EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

02.13.20

Free Software is Being Abandoned by Opponents of Software Patents and It’s Being Attacked by Patent Trolls

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Patents, Red Hat at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…then, companies that are arming those trolls suddenly pretend to come to our 'rescue'

Manny Schecter: (But I make  IBM's policies and decisions on these issues
Daily lobbying for software patents continues; IBM’s Manny Schecter still cites patent trolls as credible allies and recent management changes haven’t put an end to that, so Red Hat’s 12-year chief is now president of an aggressive proponent of software patents.

Summary: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is rotting away as an advocate against software patents; Patents on algorithms are still being granted (even when courts repeatedly reject these) and Red Hat’s Chief Patent Counsel remains Manny Schecter, one of the loudest proponents of such patents (citing the likes of Adam Mossoff this week, in effect Koch operatives); this is a very big problem because Free software projects come under a barrage of lawsuits, using patents like those IBM lobbies ferociously to legitimise

THE NEXT batch of Daily Links will contain what we believe to be the first report [1] regarding Mycroft getting sued by a patent troll, using two software patents (relatively) recently granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It’s about patent numbers 9,794,348 and 10,491,679. The Register says that covers handling of “voice commands from a mobile device to remotely access and control a computer.” We have not examined these closely, but certainly that sounds like software patents with ample prior art. Mycroft is not so well funded and therefore it might be perceived as vulnerable (easy shakedown), but it will fight back nonetheless. At what cost?

The whole thing comes only a few months after the GNOME/Shotwell lawsuit, demonstrating that we in the Free software world cannot ignore bad patent law, invalid patents being granted and endless corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO), where António Campinos openly promotes illegal software patents in Europe (the EPO did that as recently as yesterday in Twitter).

The EFF likes to speak about 35 U.S.C. § 101 (albeit not much lately), but it never ever speaks about EPO corruption and rarely does it protect Free software specifically. For those reasons, among others (for example, some key staff of theirs leaving), we cannot rely on the EFF. The same goes for CCIA, whose blog which deals with the subject (“Patent Progress”) has not been particularly actively lately. We watch these things closely, over RSS feeds and beyond. Since the beginning of the year the EFF has written only a single blog post on the subject and it concerned design patents, not software patents.

We really need to speak out more loudly about these issues; sadly, almost everyone is ignoring the toxic role played by IBM (fear of ‘offending’ IBM?) and nobody in the Free software world speaks about EPO corruption. How come? Come on, people, those are the biggest issues or barriers. Ignored at one’s own peril.

If Mycroft ‘goes under’ due to this lawsuit, which can cost like a million bucks (appeals cost a fortune), all we’ll have left are listening devices.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Startup Mycroft AI declares it will fight ‘patent troll’ tooth and nail after its Linux voice-assistant attracts lawsuit

    An AI startup is battling a patent-infringement lawsuit filed against it for building an open-source Linux-based voice-controlled assistant.

    Mycroft AI first learned trouble was brewing when it was contacted by a lawyer at Tumey LLP, a Texas law firm focused on intellectual property, in December. In an email to the startup’s CEO Joshua Montgomery, the legal eagle claimed Mycroft AI’s technology infringed two US patents – 9,794,348 and 10,491,679 – belonging to Tumey’s client, Voice Tech Corp.

    Voice Tech’s patents described a system for handling “voice commands from a mobile device to remotely access and control a computer.” Mycroft AI develops voice-assistant software that runs on Linux systems, including Raspberry Pis and its own standalone Mark I and II gadgets, and responds to spoken requests, such as setting alarms and reminders, searching the web, and so on. You can add more features by installing add-ons called skills.

02.03.20

Systemd Has Become (Almost) an Operating System

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Red Hat at 4:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

With a humongous amount of code added and removed (hundreds of thousands of lines per year) the freedom to study the source code becomes almost moot (too much in one place and changing far too fast)

The freedom to study 1.2 million lines of source code? Too Damn High

Summary: StrongSwan on Debian 10 (Buster) is hard; systemd isn’t helping, it’s mostly getting in the way and as it turns out this is part of a much broader problem introduced by Red Hat’s system-wide “D”isruption

“BUSTER” is great! It really is. Well done, Debian team! What a great operating system! Far better than anything which comes out of Microsoft and Apple. I even installed on it all the available desktop environments (bar GNOME). They work. They work very, very well. Polish is noteworthy.

But with claims of perfection no room is left for improvement, so this is going to be a rant. Not about Debian. Not about Red Hat (now IBM), either.

This rant will be focused on one project alone. It’s the project one isn’t meant to be criticising (without risk of retaliation of some kind). This project probably stole took a lot of my time (hence not many articles in Techrights lately).

First of all, let’s be clear that Debian 10 works and I am generally happy with many things about it (almost everything worked perfectly out of the box), but when things don’t go smoothly, they can be downright distressing and almost impossible to diagnose/debug/resolve.

I think that the views of Bruce Perens have been clear (when he spoke about it at the end of last year). He focused on reliability aspects. Purely technical aspects.

One thing I’ve long noticed about systemd is that any system with it takes ages to boot and shut down — something I’ve experienced only since systemd was put there by default (the time it takes isn’t slightly longer — we’re talking about something like 4 times longer!).

No wonder Chromebooks don’t use systemd…

One could go make oneself coffee while rebooting a machine with systemd… and still be back to an almost ready system.

But never mind the coffee breaks. Those take only minutes. When things do not work as expected, they can end up taking hours or days to fix.

Consider StrongSwan. I’ve already spent about 6 hours on this (net time, putting aside distractions). I finally got to the point where I can either get only to the VPN’s internal realm or the ‘outside world’ (not both). I spoke to the developers about it as the subject is very scarcely documented on the Web; there are hardly any Web pages about it (like a HowTo for StrongSwan on Debian 10).

It’s hard to debug. Here’s some fun with StrongSwan:

strongswan debug

And StrongSwan entries in the log:

strongswan log

Does that say what goes wrong? No. Nowhere.

When using older systems I was at least getting some error message showing somewhere, but systemd is truly disruptive to what one already knows. Debian is not Red Hat, but it adopted a massive piece (blob?) of IBM/Red Hat and now needs to grapple with it.

I never had to spend so much time — with help from technical networking people — just to set up something reasonably simple.

Judging by what I see online, not only do other Debian users have had similar issues in recent years; those same issues are inherited ‘downstream’ and by recent versions of Ubuntu and its derivatives. I could cite about half a dozen examples. At times you see reports from entire companies that have issues related to this.

At the moment I have something that almost works, but I still lack complete and clear documentation to explain what I’ve done so far to almost make it work. It has been rather chaotic an experience.

/home/ will soon be conquered by systemd, maybe /var/log/ too (so producing the above will require yet more learning and retraining, maybe coping with new bugs as well).

Whatever one thinks of systemd, it’s hard to make or form a fully informed opinion because systemd is vast and it touches almost everything in the system. Maybe it’s great and innovative, but the disruption it has caused is very much real and it’s hard to believe anyone but Red Hat (now IBM) shareholders will profit from it. Those shareholders probably don’t use GNU/Linux themselves, certainly not on their desktops/laptops — a form factor they almost certainly don’t care for as “there’s no money on it!” (ask the Linux Foundation how many people in it even use the operating system).

Special gratitude and credit goes out to @thermicorp (who helped me in the process).

Why I’m Optimistic About Free Software (Although I’m a Pessimist by Nature)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 2:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free Software Movement (FSM) advocates have much to celebrate

Beer

Summary: The rise of Arvind Krishna (couldn’t possibly be overstated a piece of news in GNU/Linux circles) is a good sign for GNU/Linux while Microsoft gradually moves away from its entryism-type strategy (it failed miserably; it just didn't work)

THERE are several recent developments that tell me we’re ‘winning’ (not a phase that I like, mostly because who tends to use it). First of all, last week IBM put Red Hat's CEO in a position of great responsibility, a sort of “second in command”. IBM isn’t going away; its history with the government is well documented (many governments worldwide; it’s ugly at times) and if it puts its weight behind GNU/Linux, expect major things to come. Over the past decade or so, under misguided IBM management, Apple became a strategic partner of IBM and patents were brought back from the warehouse to the litigation department. Will that stop? Time will tell. Fedora could certainly used a boost, surely at the expense of all that patent shakedown. Ginni is out and Manny (their litigation zealot) hasn’t been seen anywhere for a long while (and I watch these things very closely). He used to badmouth 35 U.S.C. § 101 and push for software patenting at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as well as American courts.

“It can tell us every hour of the day that it “loves Linux” but even 5 years down the line (after hearing it a thousand times) nobody will believe Microsoft.”So far this year Microsoft has mostly kept off the “Linux” news; their ‘googlebombing’ campaigns likely make them more enemies than friends (it is annoying actual users of GNU/Linux, who wish to get away from Microsoft). Are they coming to realise this? Every week I check carefully also “open source” feeds; Microsoft and GitHub are hardly visible in these anymore (maybe a third of the volume I measured last year). The way I interpret that is, Microsoft and GitHub are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Those were billions of dollars wasted; it’s just another CodePlex. There was a little hype at first, at the expense of operations (GitHub operates at a loss by giving the services gratis, hoping the business model will just ‘miraculously’ appear).

Those who meticulously enough follow the news and the trends in news coverage will certainly be able to affirm the above. I could put it in more numerical/quantitative terms, but that would take a lot of time. The short story is, Microsoft’s strategy has been costly and it seems to be failing. Even Microsoft knows that. It can tell us every hour of the day that it “loves Linux” but even 5 years down the line (after hearing it a thousand times) nobody will believe Microsoft.

As a side note, Marius Nestor left Softpedia some weeks ago (apparently leaving it to the anti-Linux Microsoft tyrants, notably Bogdan Popa) and went on to establish 9to5Linux, an excellent news site which we recommend. Who said journalism is dead? It’s just evolving. 9to5Linux is very credible (so far).

Optimism in my personal case now relies a great deal on what IBM will show in weeks/months to come. “Krishna joined IBM in 1990,” according to Wikipedia, “rising to become senior vice president for IBM’s cloud and cognitive software. He is credited as leading IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat for US$34 billion in 2018.” Now he has Jim on his side. Go IBM, go? But remember that GNU/Linux and Free software aren’t the same thing (many critics would point out that systemd threatens the freedom to study and modify code for numerous reasons). As someone has just put it in Forbes: “Red Hat came under fire a few years ago by many technology experts for predatory approaches to facilitate vendor lock-in to their services. With their recent acquisition by IBM, some of those concerns have risen again.”

IBM probably wants something like a monopoly (at least on some parts in Linux).

So why the optimism? Because GNU/Linux typically begets software freedom. GNU/Linux users generally dislike or are ‘allergic’ to proprietary software. That’s one of several reasons why Microsoft’s “Charm Offensives” failed to ‘charm’ — so to speak — its opposition. Historically, IBM supported GNU/Linux and it has much better ‘karma’; this is going to pay off.



YouTube link

“A pessimist is a man who looks both ways when he crosses the street.” ~Laurence Peter

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill

“An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight… the truly wise person is colorblind.” ~Albert Schweitzer

02.02.20

Congratulations to James Whitehurst on the IBM Promotion

Posted in IBM, Red Hat at 12:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jim Whitehurst Became Manager

Summary: Jim Whitehurst has been put in an important position at IBM and we hope he can turn around the company’s aggressive patent policy (and halt the lobbying for software patents)

01.08.20

Monopoly in GNU/Linux is Also a Threat

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 1:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“My baseline is that Debian must welcome code contributions to support running without systemd, just as it welcomes code contributions for other non-default setups.”Ian Jackson on Debian Vote Regarding systemd

IBM Monopoly, Microsoft Monopoly, Red Hat

Red Hat - Microsoft

Summary: A month after Debian developers debated the future of systemd in Debian GNU/Linux we need a better understanding of what the future of GNU/Linux (as a whole) will be like when over a million lines of code are hosted by Microsoft and dominated by IBM, with the Linux Foundation being paid by both to keep ‘neutral’ (passive)

GNU/Linux Sans Diversity

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Red Hat at 12:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Excessive gentrification destroys the biodiversity and ecosystem of a community.” ― Khang Kijarro Nguyen

Systemd, Fedora, CentOS/RHEL, IBM, Monopoly, Clown computing (surveillance), Arch, Debian, SUSE... Monoculture

Summary: The way things are going, monoculture and reduced choice (in the name of unification) drive development of GNU/Linux with one company dominating many components or compartments of the whole system; “Diversity” means something else to them

01.07.20

The “Open Organisations” With Their ‘Open’ Cages

Posted in Deception, Humour, IBM, Red Hat at 7:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open? More like “Oh; pen!” (of sheep, entry is free!)

Wayland, Systemd, .NET Core and The “Open Organisation”

Summary: We’d like to propose the term “open cages” (akin to “golden cages”) as a lot of the openwashing ‘industry’ offers just that — a kind of glorified prison — because the cages are not really open, they just certainly look like it

Free Software Means Not Monopolies With Publicly-Available Code

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, OSI, Red Hat at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If “openwashing” is painting a proprietary whole as “open” (because of a mere portion), perhaps we need a new word for systemd (where all the code is “open” but access to it for contribution and for proper assessment is close to impossible)

OSI at Microsoft
The OSI’s Board, literally brought to Microsoft. This photograph may be suppressed as it’s very difficult to find it (or anything about this SF meeting; much like Richard Stallman’s speech at Microsoft’s HQ, which even the FSF kept uncharacteristically secret until it was over and seminally reported on by Microsoft itself)

Summary: Packages such as systemd (“packages” would be an understatement — that’s like calling Linux a “package”) present a new kind of threat, which some in the community have dubbed “Open Source Proprietary Software” (or “OSPS” for short); we need prominent groups and projects to highlight the nature of this threat, which serves to promote monopolies (open gateway into complexity, aided by silence and complicity)

THE OPENWASHING agenda at the OSI is now facilitated by the very same people who run it and profit from it ‘on the side’. Look no further than the culprit and legal hire (conflict of interest/s likely), who last week caused the resignation of the OSI's co-founder. We don’t want to name any names here.

“Look no further than the culprit and legal hire (conflict of interest/s likely), who last week caused the resignation of the OSI’s co-founder.”A growing number of people nowadays speak of IBM and systemd, taking note that it’s still being developed on Microsoft servers and long ago became far too large for people to properly study the source code (reading it is one thing; comprehending it is another). That’s just one example of ‘code dumps’ (akin to ‘document dumps’) as a substitute for freedom-respecting source code (or “code available” rather than “please modify and improve”). If one company — and one company only — develops some piece of software (which becomes incredibly bloated and impossible to avoid), how “open” is it really? This, some of our associates believe, is an issue the FSF ought to speak about. Maybe it wasn’t foreseen. There’s no need to ban anything; an advisory note of caution may suffice. But remember that Red Hat pays the FSF and gives instructions to it (in the open).

“If one company — and one company only — develops some piece of software (which becomes incredibly bloated and impossible to avoid), how “open” is it really?”Yesterday we spent some time studying the past two years’ meeting minutes of the OSI, leading up to the resignation of the OSI’s co-founder, who is no proponent of systemd. He participated in many of these meetings of the OSI, debating licensing aspects in particular. And no, he’s not present in the Microsoft photo op shown above. We previously thought he would be a decent successor for Stallman at the FSF, but seeing his public response (in Twitter) to the almost-forced resignation serves to suggest otherwise. One thing is for sure though: the FSF and the OSI both need strong leadership, which currently both lack. The person or persons in charge have earned some levels of notoriety in Debian and there are more lingering concerns over them succumbing to corporate interests and sometimes taking money from those same corporations. And please note, still no names. Our readers might know who we’re alluding to, but we describe these issues in general terms, at low risk of making it seem like a personal attack on anyone in particular.

Nothing would please IBM more than a derailed Debian, a subverted OSI, and infiltrated FSF. It would leave many people overly dependent if not reliant on grossly overpriced support contracts with people who can handle and tackle the extreme complicity they themselves created at Red Hat. Remember that IBM is a longtime monopolist — as its ongoing patent policy serves to remind us — with little evidence to suggest any of that has changed inherently (except on some superficial level). And IBM works closely with Microsoft even after buying Red Hat, which also considered selling itself to that other monopolist (Microsoft).

For those failing to see the Debian-OSI-FSF connection/overlap, look closely at OSI archives; they stated upfront there were no conflicts of interest/s, but there were relational ones. Moreover, the overlap in boards — not to mention awards — can be revealing at times. Names? Sorry, no names. We’d be accused of personal attacks and violation of privacy for daring to ‘name-drop’ anybody at all. The Linux Foundation uses a similar strategy (it’s considered “toxic” to bring up legitimate concerns, which can be spun as envy, opportunism, racism, sexism and so on).

“Yesterday we spent some time studying the past two years’ meeting minutes of the OSI, leading up to the resignation of the OSI’s co-founder, who is no proponent of systemd.”Going back to the FSF, hours ago it published a statement [1] (more text below). Having failed to meet goals/targets, “extra incentive for people to join the movement [have been extended] until January 17th. To assist us further, our friends at Technoethical are offering a 5% discount for @FSF members until this date as well.”

What does the FSF plan to do about IBM now that it’s taking IBM money? We wrote about this angle last month and back in October [1, 2].

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Extending our offer for exclusive membership gifts through January

    In the final weeks of 2019, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) welcomed nearly 300 new associate members. That is a strong achievement, but we to boost our numbers further in order to continue our work to educate others about free software and defend copyleft.

    Every day, millions of new people globally are gaining access to software, and are integrating it into their lives. We need to continue to spread the message of software freedom far and wide to reach these newcomers, and the millions of longtime software users who are unaware of how proprietary software is being used to exploit and abuse them. It’s a big challenge.

    At the beginning of this new decade, we’re inspired to dream up a freer future. To help turn this dream into reality, we’re extending our membership drive and our offer for exclusive associate membership gifts as an extra incentive for people to join the movement until January 17th. To assist us further, our friends at Technoethical are offering a 5% discount for FSF members until this date as well.

    Will you start out the new decade with an FSF associate membership?

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

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 Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts