02.28.21

On Gangstalking and Victim-Blaming

Posted in Australia, Debian, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Google at 4:05 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock


I will destroy you, threat, Washington

IT is ironic that the first person to depart the Biden administration was sanctioned for threatening somebody else’s career.

This week Marko Rodriguez went public with news that rogue members of the Apache Software Foundation had decided to persecute him for his commentary on social issues. The board had voted to reclassify satire as a form of prose that “borders” on hate speech. Either it is hate speech or it isn’t. To suggest it “borders” on hate speech is a fudge. The sly comparison of these very different types of writing is simply a smear to hurt his career.

To put this in perspective, board members who disagreed with this defamation did not only vote against it but also choose to resign.

Around Valentine’s Day, Brittany Higgins, a former employee of Australia’s defense minister went public with news about being raped on the ministerial sofa. The questions this woman raises are extraordinary, for example, if the Minister for Defense, Linda Reynolds, cannot defend her own direct reports, how can we rely on her to defend our country?

Brittany Higgins, AustraliaHiggins chose not to name the accused publicly. It appears she wishes to focus attention on the culture and the cover-up. Two independent news organizations, True Crimes News Weekly and independent journalist Shane Olsen have identified a suspect. There is now a twitter hashtag too. A Youtube video shows the former Attorney General, George Brandis, praising Bruce Lehrmann and other former staff in the presence of high court justices.

George Brandis (former Attorney General): All of us know how important staff are to us. We spend so much time together, mostly away from home. We share so many experiences that they become like a second family.

As the man departed days after the incident in 2019, it appears that the Government have had plenty of time to remove his name from virtually all official web sites although there is no super-injunction (yet) to prevent discussion of his identity.

Against this backdrop, Google admitted two female researchers subject to high-profile sackings may have been doing legitimate research. Like Rodriguez and Higgins, both of Google’s female victims had been threatened to self-censor, they refused, they were shamed, they bravely chose to put their persecution in the public domain.

All these cases inevitably remind me of other cases, the growing body count in the free and open source software world.

Higgins’ decision to go public helps us all see how a cover-up was built from day one. Her boss, Linda Reynolds, had suggested that pursuing a criminal justice complaint would destroy Miss Higgins’ career. In effect, the victim was blackmailed to stay silent. This is the thread that draws all these cases of oppression together. In December 2018, two long standing volunteers in the free, open source software world, Dr Norbert Preining and I, revealed how we were subject to blackmail and coercion in our respective roles. In our cases, we both received the veiled threats in writing:

Knife at throat, Debian Account Managers, DAM, blackmail

We are sending this email privately, leaving its disclosure as your decision (although traces in public databases are unavoidable)

In other words, they are saying that if we call out the coercive nature of their communications, they will seek to destroy us.

When you receive a threat like this from somebody with a history of publicly shaming people on a hideous scale, it really feels like they are holding a knife to your throat.

Chilling.

In my case, the community of volunteers and donors had clearly elected me as the fellowship representative so this blackmail was an attack on all those who voted. It was my duty to inform people and call it out.

The crimes were very different but the message seems to be the same: the organization must be protected at any cost. When those in authority do something wrong, the victims have to stay silent, grin and bear it or some gang will impose a bigger pain on the victim.

More on the former Debian Project Leader (DPL), Chris Lamb, giving negative references for volunteers

One volunteer sent me the following comments about Chris Lamb. Many people receiving copies of defamation have showed it to the survivors:

Volunteer: But I am scared that Lamb actually also hosed an application for a company in NY, a job related to Debian. If that has happened, and I can reasonably document it, I would consider a defamation law suit

When the leader of any organization, whether it is Apache, Debian or Google, uses the authority of their position to push defamation, it is like using the height of a bridge to stand above a freeway and drop bricks onto the cars underneath. Lamb may not fear consequences for his actions, his father is a barrister, Robert Lamb, who appears well qualified to stifle any volunteers seeking redress.

02.25.21

GNU/Linux Reaffirms Its Status as the Universal and Inter-planetary Operating System

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 7:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The operating system made for and by scientists (not business sharks and marketing cults) is winning the battle, and not only in this planet

ABOUT 15 MONTHS ago Bruce Perens talked frankly about systemd, noting that it would harm Debian’s status as the universal (as in universe, i.e. inter-planetary) operating system. By that point it had already been adopted for usage in space, as I note in the video above.

“It’s worth noting that Windows is used just about nowhere outside this planet, whereas GNU/Linux rapidly became the norm and it gradually replaces the proprietary operating system long used in space (no, not Windows).”Over the past week we’ve seen many press reports/coverage/links about Mars landings and space exploration. The “Linux” slant on the story can be found in a page that’s still updated with more articles in an ongoing/dynamic fashion. It’s worth noting that Windows is used just about nowhere outside this planet, whereas GNU/Linux rapidly became the norm and it gradually replaces the proprietary operating system long used in space (no, not Windows).

02.13.21

Nicolas Dandrimont, Pauline (or Maria) Climent-Pommeret & Debian, Outreachy, GSoC Conflict of Interest Policy Scandals

Posted in Debian, Deception, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google at 12:34 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

The Fellowship has recently blogged about FSFE President Matthias Kirschner misusing screengrabs from video calls with interns.

We hate to see interns names and photos brought into these disputes. The Debian Project Leader has been asked to cease vendettas against other volunteers. He continues the vendettas, he continues to let rumours hang over the heads of innocent volunteers so we have no choice other than showing who is really guilty.

Nicolas Dandrimont (olasd), an administrator in both Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and Outreachy, sent the email below, announcing that his girlfriend would apply for an internship. Dandrimont indicates he would still lurk around the administration of the program. He takes a swipe at the RTC projects managed by another volunteer. Incidentally, those RTC projects have been essential for many Free Software communities to work remotely during the pandemic. This is the email from Dandrimont:

Subject: Recusing myself from Outreachy applicant selection decisions, internships funding

Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2016 12:37:46 +0200

From: Nicolas Dandrimont <olasd@debian.org>

To: leader@debian.org, outreach@debian.org

CC: [mentors, redacted]

Hey all,

As of today, the person I’m involved with, Pauline Pommeret, is applying to an Outreachy internship in Debian (on the GPG cleanroom environment project – I don’t see her mail on the list archive yet, so something must have gone wrong, but it should arrive soon enough).

To avoid an obvious conflict of interest, I am recusing myself for any decisions regarding applicant selections for this round.

I am of course still happy to serve as a liaison with the Outreachy program administrators, and to forward our applicants to them for general funding when selected, if the money allocated by Debian runs out.

This would especially be relevant, in my opinion, to RTC projects, as I’m not sure at all that we should fund them from Debian money directly. Karen Sandler also told me that one of the Outreachy sponsors was interested in funding interns on Reproducible Builds. All in all, we should be able to have two or three internship slots with Debian only disbursing one.

I’ll stay on the outreach@d.o alias for now, but let me know if you need help ranking applicants, and I’ll ask DSA to remove me so you can discuss at ease.

Cheers,



Nicolas Dandrimont

right

An application was commenced by this woman using the name Pauline Pommeret. Investigating, we find that she also uses other names, such as Maria Climent-Pommeret and chopopope. Some people have used aliases like this when doing something wrong in Debian but we don’t want to jump to conclusions. It might be because she saw how people are subject to doxing in Debian. Some people don’t use their real names to avoid consequences for their mistakes. The public shamings and Maria / Pauline’s decision to use an alias could be a hint about why so few women volunteer in Debian.

As this woman hoping to become an intern began discussion with the Debian mentors, Dandrimont participated:

Subject: Re: Details concerning my application to the Outreachy program

Date: Sat, 15 Oct 2016 17:15:43 +0200

From: nicolas@dandrimont.eu

To: [redacted mentors], Pauline Pommeret <chopopope@crans.org>, olasd@debian.org

(on mobile, sorry for the short reply) Just a detail, the contribution can happen/be merged after the application deadline too, no need to rush it. It only needs to happen before the selection, and the earlier the better, of course.

Le 15 octobre 2016 17:01:55 GMT+02:00, [mentor] a écrit :

On 15/10/16 15:37, [mentor] wrote:

Hi Pauline,

I don’t know if …

A few days later, on 18 October 2016, Dandrimont advised mentors that Pauline would withdraw from the selection process. At this stage, for privacy reasons, we decline to publish the withdrawal email.

In 2017, Debian did not participate in GSoC

Nicolas Dandrimont, olasd, Debian

In August 2017, Dandrimont resigned from the role of administrator. He did not give any forced public confession for the situation with his girlfriend. Dandrimont was not removed from the Debian keyring. He was not subjected to doxing in LWN and other places.

Some people in Debian appear to have immunity, like the leaders of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Other people have been subject to severe punishments for the smallest mistakes.

Consequences

In 2018, a similar situation occurred with other contributors to Debian in Google Summer of Code (GSoC). By way of precedent, mentors handled the case in the same way that Dandrimont had handled the case with his girlfriend.

In the 2018 GSoC case, all admins and mentors were made aware of the conflict of interest. Nobody kept it secret. Everybody in Debian knew. When the manager at Google, Stephanie Taylor, found out, she had a fit. It was Friday the 13th.

Subject: Concerns around Debian GSoC students and conflict of interest

Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2018 UTC

From: Stephanie Taylor <sttaylor@google.com>

To: Pranav Jain <contact@pranavjain.me>, prabaharan jaminy
<jaminy02@gmail.com>, Alexander Wirt <formorer@gmail.com>, [redacted], molly.deblanc@gmail.com

Hello Debian Org Admins,

It has come to our attention that one of your [name and title redacted], is the [relationship redacted] of one of your students – [student redacted], which is in clear violation of the GSoC Rules both [redacted] and [redacted] agreed to. We will have to remove both [redacted] and [redacted] from the program immediately.

One of the Debian people explained to Taylor the precedent set by Nicolas Dandrimont and Pauline (or Maria) Climent-Pommeret in Outreachy 2016. Taylor sent additional comments

Stephanie Taylor (Google): It is never okay to have a conflict of interest like you had with [redacted/leadership role], having a [redacted/relationships], etc. in the program as a student. That is a clear conflict of interest that would influence the mentor whether or not they intend it to. No one wants to fail the [redacted/leadership role]‘s [redacted/relationship] during the program, there is already favoritism even if the [redacted/leadership role] is not involved in the student’s selection or mentoring.

The volunteers who were blackmailed, removed from the Debian keyring and subject to sustained public attacks that continue to this day were not involved in any romantic conflict of interest. It looks like Debian uses people as scapegoats so that other people can get away with anything.


Matthias Kirschner, FSFE, Objectifying female interns

02.10.21

Does Outreachy and a Code of Conduct Increase Diversity? Case Study From Debian

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software at 8:37 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock

The recently published and controversial FSFE diversity strategy only includes one ongoing action: updating the Code of Conduct.

Personally, I feel that diversity and the status of women is a vital issue. Therefore, I feel compelled to check if that strategy is built on solid ground. Does a Code of Conduct, in the sense that these things are written in hobbyist organizations, really increase diversity?

The Debian Project provides an interesting source of data for a study. Debian is one of the larger free software communities and a significant amount of data on project roles is available in public. There is a convenient list of female contributors.

If anybody has more significant data on this topic and would like to examine it together please feel free to contact me.

Interventions

Debian first participated in the Outreach Program for Women (now Outreachy) in summer 2013.

Debian introduced a Code of Conduct in April 2014.

There are two rounds of Outreachy each year. Approximately $6,000 from Debian funds is used to fund each intern. There are typically two interns in each round, so this uses $24,000 per year, a non-trivial sum for the project.

As both Outreachy and the Code of Conduct were introduced at almost the same time it is hard to view their impact separately. It is possible that one may have a net positive impact while the other may have a negative impact or vice-versa.

Analysis

  • Only time spent as an uploading developer is considered
  • Excluded: the first few years when Debian was very small
  • Trans developers are counted as female throughout their history with the project
  • The figures are absolute number of women, they are not weighted by the overall number of developers

Results

Period Women per year (mean)
2004-2013 1.000
2014-2020 0.857

What this suggests is that the number of women granted upload access each year appears to have fallen by fourteen percent after Debian joined Outreachy and adopted a Code of Conduct.

This is not a rigorous study and I make no claim that these figures are statistically significant. It is just a quick summary of the available data to get discussion started about an important issue.

Comment

Outreachy encourages women to compete for positions while men come to Debian as volunteers. This may work against the interests of diversity.

Even though these figures are only informal, I feel there is good reason for this organization to use the $24,000 Outreachy money for a different diversity program.

The Code of Conduct is very generic and doesn’t include the safety mechanisms we would find in a Code of Ethics. In practice, the Code of Conduct has encouraged witch-hunts, finger-pointing and conflict. The undignified and hasty manner in which a kangaroo court was assembled to attack Jacob Appelbaum with exaggerated accusations of harassment is a case in point.

Every organization and project is different: Debian, by definition, is a voluntary effort. A project with employees may see very different diversity outcomes.

Free software organizations are using the lack of women as an excuse to play with the carrot (Outreachy) and stick (CoC). If there is no data to support these interventions then the diversity problem will persist.

Resources

You can download the table here.

Debian Women cumulative

02.07.21

Raspberry Pied in the Face — Part II: Raspberry Pi Foundation in Violation of GNU/Linux Rules (Because of Microsoft)

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 7:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The blunder that harms the reputation of the Raspberry Pi (to appease or to serve Microsoft objectives like the ones we saw at Intel) is far from over; some have only just found out about it and they’re as mad as hell

AS WE noted in Part I, which was mostly introductory, we had spent the past week (almost a whole week!) researching verifiable facts rather than hearsay about our findings regarding the relationship between Microsoft and the Raspberry Pi Foundation. We actually broke the story, but almost nobody in the media gives us credit/attribution. Some unknown incognitos even removed links to Techrights (in Wikipedia articles about this very serious scandal), so maybe there’s some large-scale face-saving PR campaign.

“Many of us have Raspberry Pi devices and we can no longer trust system updates.”This morning someone sent us this new Lunduke video (also here) and latest among several stories about it in SoylentNews (a site which, to its credit, respects Techrights and habitually links to Techrights). We reposted (embedded) the Lunduke video because unlike some shallow puff pieces and self-serving Canonical spin it does not seek to underplay the severity of this cautionary tale. It cautions us about trust. Many of us have Raspberry Pi devices and we can no longer trust system updates. The Microsoft “implant” was nefariously packaged as if the clear goal was to hide it, to basically conceal what they had done. We’ll explain the technical details later in this series.

“By not including any source for their packaged attack,” one associate told us, “RPF seems it might have moved in violation of the guidelines / rules for ‘main’…”

“Lunduke and I share the view that the Raspberry Pi Foundation needs to issue a massive apology.”Some Debian developers, we are being told, are already angered by this. There is still no official word (statement or announcement) from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Nothing. To make matters worse, there were efforts to gag their very own customers. Not cool…

Lunduke and I share the view that the Raspberry Pi Foundation needs to issue a massive apology. Even that alone would be insufficient. In Part III we’ll look at some of the technical aspects and the contractual obligations we suspect to have led to this blunder. This isn’t just some ‘accident’; there’s more to this story than the Raspberry Pi Foundation wants us to believe. They gaslight us. Who are the customers? Us or Microsoft?

02.06.21

Holding the Raspberry Pi Foundation Accountable by Explaining What Happened (and Providing Evidence)

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 7:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The Raspberry Pi Foundation is under immense pressure at the moment (from partners, not only customers); it refuses to explain what motivated it to sneak Microsoft spyware into millions of devices (same as Intel), with neither notification nor consent

THE British foundation called after its key product (Raspberry Pi) does not respect free speech. It does not respect software freedom, either (not anymore). We’ve entered this atmosphere online wherein censorship is seen as commendable and people who speak out against Microsoft abuses are painted of “Microsoft bashers”. How inflammatory a label. Truly disturbing, is it not?

“The foundation cannot carry on gaslighting its very own customers eternally.”In the US, we’ve recently seen even entire platforms with millions of people in them taken offline (collective punishment), an acting president deplatformed by Twitter, and people can be similarly muzzled for expressing views which are perfectly lawful (for example, one’s position on gun ownership, which is protected by the US Constitution, however misguided or outdated it may seem because the psyche of British monarchy governing north America is hundreds of years out of date).

Joe Biden and Obama: Trump hater! Trump bashing!At the moment the Raspberry Pi Foundation shows that it disregards free speech as much as it disregards free software. We have a whole bunch of articles on this subject, having been informed by some readers and sent material of relevance. Expect many investigations to follow and hopefully bear fruit (like raspberries).

Readers who are aware of internal affairs (and the relationship with Microsoft in particular), please contact us. We need to put out there the truth… for all to see. The foundation cannot carry on gaslighting its very own customers eternally. We already saw one such foundation turned into rubble, with affairs rapidly exacerbating after taking Microsoft money.

01.29.21

Canonical, Ubuntu & Debian DebConf19 Diversity Girls E-mail

Posted in Debian, Google, Ubuntu at 11:43 am by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

On 8 March 2020, International Women’s Day, somebody forged Mark Shuttleworth’s email address to distribute or leak the email below.

Debian, Outreachy, DebConf, student, intern, female, womanThe Debian Project Leader, Sam Hartman, accused another volunteer of distributing it. Eleven months have passed. Nobody ever gave any proof about the source of this message. Sam Hartman lied. He whipped up a mob much like Donald Trump at the US Capitol siege.

There is so much fake news on the Internet today. Why was Sam Hartman, leader of Debian, so enraged when somebody leaked the concerns about unethical romantic relationships in GSoC and Outreachy mentoring? Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. That’s why.

Sam Hartman, DebianRogue elements of Debian take the approach that this is a hobby and they can do what they want. If we care about diversity that is not good enough.

Is the email below sexist itself? Or does this email simply expose the sexism and misogyny that Debian doesn’t want the world to know about?

Subject: Fwd: debconf19 diversity girls

Date: Sun, 08 Mar 2020

From: Mark Shuttleworth <shuttleworthless@protonmail.com>

behave yourselves!

brazilians!

please don’t name the girl

——– Forwarded Message ——–

Subject: debconf19 diversity girls

Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2020 08:31:50 +0000 (UTC)

From: Sam Hartman <hartmans@debian.org>

To: debian-private@lists.debian.org <debian-private@lists.debian.org>

Debian is not an employer and when we gather at DebConf

we are not under any centralized control. Some of us are

paid to be there by our employers and some of us choose

to come as volunteers. Nobody works 24 hours per day

for 10 days at DebConf and when people are not working

there is no reason they can’t engage in any romances.

Our diversity programs have become overwhelmingly popular

and at every event now we have young women coming

on diversity bursaries. Some of these women are

participants in the current round of GSoC or Outreachy

and some of these women want to join the next round.

So many of these diversity bursarie girls are having

a connection with internships. Almost all the others

have no jobs, they are looking for jobs and they are

under pressure to please people.

Debian has never said anything to ban romances with

these women. We already assumed the mentors would

not get romantic with the interns in the current round.

But it needs to be really clear that no Debian Developer

should become intimate with any woman in the current

round or any woman who is preparing to apply for

subsequent rounds of GSoC and Outreachy.

A problem has been discussed at DebConf19 and it was

seen too at DebConf18. The boy involved is a member

of the Debian mentors team so this is one case where it

is definitely off-limits. The relationship did

not involve a woman he mentors personally but

it was also very clear to the mentor that this

woman had an interest in the program, there is no

way he could have been unaware of that.

He is also a Canonical/Ubuntu employee. We believed he

comes to DebConf as an employee, he is not a Debian

employee of course, so there was discussion with Canonical.

Canonical said they would resolve the issue as an internal

company issue. Some other people became concerned because

Canonical is a DebConf sponsor and maybe I’m being too

lenient on their employee. If other Canonical management

were not at DebConf, how would we handle this issue with

any other volunteer from a different company?

The woman and the other people who share her room don’t

want to comment on the issue. We thought this was a dead end.

There is nothing more going to happen here but please

now remember if you are a Debian Developer, even

if you are not a mentor, if you meet somebody at an

event who indicates any interest in our mentoring

programs within the next year, you need to maintain

a professional relationship with this person.

You can also withdraw from Debian, then you are

free to purse any relationship of course. This is

not only for mentors, it has to be for all of us.

–Sam

Debian Outreachy intern diversity girls unethical

01.23.21

Video: The State of Communities Surrounding GNU/Linux Distributions

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, IBM, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 5:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: A discussion about the state of volunteer efforts going into the development, maintenance (in the ‘maintainership’ sense) and support/advocacy of GNU/Linux distros

FOLLOWING last night’s article about erosion of fake communities (not grassroots but corporate) I’ve recorded a quick video. It’s snowing and very cold here this morning, our connection issues persist (20th day now!) due to COVID-related network congestion, so there’s usually a significant lag between time of recording and time of publication.

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