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01.25.20

The Linux Kernel is No Longer Free Software?

Posted in DRM, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Direct link YouTube | Direct link lbry.tv]

Summary: Gardiner Bryant, the creator of The Linux Gamer as well as The Off Topical Podcast, reacts to our articles about DRM in Linux (he even pronounced my name correctly)

Sometimes Proprietary Software is Proprietary (Secret) Simply Because It is Not Good and Obfuscation Helps Hide Just How Ugly It Is

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Security, Windows at 8:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The story of FortiClient resembles what I’ve often encountered over the years with other proprietary VPNs (not of my choice)

Proprietary Software. You pay to be abused.

Summary: Why nonfree (or proprietary) software generally fails to catch up with Free/libre software — at least on technical grounds — and then makes up for it with marketing and FUD offensives (discrediting perfectly-functioning things, based on their perceived cost)

OVER the years I’ve encountered and used a lot of VPNs. It’s one thing I’m quite familiar with, having configured and debugged VPNs quite a lot. At work, we use Free/libre VPNs that we host and manage ourselves (typically OpenVPN and IPSec/StrongSwan). But clients’ choices of VPN are another matter. Occasionally I must access a client’s GNU/Linux server to carry out maintenance, patching and software upgrades. It’s quite a routine thing.

“Why is it that Free software generally works a lot more consistently than proprietary counterparts and why do some people pay a lot of money for VPN tools that not only cost a lot of money but need to be ‘repurchased’ (re-licensed) annually or any time one ‘upgrades’?”VPN software varies from client to client and some VPN tools are so awful that it’s not even funny. It can be painful. At times impossible!

Why is it that Free software generally works a lot more consistently than proprietary counterparts and why do some people pay a lot of money for VPN tools that not only cost a lot of money but need to be ‘repurchased’ (re-licensed) annually or any time one ‘upgrades’? Suffice to say, many of these proprietary things have holes in them (kept under the rug), so one might actually be paying for additional security holes rather than security. Snowden’s stash of leaks revealed some evidence to that effect.

“Much time down the drain.”One might say I’m opinionated, but I’m not alone. It’s not only me who complains by the way; a colleague explained that “[a]t the moment the only access we have for [client] is via a horrible proprietary VPN. You are only able to get clients for Windows and Mac officially, however an Ubuntu client has been found that works too. To make things more complicated it does not appear to work at all in Windows Server, meaning we can’t provide access though the Windows [shared/remote virtual] box. If you have a Windows or Mac box, you can download the client from http://forticlient.com/ and the Ubuntu one can be found here https://forticlient.com/repoinfo…”

Well, nothing that I’ve tried allows me to access the client’s network. Much time down the drain. You can try again and again (dealing with binary blobs). The FortiClient software is defective, however, as it shows an unimpressive blank window each time it starts (I tried other, more complicated things) and there’s no way to debug this.

FortiClient
So-called ‘Client’; Whose exactly? Spy agencies?

If I run this from the command line it says:

"Platform detected: fedora" (which is false by the way, it’s not even an RPM-based distro, so I think they need to do more work on their client-side tools if it’s advertised as cross-platform)

“The bottom line is, proprietary VPN software is utterly bad, it rarely prevents security incidents, and it is more like duct tape on top of something inherently broken.”Our internal wiki indicates that we cannot access this over a virtual Windows Server, either. Because that too is not supported. What other access options may there be? And why need they complicate access to the point where they shut out people who merely try to keep their machines secure and up to date? As a Techrights associate recently noted, the whole concept behind VPN is flawed. It seems to assume that operating systems in use aren’t safe if connected to the Web (there are NSA back doors, for starters), so complete separation and insulation from the network is seen as desirable. Later this year our combined lifetime for Tux Machines and Techrights will be 30 years. We’re a high-profile target for attacks, Techrights in particular (many DDOS attacks over the years), but we never had any security incidents and we never used VPNs. We even gave up on so-called 2FA, knowing that it sounds better in theory than (how it works) in practice.

The bottom line is, proprietary VPN software is utterly bad, it rarely prevents security incidents, and it is more like duct tape on top of something inherently broken. Moreover, the quality of proprietary VPN software is utterly appalling. The same can be said about proprietary software other than VPNs, but these companies compensate for that with heavy marketing campaigns and waves of FUD directed at Free software counterparts.

01.23.20

Distractions From Microsoft’s Gigantic Tax Evasion and Contribution to Denial of Climate Science

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The greenwashing efforts (as seen earlier this month in shallow ‘media’ that’s nowadays more like a glorified PR apparatus) are a cynical ploy at best

Windows is secure. War is peace.

Summary: Microsoft (connected to oil companies) wants us to think of it as a “green” company; not only does it contribute to climate denial but it also evades tax, which is a serious crime that costs tens of billions of dollars (the public pays this money instead)

WE have been covering Microsoft here since 2006 (I had written a lot more about it since the 1990s). It’s no secret that Microsoft lies a lot about a lot of things, including its stance on the environment (we recently published "Microsoft is a Market Leader in Lying and Corruption"). Remember that both Microsoft and Bill Gates financially backed ALEC, as we noted here a long time ago. Microsoft subsidises big polluters and Bill Gates is best friends with them.

Over a decade ago we wrote about ALEC, about BP, and a lot about other environmental concerns. Microsoft very often shows up as a major facilitator. Recently there was whistleblowing at Microsoft about its close relationship with oil companies that drill the seas and cause unbelievable environmental damage.

“The people at Microsoft sometimes believe these lies! They’re not too bright, it’s like a cult to them.”Wouldn’t Microsoft want and even need a distraction from all this?

Notice how the media is nowadays painting Microsoft as “fighting patent trolls” (Microsoft passes to them lots of USPTO- and EPO-granted patents in order to attack Linux by proxy), painting Microsoft as protective of children (because Gates is closely connected to pedophilia on several levels), and saying that Microsoft is infatuated with minorities and women (the opposite is true, based on the track record and lawsuits). They keep telling us that Microsoft is “in love” with what it’s constantly attacking in a variety of ways, e.g. GNU/Linux. The people at Microsoft sometimes believe these lies! They’re not too bright, it’s like a cult to them. This cult gives them salaries. Microsoft management or the company as a whole keeps calling itself 'Open Source company' while it is actively attacking Open Source, e.g. through GitHub, which is proprietary (Microsoft is then bribing the critics at GitHub, based on admissions they publicly make in Twitter).

As one GNU/Linux developer put it this week: “I’ll believe “Microsoft loves Linux” when I see them support desktop Linux. For now it’s very self-serving and entirely when is convenient. It doesn’t count as an investment. It looks like just PR so it doesn’t show that they’re being dragged by the market, kicking and screaming.”

This is to be expected from a company of criminals such as Microsoft. The crimes are harder to perpetrate when people are aware and forewarned.

For over a decade we wrote about Microsoft’s long history of tax evasion worldwide; even whistleblowing from Microsoft itself explained all the pertinent details over the years. It’s not a secret anymore. Almost a decade ago the IRS belatedly took on this issue, tackling Microsoft (connected to oil companies) and this new report reveals Microsoft’s strategy. [via Benjamin Henrion]

“It’s the biggest audit in IRS history,” one person explained. “Of what has been the largest company in the world. It’s taken over a decade. And it’s still not done. And it’s not going well for the gutted IRS.”

They just try to make it too expensive for the IRS or to ‘run the clock’…

Bill Gates bribed a lot of publications to focus on tax evasion of all companies other than Microsoft as well as his own tax evasion using a sham, bogus ‘charity’.

Here are some of the details from this new article:

Eight years ago, the IRS, tired of seeing the country’s largest corporations fearlessly stash billions in tax havens, decided to take a stand. The agency challenged what it saw as an epic case of tax dodging by one of the largest companies in the world, Microsoft. It was the biggest audit by dollar amount in the history of the agency.

Microsoft had shifted at least $39 billion in U.S. profits to Puerto Rico, where the company’s tax consultants, KPMG, had persuaded the territory’s government to give Microsoft a tax rate of nearly 0%. Microsoft had justified this transfer with a ludicrous-sounding deal: It had sold its most valuable possession — its intellectual property — to an 85-person factory it owned in a small Puerto Rican city.

Over years of work, the IRS uncovered evidence that it believed laid the scheme bare. In one document, a Microsoft senior executive celebrated the company’s “pure tax play.” In another, KPMG plotted how to make the company Microsoft created to own the Puerto Rico factory — and a portion of Microsoft’s profits — seem “real.”

[...]

It seems likely, given the size of Microsoft’s Puerto Rico transaction, that the IRS in May 2011 had hit the company with a tax bill in the billions. But Maruca and Hoory thought the agency was thinking small.

Maruca told Microsoft the IRS needed more time, and in early 2012, the IRS withdrew its findings. By then, Hoory had taken leadership of the audit. He began sending new document requests to Microsoft, asking for more interviews and considering what other experts the IRS needed to round out its case. Over the next three years, he and his team amassed tens of thousands of pages and conducted dozens of interviews with Microsoft personnel. (Hoory, who still works at the IRS, declined to comment.)

The evidence they assembled told a story. It revealed how Microsoft had built a massive Rube Goldberg machine that channeled at least $39 billion in profits to Puerto Rico. It revealed a workshop of outside consultants, economists and attorneys who, as they had with other corporate clients, meticulously planned a structure that seemed to have a basis in the law, even if it violated common sense.

The documents showed that Microsoft had been caught red-handed, Hoory believed. Despite all their care in preparing for an eventual audit, the deal’s architects had left damning evidence that, he thought, made it possible for the IRS to expose the sham.

So those who are rich and have prestigious lawyers (or external law firms) can just exhaust the resources of the IRS and get away with it, leaving the IRS to pick on poor and defenseless people instead. This is maladministration and a hallmark of corruption becoming the ‘norm’. We recently mentioned how lots of Microsoft crimes all around the world resulted in only a tiny settlement. Nobody was arrested. This is the kind of atmosphere which encourages Microsoft to carry on with crime.

In order to keep people ‘off its back’ Microsoft kicked off a shameless greenwashing campaign. It started about a week ago and boiled down to nothing more than a blog post and some future (fictional) date with no commitments. Associates of ours thought it was intended to perpetuate the illusion of Microsoft existing for many years to come.

Media which Gates and Microsoft have bribes blindly parroted the talking points from Microsoft. This is why many people no longer trust the media.

CounterPunch wrote this rebuttal to it and published it on Tuesday. To quote some portions:

“This is a bold bet – a moonshot – for Microsoft.”  So claimed Brad Smith, Microsoft President, in a Thursday announcement painting a picture of a company that intends to be carbon negative by 2030.  “And,” Smith continued, “it will need to be a moonshot for the world.”  That vision entails the removal of more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits.  By 2050, the company intends removing from the environment all carbon the company has emitted since its founding in 1975.

[...]

But much of this should not detract from the obvious point: Microsoft is happy to have a bit each way when it comes to how it finances its green image. The waters it bathes in are not always ecologically sound. While the company positions itself high on the soapbox of environmental purity, it is still a corporation governed by that traditional mix of predatory instinct and innate opportunism. In this, it shares a streak with Facebook and Google, two other entities who exude self-confidence in the illusion that they are principled, morals at the ready.

This point was made last year when it was revealed that all three companies sponsored LibertyCon, the annual conference for the Students for Liberty, a libertarian group. Both Microsoft and Facebook forked out $10,000 each as gold sponsors; Google went a grade better with $25,000, making the platinum grade.

This clutch of sponsors was not, in of itself, odd. But the three companies found themselves sharing a crowded platform with outfits distinctly against the science of climate change, showing how vast open tents can get rather muddy on the inside. One of those present was the CO2 Coalition, a group celebrating the virtues of carbon, and feels that it has been unduly demonised. Carbon, it lauds, “is essential for life.” Available at the conference was a brochure from its good offices extolling the merits of greater quantities of carbon dioxide, explaining how that would improve “our lives and our planet Earth”.

One of its members, retired statistics professor Caleb Rossiter, spoke at the gathering by insisting that, “There has been no increase in storms, in intensity or frequency. The data don’t show a worrisome trend.”

In short, Microsoft is the very opposite of what it claims to be.

ZDNet has also just published “Microsoft to forcibly install Bing search extension in Chrome for Office 365 ProPlus users,” so anyone who still believes in the fictional ‘new’ Microsoft needs to wake up and follow the money. One might end up in some offshore tax evasion haven.

01.22.20

A Simple Plan For a Universal Free Software Community

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 12:35 am by Guest Editorial Team

[Larger view]

Universal Free Software Community

Summary: “For software to be free as in freedom, we need more people to care personally about software freedom.”

This plan addresses, through a global voluntary network of “labs”, Web sites, forums or clubs, several areas in which Free software simply fails to engage most users.

It encourages the creation of Free software as well as other free works, including global collaboration on a library of free works.

It allows every user to start small, whether or not they know how to code, and gently encourages (through education and improving education) everyone to learn how to code — voluntarily, for the purpose of increasing computer literacy. It encourages working with teachers around the world and inviting them to bring their ideas to the table, even if they themselves are not comfortable with computers or coding.

“It encourages working with teachers around the world and inviting them to bring their ideas to the table, even if they themselves are not comfortable with computers or coding.”This plan for a voluntary, grassroots network of autonomous online communities and offline user groups that resists censorship, resists cancellation, discovers new threats to software freedom as well as new solutions — while allowing communities to experiment with their own rules, allowing individuals to join (and more or less do things things their own way.)

It allows everyone to collaborate voluntarily on innovating Free software, promoting Free software and free works, while growing, promoting and becoming part of the Free Software Federation beyond what has existed before.

Simply put, it has something for everyone who is remotely interested in Free software or other free works, and it promotes user rights and software freedom.

“For software to be free as in freedom, we need more people to care personally about software freedom.”The goal of free software is for all software to be free. If we are going to be serious about that goal, we need to find a way to welcome everybody to be free, while understanding and caring about freedom. Becoming part of that freedom — being invested in free licenses and becoming interested in Free software as well, is one of the ways we can get more of the world involved and supporting this cause.

For software to be free as in freedom, we need more people to care personally about software freedom. But for too many people, that is too abstract and (while you can care about and benefit from freedom even if you don’t code) too hypothetical.

You can find out more about the Free Software Federation from their websites, here.

You can join or get started today.

Licence (image and text): Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

01.20.20

Starting a GNU Replacement for GitHub, Possibly Based on GitLab

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft at 12:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gitlab and Gnu

Summary: “It might be easier if we start from the GitLab software,” Stallman said

RECENTLY, a letter was sent to Richard Stallman to discuss threats associated with GitHub (among other things). Here is one proposal he entertained last week:

[Stallman:] Developing such software would be a big job, but possible if people are dedicated. It would probably take soe [sic] years.

It might be easier if we start form [sic] the GitLab software. That is free, right?

However, I doubt we could even possibly hope to pull most free software hosting away with GitHub.

Let’s suppose we do a great job of developing that software and we set up a server running it, and we want to compete with GitHub for projects to choose us. How many free projects are there on GitHub? Hundreds of thousands, I suppose.

To provide good service for that many projects, I think we would need a server farm, and hundreds of staff. We could not afford that.

We would need those staff, and rental for the server farm.

not for a one-time development expense, but as operating costs, year after year.

The only way we could do that is by charging for the service. Most projects would choose some other service which is gratis.

However, those projects that chose our service would get good service, since we could afford to give it to them, for pay.

We could make this work, but would it make a big difference?

The response (from Thomas Grzybowski):

Hi Richard,

I feel encouraged that most of your concern about a GitHub replacement is technical and economic. Those problems can be solved. The key is to use a distributed architecture.

I see five important reasons to go with a distributed git repository:

1. Distributed I/O and CPU load.
2. No single point of failure (such as a ddos attack).
3. No single site entity would have to finance and maintain a gargantuan datacenter.
4. No one country could censor the content of the repository.
5. No single entity could completely control the entire repository.

I have done some basic research and come up with a proposed technology: For the back-end the project can utilize a PostgreSQL database server utilizing Postgresql ltrees. Ltrees is a very powerful and performant database feature for tree-like data structures such as git, and it would be perfect for this application.

Putting the git data schema entirely in a database provides a secure and robust system, with transactional integrity.

Perhaps most importantly, PostgreSQL 10 has introduced a feature called “Logical Replication”, through which one can perform intra-database object-level replication across hosts. This can provide an efficient and solid transactional mechanism for distributed replication.

So, the core idea is to have several sites, located and independently financed in a number of countries.

Now, would such a thing make a BIG difference? Well, like most software projects it would start out small, and then get bigger. Code from Savannah can begin to be migrated-in, making it immediately important, and then the project will certainly receive a lot of attention. I think volunteers will be eager to get on board. As other hubs are established and various and diverse Free Software projects worldwide join-in there will be a compounding function in effect. I think ultimately such a system will provide the preferred repository for Free Software, since that domain will be the focus, and will have the benefits of the distributed implementation outlined above.

It will be an easy sell, assuming the interactive user experience is competitive; people will understand the importance immediately, since Free Software folks do not want to be overseen by Microsoft.

I can come up with a more detailed functional description and system specification if you would like.

Thanks,

Tom G.

Removing GNU/Linux projects from GitHub should be seen as a high-priority initiative. The FSF has not spoken about this yet (not in recent years).

01.16.20

Microsoft Now Uses or Leverages Software Freedom Against Free Software

Posted in Antitrust, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“For most people, if you wanted to get on the internet, you just clicked on the big blue E on the desktop. It was right there, it worked, and that’s all that mattered.” (Gates was grilled, in his grueling deposition, about admitting this would be the strategy; he put that in writing)

They won't use Chrome... If we preload EDGE every time they boot their PC
Same strategy as WSL in Vista 10

Summary: A reader’s explanation of what Microsoft is trying to accomplish with its so-called ‘embrace’ and what steps will come next (how they manifest themselves)

THIS may sound strange, but it is absolutely true. Take a moment to think about it. Read carefully because our reader seems to have hit the nail right on the head.

Last week a reader told us what he had seen at the local store, a British shop (large chain) that sells loads of magazines.

That same reader has sent us more input after researching the matter even further.

To put it very succinctly, Microsoft nowadays uses the freedom of Free software to attack both this software and our collective freedom. The company did not change. It is still run by liars, criminals and crooks (ask the US government as it has just fined them for it).

“To put it very succinctly, Microsoft nowadays uses the freedom of Free software to attack both this software and our collective freedom.”An associate of ours takes note of this “spam” this morning (his words) and it comes from The Verge, a site which was edited by Bill Gates some years ago. As one might expect, nowadays it does lots of ads for Microsoft, but they’re cleverly disguised as articles with insights. We’ve named some British ‘news’ sites that do the same for Microsoft. The summary says “Microsoft’s new browser takes on Chrome with some different features.”

What are those features? Let’s find out…

Our associate has meanwhile taken note of a similar problem (almost identical but at the OS rather than browser space). Some Microsoft-leaning, WSL-promoting “spam” (his word) is being published. People are supposed to think that WSL is a replacement for GNU/Linux? What a joke…

Or that nobody needs to download a browser for Windows anymore? Because of “EDGE”?

“Get a load of this self-serving garbage from Microsoft,” our reader explained to us today. “The new Microsoft Edge… is twice as fast as legacy Edge” (tall claims from Microsoft Paul).

“People are supposed to think that WSL is a replacement for GNU/Linux? What a joke…”Get ready for the epic fake ‘benchmarks’… the ones Microsoft paid so-called ‘analysts’ to make about GNU/Linux, especially to make GNU/Linux seem inadequate for servers.

Our reader researched the MSEdge repository and posited that: “translation: Bury core functionality in a Windows DLL that loads at boot, hide the API calls from third-party developers, then sing the praises of the faster and better graphics/media playing of Microsoft Edge. Have these people no shame? That’s a rhetorical question…”

To quote the puff piece: “Outside the Microsoft Edge browser, users of other browsers on Windows PCs sometimes face inconsistent feature-sets and performance/battery-life across device types. Some browsers have had slower-progress to embrace new Windows capabilities like touch and ARM processors…”

Time for EEE, right? WSL style

“Time for EEE, right? WSL style…”Our reader responds: “translation: As Microsoft Edge DLLs gets loaded at boot, they’re not counted as impacting battery performance. Any such battery saving features we have buried in Microsoft Edge and are not of course shared with third-party developers. This is the same shuffle we’ve been playing on you poor fools since the dawn of the personal computer and as long as you still let us, we’ll go on fooling you.

“Incidentally, I seriously doubt that Bill Gates has fully withdrawn from Microsoft. The willful distortions and historical revisionism coming out of Redmond has all the hallmarks of his speech patterns. Remember when he welcomed Mozilla onto the Internet, after Microsoft tried to buy Mozilla and then had to settle with licensing Spyglass, who Bill Gates of course cheated out of revenue. (It’s in one of the Comes documents)

“Isn’t it amazing, someone could go into a magazine shop and come out with a DVD containing all the software they would ever need. That software is at least equal if not better than the Microsoft innovation. And yet every year, the world spends billions on Microsoft licenses.”

01.08.20

Monopoly in GNU/Linux is Also a Threat

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 1:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“My baseline is that Debian must welcome code contributions to support running without systemd, just as it welcomes code contributions for other non-default setups.”Ian Jackson on Debian Vote Regarding systemd

IBM Monopoly, Microsoft Monopoly, Red Hat

Red Hat - Microsoft

Summary: A month after Debian developers debated the future of systemd in Debian GNU/Linux we need a better understanding of what the future of GNU/Linux (as a whole) will be like when over a million lines of code are hosted by Microsoft and dominated by IBM, with the Linux Foundation being paid by both to keep ‘neutral’ (passive)

01.07.20

An FSF Without Stallman

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 11:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An FSF Without Stallman: I'm FSF. Hear me squawk. I'm RMS. Hear me roar.

Summary: An FSF without its founder is a bit like a body without a soul; they ought to correct this (they think they’ll be fine without him, but evidence suggests otherwise so far and they’re too proud to admit it)

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