08.29.19

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Microsoft Wants Linux to Use exFAT for the Same Reasons it Wants Everybody to Use OOXML

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Every line of code that is written to our standards is a small victory; every line of code that is written to any other standard, is a small defeat.”

James Plamondon, Microsoft Technical Evangelist. From Exhibit 3096; Comes v Microsoft litigation [PDF]

Summary: Contrary to what Microsoft-dominated media is trying to tell us, Linux does not need exFAT and by adopting exFAT Linux would become more closely connected to and tightly controlled by Microsoft

THE googlebombing appears to be back. This morning people search for Linux news and instead get Microsoft news; right now, for example, 10 out of 10 results for “Linux” (in Google News), i.e. 100%, are actually about Microsoft rather than Linux.

“Technically speaking, Samsung already has the substitute. Maybe this is what Microsoft is scared of? Microsoft always strives to be ‘the’ standard.”What is it all about? We wrote about it approximately a month ago. It’s hardly even news, except for the legal department. “What I read online so far makes it look like being about injecting Microsoft products and software patents into the kernel,” one reader told us this morning, having already surveyed the news. “That increases the likelihood of other patent vectors like Mono being used against FOSS. If Microsoft were serious about supporting FOSS, it would do just that: add support for EXT4 and OpenZFS and promote both over exFAT and NTFS.”

LWN’s kernel expert (whom we respect) said: “Linux support for the exFAT filesystem has had a long and troubled history; Microsoft has long asserted patents in this area that have prevented that code from being merged into the kernel. Microsoft has just changed its tune, announcing that upstreaming exFAT is now OK…”

“It’s quite revealing when one considers who hyped up the whole thing, in effect causing a “googlebomb”.”So what? Linux already has replacements for it that are equally good. Technically speaking, Samsung already has the substitute. Maybe this is what Microsoft is scared of? Microsoft always strives to be ‘the’ standard.

Now let’s look at what the media said. It’s quite revealing when one considers who hyped up the whole thing, in effect causing a “googlebomb”.

Well, the report we initially saw came from SJVN (maybe he got a pointer or inside ‘scoop’, maybe predating this Microsoft post from Microsoft’s mole in the Linux Foundation’s Board). Microsoft is just trying to leverage OIN and its fake software patents (they would not survive a court’s scrutiny or even the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) scrutiny after 35 U.S.C. § 101) to make itself the ‘standard’ in Linux file systems. Seeing that Windows is losing its old dominance, Microsoft looks for new things to ‘infect’ with its so-called ‘IP’ (that it totally controls). To quote SJVN, who has been Microsoft-friendly in recent years:

For years, Microsoft used its patents as a way to profit from open-source products. The poster-child for Microsoft’s intellectual property aggression were the File Allocation Table (FAT) patents. But the Microsoft of then is not the Microsoft of now. First, Microsoft open-sourced its entire patent portfolio and now Microsoft is explicitly making its last remaining FAT intellectual property, the exFAT patents, available to Linux and open source via the Open Invention Network (OIN).

Microsoft announced that it now loves Linux and “we say that a lot, and we mean it! Today we’re pleased to announce that Microsoft is supporting the addition of Microsoft’s exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) technology to the Linux kernel.”

Will the ongoing lawsuits be dropped?

And what about Foxconn? Microsoft sued Foxconn this year, using its notorious patents; and payments were demanded for Linux-based products.

“Will the ongoing lawsuits be dropped?”Will all the blackmail money be refunded (for these exFAT patents)?

No.

So does Microsoft really change its spots? Maybe it realises that these patents are too weak because of 35 U.S.C. § 101?

SJVN’s article is more of a puff piece; it does not mention any of the above questions. We worry that some people who used to advocate GNU/Linux are nowadays advocating “club Linux Foundation” instead, i.e. proprietary software giants that are Linux Foundation sponsors and often reject Linux, they just exploit the name/brand. That’s where the money is. The sellouts and defectors profit from betrayal.

Soon afterwards Phoronix caught up with the action because it’s typically very fast and it had also caught the prelude to this (in the kernel’s mailing lists). Michael Larabel’s position:

With Microsoft now publicly documenting the exFAT specification and giving its blessing for Linux, it’s possible that out-of-tree exFAT driver could soon be merged into the mainline Linux kernel.

Larabel’s post has a neutral tone; Larabel often covers the replacements for exFAT and the issues associated with exFAT.

“…Larabel often covers the replacements for exFAT and the issues associated with exFAT.”But Microsoft boosters aggressively promote exFAT right now (today and yesterday). Microsoft’s message to Linux? Stop making your own file systems for portable devices. Just use Microsoft’s. Ask politely for our permission, as we have patents and we call all the shots.

We were hardly surprised to see Microsoft's longtime booster Tim Anderson bombarding the media [1, 2] (with changes) and Microsoft propaganda sites (dedicated ones) doing the same, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. Linux Foundation staff promoted this, as expected, even several times [1, 2]. There has never been anything (in recent years) that Microsoft did and the Linux Foundation did not like. Not a single word about what happened in Munich or the bribes. Microsoft pays for Zemlin’s PR services. Why put this client ‘at risk’?

“What next? Will Microsoft also offer its own scheduler and network stack? So that it can better control the whole development and direction of Linux?”There was also non-Microsoft media ‘on the case’, albeit mostly Microsoft apologists (with history) like this one or that one. We don’t want to mention names; readers can click and see who we speak of. Their track record is well documented. Joey Sneddon said: “Microsoft has announced that it’s bringing exFAT support to the Linux kernel, with code contributed licensed under GPLv2. This is huge, unexpected, yet very welcome #opensource news.”

Open Source? Maybe. Free software? No, not quite. GPLv3, for instance, has something to say about patents.

What next? Will Microsoft also offer its own scheduler and network stack? So that it can better control the whole development and direction of Linux? What if Microsoft tried? Would resistance still be possible?

The most ridiculous article we’ve stumbled upon was Microsoft’s “Philanthropic” Services Continue exFAT File System To Make Its Way On Linux Kernel (no kidding! Philanthropic!).

“As if Microsoft now ‘bosses’ Linux developers through the media (which publicly shames them if they stand in the way).”Microsoft blackmails Linux with patents, Appuals calls that “Microsoft’s “Philanthropic” Services”! Wow! That’s almost as bad as calling Bill Gates’ tax-evading scam a “charity”.

Remaining coverage [1, 2] was more moderate but failed to ask any of the Big Questions. The latter of these is about Paragon Software, which just like Tuxera helped Microsoft tax Linux (through exFAT licences).

Blackmail? Extortion? Forget about it! It’s the ‘new’ Microsoft! Now that it’s becoming irrelevant and it’s trying to impose patent traps on Linux we’re supposed to welcome it with open arms? Microsoft Emil, a predecessor of Microsoft Peter at Ars Technica, has just thrown in the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie in image form. Our media survey, which took nearly a day, showed one important facts; those who promote it are almost always Microsoft boosters with record. They don’t care about Linux and most of them actively and openly hate Linux. They spent years attacking and badmouthing GNU/Linux. One of our readers called all of these articles, collectively, “Microsoft spam” and we agree. It’s putting pressure on Linux developers to just do what Microsoft tells them. As if Microsoft now ‘bosses’ Linux developers through the media (which publicly shames them if they stand in the way).

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