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09.10.20

The GNOME Foundation Arguably Gave a Patent Troll Even More Legitimacy by Settling and Failing to Dismantle Shoddy Software Patents

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 9:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They’ve legally endorsed software patents

Summary: The IBM-connected GNOME Foundation wants us to think that letting a troll out on the loose is good news or “victory”; but actually, the patents of the troll are still in tact, posing a threat to many and setting no useful precedent (they technically settled over software patents)

THE other day I saw the post — a belated but very detailed post — about the GNOME Foundation’s patent lawsuit (and counter-suit). It’s from an IBMer and we know that IBM is a HUGE fan of software patents. It lobbies for them constantly, not only in the US but everywhere in the world. I was tempted to respond but did not do so until I saw the above video segment. It’s a video that I do not fully agree with and mostly disagree with for reasons specified several times before in relation to this particular lawsuit. Basically, the GNOME Foundation amassed a lot of money for a pro bono fight; there’s no disclosure/explanation what happened to all that money.

“It may seem like a win for Shotwell, but it’s a loss for the overall battle against software patents and arguably, at least by extension, a loss for programming, including Free software.”More importantly, however, the patent troll was left with the shoddy patents (not a single one was thrown out), free to sue lots of companies provided their products aren’t licensed as Free software or ‘open source’ (as per the OSI’s definition). What’s more, the troll got a zero-cost settlement, which can be used as a sort of ‘ammo’ proving the supposed ‘value’ of the patent/s at hand. So the GNOME Foundation did not actually complete the job; as IBM or OIN would have liked, they did not challenge software patents and in fact left the troll on the loose. It may seem like a win for Shotwell, but it’s a loss for the overall battle against software patents and arguably, at least by extension, a loss for programming, including Free software. That troll is still out there with all those patents. Since GNOME is mostly controlled by IBM (or formerly Red Hat), this whole thing shows how IBM policies supersede Red Hat’s. Bruce Perens recently highlighted those problems with OIN, which basically guards software patents from/against Free software-led reforms.

In this particular case the patent could be squashed using prior art, obviousness, and/or abstractness (Sections 101-103), but no such effort was followed through. Microsoft too was reportedly involved. Moreover, the troll in question received these patents from Microsoft’s troll, as we noted several times in the past.

The media never bothered covering this properly. Shallow journalism has become the norm, appeasing big sponsors.

09.05.20

Miguel de Icaza Came to Bruce Perens/Debian (“Permission to Use Debian’s Resources”) Just Months After His Job Interview at Microsoft

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 10:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A foot mark

Summary: A little history lesson about GNOME and Miguel de Icaza, who exploited unhappiness/concerns about the licence of Qt (the building blocks of KDE) to push a GTK-based alternative whilst also exploring working for Microsoft

THE Microsoft employee (and prior to that Microsoft mole) Miguel de Icaza can be seen in the Debian-Private archives of 1997. It started with “Debian services for GNOME” and became a massive thread regarding “giving money to gnome” (or to KDE).

We’ve examined the contents of some of these E-mails; that gives a glimpse into what surrounded the Qt controversy (likely to be revived soon). “Qt” is mentioned in the subject line of 52 messages of this archive (e.g. “let’s dump Qt”, “FreeQt”, “RMS on enforcing against Qt”, “qt license”, “building a free replacement for Qt” to quote just subject lines, KDE excluded). Here’s an outline of stuff about GNOME:

Debian services for GNOME

As per Wikipedia: “In summer of 1997, he [de Icaza] was interviewed by Microsoft for a job in the Internet Explorer Unix team (to work on a SPARC port), but lacked the university degree required to obtain a work H-1B visa. He said in an interview that he tried to persuade his interviewers to free the IE code even before Netscape did so with their own browser.”

That’s just a few months before the E-mails above. As people noted in the thread, Debian’s rival was Microsoft, not Red Hat. Why give that much access to someone so loyal to Microsoft? Craving a job at Microsoft…

Less than a decade later he helped engineer the Microsoft/Novell patent deal (an attack on the GPL, attack on GNU/Linux at large). Richard Stallman called him a “traitor”. But was he ever loyal (at all) to Free software?

08.13.20

Harfbuzz Joins LibFFI, Zlib1g in Dragging GNOME, All Free Software Towards Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNOME at 12:06 am by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

A combination lock

Summary: “…I don’t want to help them help Microsoft control my computing by proxy — by controlling the development platform itself”

For those of you who started complaining about this in late 2019, well done. You get the credit for early warning.

The name “Harfbuzz” is based on a translation of the phrase “OpenFont”. Its lead author is Behdad Esfahbod, who is also the lead dev of Pango — the GNOME thingy that (typically) makes text happen. I don’t know (or very much care) about the finer details about that, I know that my Gtk applications refuse to run without it.

GNOME is not directly a Microsoft hostage, even though lots of its people have sold us out over the years. Many people have betrayed both Free software and rms, but the only person rms ever called a “traitor” was GNOME co-founder Miguel de Icaza. He should have simply called GNOME traitors instead — a better warning to the rest of us.

But in fairness, most GUI toolkits require libffi and/or zlib1g, and both of those are hostages of Microsoft GitHub.

Both GNOME and KDE require Harfbuzz as well, and as of last year it looks like Esfahbod (or someone close to them) worked to make Pango — which is not a GitHub hostage — require Harfbuzz, which is.

Even people at Phoronix thought this sucked. Bitmap fonts — those were an option. Harfbuzz, that was also relatively optional. Remember when Free software was modular, and things like this were typically optional? Yeah, less and less so all the time.

So while I am aware that GNOME is not the only problem here, this makes even firmer my resolve to rid myself of GTK where I can.

It is nearly impossible to boycott GitHub without boycotting Free software (GNU/Linux at least) — I recommend people try anyway, and it didn’t take long for people to ask me if I was boycotting my own.

The answer to that is “Yes”. Sometimes, at least.

For example, my three favourite languages (all related) are fig, figplus and Python. For Python I have mostly switched to PyPy, and I basically (can’t think of an exception) do not develop Python-based software that will not work in PyPy. For fig 5, I switched to PyPy for the default.

Figplus still uses Python (it will work with PyPy however) and it will work with Pygame if you install that. Note that if Pygame is not installed, it will just try to use text “graphics” instead.

For fig I actually removed Pygame and added support for full colour text. Figplus has a few other extra features, but I am largely boycotting it (not 100%, but I definitely avoid it regularly) in favour of relatively GitHub-free fig.

I have removed leafpad (GitHub, Gtk) and now lean towards Tkinter-based editors. On this machine (where I typed this article as well as my recent book) I have not used xterm in a while.

There are certainly things I need xterm (or something like it) for, such as doing “graphics” in fig 5.0. But for most command line tasks, I am using a text editor. For example, if I want to know how much free space there is on the drive:

    df -h | grep sd

I type that line and hit CTRL-T, then it gives me the output of the command. Errors are ignored (I could fix that, I haven’t) though I can say “df -h 2> log | grep sd

Then cat the log.

One of my favourite tools is gdmap, though it needs Harfbuzz and Gtk so I am eager to come up with a simple, homemade-quality replacement.

I can do a GUI app, but I’m always loath to because they’re really kind of a pain to make in my opinion. I do like CGI, old-fashioned though it is. Everyone uses frameworks now.

Gdmap creates a treemap that shows grouping (by folder) and (relative) sizes of files, giving you a really great idea of what stuff takes up the greatest amount of space on your system. I used screencaps of it on this page.

I could just look up that project to create a treemap of folders in Tkinter — I wasn’t thrilled with it, but it does what it claims. MY thoughts on a simple tool to create an “overview” like Gdmap while accepting many imperfections (favouring simplicity) goes like this:

* Use find and/or du -k and/or PyPy to get the filesizes for every file

* Get the int of the SQRT of the filesize as a variable

* Create a div of that integer (height/width, square) in whatever background colour is associate with the file extension (Gdmap lets you configure that)

* Use float:left or float:right CSS (try both) to make it so as many squares fit together as possible. This will probably be really lame and result in single rows where we want several.

But up to a certain size filesystem, this would probably be better than nothing. For the moment, I’m using this:

    for p in $(find / -type d) ; do echo $(find "$p" |
    egrep -v "\.html" | 
    wc -l) " " $(/mnt/sda1/usr/bin/du -k "$p" --exclude="*.html" | 
    tail -1) ; done | sort -n 

What this does is create a list of all folders in /, which it then lists with first the COUNT of files under each folder, followed by the total SIZE of the files under each folder, sorted by count. Excluding certain filetypes is optional; you can also exclude more than one.

If you page up through this list (I use a text editor, you could also use “more” while possibly reversing the list) you will find the file count gradually and smoothly lowers, while the size also tends to lower but occasionally jumps back up.

The places where you notice the total size “jump” are the places where the “big” files are. So graphics, sound, video, very large program binaries — those will cause such jumps in size relative to file count.

You can go through thousands of folders in a few minutes and find where the largest files are. You can do this with “du -k / | sort -n” as well, but now you have tens or hundreds of thousands of files to process, rather than folders.

Gdmap will not show you all of your smallest files, what it does best is show you where the biggest files (and biggest groups of big files) are. This will do that as well.

I can think of various ways to display this information, I’ve played with graphics for more than 25 years, but sometimes I’m trying to get a task done rather than create something that’s very attractive.

My priority here is boycotting software that I can manage without. Gdmap was always good to me, though Gtk was always a liability. “No” is about the only currency we have against this takeover, and if effort isn’t sometimes made then progress isn’t either.

As for Behdad Esfahbod, the funny thing is that they (I’m happy to use “they/them” as preferred pronouns, I’ve never had a problem using singular “they” at all) do not approve of Microsoft’s practices, which they consider unfair — they even tweeted Satya Nadella to complain.

So it’s funny then, when someone who (unless I read this wrong) worked at Google, Red Hat AND Facebook — that’s one HALF of GIAFAM, has a problem with Microsoft over monopoly abuse.

Hello… the rest of GIAFAM isn’t exactly working for our freedom either. I don’t deny that Microsoft is among the worst on the list.

Considering that they are forcing GNOME closer to Microsoft GitHub, the truth is that Esfahbod has worked for TWO THIRDS of GIAFAM — including Microsoft, for whom they develop.

I may not be able to remove Gtk from my system, though I can minimise my use of Gtk applications — and that helps to boycott GNOME (which is evil and toxic, Open Source and anti-freedom) and Microsoft Harfbuzz at the same time.

I hope they #deletegithub rather than continue to help out a company they claim to dislike. I know I’m putting in a great deal of effort to avoid this garbage, but nobody (certainly not the president of the FSF, who was a Microsoft GNUStep developer) cares if they’re helping Microsoft control my computing or not.

But I don’t want to help them help Microsoft control my computing by proxy — by controlling the development platform itself. That can’t be how the FSF intends to spend your donations “fighting” for your freedom — by putting a monopoly in charge of it?

If this isn’t a parallel universe to the one with the FSF I thought I knew, YOU explain how this happened.

Long live rms, and happy software boycotting.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

07.24.20

Many Things to Feel Thankful for in the GNU/Linux and Free Software Community

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE at 11:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The success of Free software may be proportional to the veracity and determination of attacks on it

Tribbles/creatures: It says 'GPL', so you can make as many copies as you wish

Summary: Although we may seem pessimistic at times, for we’ve come under many forms of attacks lately, Free software keeps growing and it has also grown more robust to disruption (from those it replaces, making some hopeless monopolists obsolete or increasingly powerless)

THOUGH it may often seem like we have nothing positive to tell, except perhaps in Daily Links, we’re actually grateful and satisfied to see a number of positive trends, which likely secure software freedom for our future. Let’s elaborate for a bit.

“Don’t fall for the shaming tactics and other manipulations perpetrated and constantly disseminated by dying monopolies. They bomb people for a living while calling us “rude”.”Aside from all sorts of work to liberate ourselves from superficial and artificial hardware restrictions (e.g. booting freedom), we’ve been seeing growing adoption of “open hardware” and freer silicon designs. This is something which seemed like a distant dream a few decades ago. Seemingly unsurmountable obstacles are no more. We have more options out there. Days ago we wrote about a 'flood' of laptops with GNU/Linux preloaded. Some of these include booting freedom as a selling point. This is great!

For me, personally, seeing the demise of the UPC and of software patents (especially in the US) is very much encouraging. Prior to Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101 (SCOTUS, 2014) it seemed almost impossible. Many fellow activists did not believe they could stop the UPC, either. But we did it. Eventually…

Seeing how projects are migrating out of (or away from) GitHub is also encouraging. Some of them are partly inspired by things we wrote here (they state that their motivations include our articles). Even some really large projects are becoming self-hosted. As for KDE and GNOME, they’ve chosen Gitlab and some of the developers adopt Mastodon (or similar) instead of proprietary and centralised Social Control Media such as Twitter. Over the past few years they’ve been saying “Free software” more often (the term “Open Source” is losing its appeal) and there seems to be growing awareness of the attacks against the community, including but not limited to attacks by Microsoft. GitHub is one of those attacks; “Microsoft loves Linux” is “stop resisting” (the police saying, typically uttered when brutalising defenseless people).

I’m ever so thankful for having found Free software; it has the capacity and the means to improve society, to tackle injustices, to enhance transparency, to improve working conditions, to reduce inequality, and to speed up scientific progress at a global scale, without exclusion. Nothing is more tolerant than Free software. Don’t fall for the shaming tactics and other manipulations perpetrated and constantly disseminated by dying monopolies. They bomb people for a living while calling us “rude”. Machinations and manipulations of this kind aren’t uncommon. They’re projection tactics at best.

06.19.20

At the End Microsoft Pays/Hires to Reward Its ‘Moles’ or ‘Footsoldiers’

Posted in GNOME, Microsoft at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

De Icaza rich

Miguel de Icaza poses as Gates

OpenLogic Stormy Peters

Stormy Peters at Microsoft

Summary: Team Mono took over GitHub (Nat Friedman), Stormy Peters came to Microsoft, Miguel de Icaza came to Microsoft; notice the pattern…

THIS article about GNOME received shallow condemnations from GNOME people. Why? Because they deliberately distorted what it actually said. Ever noticed how GNOME Foundation people — when not too busy bashing Richard Stallman (by twisting his words) — help Microsoft? Ever noticed how many former chiefs of the GNOME Foundation end up working (directly) for Microsoft? This is the kind of thing we were alluding to when we simply pointed out that the whole board of the Foundation is on GitHub (Microsoft), with accounts that are controlled by Microsoft.

As a bonus, in the above photos, especially that last one, one can also see cross-pollination with OSI (its board). Entryism oughtn’t be taken lightly. Money does corrupt things and according to new reports some people have the balls to walk away. See “CEO of Open Technology Fund Resigns After Closed-Source Lobbying Effort” published just hours ago… (sent to us by two people already)

06.11.20

[Humour] Where Did GNOME Foundation Put All That Money?

Posted in GNOME, IBM, Patents at 3:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Context: OSI Celebrates Software Patents Effectively Being Licensed by GNOME Foundation, Not Abolished (Reaffirmed Rather Than Invalidated)

Side glance monkey: Give money for GNOME Legal defence, a legal firm represented us for free and we settled rather than defended

Summary: Shearman and Sterling offered to do the work for free; so where did all the money raised for the legal battle (which did not squash a single patent) end up?

Shearman and Sterling

Pro-bono Shearman and Sterling

Shearman and Sterling

OSI Celebrates Software Patents Effectively Being Licensed by GNOME Foundation, Not Abolished (Reaffirmed Rather Than Invalidated)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNOME, IBM, Microsoft, OSI, Patents at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Let’s celebrate settling with a Microsoft-connected troll?

OSI: Celebrating GNOME's Patent Settlement
OSI celebrating IBM-dominated GNOME’s capitulation by licensing at zero cost (while letting the troll carry on suing and blackmailing other companies, using dubious software patents it received from Microsoft's patent troll, Intellectual Ventures)

Summary: The Open Source Initiative (OSI) seems to represent the interests of companies that are supporting software patents; this isn’t what Free software was about, so clearly “Open Source” doesn’t stand for very much anymore…

THE OSI is no champion of software freedom. Heck, even the people who founded the OSI are no longer there and a list of sponsors says a lot about who runs the OSI (people from Facebook, Google, IBM and so on). Microsoft too is increasing its role inside the OSI, as we last noted earlier this week.

“They’re basically legitimising software patents instead of squashing them, if not in bulk than at least individually.”The GNOME Foundation’s settlement wasn’t a bad thing per se, but it’s hardly the best outcome (unless you’re IBM) and it might not be worth celebrating, as we explained before. They’re basically legitimising software patents instead of squashing them, if not in bulk than at least individually. Earlier today the OSI redefined “freedom” when it spoke of “freedom from suit for the open source software world for over 100 patents.” (Signed by the OSI’s Board of Directors)

“All these people care about is money and power, not ethics (even if they speak of “ethical” licences, wherein ethical means excluding and discriminating). The art of double-speak…”That’s basically like licensing over 100 patents of a nasty patent troll (which we’ve been writing about for years; there’s also a Microsoft connection).

So what does OSI stand for in 2020?

The OSI has also just advertised (again) “State of the Source Summit” and about a quarter if not a third of this announcement is about “Code of Conduct”; expect speakers to be employees of companies that help bomb countries, spy on billions of people and so on. But yes, it’s all about ethics and tolerance, right? Keep dreaming. All these people care about is money and power, not ethics (even if they speak of “ethical” licences, wherein ethical means excluding and discriminating). The art of double-speak…

“Open Source” is dead; in 2020 it’s just a fancy marketing buzzword of proprietary software giants. See what happened to the Linux Foundation… “Open Source” and openwashing have become the same thing.

All those people who donated to support the defence might have been bamboozled somewhat. According to press reports, the legal representatives for the GNOME Foundation came forth and did it pro bono. So where did all that money go?

06.07.20

All of GNOME Board of Directors Works on (for?) Microsoft GitHub

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Board of Directors

GNOME Board of Directors at GitHub
GNOME Board of Directors at Microsoft’s GitHub

Summary: The GNOME Board of Directors works for IBM and/or Microsoft at GitHub; it’s not entirely surprising that despite opposition from some GNOME developers the head of the GNOME Foundation, preceded by people who have since defected to Microsoft, described Dr. Richard Stallman as “reprehensible” and called for him to step down (from his very own thing, never mind the “G” in GNOME standing for GNU)

GIVEN Red Hat’s long-known (if not notorious) grip on GNOME and pertinent parts of it (the list is very long), we were not exactly surprised by the above finding. IBM’s influence aside, there’s also Microsoft, which not only has Miguel de Icaza but also Stormy Peters. It’s almost like Microsoft/IBM monopoly/duopoly somehow managed to get a grip on GNU/Linux through GTK/GNOME, if not through Linux, GNU at large, and KDE/Qt.

“It’s almost like Microsoft/IBM monopoly/duopoly somehow managed to get a grip on GNU/Linux through GTK/GNOME, if not through Linux, GNU at large, and KDE/Qt.”The GNOME Foundation’s Stallman-hostile messages (not the first time last year; some of the leadership of the GNOME Foundation has since then joined Microsoft, working for Microsoft directly) will cost the Foundation in credibility. Last month they settled with a patent troll instead of squashing the software patent after IBM/OIN had stepped in. Microsoft too claimed to be 'helping'. They’re not helping; they just help themselves to the cookie jar.

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