“There’s free software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”
–Bill Gates, April 2008
“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
Summary: The ongoing war by Microsoft and its proxies against software freedom, which gives more value to the world’s industry than the FUD would have people believe
There is another reason to abandon the term “Open Source”, which left the term “Free software” more vulnerable to abuse by bad people, makers of proprietary software. Here is Bill Gates’ latest attempt to run over Free/libre software, characterising his trap as “free”. To quote a Romanian site:
Bill Gates had a very interesting opening keynote speech at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2013, explaining that he was grateful for the existence of free software, when asked about patents and their influence on technology.
“Thank God for commercial software. It actually funds salaries, gives people jobs. And thank God for free software, it lets people get things out there, you can play around, build on. The two work very well in an ecosystem,” stated Bill Gates during the Q&A.
This is nonsense, as anybody with a clue knows that commercial means not proprietary and Free/libre can be used commercially, paying wages to users and developers.
A lot of this kind of attacks on Free software usually goes back to Microsoft and its proxies. Right now we have Black Duck, a company created by a marketing guy from Microsoft, throwing around some numbers, looking for sites that will print them. Here is one:
Open source consulting firm BlackDuck says up to $59 billion may be locked up in open source projects with no explicit license. Is that lost revenue for channel partners and software companies?
Here is the press release. What nonsense. Trying to quantify code in terms of revenue is not the only silliness; it is the idea that money is being lost as a result of having no licence. Similar propaganda was previously used to describe FOSS as a jobs destroyer, as if people are writing software with such aims. Some tried to portray FOSS as a cause for losses in the industry, not a saver of money and elevator of productivity (which in turn makes room for more hirings per given budget). This is the type of propaganda we are up against and we keep seeing it brought up also in public talks.
Here is another new example of Black Duck being used to reinforce FUD — namely the idea that Free software is about cost, not freedom, and that it is chosen for price, not other qualities. Watch how the Black Duck-run Future of Open Source survey [1, 2, 3, 4] is being used to spread misconceptions. This new FOSS-hostile article (“The Hidden Cost of Free”) says: “Bottom line, open source may be “eating the software world,” but not all of it. For ISVs and other software development professionals, open source is a no-brainer. We use it in development and in our commercial products wherever and whenever it makes sense. It is free, after all, and the quality is second to none, as this year’s Future of Open Source survey reinforces.”
Black Duck reinforces all sorts of proprietary software talking points. Black Duck is, after all, a proprietary software company.
“This is the type of propaganda we are up against and we keep seeing it brought up also in public talks.”Speaking of FUD against FOSS, the latest Android security fear-mongering comes from a Microsoft partner created and managed by a Microsoft guy (who hopes to turn Android perceptions into Windows perceptions when it comes to security). To quote the company’s description: “He is also a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Visual Developer Security, a frequent speaker, press resource, and is featured regularly in the Associated Press and global security media.”
“Bluebox was founded in mid-2012,” it says, and it was groomed by the Gartner Group (currently fully dedicated to Android FUD and monetisation attempts, akin to Black Duck).
The war on FOSS is very real and Microsoft partners are trying to remove the F from FOSS or altogether make it proprietary. A few days ago we showed how three Micrososft-controlled entities threw around (or under the bus) and blurred out the FOSS identity of Zimbra (here is more on that); we should also pay attention to the hallmark of effective FOSS FUD because it’s quite consistent. As explained a week ago by Eben Moglen at the EU Parliament, the GPL brought enormous value to the industry, more so than Apple and Microsoft combined. Unfortunately the video is only on YouTube, hence embedded below.
Will politicians ‘get’ it? █
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Don’t help recover a deprecated business model
Source: Original from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, modified by Techrights
Summary: Reality check required and some ‘house cleaning’ too amid serious reputation harm to the W3C
Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web to help him, a CERN researcher, share his physics papers. I can relate to that personally. He and I were both inspired by Richard Stallman, who had led a movement a decade earlier, advocating free sharing (free of restrictions, not related to cost or business models). It was not about monetary gain and Berners-Lee antagonised patents all along [1, 2, 3]. Sadly, however, the W3C shares none of those same interests and principles. Recently, it got as bad as DRM advocacy (owing/due to Microsoft and a buddy), which is not shocking given who runs the W3C. I exchanged some words with Berners-Lee about patents. His views contradict those of the increasingly corporations-run W3C, e.g. on patents (the W3C CEO is a software patents proponent and the man behind the Microsoft/Novell patent deal).
The FSF and now the EFF are calling on the W3C to get its head together. So far, the subject has been mostly relegated to daily links, but it can no longer be treated as a low-priority issue. Tim Berners-Lee seems to be ignoring and dismissing the obvious calls from public interest groups. He discredits himself and does himself a disservice here.
“A few decades ago Tim Berners-Lee followed the example of Richard Stallman and now it is Richard Stallman’s group which chastises Berners-Lee’s. “Here is the latest protest against the W3C’s action on DRM and further coverage of the original announcement in some FOSS-oriented news sites. For the W3C to facilitate DRM is like facilitating TiVoisation in GPLv2 or Linux and ‘secure’ boot in UEFI. It leads to bad practices that harm a lot of people.
A few decades ago Tim Berners-Lee followed the example of Richard Stallman and now it is Richard Stallman’s group which chastises Berners-Lee’s. There is something to be learned from all this. Berners-Lee should have power over the group (W3C) he created, it should not be the other way around. █
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Summary: Harassment by proxy seems like a possibility now that funds to the FSF are being discouraged
Donations to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) are a dangerous or suspicious activity now (like post-Cablegate Wikileaks), at least based on this account from a reader/contributor of ours. Donations to the FSF are made more difficult now. Microsoft did this type of thing last year [1, 2]. Here is how the latest story goes:
Master Card called me about my FSF Subscription That’s very strange because I’ve been making monthly payments for about a decade. Someone is doing something nasty to the FSF.
At 8AM, I got a call from the fraud prevention department of my credit card asking me to “verify some recent activity”. I saw it in my email when I woke up about an hour after they called.
My Mastercard was robbed once before, so I checked online and called the customer service number printed on my bill. There was nothing suspicious in the online report or the last bill. I was not about to call the number left on my answering machine, which simply identified itself as “TOLL FREE CALL” It took some time to escape the menu, which was uninformative and dangerous because it wanted to change things. The key phrase “human being” did the trick and I was promptly routed to an operator at the fraud department.
The representative told me that my monthly FSF subscription charge had triggered the call and that means hundreds of false charges had been made in the FSF’s name. When she told me the FSF charge was responsible for the call, I said that was strange because I had been making regular automated payments since 2004. She told me that the trigger was probably false charges to other accounts. I asked her how many false charges it would take to make such a trigger. She said that it changes daily but that it would probably take hundreds.
I can think of four explanations for this:
1. The FSF made a mistake in billing. Unlikely.
2. Mastercard wanted to harass the FSF. Unlikely but they have a history of cutting off funds to Wikileaks and can not really be trusted.
3. Someone made fraudulent payments to Mastercard on many accounts. That could be done maliciously or as a misguided help, the result would be the same and no one should do that.
4. Someone wanted to harass the FSF by setting up fake accounts to play games.
Whatever the actual reason, damage is being done to the FSF’s reputation and it should never have happened to me. An algorithm that overlooks my long history of monthly payments is broken. Operators should be given the exact reason that a company has been labeled suspicious. The call was inconvenient and damaging. Further speculation added to that damage. Hopefully, Mastercard itself is not responsible for this and will get to the bottom of it.
I started a FSF Forum thread about this hoping to call the right kind of attention to the problem.
Discouragement through discomfort is an effective strategy. Proving this to be intentional is hard, almost impossible even.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols celebrates a decade of fighting back against SCO, whose funding from Microsoft is evident. Showing the intention or proving it is the hard part. With uncertainty or lack of concrete evidence, these attacks can carry on, little by little, proxy by proxy (one of the latest seems to be Nokia). Groklaw covers another curious attack, namely Oracle (a friend of a friend, Apple). The latest is this: “Google has now responded to Oracle’s appeal in the Oracle v. Google API copyright case. Plus it adds its own cross appeal.”
Copyrights were also used by SCO. In all cases, and wherever FOSS takes over, the intend is to tax GNU/Linux or impose a sort of blockade. █
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Summary: Another hypocritical attack of Microsoft against Google, this time in Boston
THE home of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the principal battleground for Microsoft's anti-ODF wars in the US is going to abandon Microsoft. Relation expected, right? Microsoft, as we saw before, is getting all nasty about it.
Well, “despite the Anti-Google FUD-slinging” Boston will ditch Exchange: “Faced with the choice of saving serious money or buying a load of FUD, the City of Boston has become the latest enterprise customer to dump Microsoft Exchange in favor of Google Apps.
“The thing to do is not to learn from Boston’s government branches but from the Boston-based FSF.”“And the city’s 20,000 employees won’t be the last to make this move until Microsoft either closes the cost chasm or comes up with a scarier story.”
Here is more: “THE CITY OF BOSTON has switched its 20,000 employees from Microsoft Exchange to Gmail in a move that will save $280,000 a year.”
Neither choice is acceptable. They are both proprietary and not privacy-respecting. So on what grounds does Microsoft attack Google? The same was done by Novell and Microsoft in California. They are all hypocrites because Microsoft itself is trying to do exactly what Google is doing.
The thing to do is not to learn from Boston’s government branches but from the Boston-based FSF. What they need is encrypted, self-hosted, FOSS-based mail. Later in the week we shall write about some newly-discovered Microsoft surveillance. Microsoft is a lot worse than Google when it comes to privacy. █
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The universal operating system should help hold Microsoft accountable for anticompetitive practices
Summary: With UEFI cracked as a security measure, all that is left can be deemed an impediment to GNU/Linux booting; hence, Debian GNU/Linux (leading among the free operating systems) should be used as evidence against Microsoft in an antitrust case
Microsoft cannot quite market the limitations of UEFI, notably restricted boot. Truth be told, boot-time malware is not the real threat but mostly a conceptual one (with proofs of concept put out there by security researchers), and moreover UEFI is easy for malicious entities to bypass [1, 2], as proven before (Torvalds, clearly not a fan of all this, saw it coming). Just like DRM, it hurts legitimate users and developers the most. No wonder there is an antitrust complaint over it,
“Truth be told, boot-time malware is not the real threat but mostly a conceptual one…”“A critical vulnerability in Internet Explorer 8 is being exploited in the wild and full information about how to make use of the vulnerability is now in widespread circulation. The recent attack on a sub-site of the US Department of Labor has revealed the attackers were in fact using a new exploit for a 0-day vulnerability which only affects Internet Explorer 8,” says this report. So why does Microsoft obsess over boot-time?
UEFI addresses an issue which hardly exists, it is a solution in search of a problem. A highly-anticipated Debian version was released the other day and it is not compatible with Microsoft’s latest hardware restrictions, says Sam Varghese. To quote:
The Debian GNU/Linux project released version 7.0 of its well-known Linux distribution on May 4, two years and three months after the last version came out.
Debian backs the FSF on this matter, so it can hopefully add its support to the antitrust complaint too. █
NB: I am a Debian GNU/Linux user. This distribution recently got some endorsements from the FSF, and vice versa. Its policies under the latest leadership are commendable.
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Leaving Windows in droves…
Summary: Actions of measurable effect (e.g. antitrust, campaigns) against the operation system version which is killing Microsoft’s common carrier, Windows®
Microsoft is destroying Windows by taking over machines and sending them faulty binaries. Microsoft is breaking Windows, “causing some PCs to blue screen,” says the report. This is not a matter of deliberate sabotage, but Microsoft is driving users away with its own negligence as people already flock away to alternatives, not Vista 8 (Claudio from Linux Basement says: “Holy crap, #Microsoft! Really? In 2013??”). Vista 9 vapourware has begun because Vista 8 is probably worse than Windows ME, not just Vista. This is a very big deal and the corporate press is starting to catch on.
Despite Microsoft-induced downtimes and technical incompetence (yes, even this week, leading to official probes at government level*), in the Indian public sector there seem to be new EDGI moves whose intention is to kill Free software in favour of total lock-in, Fog Computing that Microsoft controls entirely (from data to binaries). One reader wrote to say to us:
Colleges running Free software in India have been asked to move to Microsoft cloud
This basically means that students will be forced to give Microsoft™ their data. Fair deal? And bear this in mind in light of Microsoft’s claims about Google. Microsoft is meanwhile attacking Android with an antitrust complaint that’s called ‘an attack on open source’, as we noted the other day. Hypocrisy here is impossible to overlook.
The FSF, to its credit, has started this action which calls people to abolish Vista 8. It is an infographic (appended below) and it says: “Sometimes, proprietary software actually helps us fight for freedom. Windows 8 is so bad it’s almost funny–it’s not only proprietary software full of spyware and security vulnerabilities, but it’s also confusing for would-be users. Lucky for us, Microsoft’s spectacular failure is the perfect time to help people switch to free software.”
Given what Microsoft has done with UEFI, this is getting more difficult, but there are those who try to help. This new article says: “The UEFI boot specification offers new capabilities – and new headaches if you aren’t ready for it.”
Fortunately there is an antitrust complaint about it. █
* The said infrastructure is very Microsoft-reliant, even if the articles about it don’t say so. I know this as a customer for 13 years (RBS and NatWest are connected).
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Summary: New audio recording from Swapnil Bhartiya, the last of this early series by Muktware
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Summary: New audio from Swapnil Bhartiya
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