08.30.19

A Closer Look at the ‘Trojan Horse’ That is exFAT Inside Linux

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Snakes like to deceive

Snakes like to deceive

Summary: Microsoft and its boosters (media insiders) spread the illusion that Microsoft is “opening up”; the reality, however, is that it’s looking to tighten control over Linux while at the same time profiting from exFAT patents owing to back room deals

TECHRIGHTS has come to the saddening realisation that entryism inside Linux is in an advanced phase if not a “terminal” stage.

The “4 Freedoms” of Richard Stallman (RMS) are probably not enough for Software Freedom. There are glaring loopholes or workarounds. We’re not talking about stuff like systemd here. We talk about changes/passage of ownership/control. If you allow moles, entryism and other forms of infiltration into key projects — and those projects are too complicated (or vast) to fork because that doesn’t scale well — these projects are screwed. Again, we’re not talking about Devuan/Debian here but mostly about Linux, the kernel.

“We’re losing the battle… we’re ceding control.”It’s extremely sad for me to say it, but access to source code (and permission to modify, run, redistribute) is not enough for Software Freedom anymore. We see a lot of evidence of this in Linux. That’s aside from the fact that openwashing — a term I believe I coined more than a decade ago — is a massive threat to Software Freedom (yes, right now more than ever before). We’re losing the battle… we’re ceding control. It’s all about control.

Microsoft doesn’t come to Linux “in peace”. It’s hostile. It did the same thing to Yahoo, to Nokia, and to Novell. My wife’s view on Microsoft ‘helping’ Linux is the same as mine. Microsoft needs to belately adopt EXT4 if it cares about Linux; but it’s only entering Linux to advance Microsoft’s ‘standards’, APIs and proprietary software inside Linux… through Linux. It’s exploitative, pure and simple.

“Microsoft doesn’t come to Linux “in peace”. It’s hostile. It did the same thing to Yahoo, to Nokia, and to Novell.”Microsoft loves Linux like Donald Trump loves the women whom he groped, illegally, by his very own admission. We’re only glad to see that a lot of Linux sites reject Microsoft’s dishonest ‘storytelling’ about how it ‘fell in love’ with Linux — the most laughable story since Temer and Bolsonaro claiming to serve people of Brazil. But let’s leave politics out of it, at least for a second (they’re used only for analogies here).

Steve R. at Linux Questions wrote: “Can’t argue against better interoperability, but I’m skeptical. Why should the Linux community adopt Microsoft technology while Microsoft is apparently reluctant to incorporate Linux technology.

“For example, Microsoft could adopt the “EXT4″ file system instead of pushing exFAT. Obviously Microsoft won’t do that to preserve its proprietary nature, even though they are opening up exFAT.”

fido_dogstoyevsky responds as follows: “They could, but as you say they won’t. It’s just the scorpion promising to not sting.

“If only we had the wherewithall to embrace what they’re offering and then extend it…”

Many of the comments we see are more or less the same. Unless one asks proprietary software front groups such as OIN for their views…

I should know; Many years ago on the phone (he phoned me) OIN’s CEO told me that many of Microsoft’s shakedown actions over Linux involved exFAT patents — some software patents that Alice/Section 101 likely would invalidate (if it went to court).

“Many of the comments we see are more or less the same. Unless one asks proprietary software front groups such as OIN for their views…”OIN, being a pro-software patents group, won’t bother actually invalidating these patents. It never even tried, e.g. at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). And suffice to say, my image of OIN ‘darkened’ over the years because it turned out it was more interested in fronting for proprietary software giants than in Linux or anything “community”. It’s like the Linux Foundation.

What does the Linux community (i.e. users and developers) actually think of all this? See the comments here; Microsoft spinners won’t be able to catch up with honest, frank, unpaid-for opinions.

Microsoft made a fortune from exFAT blackmail and it is likely still being paid ‘royalties’ for it, owing to large and high-profile OEM patent deals it signed years ago (even under Nadella).

“Microsoft made a fortune from exFAT blackmail and it is likely still being paid ‘royalties’ for it, owing to large and high-profile OEM patent deals it signed years ago (even under Nadella).”Obviously, and perhaps inevitably, Microsoft helpers like Greg K-H are happy to help, willing to oblige. Greg’s 'professionalism' notwithstanding, we’re supposed to think that this ‘mature’ (read: industry-friendly) man has no choice but to do what Microsoft says, never mind the community’s views.

Michael Larabel of Phoronix wrote about the Microsoft-friendly (Novell past) Greg carrying water for Microsoft, yet again, with its “horrible” code (like he did Hyper-V). To quote “The Existing Linux exFAT Code Is ‘Horrible’ But Could Soon Be In Staging”:

Following Microsoft’s approval of seeing exFAT support on Linux and at long last releasing public specifications to the file-system, the existing out-of-tree Linux driver code was quickly volleyed on the mailing list for review and hopeful inclusion into the kernel.

The existing out-of-tree exFAT Linux driver is the several year old one that was accidentally leaked by Samsung though later cleared up back in 2013. Due to uncertainty over Microsoft’s exFAT patents and the company previously not publicly giving their blessing to this file-system Linux support, it’s never been mainlined.

Tom’s Hardware did a relatively good job reporting on this, having researched it further than press releases and blog posts from Microsoft. Nathaniel Mott actually went on to dig some actual responses from actual Linux developers to Microsoft’s EEE-like move against Linux file system components/parts. “Phoronix reported today that Linux developers weren’t particularly enthused about what Microsoft released, with one kernel developer calling it a “pile of crap,” which is exactly the kind of frankness we’ve come to expect from Linux developers,” he said. Sometimes the truth needs to be said. Free as in speech, right?

“Tom’s Hardware did a relatively good job reporting on this, having researched it further than press releases and blog posts from Microsoft.”In our previous post about it, a month after we wrote about this plan and the associated patent issues, we mentioned that this agenda of Microsoft is mostly being promoted by Microsoft boosters who pretend to care about Linux (after bashing it for years if not decades). Bogdan Popa, Microsoft News Editor [sic] (propagandist for over a decade), has just proven our point again (“Microsoft loves Linux” lie as an image). Microsoft Tim did so too. Notice how all the Linux haters suddenly pretend to care about Linux; They try to UNDERMINE it and they know what Microsoft has in mind.

We have meanwhile noticed some more shallow puff pieces. This one says that Microsoft “Opens Up exFAT”; It did not open it up, there are still patents on it and it’s controlled by a company that attacks Linux. Making a statement about patents isn’t the same as “opening up”. “Microsoft opens up the exFAT filesystem” was this headline in bit-tech.net. So much for “open”. Like a hunter opens a bear trap, waiting for the bear to come. It’s only about cementing monopoly or monoculture.

“Microsoft publishes exFAT spec” was a more accurate headline, but it continues/proceeds to saying that “it attempts to woo Linux…”

“So much for “open”. Like a hunter opens a bear trap, waiting for the bear to come.”Errr… nope, to control Linux. Not the same thing. How about this article? This is really bad code, according to Phoronix, so why is it being added? Shouldn’t Torvalds make a public rant? Is he afraid to speak out now in light of recent events? As far as we’re aware, he has said not a word about it.

Puff pieces still dominate the news; there are quite a few more like the above-cited ones. There are also spammy press releases from Paragon Software (we saw them several times so far this week). Paragon has long profited from perpetuation of Microsoft’s patent blackmail against Linux and now it wants more money. We’ve found lots of puff pieces later in the day yesterday. Microsoft totally controls the narrative here (few people would bother reading comments). Reactions from actual users and developers of GNU/Linux don’t seem to matter.

Ryan Farmer, a former Microsoft MVP who over a decade ago turned against Microsoft and became a regular in our IRC channels, had a lot to say about it.

Last night he asked me: “What did you think of Microsoft saying it will “donate” exFAT patents to get a kernel module into Linux? They published the specification of exFAT and announced that they would be giving a patent license to all OIN members with the goal of getting a kernel module merged. They said it won’t be them that writes the kernel module though.”

MinceR responded in IRC with a joke: “good, at least it can be good then…”

“Microsoft totally controls the narrative here (few people would bother reading comments).”“Well,” Ryan pointed out, “there’s already at least one GPL licensed kernel module out there. That one that initially leaked out of Samsung. It just hasn’t been merged because Microsoft has sued people over file system patents so many times. Microsoft was quick to point out that they are not “currently engaged in any ongoing litigation related to exFAT patents”. Of course they aren’t. Litigation is what happens when threats don’t work.”

I showed him the latest reports about Microsoft moving to second “E” [1, 2]. “More gifts,” Ryan joked.

So yes, it’s really happening!

“Lawsuits work the same way plea bargaining does,” Ryan said. “Microsoft doesn’t want to sue people over patents that may be found invalid. It wants money.”

“Quite a few OEMs already pay Microsoft for exFAT patents. Now that there aren’t any large ones left to ‘milk’ Microsoft is ‘opening up’…”The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should never have granted these patents in the first place.

“The way to get money isn’t to nuke everyone,” Ryan concluded. “It’s to threaten them if they don’t pay up. Usually like part of what the cost of going to court and losing would be. As long as you never go to court, you don’t risk anything.”

Quite a few OEMs already pay Microsoft for exFAT patents. Now that there aren’t any large ones left to ‘milk’ Microsoft is ‘opening up’…

Quite the publicity stunt!

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. EPO Staff Representation Complains That EPO Management Exploits Pandemic and 'House Arrests' to Overwork Staff, Lower Quality

    The EPO keeps breaking its promises to workers; not only are key employees seeing their net salary cut (inflation factored in) but pensioners too are being robbed and in the meantime the total time spent on work is increasing



  2. Fake News is Not a 'Wing' Thing

    The two-party corporate-led system (and media) would have us obsess/bicker about accuracy of news based on some binary/dual system of blind loyalty rather than underlying facts and priorities



  3. Links 25/1/2021: Huawei on GNU/Linux, NuTyX 20.12.1, Whisker Menu 2.5.3, Lutris 0.5.8.3, Linux 5.11 RC5

    Links for the day



  4. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) in ZDNet is the Norm

    ZDNet continues to emit lots of garbage 'journalism', in effect Microsoft PR and what's known as "black PR" for Linux; just like Bleeping Computer, which ZDNet hired this writer from, there's no adherence to facts, just smears and innuendo



  5. Truth Tellers Aren't an Enemy of Free Software

    There's a perpetual attack on people who speak out against actors and corporations in positions of great power, however subtle and indirect those attacks may seem on the surface (they don't wish to be held accountable for defaming activists)



  6. The Linux Foundation, With Over 124 Million Dollars in Annual Revenue, is in Trouble Because of the Pandemic, So It's Trying to Reinvent Itself as Training and Certifications Outfit

    With mountains of cash and a Public Relations (PR) or marketing business model the so-called 'Linux' Foundation became reliant on travel, lodging, booths and speeches on sale; COVID-19 is a great risk to that business model



  7. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 24, 2021



  8. Our Move Further Away From the World Wide Web, the Browser Monopolies, HTTP, and HTML

    The World Wide Web (WWW) is going down a bad path and a clearly regressive direction; the solution isn't going 'retro' but exploring more sophisticated systems which are robust to censorship (localised or globalised) and downtime (related to censorship) while reducing surveillance by leveraging encryption at the endpoints



  9. Important Issues Not Entertained in the Community, Especially Critics of the Status Quo

    here's corporate infiltration inside communities (for oligarchy hunts volunteer, unpaid labour) and those who speak about that as a threat to our cause and objectives are painted as misguided outcasts who must be ignored



  10. Internet Origins of the Mob

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock



  11. When Proprietary Software Users Dictate the Freedom-Leaning Communities

    Fedora doesn't care about software freedom and its steward (or parent company) is sometimes imposing proprietary software on staff; they've quit caring



  12. In 2020 Onwards 'Open Source' is Just a Marketing Ploy of Monopolies, Unlike Free Software

    More people are nowadays seeing or witnessing 'Open Source' for what it truly is; the term has become a misleading marketing term of proprietary software firms looking to rebrand as "ethical" (e.g. by sharing some code with other proprietary software firms, over proprietary platforms such as GitHub)



  13. Microsoft: The Year After We Bought GitHub There Was a Significant Decline in Number of New Projects on GitHub

    Microsoft has just admitted that in 2019 GitHub saw a very significant decline in number of new projects (and users, which it is conveniently miscounting by adding 'phantom' ones) on the site. Just what we had heard before they confirmed it (and they foresaw this effect of the takeover, hence the lies about "loving" Linux).



  14. Social Control Media is a Passing Fad, We Should All Go Back to Blogging and Subscribing to RSS Feeds

    The whole "social control media" phenomenon has been oversold or promoted using lies; in reality, as a mountain of evidence serves to show, it's a way to manage society at a macro scale



  15. As Andrei Iancu Removes Himself From the Patent and Trademark Office All Eyes Are on Biden's Next Nomination

    Patent zealots and their front groups already lobby Joe Biden to put one of them in charge of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; we'll soon see if Joe Biden "means business" or simply means monopoly/large corporations (and their law firms/departments)



  16. Data Point: GNU/Linux Share in Desktops/Laptops Nearly Tripled in the Past Decade, Peaking This Past Month (All-Time High)

    Contrary to what some publishers try to tell us, GNU/Linux is still growing and mostly at the expense of Windows



  17. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, January 23, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, January 23, 2021



  18. Links 24/1/2021: Nouveau X.Org Driver Release and GhostBSD 21.01.20

    Links for the day



  19. InteLeaks – Part XXX: Harbor Research's Pseudo-scientific 'Research' for Intel, Bizarrely Suggesting a Microsoft Partnership for a Domain Largely Controlled or Dominated by Linux

    The full document that Intel paid for and in turn used to justify cracking down on Free software (obliterating Free software-based workflows inside Intel), instead outsourcing all sorts of things to proprietary software traps of Microsoft



  20. Chromium and Chrome Are Not Free Software But an Example of Microsoft-Fashioned Openwashing Tactics

    It's time to reject Google's Web monopoly (shared with other companies but still an oligopoly); removing its Web browser would be a good start



  21. Links 23/1/2021: Chromium Pains and New Debian Maintainers

    Links for the day



  22. InteLeaks – Part XXIX: Harbor Research Did Not Produce a Study But an Elaborate Hoax for Intel, Suggesting Microsoft Partnership and Outsourcing Based on Zero Evidence and No Solid Rationale

    The pseudo-scientific ‘report’ from Harbor Research is more of the same nonsense we’ve grown accustomed to; unethical if not rogue firms are being paid to lie — or to perpetuate falsehoods which someone stands to gain from



  23. Video: The State of Communities Surrounding GNU/Linux Distributions

    A discussion about the state of volunteer efforts going into the development, maintenance (in the 'maintainership' sense) and support/advocacy of GNU/Linux distros



  24. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 22, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, January 22, 2021



  25. InteLeaks – Part XXVIII: Intel Served Report From Microsoft Boosters, Who Provide No Actual Evidence and No Science to Back Their Supposed 'Findings'

    Findings and recommendations from Harbor 'Research' aren't based on any scientific methods, just perceived loyalty, branding, and a bunch of unsourced quotes (from unnamed people with ridiculous job titles like a soup of buzzwords)



  26. Erosion of Communities, Ascent of Corporate-Industrial Fake Communities

    Despite the attempts to manipulate/trick developers (and sometimes users) into becoming unpaid workforce of for-profit companies, there's an exodus back to real communities, which aren't subjected to the fury of wealthy shareholders who utterly dislike or simply don't care for software freedom



  27. The Corporate 'Left' and the Open Source Pseudo 'Movement'

    President Biden may not be as bad as his predecessor, but that hardly means very much; software freedom is still threatened, along with many other things



  28. Links 22/1/2021: pfSense Plus, Endless OS Foundation, and Many Laptops With GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  29. The Linux Foundation is Trying to Obscure Racism Using Microsoft-Inspired Tactics (Vouchers Disguised as Actual Money)

    The Linux Foundation and its PR stunts don’t help combat racism; one might argue that the Foundation is leveraging racism, which prevails in the US, to paint itself as benevolent and caring (offering immaterial things and self-serving press releases)



  30. InteLeaks – Part XXVII: 'Pulling a Nokia' on Intel (Outsourcing to Microsoft)

    The recommendation of an Intel marriage with Microsoft (even in units that deal mostly with Linux) is an insulting slap across the face of developers employed there; we take a look at recommendations made to IoTG (Intel) by a firm with Microsoft orientation


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts