09.10.19

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What the Linux Foundation’s Jim Zemlin Really Thinks of Desktop/Laptop GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 10:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Linux Foundation never cared about GNU/Linux; even a year after its formation it expressed disdain for the desktop/laptop as target platform (or form factor)

Winux Foundation logo

Summary: Interesting words from Ken Starks resonate well with what we nowadays see in the so-called ‘Linux’ Foundation, whose dedication to Linux is like that of a circus to a monkeys’ sideshow

“We are dreck in the eyes of the Linux Foundation…”

Sums it up really well. Or as Christine Hall put it, “I get the impression Zemlin enjoys hobnobbing with the rich and powerful.”

“…the pay grade is high when you fight against Software Freedom.”We wrote about it last month.

Readers may wish to recall the good work of Ken Starks, whom I befriended over a decade ago when he poured out all of his energy into advocacy of GNU/Linux (despite lingering health issues). Here is what he wrote two years ago:

In 2008, I was asked to attend the (by invitation only), Linux Collaboration Summit in Austin Texas. Since I am local to Austin and my head swelled X 10 by receiving this invite, I rounded up one of our non profit Directors and we pushed our way through the front door, into Mecca, as far as I was concerned.

I was still a bit naive and star-struck when I attended that summit. Between presentations, Tom King and I collared Jim Zemlin and I made mention to him that there was little to catch the Desktop user’s attention or interest within the gathering’s program and scheduling for the duration of the summit. Zemlin stood in front of Tom and I and looked down his nose while explaining that there was no real market for the Desktop application For linux and The Linux Foundation had no real use for the desktop or its users.

Tom and I stood, completely gobsmacked; for the next minute, both of us trying to process what we had just heard and from whom we had heard it. That was an eye-opening experience, and I could not have cared less if I was ever invited again, which I have not. We are dreck in the eyes of the Linux Foundation, us Desktop folks…and it’s a shame that the LF profits from the hard work from those that contribute reams of code for the Linux Desktop.

It’s a wonder that Desktop linux has made as much progress as it had, given that “The linux Foundation” would just as soon see the whole “desktop thing” sucked into a black hole.

All the remaining comments (bar few) are also worth reading, including those which point out Mac Asay shooting the messenger, as one can expect. Asay is no friend of Software Freedom; he’s a sworn enemy of it; been the case for about a decade now (he had promoted the GPL until he suddenly started slamming it, whereupon he also promoted proprietary software companies under the guise of “Open Source”). These are the people with the biggest paychecks; the pay grade is high when you fight against Software Freedom. Ask multi-millionaires such as Miguel de Icaza, unlike Federico Mena (GNOME co-founder). One works for Microsoft, having defected more than a decade ago, whereas the latter is still hacking for freedom, mostly with Rust nowadays.

The article to which all the comments are strung or clustered around speaks of the Linux Foundation’s despicable attitude towards the GPL — the subject of this morning's post.

Jim Zimlin, the foundation’s head honcho since before the beginning (he was also top dog at FSG), decided to go for the big bucks the corporate world was offering and pretty much sold the folks who’d been using Linux since before there was a Red Hat down the river. As far as I can tell, Zimlin & Company hasn’t spent more than 50 cents and ten minutes of effort on desktop Linux in the 10 years the foundation has been around. No money in a co-op advertising kitty to incentivise OEMs to push desktops with Linux preinstalled. No money to help distro developers create a better product. As far as the Linux Foundation is concerned, desktop Linux users and developers are on their own.

[...]

The organization has also shown a preference for “permissive” licenses, such as Apache, over “copyleft” licenses like the GPL, under which both GNU and Linux — the two major components of a Linux desktop distro — are licensed. This is understandable, as most corporate users and developers of open source prefer licenses that keep the door open for them to employ the code into proprietary projects.

What isn’t understandable, or acceptable, is referring to the GPL in terms reminicent of those used by Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer in the first decade of the 21st century.

On March 23, the Linux Foundation posted an article on its website, Linux.com, by Greg Olson, the foundation’s senior director open source consulting services. In the article, “Five Legal Risks For Companies Involved in Open Source Software Development,” he wrote that “permissive licenses present little risk,” while referring to the GPL and other copyleft licenses as “Restrictive Licenses” and “viral.”

[...]

FOSS Advocate and writer Simon Phipps also took exception to the article, posting an annotated version by way of the Genius website, and tweeting for people to add their own annotations. In a reply to a retweet of Brian Proffitt he said, “Seems Black Duck FUD against copyleft has found a new home at @linuxfoundation.”

The Linux Foundation’s handling of the situation after-the-fact was perhaps more telling than the article itself. Instead of admitting something like “an unfortunate choice of words” and opening up a dialog around the article — which would have been “the open source way” — the foundation took an action that seems akin to something the Ballmer era Microsoft would’ve done. They quietly and without comment removed public access to the article.

Nothing to see here. Move on.

So much for transparency.

We already mentioned this at the time (two years ago), but now is a good time for recollection and reconsideration. The attitude towards the GPL has since then worsened and pretty much all the code is being outsourced by Microsoft (especially newer stuff, which means that the Microsoft takeover wasn’t a deterrent). The site in question (Linux.com, which published the above) has since then seen all of its staff fired — both writers and editors — and to maintain impression of ‘life’ it’s being stuffed with links that promote GPL infringers.

“A great deal of dishonesty and revisionism is only to be expected from those who delete GNU from history and pretend everything began in 1991 in Finland.”It’s worth noting that the Linux Foundation’s Web site no longer mentions "community"*, its VP of “Communications” was removed and was seemingly replaced by a “CMO” (as if it’s a private for-profit company with a marketing department). It also explains very clearly, in the Web site itself, that it’s not about Linux anymore. The name was just used for promotion; they rode the hype wave, which over time they killed. The site is terrible in a lot of other ways. It also says that the Foundation was founded in 2000 (this lie keeps spreading), but actually it came into being in 2007 with a similar management to a group that had existed since Zemlin pretty much ‘discovered’ Linux in 2000, not as a user but as a nontechnical person aided by the likes of Ian Murdock. A great deal of dishonesty and revisionism is only to be expected from those who delete GNU from history and pretend everything began in 1991 in Finland. It’s worth noting that Torvalds is presented as a pretty ‘low level’ employee in the Web site; and yes, he can be fired (from something called after himself; just like Gaël Duval, Steve Jobs and Solomon Hykes). Long live the ‘king’…

Jim Zemlin in tuxedo
Photo credit: The Linux Foundation

____
* As our own MinceR put it this afternoon (in IRC), “it would be strange to mention community since they kicked out all the non-corporate members; it’s a pretty good warning example, though [as] if you want some technology to survive and remain usable, don’t let the suits touch it, ever…”

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