08.24.19

Openwashing Report: It’s Not Just Microsoft, But Microsoft is by Far the Biggest Facilitator of That

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 12:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Weekly openwashing report

Summary: A weekly roundup looking back at distortion if not intentional misuse of the term “Open Source”; Microsoft is still working hard and spending a lot of money to control the narrative (e.g. to limit “Open Source” to what’s on its proprietary platform, GitHub)

THIS SERIES continues for the third week/weekend in a row. Readers may have noticed that we rarely mention Microsoft in it; that’s not because Microsoft isn’t openwashing (it certainly is; it does it all the time) but because it’s a growing phenomenon much bigger than one single company or a handful of them, e.g. GAFAM.

Microsoft’s ownership of GitHub is a growing problem. We’ll come to that in a moment, but let’s start with the Linux Foundation. Here’s a new press release from Sysdig [1, 2]. Sysdig is proprietary software, but the title of the press release has “Open Source Team” in it; that’s just for openwashing purposes. “Falco joined the CNCF in October 2018,” it says, alluding to a coalition under the Linux Foundation’s wing. The members? Mostly proprietary software companies, but they collaborate on some code. Their products? Just proprietary software, maybe with a few exceptions here and there.

“Sysdig is proprietary software, but the title of the press release has “Open Source Team” in it; that’s just for openwashing purposes.”On we move to LinkChain, which days ago spoke of an “Open Source Version”. That just means proprietary software with an openwashing slant, e.g. a ‘teaser version’ or ‘trial version’; like the same old “community”/”enterprise” edition trick, the former being designed for lock-in. Open as in locked? Maybe the name “LinkChain” serves as a warming; they try to chain people and companies. Akin to Open Core…

The next example is one that we mentioned a week ago. It’s about rideOS and its openwashing by characterising “APIs” as “open”. Some media is still playing along. Also covered a week ago was gross openwashing of surveillance. In recent days we saw many more examples of that. First of all, consider those two articles [1
2] about TECH5. It speaks of “MOSIP’s open architecture”. The second article says: “The T5-ABIS is built on an open architecture to preserve flexibility for governments.” That’s not Open Source, so both headlines are misleading. And now comes Microsoft. Its surveillance platform is being spun as “confidential” and “secure” by the Linux Foundation (which Microsoft pays) and SDTimes helps the openwashing of these back doors, NSA surveillance etc. This is very typical of SDTimes. “SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week” goes again to Microsoft. They keep doing that even when the projects are closely attached to proprietary software. We’re not surprised by this, especially because it’s the SDTimes. Microsoft’s long history of sabotage never bothers bribed writers, working for publications that Microsoft keeps bribing. This is an issue that bribed media won’t speak about. Obviously.

“Saying that FOSS projects ‘don’t exist’ if they’re not on GitHub is like saying that people ‘cease to exist’ if or when they delete Facebook.”Staying on the subjects of Microsoft and surveillance, Twitter is openwashing its surveillance to make it seem or sound or ‘feel’ ethical [1, 2]. It’s also worth noting that Twitter is outsourcing its code to a proprietary software platform of Microsoft. How very typical. To quote: “It just became easier to diagnose runtime performance issues at scale, thanks to Twitter. The tech giant today open-sourced Rezolus, a “high-resolution” telemetry agent designed to uncover anomalies and utilization spikes too brief to be captured through normal observability and metrics systems. Twitter says it’s been running Rezolus in production for over a year, and it says it’ll continue development on the public GitHub repository.”

So they gave it to Microsoft. We have meanwhile noticed that there’s more flawed work based on GitHub data. Janet Swift did an article about it, but she neglected to point out the obvious issue. The data itself is highly biased. As if FOSS projects don’t exist or do not count unless Microsoft (foremost foe of Open Source) controls them inside a proprietary software platform that freedom-conscious developers reject? Saying that FOSS projects ‘don’t exist’ if they’re not on GitHub is like saying that people ‘cease to exist’ if or when they delete Facebook.

“They cheapen Open Source to death.”Over at TechRepublic, the openwashing of Twitter carries on. It’s Mac Asay again. He said he had deleted his Facebook and similar accounts, but not Twitter (where he blocked me because free speech isn’t something he can grasp). So now he treats Twitter, a truly proprietary platform, as some kind of Open Source lecturer. He published “What Twitter taught me about open source” and the Linux Foundation then boosted him. He calls himself “longtime open sourceror,” but he and his employer Adobe are actively attacking Free software and Open Source by making these meaningless. They also pay major publishers to print this crap. So we’re supposed to assume that Twitter is some kind of Open Source leader even though it’s a proprietary software company? Well, that’s how Asay wants Abobe too to be perceived. They cheapen Open Source to death.

“The openwashing of IBM’s POWER comes along with the openwashing of IBM mainframes.”A rarer and relatively new pattern of openwashing that we’ve noticed is “open” by association; Marfeel shows the possibility of openwashing oneself and one’s proprietary software by giving some money; like oligarchs who give “some money” to “charity”. This pattern is related to one where a company builds a proprietary product on top of an “open” stack (not its own) and then seeks to ‘inherit’ the positive image of that underlying stack. Pure openwashing by AT&T was described here a week ago. Telecompetitor and Container Journal [1, 2] amplified that some more. To quote: “AT&T and Dell Technologies have pledged to work together to advance a variety of open source projects starting with the previously launched AirShip initiative, a management framework that combines elements of OpenStack and Kubernetes to declaratively automate cloud provisioning and lifecycle management for containerized applications.” Here’s another one; it shows how they’re openwashing 5G by associating it with things completely unrelated to it (like OpenStack and Kubernetes). Days ago we explained a similar PR stunt and last night we wrote about OpenPOWER. The openwashing of IBM’s POWER comes along with the openwashing of IBM mainframes. These are expensive machines with proprietary software on them (and lots of patents to destroy anyone who actually believes it’s “open” and OK to copy). So much for “Open Mainframe Project” as this new press release puts it

“So here we can see how openwashing actually ruins “open-source”, Open Source and anything “open”…”Of course there are cases more blatant where the Open Source label is abused completely; this new press release says “Prey Inc., provider of the cross-platform, open source anti-theft software…”

Seems to be proprietary software, but that needs further investigation. In our latest daily links we also included 3 articles about H2O.ai. It received some more funding (in exchange for shared control) and no, it’s not “open source leader” as this headline put it. Go to their Web site and check; it’s proprietary software with limited-time ‘trial’…

So here we can see how openwashing actually ruins “open-source”, Open Source and anything “open”…

Here’s another new example. This is openwashing because it makes it sound like there’s code involved, but it’s just some registry.

Returning to examples from the surveillance domain, here we have Google with MediaPipe (more here). So a component for CCTV-like devices and other surveillance products… is now “open”.

“It’s a browser extension; never mind this browser being proprietary software that spies a lot.”Google’s message: our surveillance… is “open”, hence “ethical”. Even the listening devices (Live Transcribe). These are just the latest examples. This new example shows how surveillance through/for ads is described as “open” and “transparent”. It’s a browser extension; never mind this browser being proprietary software that spies a lot.

Google does its share of openwashing and no doubt future parts of this series will revisit Google a lot.

Now, what about Microsoft? Same old. Mary Jo Foley wrote about Stormy Peters joining Microsoft. It helps the openwashing. For well over a decade Stormy Peters had served Microsoft in various ways (Techrights wrote many articles about that), so Peters joining Microsoft to attack FOSS directly as a ‘mole’ is hardly surprising. Even expected. Love of money dooms FOSS and this is all about money: “Peters most recently was senior manager of Red Hat’s community team, a role she has occupied since November 2016, according to her LinkedIn profile. Her profile says she left Red Hat in August 2019 and joined Microsoft as Director of the Open Source Programs Office in August 2019. She is based in Berthoud, Colorado.”

“Microsoft hopes that the likes of Stormy, Nat and Miguel can help Microsoft control the narratives around FOSS.”What Microsoft propaganda sites call “prominent free and open source software advocate” (in the headline) is actually someone who sold out more than a decade ago; an associate of other defectors and traitors like Miguel de Icaza. This would not be the first.

“Stormy will never be able to make up for such an unforgivable action,” one reader told us. “Even if she leaves her motives will be forever suspect. It’s a reprehensible and inexcusable decision on her part that also shows terrible problems within Red Hat.”

This reader said Stormy is “like DeIcaza, a mole going home for rewards.”

Nat Friedman, an associate of both of them, even got a top job there (the top GitHub mole/role). But this was more or less expected all along. Microsoft hopes that the likes of Stormy, Nat and Miguel can help Microsoft control the narratives around FOSS. It’s easier to destroy or abduct FOSS that way. They are ‘doing a Nokia’.

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