. And readers be forewarned… it’s not pretty, to say the least.

I was all along under the impression that this PAC (or nonprofit or whatever) was at least defensive and supportive of the GPL, or copyleft in general. That is, after all, the licence of almost everything in Linux. Seeing what the PAC did to the Conservancy, however, many people started having doubts. A few days ago someone told me in Mastodon (Fediverse) [1, 2]: “[T]hanks for working on a LF [Linux Foundation] article. I’ve experienced not many people know that LF [Linux Foundation] is the corporate hand over the linux kernel development, and I’ve noticed a big part of the community does not much about this platform. I’d appreciate if you also wanted to mention (besides all other facts) that LF [Linux Foundation] has released all their recent projects with a permissive license and that they are actively fighting against copyleft. [...] thanks for the link to te [sic] /LinuxFoundation wikipage, I must have missed that earlier, and I was unaware you started such a brilliant investigation. Keep up the great work!”

Another reader wrote to us about the copyleft aspects (some stuff is just purely proprietary and suggests a Microsoft/LinkedIn account to apply). Last night he wrote: “The LF [Linux Foundation] mess looks like it is only starting. So far it has been uncovered that the kernel’s major competitors/opponents have joined LF [Linux Foundation]. Some from the worst are on the board and thus ultimately have oversight of Linus and his activities. Linus himself was temporarily removed last year in a massive non-technical intrigue and brought back after a longer pause in a diminished capacity. The LF [Linux Foundation] writers for the official web site have been dumped rudely a few months ago.

“In related news, Apple is ramping up its anti-GPL stance, see its motivations for its move from bash to zsh. Google is ramping up its anti-GPL stance, see some of its motivation for its move from Android to Fuchsia. You’ve been the only one covering that so far. Good work. It’s getting positive attention.”

If the Linux Foundation participates in anti-GPL agenda, then it is striking at the very core of Free software in order to promote stuff like “open core” (i.e. free bait for proprietary software). A decade back the Linux Foundation welcomed Black Duck as a member, only years after a Microsoft veteran had created Black Duck for the purpose of smearing and attacking the GPL (by their own admission).

Looking at responses to our more recent articles, this morning we see comments like: “Holy shit this is crazy, I kind of suspected that Linux is not as good as it was in the past now that Google and Microsoft are board members, but for it to happen this quickly. What can we expect, what can we do? Should we all switch to BSD based distros?”

“Well, this kind of stuff did make me seriously consider it,” someone responded. “I’m on manjaro myself. Loving the arch + usability,” said the third person.

Microsoft and Apple would certainly like it if people just moved to BSD-style licences, allowing proprietary giants to exploit the code without giving anything in return and thereby monopolise the market.

On go the comments, e.g. with “people call me crazy when I say we shouldn’t trust Microsoft’s “goodwill”, they say that EEE isn’t a thing anymore, that we can trust them with GitHub and that Microsoft embracing Linux will be a good thing…”

We wrote about this in the previous post. “I actually think this is mostly true,” said the next person. “It’s just that there’s more than one head in Microsoft’s hydra and at least one is set on eating the world (as is true of all large companies).”

“Linux wrapped in Windows,” wrote another person, “it’s kinda hard to admire the grace and power… the freedom of the majestic eagle… when it’s trapped behind the bars of a dingy little cage. That’s developers running Linux on Windows. Let’s hope they wake up before it’s too late.”

“I certainly have no doubt that’s what MSFT is doing,” said a fourth person yesterday. “All the incentives point that way. There’s no room for ethics in a $trillion multinational public corporation that’s built its fortune on exploiting monopolised users. Here’s my thinking on Microsoft and Free and Open Source Software, and on Linux: https://davelane.nz/mstrust” (he wrote about this subject before)

Another new Reddit threat that cites Techrights has responses like, “I didn’t realize there was a linux.com.”

“Yep,” said the next comment. “Run by a large not for profit. They used to issue certifications as well.”

On Linux.com one reader wrote to ask: “Does Larry Augustin have any comment?”

Remember that Linux.com used to be a publicly-traded company with a massive IPO. “Do you have Augustin contacts,” I responded. He has since then escaped the limelight and settled in not-so-famous companies. To quote this reader:

Could be interesting to Ask Larry Augustin what he thinks of the LF firing all the authors and editors.
Was there a contract that required the LF to maintain Linux.com as a magazine site for a certain amount of time?

He held the “monopoly” on a bunch of linux media back in the day… right with VA.
Which, a lot of people were screwed by VA as well -btw.

Wasn’t it Augustin who transferred ownership of Linux.com to the LF…
I don’t know.
I only think it was Larry (VA), then it was LF… not sure the story there. Do you know the story? I’d be interested to know… WHY!

Of course, under his umbrella it wasn’t much different – catering to advertisers…
And Emmett Plant was editor in chief and left – I think there was a “protect your source” reason, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, it could be an interesting comment from Larry or anyone who previously worked at Linux.com (foundation or VA) to see if they have a comment about the current situation…

Our ears are open in case someone wishes to tell us something; we provide anonymity to those who want it.

“Other things I’m curious about,” added this reader. “Do you think previous employees fired by LF – might have some stories to share…”

We’re surprised they didn’t speak out (at all) until days ago in response to an article of ours. Hours after we posted an article about Linux.com being dead since April (and all staff fired) they suddenly added an item as if you say, “we’re not dead” (they linked to some old post from Mozilla). Some hecklers then decided that because a day after our article the Linux Foundation tried to cover up its misdeeds it thus “proves” we were wrong. If anything, it shows how guilty they are (and feel guilty, too).

“They’re not original articles,” one former staff member responded, “they’re from the newsfeed. When http://Linux.com was still active they published several original articles per day, and had a busy newsfeed as well.”

“For the community, by the community, Linux.com is the central resource for Linux users,” says the site, but there’s no community left. Nothing.

“Both of these were added after I had written an article about it” was my response to this heckler. They merely pretend that they didn’t sack the staff in a rude fashion. It’s rather revealing that they try to save face; it’s sometimes called ‘damage control’.

We should note that this likely has nothing (or little) to do with Microsoft, which isn’t the sole threat to Linux inside this PAC (the Board has other foes of Free software). We never framed this as a Microsoft-only issue. Microsoft just stands to gain the most if/when Linux fails.

Zemlin’s PAC isn’t about Linux. Zemlin himself doesn’t even use Linux. They’re no allies of GNU/Linux but of corporations — such as Microsoft and Intel — companies that make proprietary software and just ‘happen’ to have “Linux” somewhere. If Linux disappeared, they’d just replace it with something else like BSD. They probably would do so anyway if it wasn’t for inferior hardware support (lack of drivers).

What we have here is neglect if not betrayal; it’s really very blatant. First the PAC takes over Linux.com and claims it’ll support GNU/Linux news; it takes full ownership and for a while the site does some journalism (as promised). Site then turns into a marketing outlet of corporate PAC members (for payments, see the brochures we published earlier this year) and eventually all of the site’s staff gets sacked. As even people who worked for Linux.com admit, under the PAC the site just became marketing (and we know this based on the PAC’s brochures; interviews and articles were bought by the PAC’s clients and payers). This means a corruption of journalism rather than support for journalism (and those who don’t play along are fired). We’ve meanwhile noticed that Swapnil Bhartiya, who used to write for Linux.com, took a pivot to the marketing ‘industry’ [1, 2].

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