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Microsoft’s Takedown Plot – Part I: When Linux Actually Means Microsoft

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Revisionism is a powerful PR tactic


Summary: Media manipulation seems to be part of a longterm strategy of Microsoft, with brand dilution at the core of it

THIS mini series deals with a subject covered in two previous posts [1, 2] and this guest post. It’s motivated in part by Richard Stallman’s (RMS) visit to Microsoft — an incident which we’re sure will be taken out of context and misinterpreted in order to harm Software Freedom.

“It’s motivated in part by Richard Stallman’s (RMS) visit to Microsoft — an incident which we’re sure will be taken out of context and misinterpreted in order to harm Software Freedom.”We decided to give RMS a bit more than one day to respond to our query before going ahead with this long series. It’s not just about a Microsoft lecture; but it starts with it. RMS has not responded to me yet (he always does), but I imagine he received a lot of mail over the past couple of days. The FSF hasn’t made a statement, either. There’s a legitimate concern about lack of transparency surrounding his talk (RMS/FSF usually advertises these in advance). We’ll come to this in a moment.

Readers of Techrights, both new ones and longterm/longtime ones (some people have read the site since its birth), have hotly debated the subject, mostly in our IRC channels. The atmosphere surrounding it isn’t positive; it’s mostly negative. People are not happy. One Techrights reader said he was “very concerned about [issues] such as MS/LF [Linux Foundation] affecting Linux badly. I’ve just seen on the Trisquel forum that GregKH added Sasha Levin [Microsoft] to the active kernel list then there’s another link showing GregKH adding Ben and Sasha’s GPG keys.”

“We decided to give RMS a bit more than one day to respond to our query before going ahead with this long series.”Speaking of the Linux Foundation, and looking at the past ~12 hours’ “news”, we’re seeing more of the same pro-Microsoft agenda. Swapnil’s site is still cheering for Microsoft and its abduction of Linux to make proprietary products (example from less than a day ago, akin to this Microsoft surveillance with ‘linuxwashing’ — making proprietary software on Azure seem “open” or “cool” or “Linux”). Days ago he spoke about using Xbox and installing Vista 10; this is the sole editor of Linux.com! That’s a problem. Swapnil and I used to be friends when he actually promoted Free software. He also did an interview with me for his site (which has changed domain names at least four times). He ‘defected’ some years back after Microsoft had brainwashed him, perhaps along with some other influences (being associated with the Linux Foundation won’t help, will it?). This site used to be called Muktware (Free software), The Mukt and Linux Veda among other names. Now it’s pushing proprietary stuff (three examples from yesterday [1, 2, 3]).

Several hours ago Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols published an ‘ad’ for Microsoft (at ZDNet): “Microsoft hosts first Windows Subsystem for Linux conference”

“Microsoft gleefully distorts the meaning of “Linux” and there are those eager to help it.”“Microsoft will be hosting a community conference on the Windows Subsystem for Linux and related technologies in March 2020,” he said.

So what?

Microsoft gleefully distorts the meaning of "Linux" and there are those eager to help it. A very short time later this article was promoted by Swapnil in Linux.com. The top of the page now promotes “Linux” as a Microsoft asset (if only they got excited about it not when Microsoft controls it; Swapnil uses Windows).

But it gets worse. This weekend (so far) when you look for “Linux” news you get only Microsoft and Vista 10 news instead (this one shows up too). This is promoted by Linux Foundation associates. Very disturbing.

Hours ago someone asked in our IRC channels: “Why is this the only place that talks about Microsoft being the same.”

“This weekend (so far) when you look for “Linux” news you get only Microsoft and Vista 10 news instead…”Notice how nobody in the media (except Techrights) wrote about the Linux.com layoffs! Nobody. Unlike Linux Journal layoffs…

Why are the layoffs of many writers and several editors not newsworthy? They sacked everyone before giving Swapnil the ‘keys to the castle’ (as sole editor of Linux.com).

This media silence (about Linux.com layoffs) alone makes one wonder…

This isn’t normal. It’s similar at the EPO by the way. The media refuses to cover the scandals and in some cases the EPO bribed key publishers for it (especially publishers that used to cover some EPO scandals).

Some people’s job is to control the story media — collectively — tells; a decade back we named the PR agencies that do this for Microsoft. They push puff pieces and pay off those who tell what the clients don’t want told. Think of “Microsoft loves Linux”. We saw that at the EPO; They singled out ‘unwanted’ voices and crushed critics, sometimes by intimidation and retribution.

“Some people’s job is to control the story media — collectively — tells; a decade back we named the PR agencies that do this for Microsoft.”“The media is not to be trusted,” one person said in IRC a few hours ago (in the context of the Linux Foundation). “It’s somebody’s agenda they are pushing…for money or other gains.”

And “that wasn’t always their business model,” I responded. “Things changed.”

“I have noticed that since the Linus break he took, we don’t hear from him,” that person continued. “I think they got to him.”

We wrote about that many times, e.g. in [1, 2].

Someone needs to speak out. In fact, we can’t fight on our own (for the truth) and we need people to spread the word while there are sites that try to suppress it, e.g. by removing links (Hacker News censored a link to a story of ours a few days ago after it had made their front page; it didn’t matter that nobody complained about it, which in itself was rather odd). Sure, we don’t have money on our side, but truth too is powerful and it ought to be told. We can’t fight on our own against all the lies. We try.

As one reader put it a short while ago, “not hearing from Linus makes me uneasy for the Linux Kernel.”

Torvalds has done OK for himself, but what started before him in the 1980s is at risk. Sooner or later, unless we do more, people won’t be able to use Free/libre operating systems but some awful ‘cloud’ trap controlled by government/military-connected private sector. ChromeOS is OK by their criteria/standards; it’s not about freedom, it’s primarily about spying.

“Torvalds has done OK for himself, but what started before him in the 1980s is at risk.”“The great thing about Linux is that it’s a moving target,” one reader said. “Microsoft true colors will soon show.”

Microsoft “are really having a department to remove the bad stuff about them,” one reader said. Well, they also tried to get me fired — a subject I mentioned here in the past. They mentioned things that I wrote about them in Techrights (to my boss at work, which is unrelated to Techrights).

“The industry is now after Google in the present and Facebook also,” one person noted. “They don’t talk about Microsoft. I find that peculiar.”

“There’s a PR campaign,” I responded, and “it's promoted by sites funded by Bill Gates…”

“Microsoft pays people to discredit the privacy of Google,” a person said in IRC, whereupon I noted that also professors are paid by Microsoft to do this. It pays them for “letters”, for “papers” and so on and that goes back a long way; look up their “Scroogled” PR campaign and various articles we published here a decade ago. A couple of decades ago mainstream media exposed Microsoft as having paid university professors to mention Microsoft trademarks in their lectures.

“A couple of decades ago mainstream media exposed Microsoft as having paid university professors to mention Microsoft trademarks in their lectures.”We’re sadly moving into a bizarre (not brave) “new world” where Microsoft pops up even in its main competition’s sites. Hours ago we stumbled upon this from Linux Academy (scan the page for Microsoft and Azure; this is just wrong… and it’s the second time in a few days), this from Mozilla (wasting energy helping to prop up Microsoft’s universe of proprietary software… openwashing the ‘open core’ way) and this from RedHat.com (you expect GNU/Linux news and they give you .NET). These are all examples from the past 24 hours alone! We see more such examples every day.

The next part will deal with how Microsoft now associates itself with Stallman and the FSF (by extension).

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