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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Don’t feed black ducks
Yours truly feeding the ducks
near home earlier this year (summer)
Summary: Red Hat’s cooperation with Black Duck serves to legitimise a terrible business model, wherein fear of FOSS is being accentuated and proprietary software ‘solutions’ are being offered
YESTERDAY we became aware of Red Hat turning to Microsoft’s friend, Black Duck. It happened with little prior warning and announced with the press release calling it a “[c]ollaboration to help developers, customers and partners build and run trusted, secure applications with Red Hat container technologies” (as if these are inherently less secure than some proprietary software).
What the articles fail to mention is that Black Duck’s former top manager is from Red Hat and he came back to Red Hat after his stint at this FUD firm (see the old press release titled “Black Duck Software CEO Tim Yeaton Rejoins Red Hat to Lead Newly-Formed Infrastructure Group”). Well, the doors basically revolved, twice even. Maybe that’s why Red Hat came to Black Duck, legitimising what is effectively a parasite inside the FOSS world.
“What the articles fail to mention is that Black Duck’s former top manager is from Red Hat and he came back to Red Hat after his stint at this FUD firm…”We have already found some puff pieces about, saying little more than the press release. One of them says that “Red Hat has collaborated with Black Duck Software to establish a secure and trusted model for containerized application delivery by providing verification that application containers are free from known vulnerabilities and include only certified content. This validation is a major step forward in enabling enterprise-ready application containers, and builds upon the strengths of each company – Red Hat’s position in container technologies and solutions, including its platform and certification strategy, and Black Duck’s position as the provider of comprehensive identification and earliest notification technologies of open source vulnerabilities.”
In its marketing, Black Duck would have us believe that FOSS is terrible at security, even though proprietary software has back doors ‘baked in’ intentionally. NSA et al don’t ‘break into’ Windows any more than Microsoft does; they’re allowed access, by design, intent, and agenda. Days ago we showed how marketers from Black Duck had claimed that it can cost $25,000 to fix a bug in FOSS.
As of early this morning, this new relationship received press coverage from Serdar Yegulalp (writing for IDG), Sean Michael Kerner for QuinStreet and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for CBS. The way Vaughan-Nichols put it, “Red Hat and Black Duck want to make sure that when you run a container, it’s really the container you want to run and not a rogue package.”
“In many ways, Black Duck is successful as a marketing company, much like polygraph merchants (among other popular scams like homeopathy).”It sounds good on the surface, but is a proprietary dependence healthy in the long term? Based on Vaughan-Nichols, this isn’t a short-term engagement. “In the long run,” he explains (writing from Red Hat’s town), “the companies plan to include Black Duck technologies as a component of Red Hat’s container certification.”
There are some lazy publications that ended up throwing the self-promotional promotional press release around. The Indian English-speaking press sort of rewrote the press release to make it look more original. Where are the sceptics? Where is the genuine reporting? All we see are puff pieces that relay claims made in a press release.
In many ways, Black Duck is successful as a marketing company, much like polygraph merchants (among other popular scams like homeopathy). █
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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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A FUD mill, just like many national newspapers
Summary: Having spent nearly a decade promoting the fear of Free software licensing, Black Duck now does the same regarding Free software security
Black Duck, the company that virtually came from Microsoft (or a Microsoft veteran), is badmouthing security of Free/libre software again, obviously in order to sell its proprietary software but perhaps to also help proprietary software companies (like Microsoft).
“Black Duck is not part of the Free/Open Source software community but a parasite within it.”Black Duck’s CEO, according to CRN, “spoke on a panel at the MassTLC Security Conference this week, said open-source components are frequently and easily breached.
““If you want to know how to exploit open-source [projects], just go to YouTube and you’ll see how to do it. It’s that easy,” he said.”
Unlike proprietary software? Are there no YouTube videos about how to exploit or take advantage of holes in proprietary software? Nonsense. Over the years I came across quite a few, including nearly a dozen about Novell’s proprietary software (while researching Novell back in the days). The same can be said about the licensing FUD that comes out of Black Duck. Why won’t they ever speak of the BSA with its devastating effects that can sometimes bankrupt a business? Black Duck is not part of the Free/Open Source software community but a parasite within it. █
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This is what Microsoft staff distributes to attendees in FOSS events:
Photo credit: Neil McAllister
Summary: Microsoft’s relentless attacks on GNU/Linux and Free software in general (even if it runs on Windows) are so evident that claims of ‘love’ remain laughable at best (if not infuriating)
MICROSOFT JUST CANNOT HELP itself. It’s like a scorpion riding a tortoise over a river. It keeps attacking GNU/Linux while claiming that it “loves Linux”. The truth is, Microsoft loathes Linux with a deep passion, but it doesn’t want to show this because it needs to infiltrate Linux events such as LinuxCon. It’s a strategy of entryism. It’s really ugly.
Imagine Microsoft having Linux folks as its keynote guests/speakers in its developers’ events, preaching passionately in favour of Free software (GPL for instance). Microsoft keeps infiltrating every single Linux event that matters. Microsoft is paying for it and it knows that it’s annoying people who pay a lot of money to attend (or whose employers are sponsors). Microsoft runs many developers’ events. Imagine Linux ‘infiltrating’ these. That would be entryism in reverse. But FOSS doesn’t play dirty. We leave the crimes and the unethical deeds to Microsoft.
Several days ago someone wrote to point out that Microsoft speaks nonsense and spread FUD again. To quote:
The giant from Redmond must be desperate since it has to use a controversial story from a relatively small Italian city to combat open source software, as in the mean time many larger deployments also in Italy are happy with LibreOffice and the numbers produced by Provincia di Perugia prove the opposite of the Microsoft-publication.
As Robert Pogson put it: “Why do they keep spreading it? Every time they get caught lying they destroy their own credibility amongst their loyal followers, if there are any left…”
Microsoft and its goons recently spread some more lies about Munich, using media partners which took the words of just two people and made that seem like the whole of Munich was upset with GNU/Linux. “Most people don’t really realize that they have Linux and they do not really care,” wrote Mr. Heath yesterday . He was the first person who wrote a story about this in English, foreseeing and properly preparing for Microsoft’s FUD attacks (Microsoft advocacy sites soon took the story out of context to lie about Munich).
Susan Linton, writing her daily column, said that “everyone reading of this knew that couldn’t be entirely right and today Heath reported, “the bulk of users have not taken issue with the move.” He quoted Munich IT developer, Jan-Marek Glogowski, at DebConf15 saying, “Most people don’t really realize that they have Linux and they do not really care, they want to do their stuff.” That’s not to say there aren’t issues and growing pains, primarily keeping up with hardware support with LTS Ubuntu-base, but plans are to keep forging ahead. Robert Pogson linked to the actual video from DebConf15.”
So basically we have just Microsoft FUD going on. Here is a new article that is just more utter lies, maybe ‘prepared’ propaganda from Microsoft (misleading, inaccurate) . They have totally made up the ‘facts’ to sell people the illusion that GNU/Linux is a failure. It’s that same old tired Munich lobbying from Microsoft Germany. As Pogson noted:
Lately, in the news, we read that agitators are still pushing to roll back GNU/Linux desktops.
They really are just “agitators”; there are only 2 of them at the moment, but they are joined by Microsoft spinners who have access to newspapers and/or news sites. “Munich councillors want to return to proprietary software,” wrote Gijs Hillenius in the European press, but we are speaking about just “two councillors [who] have not yet responded to emails seeking their position on interoperability” (if they know what it is at all, as they’re non-technical). Maybe they need to ask Microsoft Germany.
This headline, “Munich Officials Who Dumped Windows For Linux Want Microsoft’s OS Back” , is also a lie because it’s not the same officials, there’s no change of mind, there are just 2 dissenting voices.
This latest round of anti-GNU/Linux FUD is not something that we are unfamiliar with. We wrote dozens of in-depth articles about this. Munich is a large-scale migration and as we showed in previous years, Microsoft usually orchestrates this FUD behind the scenes. Sometimes some information leaks out to the media, showing Microsoft’s role in it (occasionally through proxies like HP). All we have here is a PR exercise, not news. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
In spite of complaints from a couple of councillors about the Limux OS, the city council said the bulk of users have not taken issue with the move.
“Most people don’t really realize that they have Linux and they do not really care,” said Jan-Marek Glogowski, a developer in the IT team at the City of Munich told the DebConf Debian developers meeting earlier this month.
Whatever the case, the city of Munich will have to wait it out for another year at least. According to The Inquirer, a review and subsequent response into the future IT policy will not take place until the end of 2016.
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Summary: Black Duck is still carrying water for Microsoft and pretends to be working for ‘Open Source’, despite doing it much harm and doing nothing that is actually Open Source
AN ARTICLE titled “The channel’s role in improving open source security” cites a FUD ‘study’ from Black Duck, the firm which, by its very own admission (high level), was created to spread FUD against GPL and discourage its use/adoption.
“Don’t forget that Ohloh, just like Black Duck, was created by people from Microsoft. “The day beforehand we saw gross revisionism that said the firm “set up in 2002 not as an anti-malware tool or a security outfit, but as a ‘curator’” (that’s a lie). All that Black Duck has become is a parasite and a back stabber, wielding software patents and proprietary software.
Another thing that Black Duck turns out to have killed, based on this new post, is Open HUB. It’s said to be “dead” now, maybe because it doesn’t serve the agenda of Black Duck anymore. To quote:
Some may recall it as Ohloh, then it was taken over by Black Duck Software and now runs under the name of Open HUB, the open source network to “Discover, Track and Compare Open Source”. What a laugh. Since Black Duck took over things continuously have gotten worse, spinning repository updates became infrequent, and now OpenHUB simply can’t catch up with all projects, their engine for months was months behind with updating source code, and now completely fails on big repositories.
Don’t forget that Ohloh, just like Black Duck, was created by people from Microsoft. They both should be treated as such. █
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“There’s no company called Linux, there’s barely a Linux road map. Yet Linux sort of springs organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it. That is, it’s free.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO at the time
Summary: Corporate media helps stigmatise Free/Open Source software as unsuitable for commercial use and once again it uses the ‘security’ card
SEVERAL days ago in our daily links we includes two articles that used the term “commercial software” (to mean proprietary software). Both cited Synopsys. It is amazing that even in 2015 there are some capable of making this error, maybe intentionally. Commercial software just means software that is used commercially. A lot of it is Free/Open Source software (the corporate media prefers the term “Open Source” to avoid discussion about the F word, “freedom”).
“Commercial software just means software that is used commercially.”Yesterday we found yet another headline which repeats the same formula (as if they all received the same memo), calling proprietary software “commercial software”, thereby reinforcing the false dichotomy and the stigma of Free software. “Looking at our Java defect density data through the lens of OWASP Top 10,” says Synopsys, “we observe that commercial software is significantly more secure than open source software.”
Another article from yesterday reminded us that Free software takes security very seriously and top/leading Free software projects are widely regarded (even by Coverity) as more secure than proprietary counterparts. Oddly enough, Synopsys links to a “Coverity Scan Open Source Report 2014″, not 2015, and the report is behind walled gardens, so it is hard to check if these headlines tell the whole story or just part of it. The analysis itself is done by proprietary software, whose methods are basically a secret. Go figure…
We recently saw some very gross distortions where security issues in proprietary software got framed as a Free software issues. As we have repeatedly demonstrated and stressed over the past years and a half, there seems to be a campaign of FUD, ‘branding’, and logos (the latest being targeted at Android/MMS) whose goal is to create or cement a damaging stereotype while always ignoring back doors and even front doors in proprietary software (now out in the open because of the British Prime Minister and the ringleader of the FBI). █
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“Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”
–Microsoft, internal document
Summary: At the CBS-owned ZDNet, which is Free/Open Source software-hostile, new FUD surfaces, but the FUD is so flawed that a full rebuttal is easy and almost imperative
Microsoft still chronically hates Free/libre software (especially classic copyleft) and it is desperately craving for some ‘dirt’ on it, no matter how hard it is to find. Microsoft propagandist (for nearly a decade now, or at least half a decade, both at CBS and at IDG) Mary Branscombe decided to pick on Free/libre software. The result is laughable. It’s a terrible piece. ZDNet, part of CBS, published this nonetheless. The editor (probably Larry) was apparently OK with that.
With fair use in mind, we are going to deconstruct everything in Branscombe’s article and show that it’s just a pile of baloney. Let’s start with the headline:
“Open source: Free as in speech, beer – or puppy?”
Not even original. Sun’s old CEO used this analogy (“puppy”) a very long time ago, before Sun defected to Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and got a new CEO. Branscombe is just copying or even ‘stealing’ the analogy without any attribution.
“It’s hard to give developers more control over how their work is used and still keep it open source.”
That’s an insane talking point. It’s like saying that the needs of the developers to oppress the users outweigh the needs and the interests of users. Branscombe encourages and advocates user-subjugating software. How ethical does it make her seem? Moreover, as we shall explain later, this affects all types of software, including proprietary software. It’s not a FOSS issue at all.
“When you put your code out under an open source licence, how much control can you expect over what it’s used for?”
Free software developers are developing because they want people to use their software. If Branscombe had spoken to any developers (even those of proprietary software), she would quickly realise that exercising control over the users is not the goal of these developers. Exploiting users is often the job (or the goal) of non-technical managers, who sometimes share users’ data with marketers, spies, etc.
“Open source has often been described as ‘free as in speech, rather than free as in beer’. Yes, it’s software that’s free to use, but the lack of a price tag isn’t always the main point.”
That’s quoting Richard Stallman without naming him. But to say that free software means “free to use” is to show lack of comprehension of his points. Free/libre software isn’t about “free to use”; the four freedoms which Stallman speaks about are what it’s really about.
“For some it’s about not being encumbered by limiting commercial licences or patents and royalties, for others it’s about the importance of being able to see and modify the source code of what they’re running (or distributing source so users can see it).”
By “commercial licences” she means proprietary licences. That’s a different thing. Regarding “patents and royalties”, this may inadvertently refer to software covered by the terms described under the text of the GPLv3.
The point about “distributing source so users can see it” is bizarre because visibility alone does not make software “Free software” or even “Open Source”. That’s just how Microsoft fraudulently openwashes a lot of its software. Branscombe helps this villainous mirage.
Now comes some of the more horrid stuff, as Branscombe probably believes that she kindly introduced FOSS in a fair and balanced fashion.
“And as I’ve long said, open source can also be ‘free as in puppy’; you take on the responsibility of care and keeping when you start to depend on open source software.”
Right, because nobody ever comes to depend on proprietary software? Whose stewardship and maintenance are both monopolised by people whose agenda differs from yours? This, if anything, is a point against proprietary software.
“You can run into problems if the project is no longer developed, or pulled suddenly when the company is bought by Apple and you discover you were using open source components that depended on a closed source core like FoundationDB, and that core is no longer available.”
Because proprietary software companies never get bought? Or discontinue a product? Oh, wait, they do. And often. If it’s Free software, then you can at least take charge or rely on others to take charge (e.g. forks or newly-created successors). Again, if anything, this is a point against proprietary software. Branscombe twists a problem with proprietary software as one exclusive to Free software. We saw other examples of that shameless spin very recently, as recently as one week ago.
“That makes it vital to always look carefully at the licence for open source software, especially if your business is involved (that’s part of the care and keeping of the free puppy).”
Right, because proprietary software licences never change? Or the EULA (see how Vista 10 trashes privacy this week)? You don’t even get to vote on or reject those. If a Free software project diverges from a licence in a way that people are opposed to, they can then fork while maintaining the more desirable licence. This, in turn, puts more pressure on the developer to obey the needs of the users. It keeps developers honest and obedient to their users; they cannot merely ‘occupy’ and thereby mistreat users. Isn’t that a positive thing in a moral society?
“But for some software developers, the free speech comparison is getting more relevant.”
The example she thus provides is irrelevant to free speech:
“Take the GIMP project, which stopped using SourceForge to distribute the Windows installer for its open source image editor in 2013, because of the ads that started appearing on the site featuring download buttons for alternative versions of the software.”
Advertising is not a matter of free speech and denying advertising is not a matter of free speech, either.
“GIMP left the site up because there were so many links to it online, but stopped updating the installers there. SourceForge deemed the product abandoned and started mirroring the releases from GIMP, but it also ‘experimented’ with wrapping the GIMP installer with adware.”
Therein lies the problem. Adware. It’s not just about ads on a page. It’s proprietary garbage that is not wanted and is improperly bundled.
“The GIMP team wasn’t happy (and SourceForge stopped wrapping the installer, although it didn’t stop mirroring it). But because GIMP is under the GPL and LGPL licences SourceForge did nothing wrong: those licences allow software to be repackaged.”
Nobody ever alleged that SourceForge had violated any software licences, so it’s unclear where Branscombe is going with this. No point is being made except the fact that developers can revoke endorsement (not distribution) of some piece of software if inappropriately packaged. GIMP developers packed up and moved. That’s a good thing. Some call it “free market”.
“Android tool developer Collin Mulliner was equally upset to discover that Hacking Team (an Italian company that sells surveillance tools to governments) had used his Android framework to build their Android voice call monitoring software.”
That is a licence violation. So what’s her point?
“”For the future I will use a license for all my software that excludes use for this kind of purpose,” he said in the blog he wrote to make it clear that he didn’t work on the Hacking Team tool. But that might be hard: writing a licence that lets people use your code freely means they can use the code for anything they want.”
But Hacking Team violated the terms of the GPL. Therein lies the main issue. Proprietary software would not have done any better at preventing use for malicious purposes, so how is this even relevant?
“Douglas Crockford famously added a line to his licence for JSON that said it couldn’t be used for evil (and just as famously said that IBM had asked for a variation because they couldn’t guarantee that their customers wouldn’t use it for evil).”
Is that a bad thing?
“Yes, the GPL has repeatedly been used in court, but mostly to force companies to comply with the rules about open sourcing their own code if they’ve published software based on GLP-licenced code.”
The typo/bad English aside (the verb has an “s” in it, but maybe this poor pieces was composed in a rush), is Branscombe trying to insinuate that honouring a licence is a bad thing?
“Commercial use is easier to police, but anyone who is going to use open source code for evil is unlikely to pay much attention to licences that say they can’t, and having people use your code for purposes you don’t approve of is pretty much the definition of free speech.”
Proprietary software (commercial software as Branscombe calls it) has exactly the same issues, so what is her point anyway? Where is that “free puppy” point ever coming into play?
“It’s going to take some careful writing of licences to give developers more control over how software they open source is used in the ways they want, without stopping the open uses they want to enable.”
Again, nothing to do with “Open Source” (Free software) at all. Branscombe takes an issue that applies to all software and frames it as one pertaining to Free software. But why? Just look at Branscombe’s history of badmouthing Microsoft’s competitors. █
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