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04.03.15

FUD Alliance: VeraCode Co-founder Joins Black Duck

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Security at 5:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rusted

Summary: Two sources of fear uncertainty and doubt (FUD) against Free/Open Source software (FOSS) find themselves fused together

THE firm known as Black Duck recently admitted its roots in GPL FUD, not just in Microsoft (the founder's employer for many years). Black Duck recently took advantage of perceptions of FOSS security issues (using bugs with “branding”) to market its proprietary software products. A press release now informs us that VeraCode’s co-founder is joining Black Duck. We wrote about Veracode at Techrights several times before. Black Duck and Veracode have much in common, with examples such as security FUD that has “branding” to act as a stigma against Free software, as we recently (earlier this year) saw (both Black Duck and Veracode have been doing this in recent months). We are sure they’ll have a lot of experiences to share and many strategies to sell based on fear, or even create this fear by appearing in the media with famous brands such as “GHOST”, “Shellshock”, and “Heartbleed”.

04.02.15

Governments Adopt Free Software and Standards, So Microsoft Distorts the Press for Propaganda and Lies About Microsoft’s Proprietary ‘Products’

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s lobbying apparatus is trying to hook entire nations into PRISM (i.e. NSA espionage) with proprietary Microsoft formats and proprietary software, especially now that nations have policies in place and Free software available which renders Microsoft obsolete

DESPITE Microsoft’s gross behaviour and sheer influence in the Indian government, the Government of India recently managed to pass new laws in relation to software, making Free software a necessity (to what degree depends on the article one trusts the most, as there have been at least a dozen of them in English). This makes perfect sense for a software powerhouse like India. It would benefit local industries. India can be self-sufficient in the software sense.

Meanwhile, here in the UK the government managed to pass pro-ODF policies, despite lobbying by Microsoft, its proxies, and its British partners. We covered this last year and we played a role in giving feedback to the government, at the expense of many hours and as much as one day’s work. We now have what can be cautiously labelled Free software-friendly procurement policy even in the UK, which has historically been one of the most Microsoft-friendly countries in the world.

“We now have what can be cautiously labelled Free software-friendly procurement policy even in the UK, which has historically been one of the most Microsoft-friendly countries in the world.”Microsoft is of course not accepting defeat. It is now pretending to be “Open Source”, starting with lies about the status of .NET, accompanied by concealment patent issues (as with OOXML) and openwashing of Visual Studio — an integral part of .NET — even though it’s a mischievous distortion of facts. Microsoft pretends to be “Open Source” because it wants a loophole into government contracts even where governments strictly require Free software and open standards. A new article by Liu Qihao & Ciaran O’Riordan highlights the reality behind so-called ‘Open Source’ .NET. The instruction states:

Microsoft is publishing the source code to certain parts of .NET. The terms of distribution (the licence) is the combination of the MIT licence and a separate patent promise. Given that Microsoft has a history of aggressively using software patents against free software, we decided to take a look at the legal details.

The conclusion is as follows:

If you only intend to use the software as published by Microsoft, then everything looks fine. The patent promise (if it’s even necessary) will apply. If you intend to modify the code, then the protections of the patent promise may be necessary or useful and you should take care. And if you’re looking for a project to contribute to, then it would be worth giving your preference to projects which don’t contain conditions which create or suggest patent risks if the code is used in other free software projects (outside of the set of .NET Runtime projects).

So it’s basically false marketing, as one should expect from Microsoft. The Economist has just released a horrible Microsoft puff piece (more like an advertisement in article form), misleadingly titled “Opening Windows”. Opening, really? As in “Open Source”? The article, written in Redmond, says: “At an event in San Francisco last October Mr Nadella showed a slide that read: “Microsoft loves Linux”. In contrast, Mr Ballmer once called the open-source operating system a “cancer”.”

Paul Krill, a Microsoft-friendly writer (for many years now), has meanwhile published “Windows goes open source?” (not April’s Fool). Paul Krill consciously (or not) helps Microsoft openwash Windows, pretending there are such legitimate claims as policies in governments change to require “Open Source”.

What we have here is a misinformation campaign. You love Open Source? Then you will love Microsoft. That’s the (almost) daily message from your Microsoft-affiliated and at times Microsoft-bribed friends (acting as ‘reporters’).

Here in the UK our government is apparently so dumb that even when it adopts ODF as the editable documents standard and asks for Free/Open Source software it remains stuck with the prospect of blobs from Microsoft. Regarding an article that seeks to associate Microsoft with ODF, iophk told us: “In practice it is unlikely that it will actually comply with the standard.”

This relates to statements like this one from Linda Humphries, titled “Making document formats open, it makes them better” (the same applies to software, not just data).

Francis Maude has just met (i.e. lobbying) with a Microsoft liar, Michel Van der Bel (see her mentioned in this older post). Microsoft pretends that it can deliver ODF support and that therefore the government’s requirement (ODF) and preference (Free software) should be compatible with Windows and Office. To quote the article: “Stanchak said Cabinet Officer minister Francis Maude met with Microsoft’s UK country manager, Michel Van der Bel, to discuss the company’s work on open standards to enable universal document access across government departments.

“Maude said the use of ODF will deliver significant savings to the public sector.

“”This will give people more choice about the software they use. This supports our digital by default agenda, which is helping save citizens, businesses and taxpayers £1.2bn over this Parliament as part of our long-term economic plan,” he said.

“The update comes despite Microsoft arguing last year that its own Open XML file format is more widely adopted than ODF and therefore should be on the government’s approved format list.”

So Microsoft attacked ODF and now it wants to be part of ODF. Is that how it works? The UK government should shun Microsoft. As this other new article reminds us: “In 2014, Microsoft went against the government’s request to support ODF, claiming its own XML format was more heavily adopted. The UK government refutes the claim, stating that ODF allows users to not be boxed into one ecosystem.”

Microsoft now pretends otherwise. More lies from Microsoft UK, an opportunist with NSA connections. The British government’s decision on office suites (if they’re needed at all) shouldn’t be about picking a ‘cloud’; it would be a privacy farce. If the government was ever to adopt Microsoft ‘cloud’ (i.e. NSA PRISM with that glorified ‘cloud’ buzzword which appeases non-technical people), would it be sued by any British citizens for supporting espionage by foreign spies? A lot of personal data is being encoded and stored in such documents. In the past, for NSA to acquire data/files from Office it needed to use Microsoft’s Windows back doors. With Office 360 [sic.] it’s becoming trivial. Microsoft is in PRISM.

The British government needs to adopt Free software such as LibreOffice and stop wasting time being lobbied by the company that attacked open standards and Open Source software like no other company in the history of computing.

03.27.15

Microsoft Keeps Pretending to be ‘Open Source’, Despite Relentless Assaults on Open Source

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security at 8:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is ‘open’ like BP is ‘green’ (openwashing follows greenwashing tactics)

BP old logo

Summary: Microsoft’s charm offensives against Free/libre software are proving to be rather effective, despite them involving a gross distortion of facts and exploitation of corruptible elements in the corporate media

SIX days ago we published a series of six articles which are listed in order below:

The issue discussed in part 1 receives a lot of media attention, even from corporate media (in this case, GOP-leaning media). To quote one such report: “The feature we’re concerned with is called Secure Boot, and it’s designed to protect you: The installed OS becomes locked to the hardware itself, and if any other OS attempts to interfere (like a low-level malware app for example) then the system simply won’t start up. OEMs were ordered to make Secure Boot optional with Windows 8 but it looks like they are going to be given the opportunity to make it mandatory in Windows 10.”

“Microsoft is pretending to be Open Source because of new policies that require procuring Open Source software, e.g. in India.”What the corporate media gets wrong is the part about security. It’s not “designed to protect you”. In fact, much of the recent press coverage serves to show that UEFI reduces security in many cases. Some media sites/conglomerates such as IDG already explained (last year) how it can be used for remotely bricking PCs (pretty much at hardware level). We have covered several examples over the past 3 years, so evidence continues to mount. IDG’s Microsoft booster Andy Patrizio wrote: “I suspect if you are smart enough to use Linux, you are smart enough to shut off Secure Boot in the UEFI.”

That’s not an excuse. It also perpetuate myths about GNU/Linux being “hard to use”. “Still,” he continues, “it’s a PR hit for Microsoft, a company that has been earning a lot of goodwill lately.”

That’s utter nonsense as well. As pointed out in part 6 above, Microsoft just manipulates the media (or relies on boosters like Patrizio) to make it seem as though it changed its attitude. As we’ve pointed out in 3 recent articles, there are changes in tendering processes worldwide. Microsoft is pretending to be Open Source because of new policies that require procuring Open Source software, e.g. in India. Yesterday KV Kurmanath planted a Microsoft puff piece in The Hindu Business Line, relaying the bogus narrative of Microsoft as “Open Source”. People must react and counter these lies or else Microsoft will become indistinguishable from Free/libre software, based on a reality-distorting campaign. Microsoft already pretends that Windows, its common carrier, is 'Open Source' or something along these lines.

03.24.15

The Latest Microsoft Attacks on GNU/Linux and Free/Libre Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BreakingSummary: Microsoft is still hiding behind the façade of ‘love’ whilst actively attacking GNU/Linux and Free software from many directions

THE Times of India has this borrowed article which says “Windows and Office are about to get much, much more complex, confusing, and expensive” (anyone with enough experience ought to have foreseen or known this).

Windows becoming ‘free’ is a lie (we have covered lies about the cost of Vista 10 in [1, 2, 3]) and it’s easy to see why people were led to believe this. Microsoft is trying to slow down or halt migrations to GNU/Linux, which are already happening even in large numbers (in my daytime job, for example, we’ve migrated entire companies to GNU/Linux). Confusing people about cost would be quite effective a method, even if an extremely dirty method (it’s all vapourware/promises because Vista 10 has not been released yet, hence no risk of lawsuits for false advertising).

Maria Deutscher, a relatively new Microsoft propagandist (recall the time she published "Microsoft continues open source love affair") is openwashing Microsoft again with lots of nonsense and PR wrapped up in the form of an ‘article’ (more of an advertisement), adding to the nonsense from Microsoft marketing sites masquerading as “news”. They are trying to paint purely proprietary software as “open”. This is another kind of lie. It helps stall migrations to Free software such as Apache, Java, Drupal, GNU/Linux, etc.

Speaking of Drupal, which I deploy and support in my daytime job, watch Microsoft's partner Trustwave openly badmouthing it (yesterday’s ‘news’ resurrecting news from several months ago). The ‘newsflash’ from this Microsoft mouthpiece is that some people don’t patch Drupal, hence Drupal is supposedly at risk from a flaw patched nearly six months ago (the simple patch was made available as soon as the flaw was announced!). This is beyond FUD; it’s a lie and it is very shameless. Then again, Trustwave is a FUD firm, so why not target some gullible people who don’t comprehend security issues at a technical level? Why not borrow news from half a year ago, posting it afresh?

We recently covered a series of Microsoft lies in the “Microsoft hates GNU/Linux” marathon (on Saturday), wherein, in part 6 to be specific, we spoke about the media propaganda (Microsoft pretending to embrace FOSS and love Linux) and in part 1 we spoke about Microsoft’s blocking of FOSS operating systems, including GNU/Linux (a complete contradiction of Microsoft’s claims).

Well, the word is spreading regarding the lock-out of GNU/Linux as IDG says that “PC vendors may not have to include a Secure Boot toggle with Windows 10, making it harder for users to install alternative operating systems.”

Harder? How about impossible?

Here is another take on it which says: “The Secure Boot feature in Microsoft Windows 10 could make life difficult for users of Linux and other open source operating systems.”

No, it can make it impossible on particular machines. This is an antitrust matter and it should be raised as such as soon as possible.

This subject was already floated in Techrights’ IRC channel several times, with additional links on the subject. Addressing an optimistic response from Phoronix (quoted here the other day), Mark said that “this is a “boil the frog” thing… Microsoft is turning up the heat… they don’t have to make it impossible to boot Linux, that would attract attention from the DOJ… they’ll just keep making it more and more difficult.”

Balrog responded by saying, “expect low end stuff to be locked out, like the 7″ Zcer tablets…it’s stuff for which they don’t even bother to make a stable UEFI firmware.”

Mark then responded by quoting Michael Larabel as saying that “it’s not a nightmare scenario quite yet”, then adding, “that’s not very reassuring” (it’s actually a very bad scenario).

Responding to Larabel’s assumption that Microsoft might not revoke the Linux key he wrote: “Wow, that’s not something I can really count on” (not based on history anyway).

XFaCE told me some hours ago: “your recent Microsoft articles are excellent. I didn’t know Win 10 had no off secure boot requirement for OEMs, but we knew that would eventually happen. Even Nathan Lineback knew. Doesn’t take a genius.”

Jamie Watson, who recently complained about UEFI and Microsoft’s sabotage of multi/dual-boot setups (we covered it earlier this week), is right now complaining about it yet again and he provides details of what Microsoft is doing to his computer. To quote his summary: “As if wiping one of my disks weren’t enough, Windows Update has decided to go into a ‘reboot loop’ on my desktop Windows 7 system.” To quote him from the body of the article: “I know that I just posted a fairly long rant about Windows Update last week, and I don’t want this to turn into a blog called “Jamie’s Mostly ‘I Hate Windows’ Stuff”, so I am going to make this quite short and to the point. But I think it is important to post it, because it looks like I have experienced a problem that might specifically target people who are likely to read a blog such as mine.

“First, this problem affects my Lenovo T400 laptop, which I use with a docking station on my desk at home, and which is loaded with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and a variety of Linux distributions. It is not Windows 8, it is not UEFI boot, and it is not a GPT partitioned disk – it is a ‘plain vanilla’ (bog standard? could be appropriate for Windows…) Windows 7 MBR system.”

So Microsoft continues not only to hate GNU/Linux but also to sabotage it, leaving Mr. Watson having to do very complicated things merely to run GNU/Linux on hardware he bought. The vast majority of people can never do this, not even with detailed instructions.

If Microsoft really loves Linux, then it must be next Tuesday already (April 1st).

03.23.15

Microsoft-connected Black Duck Software Created by Microsoft Marketing Man as an Anti-GPL Operation, Admits the Management

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, Microsoft at 8:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Doug Levin

Summary: Black Duck “was founded [on] the idea … to keep GPL-licensed code out of corporate codebases entirely,” according to a new report

TECHRIGHTS has spent nearly a decade battling Black Duck. This schizophrenic-looking firm (trying to come across as pro-FOSS), Black Duck, is the very prominent (and well-funded) entity which has been a source of endless GPL FUD, claiming that the GPL is declining, that it is dangerous, and that it oughtn’t be embraced by businesses.

This new article from Jon Gold of the FOSS-hostile NetworkWorld happens to provide us with wonderful evidence of the roots and the original goals/raison d’être of “Black Duck” (black agent would be a more suitable name). The article is titled “Open-source’s former ‘police’ now helping businesses adopt” (the latter is pure marketing and acceptance of Black Duck’s claims at face value).

Black Duck, founded by a marketing guy from Microsoft (see the image above for highlights from LinkedIn), is mostly a marketing company. It was never ‘police’ and it was never an authority; it was a parasite pretending to be about FOSS while harvesting software patents, badmouthing Free software, and even ripping off companies like Palamida, which had done work — very time-consuming work — collecting usage figures regarding GPLv3.

Gold’s article is useful to us because of the very revealing part which says: “Executive Vice President and CTO Bill Ledingham said that when the company was founded the idea was to keep GPL-licensed code out of corporate codebases entirely.”

Right.

So Black Duck, which was founded by a guy from Microsoft, was acting more like a mole, nothing else. It was fighting copyleft adoption. No need for speculations or hypotheses anymore.

In a similar vein, Microsoft’s support for Cyanogen (do not be misled by retractions after getting caught) serves to show another mole-like strategy. This new article by Miguel Helft (to appear next month in Forbes magazine) reminds us of the real goal of Cyanogen. To quote the headline: “Meet Cyanogen, The Startup That Wants To Steal Android From Google”

This sounds exactly like what Microsoft itself has been trying to do to Android (often via or with help from proxies like Facebook, Nokia, or Amazon). Do not think for a moment that Microsoft never tried to derail and topple Free software from the inside. There is a long history to that effect and we covered many examples over the years.

03.21.15

Microsoft Hates Linux – Part VI – Propaganda Wars Against Free Software Facilitated While Media Control is Secured and Abused

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 2:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mind Control: To 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, internal document [PDF]

Summary: How Microsoft systematically lies to the public, including decision-makers and officials who can be tricked into choosing proprietary software, thinking it is in fact “open”

TODAY’S series of articles presents a reminder of where Microsoft really stands when it comes to GNU/Linux. One of Microsoft’s favourite (and paid by Microsoft for almost a decade) propaganda networks, GigaOM, is down due to lack of funds. This is one of those places where the “Microsoft loves Linux” nonsense was often shored up, but Microsoft cannot keep it up. They’re running out of channels and out of influence too. Moreover, given some very recent Linux-hostile moves, Microsoft will struggle to convince people that it loves Linux.

Owing to pointers and tips from readers, we now see IDG turning into a 24/7 Microsoft propaganda network as well. When IDG hired J. Peter Bruzzese for InfoWorld it helped show what a joke of a ‘news’ site it is (Microsoft ads almost every day [1, 2], including openwashing of Microsoft, republished in sister sites of IDG). Microsoft’s great strength is media control and it’s no secret. These IDG advertisement for Microsoft, more or less disguised as ‘news’, are a frequent occurrence now (almost as bad as CBS) and notice the blog’s name too. They encourage people to upload their personal data to Microsoft, the NSA’s top partner.

Meanwhile, as revealed to us by a tip, Microsoft’s booster Julie Bort writes “LEAKED” to mean “press release” or “public relations”. It is yet another puff piece/ad framed as “leak” for some extra attention or allure. Again, this is typical for Microsoft. Watch this other article titled “Microsoft leak shows plans for cloud-first Nano Server”.

It is a “”leak” as in press release,” tells us a reader, which is “also vaporware version n+1″. The reader alludes to Microsoft’s internal document [PDF] that states: “In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”

Microsoft already hypes up Vista 10 as well.

In other news, there has been plenty of openwashing in Microsoft sites. They try desperately to paint Microsoft as an open source company [1, 2] (truth be damned, they have an agenda). Referring to this publicity stunt from Microsoft, Martin in our IRC channels says that the “word “open” is just raped enough”.

No company has damaged the term “Open Source” like Microsoft has. The proprietary Visual Studio continues to be openwashed [1, 2] as the Microsoft-friendly writers keep saying the same thing over and over again (even if the news is from last year). Microsoft wants us to believe — wrongly — that almost everything from Microsoft is now ‘free’ and ‘open’ (OOXML, Windows, Visual Studio), but this could not be further from the truth. The spread of these Microsoft lies, even if with help from its boosters, is truly damaging to the Open Source brand. It devalues Open Source and confuses people who are not so technical but make big decisions.

Despite the fact that the Microsoft-paid (for propaganda) site GigaOM is down, its sibling site continues to be Microsoft’s megaphone, joining Microsoft boosters like Tim Anderson (bribed by Microsoft) and Microsoft boosting sites (sadly, Phoronix too did lip service to Microsoft, citing Microsoft PR and amplifying Microsoft PR sites like this one).

Microsoft embrace, extend, extinguish (EEE) strategy has expanded to more GNU/Linux-oriented projects (promoted, as usual, by Microsoft’s Mouth) and another puff piece from Sam Dean celebrates this while propping up the ‘new Microsoft’ myth/PR stunt. It’s all proprietary. To quote: “Microsoft has extended its cloud-focused support for Docker, adding Docker Machine to Azure and Hyper-V, and supporting Docker Swarm.” So Microsoft is basically trying to make something FOSS and GNU/Linux-oriented increasinglu dependent on proprietary software from Microsoft. Some great achievement, eh? Sam Dean has been doing other favours to Microsoft’s moles in FOSS as of late, which shows that the GigaOM network is down but not out (Ostatic is part of GigaOM).

Microsoft, which is still suing Free software using software patents, needs to pretend to be a FOSS company even if by lying. In India, for example, the government increasingly excludes proprietary software and this reportedly worries Microsoft a great deal. To quote some of the numerous articles about this, “most of them have been making an advance towards adopting open source technology. While Microsoft recently moved parts of its dot Net platform in open source, Oracle has also purchased open source databases like MySQL, and IBM has a huge line of business in their open source Eclipse platform product. “They are buying their insurance,” added Prof De.”

It’s only for show. They are all proprietary software companies, but they are openwashing themselves so as to not be left out of lucrative contracts. They want the government of India (and by extension this very large population) to remain dependent on proprietary software such as Windows. It’s a disturbing trend. EdX, which promotes itself on being an open source of knowledge is now Microsoft’s butler for lockin and indoctrination, serving a criminal company under the guise of ‘education’.

“RIP EdX” was the quick remark of a reader of ours, who gave this pointer to us last week.

In summary, Microsoft has nothing at all to do with Open Source, but thanks to some press presence which it is bribing for or is closely connected to, Microsoft has been able to push out some headlines that portray Microsoft as open and allow Microsoft to intrude nations which procure “open” (or Free/libre) technology.

Microsoft “loves” Linux only for the cameras (it helps keep regulators away). Microsoft is “open” only when it talks to those who favour Free/Open Source software. These are big lies, albeit promotional and often quite effective.

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.

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