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12.08.19

Can We Quit Celebrating DRM in GNU/Linux?

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux, Videos at 6:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Or do we want the system to become another Vista?

Ballmer on DRM

Summary: Over the past couple of days various news sites and “Linux” sites expressed great satisfaction [1-5] over the passive embrace of Disney’s DRM ploy (Disney+), even when Disney itself rejects DRM, seeing the harms practically caused by it [6,7]

References:

  1. Disney+ Now Works on Linux, No Workarounds Required

    Disney launched its new video streaming service in the USA and Canada last month to much hype and attention (it scores 10 million subscribers in the first day alone).

    But many Linux users in those countries who’d been hoping to tune in to watch shows like The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series were left disappointed.

    For although rival streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime work “out of the box” on Linux in web browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, Disney+ didn’t.

  2. Disney+ Now Works in Linux After DRM Tweak

    Linux users can now stream shows and movies from the Disney+ streaming service after Disney lowering the level of their DRM requirements.

    When Disney+ was first launched, Linux users who attempted to watch shows and movies were shown an error stating “Something went wrong. Please try again. If the problem persists, visit the Disney+ Help Center (Error Code 83).”

  3. Disney+ finally works on Linux!

    A little more than three weeks after the new Disney+ movie streaming service went officially live, the Disney company has added Linux support to their Widevine DRM protection. No more “Error 83”. No more need to install the Windows version of Chrome in Wine. Watching your favorite movies is now possible in the native Linux browsers – both Mozilla and Google based. Firefox will download the Widevine CDM (content delivery module) automatically, Chrome has the support built-in and for my Chromium package and other Chromium-based browsers you;ll have to install my chromium-widevine-plugin package.

  4. Disney+ finally works on Linux!

    A little more than three weeks after the new Disney+ movie streaming service went officially live, the Disney company has added Linux support to their Widevine DRM protection. No more “Error 83”. No more need to install the Windows version of Chrome in Wine. Watching your favorite movies is now possible in the native Linux browsers – both Mozilla and Google based. Firefox will download the Widevine CDM (content delivery module) automatically, Chrome has the support built-in and for my Chromium package and other Chromium-based browsers you;ll have to install my chromium-widevine-plugin package.

  5. You Can Now Stream Disney+ On Linux Computers

    With Disney+ now lowering the DRM requirements, Linux users should be able to watch their favorite shows like The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

    In order to stream the Disney+ service on Linux devices, users need to ensure that DRM is enabled in their browser.

  6. Disney’s Decision Not To Renew SecuROM License Bricks ‘Tron: Evolution’

    Show of hands: who remembers SecuROM? Alright, put your hands down, we can’t see each other anyway. So, SecuROM was a really bad DRM used by several publishers to “protect” video games, by which I mean it mostly just annoyed legitimate buyers, got some of those publishers sued, and ultimately made the game unplayable on modern operating systems. The track record is enough to make you wonder why anyone would use DRM at all after this whole debacle.

  7. The Curse of Outdated DRM Claims Another Victim, ‘Tron: Evolution’

    As of this week, players who owned a legitimate copy of Tron: Evolution they paid for but never played it, no longer can. Tron: Evolution, a tie-in game for the 2010 Tron: Legacy film , used SecurRom, a form of digital rights management (DRM), and publisher Disney hasn’t paid its bill. This means Disney can no longer authenticate purchases and “unlock” copies of the game that people bought but haven’t used yet.

    Players first noticed they couldn’t play the game after purchasing it in October, but a thread on Reddit today brought more attention to the issue.

    “I often buy games on sales, but don’t play them immediately,” user Renusek said on Reddit. “Yesterday I decided to play Tron: Evolution, maybe even practice speedrunning it, so I install the game, try to activate it (game still uses SecuROM DRM) and… the serial key has expired (?!).”

10.15.19

[ES] El Kernel de Linux está introduciendo Open Source Privative Software

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 12:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By Pedro Fco. (maslinux.es)

This is a Spanish translation of: Software Freedom Eroding in Linux and Nobody Seems to Care or Oppose This and mirrored over at El Kernel de Linux está introduciendo Open Source Privative Software (Artículo de opinión de Roy Schestowitz)

Free Software and Open Source Proprietary Software (OSPS)

Summary: Linux, el kernel, continúa su trayectoria o el camino hacia convertirse en software propietario de código abierto (OSPS).

La importancia de la Libertad del Software será entendida más y más (o mejor) con el tiempo. He aquí un nuevo ejemplo de las noticias. Cuando la gente no controla el software, es el software el que los controla a ellos – un punto que Richard Stallman ha estado enfatizando durante décadas.

El jefe de la Fundación Linux y el único editor de Linux.com son usuarios de Mac (este último alardeó ayer de sus múltiples “Macs”), así que no esperes que se preocupen por la Libertad de Software. No lo hacen. No hemos estado hablando mucho (o con frecuencia) sobre ellos últimamente porque son una causa perdida. Nos rendimos. Se apoyan en historias antiestallmánicas. Linux.com se siente como un sitio de Openwashing y Microsoft (nuevos ejemplos a tal efecto).

Mientras tanto, se ha puesto de manifiesto, una vez más, que AMD sigue adelante con la DRM. Como dijo Michael Larabel:

“Soporte inicial de HDCP. Sí, protección de contenido digital de alto ancho de banda. Este soporte para HDCP Linux en el lado de Radeon viene para Raven Ridge y más nuevo. Como se explica en el artículo anterior, es probable que se deba a que los APUs de AMD están llegando a más Chromebooks y, por lo tanto, todo puede ser visto como algo bueno. Para aquellos que no desean soporte para HDCP, la implementación de AMDGPU DC permite desactivarlo como una opción de Kconfig“.

“Más cambios en la AMDGPU para Linux 5.5 seguirán en las próximas semanas“, añadió Larabel. “El ciclo Linux 5.5 comenzará formalmente a finales de noviembre y se estabilizará a principios de 2020. La lista de cambios para esta AMDGPU DRM-Next-5.5 pull inicial a través de esta lista de correo.”

Ese segundo DRM no es el mismo DRM (sólo el mismo acrónimo) y no es algo a lo que se opondría ni siquiera Stallman. Lo preocupante, sin embargo, es que se ha vuelto ‘normal’ lanzar DRM de restricción de usuarios a GNU/Linux (usando palabras/términos técnicos como “HDCP”), la pieza más famosa y conocida del software libre. A los responsables de la Fundación Linux no les importa (ni siquiera usan GNU/Linux) o no se atreven a decir nada – viendo lo que les pasa a los que sí lo hacen.

La gente habla mucho sobre la situación de Stallman en este momento (una segunda ola de llamadas para eliminarlo de GNU) aunque pocos conectan lo que se le está haciendo a Stallman con lo que le pasó a Torvalds hace un año. Se está incitando a la gente contra los que hacen lo correcto.

10.11.19

Software Freedom Eroding in Linux and Nobody Seems to Care or Oppose This

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 2:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free Software and Open Source Proprietary Software (OSPS)

Summary: Linux, the kernel, continues its trajectory or the route towards becoming Open Source Proprietary Software (OSPS)

THE importance of Software Freedom will be understood more and more (or better) over time. Here’s a new example from the news. When people do not control the software it’s the software controlling them — a point that Richard Stallman has been stressing for decades.

“The people in charge of Linux don’t care (they don’t even use Linux) or won’t dare say a thing — seeing what happens to those who do.”The Linux Foundation‘s chief and the sole editor of Linux.com are Mac users (the latter bragged about his multiple “Macs” yesterday), so don’t expect them to care about Software Freedom. They don’t. We haven’t been speaking much (or frequently) about them lately because they’re a lost cause. We gave up. They prop up anti-Stallman stories. Linux.com feels like an openwashing and Microsoft site (new examples to that effect).

It has meanwhile emerged — yet again — that AMD pushes ahead with DRM. As Michael Larabel put it:

Initial HDCP support. Yes, High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. This HDCP Linux support on the Radeon side is coming for Raven Ridge and newer. As explained in that aforelinked article, it’s likely due to AMD APUs coming to more Chromebooks and so all-in can be viewed as a good thing. For those not wanting HDCP support, the AMDGPU DC implementation does allow disabling it as a Kconfig option.

“More AMDGPU changes for Linux 5.5 are still coming over the next few weeks,” Larabel added. “The Linux 5.5 cycle will formally kick off around the end of November while it will reach stable in early 2020. The list of changes for this initial AMDGPU DRM-Next-5.5 pull via this mailing list post.”

That second DRM isn’t the same DRM (just the same acronym) and it’s not something even Stallman would oppose. The worrying thing, however, is that it has become ‘normal’ to toss user-restricting DRM into Linux (using words/technical terms like “HDCP”), the most famous/well-known piece of Free software. The people in charge of Linux don’t care (they don’t even use Linux) or won’t dare say a thing — seeing what happens to those who do.

People speak a lot about Stallman’s situation at the moment (a second wave of calls to remove him from GNU) though few connect what’s being done to Stallman to what happened to Torvalds a year ago. People are being incited against those who do what’s right.

09.26.19

Linux is Not Free Software and It’s Getting Harder to Fix It

Posted in DRM, FSF, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Kernel at 3:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

AMD (now the owner of ATI) puts DRM in Linux through graphics drivers

Protest against ATI
Source: Protest against ATI nearly led to the arrest of RMS (2006)

Summary: The battle for digital freedom has long been lost in kernel space; earlier this year Techrights analysed the complete source code of Linux to find DRM already well entrenched inside the kernel and it keeps spreading further (Linux is becoming the very thing the FSF objected to in Windows Vista; it is “Open Source Proprietary Software”)

THE technical limits of removal of blobs from Linux had been reached long before DRM landed inside Linux. For instance, linux-libre issues were already mentioned the other day; blobs are "bugs". What does that mean? In simple terms it means that ‘fixing’ Linux by removing bad stuff from it (not the same as a fork) would produce an unsatisfactory outcome. Moreover, it gets worse over time. It’s not only “subpar” or “not ideal”; it can be very messy. Ask people who use linux-libre in their distro.

“In simple terms it means that ‘fixing’ Linux by removing bad stuff from it (not the same as a fork) would produce an unsatisfactory outcome.”Some months ago Phoronix mentioned in passing that AMD was putting DRM in Linux (the evil DRM, not Direct Rendering). So did Intel along with Google. Yesterday Phoronix posted this update to say: “The recent work over the past few months on HDCP support for Raven Ridge and newer. Granted, many open-source fans won’t be happy to hear about High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) support coming to the AMD Linux driver but it’s already been supported by the open-source Intel driver and NVIDIA’s proprietary driver. The HDCP support is actually good news in one respect as it’s likely at the behest of Google with AMD APUs now appearing in Chromebooks, similar to Google having pushed along Intel’s Linux HDCP support. This HDCP support could lead to enabling AMD to compete with other design wins for other Linux-powered devices. If you don’t want AMD HDCP support, at least for now they have it exposed as a Kconfig option so you can disable building the support via DRM_AMD_DC_HDCP.”

“What happened to “Bad Vista” and “Defective by Design”? We don’t suppose that a Stallman-less FSF would do any better against such threats to our freedom.”What’s most curious here isn’t that AMD follows Intel’s footsteps (that’s typical) but the lack of statement or complete silence from the EFF, the FSF, the FSFE…

All those who claim to have opposed DRM didn’t keep their eyes on this ball. Had they done so, maybe AMD would at least have second thoughts about it. But no… and so Linux gradually gets ruined in the same way the WWW was ruined, owing to inaction on EME (DRM inside the ‘standards’). The FSF did speak about it and organised against it. Why not HDCP? What happened to “Bad Vista” and “Defective by Design”? We don’t suppose that a Stallman-less FSF would do any better against such threats to our freedom.

As a side note, Phoronix tries to remain neutral; the above oughtn’t be interpreted as Michael Larabel’s endorsement of DRM. Larabel has thankfully highlight many of these things over the years and for that he deserves our gratitude and support.

08.31.19

Linux is Not Free/Libre If DRM is Adopted and Open Source is Meaningless in the Age of Openwashing

Posted in Deception, DRM, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel, Microsoft, Red Hat, Vista, Windows at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Welcome to ‘Linux Vista’ and Open-for-business Source (for some parts, for the openwashing factor)

HDCP

Summary: Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and (GNU/)Linux don’t quite change the world as much as they’re being changed by monopolies (software, hardware and entertainment) to suit their agenda and eliminate any remnants of freedom

WHEN we say that Software Freedom is under attack we mean exactly that. We’re under attack; our rights and our dignity are under a heavy assault. We’re gradually losing control of everything digital. We become enslaved by technology, which rather than emancipate people devolves into a tool of oppression and imprisonment. Surveillance is one among many aspects of this.

“We become enslaved by technology, which rather than emancipate people devolves into a tool of oppression and imprisonment.”The harms of DRM are well documented, as are the effects of the DMCA. In the distant past (Windows Vista era) Microsoft colluded with hardware companies to put DRM in Windows and nowadays Google does the same to Linux (having already done the same to the WWW along with Microsoft and Neflix for the most part). It’s the evil DRM, not Direct Rendering (same acronym), which is mostly benign. According to this new post from Phoronix, AMD is doing the 'Intel thing' (which has done that with Vista/Microsoft and ChromeOS/Google). First the back doors (ME), now this…

To quote:

AMD developers have sent out their latest open-source Linux patches doing their kernel driver share for enabling High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) support for version 1.4 and newer.

While seeing HDCP support patches for open-source graphics drivers does irritate many in the community, similar to other open-source drivers supporting HDCP, this is only one part of the content protection puzzle. These patches alone do not impose any restrictions on users or other impairments, but mainly comes down to such proprietary software wanting to make use of HDCP capabilities on Linux. Open-source video players and the like can continue to enjoy GPU-based video acceleration uninterrupted.

[...]

Intel’s open-source Linux graphics driver only began seeing HDCP work relatively recently when Google engineers were interested with the Intel support in the context of Chromebook support.

All the news sites are still busy writing puff pieces about exFAT (at this stage we just skip these repetitive articles); no attention has been paid (or will be paid) to the issue above — an issue we investigated by analysing the kernel some months ago.

“The harms of DRM are well documented, as are the effects of the DMCA.”Make no mistake about it; Google surely spreads Linux, but at the same time it changes it in troubling ways. Yesterday/earlier today opensource.com promoted Google’s openwashing of its surveillance code — a subject that we covered in our previous Openwashing Report or two. To quote:

Developers at search engine giant Google have been busy on the open source front lately. In the last two weeks, they’ve released two very different systems as open source.

The first of those is the speech engine for Live Transcribe, a speech recognition and transcription tool for Android, which “uses machine learning algorithms to turn audio into real-time captions” on mobile devices. Google’s announcement states it is making Live Transcribe open source to “let any developer deliver captions for long-form conversations.”

Google is using this for surveillance, but we’re supposed to be all cheerful and gleeful because “open!”

“Red Hat’s opensource.com (above) actively participates in openwashing and Red Hat as a whole seem to have hired too many people from Microsoft, including managers.”We’ll do another Openwashing Report later this weekend. It’s a growing problem. It’s telling us that “open source” has “won”; what they mean by “won”, however, is co-opted by proprietary frameworks such as AWS, Azure, various spying devices that are dubbed “smart” and even totally meaningless mumbo-jumbo like "serverless". Some of our readers keep insisting that it’s time for the FSF to fight back.

Red Hat’s opensource.com (above) actively participates in openwashing and Red Hat as a whole seem to have hired too many people from Microsoft, including managers. It nearly sold itself to Microsoft and it promoted an Azure thing just before the weekend (we mentioned this in our daily links and it's not the first time).

What is going on? Have we lost sight of the fact that some companies strive to destroy Software Freedom?

“How long before we can call it “exterminate” or “extinguish”?”opensource.com has just published this article from Karl Fogel and James Vasile (we assume one of them is from Microsoft, but the bio was left empty). Microsoft executives — i.e. those who attack Open Source more than anyone — now try to hijack the narrative around its competition (speaking ‘for’ what it’s attacking). See paragraph 4: “Now we have a chance to have this discussion in a more regular and complete way: Microsoft has asked us to do a series of blog posts about open source, and the request was essentially “help organizations get better at open source” (not a direct quote, but a reasonable summary). They were very clear about the series being independent; they did not want editorial control and specifically did not want to be involved in any pre-approval before we publish a post. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, just so there’s no doubt, that the views we express in the series may or may not be shared by Microsoft.”

So a site called opensource.com is now being composed by/for Microsoft. How long before we can call it “exterminate” or “extinguish”? When will Microsoft ‘own’ Linux as much as it ‘owns’ the Linux Foundation? The Foundation has just outsourced some more projects to GitHub, i.e. to Microsoft. We put links about that in our daily roundup.

We’re being told that FOSS “won”; actually, software monopolies have “won” (read: dominate) FOSS. Who’s in control?

08.11.19

Linux is Not Winning, It’s Changing (or Being Changed)

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 12:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Foundation logo
Credit: Will Hill, 2 days ago

Summary: Linux development is guided by the wrong interests — general interests which are themselves motivated by domination over the users rather than empowerment and emancipation of computer users

MANY things are crumbling around us: the Web, digital freedom, and more pertinent issues like privacy and control over one’s computing (these issues are closely related and inherently connected).

To say that Linux “won” is easy; but did GNU? Or the vision put forth by its manifesto? The only thing being manifested these days, both on the Web and in Linux, is DRM (and similar). Restrictions grow in number and complexity. Microsoft, together with Intel, push UEFI ‘secure boot’, which is all about corporations controlling users’ choice of what to boot on a machine they supposedly own. These are the sorts of interests that dominate and always steer Linux Foundation decisions (look where their technical chiefs come from!).

Techrights does not expect that this will be easy to change; Techrights barely believes it can be changed, but one has to try, one has to start somewhere. If people give up without even trying (not fighting back), then defeat is assured. As we noted yesterday, there’s an effort here to make the Web more accessible or rather to make information from the Web more accessible, using Fair Use doctrine and some clever hacking (coding). At the same time we work to eliminate software patents and constantly strive to expose those who perturb the direction of GNU/Linux. A decade ago we battled against Trojan horses such as Mono, but nowadays we need to challenge much more widespread things such as listening devices (so-called ‘smart’ ‘assistants’). Don’t give up. Never let go. Once you do it’s all over. It’s not hard to see who would gain from defeatism. It’s also not hard to envision society that surrenders to such 24/7 surveillance (video/audio), universal back doors, and everything as “rental” with the concept of real ownership (control) altogether eliminated.

07.13.19

Linux is Doing ‘Well’ Only for Those Who Dislike Software Freedom and Love Control Over Users

Posted in Deception, DRM, GNU/Linux, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft, Red Hat at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Azure Running GNU/Linux Isn’t About ‘Love’ But About Control

Microsoft loves control

Summary: Linux, the kernel, has become a corporate playground or a sandbox that’s used to upsell proprietary software, including surveillance; freedom in Linux is gradually being diminished if not completely obliterated and it does not worry the foundations entrusted to guard against it

THE urgent need to return to old topics (hence this reader consultation) was realised some time last year, especially after we had seen various groups — OIN included — becoming mouthpieces of Microsoft and its PR/reputation laundering campaigns (e.g. "Microsoft loves Linux" at OIN). Months ago we also saw Microsoft staff (on Microsoft’s payroll) entering the Board of OSI, then speaking for the OSI in the OSI’s official blog. We responded similarly to the Microsoft/Novell deal, which yielded various other lies. Now there’s the IBM/Red Hat problem. As we noted last night, Alexandre Oliva, who refused to pursue (software) patents at Red Hat, very recently left the company. It’s pretty significant because he was one of the few in that company who truly valued Software Freedom (as in Free/libre software in its purest form). He told me he had declined this push for patents and days ago he told me that he no longer works for Red Hat. These companies no longer attract these high-calibre developers. These companies become incompatible with them. It’s not the developers who change; it’s those companies that change (Oliva cited problems associated with the company’s move to “the cloud” and some likely proprietary, privacy-hostile tools).

All of these things very much matter to Software Freedom (perhaps we should start capitalising that). “It is relevant to the OSI because the LF [Linux Foundation] is using its position to weaken and undermine the GPL rather than advance its for its advantages,” one reader told us. “However … As mentioned, I think the fundamental premise of the LF is wrong: it’s currently about representing the members’ interests inside Linux rather than advancing Linux itself and representing it to the world. That would be a very hard situation to turn around now that it has been allowed to develop for so long.”

We often feel guilty for, having covered European matters so closely for a number of years, dropping the ball on the LF situation. We barely wrote about it until earlier this year, whereupon sources came forth and gave us a lot of additional, invaluable information. Days ago Benjamin Henrion quoted his deceased friend, who suggested starting new initiatives rather than trying to repair broken ones. “I was thinking of that as an option as one way of ‘turning around’ the situation,” one reader then told us, urging us to cover these things at Techrights rather than pressuring the likes of OSI or LF to do the same. “For a new [Linux] foundation to have any relevance,” he added, “it falls nearly 100% on Linus being willing to pull up stakes and move to it. He still owns the trademark but is probably still uninterested in the bureaucracy. And all of that will involve a lot of money. I presume the current group has him tightly by the mortgage and college bills.”

Speaking personally, I’ve become more sympathetic towards Torvalds after what they did to him last year, indirectly removing (or shaming) him from his own project, even if just temporarily. It reminded me of what happened in Docker after Microsoft had gotten involved (Docker is nowadays in Microsoft’s pockets and the founder, who originally came from Red Hat, was pretty much ousted).

Looking at the latest from the Linux Foundation and Linux.com, I am rather frustrated. It has a very long history (OSDN, OSTG, then the golden days with Tina Gasperson and others under SourceForge). Over the past few days I kept asking my wife whether to cover this or how to even approach the issue without offending anyone*. It seems as though some generally good people have been ‘co-opted’ by the Foundation (and its corporate overlords), so I don’t think they deserve blasting, let alone naming. Attached to the pockets of millionaires like Jim Zemlin, these people are just desperate for a job or a gig (they’re vulnerable, poorly-paid writers swimming around ‘big sharks’ like Zemlin, funded by proprietary giants). Linux.com essentially shut down back in April, leaving some people unemployed or partly employed. Days ago we noticed that Linux.com sort of came back to life at a very limited capacity of just a couple of paragraphs a day, authored by “swapnilbhartiya” (the RSS feeds give that identity away; he’s sometimes linking to his own blog, where Foundation puff pieces get posted).

“Looking at the latest from the Linux Foundation and Linux.com, I am rather frustrated.”Well, if the Foundation is trying to revive Linux.com with just one writer doing about 2 paragraphs a day, including Microsoft promotion, then it’s using a site called “LINUX” (.com) to promote “Microsoft” and other Linux-hostile interests. Just before the weekend they advertised Microsoft, rendering it not too hard to see what these sellouts really are…

Some time on Friday they published: “Get a digest of original Linux and open source news and tutorials from Linux.com delivered to your inbox weekly.”

So there is at least some intent or a plan to make something of the site. On Friday morning Google News search results for “Linux” included several items from Linux.com, but 50% of the results were actually about Microsoft (promotion of Microsoft and Azure) and a quarter came from the Linux Foundation, so who’s this good for? You search for Linux, you get Microsoft (articles like this one or this one.) This is what Microsoft wants us to see in search results for “Linux”: Azure, WSL and so on.

“Linux.com essentially shut down back in April, leaving some people unemployed or partly employed.”Eric Brown, who used to write for Linux.com, has just done this Azure piece; there are also AWS pieces in similar sites about devices. What we see here has been brewing for a while and it’s getting worse all the time. My wife too complains about it. She wants to post news stories about Linux in Tux Machines, but RSS feeds are stuffed with Microsoft instead. Whose kernel is it now? IBM’s? Microsoft’s? Intel’s? Can we support Linux if it’s led and controlled by companies that use it to spread DRM? And Microsoft patent traps? Remember that Microsoft is still suing over it.

“Can we support Linux if it’s led and controlled by companies that use it to spread DRM?”We recently began wondering if Linux still holds the same promises of freedom the GNU project initially put forth. “I’d say yes for now,” one reader argued. “And especially support Linus himself. If he moves, follow.”

And when asked “what about other OSes?” (as in supporting Hurd, Guix etc.) this reader said: “Yes, though with caution. The FreeBSD Foundation has a very different structure and goal than the LF but is no less out of the sights of Microsoft. OpenBSD is quite insular but maybe a higher priority for Microsoft to crush. There are also trivial side projects like Haiku OS and ReactOS. I’m not in favor of the latter though it still deserves some respect as an Open Source project. There are also major disruptors flying for now under the radar. Fuchsia is the main one there and it carries a lot of danger along with its positive potential.”

This reader went on to expressing his concerns about IBM. “I really don’t know what to do about the IBM/RHT thing,” I confessed. “Or rather, not sure… that too needs to be clearly defined and time will tell (depending on what IBM does)…”

“Proprietary stuff gets built around “Linux” and then sold/rented. That’s not freedom; that’s arguably a ‘lesser’ form of digital slavery.”“I’m neutral on that,” the reader replied. “Close to 20 years ago, IBM invested $1 billion in the kernel and got that money back with profit within the year. So this purchase might turn out to be quite beneficial for RH. However, there is also a different generation involved at IBM now. Some of these have grown up on anti-GPL rhetoric and some have intentionally funded Poettering to name one of their money attacks. The risk I see from IBM is that they might be following the decommoditization strategy outlined in The Halloween Documents. They are in a position to do so, far more than Microsoft is. However, Microsoft is really trying that with Azure and, I suspect, moving more and more departments’ budgets under Azure to give the illusion of growth. Fake-it-till-you-make-it is admired in the business community and those chumps are Microsoft target still.”

IBM won’t profit from “Linux”; it will profit from stuff like RHEL subscription (supporting systemd and Wayland or other Red Hat-centric things when they break); Microsoft profits from Azure and WSL helps Microsoft push Vista 10 at the expense of GNU/Linux. Surely the likes of Torvalds understand that. How they feel about it and what they do (if anything) about it is another question altogether. Proprietary stuff gets built around “Linux” and then sold/rented. That’s not freedom; that’s arguably a ‘lesser’ form of digital slavery.

“Torvalds is wealthy enough to run the kernel on his own, even without a salary.”The Linux Foundation was supposed to prevent one single company from controlling Torvalds (and by extension the kernel) through salaries; at the end, however, it controls him collectively on behalf of companies that are largely hostile towards freedom. So what is really achieved by that? Torvalds is wealthy enough to run the kernel on his own, even without a salary.
_____
* I’ve said dozens more things in microblogs over the past week or two, but they were not too significant and might cause offense (although likely to those who deserve it… for helping foes of Linux).

04.26.19

Research Into Who’s Putting DRM Inside Linux

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux at 1:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Along with other malicious ‘features’, such as UEFI ‘secure boot’

HDCP

Summary: Back doors may be hard to detect (requires understanding a lot of underlying code), but how about malicious ‘features’ or antifeatures that are put in the kernel to serve Hollywood at the expense of the kernel’s users?

OVER the past week or so Techrights has been ‘data-mining’ Linux. Many of the details about it will become public (in the form of IRC logs), but the gist of this exploratory effort will occasionally be published with key findings. Several software tools for exploring the kernel’s source and patchset were considered and tested, in conjunction with some GNU tools that help gather statistics. There are also known caveats and these can be tackled over time.

“I would look for sudden changes in what’s worked on or who is working on it,” our member explained, “or maybe even changes in the rates of changes. It will require a lot of manual tweaking to get the author affiliations accurate.”

This member prefers to remain anonymous.

“Gource was interesting in other ways though. You could see clearly when interest in ARM increased, same for documentation, and some other components. But by the turn of the century already it was too big to get anything useful out of it.”

“Gource also has a custom format which might be of use.”

As a first run, how about who puts Intel’s HDCP (DRM) in Linux? We already know Google’s role and we’ve seen Google promoting DRM on the World Wide Web (EME). Here’s an example query:

git log --name-status -i --grep='hdcp' | \

grep -iE 'commit |Date:|Author:|Signed-Off-By:|Reviewed-By:'| \

sed -r 's/^[[:space:]]+//; s/^commit/\n&/;'

Then map those committing as well as those reviewing and signing off on the code.

“Taking into account all HDCP commits,” our member explains, “there were 132 by my count. Of those, Intel and Chromium seem the big committers. I think any serious investigation would need to standardize the names first, since many use more than one e-mail address, and I have looked only for Intel.com and chromium.org domains.” This yields the following:

54      Ramalingam C <ramalingam.c@intel.com>
39      Sean Paul <seanpaul@chromium.org>
17      Uma Shankar <uma.shankar@intel.com>
8       Rodrigo Vivi <rodrigo.vivi@intel.com>
3       Ville Syrjälä <ville.syrjala@linux.intel.com>
3       Tomas Winkler <tomas.winkler@intel.com>
3       Jani Nikula <jani.nikula@intel.com>
2       Imre Deak <imre.deak@intel.com>
2       Ramalingam C <ramalingm.c@intel.com>
2       Cooper Chiou <cooper.chiou@intel.com>
2       Joonas Lahtinen <joonas.lahtinen@linux.intel.com>
2       Gary Wang <gary.c.wang@intel.com>
1       Radhakrishna Sripada <radhakrishna.sripada@intel.com>
1       Daniel Kurtz <djkurtz@chromium.org>
1       Sonika Jindal <sonika.jindal@intel.com>
1       Daniel Vetter <daniel.vetter@intel.com>
1       Guenter Roeck <groeck@chromium.org>
1       Rafael J. Wysocki <rafael.j.wysocki@intel.com>
1       Anusha Srivatsa <anusha.srivatsa@intel.com>
1       Shashank Sharma <shashank.sharma@intel.com>

“Just to be clear,” the member said, “the above includes reviewers and signers too.”

We are going to use the tools (not just Gource but others under consideration and use) to further analyse this. We don’t want to jump to any conclusions just yet, but it is widely known that Intel employees are sanitising Linux source code (with “hugs”), citing the new CoC, and there are attacks on prominent Linux developers who reject their patches. Readers probably know which Intel employees did this. We don’t want to amplify their smears. We mentioned that in passing four years ago.

We have more analysis on the way; “that will do as a start,” as one might put it. As our member put it, “some of the one-time commits might be more dangerous. What does this one unlock, beyond what is shown at the surface?”

commit f699f9f9ac87f0c774cbf3b9d4b8f336221f3a88
Author: Greg Kroah-Hartman <gregkh@linuxfoundation.org>
Date:   Thu Feb 28 12:55:40 2019 +0100

The Linux Foundation does not oppose DRM; look at the Board members and who funds this foundation. It does not oppose software patents either. Does it oppose anything at all? Apparently only people who are critical of it (or its collective agenda).

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