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Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen on the Microsoft-Red Hat Deal

Posted in FSF, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen
Photo source: Professor Conrad Johnson

Summary: Founder of Free software and author of the GPL (respectively) comment on what Microsoft and Red Hat have done regarding patents

WE FINALLY GOT some feedback regarding the baffling patent agreement which seemingly affects every user of GNU/Linux. We got this feedback from Stallman and (indirectly) Moglen, two of the Free software world’s most prominent individuals, especially when it comes to the GPL (GNU Public Licence/License).

Coverage of the Red Hat-Microsoft patent agreement can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. We sought feedback from Red Hat and spoke to low(er) level people for weeks, without ever hearing back from high-level management. After weeks of trying and waiting we ended up asking legal professionals to examine whatever legal contracts — even if under NDA or some other secrecy clauses that legally-binding deals may have — were involved. We first wrote to the FSF as follows:

Dear FSF licensing folks,

As discussed earlier in IRC (freenode), I have been pursuing answers from Red Hat regarding an urgent matter. I previously interviewed their CEO regarding patents and last week I spoke to a fairly senior person from Red Hat (unnamed for his own protection), for the third time this month. I wrote about 10 articles on this subject and it led to others writing about it as well, including some prominent bloggers.

“We need to understand what Red Hat agreed on with Microsoft on as Microsoft can use this behind closed doors against other companies, for pressure/leverage.”To put it concisely, Red Hat signed a deal with Microsoft which not only involved technical work but also what they call patent “standstill”. Who is this “standstill” for? Apparently Red Hat and its customers. I strongly doubt, especially in light of Alice v. CLS Bank, that a “standstill” should be needed. Red Hat does not threaten to sue Microsoft, whereas Microsoft did in the past threaten Red Hat (even publicly). This leaves those outside Red Hat in an awkward position and ever since this deal I have taken note of at least two companies being coerced by Microsoft using patents (over “Android” or “Linux” [sic]) or sued by one of its patent trolls, e.g. Intellectual Ventures. This isn’t really a “standstill”. It’s more like the notorious “peace of mind” that Novell was after back in 2006.

Red Hat has also admitted to me that it is still pursuing some software patents in the USPTO — a fact that does not surprising me, especially given the soaring market cap of RHT and the growing budget. This serves to contradict what people like Rob Tiller say to the courts; it shows double standards and no principled lead by example.

“The analysis and the voice of the FSF may be needed at this stage.”I have asked the FSF’s Joshua if it had looked into the patent agreement between Red Hat and Microsoft. Their lawyers in this case, Mr. Piana and Mr. Tiller (probably amongst others whom we don’t know about yet), would probably claim and even insist that it’s GPL-compatible, but the wording in the FAQ make it look exclusionary and there’s no transparency, so one cannot verify these claims.

We need to understand what Red Hat agreed on with Microsoft on as Microsoft can use this behind closed doors against other companies, for pressure/leverage. I am genuinely worried and fellow journalists who focus on GNU/Linux (Sean Michael Kerner for instance) tell me that they are too.

The analysis and the voice of the FSF may be needed at this stage. I have politely urged Red Hat for a number of weeks to become more transparent, whereupon some in the company said they had escalated these requests, but evidently nothing is being done, hence I feel the need to turn to the FSF.

I would gladly provide additional information that I have upon request.

With kind regards,

“In concrete terms,” Stallman responded, “what did they agree to do?”

“It is effectively a technical collaboration,” I told him, “which also involves a ceasefire regarding patents.”

“It is impossible to discuss whether it is good or bad,” he said, “until we know what it is.”

“We know too little about the patent aspects,” I explained.

Referring to Red Hat’s FAQ, Stallman said that I “seem[ed] to be talking about text I [Stallman] have not seen.”

To quote the relevant part for readers:

4. Does the new partnership address patents?

Red Hat and Microsoft have agreed to a limited patent arrangement in connection with the commercial partnership for the benefit of mutual customers.

The heart of the arrangement is a patent standstill that provides that neither company will pursue a patent lawsuit or claim against the other or its customers, while we are partnering. Neither company acknowledged the validity or enforceability of the other’s intellectual property; it is not a patent license or a covenant not to sue and no payment was made or will be made for intellectual property.

The partnership is between commercial companies related to their common customer offerings, spurred by customer demand. Both parties carefully designed for FOSS licensing compliance in building the arrangement and each party’s relationship to the FOSS community stands on its own.

“Covering only customers and not downstream users,” Stallman said, “it is not a good thing, but it may not do a lot of harm.”

“Covering only customers and not downstream users is not a good thing, but it may not do a lot of harm.”
      –Richard Stallman
I responded by saying “I hope that a thorough look into it will help remove uncertainty and get some hard answers. Right now it’s too vague or me and some fellow developers to conclude anything from.”

Days ago I asked whether “there been any progress on this case” because “I just want[ed] to be sure that licensing is looking for answers regarding the matter.”

Stallman, by that stage, seemed to have already spoken to a colleague and friend. “Eben Moglen,” he explained, “told me it doesn’t violate GPLv3. Other than getting that information, I don’t know what progress we could hope for.”

Well, as GPLv3 co-authors, their take on this sure counts. We therefore got an answer without taking a look at the contract itself (they had made access to it highly privileged information).

Assuming the case won’t go any further than this, we believe it helps set the record straight on the Microsoft-Red Hat situation.


Open Source Revisionism of GNU and Free Software History

Posted in Deception, FSF, Law at 3:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman
Source: Conference by Richard Stallman, “Free Software: Human Rights in Your Computer” (2014)

Summary: Media mistreatment of the very roots of Free/Open Source software (FOSS), which is now approaching 35 years in age and increasingly thriving

IN recent weeks we have found several ‘news’ articles that gave us cause for concern. Some were shared with Richard Stallman, a regular reader of Techrights, for his views to be expressed and portions of the correspondence can be found here (cautiously redacted to reduce potential animosity/tensions).

It is not unusual, especially these days (age of openwashing), to see the label “Open Source” misused. Not too long ago we identified some very gross distortion of the term “open source” to essentially openwash Facebook’s surveillance ambitions, focusing on poor people. Facebook traffic has sunk pretty badly over the past year (based on Alexa it’s a massive drop), so Facebook is trying really hard to frame/paint itself as “ethical”, even when it tries to expand its surveillance to people too poor to get connected to the Internet. This isn’t altruism, it’s opportunism and malice. It’s definitely not “open source” and the dot org suffix (Internet.org) is clearly inappropriate, not just misleading. “Facebook mistreats its users,” Stallman explained. “Facebook is not your friend, it is a surveillance engine.”

There was also an effort to delete GNU from history — an effort that has gone rather aggressive. Stallman was in the process of speaking to editors who jad allowed this to happen (dumb lawyers called GNU and Stallman’s text “Open source Manifesto” in the article “Open source Manifesto turns 30″). Stallman asked me to show him the original publication site and tell him how to write to them. It wasn’t too clear whether to write to the editor/site or the author/law firm. The former can issue some fixes/corrections, we tend to think, superseding what was contributed by lawyers. The article comes from a formal publication which often publishes patent lawyers’ pro-software patents columns (we have seen over 100 of them over the years). The target audience is lawyers. The latest is no exception to the rule. It is an article by Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl LLC and the Web site is London-based, with Andrew Teague as the Associate Publisher, Mark Lamb as the Publishing Director, and Chris Riley handling subscriptions. When it was first published Stallman was eager to contact “Either one, or both! [editor and writer] But the sooner the better.” No correction has yet been published. It’s nowhere to be found.

GNU and Free software are 30+ years old. A lot of people contribute to the misconception that it all started when Torvalds released Linux or when the term “Open Source” (not open source intelligence) was coined by the likes of O’Reilly. Watch the “Open Source” O’Reilly nonsense starting the clock more than 10 years later than GNU: “Twenty years ago, open source was a cause. Ten years ago, it was the underdog. Today, it sits upon the Iron Throne ruling all it surveys. Software engineers now use open source frameworks, languages, and tools in almost all projects.”

Rachel Roumeliotis is advertising OSCON 2015 (OS stands for “Open Source”), but she should know about GNU and its age. These people conveniently start the clock when O’Reilly and his henchmen got involved. They want all the credit and they want people not to speak about freedom. Eben Moglen already ranted about this, right on stage in an OSCON event nearly a decade ago.

“This shows how “open source” misses the point,” Stallman wrote to us. “If the frameworks, languages and tools they use are free software, that is good for their freedom. But if what they develop with those is nonfree software, it doesn’t respect our freedom.

“So open source “won” by ducking the important battle.”

Well, the “we already won” attitude (or notion) helps a defeatist’s approach; why fight for more freedom if “we won”? That’s what those people (even developers) who open a MacBook or some ‘i’ device want to happen; some would further insist that Apple and Microsoft are now “open source” players, so “game over”…

We have noticed that Microsoft is now googlebombing with “Windows open source”, promoting the ludicrous notion that it’s now “open” (or gratis), or that it will be so one day. It started about a month ago, maybe two; dozens of articles have served this PR strategy. we wrote some rebuttals and will write another one this weekend. There is a gross distortion of what actually happened and what is happening.

“Stallman was unhappy about the increasing prevalence of proprietary software,” said the aforementioned article From Lexology, “software protected by copyright law and usually licensed on a commercial basis by its owners.”

Yes, but Free software too is protected by copyright law, it’s just twisted into copyleft. “Source code is sometimes licensed under GNU GPL terms,” says the article, “a form of
“copyleft” rather than copyright.”

OK, so surely they know what Free software is and where it comes from. Why proceed with statements like: “The “open source” movement emerged in GNU’s wake. As with GNU, users of
open source code can look at the source code and modify it. However, unlike with GNU, they are not required to share their developments with the world at large.”

“We have noticed many articles throughout this past year or so — including some from Linux Foundation staff — that basically start history in 1991 as if GNU/Linux came out of a vacuum or from Torvalds’ bedroom.”Actually, unless they are using something like the BSD licence, they usually must. Then there are issues like SaaS, which are addressed by the AGPLv3, among other licences. But either way, Free software remains Free software, there is no justification for renaming it “Open Source” and calling the GNU Manifesto “Open source Manifesto”. It’s insulting to those who started the whole thing and wish to receive fair coverage or attribution, at the very least.

The Lexology sites presents some other issues, mostly to do with access, not just paywalls. Stallman asked: “Can you email me the full text of that article? I tried to fetch the page and what I got did not include the text.”

Stallman said he “wrote to them”, but more than a month later the article remains uncorrected, not updated, etc.

Another big load of revisionism (changing history) uses the “Open Source” label to delete GNU from history. Published last month, the article titled “At Birth, Open Source Was About Saving Money, Not Sharing Code” focuses on Torvalds (see feature image) and frames the movement as one that is centered around money. Stallman asked: “Is that someone opinionated who won’t listen to me?”

It is of course worthless asking for a correction when you know in advance none would be made. It later turned out to be part of a broader series of articles, some of which did cover GNU. I personally read several hundreds of items from the author and he’s more into ‘practical’ benefits, so I don’t think it would be worth arguing over. Some people just aren’t fond of freedom in the context of computing.

We have noticed many articles throughout this past year or so — including some from Linux Foundation staff — that basically start history in 1991 as if GNU/Linux came out of a vacuum or from Torvalds’ bedroom. Quite frankly, we think it’s an insult to history. We deem it negligent at best. Of course it leads people to deducing that the success of the system in its entirety is owing to the great “Linux values”, not GNU philosophy.

In summary, in our threads of communication with Stallman we were able to reaffirm that there were factual issues in the “Open Source Manifesto” article (it speaks about the GNU Manifesto) and despite Stallman’s request for correction, nothing has been done by the publishers. It’s like people just don’t wish to speak favourably about freedom in computing. Mac Asay, a Mormon (i.e. more superstition a religion than most other religions), compares Free software people to dangerous religions — a typical smear directed at a largely secular Free software community. Perhaps there are just those who are impossible to please because they are inherently opposed to control over one’s machine and would rather buy digital prisons from Apple than work a little harder to gain control or acquire freedom-respecting tools.


Richard Stallman: Why We Need Free Digital Hardware Designs

Posted in FSF, Hardware at 11:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

To what extent do the ideas of free software extend to hardware? Is it a moral obligation to make our hardware designs free, just as it is to make our software free? Does maintaining our freedom require rejecting hardware made from nonfree designs?

Free software is a matter of freedom, not price; broadly speaking, it means that users are free to use the software and to copy and redistribute the software, with or without changes. More precisely, the definition is formulated in terms of the four essential freedoms.

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
  • The freedom to study the program’s source code, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.
  • The freedom to make exact copies and give them or sell them to others.
  • The freedom to make copies of your modified versions and give them or sell them to others.

Applying the same concept directly to hardware, free hardware means hardware that you are free to use and to copy and redistribute with or without changes. But, since there are no copiers for hardware, aside from keys, DNA, and plastic objects’ exterior shapes, is the concept of free hardware even possible? Well, most hardware is made by fabrication from some sort of design. The design comes before the hardware.

Thus, the concept we really need is that of a free hardware design. That’s simple: it means a design that permits users to use the design (i.e., fabricate hardware from it) and to copy and redistribute it, with or without changes. The design must provide the same four freedoms that define free software. Then “free hardware” means hardware with an available free design.

People first encountering the idea of free software often think it means you can get a copy gratis. Many free programs are available for zero price, since it costs you nothing to download your own copy, but that’s not what “free” means here. (In fact, some spyware programs such as Flash Player and Angry Birds are gratis although they are not free.) Saying “libre” along with “free” helps clarify the point.

For hardware, this confusion tends to go in the other direction; hardware costs money to produce, so commercially made hardware won’t be gratis (unless it is a loss-leader or a tie-in), but that does not prevent its design from being free/libre. Things you make in your own 3D printer can be quite cheap, but not exactly gratis since you will have to pay for the raw materials. In ethical terms, the freedom issue trumps the price issue totally, since a device that denies freedom to its users is worth less than nothing.

The terms “open hardware” and “open source hardware” are used by some with the same concrete meaning as “free hardware,” but those terms downplay freedom as an issue. They were derived from the term “open source software,” which refers more or less to free software but without talking about freedom or presenting the issue as a matter of right or wrong. To underline the importance of freedom, we make a point of referring to freedom whenever it is pertinent; since “open” fails to do that, let’s not substitute it for “free”.

Is Nonfree Hardware an Injustice?

Ethically, software must be free; a nonfree program is an injustice. Should we take the same view for hardware designs?

We certainly should, in the fields that 3D printing (or, more generally, any sort of personal fabrication) can handle. Printer patterns to make a useful, practical object (i.e., functional rather than decorative) must be free because they are works made for practical use. Users deserve control over these works, just as they deserve control over the software they use.

Distributing a nonfree functional object design is as wrong as distributing a nonfree program.

Be careful to choose 3D printers that work with exclusively free software; the Free Software Foundation endorses such printers. Some 3D printers are made from free hardware designs, but Makerbot’s hardware designs are nonfree.

Must we reject nonfree digital hardware?

Is a nonfree digital hardware(*) design an injustice? Must we, for our freedom’s sake, reject all digital hardware made from nonfree designs, as we must reject nonfree software?

Due to the conceptual parallel between hardware designs and software source code, many hardware hackers are quick to condemn nonfree hardware designs just like nonfree software. I disagree because the circumstances for hardware and software are different.

Present-day chip and board fabrication technology resembles the printing press: it lends itself to mass production in a factory. It is more like copying books in 1950 than like copying software today.

Freedom to copy and change software is an ethical imperative because those activities are feasible for those who use software: the equipment that enables you to use the software (a computer) is also sufficient to copy and change it. Today’s mobile computers are too weak to be good for this, but anyone can find a computer that’s powerful enough.

Moreover, a computer suffices to download and run a version changed by someone else who knows how, even if you are not a programmer. Indeed, nonprogrammers download software and run it every day. This is why free software makes a real difference to nonprogrammers.

How much of this applies to hardware? Not everyone who can use digital hardware knows how to change a circuit design, or a chip design, but anyone who has a PC has the equipment needed to do so. Thus far, hardware is parallel to software, but next comes the big difference.

You can’t build and run a circuit design or a chip design in your computer. Constructing a big circuit is a lot of painstaking work, and that’s once you have the circuit board. Fabricating a chip is not feasible for individuals today; only mass production can make them cheap enough. With today’s hardware technology, users can’t download and run John H Hacker’s modified version of a digital hardware design, as they could run John S Hacker’s modified version of a program. Thus, the four freedoms don’t give users today collective control over a hardware design as they give users collective control over a program. That’s where the reasoning showing that all software must be free fails to apply to today’s hardware technology.

In 1983 there was no free operating system, but it was clear that if we had one, we could immediately use it and get software freedom. All that was missing was the code for one.

In 2014, if we had a free design for a CPU chip suitable for a PC, mass-produced chips made from that design would not give us the same freedom in the hardware domain. If we’re going to buy a product mass produced in a factory, this dependence on the factory causes most of the same problems as a nonfree design. For free designs to give us hardware freedom, we need future fabrication technology.

We can envision a future in which our personal fabricators can make chips, and our robots can assemble and solder them together with transformers, switches, keys, displays, fans and so on. In that future we will all make our own computers (and fabricators and robots), and we will all be able to take advantage of modified designs made by those who know hardware. The arguments for rejecting nonfree software will then apply to nonfree hardware designs too.

That future is years away, at least. In the meantime, there is no need to reject hardware with nonfree designs on principle.

*As used here, “digital hardware” includes hardware with some analog circuits and components in addition to digital ones.

We need free digital hardware designs

Although we need not reject digital hardware made from nonfree designs in today’s circumstances, we need to develop free designs and should use them when feasible. They provide advantages today, and in the future they may be the only way to use free software.

Free hardware designs offer practical advantages. Multiple companies can fabricate one, which reduces dependence on a single vendor. Groups can arrange to fabricate them in quantity. Having circuit diagrams or HDL code makes it possible to study the design to look for errors or malicious functionalities (it is known that the NSA has procured malicious weaknesses in some computing hardware). Furthermore, free designs can serve as building blocks to design computers and other complex devices, whose specs will be published and which will have fewer parts that could be used against us.

Free hardware designs may become usable for some parts of our computers and networks, and for embedded systems, before we are able to make entire computers this way.

Free hardware designs may become essential even before we can fabricate the hardware personally, if they become the only way to avoid nonfree software. As common commercial hardware is increasingly designed to subjugate users, it becomes increasingly incompatible with free software, because of secret specifications and requirements for code to be signed by someone other than you. Cell phone modem chips and even some graphics accelerators already require firmware to be signed by the manufacturer. Any program in your computer, that someone else is allowed to change but you’re not, is an instrument of unjust power over you; hardware that imposes that requirement is malicious hardware. In the case of cell phone modem chips, all the models now available are malicious.

Some day, free-design digital hardware may be the only platform that permits running a free system at all. Let us aim to have the necessary free digital designs before then, and hope that we have the means to fabricate them cheaply enough for all users.

If you design hardware, please make your designs free. If you use hardware, please join in urging and pressuring companies to make hardware designs free.

Copyright 2015 Richard Stallman. Released under Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives 3.0 license.


Freedom in your computer and in the net – New Talk by Richard Stallman

Posted in FSF, Videos at 9:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Via Chaos Computer Club e.V: For freedom in your own computer, the software must be free. For freedom on the internet, we must organize against surveillance, censorship, SaaSS and the war against sharing


Richard Stallman: What Does It Mean for Your Computer to Be Loyal?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New article from Richard Stallman

We say that running free software on your computer means that its operation is under your control. Implicitly this presupposes that your computer will do what your programs tell it to do, and no more. In other words, that your computer will be loyal to you.

In 1990 we took that for granted; nowadays, many computers are designed to be disloyal to their users. It has become necessary to spell out what it means for your computer to be a loyal platform that obeys your decisions, which you express by telling it to run certain programs.

Our tentative definition consists of these principles.

Neutrality towards software

The computer will run, without prejudice, whatever software you install in it, and let that software do whatever its code says to do.

A feature to check for signatures on the programs that run is compatible with this principle provided the signature checking is fully under the user’s control. When that is so, the feature helps implement the user’s decision about which programs to run, rather than thwarting the user’s decisions. By contrast, signature checking that is not fully under the user’s control violates this principle.

Neutrality towards protocols

The computer will communicate, without prejudice, through whatever protocol your installed software implements, with whatever users and whatever other networked computers you direct it to communicate with.

This means that computer does not impose one particular service rather than another, or one protocol rather than another. It does not require the user to get anyone else’s permission to communicate via a certain protocol.

Neutrality towards implementations

When the computer communicates using any given protocol, it will support doing so, without prejudice, via whatever code you choose (assuming the code implements the intended protocol), and it will do nothing to help any other part of the Internet to distinguish which code you are using or what changes you may have made in it, or to discriminate based on your choice.

This entails that the computer rejects remote attestation, that is, that it does not permit other computers to determine over the network whether your computer is running one particular software load. Remote attestation gives web sites the power to compel you to connect to them only through an application with DRM that you can’t break, denying you effective control over the software you use to communicate with them. Netflix is a notorious example of this.

We can comprehend remote attestation as a general scheme to allow any web site to impose tivoization or “lockdown” on the local software you connect to it with. Simple tivoization of a program bars modified versions from functioning properly; that makes the program nonfree. Remote attestation by web sites bars modified versions from working with those sites that use it, which makes the program effectively nonfree when using those sites. If a computer allows web sites to bar you from using a modified program with them, it is loyal to them, not to you.

Neutrality towards data communicated

When the computer receives data using whatever protocol, it will not limit what the program can do with the data received through that communication.

Any hardware-level DRM violates this principle. For instance, the hardware must not deliver video streams encrypted such that only the monitor can decrypt them.


The computer always permits you to analyze the operation of a program that is running.


The computer comes with full documentation of all the interfaces intended for software to use to control the computer.


The principles above apply to all the computer’s software interfaces and all communication the computer does. The computer must not have any disloyal programmable facility or do any disloyal communication.

For instance, the AMT functionality in recent Intel processors runs nonfree software that can talk to Intel remotely. Unless disabled, this makes the system disloyal.

This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.


Microsoft Still Imposes Broken ‘Updates’ and Breaks GNU/Linux Through UEFI Boot Restrictions

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The pressure against software freedom and user control over his/her PC a growingly serious issue

FAIR competition is a business risk that Microsoft cannot tolerate. Microsoft wants to mistreat many users by exposing them (for cash) to the NSA. With UEFI and remote updates, the NSA can even remotely brick computers — a serious risk that almost nobody is willing to speak about. It’s all about control (over users) and Microsoft goes out of its way to reduce users’ security. As Richard Stallman put it the other day: “Nonfree [proprietary] software is likely to spy on its users, or mistreat them in other ways. It is software for suckers. Awareness of this is spreading, which helps us make the case for Free software to people who are not computing experts.”

What’s even more troubling right now is that Vista 8 is self-updating (for the latest back doors to be installed) and Ryan tells us that “Microsoft is about to get rid of support for Windows 8.1 without the update pack, and it seems the broken Windows Update problem is still pretty common.” To quote: “Check your Windows Update log, if you’ve got a “Failed” entry next to KB2919355 then your PC will also become orphaned after May 8.” So much for ‘security’.

Interestingly enough and coinciding with the above, yesterday afternoon Jamie posted this review which complains about lingering issues with UEFI (some previous issues relate to Windows updates that allegedly break dual-booting), stating:

In order to install Linux from a bootable USB stick I need to be able to get to the Boot Selection menu, but on Acer systems with UEFI firmware, this is a bit tricky. The Boot Menu key (F12) is disabled by default, so I first have to boot to the BIOS Setup Utility, by pressing F2 during the power on or reboot cycle. Then in the Main setup screen there is an option to enable “F12 Boot Menu”.

That’s one trick down, but there’s another one which might be required. Depending on what version of Linux you want to install, and perhaps how you feel about Secure Boot, you might want/need to disable that. In the BIOS Setup Utility, on the Boot menu there is an option to disable Secure Boot – but I can’t get to it: moving the cursor down just skips over it!

I can change boot mode from UEFI to ‘Legacy BIOS’, but that isn’t what I want to do. I learned (the hard way) with my previous Acer Aspire One, that I have to go to the Security menu and set a “Supervisor Password” before it will let me disable Secure Boot mode. I’m sure this makes sense to someone, but whoever that is, it isn’t me.

In this case I am going to start by installing Linux with Secure Boot still enabled, so I don’t really have to do this, but I went ahead and set a supervisor password anyway, because I will eventually want to turn off Secure Boot anyway.

An ordinary computer user would give up at this stage.

It sure seems like control over one’s computer is getting harder, whether it’s due to artificial limitations or imposed back doors. Fighting for software freedom is important right now, more so than ever before. Some companies and government agencies truly dread the idea of people controlling their machines. The International Day Against DRM is a reminder of this [1,2,3] and based on a new report [4] the FBI is now “pushing its plan to force surveillance backdoors.” Like CIPAV in Microsoft Windows?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. International Day Against DRM
  2. Mark the Day Against DRM with discounts on books and videos; join the EFF live video panel

    Today is the Day Against DRM, organized by the Free Software Foundation through their Defective by Design campaign against digital rights management (DRM), which they refer to instead with the more accurate moniker “digital restrictions management.”

  3. How DRM Harms Our Computer Security
  4. FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now

    CNET learns the FBI is quietly pushing its plan to force surveillance backdoors on social networks, VoIP, and Web e-mail providers, and that the bureau is asking Internet companies not to oppose a law making those backdoors mandatory.


Both Apple and Microsoft Compare Their Corporate Causes to Religion

Posted in Apple, FSF, Google, Microsoft at 6:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Binondo Church

Summary: Steve Jobs calls competition (litigation) with Android a “holy war” whereas Bill Gates calls undermining Linux a “Jihad”

TECHRIGHTS is the recipient of various smears that claim the site or its authors to be something that they are not (misrepresentation). We wrote many articles about it about 5 years ago, having seen smears as bad as “Taliban”. A very common pattern of smears is to call your rival/opponent in a debate “religious” about an opinion, as in dogmatic and detached from logic (there are other similar labels like “tinfoil hat” or “conspiracy theory”, as noted years ago). The FSF, despite being mostly atheistic, is a regular recipient of the “religion” smear (Stallman’s parodies of religion may contribute to this). Microsoft sometimes smears Free software by characterising it as a religion and we, as vocal Novell critics, received similar smears from Novell apologists/staff (Microsoft Linux is still alive by the way and it is spreading to Google). Calling/labeling “religious” those who are non-religious makes no sense. It’s a cheap shot and those who use such cheap shots are often the ones who are irrational and detached from an alternative (opposing) point of view. When logic doesn’t work in an argument, then cheap shots get used, or ad hominem attacks.

Now, similar arguments have been made by some Apple “fanboys” (a label in itself) when they were accused of following Apple like it’s a religion (or cult, i.e. small religion). Those jokes about Apple being followed like a religion and Jobs being treated like a Messiah are not so far fetched anymore. And why?

The proponent of "thermonuclear" action turns out to have referred to his war on Android/Linux as a “holy war”.



Holy crap.

To quote CNBC: “Steve Jobs warned Apple’s leadership a year before his death that the company he founded faced an “innovator’s dilemma” over the growing threat from Google and promised a “holy war” on smartphones running its Android software, according to evidence shown in court on Tuesday”

This is almost as bad as Bill Gates' allegory/wording when he asked “where are we on this Jihad?” (referring to Microsoft’s war against Linux inside Intel).

Next time you see Free software proponents being referred to as “religious” or something along those lines remember the words of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They themselves seem to define/characterise their companies as religious movements.

It is clear why Apple is so afraid of Android, as now revealed by documents from inside Apple [1], noting that people are moving to Android and never coming back to the “holy” Apple (not even if they work for a company that’s a partner of Apple [2]). The other Steve from Apple (Wozniak) is now an Android user and he likes to brag (publicly) about Android phones, which based on some new study [3] are technically better and more stable.

People need not have a religious-type faith to choose GNU/Linux or Android; they do, however, need to have a strong belief in Apple in order to choose an overpriced iPhone.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. iPhone becomes victim of Android’s success, makes Apple worry

    Internal Apple documents show that the company’s sales department is anxious about growing competition from Android-powered devices amidst declining iPhone sales, Re/code said in a report.

  2. Why I’m glad I never abandoned Android for an iPhone

    I’ve written about and reviewed mobile phones for almost a decade and a half. Everything from flip phones, to BlackBerrys, to today’s hottest Android models, and yes, Apple iPhones, have passed through my hands. That experience is why, more than anything, I’ve ultimately settled on Google Android as my smartphone platform of choice.

  3. Android more stable than iOS: Study

    For long we have been hearing strories that Android is unsafe, unstable, while iOS is reliable. But new data that has emerged will totally change the picture. A study conducted by Crittercism, a performance monitoring company has revealed that while iOS 7.1 is the most stable version of iOS to date, its Android counterpart is far more stable.


My Disagreement With the FSF Over UEFI ‘Secure Boot’

Posted in FSF, Kernel at 8:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UEFI logo with monopoly

Summary: The FSF gives an award for work on embracing ‘secure boot’, whereas the better option — in my own personal opinion — is to altogether boycott UEFI, for a variety of separate reasons

IT IS NOT often that I get to say this, but I disagree with the FSF’s decision to grant Matthew Garrett an award for work on UEFI. Not only has he acted as a Microsoft apologist (like Miguel de Icaza, who had also received an FSF award) but he also smeared Linux developers whom he did not agree with. Not only has he made Microsoft’s case (and Intel’s patents) stronger but he also made regulatory actions against UEFI 'secure boot' more complicated.

A world with UEFI ‘secure boot’ is a world less secure. We need to shun, boycott and altogether avoid UEFI, not find ways to embrace it. People who help popularise or lead us to acceptance of ‘secure boot’ are doing a disservice — not a service — to the principle of people controlling their own computing. That last point is what distinguishes my personal position from the FSF’s (collectively).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Matthew Garrett, GNOME Foundation’s Outreach Program for Women are Free Software Award winners
  2. Matthew Garett, Outreach Program for Women awarded Free Software Awards 2014

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