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06.08.20

Examples of Forced Apologies (or Compelled Ones)

Posted in Debian, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell at 5:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When a refusal to apologise can have severe consequences or lost business

Novell apology

Debian apology

Torvalds apology

Microsoft apology

Summary: Apologies are nice; but they need to be sincere and not come out of sheer pressure (or threats, or blackmail from media)

04.26.20

Software in the Public Interest or Software in Microsoft’s Monopoly Interests?

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The current financial crisis/climate will make it easier for the aggressive monopolisers from Microsoft to bribe more people to capitulate or ‘defect’. Bribery is a Microsoft tradition and expertise; they’re ‘master class’ liars about it, embellishing it as “sponsorship” or even "marketing help".

No public access
It’s apparent that public code is being privatised by Microsoft at GitHub, a proprietary software ‘code prison’ (not vault; monopoly — not preservation — is the goal, exploiting the network effect with ‘features’ as lock-in factor)

Summary: We turn our attention to the Debian Project and Software in the Public Interest (SPI), knowing that they’re vulnerable to cash that groups recklessly take without foresight (likely negative consequences)

THIS post might offend some people; not because of offensive language but because some people associate and affiliate with organisations that are named here. We’ll refrain from using names. Please don’t personify these things (it’s a trap); we only care about what’s true because facts and accuracy matter. It’s never ad hominem. We have the facts. Our track record is good. We focus on issues that we understand very well, choosing specificity over breadth. I find that my detractors fail to discredit me on accuracy; they then nitpick on my style or my choice of words (or even typos). It’s almost a badge of honour when they resort to this low kind of smears/blows…

“We’ll refrain from using names. Please don’t personify these things (it’s a trap); we only care about what’s true because facts and accuracy matter.”Today’s subject will be Microsoft’s money and who’s taking it. This isn’t a new subject to us. Far from it. We even studied it retroactively, going back to records from the 1980s and 1990s. We have a lot of material about payments and their impact on Microsoft rivals, including Novell (how did those Microsoft payments work out for Novell, which no longer exists? Ask Nokia while it still barely exists — a pale shadow of its former self, not to mention Yahoo!).

At the moment Microsoft is monopolising Free/Open Source software using GitHub — a subject we’ll explore again in the near future. Microsoft is willing to lose billions of dollars just to get that monopoly, which is a form of control and leverage (over one’s competition). It’s actually a lot cheaper (than GitHub) to ‘buy’ communities, whose turnover barely touches a million dollars or even a ‘meager’ $100,000. Don’t be dazzled by silly grants that are being dubbed something like “diversity” and are in fact “slush fund” PR stunts if not bribes. These things are being labelled like that because it helps discourage/scare sceptics (or make them look bad). For instance, they pretend to be tolerant towards women and minorities, but it’s a low-cost PR charade (less than the annual salary of one single engineer). They’re not really tolerant towards women and minorities, as we've covered before, they’re tolerant towards criminals and monopolies whilst at the same time trying to paint those critical of criminals and monopolists as “toxic” types (an inversion of narrative and ethical compass). Those are well known tactics; there’s nothing novel here and it isn’t limited to the realm of technology. It’s not even a “right-wing” view and expressing those thoughts has a lot more to do with intolerance of PR and entryism, not “liberalism” or “Conservatism” or whatever…

“Microsoft is willing to lose billions of dollars just to get that monopoly, which is a form of control and leverage (over one’s competition). It’s actually a lot cheaper (than GitHub) to ‘buy’ communities, whose turnover barely touches a million dollars or even a ‘meager’ $100,000.”“Microsoft is regularly listed as a DebConf sponsor since 2016,” one reader told us this morning, linking to the official pages that contain Microsoft’s logo. Here they are:

https://debconf19.debconf.org/

https://debconf18.debconf.org/

https://debconf17.debconf.org/

https://debconf16.debconf.org/

Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft.

That’s Debian. We suppose it’s now a “risk” to criticise Microsoft, just as it's risky to speak about the State of Palestine in Debian. One can get reprimanded if not banned (ostracised by humiliation and public shaming) for bringing that up.

We can say it often enough: Free software means free speech. Without free speech how much Software Freedom can really be practised? There are some people looking to interject their personal notion of “ethics” to exclude those with a belief different from theirs; it’s a slippery, slippery slope. The OSI’s co-founder got banned from the OSI’s mailing lists for warning about it, highlighting one of several recent examples where a speech rulebook (e.g. “CoC”) can remove critics of corporate corruption in the name of “protecting women” and “protecting ethnic minorities” etc.

“It’s a subtle attack on Software Freedom and it is shrewdly disguised as a defence of “ethics” or protecting vulnerable people. Don’t fall for it quite so easily.”Again… it is a slippery, slippery slope.

It’s a subtle attack on Software Freedom and it is shrewdly disguised as a defence of “ethics” or protecting vulnerable people. Don’t fall for it quite so easily. It’s usually rather shallow and instinctive.

And since we’ve mentioned the word “ethics” (can be incompatible with Software Freedom) quite so often so far, how about “public interests”?

What public?

Whose interests?

Well, the assumption is that politicians tend to represent the interests of few very wealthy and thus “powerful” individuals — the likes of Bill Gates who bribe them and bribe the media nonchalantly. Money buys narrative, air time, and legislation. That’s not a controversial thing to state. So when we speak of “public interests” we typically speak of causes or actions that serve the general public, not the corrupt and the corruptible (facilitators).

There’s this group called Software in the Public Interest (SPI), which is associated with the people who drove out Richard Stallman but also a bunch of decent people. We don’t want to name anyone; it would miss the point. In their own words: “Software in the Public Interest (SPI) is a non-profit corporation registered in the state of New York founded to act as a fiscal sponsor for organizations that develop open source software and hardware. Our mission is to help substantial and significant open source projects by handling their non-technical administrative tasks so that they aren’t required to operate their own legal entity.”

“Well, the assumption is that politicians tend to represent the interests of few very wealthy and thus “powerful” individuals — the likes of Bill Gates who bribe them and bribe the media nonchalantly.”So it is a “non-profit corporation” with a .org domain. corporation.org — that’s right…

Well, this blog post from last night, “Google, Microsoft & Debian,” contains an interesting image. It suggests that SPI takes money from Microsoft. For authenticity, however, we asked the site to pass along full evidence (that SPI took Microsoft money). We have not received that. But that’s not the main point.

A footpath gone publicThey ask for donations from anybody (this corporation.org) and Microsoft is certainly not listed here among their “Sponsors” (not even GitHub or LinkedIn or whatever). “In addition to the many donations from individuals and organizations, craigslist Charitable Fund and Google provided substantial donations to SPI’s general fund.” It says. So Google is in it, but we don’t know about Microsoft (unless the image can be verified for authenticity. But the point of the post isn’t to call out SPI; it is actually about Debian. It’s not as though Google and Microsoft have control of Debian, but they have growing levels of influence inside the project. I recently heard about more payments than the above (DebConf sponsorship), albeit privately, in relation to WSL. The blog post said this:

Nonetheless, what does it look like when Microsoft’s money comes along?

There can be no greater contamination. The letterhead of Software in the Public Interest, Inc used to request money from Microsoft???? While 🐧🐧🐧 🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧 was unleashing feral dogs to attack a long-standing volunteer, he was spreading his bum cheeks for Bill Gates to come in.

What are the principles that govern Debian Developers in 2020? They are clearly not the same as they were in 2006. Anybody who dares to ask about these paymasters is accused of violating the Code of Conduct. Long live the Code of Conduct.

The term “spreading his bum cheeks” (we redacted the name) was changed to “rolling out a red carpet for” some time later (a few hours apparently), perhaps to avoid the insensitive connotation (especially given the provably strong friendship between Mr. Gates and organised underage sex traffickers, whose name he sought to whiten whilst in prison).

“The number of packages that list a homepage is 26,557 (93% of 28,555) and packages that list their homepage as Microsoft GitHub are 9,082 in number (37% of 26,557, i.e. 34% of 28,555).”We’re meanwhile doing some research into Debian and it looks like Microsoft’s control over the project can be traced back to pertinent packages. In the Debian Buster packages (main repository), the number of packages is 28,555. The number of packages that list a homepage is 26,557 (93% of 28,555) and packages that list their homepage as Microsoft GitHub are 9,082 in number (37% of 26,557, i.e. 34% of 28,555).

Well, that’s a third. Let that sink in. “Some of these are mirrors,” pointed out the person who carried out the analysis, and “that’s not including the packages that depend on these packages. That’s likely going to be more than half.”

“Today’s Linux Foundation does more for Microsoft than it does for Linux; heck, look who runs that foundation and speaks for it.”Remember that very many GNU/Linux distros are based on Debian, including Ubuntu.

If Debian becomes a ‘prisoner’ of Microsoft, then we’re in trouble already. Why did antitrust regulators permit the takeover? Ask the Linux Foundation, which had been bribed by Microsoft only a couple of years before it gave its blessings to this brutal act of entryism, in effect buying the competition that’s volunteers. Today’s Linux Foundation does more for Microsoft than it does for Linux; heck, look who runs that foundation and speaks for it.

04.17.20

Foreclosure by Systemd and IBM

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, IBM, Red Hat at 10:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They’re evicting GNU along with the UNIX way (POSIX) whilst amassing software patents on so-called ‘innovations’ (unneeded software complexity)

Systemd homed

Summary: About a week after IBM’s leadership changed (now in full effect) there’s still no evidence that anything whatsoever is changing (except Linux’s gradual and ever-increasing deviation from POSIX)

THE RED HAT-led ploy to stockpile ‘Linuxy’ software patents wasn’t lost on us. We wrote a lot about this over the past 11 years. We’ve heard speculations that it did so to artificially raise the purchasing price, e.g. by IBM, a leading software patents lobbyist and bully (Red Hat also considered Microsoft as its buyer). This is quite the opposite of where Red Hat stood in its earlier days — back when it lobbied against software patents in Europe (2005).

“We have not seen any evidence of IBM changing its patent policy. We have, however, in recent months seen IBM blackmailing yet more Internet companies using patents on Web stuff, i.e. software patents.”In his interview with Techrights, Red Hat’s CEO who is now the IBM President spoke briefly about this subject (software patents). It didn’t bother him that much, even back then in 2011.

Days ago we saw the article “How many patent Red Hat Transfer to IBM after its acquisition?” and here’s the bottom line: “Red Hat the second-largest corporate contributor acquired by IBM last year with 3574 patents including its subsidiaries’ patent portfolio.”

We have not seen any evidence of IBM changing its patent policy. We have, however, in recent months seen IBM blackmailing yet more Internet companies using patents on Web stuff, i.e. software patents.

“It’s a recipe for incompatibility and thus lock-in.”Red Hat announced its new CEO and IBM’s new CEO took his position/duties about a week ago. What has changed since then? Or what is going to change? Sure thing is, we’ll be watching closely and reporting on it. If Jim Whitehurst and IBM’s new chief (President and CEO, respectively) continue the aggressive legacy of the predecessor, then we’re willing to call for a boycott of Red Hat-centric packages, which include lock-in such as systemd. Systemd seems to solve non-issues and replaces things nobody ever wanted or asked for replacements of. That in its own right ought to raise totally legitimate questions, concerns and doubt. What is Red Hat seeking to accomplish, for instance, by substituting longtime UNIX conventions for a bunch of unasked-for complexity? It’s a recipe for incompatibility and thus lock-in. We gradually move away from it. Will Debian follow (along with its many derivatives which include Ubuntu)? There will be a new Debian Project Leader (DPL) quite soon. Debian cannot succeed by merely following IBM’s every step. There’s also a (software) patent trap.

03.07.20

Arjen Kamphuis Spoke About Free Software Influence and Control Games Before His Disappearance

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

1.5 years later the fate of Arjen Kamphuis is still unknown to authorities

Arjen Kamphuis: Missing
Arjen Kamphuis: Missing

Summary: Corporate money funnelled into public interest projects in the name of good causes (like inclusion of women) serves to feed exploitation, predation, and sometimes infiltration as well while discussion about any of these pertinent issues is being viciously suppressed if not censored (with whistleblowers silenced, reprimanded, and sometimes completely banished)

THE disappearance — and likely death — of Arjen Kamphuis is a topic we wouldn’t normally cover here because Kamphuis was best known for contributions to security and association with Assange/Wikileaks. We’ve put in Daily Links well over 100 news links about him. But we never wrote an article on the subject.

Why the sudden relevance?

“Not much is said about Kamphuis anymore.”Something he wrote about an issue we’ve often covered here, especially in recent months. After the death of Debian’s founder (as a result of extreme humiliation by police*) and various removals from power of leading Free/Open Source software proponents/founders (the list is already becoming too long to exhaustively recall) we wouldn’t be off our rocker to ask, cui bono? Following the shambolic ‘trials’ of Julian Assange it’s clear that it’s rarely about justice; it’s about protecting power in a decapitation strike-like fashion. The witch-hunt was all along about Cablegate, not about women whom Julian Assange met in Sweden. The media helped cloud matters such as war crimes as an issue of women’s rights as if to oppose heinous crimes is the equivalent of sexual subjugation of women. But we digress. This is politics and we’re not an inherently political site. The underlying methods, however, need to be understood. They’re increasingly prevalent as a vehicle of disempowerment (removing officials not for corruption but for sexual behaviour, views on race, choice of words and so on). I too saw some attempts; a week ago I shared an example.

“We’ll try to focus not on this incident; instead we’ll talk about his connection to Free software.”Not much is said about Kamphuis anymore. Back in January we saw this article which said: “Arjen Kamphuis was well known for his work on government transparency, and especially IT and online security. He e.g trained journalists on how to do their work more safely, and consulted various companies on their IT security. He also e.g. consulted the Dutch government in 2013 on why using voting computers is bad practice in an accountable democracy. Next to that he was an avid hiker and mountaineer. In August 2018, during a trip in the north of Norway he went missing, and is presumed to have died due to a kajaking accident. I’ve known Arjen through his work for well over a decade (and I’ve written about his disappearance here before). I’m sad about his disappearance, and as a result have been more active in paying what I learned from him and what he made me aware of forward since then.”

We’ll try to focus not on this incident; instead we’ll talk about his connection to Free software. We understand that some people still hope to find him, not giving up hope. Recently someone tweeted: “In August 2018 my best friend #ArjenKamphuis went on holiday and never returned. He was a brilliant infosecurity specialist. That’s why we #teamarjen archived his work in this handy and beautiful book available on https://t.co/l9SCrd0tci…”

In respect to Kamphuis, here’s a link to that book. I had personally followed the developments related to and wrote hundreds of tweets about Kamphuis. It was in our IRC channels, our Daily Links and so on for a number of months. The circumstances of the disappearance and the failure of Norwegian police (with help from Dutch authorities) to explain what happened continues to fascinate me. It means people who are not ‘convenient’ to particular companies/governments can just be ‘vanished’ without a trace (Saudi Arabia does this a lot, as does the Chinese government).

“We should note that it isn’t an attack on Outreachy but rather some nefarious affairs surrounding the program’s management (and it may be reducible to few ‘rotten apples’).”Last month we learned something of interest.

“Before Arjen Kamphuis disappeared, he sent me an email about abuse problems in a free software organization,” one person told us. “It is signed and encrypted, so there are no doubts about authenticity.”

Kamphuis was a master of security, with a career in well-known corporations followed by consulting (his CV was publicly available on his site when I last checked, exposing reputable employers and distinguished jobs). Encryption is something he would not get wrong.

“We met at many events in Albania,” the person continued, and “there are even some photos” (of the events).

“The email,” the person told us, “is damning for more than one organization.”

I’ve since then asked a Techrights associate about this. That associate too is very familiar with the events surrounding the disappearance of Kamphuis.

“Could that be one of the reasons that Arjen was offed? Various agencies have been exploiting fringe groups to infiltrate and undermine FOSS projects,” that associate noted.

“Context matters here. Some people like to remove context so as to misrepresent the real grievances.”Yesterday the mail was published in a site that examines what it calls “cult psychology in free, open source software organizations” (like Debian). To quote a recent post: “Many free, open source software organizations have seen increased tension in the last few years due to cult-like phenomena. The Debian Community News team is offering to mentor an intern under Outreachy or another funding program to explore this problem.”

We should note that it isn’t an attack on Outreachy but rather some nefarious affairs surrounding the program’s management (and it may be reducible to few ‘rotten apples’). As yesterday’s post put it, “an encrypted email sent to the same Debian Developer by Arjen Kamphuis before he disappeared in August 2018″ and the message said: “I don’t want to get caught up in internal politics but have noticed some strange events around [redacted/event]. Will have discusson [sic] about that with [redacted/group] and especially [redacted/name] who seems to put himself in positions of control in cases he should not.”

Context matters here. Some people like to remove context so as to misrepresent the real grievances. “Kamphuis names the same problem a Debian Developer had asked for support with,” the post clarifies, “a local male organizer putting himself in positions of control over women. If Wikimedia, LibreOffice (Document Foundation) and Kamphuis had all concluded the problem originated with the same person, how could Debian’s leader spread false accusations about one of his own volunteers?”

Yesterday I corresponded with the person in question for further clarifications. “I preferred not to link to these,” said the person, “but these are examples of the behaviour described in the blog, herding women to get diversity funding and give the money to men:

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:TPS/Nafie_shehu/FOSScamp_Syros_2017

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:TPS/Silva.1994/FOSScamp_Syros_2017

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:TPS/Sido_uku/FOSScamp_Syros_2017

“Notice the €40 participation fees for those events? They ask for the money as they are participants in Open Labs (a non-profit) and then they pay the fee to a private company. One of the directors of the company then writes one of the endorsements on the grant applications, without anybody declaring his company is beneficiary of the money.”
_______
* Our associate insists that this understates the severity of what happened. I intentionally chose an understatement in case the critics choose to say that Ian Murdock may have exaggerated or even lied. “However,” our associate notes, “Murdock was not ‘humiliated’ by police, he was beaten severely by them twice in the same day. IIRC they even followed him home from the hospital to ensure they could do the second beating.”

CNN has these quotes from him: “The police here beat me up for [knocking] on my neighbor’s door.. they sent me to the hospital [...] They followed me home… then they pulled me out of my house and did it again.”

02.24.20

Debian Leadership Should Not be ‘Shy’ of Politics (and It’s OK to Admit Palestinians Are Human Beings Too)

Posted in Debian at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Neutrality when it comes speech means no censorship

Debian's censored message
Debian’s censored message

Summary: The contemporary tendency to limit people’s freedom of speech (e.g. permission to express political views) means that while people may find software freedom they will lose other essential freedoms

IT HAS been disheartening to read last night’s post as well as prior ones about what Debian’s “elite” does to suppress the mention of Palestine as if it does not exist and should not be mentioned, however politely. This harms the perception that Free software fosters free speech and it prioritises some people’s feelings over others’.

As a Debian user myself, I’d like to see this censorious behaviour coming to an end. We’re all adults, we don’t always agree on everything, and the worst we can do is treat other adults like children who need to be protected (not from physical harm but emotional inconvenience).

02.22.20

Why You Should Adopt Debian 10, Not Vista 10 (Windows Vista With Microsoft’s Latest Surveillance Add-ons)

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux at 9:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

My desk photographed an hour ago

My desk

Summary: A little personal story and recommendation of Debian “Buster” (10) or Devuan (whose developers persist)

THIS year started slowly due to two machine failures. First it was my wife’s and then (weeks later) it was mine. The hard-drive wasn’t aging well (it’s 11 years old) and risk of severe data loss had grown greater by the week. I had to reboot several times because the root filesystem kept locking up (to avert critical failure) and at that point the battery wasn’t working, the screen had not worked for more than a year (I’ve an used external one on this laptop) and even the keyboard was defunct (so I’ve used an external one). The reboots are a pretty big deal because I ran some important things on this laptop (IRC logging for instance), on a 24/7 basis, and reboots were like an annual thing. Uptime was really good until the disk kept failing (becoming read-only until a file system check).

“Uptime was really good until the disk kept failing (becoming read-only until a file system check).”Due to hardware issues earlier this year we bought two used (refurbished/”preowned”) laptops and put Debian 10 on them. It was pretty spectacular that everything worked well out of the box and was simple to set up. Configuring a printer took less time than it took to feed it paper (my wife did all that on her own yesterday).

The hardest thing about Debian wasn’t setting it up as a system (post-installation). The installer still uses a lot of jargon (remember the old joke about the meaning of the word “Ubuntu”) and if one needs firmware (binary blobs) to get Wi-Fi going, then things can get tricky. In the name of freedom and FSF endorsement, of course…

“Due to hardware issues earlier this year we bought two used (refurbished/”preowned”) laptops and put Debian 10 on them. It was pretty spectacular that everything worked well out of the box and was simple to set up.”After she had set up her laptop with Debian 10 (and included were all the desktop environments available) my wife installed it on mine as well. She didn’t struggle, she was technical enough and all I needed to provide was a password.

Debian GNU/Linux does not spend billions of dollars on marketing; it does not bribe sites like ZDNet to totally control them — even their "Linux" section.

Up until the start of this year I did OK under GNU/Linux with never a computer that had more than 2 GB of RAM. I did all my work just fine with such minimal specs.

In my experience, setting up GNU/Linux (major distributions and their derivatives) in 2020 is very easy. The last time I actually installed Windows I think I was using floppy disks, but people say it’s still a difficult experience because one must pursue drivers and deal with various compatibility issues, sometimes licensing issues as well.

“In my experience, setting up GNU/Linux (major distributions and their derivatives) in 2020 is very easy.”Debian now uses systemd, which some prominent Debian figures oppose and I cannot blame them. Devuan is still available for those looking to dodge systemd.

We’re still planning to migrate the site to another operating system, maybe Devuan. A migration isn’t as simple as initially hoped for various technical reasons and lack of spare hardware (one physical server and hypervisor). But we’re still working on that whenever time permits.

02.03.20

Systemd Has Become (Almost) an Operating System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No wonder Chromebooks don’t use systemd…

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

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

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

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

strongswan debug

And StrongSwan entries in the log:

strongswan log

Does that say what goes wrong? No. Nowhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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