Summary: New releases of FreeBSD and the relevance to GNU/Linux
Free software is not a one-man race. There are numerous camps with slightly varying opinions on what freedom means. FreeBSD, one of the giants in the BSD world, is gradually approaching release 10 [1,2], having just updated 9.2 [3,4]. GhostBSD, which is derived from FreeBSD, is also worth noting . Those systems not always compete with the GNU/Linux camp because there is a lot of sharing of code and packages between those two camps. Starting an argument over the level of freedom or meaning of freedom would be a waste of time and effort. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Glen Barber from the FreeBSD team announced the availability of the first alpha download of FreeBSD 10 on their mailing list. FreeBSD 10 appears to be a significant upgrade from 9, with a long list of improvements and new features. However, as is standard with FreeBSD, the most interesting features are under the hood.
FreeBSD 10.0 has been in alpha for just one month but announced today is the first beta of the forthcoming FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE.
The release of FreeBSD 9.2 was supposed to happen by the end of August, but instead we’re now up to the fourth release candidate.
After being challenged by days and while FreeBSD 10.0 is up to Alpha 4, the FreeBSD Foundation and its developers released FreeBSD 9.2 today as stable.
GhostBSD is a FreeBSD derived, Gnome-based desktop operating system.
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Special relationships last even after death
Summary: Nepotism incarnated; Apple now appeals to politicians rather than judges, having lost the technical race to Linux; Apple’s top UNIX guru quits
Apple’s patent chief recently left the company, joining some prominent technical people who left this declining marketing and litigation company. The latest departure is that of Apple’s operating systems asset, who quit. As one article put it, “Hubbard left Apple last month to return to the world of open source UNIX, taking the chief technology officer post at a iXsystems, a company that offers servers and other data center hardware that runs FreeBSD.”
Concurrently, Apple continues pursuing embargo against Android devices. Apple uses the ITC and also litigates against Google through Motorola.
Mr. Pogson said, “When Is Prior Art Not Prior Art? When The US Federal Circuit Ignores It.”
Yes, Apple enjoys special treatment again. As Pamela Jones put it, “Apple started the show in this particular tent of the overall smartphone patent wars circus, suing Motorola at the ITC for infringement of various claims of Apple’s ’607 and ’828 patents, which are about touchscreens and multi-touch.”
“Apple keeps trying to cheat and game the system; when its claims are found to be empty it cries to its government and gets its way.”And let’s not forget the recent pardon to Apple from the president of drone assassinations, illegal surveillance and torture. The US government is superseding the law especially for Apple as the Obama administration pushed back against an embargo. Jones had this to say about it: “So, it was a bit like the papal special dispensations of history, where the law said X, but you are let off the hook from having to keep it. That makes Apple’s reported public response particularly offensive, when it said, “Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.” Samsung didn’t abuse the patent system. It was, as you will see, exactly the opposite, according to the ITC Opinion. And while the President can do whatever he wishes regarding public policy, the ITC followed the statute, since it has no policy powers. In short, one unavoidably must conclude that if Samsung had been the US company and Apple the Korean one, there would have been no pardon. That’s the bottom line, I’m afraid. As Jamie Love tweeted, “What Froman and USTR will now have to explain is why India and other countries can’t also consider public interest in patent cases.” As I’ll show you, one of the things the ITC considered was public comments warning that changing the terms for FRAND patent owners would make sweeping changes to trade laws, and Korea has already registered its concerns. I’m all for reforming the patent system, as you know, but if you want to reform it, how about making it *more* fair, not less? Playing favorites based on country of origin doesn’t aim for that noble goal. It’s indisputable that this has harmed Samsung, and since the ITC, which examined the facts in detail, found it was the innocent party in this picture, what can be the justification for Apple’s comment?”
The US press and the US government have given Apple special treatment for far too long. The corporate press covers this like it’s a sporting match, not science. Apple keeps trying to cheat and game the system; when its claims are found to be empty it cries to its government and gets its way. One writer for CNN (corporate press) wrote:
Apple and Samsung’s fiercest battle isn’t playing out in the smartphone market.
This is simply not true. Be sure to watch the image they use. Samsung was the one attacked by Apple, it’s not mutual. █
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Summary: Further commentary about the UEFI Restricted Boot complaint and a new interview with the lawyer behind it
The Microsoft-friendly press has been trying to demonise the group which complained about UEFI Restricted Boot. Some links were given in IRC and it would be wiser not to feed them further. Many of the responses are ad hominem in nature.
In IRC, one reader pointed out that the FreeBSD project, despite its attempts to catch up, is having problems with UEFI (not Restricted Boot yet), so it works on implementation.
Whereas OpenBSD complained early on, FreeBSD says:
The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to announce that Benno Rice has been awarded a grant to implement the ability to boot FreeBSD in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) boot environment.
The work to be done includes a new version of the loader, kernel modifications to support starting from a UEFI environment and the ability to create install media for pure UEFI systems.
“UEFI support is critical for FreeBSD’s future on the amd64 platform and I’m really pleased to be able to ensure that FreeBSD gains support for it,” said Benno.
This project is expected to be completed in March 2013.
“Here’s an example of the headaches that restricted boot causes end users,” writes the aforementioned reader. “It’s probably what Microsoft had in mind when forcing it on the OEMs.”
This new thread starts as follows:
Every Nightly Build of 13.04 has recently been Failing the DELL UEFI Security Check A.K.A. Secere Boot, and I refuse to Disable Dell UEFI Secure Boot just to run the Latest Nightly Build of Ubuntu, as I would be putting myself at a huge Security Risk if I were to get some kind of Virus/Malware that Targets Linux, Just FYI. I will return to Ubuntu Nightly Build Testing just as soon as Canonical fixes their Secure Boot Problem.
This is the type is story which shows why it’s essential to file a complaint. Even those who tried to go along with Microsoft’s anti-competitive scheme (e.g. Canonical) are being burned quite harshly.
Many articles about the antitrust complaint have been mentioned in IRC, but only one — a piece by Sam Varghese who spoke to the lawyer behind this complaint against UEFI — is worth noting. The introduction says: “The lawyer who has filed a complaint with the European Commission against secure boot in Windows 8 on behalf of some 8000 Linux users in Spain says the complaint takes “an user and developer perspective, it is an unprecedented approach to the problem of monopoly in operating systems in Europe”.”
Microsoft-friendly press mostly dances around these issues and tries to portray Microsoft as a poor victim, quoting Microsoft officials and selected European officials. It is their professional role to help the monopolist, so be careful and check whose words are being selectively presented. █
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Summary: UEFI is gaining support from FreeBSD, where Microsoft’s control over it makes this an error
MICROSOFT-controlled UEFI is a real problem. It’s about control; not control by the user but remote control by corporations. UEFI in general has been embraced by Apple, which also closed BSD to make its proprietary operating system that mistreats the users for ‘their convenience’.
The head of the OpenBSD project chastised Red Hat over UEFI restricted (by Microsoft) boot work (so did Torvalds), but FreeBSD seems to go down the wrong path by legitimising Microsoft’s anticompetitive tactics:
According to Rice, “UEFI support is critical for FreeBSD’s future on the amd64 platform and I’m really pleased to be able to ensure that FreeBSD gains support for it”. The Foundation expects the work to be completed in March 2013. Details of the work already done by Rice and what is still to be done is on the FreeBSD wiki’s UEFI page. Rice is also working on Secure Boot support for FreeBSD, but that project is still in its planning stages.
This is bad news. Ideally, complaints would have been filed against what Microsoft is doing. █
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Summary: Microsoft responds to defeat by playing dirty, but many people speak out against this
STEVE Ballmer says that Microsoft Is a “Devices and Services Company”, notes Tracy. “Anyone else happy to see that? They don’t claim to be an OS company anymore” he says. “They are losing their grip on the market via the OS and the Windows mobile OS barely has any market share.”
Here is one such article which speaks of Ballmer’s revealing words. Some of the weakest points are being pushed forth as strengths.
Vista 8 has been slammed by several hardware companies, so what devices was Ballmer talking about? Microsoft needs a lot of brainwash to save the monopoly, so it throws billions into public relations with a dedicated shill who was appointed internally: “Guggenheimer had served as corporate vice president of Microsoft’s OEM division, and in his new role Guggenheimer replaces Walid Abu-Hadba.”
We wrote about Guggenheimer before [1, 2] due to ugly things which were done. It was about anti-competitive behaviour.
“As a side note, OpenBSD and the FSF should be praised whereas Linux Foundation denounced for playing along with this, even if passively.”Additionally, Microsoft makes Linux booting harder on hardware using UEFI requirements that writers complain about. As one put it: “EFI, and the later UEFI specification, is not the problem for Linux. The problem is Microsoft’s other requirement for any Windows 8-certified client: the system must support secure booting. This hardened boot means that all firmware and software in the boot process must be signed by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA).”
The Microsoft boosters hide the problem with UEFI, but notable figures speak out loudly: “The un-unified efforts by these distributions did not go very well with the entire open source community. OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt criticized both Canonical and Red Hat. “I fully understand that Red Hat and Canonical won’t be doing the right thing, they are traitors to the cause, mostly in it for the money and power. They want to be the new Microsoft.””
Theo de Raadt is right on this one.
Microsoft is losing the OS war because of devices. Linux and Android reign there. So Microsoft is resorting to dirty demands from device makers.
As a side note, OpenBSD and the FSF should be praised whereas Linux Foundation denounced for playing along with this, even if passively. █
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Summary: Microsoft ‘security’ is a joke (with collateral damage) and this demonstrable insecurity is used as an excuse for blocking BSD and GNU/Linux
RECENTLY, Microsoft has been trying to distract from the main culprit behind SPAM. Microsoft is the #1 SPAM catalyst, but sometimes it gets the nerve to FUD Android over it and then retract the FUD, only under pressure. Our “call out Windows” Web page helps explain how Microsoft orchestrated a campaign to obfuscate articles to the point where people forget these simple facts.
Based on this new report, Microsoft is the leading US spammer. To quote the report: “Microsoft has topped a list of biggest U.S. spammers for five out of the past 15 months, and for some of those months it ranked No. 1 in the world, according to a University of Texas study to flag the worst offenders in an effort to get them to improve their security.
“Microsoft has been trying to distract from the main culprit behind SPAM.”“Based on results culled from spam block lists, researchers found that Microsoft IP addresses were responsible for a big enough volume of spam to top their SpamRankings.net list for the U.S. in April and May 2011, and in March, April and June of this year, which is the latest ranking, says John S. Quarterman, a senior researcher with the project at the McCombs School of Business at UT Austin. (See also When Viagra Comments on Your Blog and Other Spam Red Flags.””
This is not too shocking given the unbelievably high number of Windows zombies, as noted just the other day. Windows, by its own design failings, is not secure, but Microsoft misuses the word “secure” to market Vista 8 while excluding all rivals, including the now-angry BSD. With UEFI, Microsoft gives the illusion that it takes action for security, but this will do nothing for real security. At IDG’s sites, the Microsoft booster uses an inflammatory headline to daemonise GNU/Linux:
Red Hat declined to comment on de Raadt’s assertions, but said the company’s policy was outlined in a June 5 blog post by Linux engineering vice president Tim Burke. Canonical has also been contacted for comment. (Update below.)
Red Hat declines to comment on other points and the publicity is not good for Red Hat. It is not easy to install GNU/Linux on machines that Microsoft imposed UEFI on, explains Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. He starts as follows: “Here’s Microsoft’s plan: Every new PC sold with Windows 8 will be locked up tight with Microsoft’s UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) secure boot on. Microsoft says that this is to help secure your PCs from rootkits and malware. It also happens to stop you from easily installing Linux or any other operating system, such as Windows 7 or XP, on a Windows 8 system. Thanks Microsoft. We really needed that kind of protection!”
“That would surely add ‘security’ for the company’s illegal monopoly that it used criminal activity to gain.”He adds: “The problem is that Microsoft requires vendors to implement secure boot in such a way that it makes it very hard to install Linux. It’s possible that hardware companies will simply give us the option of turning off secure boot during the UEFI setup similar to the way you can now use your BIOS to choose if you want to boot from your hard drive or a DVD or USB Flash drive. We don’t know yet though. Even though Windows 8 PCs will start shipping this fall it’s still not clear how many vendors will implement secure boot The easy way will be for them to not give users the option of turning it off.”
That would surely add ‘security’ for the company’s illegal monopoly that it used criminal activity to gain. █
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Summary: Distributions of BSD and GNU/Linux suffer from Microsoft’s closing of computer chips, but Red Hat decides to take Microsoft’s side
USING some nefarious means such as UEFI, Microsoft has been trying to rescue the Windows franchise, especially now that ISVs are fed up.
Chris Hall, a friend of our site, explains why locking down computers won’t work for Microsoft: [via]
This doesn’t bode well for Nokia, which has gambled it’s future on Windows, or Microsoft. Both companies would like us to believe the move was brought about by Redmond’s recent announcement there will be no upgrade path from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8 when it’s released in a few months time. The truth seems to be that consumers simply aren’t interested in portable Windows devices, despite the gee-whiz advertising that’s been showing up on network TV recently.
With the exception of the Xbox, the luster seems to have worn off all Microsoft’s consumer products, including its flagship operating system. Here at FOSS Force, only 35% of our visitors are running Windows, which isn’t necessarily surprising as we’re an open source site. However, on another site we publish that doesn’t attract tech savvy visitors, Windows only accounts for 62% of our visitors, down from 91% only three years ago.
Until recently, OEMs pretty much refused to get serious about introducing computers running anything other than Windows, and for good reason. On computers, consumers use what they know, and they knew Windows. That’s all changed. Not only have consumers come to like their experiences with Android on handsets, they’re coming to have the same affection for Android on tablets as well. Just weeks after release, Google has already sold out of the 16GB version of the Nexus 7.
It might be time for Google to release a version of Android optimized for desktops and laptops. If it did, that might reduce Windows to being just another option, even on the desktop. The walled garden approach isn’t going to work for Redmond like it does for Cupertino. That approach requires a superior product and neither Windows nor Office falls into that category.
Now comes the new bit of information and it arrives from none other than de Raadt, who slams Red Hat for what it is doing about UEFI (see [1, 2] for context). To quote: “OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt has slammed Red Hat and Canonical for the way they have reacted to Microsoft’s introduction of “secure” boot along with Windows 8, describing both companies as wanting to be the new Microsoft.”
“The UEFI SecureBoot work is finally officially approved for going into Fedora 18,” writes Michael Larabel. See this message and this article from our friends at Muktware:
In a FESCo meeting held on 23rd July, Fedora’s Engineering And Steering Committee members have decided to include UEFI Secure Boot in Fedora 18. Codenamed Spherical Cow, this release is scheduled to be out this November. Only two votes out of nine were against inclusion of secure boot.
IDG says that “Fedora Linux Moves Forward with UEFI Secure Boot Plans”. We would rather say “moves backwards”. To quote: “The latest news? The Fedora project on Monday voted to move forward with its plan, meaning that its upcoming Fedora 18 will support the Secure Boot technology enabled in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) in Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8.”
Fedora did not even wait for Linux developers to possibly come up with a better workaround:
According to Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board member James Bottomley, it may be that distros have had problems formulating a plan to deal with UEFI because they don’t have access to UEFI machines.
Red Hat can be vilified, rightly, for doing something that helps divide and harm non-Red Hat distro . █
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Summary: An observation made by a Debian user regarding BSD Magazine
A NOTABLE Debian user who goes by the name of “Weaver” and occasionally writes in the Debian mailing lists wrote about a day ago about “[i]nteresting happenings in the BSD world. BSDMag are promoting a ‘buy one and get the second book free’ scenario with a comprehensive Pentesting format, ‘Inj3ct0r’.
“First thing I note Microsoft, the major sponsor.
“I hope Dru Lavigne isn’t going to too many of them there M$ cocktail parties.”
Microsoft has been trying to marginalise the GPL, e.g. though former staff (this one too looks a tad suspicious) and several years ago readers hypothesised that Microsoft used BSD folks to daemonise the FSF and GNU. We have an interview with Stallman coming, in which we will try to cover UEFI and other technical issues for the most part. █
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