Summary: Positive outlook for GNU and Linux is overshadowed somewhat by tactless embrace of UEFI by the likes of Canonical
2013, as we’ve pointed out throughout that year, was an excellent year for GNU/Linux (others agree ). Even Microsoft boosters realise that the world is leaving Windows behind, mostly because Google (with Chrome OS and Android) is occupying more and more segments, enjoying huge market share (by some criteria higher than Windows’). As an example of one Microsoft booster in a stage of acceptance, see “Facing the Biggest Problem with Windows in 2014″ (written by a famous Windows booster).
The last thing we need right now is technology that helps keep Windows around. It is baffling to see Ubuntu, which is now managed by former Microsoft staff, wasting everyone’s time with UEFI (this is counter-productive). Here is the latest: “An Ubuntu developer has proposed 32-bit UEFI support within new Ubuntu Linux install images to support the new “Bay Trail” laptops and other hardware that requires 32-bit UEFI support.”
Ubuntu’s Mark Shuttleworth says that Ubuntu Linux on track for full convergence before Microsoft , but why is he following Microsoft’s ‘lead’ (in antifeatures)? This is not necessary. He would be better off joining antitrust complaints. Shuttleworth is correct in pointing out that we’re moving towards mobile and servers (pundits agree with him  and so do sales numbers [3-6], which demonstrate Linux domination ).
GNU/Linux is doing just fine without following Microsoft’s footsteps. Canonical should rethink its UEFI strategy at this stage. It’s never too late. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
2013 was one of the most dramatic years of my life-time. The Edward Snowden revelations made this year the most remarkable year in the history. As a Gnu/Linux user (where privacy and control of data is prime objective) this year was quite promising as Gnu/Linux rose as the dominant player in the consumer space.
Microsoft is widely expected to converge its operating systems across desktops, mobile phones and tablets. However, according to Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu Linux is on track to achieve full convergence first.
Much like the overall IT industry, the Linux community shifted its focus to mobile and cloud computing.
While I’m happy to see Android doing so well, I’d really like to see other Linux-based products topping the charts too. Perhaps an Ubuntu based tablet or phone might also be a good option for consumers. I’d very much prefer that customers had another choice besides just Android, iOS or Microsoft Windows based products.
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Summary: Gummiboot developers continue to weaken the case for abolishing UEFI, which we now know is a serious security risk, not a feature
EARLIER this year I advised the managers of UEFI to withdraw ‘secure’ boot support — an unnecessary addition which is basically an antifeature that can remotely brick hardware (rendering it unbootable, as has been attempted before based on an NSA programme).
There is some project called Gummiboot (inflatable dingy in German) which acts as a boot manager for UEFI. This package is developed by Red Hat, but “Red Hat’s Fedora Project does not use gummiboot for booting UEFI systems,” according to Wikipedia and other sources. This package, unlike GRUB, is not GPLv3-licensed. Gummiboot 42 was released some days ago and as Nathan Willis put it a year and a half ago “the biggest question that remains is whether it is wise to tacitly endorse secure boot by playing its games in first place.”
The answer is no and as we approach 2014 (the article above is from June 2012) it is clear that Microsoft got away with this Intel-backed antifeature, which has not been widely abolished as we hoped. Vista 8 was a massive failure (exceptionally poor adoption), so it will be more constructive to urge OEMs to shun UEFI (saying it proved to be Linux- and GNU-hostile), not adopt it. This is not a goal that’s unachievable and it is too late to work on in. Any effort, such as the above, simply weakens the antitrust complaint over Microsoft and UEFI. It has been very disappointing to see Red Hat joining NSA allies like Intel, IBM, and Microsoft, first tacitly promoting TPM and now treacherous/restricted boot. █
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Summary: The DelBene couple (Microsoft executives) continues to take positions of power inside the US government while Bill Gates, a convicted monopolist, befriends key people in the Europe-wide government
CORRUPTION can be achieved in subtle ways by ensuring those who make decisions are your friends, are funded (bribed) by you, or are simply former employees of yours (i.e. on your payroll with potentially millions of dollars in salaries). Bill Gates, the world’s biggest bandit, is a master of those three types of corruption. As this new article points out, it almost seems like the EU married Bill Gates (see photo from 2013) and is now buying from Microsoft (at taxpayers’ expense) without even giving any competition a fair chance. To quote: “Despite being strong advocates of competition, European institutions are bound to the US software giant through murky contracts. Any transition to “open source” software, which in theory they encourage, would be too complicated and too expensive, they claim.”
This in itself is a form of corruption. But never mind this. Let’s look at some new example.
The Obamacare front end used GNU/Linux for quite some time and guess who infiltrates it? As iophk points out, it’s “more entryism” as we have already explained what this man and his wife are doing, having been paid a fortune by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.
Remember how Mr. Hunter, a former Microsoft manager, was enabling billions of dollars in tax dodging by Microsoft? This is corruption. It’s revolving doors.
There is another old tactic in use here. NSA’s special partner Microsoft is taking over something very sensitive. The Seattle press is boosting this (it is bribed by Bill Gates) and it is very obvious why. Whoever let this Microsoft mole enter is letting Microsoft hold hostage people’s medical data. It is assurance of bailout as this becomes a matter of life and death, as we pointed out years ago when Microsoft tried hard to make healthcare dependent on Microsoft.
This is removing any remaining illusion of privacy in healthcare, let alone justice.
Wait and watch how Microsoft moles turn Obamacare into Microsoft’s toy. Will Obamacare be any better than Microsoft OneCare, which famously quarantined people’s entire mail archive?
The above is not mere lobbying, it is entryism and abuse by supposedly ‘retired’ people. They seek to occupy positions of power beyond Microsoft, assisting their previous employer and colleagues. We saw this many times before. Nokia is a relatively recent and famous example. █
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Regulator to Microsoft: I see what you did there…
Photo by Agência Brasil
Summary: Microsoft’s patent and antitrust strategy against Android/Linux (through Nokia) is not working out too well because of hypocrisy and obviousness
MICROSOFT, an abusive monopolist, had the audacity to accuse Android/Linux of the same [1, 2, 3]. Nokia, a former monopolist by some people’s standards, was the notable Microsoft proxy at the time.
Well, based on this new report from The Verge and interpretations of it, “[i]n April this year, a Microsoft-sponsored antitrust complaint about Android had this to say: “Google’s predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform.””
Now Microsoft drops to zero cost, as well, according to the report. As the author then points out: “And we have the whole Scroogled campaign (I felt dirty just for visiting that site).”
“And now they’re considering doing the exact same things they claim Google is doing unfairly? Does this company have any internal consistency whatsoever? ”
Never mind the inconsistency on privacy in “Scroogled” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].
The only thing uglier than all this is the racketeering, which is illegal by internationally-acceptable (universal) law. We recently wrote about European regulators catching up with this abuse by proxy. “Handset business will sell to Microsoft, but keep its patents. Regulators noticed,” said one report while others noticed how Microsoft's own (direct) racketeering fell apart because Microsoft's patents are bogus and invalid (Microsoft is patenting bras now). This put at risk Microsoft’s attempts to make Android more expensive.
According to another new report from The Verge, Nokia now working on an Android phone as part of a push into the low-end smartphone market. “Several sources close to Nokia suggested the company is working on the project under the code name “Normandy,”” said ECT. So Nokia complains about Android while using it? Who controls the whole of Nokia’s policy now?
This isn’t the only case where Microsoft tries to use intellectual monopolies to undermine Linux/Android. As this new report puts it, Microsoft continues to use crooked licensing in virtualisation — a subject we have covered for over a half a decade (since the Novell days). “This is the main reason why Windows barely gets a look-in in today’s cloud world,” wrote the author. “When I ask FOSS devops-type colleagues about it, their responses range from incredulity to hilarity. Why on Earth would they want to deploy on Windows? What possible advantage would it give them? These guys wield Puppet and Chef to deploy vast swarms of headless virtual Linux systems. Microsoft and proprietary software doesn’t feature in their world; some weirdos run Mac laptops but that’s about it.”
The age of Microsoft’s abuses against Linux may be over, but only if regulators take a closer look (with our help) at what Microsoft is doing and then warn it/threaten with antitrust action. Don’t believe for a second that Microsoft will just ignore the words from Joaquin Almunia; it wasn’t empty rhetoric and it has become a business risk (loss of revenue if not embargo). █
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Freely sharing is evil, apparently
“[T]here is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”
–Bill Gates, April 2008
Summary: Bill Gates risks ejection from Microsoft, but the lobbying against sharing what’s freedom-respecting carries on
THE company of bribes, technical sabotage, extortion, etc. (with immunity to jail terms) is in the headlines again (celebrity criminal) because there is apparently an initiative to remove the most criminal elements, especially now that there are probes over alleged bribes all around the world (some high-level Microsoft executives risk going to prison). Some pundits think that Microsoft’s #1 criminal, Bill Gates, should be fired to be left working on his fake ‘charity. As IDG put it:
Steve Ballmer has been booted as CEO at Microsoft. Now should Bill Gates be removed from Microsoft’s board of directors? Datamation thinks he should be given his walking papers and sent on his way.
Many people prefer to forget Gates’ role in Microsoft’s competition crimes — crimes that he mostly dodged without a jail sentence, just as he escaped a jail term several decades earlier because his parents were very wealthy. But here is what’s most disgusting about it all; Using a lobbying front, Microsoft is now trying to call Linux/Android anti-competitive — a bogus allegation which KDE is the latest party to respond to. To quote the KDE Web site:
Open Letter to the European Commission: Free Software is competitive
The KDE community is deeply concerned by the wrong notion contained in a recent complaint to the European Commission. The Fairsearch initiative claims that “distribution of Android at below-cost” could constitute anti-competitive behaviour or predatory pricing. Mirko Böhm produced a response (PDF) for the KDE Community.
In part, the Fairsearch complaint is an attempt to reduce the strong competition of Free Software platforms with proprietary offerings. KDE and other free software projects would be adversely affected by a misinformed decision about Android. The Internet itself (a basis for the Fairsearch complaint) is largely a product of Free Software. The KDE Community in one of the largest Free Software communities in the world, a global collaboration of companies and individuals building a free platform and creating programs in an openly governed development process.
In a world where crime is “business” or “success”, it is not too shocking to see sharing and freedom characterised as some kind of a crime. Coming from the fiend who daemonised respecting one’s neighbour (see Letter to Hobbyists), it is not shocking to see those lobbyists. Whether Gates stays in Microsoft or not, he will continue to promote selfishness while pretending to do the very opposite. That’s how effective his PR campaign — just like the above “Fairsearch” (it’s the very opposite of fair) — has been. █
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Summary: Resistance to bogus (to most users) novelty which gives corporations rather than users power over computers all around the world
Some prominent operating system developers already complain about what they perceive to be an anticompetitive measure. Intel, which spearheads UEFI advocacy, needs Windows right now, especially because the best-selling devices, which run Linux, are based on non-x86 chipsets. We oughtn’t let Intel, a criminal company with a long track record at that, get its way.
Richard WM Jones mentioned UEFI/EFI the other day, alluding to problems it was causing him. He wants to bring back the BIOS and concludes as follows:
Anyhow, this explains how I’ve gone from 3 working Fedora ARM systems to 0 in the space of two days. This is also the reason I think EFI is a terrible mistake.
Now that we know of back doors for the NSA we know that with UEFI some motherboards can be bricked remotely (the US was concerned that the Chinese would do such things). UEFI is also a patent trap and a facilitator of antitrust abuses that merit it a boycott, Why again does an ordinary user need UEFI? Benefits do not outweigh the dangers, so we need to shun UEFI for now. █
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Adding a monopoly layer that nobody asked for
Summary: Another reason to boycott UEFI, which is a headache to many and benefit to almost nobody except Intel and Microsoft
As regular critics of UEFI, especially for its ‘secure’ boot enablement of Microsoft antitrust abuses, it seemed reasonable for us to point out this rant from a UEFI proponent, Dr. Garrett.
“Enable freedom, not lockdown.”“32-bit UEFI,” he rants “Just say what on earth were you thinking, please, no, can’t you find a solution that doesn’t involve me getting tetanus jabs.”
The rant is about shipping of inadequate UEFI implementations, which cause unnecessary problems. Why use UEFI anyway? What are the benefits to most users? Remote network booting? No. It’s just unwanted complications marketed as progress. To most users, less is more. Use Coreboot. Enable freedom, not lockdown. When I pointed this out to the President of the UEFI Forum he did not really have a counterpoint.
Given Microsoft’s strong relationship with the NSA we now know that the NSA can brick hardware with UEFI. Remotely even, provided it also runs Windows. That is a massive risk to tolerate. Boycott UEFI. █
Found circulating in JoinDiaspora
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Summary: Microsoft wants to befriend its prey, but antitrust complaints against Microsoft helps remind the prey of what it is
Microsoft has got unbelievable nerve trying to devour Java and GNU/Linux (see prior coverage in [1, 2]), which it files antitrust complaints against.
The real antitrust abuser is Microsoft, not Free software, where free means freedom. Here is an update about the UEFI antitrust complaint, which says progress is being made because “The European Commission is waiting for Microsoft’s comments on a complaint against secure boot in Windows 8 before it takes its next step, according to the lawyer who filed the complaint.
“The real antitrust abuser is Microsoft, not Free software, where free means freedom.”“José Maria Lancho, a Spanish lawyer who filed the plaint in March on behalf of 8,000 computer users who are part of Hispalinux, told iTWire that once the Commission heard back from Microsoft, the next step would be to review the company’s comments and then decide about the preliminary injunction request which he had lodged.”
As covered here before, there are additional reasons to worry about UEFI, patents included [1, 2], but the matter of fact is, there is an inherent incompatibility here with the concept of freedom, unless of course the user manages the keys on his/her computer hardware.
For Microsoft, UEFI is a victory on two levels; one is the fact that GNU and Linux become harder to explore and the other is that people become accustomed to having no freedom with devices they buy (Xbox One takes that further with the application layer and surveillance). █
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