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02.21.15

Microsoft AstroTurfing War on GNU/Linux is Still Going On, But Hidden Better, Uses API as Instrument of Lock-in

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The strength of this platform [C#] and the innovation around it is the key element in preventing commodization by Linux, our installed base and Network Appliance vendors.”

Bill Gates, Microsoft

Summary: The corruptible press continues to describe blatant attacks (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish) against GNU/Linux and Free software as Microsoft ‘embracing’ Open Source

MICROSOFT has been relying on a great deal of AstroTurfing as an instrument of domination. To quote Microsoft’s internal documents [PDF], “[t]o control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft now directs its instrument of deception towards GNU/Linux users. AstroTurfing of this kind necessitates influence from the inside. It is no longer just Novell’s money that makes the Linux Foundation unable (without risk) to antagonise Microsoft. By becoming financially dependent on Microsoft partners like Nokia and Intel (Wintel) the Linux Foundation lost its ability to antagonise rivals and it might not be long before the Linux Foundation silently tells Torvalds not to denounce Microsoft because of his new senior colleagues from there and because “Microsoft loves Linux”, according to Microsoft. As we have shown before, several Linux Foundation sub-committees are having heads appointed to them from Microsoft (Neela, Ramji and more). It is like a coup in slow motion as we are gradually witnessing more of its impact. It is even endemic in the media.

Microsoft used OOXML to shut out OpenOffice.org and to screw up not just migrations away from Office but also from Windows. This proved to be an effective sabotage-centric strategy in Europe, where some migrations to GNU/Linux were notably impeded because of OOXML. Office suites are not being made compatible, as they can never be made compatible, as per Microsoft’s deliberate design. As Bobby Moss put it to me the other day (about OOXML): “Here’s our ISO-approved standard, but we’re going to use a ‘transitional’ version instead. Good luck suckers ;)”

There is a nasty strategy going on right now and as Microsoft’s own partners now admit, Microsoft is trying to do to GNU/Linux with ‘cloud’ APIs what it did using OOXML. Microsoft loves Linux like Eric Holder loves free speech and like Obama loves peace. It’s nonsense (albeit endlessly repeated) of the highest order, but enough people who are not keeping up with the news might actually fall for this nonsense and even pass it on.

The other day we saw this article about one of the latest attack vectors against Android. This attack is partly Microsoft-funded and there is a good explanation of how Microsoft attacks Android/Linux right now. it’s titled “Microsoft’s Trojan Horse To Undermine Android”. A journalist specialising in Android over at Forbes noted: “Forbes’ Gordon Kelly has provided a high-level review of Nadella’s operation that brings the jigsaw of ‘Cloud first mobile first’ into focus. But I want to take a look at one of the moves that Redmond has made at the very edge of the mobile space… specifically the investment by Microsoft in the alternative mobile operating system company Cyanogen.

“According to reports from the Wall Street Journal (and others), Microsoft is a minority partner in the latest funding round of Cyanogen (the company behind the custom Android ROM that is CyanogenMod). The round is believed to be for $70 million in total, valuing the company in “the high hundreds of millions of dollars”.

“What is Microsoft playing at here?

“I seriously doubt that Microsoft is in it to make a profit. There are far better ways of investing its money if it wants a financial return. So where is the value in Microsoft in becoming involved with Cyanogen?

“Let’s start with the easiest one. While Cyanogen isn’t exactly the enemy of Google (it still relies heavily on the Android Open Source Project as well as the goodwill of Google and the other manufacturers to allow devices to have the ROM installed easily and smoothly), the old adage of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ should apply. Anything Microsoft can do to destabilise Google and force it to expend more effort on areas where Microsoft is fighting Mountain View is a strategic win, no matter how small it is.”

To skip to a point further down in this article, “Microsoft is looking at opportunities beyond the mobile operating system as a platform. Instead it is looking to leveraging any operating system so that it talks to the Microsoft cloud.”

He concludes as follows: “I’m sure Microsoft would be more than happy to load up CyanogenMod with Outlook, Office, and the rest of the app suite. I’m pretty sure it would help out with some engineering time as well if there was a need for such a thing.”

This article is far from perfect. As Will Hill put it: “There’s nothing potent about Microsoft’s “cloud”. Bing, Skype, Outlook are miserable failures like everything else Microsoft touches. Idiot news sources like Forbes said the same kinds of silly things when Microsoft subjugated Yahoo, but it went no where. Microsoft’s corruption of Cyanogenmod is one or two orders of magnitude less important than that.”

Also see the new article titled “Cyanogen versus Google: Biting the Android that feeds”. To quote parts of it: “Considering how much Android has benefited the Cyanogen developers, one might think the company would owe Google a debt of gratitude; without Android, there is no CM. However, not only has Cyanogen publicly railed against the platform’s licensing terms, its CEO, Kirt McMaster, actually began a recent speech (at The Information’s “Next Phase of Android” event) by stating that “we’re attempting to take Android away from Google.””

This Microsoft-funded effort to derail Android is further crticised as follows: “An old aphorism goes something like, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” By maligning Google so vehemently, and seemingly ignoring the larger corporation’s work in building up the popularity of Android — not to mention creating the basis for its ecosystem — Cyanogen is playing a dangerous game that seems born in arrogance: its perceived success, and apparent high valuation, may have given its principals the notion that they can do no wrong.”

Microsoft is now doing to Samsung something similar, based on some reports. It is the latest of many Microsoft-backed attempts to disrupt Android using another party. As a Red Hat-run site serves to remind us, “OnePlus ditches CyanogenMod” around the same time Microsoft funding was revealed and following Microsoft’s hijack of Yahoo the company continues its rapid collapse (it has become a proxy for Microsoft’s search efforts, even in the UK, not just in the US).

What saddens us the most is that Canonical is seemingly fine with Microsoft’s abuses as long as Microsoft pays some money. It’s a bit like Novell, but not quite as insidious.

It is not hard to see what Microsoft is really up to here. Watch an article titled “Microsoft’s Trojan horse strategy to rule the world”, written by Microsoft partner and propagandist Tony Bradley (we wrote about him many times before because of his anti-GNU/Linux articles which exempt disclosures of his ties to Microsoft). The way he put it the other day is quite revealing. He is no ordinary writer, he has been a Microsoft mouthpiece for quite a few years and Microsoft works with him. “Brilliant strategy” he called the Trojan horse strategy (see subheading), noting that “By integrating cloud services and expanding the availability and influence of Office, Microsoft is (not so) secretly extending its dominance to rival platforms.”

The “Trojan horse” part says: “The world where Microsoft has a monopoly or pseudo-monopoly on any platform or technology has all but disappeared. The new reality is a multi-device, multi-platform world. Any attempt to paint customers into a corner and lock them into a specific platform or device is essentially suicidal.

“Microsoft’s new strategy takes a sort of “Trojan horse” approach to ruling the world once again. It can’t make everyone use Windows PCs, and Windows Phone smartphones have claimed only a negligible slice of the mobile device market. By freeing customers to use Microsoft tools on other platforms and devices, though, Microsoft will continue to be a dominant force — even on rival platforms like Android and iOS.”

Fernando Cassia, former journalist with The Inquirer (UK), told us in Twitter (using hastags) that #TheCloudIsTheAPI #FogComputing (our made-up term for “cloud”).

Microsoft does not “love Linux”, Microsoft hopes to “engulf Linux” while a sufficient number of drooling observers believe PR pieces from Microsoft and its friends in the media.

We have been patiently waiting for the whole “Microsoft loves Linux” nonsense (in the Microsoft-leaning media) to end so that we can write a most comprehensive rebuttal to these latest veiled attacks. It is basically an attack on Android disguised as being about search, choice, competition, etc. Watch what ECT (“Linux Insider”) did the other day. Richard Adhikari, who produces many Android-hostile pieces for a number of years now, is still a propagandist without tact. He often quotes anti-Android factions regarding perceived security issues and now he asks Microsoft’s mouthpiece Rob Enderle for ‘analysis’ of Google. He should be slammed for having ECT (which paid Rob Enderle) give Enderle a platform again, with which to bash Microsoft’s competition (nothing in the article says that Microsoft paid him). Tabloid ‘journalism’ at its best? Making matters worse, ECT does not disclose that Rob Enderle used to work for them, regularly bashing Linux/FOSS for a salary!

This is basically just another noteworthy pattern of the attack on Linux and its backers, pushing the pro-Microsoft line and pushing the anti-Google angle. But there’s another angle to it — an angle which flooded the media this past week. There are many puff pieces (similar to press releases) like this one about Azure. Slashdot plays a role in it, propping up the narrative of “Microsoft loves Linux” and IDG, in the mean time, characterises PRISM surveillance and lock-in as ‘free’.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols once again gives Microsoft a soft treatment because Canonical is helping the Trojan horse in exchange for money. This has been covered by some GNU/Linux proponents, who wrote: “Canonical, through John Zannos, VP Cloud Alliances, has proudly announced today, February 19, that the first ever Microsoft Azure hosted service will be powered by Linux, Ubuntu more specifically” (all about self interest, as in Novell’s case, to the exclusion of externalities).

“Is Microsoft now providing journalists handouts to spread the lie that Microsoft loves Linux, FOSS, etc.?”The British and American media were quick to help Microsoft spread this misleading narrative, which made us wonder; Is Microsoft now providing journalists handouts to spread the lie that Microsoft loves Linux, FOSS, etc.? It smacks of that.

Here is one quote from the articles named here: “Bill Gates once chose the word “cancer” to describe the operating system, which competes with Windows.) But in the past year, especially since Satya Nadella became Microsoft’s chief executive, the company has taken several steps demonstrating a commitment to the open-source development model or its own tools and open-source tools assembled outside of Microsoft.”

No, hardly so. It has been a strategy of embrace and extend, before extinguish comes. Watch what things were selectively made “open source”. Microsoft is constantly attacking FOSS while trying to control it and take control of its direction, tying it to Microsoft’s proprietary software maze (Windows, Office, and so on).

GigaOm, which was paid by Microsoft for secret (undisclosed, embedded in article content) ads, continues to openwash the company with this widely-cited article. We asked Om Malik, “how much does Nadella bribe you now?” He did not respond (it has been days since we asked).

“Microsoft says 20 percent of all VMs running on Azure run Linux,” according to the article, but is that actually good news? No, it’s not. Remember that Microsoft treats GNU/Linux as patent infringement. Here is another article about it. Microsoft is now controlling, putting under surveillance and already taxing GNU/Linux. Microsoft propagandists and “MVPs” like Rod Trent won’t bother pointing that out and neither will Microsoft propaganda sites with strong connections to Microsoft, e.g. [1, 2]. They are openwashing this nasty thing called Azure as though they’re under orders to coordinate a PR campaign in the media. See Mary Jo Foley doing her thing along with Microsoft networks [1, 2], Microsoft-funded sites, Microsoft boosters like Adrian Bridgwater, and Microsoft-funded networks such as UBM and IDG [1, 2]. This misinformation war managed to even ‘leak’ out of Microsoft’s controlled press, e.g. this one from Forbes and some lesser Microsoft-friendly sites such as AOL, etc. etc. etc.

The latest openwashing of Microsoft often cites acquisition of two proprietary software companies that will be used versus FOSS — companies such as Revolution Analytics and Cyanogen (partial ownership). This openwashing of Microsoft requires a high degree of gullibility or intentional (malicious) desire to mislead.

The other day we spotted Microsoft booster Darryl K. Taft propping up the Microsoft-connected Black Duck. He wrote this:

The Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year are selected irrespective of commercial motivations.

No, Black Duck is selecting partners that paid money, Microsoft for example.

Weeks ago we wrote that the openwashing of Microsoft is now threatening to eliminate the identity of Free software. Never mind the high cost of proprietary lock-in and back doors (see the new reports titled “Microsoft to double price of XP’s post-retirement support” and “Microsoft prepares for summer price hike”). Never mind the high costs passed to the taxpayers, as the story of the BBC serves to show (Microsoft infiltrated it). The BBC is still leeching off taxpayers to pay Microsoft, so it’s quite a relief to learn from the BBC that “Windows Media [is] becoming too expensive to operate, Mr Scott said.”

If Microsoft is now an “Open Source company” and a company that “loves Linux” as some of the press wishes us to believe, then how come none of the company’s big products became Open Source? How come the only things that are being openwashed are mechanisms for selling proprietary software?

02.17.15

Intel Continues to Attack Software Freedom Through UEFI

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Hardware at 5:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UEFI logo with monopoly

Summary: The Trojan horse that Microsoft uses to cement its monopoly on desktops and laptops (making it hard or impossible to install and run GNU/Linux) is also being misused to block Coreboot

LAST WEEK we saw numerous reports about UEFI being used to attack, impede — or whatever one wishes to call it — Coreboot. It’s an attack on computing freedom at the very core, but given the long history of Intel crimes, we were hardly shocked by it. We included relevant links in our daily links, but citing [1], the biggest UEFI apologist writes [2] that this is justified in the name of ‘security’, erroneously assuming that it was ever about security rather than domination and control over the user. We have already shown, on numerous occasions in fact (even earlier this year), that UEFI achieves the very opposite of security, enabling even remote bricking of entire motherboards (Intel seems more interested in intel’ agencies than in actual purchasers of hardware). As the apologist is cited by FOSS sites we just thought it is worth pointing out again. People whose job is to write code for UEFI (and a lot of money is being paid for this) have a bit of an undeclared conflict of interest when writing about UEFI.

One solution, as we have pointed out before, is to avoid UEFI, which still helps Microsoft attack GNU/Linux. One effective way to achieve this is to boycott Intel, which deserves a boycott for many other reasons (much bigger and more compelling reasons than this).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. How Intel and PC makers prevent you from modifying your laptop’s firmware

    Even if you’re rocking the most open of open-source operating systems, chances are your laptop isn’t really that “free,” betrayed by closed firmware binaries lurking deep within the hardware itself.

    Modern UEFI firmware is a closed-source, proprietary blob of software baked into your PC’s hardware. This binary blob even includes remote management and monitoring features, which make it a potential security and privacy threat.

    You might want to replace the UEFI firmware and get complete control over your PC’s hardware with Coreboot, a free software BIOS alternative—but you can’t in PCs with modern Intel processors, thanks to Intel’s Boot Guard and the “Verified Boot” mode PC manufacturers choose.

  2. Intel Boot Guard, Coreboot and user freedom

    PC World wrote an article on how the use of Intel Boot Guard by PC manufacturers is making it impossible for end-users to install replacement firmware such as Coreboot on their hardware. It’s easy to interpret this as Intel acting to restrict competition in the firmware market, but the reality is actually a little more subtle than that.

    UEFI Secure Boot as a specification is still unbroken, which makes attacking the underlying firmware much more attractive. We’ve seen several presentations at security conferences lately that have demonstrated vulnerabilities that permit modification of the firmware itself. Once you can insert arbitrary code in the firmware, Secure Boot doesn’t do a great deal to protect you – the firmware could be modified to boot unsigned code, or even to modify your signed bootloader such that it backdoors the kernel on the fly.

02.14.15

Microsoft’s Latest Lock-in Strategy in Detail, Now Exploiting the Public Sector and Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s ‘free lunch’

Green chillies

Summary: Parasitical plot and subversive acts that strive to make people inadvertently dependent on proprietary software/spyware from Microsoft are now piggybacking taxpayers-funded institutions and Free software

SEVERAL YEARS ago many in the UK were up in arms over the BBC’s exclusion of GNU/Linux and promotion of Microsoft lock-in. It happened after many employees from Microsoft UK had occupied key positions in the BBC.

According to this new report from the British media: “The BBC’s Audio Factory goes live today, bringing with it the end of streaming audio over Windows Media.

“The broadcaster flagged the demise of Windows Media last year, when it also announced Audio Factory, a streaming tool delivering audio in the AAC codec over http. Audio Factory aims to standardise Auntie’s audio delivery practices and infrastructure.

“As of today, the Beeb says Audio Factory will carry “11 national services, six Nations services and 40 local radio stations”.”

Citing our analysis of Microsoft entryism in the BBC, Soylent News wrote: “As Roy Schestowitz has pointed out repeatedly at TechRights, there has been an incestuous revolving door thing going on between the Beeb and Microsoft, so this is a noteworthy step.”

But there is also some bad news. It turns out that in the mean time Microsoft lock-in infects national records in the US. As Mr. Updegrove put it, “Library of Congress “Opens Up” with (wait for it…) OOXML”. Talk about making data obsolete!

Last week, the Library of Congress announced that it will “open up with OOXML.” Nine new OOXML format descriptions will be added to the LoC Format Sustainability Website.

Last July, the U.K. Cabinet Office formally adopted ODF, the OpenDocument Format developed by OASIS and adopted by ISO/IEC, as an approved open format for editable public documents. It did not give the same approval to OOXML, another XML-based document format that was based on a contribution from Microsoft to ECMA, another standards organization. OOXML was also in due course adopted by ISO/IEC. The Cabinet Office decision came ten years after the largest standards war of the decade was launched by a similar, but later reversed, decision by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

As that war heated up, both sides (ODF was supported by IBM, Oracle, Motorola, Google and others) recruited as many allies as they could. One of those recruited by Microsoft was the U.S. Library of Congress.

Not too long ago Microsoft was trying to get people ‘hooked’ on Microsoft surveillance search, but this surely failed. As a new report puts it, “Microsoft is effectively killing off the Windows with Bing notebook market less than a year after it was created.”

It sure looks like Microsoft is now relying on sticking its lock-in right inside Android, but it’s likely to be done via Samsung, Cyanogen, Nokia, Facebook, or even Amazon (where many Microsoft executives moved to). Microsoft also tries to make Free software dependent or tied to OOXML.

Microsoft has not changed. If may have only morphed into more of a mole, embedded itself more deeply into the fabric of its competition.

Obsession With Branded Bugs in Free Software, Not Bugging by Proprietary Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security at 4:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Discussions revolve around brands, not objectivity

Rebranded

Summary: The bogus ‘debate’ about bugs, where built-in bugs (like wiretapping, bugging, and back doors in proprietary software) are conveniently overlooked

DESPITE acknowledging that Free software is more secure than proprietary software, Veracode recently turned opportunistic. It was using bugs with "branding" to promote itself and it wasn’t alone.

“FOSS has some bugs, whereas proprietary software is a bug.”Several opportunistic firms, including Black Duck, are appearing in the press again, exploiting “branding” of few bugs in FOSS to sell proprietary stuff. Veracode is again doing it and Black Duck’s latest FUD piece is resurfacing yet again, as very recently noted by us after its placement had been pushed by IDG — an extensive network which gives this proprietary firm a platform as author on FOSS matters. “Black Duck Software presents 5 tips for a secure enterprise relationship with open source,” says IDG, but since when is Black Duck an authority in the area? It’s a proprietary software firm.

FOSS has some bugs, whereas proprietary software is a bug. It’s bugging. We recently wrote about Outlook being ousted as a surveillance platform and amid revelations about the NSA’s spying on EU Parliament Outlook (the ‘app’) is reportedly banned. To quote a British report: “The EU Parliament has blocked politicians from using the Microsoft mobile Outlook app in the wake of security and privacy concerns centred on the siphoning of corporate credentials to a third party, according to reports.

“The Parliament’s IT department, DG ITEC, has reportedly told staff to delete the app and reset corporate email passwords if it was used.”

Nevertheless, the jingoistic Microsoft Peter (Peter Bright) tries to paint Microsoft as “cool” while it is “shutting down a[nother] competitor” as a source put it to us, citing this article:

Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed its purchase of mobile calendar app Sunrise.

This will immediately become a PRISM-included surveillance app. Reading reports about it helps show that the security issue is proprietary software, especially Microsoft’s (the NSA’s top ally). It oughtn’t be so shocking that Black Duck, which is strongly connected to Microsoft, would hastily and repeatedly overlook Microsoft’s ill effect on software, turning software into bugs, wiretapping everyone.

02.11.15

Microsoft’s Mole Strategy Against Free Software Spreads OOXML, Surveillance, Other Malice to the Real, Potent Alternatives

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Microsoft Trojan horse spreads ‘diseases’ like OOXML

Trojan

Summary: Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) is being disrupted by Microsoft from the inside, using the same people who used to openly attack FOSS and now keep a lower profile

TECHRIGTHS is distrubed (albeit not entirely surprised) to see that some people still fall for the “Microsoft loves Linux” (or FOSS) nonsense, which has become a hallmark of Microsoft's latest strategy against FOSS. There are many names for such a strategy. “Killing With Kindness” is one such names and it is often used in foreign policy by the occupier (or an occupying army).

“This is an assault disguised as love.”Last night a reader called iophk showed us more of Microsoft’s (strong NSA ally) ambitions to grab hold of people’s RAM, CPU etc., not just software and data. Microsoft is “pushing lock-in on the files themselves, not just their encoding format,” wrote iophk, sharing this report about Bing bribes (Microsoft has offered many bribes to promote Bing over the years). They are trying to get more data stuck in OOXML, which Microsoft bribed and corrupted officials for. There is no altruism here, only crime.

Doug Mahugh, who was part of these crimes for OOXML (we wrote a lot about him around 7 years ago), is now “Lead Technical Evangelist @ Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.” (a Microsoft proxy and mole inside FOSS) based on his Twitter profile. So the same crooks who spent years attacking FOSS are now in “Microsoft Open Technologies”, eh? Watch this timeline of tweets of his. See how Mahugh is promoting the infamous “embrace and extend” of FOSS in various projects, including in Moodle. This is an assault disguised as love. The goal of infiltrating Moodle, for example, is to make teachers and children dependent on OOXML since a relatively young ago. If these teachers and children turn to Google they will at least use OpenDocument Format (ODF), which Google and Android have begun embracing.

Speaking of infiltrations, Cyanogen is a rogue company that is now used by disruptors of Android other than itself, not just Facebook and Nokia but also Amazon, which has disrupted Android since many managers from Microsoft joined its Kindle division (we covered this years ago). Cyanogen is now acting like a Microsoft proxy and one new report says:

Cyanogen, the startup behind the popular aftermarket firmware CyanogenMod, is reportedly seeking investors that are willing to bet on it wresting control of Android from Google.

Rumours have been circulating for months that Yahoo, Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft may be keen on taking a stake in Cyanogen. More recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft was interesting in participating in a $70m funding round that would value Cyanogen at hundreds of millions of dollars, following two rounds last year in which it raised a total of $30m.

Now, a report in Recode has added fuel to the fire, with the publication’s sources saying Cyanogen has talked to “a broad range of companies,” including both Amazon and Microsoft, as it seeks to establish an Android ecosystem that’s not controlled by Google.

Also distrurbing is what happens to Raspberry Pi. In response to what someone wrote about Microsoft influence in Raspberry Pi the official Twitter account pf Raspberry Pi offered nothing but insults and sarcasm, not true reassurance that Microsoft has no influence in Raspberry Pi (foundation) after months of collaboration (and most likely payments).

“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President

02.07.15

Parasitical Firms Like Black Duck Exploit Bugs With Branding to Market Nonfree Services/Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Security at 4:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Skulls

Summary: Parasites that take advantage of public panic and lack of comprehension are occupying paper space, as usual

LAST WEEK we wrote about the overblown threat called/dubbed “GHOST” (all capital letters) by the company seeking to make money from it despite being only the third to discover it and knowing it was not much of a big deal. We have not yet heard about any major exploit, which pretty much can be said about the OpenSSL bug as well (this one too was discovered by two entities before a Microsoft-connected firm irresponsibly publicised it, giving it a name and a logo to sell its own services and spread FOSS-hostile FUD for many months to come). What unifies the GLibC and OpenSSL bugs is that they got “brand recognition” very quickly. It was like a marketing campaign rather than a non-alarmist discussion about security — something that non-technical/technically-illiterate journalists would surely fail at.

“As more stories are published in the media about big “hacks” (cracks) against large corporations we can’t help but feel that the media neglects to mention that Microsoft Windows — not OpenSSL or Bash, let alone GLibC — is usually to blame.”Days ago we saw the most FOSS-hostile IDG Web site becoming a platform of Black Duck, a Microsoft-connected firm that sells proprietary software by spreading and accentuating fear of FOSS. The article at hand uses bugs with “branding” to spook FOSS users while Black Duck, paying to publish this self-promotional press release on the same day, is still pretending to be an authority in FOSS.

The bugs with “branding” were also exploited by Veracode in this article (on the same day) and as Eric Lorenzo pointed out: “If businesses don’t update legacy software, often they will will have bugs fixed in later versions! Shock!”

“I wonder what percentage of businesses are using obsolete Windows without updates,” he added.

As more stories are published in the media about big “hacks” (cracks) against large corporations we can’t help but feel that the media neglects to mention that Microsoft Windows — not OpenSSL or Bash, let alone GLibC — is usually to blame. It not only sports back doors but is also badly designed and won't patch known critical holes. It is basically designed to be not secure.

When it comes to reporting on computer security, the corporate press has almost zero legitimacy. All it knows is brands and it is eager to promote corporate partners that piggyback those brands (like “heartbleed”) or stories (Anthem, Sony, etc.), claiming to be experts and offering remedies other than patches which were already issued and are free to apply by all.

02.02.15

OLPC Lessons Not Learned: Imposing Microsoft Windows on Young Students Using Embrace, Extend and Extinguish of Raspberry Pi

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Raspberry Pi offers help or extends an olive branch to Microsoft despite the long-known pattern of Embrace, Extend and Extinguish (EEE)

Raspberry Pi is an exciting British project that resembles OLPC in many ways. It targets young people (albeit not exclusively) and it is very affordable. Coupled with the UK-based ARM it enables students to learn and build real computers as opposed to memorisation of menu items in proprietary software or purchasing of ‘i’ devices which are so rigid that they are virtually useless for education. Many people here in Britain purchase Raspberry Pi in order to improve their technical skills, to experiment, to learn. These values are almost antithetical to proprietary software. Moreover, proprietary software tends to be expensive (especially in the long term), so it is too prohibitive for public sectors. Unless the goal of the public sector, especially education, is to create customers for corporate clients, it makes absolutely no sense to spread Windows, Office, etc. That’s why OLPC antagonised both Apple and Microsoft (offers of ‘gratis’ operating systems) until it gave up, removed these defenses, and died quickly thereafter (downward spiral and mass resignations).

Raspberry Pi should be careful not to repeat OLPC’s mistakes by associating in any way with Microsoft. It follows a similar and highly reminiscent direction right now, choosing a disturbing mode of operation that neglects core values and goals of the project. Raspberry Pi compromises where it oughtn’t and Eben Upton wastes time speaking with Microsoft right now, repeating the mistakes of OLPC as if OLPC never happened.

Most of the news [1-12] has been about the latest hardware from Raspberry Pi, but some sites play along with the Microsoft angle [13,14] (some look more like Microsoft press releases). What’s with all this Vista 10 propaganda in relation to Raspberry Pi? First, Vista 10 is not out; second, it’s hype; third, it lacks hardware support. Raspberry Pi is not strong enough for a bloated system from Microsoft; the same happened with OLPC and it wasted effort/focus of the project. OLPC and Raspberry Pi were supposed to be about education, programming/hacking etc. Clearly enough, and few can refute this, the proprietary spyware from Microsoft is not compatible.

Linux Veda wrote an article in response, starting with focus on the hardware. To quote: “Raspberry Pi needs no introduction. It’s a credit card size computer which can do a lot of things that your quad core desktop would do. The device is extremely popular among enthusiasts and developers. And the foundation that develops the device has announced the version 2 of the devices – Raspberry Pi 2.”

The article also says that Raspberry Pi “had been working with Microsoft for the last six months”. Embrace, Extend and Extinguish in action. It makes no sense unless Microsoft paid money for this distortion of the project. We would like to know how much money flow came from Microsoft and proxies like “Microsoft Open Technologies” to the Foundation (Raspberry Pi) because given the effort that went into Windows, it is possible that there were also monetary arrangements of some kind. We need transparency here.

Based on the reactions we see in social networks right now, Raspberry Pi faces a real risk as it may alienate the community and distract from important efforts that focus on education, not indoctrination for Microsoft’s profit and lock-in.

That Cyanogen is becoming a Microsoft tool is not shocking because Cyanogen has always been Free software-apathetic if not Free software-hostile. But we expected better from Raspberry Pi. 20+ years of dead companies due to “deals” and “partnerships” with Microsoft are apparently no strong and compelling enough a warning sign to Raspberry Pi. This is the time for Microsoft to dust off the “how we killed OLPC” files and pick them off the shelves. Raspberry Pi should have known better, having witnessed what Microsoft did to Nokia in recent years.

Gordon Fletcher from the University of Salford (just a couple of miles from our house) cited Techrights earlier today, writing that “Microsoft’s embrace of open source is driven by commercial practicality not principle”. To give some background: “Raymond’s “cathedral” is a thinly veiled reference to Microsoft’s absolute commitment to proprietary software development – a technocratic priesthood that kept the secrets within the temple. In 1999 a closed, proprietary approach was seen as the primary – if not the only way – to profit from software. This software business model followed the lead of computer hardware manufacturers, who would strive to “lock in” buyers to the firm’s ecosystem of products – compatible with each other but more often than not incompatible with those of other manufacturers.”

He ends by relating this to the Cyanogen move: “Open-source activists are correct to wonder whether Microsoft has more of the same planned: most of its current open-source manoeuvres such as investing in Cyanogen follow the same approach of previous acquisitions. The key difference is that software developed in the bazaar has developers and users who are passionate about the project. For them open-source software is not just a commodity to be bought and sold; whether there is any place for the cathedral in the bazaar is yet to be seen.”

As we wrote today and yesterday, this is not about embracing FOSS but about attacking Google with proprietary software (e.g. Office on top of Android).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Raspberry Pi 2 Released with Six Times the Power, Same $35 Price

    Raspberry Pi 2 is a new mini PC from the Raspberry Pi Foundation that follows in the footsteps on the previous devices, which has managed to take the world by storm.

  2. The Raspberry Pi 2 Makes A Big Difference Even For Web Browsing
  3. Raspberry Pi gets quad-core SoC, keeps $35 price

    The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B moves up to a 900MHz, quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU with 1GB RAM, and offers backward compatibility and the same $35 price.

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a much faster new version of the world’s leading community-backed, hacker-friendly Linux SBC. The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B moves from Broadcom’s 700MHz, ARM11 based Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-chip to a new quad-core Broadcom BCM2836 SoC clocked at 900MHz, and doubles RAM to 1GB.

  4. Raspberry Pi 2 review – not all the same

    We’ll be honest, when the Raspberry Pi 2 hit our desk in mid- January we were very excited to crack it open and try it out. From what we had been told this was basically the Raspberry Pi everyone had ever wanted, at least in terms of power. It was a bit of a have-your-cake-and-eat-it moment though, as we hooked up the board that was essentially a Model B+ and began using a very familiar Raspbian layout.

  5. Raspberry Pi 2 Goes On Sale, Includes A Quad-Core ARMv7 CPU

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced “Raspberry Pi 2″ today, a new powerful Pi which has the same form-factor and price ($35) as the old Model B+.

  6. Turbocharged Raspberry Pi 2 unleashed: Global geekgasm likely
  7. Raspberry Pi 2 Launches With Quad-Core ARM SoC
  8. Video: Raspberry Pi 2 Hands-On
  9. Raspberry Pi robot and hobby kit robot guide part 2
  10. Snappy Ubuntu Core Available For New Raspberry Pi 2 Mini PC

    With the launch of the new Raspberry Pi 2 today now equipped with a quad-core processor Microsoft has already announced that it will be making a version of its Windows 10 operating system available for free to the maker community.

  11. Raspberry Pi 2 arrives with quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM, same $35 price

    Three years after the launch of the first Raspberry Pi, second generation hardware will go on sale today for the same $35 price while offering a lot more power.

  12. New Raspberry Pi Has Quad-Core CPU, 1GB RAM

    Raspberry Pi was originally meant as a small, credit card-sized PC that students could use at school to learn device programming and engineering.

  13. Raspberry Pi 2 can run Windows 10, Ubuntu Core (and more)
  14. Raspberry Pi 2 launch: Six times faster with Windows 10 and Ubuntu support

    A major update to the credit card sized Raspberry Pi board is introduced, with a boost to the CPU and memory expected to help it run as a general-purpose PC.

01.30.15

European Unitary Patent and Court System in Trouble

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 5:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EU flag

Summary: New resistance to the Unitary Patent amid allegations of misconduct in the European patent authorities

OUR recent coverage of EPO abuses plays a role in derailing the Unitary Patent and 'harminised' court system (bypassing national laws in many nations), which is basically an open door to a lot of software patents and patent trolls. Our sources occasionally remind us that they can feel the impact and see the effect of reporting on the subject. Over at IPCopy we learn about the Unitary Patent’s latest and also take note of Spain’s challenge, which we first covered several years ago, back in 2011 and in 2010. “The Advocate General,” explains IPCopy, “released his opinions on the two Spanish challenges to the unitary patent system in November last year and in December there was much discussion online about the independence of the Boards of Appeal at the EPO.

“Anyone curious about whether the developments at the EPO might be relevant to the Spanish challenges to the unitary patent are encouraged to head over to Dr Ingve Stjerna’s website (link below) and read his latest paper ” Unitary patent and court system – Advocate General’s Statements of Position: Superseded by reality”.”

We are glad to see nations standing up to the EPO, which has corruption at the top. It goes well beyond authorisation of software patenting, which includes FRAND in Europe. OSI President Simon Phipps, writing that “FRAND Is Always Discriminatory”, says that he “participated in a study asking about the fairness, reasonableness and non-discriminatory nature of FRAND licensing in the context of licensing of patents in standards. I was surprised to find people there asserting there was no conflict between FRAND licensing and open source software. Here’s a simple explanation why that’s wrong.”

“Why patent licensing as a precondition of implementation of a standard cannot be non-discriminatory, on any terms,” he wrote in Twitter about his article, which also made it into corporate media.

It sure looks like the insidious side of the EPO, mostly attributed to managers in suits at the top floors (not scientists such as patent examiners), is being exposed for all to see. There is still chance for European democracy to be saved and sovereign laws (intended to preserve some level of justice) to be taken into account, not foolishly (and arrogantly) overridden.

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