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01.07.20

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?

01.03.20

Canceling Free Software Developers for ‘Wrongthink’

Posted in Debian at 1:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free Software, Free Speech

Summary: The slippery slope of uniformal thinking in Debian project

Hours ago at Debian Community News:

Rhonda D’Vine, a Debian Developer from Austria, recently wrote about actively excluding people from free software projects.

At first glance, what D’Vine is proposing amounts to emotional blackmail.

This is the psychology of cults: people must show a blind obedience to the leaders and suppress their own feelings and ideas or they are treated rudely.

[...]

D’Vine’s musings reveal an Austrian/German cultural defect: a desire and willingness to control everybody around you or eliminate them. An unwillingness to invest in relationships with people you wouldn’t normally count as close friends.

The fact that D’Vine independently derives this philosophy from her own environment, which includes Debian, suggests a disturbing possibility that those from a German cultural background will keep reviving the philosophy behind the Holocaust from time to time whenever they participate in a state or organization with mixed cultures.

01.02.20

‘Cancel Culture’ in Debian Project

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux at 11:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The ‘free speech police’ is seemingly everywhere now

The 'free speech police'

Summary: Nothing seems safe to say anymore, not even well outside the context of one’s employment (Debian is banishing developers for rather shallow reasons or superficial reasoning)

I WAS rather saddened this morning when I read this latest post from a Debian community site (published quite late yesterday) and I wrote about it in relation to the Linux Foundation with its cryptic and selectively-applied (or arbitrarily if not discriminately-enforced) CoC. Corporate culture wherein people can be fired (dismissed) for no particular reason (also no legal recourse), sometimes for merely having particular views (or having expressed such views a very long time ago, even outside the context of a workplace and prior to employment) creeps even into “community” distros. Among the examples given by the Debian community site are criticisms of policies of the Israeli government (or the party currently in power), questioning of money from Google, breaking unjustified secrecy (conflict of interest exposed) and so on.

“Among the examples given by the Debian community site are criticisms of policies of the Israeli government (or the party currently in power), questioning of money from Google, breaking unjustified secrecy (conflict of interest exposed) and so on.”Leaks served to show that even Bruce Perens was suggested for ‘cancellation’ (impeachment from Debian) when he was the DPL. This is the same Bruce Perens who openly complained about the “Open Source” founders maliciously scheming to ‘cancel’ Richard Stallman (a very long time ago). If we cannot have free speech in Free software, then Free software will cease being about freedom. Many developers are well aware of this, but corporate money seems to be poisoning communities profoundly.

01.01.20

Celebration of Censorship and Self-Censorship in Linux

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 10:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Big mother (or Big Brother) is watching… everything you say

Truth is toxic? No!! Toxic!!

Summary: We’re back to the same old conundrum: what is more toxic? Oppressive censorship (of truth)? Or the expression of ‘unwanted’ speech?

LWN has just (about 2 hours ago) removed the paywall from this article entitled “A year-end wrap-up from LWN”. I couldn’t help but notice this rather disturbing paragraph from the editor himself (Jonathan Corbet). About the Linux Foundation‘s code of conduct (CoC) it says this: “Did somebody try to test out the kernel’s code-of-conduct as predicted? As of November 30, there had been no code-of-conduct events in the last three months, and only minor events before. That prediction, happily, has not worked out. Thus far, it seems that the code of conduct may actually have succeeded in making the kernel community a nicer place without the need for any serious enforcement efforts.”

Putting aside the recent ban of a “MAGA” hat-wearing person (banned from Kubecon), let’s examine closely what the above actually means. We’re supposed to count the CoC as an achievement not because it’s actually being used but because people are afraid of it — they’re afraid to speak out. Those are the classic hallmarks of authoritarian regimes. Hardly an accomplishment!

An anonymous Debian community site wrote this yesterday (it’s already in our Daily Links by the way). We’ll reproduce a portion below again, for those who aren’t keeping abreast of Daily Links:

Over the past twelve months, concerned developers have spoken out publicly about blackmail in Debian. It has been referred to as analogous to Thought Reform, the brainwashing programs of the totalitarian Chinese communist state and many former eastern European communist dictatorships.

The regime operating this program are the Debian Account Managers, comprising Enrico Zini, Joerg Jaspert and Jonathan Wiltshire.

Using the public complaints about the process, let’s break it down into easy steps. Like Zini, Jaspert and Wiltshire did at Christmas 2018, you could make this into a holiday project and start your own regime during a long weekend.

Begin with the conclusion

Normally, an expulsion or imprisonment comes at the end of an inquiry or investigation. In a blackmail program, the process is reversed.

In Debian’s case, this involves removing somebody from the Debian keyring. This is something that is relatively easy for Zini, Joerg and Wiltshire to do using their position in the project.

Add something menacing

For some developers, simply removing them from the keyring can cause immediate problems with their employment as they can no longer upload packages to Debian if they are not included in the Debian keyring. Without saying any more, Zini, Joerg and Jaspert now have the victim’s full attention.

This is about Debian, where there seems to be a(n anti) “free speech” cabal that gags people for questionable reasons; it’s to do with Google money, politics and social justice causes. In the case of the Linux Foundation it’s somewhat worse because the speech policing is done by people who do not use Linux. Sure, they run “Linux Foundation” and “Linux dot com” and so on. But they don’t even use GNU/Linux; they don’t understand the users and the community, only corporate agenda (of corporate sponsors). So they’re in effect like a Ford CEO who drives a Japanese car around, insisting even in public that it is superior. They tell us free speech is dangerous and are adamant — even eager — to suppress any views that don’t suit their career goals. This is a recipe for total chaos; we already saw what that did to the FSF. Watch closely the LWN comment (on the above article) which says: “Recently I received issue 35 of the FSF Bulletin. (Not yet available at https://www.fsf.org/bulletin .) My copy has already been recycled but it struck me Stallman wasn’t mentioned even once. Surreal.”

If FSF did this consciously, what does that say about today’s FSF? As we said months ago, several times in fact, there cannot be software freedom without freedom of speech; those two principles are closely intertwined. It has been reported and proven that the FSF even censors its mailing lists (e.g. messages in support of Stallman!).

12.31.19

Explanation of Internal Debian Affairs at Debian Community News

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux at 7:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It goes well beyond Devuan, systemd and the whole init system dispute

Debian Community News

Summary: The Web site called “Debian Community News” provides a rather unique — and likely accurate — take on the state of Debian, where key facts are hidden away for the project’s image to be artificially ‘sanitised’ (and ‘pesky’ developers ostracised) while taking corporate money, e.g. from Google and Microsoft

“We believe that a free and independent news site helps raise standards of leadership, governance and accountability in Debian and the wider Free Software community,” says Debian Community News, a site that recently emerged as a source of news about internal affairs at the Debian camp/project.

“We’ve long needed independent news sites about GNU/Linux, which include anonymity, especially for sources and sometimes for authors.”The site currently contains 16 stories, mostly from this year (except one, which is about the death of Ian Murdock, the “Ian” in “DebIan”).

We’ve long needed independent news sites about GNU/Linux, which include anonymity, especially for sources and sometimes for authors. Free software needs free speech, as secrecy tends to breed suspicion and shelter mischief. This is why we began — or resumed — publishing IRC logs on a daily basis, as we had done until about a decade ago (frequency of publication changed due to the amount of work required). We barely keep secrets other than identity of many sources of ours. In the context of GNU/Linux divulging identity of sources can result in community friction, whereas in the case of European Patent Office (EPO) leaks sources being revealed can result in destruction of lifelong careers.

Speaking of careers being destroyed and even lives ended, here’s what the site said of Murdock:

The report talks about somebody (no suggestion that it was even Ian) “trying to break into a residence”. Let’s translate that from the spin-doctor-speak back to English: it is the silly season, when many people have a couple of extra drinks and do silly things like losing their keys. “a residence”, or just their own home perhaps? Maybe some AirBNB guest arriving late to the irritation of annoyed neighbours? Doesn’t the choice of words make the motive sound so much more sinister? Nobody knows the full story and nobody knows if this was Ian, so snippets of information like this are inappropriate, especially when somebody is deceased.

Did they really mean to leave people with the impression that one of the greatest visionaries of the Linux world was also a cat burglar? That somebody who spent his life giving selflessly and generously for the benefit of the whole world (his legacy is far greater than Steve Jobs, as Debian comes with no strings attached) spends the Christmas weekend taking things from other people’s houses in the dark of the night? The report doesn’t mention any evidence of a break-in or any charges for breaking-in.

If having a few drinks and losing your keys in December is such a sorry state to be in, many of us could potentially be framed in the same terms at some point in our lives. That is one of the reasons I feel so compelled to write this: somebody else could be going through exactly the same experience at the moment you are reading this. Any of us could end up facing an assault as unpleasant as the tweets imply at some point in the future. At least I can console myself that as a privileged white male, the risk to myself is much lower than for those with mental illness, the homeless, transgender, Muslim or black people but as the tweets suggest, it could be any of us.

The story reports that officers didn’t actually come across Ian breaking in to anything, they encountered him at a nearby street corner. If he had weapons or drugs or he was known to police that would have almost certainly been emphasized. Is it right to rush in and deprive somebody of their liberties without first giving them an opportunity to identify themselves and possibly confirm if they had a reason to be there?

The report goes on, “he was belligerent”, “he became violent”, “banging his head” all by himself. How often do you see intelligent and successful people like Ian Murdock spontaneously harming themselves in that way? Can you find anything like that in any of the 4,390 Ian Murdock videos on YouTube? How much more frequently do you see reports that somebody “banged their head”, all by themselves of course, during some encounter with law enforcement? Do police never make mistakes like other human beings?

When a felon is convicted of a crime, there is always a lot of discussion about whether they apologize and show remorse. What is staggering about police communications, like this one, is that there is never any hint that they may have any responsibility, nobody saying “he was in our care, and we failed”, no sign of regret or humility.

I wrote about this episode several times back then. To me, based on all the reports that I saw (virtually all of them were listed and documented carefully in Tux Machines), the police abused him based on rather false or trumped-up pretexts, humiliated him, and later lied about the whole thing. This sort of cover-up was part of a pattern for that particular Police Department, based on press reports that appeared the following year in light of protests.

Like many things in life, Police Departments (PDs) aren’t a pretty thing. There’s lots of abuse and lots of lying inside them. One more week to go and hopefully the Seattle PD will finally hand over some redacted documents about Bill Gates. To quote the PD, “we anticipate having a response/installment to you on or about 1/8/2020.”

They will probably get pressured not to… but we shall see.

A couple of years later Torvalds was silenced and this year Stallman was ‘canceled’ — in both cases on rather questionable grounds.

12.02.19

What Former Debian Project Leader (Second to the Late Ian Murdock) Thinks About SystemD in Debian GNU/Linux

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux at 11:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s definitely not “D” for Debian

Bruce Perens systemd 3

Bruce Perens systemd 2

Bruce Perens systemd 1

Summary: Now that Debian is debating and voting on diversity in the technical sense the thoughts of Bruce Perens merit broader audience/reach

10.30.19

Microsoft Employees ‘Inside’ Debian

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono at 2:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

Summary: Microsoft ‘Trojan horses’ inside the GNU/Linux community are still being syndicated, e.g. circulated among actual GNU/Linux developers

YOU need not be a ‘hardliner’ to believe Microsoft hates GNU/Linux. You needn’t even speculate; just examine the evidence. Look no further than this year's patent lawsuits. The only thing Microsoft “loves” about “Linux” is the “Linux patent tax”. Don’t ask OIN about it; OIN is in that very same club now and it's run by trolls. Over a decade ago we kept warning about .NET patent traps and those traps are still there. They are. They’re submarine patents.

“Over a decade ago we kept warning about .NET patent traps and those traps are still there. They are.”What the heck do Microsoft employees and Mono pushers do inside Planet Debian? Yesterday we saw this Microsoft visa story from Jo Shields, who said he needed to seek counseling (professional help) after we had criticised his actions (without even foreseeing him working directly for Microsoft). He’s one of several full-time Mono pushers and .NET boosters, who came to Microsoft through Xamarin (his boss now runs GitHub, proprietary software which is censoring FOSS for Microsoft and for Donald Trump).

Why is this a big deal? Well, Richard Stallman used to complain about Planet GNOME occasionally syndicating Microsoft operatives pushing Microsoft’s proprietary software. Back then, about a decade ago, GNOME leaders tried to use that (along with some out-of-context remarks) to overthrow Stallman or separate GNOME from GNU. We covered that nearly a dozen times back then.

“So Debian censors (permanently deletes) actual GNU/Linux developers and adds/amplifies Microsoft staff that attacks Linux?”But here’s where it gets worse. Debian (or Planet Debian) recently censored Mr. Pocock and now there are Microsoft employees in Planet Debian. So Debian censors (permanently deletes) actual GNU/Linux developers and adds/amplifies Microsoft staff that attacks Linux? Is this the ‘cancel culture’ we need? Rewarding Microsoft and punishing people such as Mr. Pocock as if the boundaries are pointing out conflicts of interest, whereas working for a company that’s suing and undermining GNU/Linux — including Debian — is somehow OK?

10.21.19

GNU/Linux is Bigger Than Ever (Used More Than Ever Before), But Communication Means and Brands Have Changed

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, Ubuntu at 4:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Once upon a time people used landlines a lot

Very healthy communication

Summary: The GNU/Linux market is alive and healthy; it’s how we measure its health that ought to adapt because things are constantly changing, more rapidly in the realm of technology than anywhere else

“I thought you might find this interesting,” one reader told us, sharing some figures about the Debian mailing lists, which don’t exactly thrive. The reader was a very avid fan of Debian, saying to us that “Debian was my favourite distro of all time,” but now this reader isn’t using it anymore.

It’s wrong to judge a distro or a community surrounding a distro based on mailing lists, but here’s a list of unique debian-user posters (with at least 2 posts) by year:

2011  990 users
2012 1000 users
2013  899 users
2014  832 users
2015  810 users
2016  695 users
2017  702 users
2018  (insufficient data)

The reader noted that “it hasn’t updated since the middle of 2018 (so the 2018 data isn’t accurate)” and it’s also worth remembering that Ubuntu came around, basing everything on Debian. Other distros too may have ‘diluted’ somewhat from the Debian activity, albeit not the Debian codebase, repositories etc.

Moreover, it might be possible to explain this by saying that people use other means of communication these days (social control media has become more popular over the past decade).

“Some people wrongly measure the size and importance of GNU, Linux and various other Free software projects based on the number of people lurking in IRC channels or chatting in mailing lists.”A lot of people may easily mistake this for lack of popularity, lost momentum and maybe even blame systemd or some other old canard. Judging by what I see in my everyday life (and work), at the back end Debian is absolutely huge. A lot of the repositories used may be Canonical’s (for Ubuntu), but much of the heavy lifting is based upon or derived from Debian.

Some people wrongly measure the size and importance of GNU, Linux and various other Free software projects based on the number of people lurking in IRC channels or chatting in mailing lists. That totally fails to account for various dynamics, such as GNU/Linux becoming so mainstream that people no longer go ‘online’ for support, the names keep changing (e.g. Android, AWS) and many Web pages are behind walled gardens (e.g. online support). Fewer things tend to break. How many people even use newsgroups/USENET anymore? How many use phones and chat ‘apps’? How many pay for some company (such as ours) to support and maintain their servers? None of that ends up being ‘spilled’ online (or some mailing lists). A lot of activity, communications included, lands in pull requests of public and private repositories. As for the media? It’s dying. It’s dying a fast death and it has nothing to do with GNU/Linux (that’s true across the entire spectrum, also outside technology).

Here’s more of the above. It’s “something I did a year or two ago,” our reader said, limiting the search to the debian-user mailing list:

year | users w/ >1 posts | top post count / top poster

1994 --- 22 6 Ian A Murdock (founder)

1995 --- 40 26 Bruce Perens (dpl)
1996 --- 225 76 Bruce Perens
1997 --- 592 93 Bruce Perens

1998 --- 942 104 Kent West

1999 --- 782 56 Pollywog

2000 --- 1099 199 kmself
new york times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/19/business/yourmoney/barbarians-at-the-digital-gate.html

2001 --- 2273 524 Karsten M. Self (kmself)
2002 --- 2839 1443 Colin Watson (dev since 2001)
https://raphaelhertzog.com/2010/11/25/people-behind-debian-colin-watson/

2003 --- 2929 2061 Paul Johnson
2004 --- 3009 1310 Paul Johnson
("proud debian admin and user" -- from sig)

2005 --- 2409 568 Roberto C. Sanchez (dev, apt expertise)

2006 --- 1876 679 Andrew Sackville-West (debian dev? sw engineer)

2007 --- 1418 1115 Ron Johnson
2008 --- 1222 1168 Ron Johnson

2009 --- 921 417 Boyd Stephen Smith Jr.
https://symcbean.blogspot.com/2014/03/warning-bbwc-may-be-bad-for-your-health.html

2010 --- 536 582 Camaleón
2011 --- 990 2081 Camaleón
2012 --- 1000 2500 Camaleón

2013 --- 899 1297 Ralf Mardorf (ubuntu wiki editor)

2014 --- 832 936 Brian

2015 --- 810 1018 Lisi Reisz (computer consultant)
2016 --- 695 827 Lisi Reisz

2017 --- 702 530 tomas

2018 --- 264 237 David Wright

Even if the above mailing list became completely unused, that would still not say very much, except perhaps something about mailing lists in general. Yahoo is currently shutting down a huge, decades-long archive. That’s just what happens over time. GNU/Linux is slowly but surely adapting. Long live Debian and distros based on Debian.

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