Proprietary software companies like Microsoft, Apple, Oracle etc. want lawyers to run their business
Summary: A decade after Free/libre Open Source software (FLOSS) surpassed its proprietary counterparts on technical terms/merit it is facing an increasing number of patent challenges, as well as disruptive takeover attempts
TECHRIGHTS was born out of the need to tackle Microsoft’s patent war on GNU/Linux. Back in 2006 Microsoft saw innovations such as Compiz whilst it had a lousy operating system called Vista (which even Microsoft executives were internally ranting about). It knew it was only a matter of time until Windows loses dominance outside the server room. Fast forward to 2016 and Android is expected to have nearly 90% of the market. Windows is in a state of disarray and Microsoft now tries to force people to use it, even if they don’t pay for it and don’t want it at all.
“Microsoft promotes lawyers to high management and tries to make patent extortion its new cash cow.”Microsoft tried to evolve, but it was all in vain. Remember the Microsoft Stores? Remember Surface (both the old and the new)? Microsoft is losing a lot of money in the hardware business (faulty by design ) and the online business (promises are being broken now in an effort to raise money ). Microsoft is now borrowing money — a lot of money in fact — to pay debts , confirming what we knew all along about Microsoft’s real financial situation.
As a result of Microsoft’s panic (losing billions of dollars) the company launched patent assaults on various companies (OEMs) that distribute Linux/Android. Microsoft promotes lawyers to high management and tries to make patent extortion its new cash cow. It is also disrupting Android from the inside, in an effort to better control it. Last month we wrote about Xamarin‘s (Microsoft proxy) takeover of RoboVM [1, 2, 3, 4] (still a subject of critical debate). Paul Krill wrote that “Hammond sees the bigger issue as Xamarin’s acquisition of RoboVM and its desire to support RoboVM iOS apps in the Apple App Store, which has taken a dim view of GPL licenses to date.”
Apple — like Microsoft — is also attacking Android backers like Samsung, using software patents that are inherently incompatible with the GPL. Apple is still bickering over patents in an effort to derail the dominant Linux-based platform, Android, according to this new report.
We expect the last remaining barrier for the triumph of Free software everywhere to be patents, and especially software patents. We are changing our site’s focus accordingly. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
IFIXIT HAS taken Microsoft’s first laptop apart and found that it’s probably not a good idea to try to fix it yourself.
Microsoft’s latest device went on sale last week in the US and has yet to see a UK release, but the people at iFixit have cracked it open and explained exactly what’s going on inside. And it’s not good.
There’s already a backlash against Microsoft’s surprise announcement, and it’s not a good look for the company given its impressive focus on mobile and the cloud. Microsoft is fighting a war against Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and many others for the business side of the cloud, but its consumer efforts are starting to look a lot more like Apple’s iCloud offering. Apple offers the bare minimum of free storage and entices consumers to pay more for iCloud by making its apps and operating system make the most of the cloud. Microsoft is now bullying OneDrive users into paying for the free storage it is now taking away.
It’s kind of embarassing to have to borrow money to pay debts… but that’s what M$ continues to do. It has $100 billion in liquid assets but it can’t repatriate them to USA without forking out a ton of money to Uncle Sam for taxes, so it borrows money at this end to pay for what it does day to day. The problem is chickens come home to roost. When the day inevitably comes that the world sees M$ has no clothes and that M$ is not the one true source of IT, the gravy train ends but the debts will have to be paid. At the last 10-Q quarterly report, M$ reported $36billion in short+long term debt. Now about half it’s liquid assets will be needed just to repay that debt.
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Another Black Duck in the making? Security FUD from a firm established by champions of back doors.
Summary: Another company whose business model is monetising (and thus often enhancing) fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) over Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and this one too comes from Microsoft
THIS trend has grown rather tiresome. Every now and then we see Microsoft’s tentacles reaching out for areas in FOSS where there is an opportunity to badmouth FOSS. They turn Microsoft’s anti-FOSS rhetoric into their business model. They institutionalise it.
“Another Microsoft guy creates a company that says Free software is not secure and needs some proprietary software ‘medicine’.”Based on a new press release in its various forms/variations [1, 2, 3], we may have yet another OpenLogic or Black Duck in our hands. Another Microsoft guy creates a company that says Free software is not secure and needs some proprietary software ‘medicine’.
SourceClear is not even known (we never heard of it, it seemingly came out of nowhere), it’s a very young firm, and immediately it receives a lot of money and even promotional coverage from the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal, which is a Microsoft-friendly publication. The first sentence provides the background one needs to be aware of:
Mark Curphey worked to stamp out software bugs for about a decade as head of the security tools team at Microsoft Corp. and in several other jobs before he realized that the problem was getting worse instead of better.
To quote Gordon B-P: ‘”Worked at MS bugs for a decade” – didn’t do a very good job there then. What makes him think he’ll be able to “secure” OSS?’
Jordan Novet, who is a promoter of Microsoft as we noted the other day, covered this as well, using bug branding such as "Heartbleed", coined by a company which is strongly connected to Microsoft. “It turns out that lots of other [FOSS] libraries have exactly the same issues but have not been reported,” Novet quotes Curphey, whom he describes as “previously a former principal group program manager inside Microsoft’s developer division. [...] SourceClear started in Seattle in 2013…”
“SourceClear started in Seattle in 2013…”
–Jordan NovetWith OpenLogic, Black Duck, Codenomicon and various other Microsoft-connected (often created by Microsoft people and/or managed by Microsoft people) firms that badmouth FOSS we sure expect SourceClear to be no exception. They serve to distract from the built-in and intentional insecurities of proprietary software such as Windows, including quite famously Vista 10 where back doors are an understatement because everything is recorded and broadcast (total remote surveillance), even without a breach or an access through the back doors.
Microsoft cannot produce secure code because ‘national security’, i.e. many back doors, are a design goal. It helps Microsoft establish a ‘special relationship’ with the state and in fact it just got a contract from a highly notorious company, Taser .
Here we are in 2013 onwards — a time when simple bugs in FOSS (a defect affecting one line or two) get all the limelight and receive names, logos etc. whereas Microsoft’s critical zero-day flaws hardly make the headlines. There are many high-impact headlines that make a huge deal of fuss every time a security bug is found in Android (again, just in recent years). We suppose it’s part of a PR campaign in which Microsoft and its partners evidently participate. They are often the ones who come up with the names, logos, and much of the accompanying negative publicity. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Microsoft has joined forces with Taser to combine the Azure cloud platform with law enforcement management tools.
In order to ensure Taser maintains a monopoly on police body cameras, the corporation acquired contracts with police departments all across the nation for the purchase of body cameras through dubious ties to certain chiefs of police.
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Remember these words from Microsoft itself (click for source PDF):
Summary: Analysis of Microsoft’s abysmal state and what it has been trying to do as a result of its inability to compete fairly with Free (as in freedom) software such as GNU/Linux, Android, Java, Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL etc.
TECHRIGHTS has been a critic of Microsoft for a very long time; never before have we seen Microsoft in such poor form. The attempts to derail GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software from the inside are part of a fight for the company’s very survival. Its cash cows are losing their luster and the only way to keep their momentum/inertia is to force companies to bundle them; Microsoft now does this forcing (or blackmail) using software patents (Samsung, Kyocera, ASUS and Dell are the main examples of this strategy, so far).
Microsoft’s history of cooking the books and avoiding taxes has led to the perception that Microsoft is very rich, but after the losses announced in the last quarter (in the billions of dollars) comes another poor quarter and the signs are on the wall. As Robert Pogson put it:
The monopoly is not dead yet, unfortunately, but it is on its death-bed.
Parts of the monopoly are already dead and formats lock-in too is being loosened, in spite of Microsoft’s OOXML crimes. Several countries recognised what Microsoft had done and moved to ODF, sometimes to Free/libre software as well. See last week’s example from the British government.
“Parts of the monopoly are already dead and formats lock-in too is being loosened, in spite of Microsoft’s OOXML crimes.”Microsoft cannot sell hardware (potentially a profitable business) and finds ‘creative’ accounting tricks to hide it . This huge failure, which has become a massive embarrassment for the abusive monopolist, shows no signs of reversal because products keep dying and are not at all recognised by the public [2,3]. Putting speech recognition, which does not even work properly [4,5], on devices such as phones won’t work, primarily because Microsoft has no presence in mobile and not even in cars, despite tall ambitions  (where poor speech recognition can result in fatalities).
With internal cultural problems and costs associated with litigation (e.g. sexism lawsuits ) Microsoft falls back on an evil business model similar to that of Facebook (as Vista 10 serves to show), namely turning users into “products”, then selling their private data to many companies or malicious entities such as GCHQ, NSA etc. Microsoft continues to be a leading proponent of the NSA while working for the military and war complex  (they call it “information-sharing partnership”, but what it means is mass surveillance plus data-passing). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The inclusion of the typically very profitable Windows in the MPC division offsets and hides the profitability, or lack thereof, of Microsoft’s hardware endeavors, Dawson added.
In one of the most highly anticipated games of the season, quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday to kick off the National Football League (NFL) season. The first game of the season is always popular, though this particular match-up drew interest from fans wondering how Brady would fare after being dogged in the media for the past seven months over something known as Deflategate. With all that attention, Microsoft can’t be pleased that on-air commentators are still referring to its sponsored Surface tablet as an iPad.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has possibly the most outstanding reputation for its products and services. The company is synonymous with quality, and it is hard to think about the technology sector without Microsoft. However, Zune is another story altogether. The music service, which was started to counter the growing popularity of online music streaming services, has always played second fiddle to the more established players in the market.
Satya Nadella was delivering a keynote address at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference. The Microsoft CEO was in the midst of demoing some productivity tools and also also occasionally showing off Windows 10 capabilities when he attempted to showcase Microsoft virtual assistant Cortana’s ability to understand voice commands and to deliver relevant results.
Nadella could immediately see that Cortana was not getting it. “Come on,” he implored, the annoyance showing in his voice.
Finally he gave up and said, “No, this is not going to work.”
A Microsoft-connected car, reportedly in trial mode, would let you issue commands using the Cortana voice assistant.
Microsoft has been hit by a gender discrimination lawsuit by one of its ex-technician
Microsoft and NATO have agreed to renew a longstanding partnership that will see the tech giant provide the intergovernmental treaty group’s Communications and Information Agency with details of Microsoft products and services, as well as new information about cybersecurity threats.
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“What we are trying to do is use our server control to do new protocols and lock out Sun and Oracle specifically”
Summary: Microsoft’s war against POSIX/UNIX/Linux APIs culminates with the .NET push and the ‘bastardisation’ of OpenSSH, a Swiss army knife in BSD/UNIX and GNU/Linux secure channels
MICROSOFT will not rest until it regains its once dominant position in computing. It’s not just because of pressure from shareholders but also because of clevery-marketed sociopaths, such as Bill Gates, who are back at the helm and are very thirsty for power.
Microsoft is now pushing .NET into GNU/Linux, having failed to do so with Mono and Xamarin because regular people (end users) and sometimes developers pushed back. How can Microsoft still convince people to embrace the Microsoft APIs (which are heavily patented and not secure)? Openwashing and propaganda.
Jordan Novet, who writes a lot of pro-Microsoft or marketing pieces for Microsoft (for many months now), is formerly a writer of Gigaom, which had received money from Microsoft to embed Microsoft marketing inside articles (without disclosure, i.e. corrupted journalism). Now he acts as a courier of Microsoft marketing, repeating a delusion which we spent a lot of time debunking here (.NET is NOT “Open Source” [1, 2, 3]). To quote Novet:
Microsoft today announced the beginning of a new bug bounty to pay researchers to find security holes in some of the tech giant’s recently open-sourced web development tools.
“How can Microsoft still convince people to embrace the Microsoft APIs (which are heavily patented and not secure)? Openwashing and propaganda.”When Microsoft alludedwto “Open Source” in relation to .NET it sometimes merely piggybacks the reputation of projects it exploits. See the article “Microsoft’s .NET Team Continues Making Progress On An LLVM Compiler” (not GPL). To quote Phoronix: “Earlier this year Microsoft announced an LLVM-based .NET compiler was entering development, LLILC. Six months later, LLILC continues making progress.
“The .NET team has published a six month retrospective of LLILC. It’s a very lengthy read for those interested in low-level compiler details.”
“Microsoft is still working on implementing support for Windows’ crypto APIs rather than OpenSSL/LibreSSL and to address POSIX compatibility concerns along with other issues.”
–Michael Larabel, PhoronixThis is a potential example of the infamous “embrace, extend, extinguish” approach. As we have shown here before, platform discrimination remains and it is even being extended to existing Free software projects, such as OpenSSH, as we explained yesterday (expect Windows-only ‘features’ and antifeatures). Microsoft APIs are already being phased in — the “extend” phase in E.E.E. (embrace, extend, extinguish). We warned about this months ago [1, 2] and we are now proven right. Even Michael Larabel noticed this and wrote: “Microsoft is still working on implementing support for Windows’ crypto APIs rather than OpenSSL/LibreSSL and to address POSIX compatibility concerns along with other issues.”
So now we have Windows- and Microsoft-specific code right there inside OpenSSH, in spite of Microsoft support of back doors for the NSA et al. Does this inspire much confidence? Repelling Microsoft isn’t about intolerance but about self defence. █
“I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”
–Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée
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Brushing shoulders with one’s archenemy because it paid the organisers
Summary: This season’s large Free/Open Source software (FOSS) conference, which is hosted near Red Hat’s headquarters, becomes an event that is all about Microsoft, by far the biggest foe of FOSS
MICROSOFT does not love GNU/Linux. Microsoft attacks GNU/Linux, and it is still doing this under Nadella's supposed lead (“it came from above” comes to mind). Microsoft is suing both Android and GNU/Linux using software patents — a fact that even Microsoft's Ross Gardler acknowledged when he spoke for Microsoft at All Things Open (ATO) last year. So why are some people still so gullible? How short-term can one’s memory be? One has got to be seriously misinformed (or dishonest) to genuinely think that Microsoft loves GNU/Linux. Microsoft hates GNU/Linux and it does a lot to show it.
“All in all, Microsoft has once again distracted the attendants (almost 2,000) in a FOSS event from the real goals of the conference.”We regret to say that Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols let us down when he published this article (the headline may be the editor’s), in which the Microsoft mole is said to have “explain[ed] to the Linux faithful how Microsoft is now embracing Linux and open-source software.”
Steven (SJVN for short) seems to genuinely believe that there is change of heart here, based on my conversations with him. I beg to differ.
What comes after “Embracing”? Extending? Extinguishing? This situation is no exception and the patterns are all too familiar. Microsoft’s booster Julie Bort, citing SJVN, further accentuated the Microsoft propaganda (emphasised perhaps by the editor at CBS) and went along with another misleading headline: “If you know Linux, Microsoft wants you” (Microsoft wants you… to defect).
Taking note of a “1,700-person crowd”, Bort went on to repeat the Microsoft “loves GNU/Linux” kind of lie. This is not good.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols went even further than this and almost all of his coverage from All Things Open (so far) has been about Microsoft. He is turning (or helps turn) an event near Red Hat into a Microsoft marketing/publicity stunt, with headlines such as “Microsoft adopts Google’s Go language into Azure”. Adopting? As in embracing? Extending and extinguishing to come? Just like Java back in the days or even Android with Dalvik?
Bort’s colleague, who is also a Microsoft apologist (Matt Weinberger), has meanwhile published this puff piece titled “Microsoft has been quietly laying the groundwork to build its own version of Android” (that’s putting it hilariously softly).
“In order to have any chance at reviving something from the wreckage,” he and a colleague wrote, “Microsoft is going to have to think creatively, which may mean creating a “forked” version of Google’s Android that comes with the company’s own services in place of Google’s.”
This is part of the "Embrace Extend Extinguish" strategy against Android, which culminated in taking Cyanogen while pushing for antitrust action against Google. This is a gross and blatant attack on the Linux-powered Android as a whole, not just on Google.
All in all, Microsoft has once again distracted the attendants (almost 2,000) in a FOSS event from the real goals of the conference. The majority of these attendees will almost certainly be pissed off, but most of them will keep the resentment inside (suppressed in the interests of politeness). “Pitching Microsoft to a Linux Crowd” is how FOSS Force put it (the first such event coverage from FOSS Force). It’s all about Microsoft. “The recruitment pitch,” explains Christine, “came near the end of his talk, when he jokingly invited the audience of mostly developer types to, “Pass your resumes up.””
And now this alone dominates the headlines. It’s almost as though this whole event has become a Microsoft propaganda platform.
What should event organisers do in this situation? They should simply not invite or allow Microsoft to enter (not even if it offers the ‘sponsorship’ bribe, as it typically does), simply because it is still attacking GNU/Linux in the courtroom and outside the courtroom, behind closed doors, where it engages in racketeering. Microsoft has no place in FOSS events because it maliciously tries to derail them and it helps distract the media, too. How did this happen? Microsoft paid the organisers. At Microsoft it’s All Things Open… except the database, the operating system, the applications, the browser and so on. Oh wait, at Microsoft just about nothing is open. So get off the bloody stage already… █
“I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. [...] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”
–Microsoft's chief evangelist
Update (23/10/2015): We have been watching this closely for the past 24 hours. Microsoft’s ‘embrace’ of this event is not being appreciated by GNU/Linux proponents. Many of them find Microsoft’s actions rather offensive, much as we foresaw, and they also speak out.
“Not as long as the company continues to use software patents as a threat against open source projects,” said one of the comments in FOSS Force. There are many good comments there and after a lot of sceptics commented Dave Lane said, “it does me good to see the comments on this article. So good to see people who aren’t so naive as to think that MS has changed its spots.”
This event is now over and the media seemingly covered nothing except Microsoft at this venue (FOSS Force was no exception in this regard, SJVN too). Mission accomplished? Another event being derailed? Microsoft stealing the thunder? No major articles except about Microsoft?
There is at least one new piece about it (“Azure CTO Says Microsoft Loves Open Source. World Keeps Spinning”). To quote:
He gave examples, including using OpenSSH for remote logins in Microsoft products and Hadoop products for Azure’s big data service, which is also based on Ubuntu Linux.
This is nonsense because, as we wrote yesterday about OpenSSH, it’s more of an example of “embrace, extent, extinguish”, not a genuine contribution. It’s all about proprietary lock-in such as Windows.
Responding to Microsoft’s attempt to recruit GNU/Linux people (or convert them), iophk asked: “Trying to pull another Borland? Hire up developers and then put them on ice?” █
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Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) sure is a powerful seller
Summary: The latest FUD campaign and the latest channel/distribution deal from Black Duck, a fake ‘friend’ of Free/Open Source software (FOSS)
THE Microsoft-connected (in many ways) firm Black Duck continues trying to monetise fear of FOSS — a fear that it is itself inflaming if not creating in the first place.
Based on this new article, Black Duck’s Kevin Bland, sporting a fancy job title for what is essentially a non-technical marketing role, makes some tall tales. He really wants companies to buy Black Duck’s proprietary software (with software patents on it).
“Kevin Bland,” says the article, “director of channels and alliances at Black Duck, said that developers often used existing code to speed up the process of bringing an app to fruition and there could be vulnerabilities incorporated into the fresh application.”
Right, and that never happens when people reuse proprietary software… never. Never ever! Bland’s bland spiel continues: “If you wait until launch then it can cost $25,000 per problem to remedy it but if you identify vulnerabilities during the development stage it is about $25 per vulnerability” (wow, no data to back this up, just a magical factor of 1000:1).
Making up the facts as they go along, eh? Here is the marketing announcement about it and something related to that. To quote: “Kilpatrick was speaking as it was announced that Wick Hill has been appointed value added distributor for Black Duck Software in the UK and the DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) region. Black Duck is a US-based worldwide vendor, whose industry-leading products secure and manage Open Source Software, eliminating the pain related to security vulnerabilities, compliance, and operational risk. The company is partnering with Wick Hill as part of its drive to grow sales and expand its reach in the EMEA region.”
“f Wick Hill wants to expand, it probably ought to stay out of the snake oil business.”So that’s what it’s all about, sales of proprietary software. Wick Hill is desperate to expand to EMEA based on the latest news and press releases [1, 2, 3, 4], with mergers and acquisitions reportedly likely.
If Wick Hill wants to expand, it probably ought to stay out of the snake oil business. Even companies that are close to Microsoft (Xamarin for sure) have publicly dismissed Black Duck’s products as useless. What might Wick Hill attempt to distribute next? Polygraphs, which are based on pseudo-science and are a fraud which only misleading marketing can sell? █
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More profit for the Office, so what’s not to like?
Summary: A short notice regarding the EPO’s verboten involvement in European politics and European policy-making; comparing the situation in Europe (with the EPO) to that of India, where highly discreet and notoriously intensive lobbying by foreign corporations led to the apparently-irrevocable phasing in of software patents, to the detriment of locals
THERE is a very clear and widely-recognised reason why the EPO must stay out of patentability criteria debates, especially now that the EPO operates like a business whose sole (or at least primary) goal seems to be maximising profit, not encouraging/fostering innovation. The fox must not be left to guard the hen house. Nevertheless, as we showed just one day ago, the EPO is intervening politically in UPC-related debates. This is just wrong. It should not ever be done, but then again, for the EPO to step out of line with the law would not be unprecedented. The EPO enjoys impunity (no clear jurisdiction due to ambiguity) and immunity from European laws. It’s like a cancer at the very heart of Europe (hence the photo signifying a potential tumour above), always seeking to expand its sphere of influence and power, even if by expanding patent scope beyond what’s necessary and tactful (not a facts-based analysis), lowering the patent bar (e.g. by rushing examiners whose goal is to identify duplicates), and raising fees by asserting that applicability — border-wide — is further broadened for injunctions/embargoes/sanctions, higher damages, and so on. One can easily see how this relates to TPP, especially if one is already familiar with TPP (and/or the likes of it).
“It should not ever be done, but then again, for the EPO to step out of line with the law would not be unprecedented.”The “EPO admits,” said the FFII’s President this morning that “[t]he Unitary Patent is about software patents after all” (as he warned all along). IP Magazine is quoted by him as saying that the EPO’s “G[rant] Philpott [said] UPC to provide strong harmonisation in ICT applications that will play a dominant role in patent world” (remember what ICT means). Guess whose system they hope to integrate with, eventually? Also recall that TPP pushes for software patents, requiring signatories to phase them in, in due course. It means software patents in Europe. According to this page about CeBIT 2016, Grant Philpott (shown to the right) is “Principal Director of the main ICT area at the European Patent Office, managing the EPO’s operational areas of Computers and Telecommunications and responsible for nearly 700 examiners in The Hague and Munich.”
It sounds like he is highly regarded, but remember that his systems are also blocking Techrights. Too gory a Web site? Gross censorship is what this really is. Techrights is safe for work (SFW) and it provides plenty of references to support its allegations. Techrights was never censored before; not until it covered the EPO affairs. This culture of censorship and self-censorship at EPO has truly become a disease, as we last explained about 6 weeks ago. Then there is mass surveillance (the perfect blunt instrument for inducing self-censorship) just as well — a topic we remarked on in posts such as the following:
Philpott’s computer systems should focus on helping to grant well-earned patents, not replicate the Stasi in a ‘public’ building in Munich (further enhanced with keyloggers and remote screen grabbers).
India Too Experiences Assaults on Software Patents Exclusion
Watch out as not only Europe is having software patents injected into it, using all sorts of secret treaties like TPP and the UPC. Recall the recent efforts to officially introduce software patents in India, after giant corporations (like those which Modi recently visited aplenty in the US) lobbied the Indian government, as always beforehand. There has been a very strong push from the likes of Microsoft and even IBM to do so.
There is now a response to all this, composed by Mishi Choudhary, a famous Free software proponent from India and Director of International Programs at the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC). She says that “Section 3(k) of the Patents Act, 1970 excludes mathematical methods, business methods,” but she also reminds readers of what gave Indian startups their edge. It’s the lack of software patents, not saturation of them, contrary to what some lobbyists are misleadingly claiming right now (we named some of them last week and they include IAM 'magazine'). Choudhary says that “[e]very city or town, big or small, is seeing a spurt of startups that do path-breaking work in the areas of software products, mobile apps and embedded products. However, these firms could soon be threatened by the dark clouds looming large over the technology horizon of India in the form of software patents.”
The same goes for European software firms, irrespective of their licensing method/s, be it proprietary-leaning or Free software (copyleft). There is a coordinated attack by software conglomerates against any challenge from small firms anywhere in the world. It’s protectionism for the already-affluent and it shouldn’t be tolerated by the public. People should protest; the more vocal and the louder the public becomes, the harder it will get for politicians to sign such atrocious deals (or new laws) in secret, usually at the behest of their shady corporate masters. █
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Characterising societal issues as a ‘Linux problem’ because of transparency
Summary: A look at the broader scale of discrimination against women and how widespread a phenomenon it is inside Microsoft, the arch rival of Linux
REMEMBER how Microsoft pushed “boobs” into Linux [1, 2, 3] (much to the detriment of Linux) and later “apologised” because it got caught? Many people don’t remember that (or simply didn’t pay attention at the time). This helped remind us that Microsoft is very hard to beat when it comes to chauvinism. Over the years we have covered many examples of sexism at Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This kind of sexism goes all the way up to the CEO himself and let’s not even mention Microsoft homophobia [1, 2, 3] because that is a separate (albeit related) topic.
Several weeks ago “Microsoft [got] Hit With Gender Discrimination Lawsuit”. To quote a progressive site: “Microsoft is staring at a potential class-action gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a former technician alleging the company denied her promotions and raises.
“Katherine Moussouris filed a complaint against the Seattle-based company claiming her supervisors didn’t like her “manner of style” and gave the promotions she was up for to her less-qualified male counterparts, Reuters reported. She also reportedly received lower bonuses as retaliation for making sexual harassment complaints. According to the complaint, Microsoft’s female employees in Redmond, Washington frequently received lower performance ratings and were often based on subjective observations.
“Microsoft has been criticized in the past for being cavalier towards gender discrimination in its ranks. Last October, CEO Satya Nadella apologized after telling a roomful of women technicians at the Grace Hopper Conference that they shouldn’t ask for a raise, but instead have “faith that the system will give you the right raise.” Nadella backtracked his comments soon thereafter via a mass email to employees: “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”
“Moussouris is encouraging women who worked for Microsoft in the past six years to come forward, which could help the case gain class action certification. Wednesday’s lawsuit is the first gender discrimination allegation against a major tech company in the wake of the conclusion of former Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao’s infamous suit against her former law firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. Pao lost her case, in which her claims were similar in tone to Moussouris, and recently dropped her appeal.”
Will Hill at the Join Diaspora Web site wrote (he personally brought it to my attention while I was away on vacation):
Sexism Lawsuit Against Microsoft
A class action lawsuit has been filed by a former Microsoft employee over rampant sexual discrimination at Microsoft. Katherine Moussouris claims that women are underpaid, passed over for promotions, and face retaliation if they complain. She worked for the company for seven years.
This does not surprise us because we saw and covered similar reports in the past. Microsoft tries to suppress publication of such matters and it is easier because of the culture of secrecy.
By contrast, in Free software communities everything is visible to the public, including to the already-hostile press. One might expect the observer to take this transparency into account and therefore use some judgment. Some people care more about Linux gossip than about Linux news, however, so when something similar happens in the Linux world it can hijack the news feeds for about a week if not longer than that. A lot has been said about Linux in relation to women’s rights, especially this past week (because of Sharp). There are still some new articles about it [1-16], with plenty of discussion in each (it has become quite an Internet storm).
At Microsoft, based on evidence that does not receive much media coverage, females sue the company for millions over discrimination; in Linux one can just make a mess, start flamewars. We can quite safely guess that many Linux developers (especially in top positions) have been wasting time checking what people say about them online rather than write code. A week-long saga, never-ending and self-feeding, is still raging. Even on Friday we still saw at least 3 articles about this drama against Linux culture. Coders are distracted by these flamewars, hence productivity is significantly down.
One of the curious comments I have come across talks about socially-engineering the community. Remember that Intel helped create OSDL and later played a key role in the Linux Foundation, so it cannot be treated as an outsider to Linux development.
To quote one comment, “Conspiracy theory: Would one of those multi-billion-dollar corporations (with NSA connections) spend a few million bucks to social engineer the Linux community?” It’s not as though Intel itself respects women’s rights (not inside the company anyway).
“I’ve asked Sarah Sharp some questions about how she reconciles her attitude towards the free software community and her work with Intel,” Hill wrote. “I have not seen any serious answers to those questions yet.”
Will Hill said, “I have asked Sarah Sharp on Google Plus some questions about working for Intel.” Here is the text of the questions: “Thanks for all the interesting ideas, and prior usb and graphics work, but how do you square these thoughts with working for Intel (1)? Intel is known for nasty things like killing the OLPC project through dumping (2), and partnership with Microsoft, a company that’s everything you complain about and more. Even when Intel is cooperating, the seem to hold back and treat the free software world as second class (2) Intel’s Management Engine and other firmware are direct threats to people’s software freedom, privacy, and ownership of their machines. Is Intel somehow getting internal culture right while doing so many bad things to everyone outside the company? Was your kernel work an official part of your job? How have they responded to your decision to quit that work?”
There are more articles about all this below (we shared almost 20 more in the previous reply), but we don’t really want to feed the cycle of endless discussions.
The lack of women in Computer Science or S.T.E.M. disciplines in general (there are explanations of causes for that, but it’s beyond the scope of this post) is not the fault of FOSS, however it’s fashionable to blame it all on FOSS when one looks for a good, effective smear. This is also done a lot in the political sphere, where it’s fashionable to mistreat or invade one’s neighbours (or very distant nations) using concern for women’s rights. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Matthew Garrett, noted developers and self-proclaimed social justice warrior, today announced solidarity with Sarah Sharp’s resignation in protest of rude behavior and the “way [Linus Torvalds] behaves” by providing a Linux kernel with changes rejected by Torvalds. Elsewhere, Jack M. Germain said Slackel offers advantages over Slackware but it’s still not for new users and DarkDuck found most Linux users still use Windows or Mac as well.
A Game of Thrones style war has broken out amongst the weirdie beardies of Open Source Land which has now split the Linux kingdom just as “Winter is a Coming.”
Everyone is free to have his own opinion (sorry, his/her), and I am free to form my own opinion on Sarah Sharp by just simply reading the facts. I am more than happy that one more SJW has left Linux development, as the proliferation of cleaning of speech from any personality has taken too far a grip.
On the other hand, it’s little mystery at all: Sarah was the first female kernel contributor I’d ever heard of, and the only one I can readily name now. It’s an uncomfortable answer, because when someone breaks into a space that doesn’t often include their gender or background, we feel we avoid culpability by being nonchalant. No exclusion here, nosiree. Didn’t even notice you were a woman. It’s comforting and dishonest; when someone breaks a boundary of cultural exclusion, regardless of how your reaction may later be judged, the fact is you notice.
Although apparently nobody noticed when Sarah quietly disappeared over the past year, finally coming out to cite now-familiar complaints about the toxic and hostile atmosphere on LKML and in the kernel community in general.
Once again, he’s complaining about how the fun from Debian has been lost because making sexist jokes, or treating other people like shit is not allowed any more. He seems to think the LKML is the ideal environment and that Debian should be more like it.
Another Linux kernel developer has left, citing a toxic environment. Jack Wallen proposes the type of motivation used by the kernel devs could unmake a very precious commodity.
Well, here’s the third, though it’s completely unrelated to Sharp and Garrett: The call went out in September for nominations for the Ubuntu Community Council elections, and they were returned with a glaring omission: Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph, who will not be running for re-election. She explains in her blog her motivations for moving on, and it’s well worth a read. Perhaps this is understatement, but her absence leaves a notable void in the “adult-in-the-room” department, since Elizabeth was often the voice of reason and sanity — and of course a voice for doing the right thing even when it was unpleasant or difficult for Canonical/Ubuntu — in a UCC group too full of yes-boys and Ubuntu Apocalypse zombies. Her leadership will definitely be missed.
Bottomley, maintainer of the kernel’s SCSI subsystem and other code, argues that things on the Linux kernel mailing list aren’t all that it’s talked up to be.
When Matthew Garrett, well-known Linux kernel developer and CoreOS principal security engineer, announced he was releasing a [Linux] kernel tree with patches that implement a BSD-style securelevel interface, I predicted people would say Garrett was forking Linux. I was right. They have. But, that’s not what Garrett is doing.
The definition of “thick-skinned” in different dictionaries ranges from “not easily offended” to “largely unaffected by the needs and feelings of other people; insensitive”, going through “able to ignore personal criticism”, “ability to withstand criticism and show no signs of any criticism you may receive getting to you”, “an insensitive nature” or “impervious to criticism”. It essentially describes an emotionally detached attitude regarding one’s social environment, the capacity or ignoring or minimizing the effects of others’ criticism and the priorization of the protection of one’s current state over the capacity of empathizing and taking into account what others may say that don’t conform to one’s current way of thinking. It is essentially setting up barriers against whatever others may do that might provoke any kind of crisis or change in you.
Folks are still discussing the resignation of Sarah Sharp and Matthew Garrett from Linux kernel development. Jack Wallen said Sharp (and Garrett) are cases of more developers being “turned away, simply because developers had no patience for personal respect.” He said Linux rules with a “sharp and iron tongue” with “foul and abusive language.” He agreed with Dr. Roy Schestowitz in that all this is a “PR nightmare” threatening the “flagship of the open-source movement.” He placed part of the blame on what he calls the “Internet of hate” and said if Linux is to compete with Microsoft and Apple its developers need to “start treating the legions of programmers, who are working tirelessly to deliver, as well as they treat the code itself. Open source is about community. A community with a toxic foundation will eventually crumble.”
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