“Greenwashing is the unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image, sell a product or a policy, or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy.” ~Source Watch
Summary: By bringing proprietary software from one proprietary platform (iOS) to another (Windows) Microsoft hopes to make people believe that it’s now ‘open’
A Microsoft tool for proprietary-to-proprietary conversion is being framed as “open” by the company looking to add more proprietary software to its proprietary platform using this non-proprietary tool. Everything is basically proprietary except this tool. Is this something to be celebrated? Does it make Microsoft “open”? hardly so. But be sure Microsoft boosters such as Microsoft Peter and The Verge (Bill Gates-connected) will use it to paint/portray Microsoft as “open”, aided by AOL, Venture Beat, The Register, and other Microsoft-friendly journalists, working for Microsoft-friendly networks.
If all that Microsoft can make “open” is some tool for promoting and spreading proprietary software, what does that say about Microsoft?
Watch Microsoft’s propaganda channel (Channel 9) trying to openwash Vista 10 and Visual Studio [1, 2, 3, 4] (both proprietary) (“Visual Studio 2015, Windows 10, and Open Source”). Who are they trying to kid? █
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“There’s no company called Linux, there’s barely a Linux road map. Yet Linux sort of springs organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it. That is, it’s free.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO at the time
Summary: Corporate media helps stigmatise Free/Open Source software as unsuitable for commercial use and once again it uses the ‘security’ card
SEVERAL days ago in our daily links we includes two articles that used the term “commercial software” (to mean proprietary software). Both cited Synopsys. It is amazing that even in 2015 there are some capable of making this error, maybe intentionally. Commercial software just means software that is used commercially. A lot of it is Free/Open Source software (the corporate media prefers the term “Open Source” to avoid discussion about the F word, “freedom”).
“Commercial software just means software that is used commercially.”Yesterday we found yet another headline which repeats the same formula (as if they all received the same memo), calling proprietary software “commercial software”, thereby reinforcing the false dichotomy and the stigma of Free software. “Looking at our Java defect density data through the lens of OWASP Top 10,” says Synopsys, “we observe that commercial software is significantly more secure than open source software.”
Another article from yesterday reminded us that Free software takes security very seriously and top/leading Free software projects are widely regarded (even by Coverity) as more secure than proprietary counterparts. Oddly enough, Synopsys links to a “Coverity Scan Open Source Report 2014″, not 2015, and the report is behind walled gardens, so it is hard to check if these headlines tell the whole story or just part of it. The analysis itself is done by proprietary software, whose methods are basically a secret. Go figure…
We recently saw some very gross distortions where security issues in proprietary software got framed as a Free software issues. As we have repeatedly demonstrated and stressed over the past years and a half, there seems to be a campaign of FUD, ‘branding’, and logos (the latest being targeted at Android/MMS) whose goal is to create or cement a damaging stereotype while always ignoring back doors and even front doors in proprietary software (now out in the open because of the British Prime Minister and the ringleader of the FBI). █
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“Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”
–Microsoft, internal document
Summary: At the CBS-owned ZDNet, which is Free/Open Source software-hostile, new FUD surfaces, but the FUD is so flawed that a full rebuttal is easy and almost imperative
Microsoft still chronically hates Free/libre software (especially classic copyleft) and it is desperately craving for some ‘dirt’ on it, no matter how hard it is to find. Microsoft propagandist (for nearly a decade now, or at least half a decade, both at CBS and at IDG) Mary Branscombe decided to pick on Free/libre software. The result is laughable. It’s a terrible piece. ZDNet, part of CBS, published this nonetheless. The editor (probably Larry) was apparently OK with that.
With fair use in mind, we are going to deconstruct everything in Branscombe’s article and show that it’s just a pile of baloney. Let’s start with the headline:
“Open source: Free as in speech, beer – or puppy?”
Not even original. Sun’s old CEO used this analogy (“puppy”) a very long time ago, before Sun defected to Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and got a new CEO. Branscombe is just copying or even ‘stealing’ the analogy without any attribution.
“It’s hard to give developers more control over how their work is used and still keep it open source.”
That’s an insane talking point. It’s like saying that the needs of the developers to oppress the users outweigh the needs and the interests of users. Branscombe encourages and advocates user-subjugating software. How ethical does it make her seem? Moreover, as we shall explain later, this affects all types of software, including proprietary software. It’s not a FOSS issue at all.
“When you put your code out under an open source licence, how much control can you expect over what it’s used for?”
Free software developers are developing because they want people to use their software. If Branscombe had spoken to any developers (even those of proprietary software), she would quickly realise that exercising control over the users is not the goal of these developers. Exploiting users is often the job (or the goal) of non-technical managers, who sometimes share users’ data with marketers, spies, etc.
“Open source has often been described as ‘free as in speech, rather than free as in beer’. Yes, it’s software that’s free to use, but the lack of a price tag isn’t always the main point.”
That’s quoting Richard Stallman without naming him. But to say that free software means “free to use” is to show lack of comprehension of his points. Free/libre software isn’t about “free to use”; the four freedoms which Stallman speaks about are what it’s really about.
“For some it’s about not being encumbered by limiting commercial licences or patents and royalties, for others it’s about the importance of being able to see and modify the source code of what they’re running (or distributing source so users can see it).”
By “commercial licences” she means proprietary licences. That’s a different thing. Regarding “patents and royalties”, this may inadvertently refer to software covered by the terms described under the text of the GPLv3.
The point about “distributing source so users can see it” is bizarre because visibility alone does not make software “Free software” or even “Open Source”. That’s just how Microsoft fraudulently openwashes a lot of its software. Branscombe helps this villainous mirage.
Now comes some of the more horrid stuff, as Branscombe probably believes that she kindly introduced FOSS in a fair and balanced fashion.
“And as I’ve long said, open source can also be ‘free as in puppy’; you take on the responsibility of care and keeping when you start to depend on open source software.”
Right, because nobody ever comes to depend on proprietary software? Whose stewardship and maintenance are both monopolised by people whose agenda differs from yours? This, if anything, is a point against proprietary software.
“You can run into problems if the project is no longer developed, or pulled suddenly when the company is bought by Apple and you discover you were using open source components that depended on a closed source core like FoundationDB, and that core is no longer available.”
Because proprietary software companies never get bought? Or discontinue a product? Oh, wait, they do. And often. If it’s Free software, then you can at least take charge or rely on others to take charge (e.g. forks or newly-created successors). Again, if anything, this is a point against proprietary software. Branscombe twists a problem with proprietary software as one exclusive to Free software. We saw other examples of that shameless spin very recently, as recently as one week ago.
“That makes it vital to always look carefully at the licence for open source software, especially if your business is involved (that’s part of the care and keeping of the free puppy).”
Right, because proprietary software licences never change? Or the EULA (see how Vista 10 trashes privacy this week)? You don’t even get to vote on or reject those. If a Free software project diverges from a licence in a way that people are opposed to, they can then fork while maintaining the more desirable licence. This, in turn, puts more pressure on the developer to obey the needs of the users. It keeps developers honest and obedient to their users; they cannot merely ‘occupy’ and thereby mistreat users. Isn’t that a positive thing in a moral society?
“But for some software developers, the free speech comparison is getting more relevant.”
The example she thus provides is irrelevant to free speech:
“Take the GIMP project, which stopped using SourceForge to distribute the Windows installer for its open source image editor in 2013, because of the ads that started appearing on the site featuring download buttons for alternative versions of the software.”
Advertising is not a matter of free speech and denying advertising is not a matter of free speech, either.
“GIMP left the site up because there were so many links to it online, but stopped updating the installers there. SourceForge deemed the product abandoned and started mirroring the releases from GIMP, but it also ‘experimented’ with wrapping the GIMP installer with adware.”
Therein lies the problem. Adware. It’s not just about ads on a page. It’s proprietary garbage that is not wanted and is improperly bundled.
“The GIMP team wasn’t happy (and SourceForge stopped wrapping the installer, although it didn’t stop mirroring it). But because GIMP is under the GPL and LGPL licences SourceForge did nothing wrong: those licences allow software to be repackaged.”
Nobody ever alleged that SourceForge had violated any software licences, so it’s unclear where Branscombe is going with this. No point is being made except the fact that developers can revoke endorsement (not distribution) of some piece of software if inappropriately packaged. GIMP developers packed up and moved. That’s a good thing. Some call it “free market”.
“Android tool developer Collin Mulliner was equally upset to discover that Hacking Team (an Italian company that sells surveillance tools to governments) had used his Android framework to build their Android voice call monitoring software.”
That is a licence violation. So what’s her point?
“”For the future I will use a license for all my software that excludes use for this kind of purpose,” he said in the blog he wrote to make it clear that he didn’t work on the Hacking Team tool. But that might be hard: writing a licence that lets people use your code freely means they can use the code for anything they want.”
But Hacking Team violated the terms of the GPL. Therein lies the main issue. Proprietary software would not have done any better at preventing use for malicious purposes, so how is this even relevant?
“Douglas Crockford famously added a line to his licence for JSON that said it couldn’t be used for evil (and just as famously said that IBM had asked for a variation because they couldn’t guarantee that their customers wouldn’t use it for evil).”
Is that a bad thing?
“Yes, the GPL has repeatedly been used in court, but mostly to force companies to comply with the rules about open sourcing their own code if they’ve published software based on GLP-licenced code.”
The typo/bad English aside (the verb has an “s” in it, but maybe this poor pieces was composed in a rush), is Branscombe trying to insinuate that honouring a licence is a bad thing?
“Commercial use is easier to police, but anyone who is going to use open source code for evil is unlikely to pay much attention to licences that say they can’t, and having people use your code for purposes you don’t approve of is pretty much the definition of free speech.”
Proprietary software (commercial software as Branscombe calls it) has exactly the same issues, so what is her point anyway? Where is that “free puppy” point ever coming into play?
“It’s going to take some careful writing of licences to give developers more control over how software they open source is used in the ways they want, without stopping the open uses they want to enable.”
Again, nothing to do with “Open Source” (Free software) at all. Branscombe takes an issue that applies to all software and frames it as one pertaining to Free software. But why? Just look at Branscombe’s history of badmouthing Microsoft’s competitors. █
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Fooling just the dummies?
Summary: Yet again, a new version of proprietary software from Microsoft is being grossly mischaracterised in order to give the illusion that it’s not all about Microsoft lock-in
THE world is changing and Microsoft is not prepared for this change. Free software (or “Open Source”, or FOSS) is gradually becoming a requirement in more and more places. In India, for example, the government moved toward adoption of FOSS, so Microsoft crushed policies, primarily by lobbying (both directly and by proxy). In some cases Microsoft simply pretends that it is now an “Open Source” company, or something along those lines, openwashing (characterising as “open” proprietary software) its ‘crown jewels’, e.g. Windows and Office (remember that OOXML stands for “Office Open XML”). We need to counter that, or else Microsoft will succeed at changing perceptions (making them all distorted and false). It’s about systematic, induced confusion and ultimately about making it hard to distinguish between FOSS and proprietary.
“It’s about systematic, induced confusion and ultimately about making it hard to distinguish between FOSS and proprietary.”One Microsoft advocacy site openwashes Microsoft because some people threw/slapped software that not many people are likely to find useful (not even Microsoft) at GitHub. Worse, however, is what Microsoft does yet again as a piece of proprietary software from Microsoft reaches a new version. We recently gave one example of that (the BI product) and now we see it in Visual Studio. We saw that done five years ago, earlier this year, and earlier this month. It’s a Big Lie.
Here is Microsoft’s official announcement. Phoronix did some Linuxwashing of Visual Studio and Microsoft Peter painted Visual Studio as an “Android, iOS, and even Apple Watch” thing. There are just two examples among many. There is also openwashing that typically latches onto .NET for weak support of the false insinuations. This is just proprietary software (compiler in this case, which makes it worse as it can potentially add back doors to compiled software).
Speaking of Windows, Microsoft, and Openwashing, watch Marius Maronilla (with a Windows-like avatar) marketing Windows as ‘free’, pretending that people choose GNU/Linux for price and that Free/libre is the same as gratis (the headline alone is calling it Linux, mistaking free for gratis, and assuming it’s all down to price). Propaganda efforts will likely escalate if not exacerbate in the coming days becase of the Vista 10 hype — a subject we shall cover in the next post. █
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“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source.”
Summary: The real patent battle is fought not in Congress (with corporate lobbyists) but in the courtroom, with a growing number of outcomes which are favourable to Free/libre software
SOFTWARE PATENTS are severely damaged in the US, especially following the Alice case (ruled by SCOTUS one year ago). The latest cases, which we covered this month, serve to show that software patents are dropping like flies in the courtrooms, even when landing on courts that are historically very friendly towards software patents.
“District courts used Great Atlantic to invalidate patents en masse, much like is done today after Alice,” Patent Buddy wrote the other day. Nevertheless, the corporate media focuses on other matters.
“It looks as though software patents are rapidly dying.”Joe Mullin has revealed that yet more software patents have just died and not a patent troll was behind them. “Rovi,” he explains, “provides digital entertainment guides to cable companies and others and has long used its patents to enforce its dominant position in the market. That strategy has come in for criticism, with Rovi’s patents being viewed as covering the basic idea of an electronic TV Guide. That was especially true when Rovi used its patents to go after Internet companies that wanted to make their own guides and not take Rovi content, like Hulu and Amazon.”
Well, these patents are now dead and Wall Street-centric media says that the company is downgraded. “Multichannel video programming distributors may face the same struggles in court,” says the author, “but those patents are less abstract than software patents, according to analysts.”
Mullin wrote also about Newegg (yet again), showing that it won a patent case that had been brought against it by TQP. “Two weeks after online retailer Newegg filed a petition complaining about “excessive and unreasonable” delays in getting a final judgment in its patent case,” explains Mullin, “the judge in that case has handed Newegg a big win.”
It looks as though software patents are rapidly dying. Every death of a software patents can become precedent for future cases involving software patents and the higher the court, the higher the impact. One lawyers’ site tries to frame this as a “troll” issue, talking about “the projected cost [7 billion dollars] of litigation filed by non-practicing entities, or patent trolls, in 2015.”
What about non-trolls (or very big trolls that the media won’t call “trolls”)? Some media circles are trying to tell us that Microsoft alone makes billions of dollars from extortion against Android alone. The main problem is the patents, not the entity asserting these patents.
Speaking of Google, which is an important example because Microsoft is still attacking it using patents (trying to force Android makers to bundle Microsoft software), there is a new effort to combat patents using prior art. As corporate media put it, “Google is bringing its search powers to bear in hopes of doing what Washington seemingly can’t — roll back a wave of abusive litigation from companies that, according to their critics, simply want to line their pockets with ill-gotten settlement money.” There are many articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. In the form of sourse code, not just publications, it ought to be possible to demonstrate prior art and invalidate a lot of software patents. There is plenty of prior art and duplication in the field of software because a lot of people are able to practice it (requires just a keyboard, no manufacturing).
“It sure looks like this whole cult of “IP” proves problematic not just for Free software but for software in general (monopoly on APIs for instance).”When patent maximalists (IAM) covered it they said Google’s “mission” it to “help raise quality standards”, but that’s nonsense. Google just doesn’t want this patent mess that is looming over Free software like Android. It’s not about “quality” of patents, it’s about patents. Google is still wrestling with Oracle (patents and copyrights) and as this new post put it a couple of days ago: “Out in the real world, the lawsuit between Google and Oracle is preparing to head back to a lower court after the Supreme Court said it would not take the case. At UC Berkeley yesterday, the repercussions of that decision were discussed, along with many other topics around patents and copyright law as they pertain to software, art and more.”
It sure looks like this whole cult of “IP” proves problematic not just for Free software but for software in general (monopoly on APIs for instance). Large proprietary software corporations such as Microsoft and Oracle are abusing so-called ‘IP’ to impede if not altogether destroy their emerging rivals. █
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Summary: The efforts to empower Microsoft’s APIs, even if by lies and strongarming
THE MEDIA, including Microsoft-connected sites, is openwashing Visual Studio right now [1, 2]. A mixture of misleading headlines and half-truths are the means. We recently showed a lot of Visual Studio openwashing [1, 2, 3]. This in itself is disturbing and it is part of a trend to watch out for.
Will Hill points out that “Something odd is happening between Oracle and Xamarin. Oracle is strong arming customers into “the cloud” with license audit threats. What’s really weird is psycho babble about Xamarin being some sort of force in mobile and that silly cloud stuff with millions of developers. As far as I remembered Xamarin was a nasty little Microsoft shell designed to keep Mono around after Novell collapsed (2).
“I’ve asked Christine Hall on G+ what she knows about Xamarin and Oracle. Oracle pushing their customers onto Mono sounds like a suicide pact to me.
“Maybe they were dumb enough to push C# tools onto their database used [sic].”
–Will HillRemember that Xamarin has been one of Microsoft’s tools for openwashing both .NET and Visual Studio.
“No response from Christine Hall yet,” Hill added today. “The name Xamarin left an unpleasant buzz in my head, so I did a Techrights search and remembered who they were. I thought, “that can’t be those Mono monkeys, they don’t do that.” Then I dug to the stock fraud site and, yep, that’s who they are talking about. There’s still room for it to be a typo, but I’d laugh and laugh if Oracle were to saddle their “cloud” with C# or Mono via Xamarin.
“Maybe they were dumb enough to push C# tools onto their database used [sic]. I’ve seen it in medical software because one of the vendors is a terminal Microsoft used.” [sic]
We shall update this post with any additional information or clarification. █
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Summary: CIO, a Web site of IDG, smears Microsoft’s competition by quoting sources that are closely aligned with and/or subservient to Microsoft
AN old ‘friend’, a branch of Microsoft AstroTurfing ‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’, has just reared its ugly head again with help from IDG‘s “CIO” (a misleading site name). Consumer Watchdog is not a watchdog and it’s not for consumers. IDG should know better than that by now. Consumer Watchdog is an attack dog and a front group against Google. Right now it complains that Google is not censoring enough (as if censorship is a good thing). Remember that censorship is not privacy and “Consumer Watchdog” cares only about making Google look bad, it never cared about privacy at all.
To quote the nonsense from IDG’s “CIO” site (neglecting to correctly identify the messenger): “Consumer Watchdog will file a complaint against Google with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, said John Simpson, director of the group’s Privacy Project. The complaint will ask the FTC to rule that Google, by declining to delete search engine links on request from U.S. residents, is an unfair business practice that violates the U.S. FTC Act.”
‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’ has a Privacy Project? That’s just hilarious. That’s would be like BP forming a “green group”. Moreover, it is hilarious that IDG covers “privacy” and pretends that it cares about the concept because CIO, for example, based on NoScript, want to run a massive number of scripts on my machine from just about thirty different domains! Holy cow! The reader is the product and browsing habits are up for sale to so many entities at the same time. The same is true for other sites of IDG (there are many of them).
“The original source of that really bad scraper site is a CIO trash opinion piece,” wrote someone to us. IDG has become complicit in lobbying and AstroTurfing, whether it realises this or not.
Another new piece of garbage came from IDG only a short while ago, quoting XenSource (Microsoft-friendly as we have shown many times in past years) as some kind of authority on FOSS. This is again mischaracterising the messenger to give the messenger undeserved credibility. That’s like calling Richard Stallman an “open core” proponent. The headline boldly states that “open source business model is a failure” and the body belatedly adds vital context to this headline: “That’s the conclusion of Peter Levine, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm that backed Facebook, Skype, Twitter and Box as startups. Levine is also former CEO of XenSource, a company that commercialized products based on the open source Xen hypervisor.”
“…sites that pretend to offer ‘news’ often just treat readers (audience) as the product, selling the audience to the real client (the advertiser or agenda setter).”Levine is not a truly technical person and he ignores plenty of evidence that open source as a business model works, and often works very well. A lot of people can easily claim that the proprietary software business model is inherently flawed because very few proprietary software companies sell stuff (only a few giants do). A lot of those claiming that no open source business model can work also say FOSS is sexist, racist, not secure, brings licence/liceinsing risk, etc. — the very same things that can be said about proprietary software. If only 10% of Free/libre software companies manage to survive in the long term (based on level of sustainable income) it might not be any different, statistically, from their proprietary counterparts. The company my wife and I work for does manage to make income from Free/libre software development and maintenance. This company is far from the only one in Europe and many are doing very well. Proprietary software is not a business model. Free/libre software development is not a business model either. It’s modality of distribution/development. People buy services, not zeros and ones. For IDG to publish and republish misleading headlines like “Why the open source business model is a failure” is merely to provoke. For IDG to call ‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’ a “privacy group” (even in the headline) and to label censorship “right to be forgotten” is to reveal sheer bias. Remember that Microsoft is a huge client of IDG (advertising, IDC contracts and so on), so maybe we oughtn’t be very shocked by that. Here is a great new example of proprietary software advertment disguised as an article. It bashes Free/libre software as a whole, too, while promoting one particular piece of proprietary software in Computer Weekly.
Watch out what you read because there is plenty of agenda on sale everywhere. Moreover, sites that pretend to offer ‘news’ often just treat readers (audience) as the product, selling the audience to the real client (the advertiser or agenda setter). That’s their business model. Very unethical. █
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Summary: Black Duck uses gullible (or easy to manipulate) journalists to spread its marketing talking points, which grossly overstate risks of using Free software
THE Microsoft-connected firm Black Duck was started as an anti-GPL entity, by its very own admission. This firm which keeps openwashing itself at every opportunity is purely proprietary and it holds patents on software. So how can one be fooled into characterising it as “the open source vendor”, as this new article does? ChannelWeb calls it “open source”. That’s like calling a demolition company “builder”. This article is basically a container of typical FUD, not checked for accuracy but just parroted, based on the vendor’s claims (trying to sell its own proprietary software): “He said 80 per cent of enterprises using open source do not know what type of open source code they have, where it is located or if there are any vulnerabilities in it – something his firm’s offering helps with.”
What about vulnerabilities in proprietary software? Many of them cannot be fixed, they are not remediable. What about proprietary software licences? Have they decided to ignore what the BSA does to British businesses?
“Black Duck is just trying to make money by scaring businesses and making them dependent on proprietary snake oil.”ChannelBiz, at the same time (also in the UK) published similar nonsense which may suggest that Black Duck is quite probably pressuring British journalists to print (or reprint) Black Duck nonsense. Here is how the latter put it: “Bland said that while nearly 80 percent of enterprise companies are using open source, a majority acknowledge that they don’t know what open source code they have, where it is located, or if it has known security vulnerabilities. And few, he said, have any open source management processes.”
Taking points again. Not even an independent study.
Black Duck is an ugly parasite that should be shunned by the Free software community. Black Duck is just trying to make money by scaring businesses and making them dependent on proprietary snake oil. █
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