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08.23.16

The Linux Foundation Gives Microsoft (Paid-for) Keynote Position While Microsoft Extorts (With Patents) Lenovo and Motorola Over Linux Use

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another outrageous patent settlement that requires Microsoft bundling, but the Linux Foundation is too bribed by Microsoft to actually antagonise it any longer

“I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. [...] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”

Microsoft's chief evangelist

Summary: This morning’s reminder that Nadella is just another Ballmer (with a different face); Motorola and Lenovo surrender to Microsoft’s patent demands and will soon put Microsoft spyware/malware on their Linux-powered products to avert costly legal battles

MICROSOFT is not a friend. It’s a predator. It just changed the logo, the PR, and the CEO. It also started paying more and more money to its critics, including Linux OEMs, to keep them quiet. “Microsoft Keynoting LinuxCon,” said a headline from Phoronix yesterday. What it failed to say is that Microsoft actually pays the Linux Foundation to infiltrate it. This has gone on for a while. Earlier this month the Linux Foundation posted a Microsoft puff piece paid for by Microsoft. We mentioned it this worrisome development the other day (to their credit, the Linux Foundation did add a disclosure to this). The payment was made under the pretense of supporting a conference (i.e. interjecting Microsoft stuff into it).

Is Microsoft becoming more open? No, it’s spying more and more. All the core products are proprietary. What is PowerShell all about? Openwashing. “Embrace and extend” of wget and curl (soon to have Mono as well) while claiming to be “opening up” a part of Windows, which is proprietary spyware that defies law (and had Microsoft lose cases in court).

But never mind all the above. Has Microsoft actually made peace with GNU/Linux? Hardly. Au contraire. Microsoft is still attacking GNU/Linux. If “Microsoft loves Linux,” then it sure shows it like an abusive spouse that beats up the wife (to borrow the analogy from Simon Phipps). Microsoft extorts Linux again, but it has bamboozled the media like it first did when it attacked Acer. It did this several times more thereafter and we covered it earlier this year, e.g. in:

Remember what happened to Samsung when it said “No!”

Microsoft took it to court and Samsung later settled with bundling (early 2015). That’s like racketeering, but Microsoft is far too politically-connected to face charges under the RICO Act.

In the past, Microsoft was offering payments for bundling; right now, instead, it’s a patent settlement. A patent settlement over what? Linux. The media is calling it all sorts of things other than patent settlement (after threats), which is what it really is. Here is the coverage we see right now (misleading):

The following two articles suggest that Motorola too (already sued by Microsoft over patents) is a victim of this strategy:

All that Microsoft is trying to achieve here is control over Linux (or Android) users, e.g. using Skype malware. People who actually think that Microsoft has changed need to reassess their trust in corporate media (much of the above is Microsoft-connected media and Microsoft advocacy sites that help mislead other media).

08.22.16

Apple’s Patent Wars Against Android/Linux Make Patent Trolls Stronger

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Samsung at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rounded corners? Apple’s invention!

UK power socket

Summary: Apple’s insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns

TROLLS, or patent sharks, typically use software patents, but what if they also had design patents at their disposal?

Apple‘s war on Android, which manifested itself in a now-settled case against HTC and later in a long patent war against Samsung, may prove to be counterproductive now that Apple attracts patent trolls like VirnetX, to which it might be forced to pay billions of dollars. A pro-software patents site now says that “Apple will also be an even richer target for the new breed of design patent trolls” if it wins its case against Samsung/Android (over design patents). To quote this new article:

On October 11, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear Samsung’s appeal of the Federal Circuit’s affirmation of the jury’s damage award to Apple of Samsung’s “total profits” on sales of the infringing smartphones even though it had only infringed Apple’s design of the iPhone’s outer shell. In upholding the “total profits” award, the Federal Circuit determined that it was bound to uphold the jury’s award by the “explicit” and “clear” statutory language relating to design patent infringement damages.

[...]

The importance of the Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling here is underscored by the numerous amicus curiae briefs filed (27 at last count). With over 205 billion in cash reserves at last count, Apple certainly doesn’t “need” the full nine-figure damage award. And, given the far reaching implications of this case, Apple may live to regret its aggressive pursuit of “total profits” for design patent infringement by finding itself battling design patent holders seeking to recover Apple’s total device profits for infringement of even a minor design feature. Apple will also be an even richer target for the new breed of design patent trolls already surfacing based, at least in part, on Apple’s success in this case. Clearly it is time for Congress to step in and amend Section 289 to add apportionment language.

No wonder technology companies are overwhelmingly supportive of Samsung in this case — a high-profile case over design patents.

In other news, Vera Ranieri from the EFF has this new update about one of their high-profile cases against patent trolls. Ranieri writes:

There has been significant activity relating to cases and patent infringement claims made by Shipping & Transit, LLC, formerly known as ArrivalStar. Shipping & Transit, who we’ve written about on numerous occasions, is currently one of the most prolific patent trolls in the country. Lex Machina data indicates that, since January 1, 2016, Shipping & Transit has been named in almost 100 cases. This post provides an update on some of the most important developments in these cases.

In many Shipping & Transit cases, Shipping & Transit has alleged that retailers allowing their customers to track packages sent by USPS infringe various claims of patents owned by Shipping & Transit, despite previously suing (and settling with) USPS. EFF represents a company that Shipping & Transit accused of infringing four patents.

The above is a timely and good example. It demonstrates not just of the harms of patent trolls but also the harms of software patents, which in the large majority of cases rely on them. If Apple made design patents stronger, with affirmation from the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), the damage would be enormous.

Apple is on the wrong side of history.

08.12.16

In Its War Against Android/Linux, Apple Supported by Non-Producing/Non-Practicing Parasites, Whereas Technology Companies Support the Android OEM

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Samsung at 5:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple’s frivolous lawsuits against Android OEMs win the support not of technology companies (these actually oppose Apple’s actions) but of some “non-tech companies, high-profile designers and intellectual property associations”

A few days ago we mentioned Florian Müller‘s latest article on Samsung v Apple (or vice versa) — an article which he later corrected for errors (amici overlooked or simply not yet listed at the time). It turns out that Müller wasn’t far from the truth, however, as technology companies pretty much reject Apple’s position. Müller has since then continued to highlight Samsung matters such as this likely new IPO or Google’s antitrust worries in Korea [1, 2], the home of Samsung. “The South Korean government has delayed a decision on whether it will accept Google’s request to export South Korea’s detailed map data,” one of those articles says. “Less than 2 months to go until the Samsung v. Apple Supreme Court hearing on design patent damages,” he wrote about the case which involves patents granted by the USPTO in spite of their low quality (the EPO made similar mistakes under Battistelli).

“It turns out that Müller wasn’t far from the truth, however, as technology companies pretty much reject Apple’s position.”Not too long afterwards MIP published this article that says: “Ahead of a showdown over design patents at the Supreme Court in October, Samsung has received more support from US technology companies whereas Apple has received the backing of non-tech companies, high-profile designers and intellectual property associations” (i.e. not quite producing companies). Patently-O wrote about this as well, noting that Apple’s “visual design is critically important in the sales of complex products.” That’s just branding and hype (or compelling marketing), i.e. the bread and butter of Apple. Patent-granting should be a scientific process, entirely disconnected from hype or brand recognition.

07.27.16

OIN Makes Claims About “Open Source Innovation”, But It Produces Nothing and Protects Virtually Nobody

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, OIN, Patents at 4:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A better initiative would strive and work towards ending software patents, not faith-based ‘protection’

“Where knowledge ends, religion begins.”

Benjamin Disraeli

Summary: The Open Invention Network (OIN) reports growth, but in practical terms it does little or nothing to help developers of Free/Open Source software

THE function of OIN seems benign if not benevolent on the surface; the problem is, it helps distract from better efforts that would more effectively defend Free/Open Source software (FOSS). Another not-so-useful initiative was Peer-to-Patent, but it seems to be gone by now.

OIN is growing (see the OIN ‘Community’) and MRV has just joined OIN (see the press release [1, 2], mostly or completely overlooked by reporters). This is a sign of growth, but it is growth which won't help FOSS all that much because it was never truly designed with FOSS in mind. The “Open Source Innovation” mentioned in the title of the press release wrongly assumes this will be beneficial to FOSS, but unless every company in the world joined and vowed not to sue any of the other members (like Oracle suing Google), what would it achieve? And what about lawsuits by proxy? Even if Microsoft was ever to join, its patent trolls (two of which we wrote about last night) would still be capable of suing Linux developers/companies.

Speaking of which, even Android players are a patent menace at times (e.g. Sony). A new and relatively long article by Professor Jason Rantanen speaks about Ericsson’s patent troll, Unwired Planet, and its case against Apple. “This post will focus on the issue of fault in the context of Unwired Planet,” he wrote upfront, “although its observations about fault are relevant to issues of culpability in the context of enhanced damages determinations.”

Even if Ericsson was ever to join OIN, this would not prevent it from suing Android OEMs, directly or via proxies like Unwired Planet (which even operates in Europe now).

07.26.16

Microsoft Says It Loves Linux, But Its Anti-Linux Patent Trolls Are Still Around and Active

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 3:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rockstar Consortium

Summary: Highlighting just two of the many entities that Microsoft (and partners) use in order to induce additional costs on Free (as in freedom) software

AN article from exactly 5 years ago spoke about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s largest patent troll. To quote the outline from BoingBoing: “NPR’s Planet Money looks at Intellectual Ventures, the patent-exploitation firm started by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold. Intellectual Ventures presents itself as a firm that goes to bat for inventors, buying up their patents with the intention of getting big guys who abuse them to pay up. But the reality discovered by Planet Money is very different: Intellectual Ventures doesn’t put up very many compelling reference customers for their “protecting and enriching inventors” mandate, but there are examples of patents being sold on again to out-and-out trolls who make nothing but lawsuits, using shaky patents to attack big and small firms and extract rent from them. It appears there’s even a town in Texas where empty office buildings house the “headquarters” of shell companies who buy poor-quality patents from distressed companies and get big judgements from a sympathetic local court. Overall, Planet Money paints a picture of software patent aggregators like IV as parasitic bullies who use their enormous patent portfolios to intimidate other firms into paying fees that end up being incorporated into the prices that you and I pay when we buy goods and services.”

Well, Intellectual Ventures is still being treated so favourably by IAM, which receives money from patent trolls and sets up events for them. Today it said that “a slowdown in buying activity at Intellectual Ventures (IV) has been highlighted as having had a substantial impact on Transpacific’s income.”

Layoffs at Intellectual Ventures have been mentioned over the past couple of years, but as Intellectual Ventures is not Microsoft’s only weapon we can look further into another new IAM article which says: “Recently published research has shed new light on the strategies employed by the world’s three leading sovereign patent funds (SPFs) – while discussion about the creation of similar entities in other countries appears to be picking up.”

Towards the end it says that “$4.5 billion eventually paid for it by the Rockstar consortium,” which is a Microsoft-connected patent troll we wrote about in past years. This is the troll which already targets Android/Linux with lawsuits [1, 2, 3, 4], just as Intellectual Ventures did (albeit less directly).

07.22.16

Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Patents at 4:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Read between the lines then…

Blockstream logo

Summary: Blockstream says that it comes in peace when it comes to software patents, which triggers speculations about coming Blockchain patent wars

THE PAST few years were baffling as companies equated promises not to sue with “Open Source” or “open-source” (with a dash, to help dodge the trademark perhaps). Examples we covered here included, notably, Tesla and Panasonic.

A couple of days ago we saw that Blockstream had claimed the following: “Today we are excited to announce some important steps we are taking on the patent front, why these defensive steps are necessary, and our hope that others will see merit in our approach and follow our lead.

“The system as it stands is inherently hostile towards GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software, which is what Blockchain is all about.”“Core to the Bitcoin ethos is permissionless innovation. Without it and the level of contribution to which it gave rise Blockstream would not be on the exciting path we find ourselves today. It should not come as a surprise then that permissionless innovation is also core to Blockstream’s ethos. We firmly believe that in order for Bitcoin and related technologies’ potential to be fully realized they must be underpinned by a global platform that is free for any innovator to use without hesitation.”

As Benjamin Henrion rightly asked, “where do you have patents? which numbers?” Another person, a patent attorney who specialises in patent data/statistics, noted that “Blockstream Does Not Have Any Patents Assigned to It.” This is not entirely shocking. Having written about Blockstream in the past (we have very broad scope in our daily links), not once did we mention it in relation to patents. Patently German hypothesised: “Preparation for future #blockchain #patent wars? Blockstream announces defensive patent pledge and patent agreement…” (IBM, a patent bully with software patents, is also heavily involved in the same Linux-centric space)

IP Watch, a decent watchdog of patent matters, wrote the headline “Trust Us, We Won’t Sue You” (it sounds rather humourous or sarcastic). It said that “Blockstream, which developed the blockchain technology and bitcoin, has announced a defensive patent strategy. The crux of it: assurance that users of its technology won’t be sued.”

“It seems like shameless self-promotion or a publicity stunt with a “patents” angle.”The EFF wrote about this as follows: “We’ve written many times about the need for comprehensive patent reform to stop innovation-killing trolls. While we continue to push for reform in Congress, there are a number of steps that companies and inventors can take to keep from contributing to the patent troll problem. These steps include pledges and defensive patent licenses. In recent years, companies like Twitter and Tesla have promised not to use their patents offensively. This week, blockchain startup Blockstream joins them with a robust set of commitments over how it uses software patents.”

Bob Summerwill told me [1, 2]: “I see this as hugely positive. Looks directly analogous to what the GPL does for copyrights. Use system against itself.”

Right, but unless Blockstream actually has some patents (there is no evidence of it so far), what can they really use against the system? The system as it stands is inherently hostile towards GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software, which is what Blockchain is all about.

Blockstream’s message is suggestive of unknown context (like something they know but are not telling us). It seems like shameless self-promotion or a publicity stunt with a “patents” angle. We have become accustomed to it. One company that should definitely do the same thing (but has not) is Red Hat. OIN membership does not guarantee this and if Red Hat got sold to some relatively hostile entity (like Sun to Oracle), there is no guarantee that Red Hat’s patents would not be used to wreak havoc (like a $10 billion lawsuit over a programming language alone, i.e. an order of magnitude worse than SCO versus IBM).

07.17.16

Microsoft and Its Patent Minions at Nokia Still Have Patent Stacking Ambitions Against Android/Linux OEMs

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 12:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The role of Ericsson and the EPO’s PR agency is mentioned as well

Calculator for tax

Summary: Weaponisation of European companies for the sake of artificial elevation of prices (patent taxes) a growing issue for Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and those behind it are circulating money among themselves not for betterment of products but for the crippling of FOSS contenders

THE long if not endless war waged by Microsoft against GNU/Linux is far from over. This past week, e.g. in our daily links, we gave several examples of the latest assaults by Microsoft (Android antitrust, Linux booting restrictions, lobbying against freedom-respecting policies and more), aside from the patent angle. Microsoft sure knows what it’s doing and if Microsoft succeeds, Linux-powered products will lose their broad appeal due to removed (thanks to legal threats) features and artificially-elevated prices. In this post we shall focus on the patent aspects alone, as we so typically do in order to keep things simpler.

“Microsoft sure knows what it’s doing and if Microsoft succeeds, Linux-powered products will lose their broad appeal due to removed (thanks to legal threats) features and artificially-elevated prices.”Let’s start with the Microsoft-friendly advocacy site, IAM ‘magazine’. IAM’s innuendo-filled focus on China’s patent activity as of late [1, 2] finally culminates in China’s “misuse of competition law for protectionist policies,” as if the West never ever does this (it’s certainly the norm at the USPTO and ITC). IAM wants to make China’s system (patents, courts etc.) look unfair and unjust, as it did the other day too. China is apparently very mean because there’s bias there that’s hardly unique to China. Huawei is the one major Android OEM that Microsoft never managed to blackmail using patents (it reportedly did try over the years) and IAM now says that “Huawei attracts flak from Nokia, while adversary Samsung signs major deal with the Finnish company” (good cop, bad cop). It is obviously a loaded headline and IAM does not tell readers that Nokia’s patent troll, MOSAID (now Conversant), is paying IAM. What a farce of a ‘news’ site. MOSAID (fed with Nokia patents at Microsoft’s instruction) can be viewed as somewhat of an extension of these entities and after Microsoft effectively hijacked Nokia it’s taxing Google/Android (hence Linux) in a royalty stacking fashion. This happens right now not only in the Western world but also in Asia, albeit Huawei has been one of the very few exceptions (the Chinese government, which is connected to it, seems to have protected it). “Here’s Why Nokia Is About To Get More Money Out Of Its Patents” is a new article from Fortune (writing a lot about patents so far this month) which reminds us that Microsoft essentially turned Nokia into a patent aggressor. Put another way, Microsoft made Nokia yet another one of its (many) patent trolls that are openly against Android and Linux. “I booked http://nokiaplanp.com,” wrote Benjamin Henrion, but that was “years ago, I was right.” The P stands for Patents and it happened around the time people were making jokes about Nokia’s plans under Microsoft’s mole, Elop (there were nearly a dozen such plans with a different alphabetic letter for each).

People are kindly asked to remember what Microsoft did to Nokia as revisionism about it is quite routine nowadays. Not only Nokia engages in such behaviour; Ericsson does this too and it goes as far as south Asia, e.g. India. European patent trolls come to India even if there are no software patents in India and virtually no patent trolls either, as we mentioned here before. Well, Micromax was last mentioned here a couple of months ago in relation to patent trolls, primarily Ericsson’s (the equivalent of MOSAID/Conversant to Nokia) and here is a new blog post about it:

Ericsson has been going all out to enforce its Standard Essentials Patents (SEP) against several mobile phone companies, such as Micromax, Intex and Lava, among others, who are primarily selling mobile phones in India. The outcome of these law suits will no doubt play a significant role in defining the future of licensing and enforcement of SEP in India.

The latest in these law suits is an interim judgement by The High Court of Delhi in the matter between TELEFONKTIEBOLAGET LM ERICSSON (Ericsson) and LAVA INTERNATIONAL LTD (Lava). The interim judgement is in favour of Ericsson. More importantly, the judgement deals with various aspects of licensing and enforcement of SEP.

Ericsson keeps 'hiding' behind proxies that are patent trolls in order to shake down practicing companies. It’s hardly even covert like Microsoft’s scheme. Everyone knows that Ericsson is doing this. Standard-essential patents (SEPs) are used here (Nokia has many of these too) and speaking of which, the Kat who is the most pro-software patents (based on years of posting history) wrote about the EPO's PR firm the other day, noting its take on SEP holders. “The final speaker was Mark Bezant from FTI consulting,” she wrote. “He mentioned that he is amongst the FRAND experts in the pending UK case of Unwired Planet v Samsung and Huawei [last reported by IPKat here]. He noted the two key issues in FRAND disputes: (a) the obligations placed on the SEP holders, and (b) the appropriate level of royalty rates. After reminding the audience of some of the methods discussed by Garreth Wong, he mentioned particular issues that arise in practice, such as having to rely on outdated licences or inherently complicated agreements. With respect to the incremental method of calculating royalties, he noted the difficulty in understanding the exact value a single patent has added to a standard. The most common approach, he explained, is looking at established comparable rates and matching them to the situation at hand. Mr Bezant concluded that one must establish a number of factors before assessing whether a licence is FRAND, such as the validity of the patents, the number of declared essential patents, the number of essential patents confirmed by a court, and the qualitative assessment performed by experts on the patents.”

“Remember that there are practically no workarounds for SEPs (by definition) and FRAND is not compatible with FOSS.”It’s rather curious to see Battistelli’s PR firm (at the expense of the EPO) promoting a software patents loophole and patent aggression. Then again, they also promote the UPC and pay IAM, which incidentally gets paid by patent trolls also. It is a hostile world out there and it makes life hard for FOSS proponents. Remember that there are practically no workarounds for SEPs (by definition) and FRAND is not compatible with FOSS.

06.17.16

Canonical’s and Red Hat’s Shameful War Against One Another… and Against the Already-Marginalised Linux Media

Posted in GNU/Linux, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Or: why I hardly cover GNU/Linux news (with original articles) anymore

The feuding cups

Summary: In an effort to trip each other up and in order to become the ‘industry standard’, Canonical and Red Hat hurt each other and alienate the media (what’s left of it)

TECHRIGHTS, with the exception of the daily links, does not cover GNU/Linux matters all that often. Not anymore. There’s a reason for this and it’s not just the growing role of software patents in the destruction/elimination of software freedom.

I wouldn’t be the first person to state that the GNU/Linux world can be harsh and brutal. People have free speech, which is absolutely fine (I’m a big opposer of censorship and self-censorship). But what happens when people cross the line of common sense and begin to personally attack writers and pundits? What happens when they do this on behalf of big and wealthy corporations? A lot of the abuse I received from the Mono crowd over the years (unimaginable abuse, comparing me even to a criminal) is ever more fascinating now that those very same people are Microsoft employees.

“A lot of the abuse I received from the Mono crowd over the years (unimaginable abuse, comparing me even to a criminal) is ever more fascinating now that those very same people are Microsoft employees.”I recently encountered or was the eyewitness of truly shameful attacks on Phoronix, both from developers and from sites like Reddit, which effectively blacklisted Phoronix, calling it “blogspam”. Reddit is full of censorship for those who don’t know it yet (our daily links have many articles about its political censorship too), but it’s rather unbelievable if not cynical when they block the whole of Phoronix (recently the subject of renewed debate over there and maybe a reversal/overturning of the ban, for the first time in a very long time).

The point I am trying to get across here is that it’s not easy to cover GNU/Linux news because there’s always someone, somewhere who isn’t happy. Thick skin is required. I hardly cover GNU/Linux matters (compared to past years), though it’s not because I’m offended or put off by personal attacks; it’s because I don’t always feel appreciated for the investigative work which I do. I generally snub any PR person or company spokesperson. I don’t trust them. I try to come up with an independent point of view; so do some journalists like Sam Varghese, who have earned nothing for that other than scorn and abuse.

I am not alone in this. Not many people are willing to speak out about it, perhaps fearing backlash. Consider Canonical with their disgusting blacklists of journalists who are not sucking up to Canonical and swallowing every ounce of Kool-Aid from Canonical, as pointed out not just by yours truly but also other bloggers/journalists (both privately and publicly, with those who do so privately fearing that these blacklists would treat them even more maliciously if they dared to rant).

“I try to come up with an independent point of view; so do some journalists like Sam Varghese, who have earned nothing for that other than scorn and abuse.”Red Hat is not much better by the way. The giant Linux firm is alienating people who often/always write out of passion, not for profit (financial gain) or for glory. Red Hat has a massive PR operation now (publicly and behind the scenes) and it’s not something which is pleasant to see because it reminds me of how Microsoft games the media, often bordering the unethical. When companies hire patent lawyers they tend to bring a lot of their (the latter’s) self-serving anti-etiquette and the same thing happens when companies hire PR people. Mass-mailing people is just one of their professional ‘skills’ and — at risk of saying something politically-incorrect — these tend to be women, preferably attractive women (this gives more impact to their work, along various different aspects beyond the scope of this post).

The other day I noticed a certain flamewar brewing between Red Hat and Canonical. They try to keep it on ‘low fire’, but it’s impossible to ignore the bigger picture.

openSUSE’s Twitter account, for example, wrote: “Of course kudos also go to http://flatpak.org . But canonical at least trying to behave and collaborate deserves respect” (that’s a polite way of saying that Fedora/Red Hat does not collaborate or does not deserve respect). Prior to that openSUSE mentioned Swapnil Bhartiya and said: “Kudos to @Canonical for working with other distributions on a new method of packaging applications #linux #respect https://twitter.com/swapnilbhartiya/status/743555291535519744″

“I soon learned of Fedora employees bashing the media wherever they could because some sites wrote about Canonical’s Snap initiative being an actual competitor to their Flatpak universal binary package.”OpenSUSE is trying not to take sides. They first retweeted Swapnil’s tweet saying “Kudos to Canonical for working with other distributions.” And then they say “Also kudos to http://flatpak.org” (as if someone from Fedora got in touch). In another tweet or a bunch of them we see what indicates that there is strong rivalry between Canonical and Red Hat. It makes us bloggers/journalists feel like collateral damage (or ‘tools’), and unlike these people who push us around, we don’t receive huge salaries for our work. For me, reporting is a purely voluntary activity with no financial gain. I decided to ask around and find out what the heck was going on, having seen how Red Hat strong-armed some distributions into embracing the “Red Hat way” — to the point where Canonical had to abandon some of their own projects.

I soon learned of Fedora employees bashing the media wherever they could because some sites wrote about Canonical’s Snap initiative being an actual competitor to their Flatpak universal binary package.

As a reminder for those who are not paying close enough attention, Flatpak is loosely connected to Systemd, probably Red Hat’s most controversial ‘lock-in’ at the moment. On the other hand, Canonical is trying to push its own ‘standards’, which it can probably do given its dominant position on the desktop (and almost on the server as well).

“Red Hat was apparently so pissed off by the whole thing that one Fedora employee (i.e. Red Hat) started chastising reporters.”One interesting fact I have learned is that several days ago Canonical basically spoon-fed some sites a so-called ‘scoop’, in order to ‘generate’ some coverage for Snaps. Not so atypical or unexpected from Canonical, but there we go…

Red Hat was apparently so pissed off by the whole thing that one Fedora employee (i.e. Red Hat) started chastising reporters. That employee was James Hogarth. He baselessly started accusing Softpedia on the fedora-devel mailing list, claiming that Softpedia said, to quote, “Canonical state that they have been working with Fedora developers…” (this was not said at all). There’s this reply from Michael Catanzaro of the GNOME Project. At that time, he took James Hogarth’s words for granted, assuming that Softpedia claimed something it didn’t. Here is a later response from him:

Just for the record… the Softpedia article doesn’t actually say “Canonical state that they have been working with Fedora developers to make this the universal packaging format.” It does say they’ve been “working for some time with developers from various major GNU/Linux distributions” and that “the Snap package format is working natively on popular GNU/Linux operating systems like [...] Fedora [...],” so it’s clear why there was confusion, but it doesn’t say that they’ve been working with Fedora specifically.

Later on Hogarth cited his colleague, Adam Williamson, with a rather offensive piece (“Canonical propaganda department”), adding “AdamW responds to the Canonical Snappy PR piece.”

“But either way, accusing publications of saying something they did not say is unfair, and it reflects badly on the community as a whole.”Michael Hall from Canonical said on Reddit that they talked with some Fedora people at some point (Michael Hall’s statement here is equally informative). But either way, accusing publications of saying something they did not say is unfair, and it reflects badly on the community as a whole.

I have a personal grudge with Canonical over how they treat media, having witnessed online friends becoming victims of theirs, but I didn’t think Red Hat would stoop down to this level as well. What we are basically witnessing here is a bunch of Red Hat (‘Fedora’) employees attacking the media over Snap/Flatpak war. They want the media to take sides and get upset that the media isn’t telling the story the way they want it to.

This isn’t some kind of epic rant from me, just an observation of something that I noticed in the past. If Softpedia folks and Phoronix (Michael Larabel) can be treated like enemies because they attempt to amicably — without controversy — cover GNU/Linux news, then what hope is there for more outspoken bloggers like myself? It’s sad as it’s not just one case; the above is symptomatic of something that has been going on for years and that’s why I don’t cover Linux issues such as Systemd. It’s almost suicidal. It’s nothing but trouble. Self-censorship ensues.

“They’ll need to learn to respect the media or earn no respect in return.”Why do journalists need to be abused for attempting to cover the news, even when they cover it correctly? There’s also this on LWN (Jimbob0i0 is James Hogarth) where, again, it’s said that Softpedia claimed something it didn’t.

Red Hat needs to respect people’s views, even when these views are not correct (in this particular case these views are correct). They’ll need to learn to respect the media or earn no respect in return. They need to work better with the media or have no media at all, except that which they pay for, e.g. their opensource.com propaganda rag (it spends much of its time just peddling a book that helps pretend Red Hat is “open”, based on the CEO’s words).

The above scenario is corrosive and harmful to the relationship between Free software developers and media. Why are they all still wondering why the GNU/Linux ecosystem is not united? Why the fragmentation? Why some many hundreds of distros? That’s why.

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