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09.17.14

Links 17/9/2014: CoreOS, ChromeOS, and systemd

Posted in News Roundup at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Taking a Health Hazard Home

      A new study of a small group of workers at industrial hog farms in North Carolina has found that they continued to carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria over several days, raising new questions for public health officials struggling to contain the spread of such pathogens.

  • Security

  • Privacy

    • Revealed: identity of Fifi the stunning wartime spy

      National Archives reveals identity of Britain’s Second World War special agent ‘Fifi’, the beautiful blonde employed to tempt spies from her own side into giving up their secrets

    • More Yahoo vs. The NSA: Government Tried To Deny Standing, Filed Supporting Documents Yahoo Never Got To See

      That’s the normal declassification schedule, which at this point would still be nearly 18 years away. Fortunately, Ed Snowden’s leaks have led to an accelerated schedule for many documents related to the NSA’s surveillance programs, as well as fewer judges being sympathetic to FOIA stonewalling and exemption abuse.

      We’ve talked several times about how the government makes it nearly impossible to sue it for abusing civil liberties with its classified surveillance programs. It routinely claims that complainants have no standing, ignoring the fact that leaked documents have given us many details on what the NSA does and doesn’t collect. But in Yahoo’s case, it went against its own favorite lawsuit-dismissal ploy.

  • Civil Rights

    • WI Election Officials and Advocates Scrambling After Voter ID Reinstated

      Wisconsin election officials and advocates are being forced to make an “extraordinary effort” to adjust to voter ID restrictions that were just reinstated by a federal appellate court. Thousands of absentee ballots have already been sent to voters, and the majority of Department of Motor Vehicle service centers that issue IDs are only open only two days per week.

    • Proposed Anti-Terror Law in France Would Erode Civil Liberties

      A proposed anti-terrorism law in France has freedom of expression advocates concerned. The bill, as our friends at La Quadrature du Net frame it, “institutes a permanent state of emergency on the Internet,” providing for harsher penalties for incitement or “glorification” of terrorism conducted online. Furthermore, the bill (in Article 9) allows for “the possibility for the administrative authority to require Internet service providers to block access to sites inciting or apologizing for terrorism” without distinguishing criteria or an authority to conduct the blocking.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • The Public Submits a Record Number of Comments on Net Neutrality

      Apparently, people care about preserving a free and open Internet. Earlier this month, I reported on how a consortium of technology companies, many of which depend on speedy and dependable access to their websites, launched a very public protest against controversial proposed changes to net neutrality regulations. The tech companies involved are calling themselves Team Internet. They are concerned that broadband service providers are developing business models that create slow lanes and fast lanes on the Internet, and that the FCC will provide its blessing for doing so.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • ISDS: The devil in the trade deal

      A common provision allowing foreign investors to sue host governments has become a ticking time bomb inside trade agreements like the soon to be signed Trans Pacific Partnership. Some countries are now refusing to agree to the provision and are questioning its legal legitimacy. Jess Hill investigates.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Bay Swede ‘mistreated’ in jail

        The brother of Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde has questioned the conditions of his brother’s Swedish jail, slamming both the institution and the guards.

      • Search Engines Can Diminish Online Piracy, Research Finds

        New research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that search engine results directly influence people’s decision to pirate movies, or buy them legally. According to the researchers, their findings show how search engines may play a vital role in the fight against online piracy.

Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft’s Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux at 4:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Italy's flag

Summary: Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs

“Last year,” says Pogson, “I wrote about Udine using FLOSS in their infrastructure. Well, it’s in the news again.”

There were several reports recently about Turin following the footsteps of Munich and the main report surprisingly came from the CBS-owned ZDNet, albeit from a guest writer.

Well, guest writers in ZDNet (people from Italy) now tell the story of Italy moving to GNU/Linux in the public sector. It is not exactly news. Here is another one that says: “The City of Udine is moving from Windows for OpenOffice – and may soon ditch Microsoft at an operating system level too.”

That means GNU/Linux!

And if that’s not enough, Italy is now barring Microsoft from imposing the inclusion of Microsoft Windows (NSA-infested malware) in computer sales. As the FSFE reported some days ago: “Italy’s High Court has struck a blow to the practice of forcing non-free software on buyers of PCs and laptops. According to La Repubblica, the court ruled on Thursday that a laptop buyer was entitled to receive a refund for the price of the Microsoft Windows license on his computer.

“The judges sharply criticised the practice of selling PCs only together with a non-free operating system as “a commercial policy of forced distribution”. The court slammed this practice as “monopolistic in tendency”. It also highlighted that the practice of bundling means that end users are forced into using additional non-free applications due to compatibility and interoperability issues, whether they wanted these programs or not.”

Pogson added that: “When I approached the Canadian Competition Bureau on the matter, they parroted that I had no standing, not being in competition with M$. Shame on them. Who is in competition with M$ when M$ has eliminated the market? They should do their job and protect consumers and businesses from an unfair tax on goods and services in Canada. What’s your government doing to protect your freedom of choice in operating systems?”

That’s a fair point. Notice how Microsoft is using its abuses to eliminate reports about its abuses. We saw that in areas other than operating systems.

It sure looks like Germany and Italy and rapidly moving away from Windows. Perhaps all those explosive revelations about NSA espionage (especially in Germany) will accelerate the migrations. To deny bundling of Microsoft Windows with PCs is to basically protect many citizens from being malicious spied on by foreign governments.

OpenSUSE’s ‘Assurances’ Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 4:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pigs

Summary: OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE’s; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project’s future

YESTERDAY we quickly commented on the news that Micro Focus, a very strong British partner of Microsoft, is taking over SUSE and Novell. The British press put it like that:

Attachmate once earned the ire of the open source community for taking on Novell and then putting 882 patents in its Linux portfolio up for sale to a consortium backed by Microsoft.

Microsoft’s strategy remains the same. It is using patents to attack Linux and it is determined destroy, co-opt, assimilate, acquire, destroy, etc. Microsoft can only continue to ‘sell’ licences (for Windows, SUSE, etc.) if competition is gone and this is the reason Microsoft keeps making SUSE its own. SUSE is basically “Microsoft Linux”, which is why Microsoft keeps advertising it as the only ‘true’ GNU/Linux.

Swapnil Bhartiya, an OpenSUSE sympathiser, correctly says:

The merger will once again ruffle some features at SUSE and openSUSE which have been under continuous financial instability.

Bhartiya also covered the message sent to the mailing list of OpenSUSE (documented by LWN). It states:

Dear openSUSE Community,

As you might be aware, SUSE’s parent entity, the Attachmate Group has
entered into an agreement to merge with Micro Focus, a UK-based
enterprise software company. As the primary sponsor of the openSUSE
Project, SUSE’s President and General Manager, Nils Brauckmann has
contacted the openSUSE Board to share the following key points


* Business as Usual: There are no changes planned for the SUSE
business structure and leadership. There is no need for any action by
the openSUSE Project as a result of this announcement.

* Commitment to Open Source: SUSE remains passionately committed to
innovation through Open Source. This has always been the foundation of
our business and that will continue as we grow and innovate in new
areas.

* Commitment to openSUSE: SUSE is also fully committed to being a
sponsor and supporter of an open, highly independent and dynamic
openSUSE community and project. We are proud of openSUSE and greatly
value the collaborative relationship between SUSE and the openSUSE
community.

The combination of the Attachmate Group and Micro Focus creates a
larger, global enterprise software entity, operating at a greater
global scale. This provides an even stronger foundation for the
continued investment in SUSE and our continued innovation through Open
Source.”

The openSUSE Board would like to thank Nils and SUSE for this
reassuring statement. The Board is enthusiastic about the benefits of
the merger may bring to SUSE and ultimately also to our openSUSE
Project.

If anyone has any questions, there will be an opportunity to raise
them at tomorrow (Wednesdays) regular openSUSE Project Meeting at
15:00 UTC in #opensuse-project on the Freenode IRC network.

Regards,

The openSUSE Board

Notice how Brauckmann does not say anything at all about a commitment from Micro Focus to SUSE and OpenSUSE. He speaks of a SUSE commitment to OpenSUSE. That’s it. This is a classic non-denying denial, where what one neglects to say actually says quite a lot.

Michael Larabel’s interpretation is that “Richard Brown relayed a message on the behalf of SUSE’s President and General Manager, Nils Brauckmann, that basically everything is alive and well.”

That’s MBA speak. As it was put by Susan Linton: “The Attachmate Group, announced a merger with Micro Focus leaving openSUSE users nervous.”

This nervousness is why Brauckmann, by proxy, relayed some face-saving talking points. The acquisition seems imminent:

Micro Focus buying Novell, Suse Linux owner for $1.2 billion

[...]

Micro Focus expects the deal to close by November.

Our assessment is that changes are afoot. SUSE is now at the mercy of a strong ally of Microsoft, which is likely to keep SUSE or run SUSE only in a way that appeases Microsoft’s interests.

09.16.14

Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

Posted in News Roundup at 7:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism

TECHRIGHTS has published dozens of articles — including some “exclusives” — about the UK and its dangerous dependence on Microsoft. The UK is a lot more dependent on Microsoft than other nations and it’s a huge problem because such dependencies facilitate spying on lawyers and journalists, not to mention politicians. Being one’s “ally” does not mean exclusion from the “targets” list, as revelations about Germany and Turkey served to show. Microsoft is as bad as one can get when it comes to privacy and it habitually colludes with the state (the United States, not Britain).

The other day a reader sent us this link about Microsoft Office spying. “Delve pulls content from within your organization’s OneDrive, SharePoint, and Yammer accounts,” says the article. The scary thing is, CTOs and CIOs in the UK are sometimes using stuff like this on the government’s Windows-running PCs, which can cost $10,000 per year (per PC) merely to maintain. Have we learned nothing from Stuxnet? Is the UK begging to be a vassal of another nation?

Dependence on Microsoft Windows also leads to virus epidemic in the UK right now. It turns out that British businesses are now struggling with a so-called ‘undetectable’ Windows virus. So much for ‘competitive advantage’, eh? To quote the Torygraph: “A Peter Pan pantomime in Bournemouth is being used as part of a sophisticated hacking attack from Eastern Europe that is targetting thousands of British businesss.

“An email claiming to be a £145 invoice for nine tickets to a performance of Peter Pan at the Bournemouth Pavilion theatre contained an attachment that if opened installs a virus onto the receipent’s computer.

“The malware, which the email claims are the tickets for the pantomime performance, captures highly sensitive personal and commericial information including passwords and is almost “undetectable” by current anti-virus software.”

It is baffling to see the London-based Canonical still feels comfortable putting GNU/Linux under/alongside a surveillance platform. As one Microsoft-friendly article put it: “Ubuntu’s popularity with the OpenStack crowd can’t be lost on Microsoft, and Microsoft has learned that it must play nicely with Linux in its virtualization and cloud product lines. Now, Canonical has reported that it has completed work with Microsoft on tools for Windows Server to run on top of OpenStack and Ubuntu.”

This is unwise because putting Windows in the stack is the same as granting the NSA access to the stack. Microsoft should in principle be purged, along with its software. The company has already proven that it is the best friend of illegal surveillance, espionage, political sabotage and other shenanigans. How much evidence need one see before it becomes crystal clear that Microsoft has no place in the public sector, except perhaps in the United States?

CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft at 5:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing

PROPAGANDA giant CBS (notoriously selling to the public wars of conquest and mass surveillance) has been a target of our criticism also because it hires people who have worked or are still working for Microsoft to cover Microsoft positively and slam Microsoft’s competition. It’s not news, it’s advertising or agenda, if not propaganda.

Microsoft boosters are everywhere at CBS, with several in CNET and several in ZDNet; some are still Microsoft employees, not former employees. They are attacking Microsoft rivals and planting PR for Microsoft. Later on when they chat to me in Twitter they still pretend to be “objective”. They don’t say much; they just know they got caught in a conflict of interest.

Anyway, CBS has apparently just hired yet another (there are many more) “former” Softer to put Microsoft puff pieces disguised as articles. This guy, Dave Johnson, works neither in CNET nor ZDNet (CBS-owned) but more directly writes for CBS sites. There are quite a few articles like this one and it’s an epidemic that ought to raise concerns and draw criticism. Watch his stream of Microsoft propaganda (even vapourware at the moment).

Meanwhile it’s reported that Microsoft paid almost half a billion dollars for NFL to pretend to endorse Microsoft (advertisement disguised as recommendation), but even this has not worked like Microsoft hoped. As TechDirt (among other publications) put it, “Marketing Failure: Microsoft Pays NFL To Use Its Surface Tablets — And People Still Call Them ‘iPad-Like Tools’”:

Over at The Verge, Vlad Savov has an amusing post about how NFL announcers this weekend referred to the sideline tablets that players are using as “iPad-like tools.” Microsoft Surface tablets are being allowed on the sidelines as part of a $400 million deal between Microsoft and the NFL. And Microsoft is promoting the Surface as “the official tablet of the NFL.” And, in the end, all anyone remembers is that it’s an “iPad-like tool.” I wonder if the guy who signed that deal for Microsoft has lined up a new job yet…

There have been quite a few articles like this one.

Embedded advertisements or fake endorsements are only some of the tools in Microsoft’s arsenal of AstroTurfing tools, used by proxy much of the time. But again, what CBS is doing is much worse than most. It’s corrupt means of providing what CBS pretends to be “news”.

CBS is not news; neither in politics nor in technology. It needs to be shunned. It’s corporate press, not news.

Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around

Microsoft likes buying companies just to kill their GNU/Linux versions (unless a program spies on the users, like Skype does). We have given many examples over the years. Minecraft seems to be no exception.

Some days ago it became quite apparent [1, 2] that Minecraft was on its deathbed. As OpenSource.com put it: “A lot of very big, very reputable sources are claiming that Microsoft is acquiring Mojang, the makers of the astoundingly popular sandbox game Minecraft, and that the deal could be finalized as early as next week.”

Watch this appalling hogwash. “Spinning Microsoft continued destruction of the industry as only “not cool” rather than the malice it is,” told us one of our readers. “Notch’s objections to Vista8 might be partially behind the discussed takeover.”

“Passionate Players Fear Acquisition of Upstart Videogame Maker Will Destroy Its Indie Spirit” says the summary. Here is another article from the same publication. It shows the times “When Minecraft Founder Markus Persson Blasted Microsoft”.

Despite all this, Markus Persson sold out. Minecraft will probably never release GNU/Linux versions anymore. See also this old article about “GPL Non-Compliance” in “Minecraft Plug-Ins” and this old page where Mincraft’s Persson states: “I will release the game source code as some kind of open source.”

Nonsense. Microsoft killed off this possibility. Persson threw away his principles and completely sold out. He sold out a community.

“Minecraft for Linux Conveniently Missing from Mojang-Microsoft Deal” says one article’s headline [1, 2] as “Microsoft acquires Mojang and Minecraft for $2.5 billion”. In our IRC channels Sosumi says he “never played minecraft nor I am interested in playing it” (it was always proprietary).

MinceR says that “Mojang is dead now… like terminal reality and ensemble studios” and Sosumi replies with “I’ll probably follow the same line as it did with bungie… with support dropping for non-Microsoft platforms as new releases come”

XFaCE says: “Expect an immediate rewrite to C#”

This is not “greener pastures”, it is a deathbed. But Persson enriches himself in the process.

“Microsoft asserts that it “plans” to continue distributing Minecraft across PC, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, and Android, but obviously the game’s cross-platform future is called into question by this acquisition,” says the article above. Notice how GNU/Linux gets omitted. It is not a coincidence.

Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux

Boycotting Intel is not hard to justify. The company is deeply corrupt. We spent over two years explaining why its UEFI antifeatures too should face a boycott and Silviu Stahie provides yet another reason in this article about a new petition. It says: “The Intel Atom Bay Trail tablets have been out for a few months already, but none of the hardware vendors is providing 64-bit firmware builds for them, which means that you can’t install any Linux distros.”

Here’s more: “In fact, you can’t install Linux on any 32-bit UEFI PC, because the boot loader only supports 64-bit, and this is a major issue for people who really want to used their Intel Atom Bay Trail-powered devices with a Linux OS.”

The solution is quite simple; avoid Intel, potentially dodge x86 (where practically possible), and definitely avoid anything with UEFI on any kind of device. It is not only a patent trap but also means for securing Microsoft’s monopoly. In addition, it’s a potential back door for bricking computers remotely. Intel should be shamed of itself.

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