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10.08.19

The Electronic Frontier Foundation Does Good Work, But It Can Do Even Better

Posted in EFF, Patents at 1:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Constructive criticism can only make the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) even stronger

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Summary: We still miss the ‘older EFF’ as there’s a growing perception that it leans towards things that harm Software Freedom in the name of pseudo-novelty

THE EFF was covered here in two separate articles yesterday [1, 2]; it had also been mentioned very briefly two days ago. We generally support the EFF, especially because of its campaigning in the domain of patent law (e.g. defending 35 U.S.C. § 101 from a USPTO coup). Of course we also support its stance on copyright, net neutrality, privacy and so on even though we don’t always agree on approach, the methods and the policy pursued (sometimes it feels like it’s tuned by EFF sponsors). The EFF is, like any nonprofit of that scale, vulnerable to seductive corporate patrons. See what the Linux Foundation became (and no, it wasn’t always this bad).

“The EFF is, like any nonprofit of that scale, vulnerable to seductive corporate patrons.”The EFF in recent years has not been the same as before. It’s not like it was ever perfect (nothing and nobody is perfect), but over the past 2 years it got a lot worse. This saddens me because I liked them a lot. One of our readers explained to us: “I was a member for a while and gave up on them a few years ago. I still have a t-shirt and a pile of stickers.

“If they were doing anything relevant for Digital Liberty then they were not good at communicating it even to their membership. After enough of that, I stopped being a member and eventually even stopped following even their “Deep Links” page.

“Regardless of what their priorities are or aren’t these days, I’d like to see a return to them getting in the news. That might be impossible given the changes to the mainstream media, even Wired is lame now, but it is nonetheless what would help them a lot. Hopefully it would also help digital liberty. Maybe using the conference circuit more or differently would help there. That’s toilsome though.

“I’m not sure what to say about their apparently complete lack of coverage of the software patent situation in Europe. Like I said above, I stopped finding them relevant and stopped keeping track of what they do or don’t do so I have no idea if they have been paying attention to any other European issues either. What is visible and annoying is, last time I checked, their move away from Software Freedom and Open Source in general as they promote closed, proprietary products instead, rationalizing that with a small handful of Microsoft talking points.”

“Doing another article about EFF priorities can hopefully help guide them w.r.t. wants or desires of Software Freedom proponents.”We think it's about money.

Doing another article about EFF priorities can hopefully help guide them w.r.t. wants or desires of Software Freedom proponents. Even prominent privacy proponents like this one responded to us yesterday: “This already happened with the w3c DNT working group where EFF basically did nothing for about 3 years other than take a seat someone else could have had and actually done something with it.”

That sounds like a familiar problem. It’s what some call “controlled opposition”; our reader (above) often speaks of it in terms like “entryism”.

“My comment was mostly negative,” this reader explained almost with restrained sense of remorse. “Despite that I do hope they pick up some of their old priorities again. Sure they can and should do many and varied things along the way, but their overall goals should be clear as they were under Barlow’s time.”

To me, personally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is still a good organisation whose reputation and direction can be salvaged. Last year the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave me some advice after I had received legal threats (obvious SLAPP) from a patent law firm. The Electronic Frontier Foundation does a good service for troubled bloggers who receive frivolous threats if not lawsuits.

10.07.19

EFF Should Protect or Represent Geeks, Not ‘Hipsters’

Posted in EFF, Google, Microsoft at 3:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hipster

Summary: The EFF’s reliance on some corporate cash (sometimes billionaires) raises important questions about adherence to said goals

Some people, including longtime readers, have responded to what we wrote last night about the EFF (we said more this morning). Several people believe that what they dub “hipsters” are ruining the EFF as insiders or as members (supporters). One person responded to our article "Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person" by saying that “it would be like something from the Microsoft playbook: join something and subvert it from the inside, there’s a Microsoft quote in the Comes docs about that.” (that means Comes v Microsoft)

It would be nice if the EFF spoke about EPO abuses and quit taking 'surveillance capitalism' money (a newer example of it was covered here this morning).

“…it would be like something from the Microsoft playbook: join something and subvert it from the inside, there’s a Microsoft quote in the Comes docs about that.”
      –Anonymous
From what we’re able to gather, based on the EFF’s IRS filings (these are publicly available), the EFF saw a boost in budget after the Snowden leaks but it went almost ‘downhill’ from there (further analysis might show members not renewing); they must get leaner rather than pursue corporate cash. They need to always ensure principles of integrity are at the forefront. Taking money from surveillance companies and giving these companies EFF awards isn’t the way to achieve this.

We’ve examined the latest IRS filing from the EFF. It says that the EFF receives about 4 million dollars a year from members, which leaves one wondering where the remainder (about twice that amount) comes from. The salaries aren’t totally crazy; the chief nets just over $250,000 a year. SF/Bay Area is expensive, but maybe $100,000 would suffice.

But here’s our biggest issue: The main concern here is that the EFF might become a “hush organisation”, attracting corporate funding in exchange for leaving these corporations alone (no criticism) or worse — lobby for their agenda. Is this already happening subconsciously? Is there self-censorship as opposed to spiking and threats to staff? The bottom line is, the EFF needs to reject all corporate money or risk becoming another Linux Foundation.

It’s difficult to forget how the EFF badmouthed E-mail encryption, partly based on misinformation, while promoting “phone stuff” (with back doors) as a viable alternative. If many EFF members and staff just loosely value privacy but mostly use Apple’s ‘i’ things, what does that say about the EFF’s orientation? Months ago and as recently as weeks ago the EFF also helped Apple’s and Microsoft’s “privacy” propaganda. At one point or another these ‘gaffes’ become too difficult and too frequent to overlook or ignore. It’s part of a pattern. Their main “free speech” staff (York) blocked me in Twitter for merely retweeting something.

EFF Ought to Focus on Software Patents — Maybe EPO Scandals Too — Instead of Awarding (Publicity Stunts) and Rewarding Privacy Abusers

Posted in EFF, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 1:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EFF on patents

Summary: Taking money from and giving awards to privacy-abusing corporations won’t help the EFF, at least not in the long term

THIS quick post concerns a matter that we mentioned last night, albeit only in passing. The EFF is changing and in our view not for the better. It does not write about patents as much as it used to. That’s 21 articles/posts so far this year (a lot less in recent months because Nazer left) compared to about 50 last year. What’s more, they’re losing sight of key issues and they still ignore EPO abuses (while having seemingly endless resources to tackle copyright policy in Europe). What is going on? Months ago they took Google money and people have used that to accuse the EFF of fronting for Google, in essence a surveillance company. Weeks ago the EFF (over)saw an award given to a person complicit in mass surveillance of Microsoft. Again, what the heck is going on? And check who the sponsors were: “Special thanks to our sponsors: Airbnb; Dropbox; Matthew Prince; Medium; O’Reilly Media; Ridder, Costa & Johnstone LLP; and Ron Reed for supporting EFF and the 2019 Pioneer Award Ceremony. If you or your company are interested in learning more about sponsorship, please contact nicole@eff.org.”

“Weeks ago the EFF (over)saw an award given to a person complicit in mass surveillance of Microsoft.”¿Qué?

Can’t the EFF sponsor (fund) its own ceremonies? Please don’t become another Linux Foundation.

What do Airbnb and Dropbox do there? They’re listed as forefront sponsors (the list is not alphabetical). The EFF surely knows about the surveillance (NSA PRISM), which was mentioned many times by the EFF itself in the wake of Snowden leaks. Dropbox is “coming soon” (in 2013) to PRISM and Airbnb is a privacy dump.

“Condy Rice on the Board and NSA PRISM don’t seem to prevent the EFF from taking money from Dropbox to glorify privacy abusers from Microsoft.”In our view, what EFF does here is what Lessig likes to call “leaning to the green” (money). Condy Rice on the Board and NSA PRISM don’t seem to prevent the EFF from taking money from Dropbox to glorify privacy abusers from Microsoft. Will the EFF take the risk of condemning Dropbox for privacy abuses in the future? Maybe. People might always wonder.

What would Barlow (founder) have said? He died last year and it would be a shame if the EFF’s credibility died with him.

10.06.19

The Free Software Foundation Will Be Far Stronger With Richard Stallman Back On Its Board

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, EFF, FSF, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Super Stallman
Image credit: The Fall Of Stallman by Alessandro Ebersol (Agent Smith) at PCLinuxOS Magazine

Summary: Looking back at three weeks of misinformation, we insist that Stallman should have his membership — if not position — in the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Board reinstated

THE FSF lost its main identity and asset. Deep inside it knows it. It lost its founder, who emphasises this role of his in his E-mail signature these days. He lost his place there not for technical reasons. Brendan Eich suffered a similar fate at Mozilla for something not work related (which had happened nearly a decade earlier). Have any lessons been learned since then?

“Brendan Eich suffered a similar fate at Mozilla for something not work related (which had happened nearly a decade earlier).”Our habitual contributor figosdev is writing a HOWTO regarding federation of Free software advocacy (work in progress) and a week ago on the LibrePlanet mailing list someone announced a thing called FSForce (The Free Software Force, sounding similar to FOSSForce but completely unrelated to it).

Adrienne G. Thompson’s reply said “I too have explicitly noted in previous posts that “[T]he Free Software Foundation has not broken but maintains the relationship with Software Freedom Conservancy that has promoted the persecution of Richard Stallman,” nominating SFC President and FSF Board member Bradley Kuhn “Best Director” for the internet drama “The Backstabber” in the upcoming FSF Resign Awards.”

“Well, much of the criticism of Richard Stallman, RMS, was disguised as that (“he has been there too long”, “he’s sexist” and so on); he’s trying to mend things and he told me repeatedly that he had stepped down due to pressure from outside the FSF, not inside it, as a matter of personal will under great media strain.”We should add that trying to disguise criticism of technical groups using parallel accusations of “sexism”, “racism”, “intolerance”, “old” (incumbent) is nothing new, as if technical matters are to be tackled using identity politics. Microsoft apparently does this to Google. So why stop there?

Well, much of the criticism of Richard Stallman, RMS, was disguised as that (“he has been there too long”, “he’s sexist” and so on); he’s trying to mend things and he told me repeatedly that he had stepped down due to pressure from outside the FSF, not inside it, as a matter of personal will under great media strain. I personally prefer to see the FSF going back to the way it was a month ago, preferably without the people who dethroned RMS with outside pressure (not entirely outside as one of them is also on the FSF’s Board). I don’t need to repeat the name quoted above, but let’s just say that this is the person who wrote the most damaging press release.

What this whole sad episode serves to show is misuse of media; Alessandro Ebersol put it like this in his new article:

In fact, who really had ties with that citizen Epstein was Bill Gates, who, according to emails obtained exclusively from The New Yorker, Epstein would have instructed Bill Gates to donate $2 million to a MIT research lab in October 2014. The directors of MIT Media Lab delivered the emails, and they clearly link Gates to Epstein.

However, this connection goes beyond donation, as both Gates and Epstein had a common interest in eugenics, a perverted form of science that seeks to genetically improve the human population by getting rid of undesirable ones (who was also interested in that? Hmmm, ahhh, that Austrian guy!)

We can even speculate that the attack on Stallman’s person was a way to get the public’s attention diverted away from Gates, who really had a connection with Epstein.

The proprietary software people (workers, hence proponents, defending their wallets and banks accounts basically, not morality) generalise and stigmatise FOSS people as sexist even though the ‘inventor’ of proprietary stuff, Bill Gates (remember that infamous letter he wrote), is the real connection to Epstein and pedophilia. Why aren’t Microsoft employees issuing a call/petition to “remove Gates”?

Talk about projection…

A reader has, in the meantime, told us about the Microsoft propagandist (anti-Google, privacy-washer of Microsoft surveillance) whom the EFF foolishly gave an award several weeks ago. That person is, apparently, nowadays attacking everyone, using the EFF’s award as a ‘budge’ of credibility. The EFF has moved in really a bad direction, in essence rewarding privacy abusers from Microsoft. Why? Don’t ask me! The EFF’s demise may be a subject for another day — it barely says anything about patents for a number of months now. Its most prominent person in that ‘department’ moved to Mozilla earlier this year.

“The proprietary software people (workers, hence proponents, defending their wallets and banks accounts basically, not morality) generalise and stigmatise FOSS people as sexist even though the ‘inventor’ of proprietary stuff, Bill Gates (remember that infamous letter he wrote), is the real connection to Epstein and pedophilia. Why aren’t Microsoft employees issuing a call/petition to “remove Gates”?”“Read that article,” said a reader to us, “and the linked-to one by Danah Boyd, then read my comment [...] and ask yourself if there’s anything controversial in it, except the one thing, it contradicts the house dogma. And in the main article they manage to link Jeffrey Epstein to scientists, tech innovators and the Nobel Prize winners. What the fuck does raped, trafficked or harassed got to to with technology or me or you?”

Speaking for myself alone, I can’t help but feel like they’re mimicking some of these same old stunts, e.g. in LibrePlanet (we wrote about CoC matters associated with it several times in the past and an FSF person confirmed what we had heard to be true). Those who don’t comply with a corporate agenda are being painted as sexist. Ask Torvalds why he was pushed out of kernel development a year ago. Ask him what he actually said that was sexist (or can be somehow interpreted as such).

09.04.19

The Electronic Frontier Foundation Opposes Software Patents (in the US), So Why Does It Keep 100% Silent About Europe and the EPO?

Posted in America, EFF, Europe, Law, Patents at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Imagine what would happen if the Electronic Frontier Foundation cared about European Patents as much as it cares about EU copyright law

Electronic Frontier Foundation EPO

Summary: The Electronic Frontier Foundation does good work in the area of patent law, but it has a massive, glaring blind spot for the EPO, where massive abuses are happening and corruption is rampant for more than half a decade

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can issue software patents. Sometimes it does. But citing 35 U.S.C. § 101, as courts often do, judges will throw out such patents. The patent maximalists are furious about it. How dare judges apply the law? They’ve already called for abolishment of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), nowadays they ask for the Federal Circuit to be disbanded and maybe SCOTUS is next. Who needs justice anyway? Mob rule, right?

“Who needs justice anyway? Mob rule, right?”At the EPO (Organisation) things are already profoundly upsetting. The rule of law is almost literally dead now (suicidal judges, due to threats and unjust punishment from Team Campinos/Battistelli). Nobody in the media wants to cover this anymore. Almost nobody! That in and of itself is a scandal — a complicity in silence that we’ve often alluded to.

Science Business, which oftentimes is the European Patent Office’s (EPO) mouthpiece [1, 2, 3], has just done some more EPO propaganda (“Source: The European Patent Office (EPO)”). No journalism involved and it’s not even news: “Switzerland has most European patents per capita”

That just means Switzerland is a rich country, that’s all. EPO numbers are used to convey old lies and myths. Do people know how much a single European Patent can cost? Can one expect an Estonian or an Ethiopian to apply for dozens of European Patents? They’d have to work for several years for just one patent (associated fees).

“When will the EFF make a comment about Europe and the EPO as well? Like it did the EU Copyright Directive…”Anyway, yesterday the EPO brought up (warning: epo.org link) the subject of software patents in Europe, calling them — in the title — “computer-implemented,” as usual (the body says “computer-implemented inventions”). There’s an upcoming case, but the judges lack independence. The President of the EPO (Campinos) knows it; he knows that he frightens them. So this is just the EPO pushing in the usual direction, i.e. to endorse illegal software patents (outcome may be ‘fixed’ like earlier this summer). In their own words: “The President of the EPO has filed his comments in the matter of the referral G 1/19 (“Patentability of computer-implemented simulations”) to the Enlarged Board of Appeal arguing for maintenance of the current practice for assessing the inventive step of computer-implemented inventions and welcomes the opportunity for the Enlarged Board of Appeal to further clarify the practice.”

We don't expect software patents to make a comeback in the US. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has just issued a statement [1] to drill another screw into the coffin of STRONGER Patents Act. Well done, EFF. When will the EFF make a comment about Europe and the EPO as well? Like it did the EU Copyright Directive

The EFF cannot deny the fact that European and American patent laws — or practices — are connected (even their buzzwords). No excuse for the oversight. Do something, EFF. You are not understaffed, so don’t make excuses.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The STRONGER Patents Act Would Make Bad Patents Stronger Than Ever

    Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) has introduced yet another version of the STRONGER Patents Act. In 2017, we explained how earlier versions of the bill would gut inter partes review, a much more affordable way to challenge bad patents. The bill also tears down the Supreme Court’s eBay v. Mercexchange decision, which stops patent trolls from automatically getting injunctions, which gave them the power to potentially shut down productive companies. Unfortunately, these terrible ideas seem to keep coming back.

    The STRONGER Act of 2019 contains numerous provisions aimed at killing inter partes review proceedings altogether. As we’ve explained before, inter partes review, or IPR, is a type of proceeding that lets people facing infringement allegations challenge bad patents in front of administrative judges with technical expertise—the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. These proceedings are much cheaper and faster than trials in federal court for both sides. They improve the patent system’s ability to promote innovation by providing an efficient way to cancel patents that should never have been granted in the first places.

08.17.19

Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person

Posted in EFF, FSF, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 6:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like they don’t give a f*** about their reputation anymore

eff

Summary: At age 30 (almost) the Electronic Frontier Foundation still campaigns for privacy; so why does it grant awards to enemies of privacy?

In July 1990 the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was founded by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow, and Mitch Kapor. Barlow died a couple of years ago, so the EFF is now run by its chief executive officer Cindy Cohn. Some of our longtime readers say they have lost confidence in the EFF; the old timers actually told us it had lost direction and nowadays caters for ‘hipsters’ with their ‘gadgets’ near its headquarters (main office in California). The EFF recently lost the person who fought software patents for the EFF (he moved to Mozilla) and they never cared about software patents in Europe or EPO scandals. Never. Not even once. They have some extremely valuable people, such as Cory Doctorow (who fought for the EFF on copyright issues in Europe), but we recently felt upset that they had taken money from Google. This harmed the EFF’s position on patents — and to a lesser degree on copyrights — and indirectly harmed all of us who fight software patents. Even the EFF’s own, namely Birgitta Jónsdóttir, openly expressed dissatisfaction over this. She cited Techrights at the time.

“It probably wouldn’t have happened under Barlow’s watch.”Nobody is perfect and the EFF certainly isn’t perfect. Similarly, several years ago we expressed our disagreement with the FSF after it had given an award to a provocateur who liaised with other provocateurs. 4 years ago there was another anti-Torvalds coup. Don’t forget who did it and how. It was attempted again not so long ago and for the first time in almost 30 years Torvalds took a break from Linux development.

We don’t want to link or name who the EFF has just granted an award to; but it’s someone hypocritical from Microsoft and someone who contributed a great deal to the company’s ‘surveillance capitalism’. Is the EFF totally drunk? Stoned maybe? It probably wouldn’t have happened under Barlow’s watch.

Come on, EFF. You can do better than this.

08.14.19

Being in Favour of Free/Libre Open Source Software Means Rejecting Software Patents

Posted in EFF, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 1:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A decade ago they spoke about this issue, but not anymore

Torvalds on Software Patents
Full interview [PDF]

Summary: Those who believe in Software Freedom cannot at the same time believe that software patents are desirable; we’ve sadly come to a point where many companies that dominate so-called ‘Open Source’ groups actively lobby for such patents, in effect betraying the community they claim to be a part of

“Open Source is nowadays a by-product of Proprietary Software,” Benjamin Henrion wrote or quoted, “permissive licenses, repositories with subscriptions, open client but not the server, “APIs”, cloud lock-in, software patents all over. And hipsters with their Macbooks…”

Like people who run the Linux Foundation and lie to everyone

“Open Source” is nowadays a whole different beast, different if not wholly distinguishable from what it was two decades ago. Back then it was supposed to just be a substitution of Free software, but today it is just proprietary software with some openwashing (for marketing purposes or bait); so we’ve ‘lost’ the cause and must revert back to Free software, this time insisting that openwash isn’t credible and cannot be tolerated (those who do this should state upfront it’s proprietary).

“On the patent front we got our way; openwashing is another, newer problem. We’re nowadays focusing more on the latter one.”Henrion went further; he mentioned software patents and linked to this new tweet from IAM (“In an exclusive interview with IAM, @danielnazer of @mozilla shares top tips for software IP protection, his evolving role as Senior IP & Product Counsel and why he’s looking forward to speaking at #SoftwareIP this October.”). Oddly enough a former EFF lawyer/attorney, who fought software patents, decided to participate/speak at an event of the patent trolls’ lobby to give false impression of ‘balance’. He represents Mozilla, which isn’t supposed to use terms like “software IP protection”. It’s typically the likes of OIN who are attending this event, but they're pro-software patents, unlike most Mozilla staff.

Observation worth making: most patent blogs went totally or almost totally silent this year; few remain active and they’re hardly covering Section 101 cases anymore. Coons et al have gone nowhere with their bill, either, so it’s just like in prior years and just what we predicted all along. We’re winning the patent policy battles and IAM became irrelevant. On the patent front we got our way; openwashing is another, newer problem. We’re nowadays focusing more on the latter one.

08.07.19

Guest Post: Enough is Enough!

Posted in EFF, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 11:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By figosdev

Enough

Not even two weeks ago, Techrights founder Roy Schestowitz said:

“I have been writing for many years about threats to Linux and more recently I focused on threats to Git (development processes, centralisation, censorship etc.) as well. I think we’re now at a critical point.”

And I agree. The FSF has settled into focusing too much on matters of licensing, even as they dabble with other important issues such as the “cloud” (clowncomputing) and hardware that respects your freedom. I’m concerned that long term — years from now — the FSF will shift its focus towards being a hardware standard almost exclusively; as the software ecosystem moves further and further from the GPL and the FSF needs a way to justify itself to sponsors and members alike.

“…as the software ecosystem moves further and further from the GPL and the FSF needs a way to justify itself to sponsors and members alike.”If software becomes almost completely controlled by monopolies again, the FSF won’t have any serious influence over software anymore and thus like Mozilla since Eich left, its real mission will be defunct. But their RYF campaign is both important and about something you can rarely get for free, so the FSF can focus on something meaningful and commercial; even while it backs away from its primary mission of fighting for software freedom.

For years, half a decade even — people have complained about the threat that systemd poses to freedom. It is designed to consolidate power into the hands of a single corporation. Microsoft outlined 20 years ago that to compete with Open source, they would need to target “a process, not a company.” With systemd hosted on Github, they can now do both.

The FSF recognised the threat of code being on Github even before Microsoft owned it — now that Microsoft hosts (controls) the code used in the FSF’s most popular fully-free operating systems, they continue to ignore the problems that systemd brings to the table:

- It reduces the security of every GNU/Linux distro that adopts it (it already won a Pwnie.)

- It divides the communities that adopt it (quite deliberately, but let’s blame every critic, and give a divisive project a limitless benefit of the doubt.)

- It reduces the modularity in every distro that adopts it, which reduces the user’s freedom.

“Microsoft outlined 20 years ago that to compete with Open source, they would need to target “a process, not a company.” With systemd hosted on Github, they can now do both.”The FSF in the past has talked about backdoors that Microsoft puts in their own products, but it won’t talk about how systemd is hosted on servers owned by Microsoft (and that this is one more reason people shouldn’t use systemd) and it doesn’t acknowledge that Microsoft can now add backdoors to systemd (and every distro that uses it) themselves. Do you trust Microsoft to run secure servers, when they deliberately compromise their own operating system?

And what people are waiting for is a concrete example of this grand f***-up in the making, and all we have are smaller examples for now, but those are ignored year after year. Meanwhile, various major problems that the FSF has acknowledged in the past continue to cluster around the software weapon formerly known as an init system, and the FSF doesn’t dare speak against it or advise people to even question it.

I’ve said for well over a year, that systemd is not the only problem — just the biggest so far. Google has its own anti-POSIX weapon, which it is a little more honest about being a way to crush POSIX itself, in the long-standing Microsoftian tradition of “de-commoditising protocols.”

POSIX more than anything, is what the free software ecosystem has in common. Sure, there are many exceptions. But POSIX is the biggest rule even if implementation is incomplete, and attacking it is a great way to win the war against free software.

Finally, these attacks are not just against the core of most operating systems. Thankfully, along with their aging flagships Trisquel and GnewSense, FSF is at least welcoming Hyperbola– the most free FSF distro of all time, and GuixSD — what will probably become the most customisable FSF distro of all time. In the long run these may help a lot, but for now, Trisquel continues to destroy itself.

There are additional problems of infiltration of non-profits, which the FSF will not talk about. There are additional problems of degradation of software quality and security, followed up with denial and inappropriate claims of “FUD.”

There are shills in the tech press, as many as ever before, misleading the public that the FSF will not talk about. And one of the best weapons these shills have, is the facts about what is happening to the quality and reliability of free software. systemd critics have warned about those for years, only for it to fall on deaf ears.

“Do you trust Microsoft to run secure servers, when they deliberately compromise their own operating system?”The facts matter — always. While some of the points raised by shills in the media are accurate, others actually deserve to be called “FUD.” The FUD about VLC is a great example — they tried to paint VLC as insecure, but left out that the vulnerability was actually in a 3rd-party library. That’s FUD if I ever heard it, and FUD is an age-old weapon used by Microsoft to fight competitors.

The problem with KDE however, is a fine example of the sort of design problems that we used to make fun of Windows for. It turns out, some designs are so terrible that they don’t just compromise the security of non-free software — quite a few bad security practices work on multiple platforms, including FLOSS platforms, and some designs count as bad security practices themselves.

As with systemd, Windows cared far more about new features than security or good design. Their constant design compromises and lack of care dragged security and privacy into crisis, with really awful technologies like ActiveX, Office macros, Hidden extensions that let people fake safe-to-open document types that were actually executables — you think you’re opening a file in notepad but it’s actually malware — users could improve security just by turning off “Hide known file extensions” but that one stupid feature alone caused how much damage?

When you bring these historically terrible designs from Windows to GNU/Linux, they don’t get better. Sure, they are more likely to get patched after the damage is done — and that’s an advantage over non-free software. So is freedom, of course! Ben Mako Hill wrote “When Free Software Isn’t Better” in 2010, and all of the points are valid — but so is the fact that people are making free software WORSE.

That’s a real threat to the free software ecosystem, and the FSF refuses to talk about it. They prefer denial and compartmentalisation.

The FSF ignores free software advocates when they talk about systemd making free software worse — they ignore other people working to make free software worse — they ignore the infiltration of Microsoft employees into highly relevant organisations like the Linux Foundation, who control a trademark that the FSF uses on a daily basis.

“Because we made fun of Windows for all of these things, many of us got into free software as a way to get away from all these terrible designs.”And the war against free software continues, with KDE adding the equivalent of autorun.inf behaviour (another of those terrible Windows designs) to its software.

As with macros, non-executable formats should never, ever execute code unless the user runs them and knows they’re running them. OFF is the only secure default for such features. Windows made all sorts of exceptions to good practices along these lines, while other problems like buffer overflow vulnerabilities are more about bugs in code than terrible design (perhaps there is some small overlap.)

But terrible designs are terrible designs, and at a minimum these features should be turned off. The motives of paid/bribed shills disclosing vulnerabilities is relevant, but do not change facts — when dangerously stupid designs are exposed, it’s alright — even a good idea — to note the motives of shills, but it’s also still relevant that the designs are stupid and dangerous.

Because we made fun of Windows for all of these things, many of us got into free software as a way to get away from all these terrible designs. The people working on free software were avoiding these pitfalls, because their priorities did not put really dumb features over general safety. Modern free software developers are increasingly of the wrong priority set, and we are already experiencing the results.

Every bad design idea brought in needs to be heavily mitigated, preferably avoided whenever reasonable, and above all not simply denied when pointed out.

Either “outsiders” are attacking the quality of well-established free software products, or “insiders” are attacking the projects themselves — which one it is doesn’t matter as much as the fact that software we rely in is being degraded and made less reliable, harder to control, harder to secure, and harder to get away from — in an awful trend lasting for at least half a decade now.

All of these things are problems for free software, and as with any bad war — the denial only extends the ability of the people responsible to do more damage.

By all means, if you want to suffer more, then say nothing! Or better yet, deny the facts. But don’t do so and expect people to be able to offer something better, or even good to people that want freedom.

“Questions are not dealt with honestly, goals are compromised and critics are abused.”I can’t think of a single distro to recommend right now, because too many of the people who cluster around the only distro I’ve loved to use in 5 years are COMPLETE dicks. I’m not going to subject innocent people trying free software for the first time to that. Questions are not dealt with honestly, goals are compromised and critics are abused.

Things are not just critical — we are actually losing now, more than we were a few years ago. GNU/Linux reached its height in 2014, and it’s been largely downhill ever since.

“GNU/Linux reached its height in 2014, and it’s been largely downhill ever since.”I’m VERY grateful to the people working hard to fix this, including the Hyperbola team. Everybody else, needs to figure out whether they prefer to march this thing forwards, or backwards. It’s gone backwards for half a decade — perhaps it’s time to re-consult the map?

Don’t wait another five years, we’ve already lost those to the people actively trying to destroy our ecosystem. Now is the best possible time to turn around and start winning again — but only if we stay honest. If we can’t be honest about it, any victory will be hollow, fake and pointless. The history of free software is so much better than this, and it should be again.

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