Rinsing (and repeating) Microsoft lies in the corporate media
Summary: Further distortion of what FOSS means and stands for, including Microsoft’s rather unique involvement in this distortion
There has been lots of Microsoft openwashing lately, as well as Apache FUD [1, 2, 3] (The Register recently joined this FUD campaign). Some of the openwashing revolved around .NET and an article about Roslyn (which is not “open” [1, 2, 3, 4]) by Microsoft booster Tim Anderson. He did this effective Microsoft AstroTurfing (like any clever PR front) some days ago in The Register, acting like a smear against Open Source and openwashing of Microsoft at the same time. Check out this disgrace of an article:
“Pushing that button was one of the more impactful clicks of my career,” says Microsoft’s C# lead architect Anders Hejlsberg. The click in question was made on stage at Microsoft’s Build conference in April, and its effect was to publish the .NET Compiler platform, codenamed Roslyn, as open source under the Apache 2.0 licence.
Roslyn is both the next generation compiler for C# and Visual Basic, and a set of APIs which enable deep integration with developer tools (like Visual Studio) for more powerful code recognition and refactoring.
This is total nonsense, involving proprietary software which tries to masquerade as ‘open’. The Register has low standards now.
IDG, citing Microsoft buddies like Black Duck and Gartner, continues to further dilute the meaning of Open Source. These are FOSS-hostile Trojan horses, Gartner and Black Duck, are cited in IDG as ‘authorities’ on FOSS and mind the headline which is rather offensive. It’s FUD disguised as fanfare. Gartner cares about FOSS like Bush cares about peace and Black Duck cares about FOSS like a fox cares about sheep. The media sure likes too taunt FOSS, still. Watch how the media continues to proper up Gartner’s TCO FUD by ignoring all but one CIO in the UK — one who fails to admit that proprietary software requires support, just like FOSS. Here is Jos Creese used again to generate negative publicity for FOSS. To quote the article:
Yet most IT departments and data centres in the public and private sectors already deploy more open sourced software than most of us do at home or on personal devices (think Microsoft and Apple for a start). The challenge for open source providers is to be open about total cost of ownership – the idea that open source is ‘free’ in a corporate environment is usually neither helpful nor true. Honesty about the cost economics will also help to promote the real potential of open source in a corporate environment. And whilst open source solutions will become more prevalent, there will remain a role for proprietary solutions to co-exist.
This is the same old TCO FUD.
These people like to pretend that Microsoft is opening up, even in Newham (UK, central). It shows why the openwashing is so dangerous and the deception is effective for those who are gullible by choice.
Why is the British media so FOSS-hostile these days? Is there a trail of money that goes beyond just advertising? █
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Condé Nasty’s building, located near Wall Street
Summary: Articles about security issues at Condé Nasty (owner of Ars Technica) fail to focus on inherent flaws in software that is secret (and has back doors baked in), instead amplifying alarms over FOSS bugs
We recently saw some reports about Android vulnerabilities which actually count for something, e.g. privilege escalation put in proper context (user needs to actually install the software). But some people, and especially Goodin , would rather hype up non-issues and post them under “Risk Assessment / Security & Hacktivism” (an anti-Linux and now anti-Android section at Condé Nasty). They ignore the real security issues such as back doors, instead focusing on this kind of nonsense, saying that a designed change could heighten security risks for users. This is a continuation of very incomplete, one-side coverage, where only FOSS is ever characterised as insecure. It is propaganda by omission and Goodin is exaggerating the severity of flaws while adding provocative images to further increase the magnitude of fear. There is an agenda there; Irresponsible to say the least, as we recently showed. Maybe Goodin should highlight automatic updates of whole operating systems such as Windows. Why is he only picking on Android/Linux? Based on some reports, the FBI is listening to Android devices remotely. Maybe this is the kind of thing Goodin should cover, but he never does. Spooks may be hijacking automatic updates (such as Windows automatic updates) using back doors and collusion like PRISM, but Goodin is not interested in these matters. He would rather overlook the big issues like proprietary software which declines to obey settings that block automatic updates (Windows does this). Windows is the Swiss army knife of spooks, some of whom went on from agencies like the FBI to top positions inside Microsoft (and later to the firm which created hype/FUD about ‘Heartbleed’ [1, 2, 3]). People who only cover issues in FOSS instead of back doors in Windows cannot be taken seriously. It’s just so Condé Nasty (owner of Ars Technica since a few years ago). When Microsoft employees who reveal secrets of Windows get jailed and deported we should clearly divert scrutiny in that direction, but it is not happening. This site should be capable of better journalism on software issues, such as this very detailed new article about Android. Only balanced journalism will make this site look like real journalism. █
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Summary: Elon Musk from Tesla Motors claims to be ‘sharing’ inventions, but the true motivations are far less benign than it seems on the surface (if not malicious)
WE HAVE been patiently watching “Linux” and “Open Source” feeds filling up with something that is not related to software but claims to be inspired by “Linux” and “Open Source”. It’s some marketing stunt from Tesla, which got the attention of OS (Open Source) Vehicle (another openwashing attempt).
The post says: “Is this a marketing stunt?
“I don’t think so. This can be a genuine effort from one of the visionaries of the silicon valley, one of the most advanced companies on earth, taking finally into account that – by having a value proposition targeted at a customer segment that is pretty small, mostly made by wealthy people most of them living in the US. You can’t really change the world for the better in a short enough amount of time (do you remember we have only less than 6000 days? – look at this).
“As you may also know, Tesla is developing a pretty cool new technology for batteries and it’s probably sure that having other big automotive brands producing cars based on their technology, their batteries will be able to target a bigger market and – at the end – achieve a bigger transformation effect on automotive.”
But why were these patented in the first place? And if these were not patented, would Tesla be able to make a fuss about the so-called ‘giveaway’?
The post goes on: “But if Tesla really wants to scale up its contribution, it must work towards the real adoption of the technological solutions that it is making available, it must switch from a product approach to a platform approach and – in a way that is similar to what we are doing – needs to engage with the community, understand how these technologies can be used and are going to be used and make efforts to ensure that every player in the market will have the same access, an access that is clear in terms of rights, obligations and implications.
“Also, an open source (patents) car will work in the future only if it’s accompanied by an open and distributed manufacturing process, that is able to include multiple stakeholders and be based on a more participative value chain, also embedding the principles of Cradle to Cradle production, eliminating waste and obsolescence.”
We were preparing a long article about this whole marketing exercise that’s basically openwashing the company using the disgraced notion of “opened” patents. IBM, HP and other companies have been using this marketing exercise before. It’s utterly pointless and we have countered it repeatedly. Why are so many journalists bamboozled, including FOSS-friendly ones? Here is one key person from Canonical stating: “When I get home, I’m going to take down a plaque that has proudly hung in my own home office for nearly 10 years now. In 2004, I was named an IBM Master Inventor, recognizing sustained contributions to IBM’s patent portfolio.”
Further down he says: “I’ve never been more excited to see someone back up their own rhetoric against software patents, with such a substantial, palpable, tangible assertion. Kudos, Elon.”
But Elon did not revoke the patents, he just claimed to be sharing them (in a pseudo-geeky way with a famous meme). That’s a very different thing. It’s the same thing that IBM claims to be doing with OIN, among other strategic marketing angles.
Shameless here is the type of free marketing newspapers gave Tesla, characterising a patent hoard (followed by openwashing) as some kind of championship of FOSS. The PR nonsense audaciously uses the term sharing, even though it’s all about profit. They are selling patents as a form of marketing, creating dependence on their technology. Elon Musk, the CEO, has been getting far too much credit and publicity here; it’s rather familiar because all sorts of patent ‘pledges’ by HP and IBM are worse than useless and his is no better. Those two companies lobby for software and try to make it look OK. Likewise, Tesla is patenting all sorts of things and now makes the patents looks legitimate by ‘sharing’ them (whatever that means). It’s the Robin Hood mentality or the doctrine of ‘charity’, where rather than establishing social equality one works vertically, by giving from top to bottom, selectively, upon one’s will and supposed ‘generosity’. As long as there are patents on things like these, lawsuits will continue to harm small companies. “Heavy patent litigation scared off about $22 billion in VC funding over 5 years,” said this one new article, and it is one among many.
The press that Tesla received extends to other countries and resorts a to pathetic cocky attitude that uses metaphors (“Handing Over the Keys”) for openwashing or the notion that Telsa is “contrarian” and “open source” (“the open source movement”).
One decent response to the marketing from Tesla came from Jan Wildeboer, who wrote:
Thank you, Tesla Motors For The Patents, but …
Here’s the thing. Elon Musk doesn’t trust the patent system to protect his inventions. So instead of filing for more, he will simply not file at all and keep his inventions secret. The stuff that already got patented thus is already considered lost by him so it is safe to “open source” them all.
When will the press finally ‘get’ Tesla’s real reasons for doing this? It’s about self interest; Tesla would get sued by shareholders otherwise. █
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Summary: The Register misleads readers into thinking that Microsoft is gaining market share on the Web
Simon Sharwood from The Register released a propaganda piece we are unable to ignore. It’s a familiar talking point. We covered this numerous times before. Sharwood’s propaganda is titled “Microsoft poised to take Web server crown from Apache” (implying growth) although the very opposite is true.
Microsoft is actually losing share (as it has been losing for years) and in servers that really count it has less than ten percent market share.
Fortunately, some readers of The Register are not dumb enough. They reply in the comments section. One insightful comment says: “Apparently MS has been throwing money or other arm-twisting tricks to persuade large hosters of parked pages to switch to IIS. AFAICS the only benefit of this is incomplete articles in the press about how IIS is set to become (/will become) the most popular web server, which is a useless metric. As mentioned, the picture for Active sites is very different, and the Top Million even more so .. which somehow does not get mentioned in the news reports.”
Sadly, very few people read comments, so the vast majority will be left with the impression that Microsoft is doing well on the Web. That’s some very powerful propaganda. All Microsoft had to do was bribe some people to game numbers, then find gullible or corruptible journalists (“useful idiots” or liars) to drop out there some misleading claims at Microsoft’s behest.
Ever since Microsoft paid The Register the publication has not been the same. Microsoft likes not only to bribe hosts (selectively) but also governments and media companies. It helps distort public perceptions. The Register is definitely part of the problem now. This example of one of many. █
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Summary: Another reminder of what Black Duck is really doing and why entities in the FOSS world, including the Linux Foundation, should be careful
THE IRC channels that we run occasionally teach us a thing or two. One person has shown us that, based on this source, Black Duck “use a lot of M$ technologies… probably a coincidence, right? ;)”
Mark responded by saying that “if Perens is saying Black Duck Software is BSing about the GPL, that’s a good reason to be leary about them” (we covered this before).
The original source said: “it makes me happy to see how much fear copyleft strikes in the hearts of the software hoarders” (Black Duck hoards more than just software, as Palamida can remind us).
Black Duck articles have been showing up in some news sites again. There is a marketing drive and the Linux Foundation too plays along, having received payments from the parasite. We mentioned the parasite yesterday, noting that it was a source of FUD again. Guess who wrote the marketing piece in the Linux Foundation’s site? “Lou Shipley is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Black Duck Software” it says at the very bottom along with heaps of promotional text. Why is this firm being legitimised in this site? This CEO placement helps create the illusion that Black Duck is an ally of Linux.
In some ways, Black Duck can almost be treated as a Microsoft Trojan horse. Not only was it founded by a Microsoft guy but over the years it also absorbed staff that had come from Microsoft, such as Ohloh. Black Duck is potentially very dangerous because it also tries to portray (in public) Microsoft as some kind of “Open Source” champion. We are reminded of this propaganda in light of the CBS/CNET puff piece from the other day. Here is one response to it, going back just hours ago:
Okay, I hate to be a Negative Ned here, but I’m firmly in the “trust but verify” camp when it comes to Microsoft and open source. Yes, a new CEO and other changes may be helping Microsoft to adjust to living in an open source world. But change never comes easy or fast in such a large organization, so I think the jury is still out on whether or not Microsoft has really changed for the better when it comes to open source software.
Also, I’ve never forgotten the company’s “embrace, extend, extinguish” strategy that they used in the past to destroy competitive software products. That alone is reason enough to keep a wary eye on Microsoft’s involvement with any open source project. Perhaps the company really has changed, but maybe it hasn’t. I think it bears watching for at least another few years to see if enduring change has really set in or not.
This is a good enough assessment, but we ought to be less optimistic about Microsoft changing its ways. He gives them too much a benefit of the doubt, despite decades of criminal activities, infiltrations, and systematic deception. How much sabotage will it take before Microsoft is just treated as a pariah or gets widely boycotted? Well, in China things are changing and we shall cover this in the next post. █
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Summary: Examples of dubious media coverage about GNU/Linux, Android, and FOSS matters
There is a disturbing new pattern in the corporate media other than Microsoft openwashing [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (Microsoft actively recruits and pays for this perceptions-distorting campaign), as we last covered yesterday with an example from CNET (its chief editor became some kind of Microsoft propaganda front). Well, compare to this mirror of a new article to the original from CNET and notice how the editor deleted mentions of Linux.
The article used to say “The $130 Linux-based Crock-Pot”, but it sure looks it the editor has quietly deleted Linux (unless the author rewrote the article hours later to that effect, which is unlikely). Something fishy is going on at CNET. The CBS-steered openwashing of Microsoft seems to be more than just an editorial preference and one has to pay careful attention to what editors do when accepting sponsors (e.g. advertisers). It’s hard doing version control (other than mental, i.e. observations-based) without access to the back end/CMS, seeing exactly how censorship (like watering down of text) really works. This time my wife caught it and showed it to me. I saw it from the inside as a writer for Datamation over half a decade ago. Writers are not allowed to criticise certain companies or use ‘strong’ opinions. In CNET, Linux may have become a forbidden word, apparently with the goal of appeasing the sponsors, if not because of some warped ideas in the editor’s mind (one deserves the blame here).
Speaking of openwashing, Black Duck, which has openwashed Microsoft for years (it is connected to and partly funded by Microsoft), rears its ugly head again with the whole compliance FUD. The opening seems promising: “Open source software has become ubiquitous, which means CXOs need to understand its benefits and its challenges, says Black Duck Software execs. Find out which open source trends to follow.” From there onwards it is subtle FUD and the FOSS-hostike site is happy to give it a platform.
A platform is given to Microsoft mouthpieces also at ECT, which helps the seeding of negative spin about Android, using an article that is quoting extensively FOSS-hostile and Microsoft-linked people or groups, notably Yankee Group and Rob Enderle. There is also a Russia angle. Why is Richard Adhikari choosing known Microsoft moles to be quoted as experts on Linux matters? Well, with Enderle it’s complicated because ECT gave him a platform for years (even as author) and Yankee people have been quoted on occasions also. Have they learned no lessons? They are seeding FUD and they hide the conflicts of interest.
There is generally much of the same rhetoric in some other sites, including from Microsoft boosters like Reisinger, who chose the headline “Samsung’s Tizen-Based Z Handset Poses Future Challenge to Android”. His colleague Michelle Maisto published a more balanced article.
All in all, let’s hope that journalists will choose to write more objective articles or speak to people who are objective, rather than those who are paid by Microsoft to smear Microsoft’s competition. █
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Summary: Openwashing still the focus of Microsoft’s strategy
MICROSOFT IS hiring staff specifically for the task of openwashing the company and it very much shows, especially in recent months [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. The corporate press is helping Microsoft here. It does not care about facts, it cares about its sponsors.
The NSA‘s most notorious whitewasher CBS (which ran an infamous 60-minute propaganda piece for the NSA) continues to give a platform to radicals like Hayden this week. It also gives Microsoft a “propaganda platform” (State Department terminology), with one of the top people in CNET serving this propaganda (Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET). FOSS people don’t believe it for a second. It’s the strategy which relies for whitewashing on pseudo-leader Nadella (Gates is still in charge), despite the fact that he has changed nothing (criminal activity continues). It also relies on Microsoft staff and Microsoft-funded ‘analysts’ such as Forrester. The propaganda can be seen here. It’s a collection of talking points, including:
“There has been a real change,” said Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond, noting that while that shift hasn’t yet permeated the entire Microsoft organization — particularly the Windows team, “it’s seeped into enough of the organization that it’s more than just window dressing. There are many example where Microsoft is integrating with, and even creating open source in an effort to grow market share and support customers.
It should not be so shocking that CBS does this hogwash. It loves Microsoft just like it loves the NSA. Speaking of which, Bill Gates not only promotes the NSA's mass surveillance (publicly) but slams Snowden too (in the popular mainstream fashion of false dichotomy). Will Hill notes that Gates indoctrination attack persists in the US (fighting freedom of thought with corporate schooling):
New Orleans public schools are gone. Schools in New Orleans have been converted into segregated, private schools. In general, these don’t perform better than the public schools they replace but they do channel money and power to rich people. Private schools put student records into private databases and give oligarchs even more power over what we think.
There is tremendous resistance to this especially in places where Gates and Broad got their way. Here’s a report about how privatization has hurt poor people which cites the harm done in charter school pioneer, Milwaukee. In New York, Education Historian, Diane Ravitch has some very insightful criticism. In Seattle there is the wonderful Seattle Education Blog with this update about pushback.
In this recent article Ravitch explains the attack on public education as class warfare. That’s true and it’s bad news because the only reliable indicator of academic performance is household income. The rich and powerful don’t want to reform education, they just want to take more money for themselves. Ruining public education gives them money and control for more of the same. [...] more of the same, “character growth” as judged by your corporate overlords, http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117615/problem-grit-kipp-and-character-based-education
Perhaps we can sum it all up by saying that Microsoft and Gates are waging a war on people’s minds. █
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Summary: Codenomicon (where the ‘former’ Chief Security Officer for Microsoft is now the Chairman of the Board) is back to smearing FOSS projects whilst ignoring back doors in proprietary software such as Apple and Microsoft operating systems
SO-CALLED ‘SECURITY’ firms should spend more time finding flaws in secret (and most likely broken-by-design) encryption, such as the nefarious NSA stuff in Microsoft software. If they cannot gain access to the code (never mind the build process), then they should assume it to be insecure, by default. NSA is all over proprietary software, but it hides behind secret deals and arrangements with a blanket of NDAs (PRISM for instance). There is a lot of stuff in secret code which is designed to subvert encryption; we already have evidence of it, thanks to Edward Snowden.
Earlier this year we saw some FUD thrown at GnuTLS [1, 2], despite the fact that — or because — flaws had already been patched. That’s what makes Free software so powerful; fixes are almost immediate.
Then there was the whole “Heartbleed” hype [1, 2, 3], which came from Codenomicon, a firm headed by Microsoft’s ‘former’ chief (who also has FBI history and probably knows how the FBI and Microsoft created their now-infamous back doors). The whole thing stinks very badly and we have already explained why.
Now there is this new attack on the reputation of GnuTLS. Guess who’s behind it? Here’s a quote: “Codenomicon, which found the Heartbleed flaw, discovered another SSL flaw, this time in the open-source GnuTLS library. GnuTLS is part of many Linux distros.
“Security firm Codenomicon has found a new Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) flaw in the GnuTLS open-source cryptographic library. Codenomicon rose to notoriety in April as the security firm that found and branded the Heartbleed flaw in the open-source OpenSSL cryptographic library.”
Codenomicon did not discover it. It was the opportunist. The flaw was discovered by another company (a person in Google), but Codenomicon marketed the flaw, hyped it all up (later bragging about the business it brought), and then disclosed it prematurely and irresponsibly, before all sorts of crucial sites had been patched. Codenomicon is a nasty Trojan horse in the security world and it has an agenda. As we showed before, Codenomicon is also a Microsoft partner, never mind the staff’s high-level connections to Microsoft.
The GnuTLS flaw which Codenomicon speaks about is already patched  and a Red Hat employee explains why — if anything (contrary to media reports ) — this demonstrates the advantage of Free software .
In other security news, the proprietary TrueCrypt is seemingly under some kind of fight from the outside (or infighting). Nobody seems to know for sure what’s going on there yet  (maybe a split among the developers or some coverup), but theories with supportive evidence get posted . GNU/Linux distros drop TrueCrypt  as soon as possible. The Linux Foundation is still focused on OpenSSL [7,8] these days.
It should be noted that the likely cause for issues in TrueCrypt is US government overreach (back doors or request for back doors). These days, making encryption that works is seen like some kind of crime as if it directly facilitates crime . It’s possible that a move to some place like Switzerland will help dodge these issues. Red Hat too should move to some place like Switzerland, for several reasons we wrote about before (security, not just software patents and trolls).
Finally, in some other security news, notice how Apple is deviating further away from standards [10,11] whilst attacking a Free/Open Source operating system (Android) over “security”, as if Apple with PRISM and back doors is somehow more secure than Android. How does Apple do all this? Well, citing some gossip bloggers from the CBS-owned tabloid ZDNet (CBS is paid by Apple), the CEO of Apple had this to say:
To illustrate his point, he quoted the title of a recent article by ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, a self-described “big fan of Android.”
The article’s title? “Android fragmentation turning devices into a toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities” – and Cook’s slide of that quote added animated flames to the word “hellstew.”
Wait a second, Mr. Cook. Your operating system (core) has back doors which Apple designed and bragged about, never mind the NSA and PRISM. These back doors are now misused by non-government crackers. How can Cook claim security advantage with a straight face? The British press (above) ought to have pointed out these issues.
Speaking of British press, watch the Microsoft-controlled BBC spreading some FUD without naming Microsoft, even though only Microsoft is the culprit. One has to read many paragraphs before reaching the part where it says: “If your computer does not run Windows, stop right here. This does not affect you – but other problems might, so always keep your antivirus up to date.”
GNU/Linux does not require antivirus, unless it’s a server that serves files to Windows clients. But never mind all that, the BBC supports the antivirus myth (some antivirus companies do the same to Android), pretending that all platforms are not secure. The fact that this is a Microsoft-only problem should have been stated in the headline, but it’s not. Therein lies the typical bias of the BBC and some other Bill Gates- and/or Microsoft-funded press (BBC is funded by both). Microsoft is simply not being mentioned when there are Microsoft-only security problems, only when there is good news (promotion).
Watch out for FUD; lots of it exists, but it’s well concealed. A lot of it is bias by omission or bias by emphasis/selectivity. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The maintainers of GnuTLS, a secure communications library used in Red Hat, Ubuntu other Linux distributions, have released fixes for a critical bug affecting the client-side of the software.
I don’t fear the bugs that get fixed (in OpenSSL and now GnuTLS) in an open, transparent way we open source people do. I fear the bugs in proprietary stuff where I can never be sure if they get fixed and how.
Looking at the sudden new content on the TrueCrypt site, the most plausible explanation for me was that it was an attempt to tip people off that they had been tracked down and sent a National Security Letter, without actually breaking the law. Why else would they advocate using Apple’s disk encryption with no encryption selected? Why else would they advocate use of software from Microsoft, who we know cannot be trusted? It smelled like a warrant canary.
Due to various concerns, TrueCrypt is about to be replaced in Tails, either by tcplay or cryptsetup.
A month ago we announced the Core Infrastructure Initiative, a project to help fund critical open source projects that we all rely upon but that are in need of support. We moved quickly to organize the initiative and the industry reaction was swift and enthusiastic. I am proud to report on significant progress that I believe matches the quality of the reaction to the formation of the project.
Some of the world’s best-known security researchers claim to have been threatened with indictment over their efforts to find vulnerabilities in internet infrastructure, amid fears American computer hacking laws are perversely making the web less safe to surf.
Many in the security industry have expressed grave concerns around the application of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), complaining law enforcement and lawyers have wielded it aggressively at anyone looking for vulnerabilities in the internet, criminalising work that’s largely benign.
At Apple’s WWDC conference today they have just unveiled Metal, a new 3D graphics API to compete with OpenGL.
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