EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.08.19

The Linux Foundation in 2019: Over 100 Million Dollars in Income, But Cannot Maintain Linux.com?

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Foundation and Linux.com

Summary: Today’s Linux Foundation gets about 0.1 billion dollars per year (as explained in our previous post), so why can’t it spend about 0.1% of that money on people who write for and maintain a site that actually promotes GNU/Linux?

THE Linux Foundation isn’t what it seems; it isn’t even what it’s called. Our readers and guests often urge us to investigate further, getting to the bottom of what goes on at this relatively secretive nonprofit. Without going too deep into the 2017 IRS filing (it’s publicly available now and we shall write a lot more about it later) one can easily see that it’s not a nonprofit and it’s totally out of control. It’s more like a corporate PAC or pressure group. There are aspects to it that we weren’t aware of before. And readers be forewarned… it’s not pretty, to say the least.

I was all along under the impression that this PAC (or nonprofit or whatever) was at least defensive and supportive of the GPL, or copyleft in general. That is, after all, the licence of almost everything in Linux. Seeing what the PAC did to the Conservancy, however, many people started having doubts. A few days ago someone told me in Mastodon (Fediverse) [1, 2]: “[T]hanks for working on a LF [Linux Foundation] article. I’ve experienced not many people know that LF [Linux Foundation] is the corporate hand over the linux kernel development, and I’ve noticed a big part of the community does not much about this platform. I’d appreciate if you also wanted to mention (besides all other facts) that LF [Linux Foundation] has released all their recent projects with a permissive license and that they are actively fighting against copyleft. [...] thanks for the link to te [sic] /LinuxFoundation wikipage, I must have missed that earlier, and I was unaware you started such a brilliant investigation. Keep up the great work!”

Another reader wrote to us about the copyleft aspects (some stuff is just purely proprietary and suggests a Microsoft/LinkedIn account to apply). Last night he wrote: “The LF [Linux Foundation] mess looks like it is only starting. So far it has been uncovered that the kernel’s major competitors/opponents have joined LF [Linux Foundation]. Some from the worst are on the board and thus ultimately have oversight of Linus and his activities. Linus himself was temporarily removed last year in a massive non-technical intrigue and brought back after a longer pause in a diminished capacity. The LF [Linux Foundation] writers for the official web site have been dumped rudely a few months ago.

“In related news, Apple is ramping up its anti-GPL stance, see its motivations for its move from bash to zsh. Google is ramping up its anti-GPL stance, see some of its motivation for its move from Android to Fuchsia. You’ve been the only one covering that so far. Good work. It’s getting positive attention.”

If the Linux Foundation participates in anti-GPL agenda, then it is striking at the very core of Free software in order to promote stuff like “open core” (i.e. free bait for proprietary software). A decade back the Linux Foundation welcomed Black Duck as a member, only years after a Microsoft veteran had created Black Duck for the purpose of smearing and attacking the GPL (by their own admission).

Looking at responses to our more recent articles, this morning we see comments like: “Holy shit this is crazy, I kind of suspected that Linux is not as good as it was in the past now that Google and Microsoft are board members, but for it to happen this quickly. What can we expect, what can we do? Should we all switch to BSD based distros?”

“Well, this kind of stuff did make me seriously consider it,” someone responded. “I’m on manjaro myself. Loving the arch + usability,” said the third person.

Microsoft and Apple would certainly like it if people just moved to BSD-style licences, allowing proprietary giants to exploit the code without giving anything in return and thereby monopolise the market.

On go the comments, e.g. with “people call me crazy when I say we shouldn’t trust Microsoft’s “goodwill”, they say that EEE isn’t a thing anymore, that we can trust them with GitHub and that Microsoft embracing Linux will be a good thing…”

We wrote about this in the previous post. “I actually think this is mostly true,” said the next person. “It’s just that there’s more than one head in Microsoft’s hydra and at least one is set on eating the world (as is true of all large companies).”

“Linux wrapped in Windows,” wrote another person, “it’s kinda hard to admire the grace and power… the freedom of the majestic eagle… when it’s trapped behind the bars of a dingy little cage. That’s developers running Linux on Windows. Let’s hope they wake up before it’s too late.”

“I certainly have no doubt that’s what MSFT is doing,” said a fourth person yesterday. “All the incentives point that way. There’s no room for ethics in a $trillion multinational public corporation that’s built its fortune on exploiting monopolised users. Here’s my thinking on Microsoft and Free and Open Source Software, and on Linux: https://davelane.nz/mstrust” (he wrote about this subject before)

Another new Reddit threat that cites Techrights has responses like, “I didn’t realize there was a linux.com.”

“Yep,” said the next comment. “Run by a large not for profit. They used to issue certifications as well.”

On Linux.com one reader wrote to ask: “Does Larry Augustin have any comment?”

Remember that Linux.com used to be a publicly-traded company with a massive IPO. “Do you have Augustin contacts,” I responded. He has since then escaped the limelight and settled in not-so-famous companies. To quote this reader:

Could be interesting to Ask Larry Augustin what he thinks of the LF firing all the authors and editors.
Was there a contract that required the LF to maintain Linux.com as a magazine site for a certain amount of time?

He held the “monopoly” on a bunch of linux media back in the day… right with VA.
Which, a lot of people were screwed by VA as well -btw.

Wasn’t it Augustin who transferred ownership of Linux.com to the LF…
I don’t know.
I only think it was Larry (VA), then it was LF… not sure the story there. Do you know the story? I’d be interested to know… WHY!

Of course, under his umbrella it wasn’t much different – catering to advertisers…
And Emmett Plant was editor in chief and left – I think there was a “protect your source” reason, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, it could be an interesting comment from Larry or anyone who previously worked at Linux.com (foundation or VA) to see if they have a comment about the current situation…

Our ears are open in case someone wishes to tell us something; we provide anonymity to those who want it.

“Other things I’m curious about,” added this reader. “Do you think previous employees fired by LF – might have some stories to share…”

We’re surprised they didn’t speak out (at all) until days ago in response to an article of ours. Hours after we posted an article about Linux.com being dead since April (and all staff fired) they suddenly added an item as if you say, “we’re not dead” (they linked to some old post from Mozilla). Some hecklers then decided that because a day after our article the Linux Foundation tried to cover up its misdeeds it thus “proves” we were wrong. If anything, it shows how guilty they are (and feel guilty, too).

“They’re not original articles,” one former staff member responded, “they’re from the newsfeed. When http://Linux.com was still active they published several original articles per day, and had a busy newsfeed as well.”

“For the community, by the community, Linux.com is the central resource for Linux users,” says the site, but there’s no community left. Nothing.

“Both of these were added after I had written an article about it” was my response to this heckler. They merely pretend that they didn’t sack the staff in a rude fashion. It’s rather revealing that they try to save face; it’s sometimes called ‘damage control’.

We should note that this likely has nothing (or little) to do with Microsoft, which isn’t the sole threat to Linux inside this PAC (the Board has other foes of Free software). We never framed this as a Microsoft-only issue. Microsoft just stands to gain the most if/when Linux fails.

Zemlin’s PAC isn’t about Linux. Zemlin himself doesn’t even use Linux. They’re no allies of GNU/Linux but of corporations — such as Microsoft and Intel — companies that make proprietary software and just ‘happen’ to have “Linux” somewhere. If Linux disappeared, they’d just replace it with something else like BSD. They probably would do so anyway if it wasn’t for inferior hardware support (lack of drivers).

What we have here is neglect if not betrayal; it’s really very blatant. First the PAC takes over Linux.com and claims it’ll support GNU/Linux news; it takes full ownership and for a while the site does some journalism (as promised). Site then turns into a marketing outlet of corporate PAC members (for payments, see the brochures we published earlier this year) and eventually all of the site’s staff gets sacked. As even people who worked for Linux.com admit, under the PAC the site just became marketing (and we know this based on the PAC’s brochures; interviews and articles were bought by the PAC’s clients and payers). This means a corruption of journalism rather than support for journalism (and those who don’t play along are fired). We’ve meanwhile noticed that Swapnil Bhartiya, who used to write for Linux.com, took a pivot to the marketing ‘industry’ [1, 2].

09.02.16

The Corrupting Influence of Money in the Linux Foundation (Bias for Sale)

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, VMware at 2:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When enemies of the GPL (GNU) like Microsoft and VMware — not just GNU/Linux-friendly companies such as Red Hat — pay the Linux Foundation to get their way

Red Hat glasses

Summary: The growing danger of a Linux Foundation which is funded not just by proprietary software giants but also direct opposition of Linux and serial violators of the licence of GNU (GPL)

THE level of entryism at the Linux Foundation has become way beyond acceptable and now that only corporations are involved in decision-making (see reminder below) we expect to see the verge of the farcical. How long before the Linux Foundation is not even pro-Linux but is instead pro-industry (for the industry giants that fund and thus dominate it)? Or, put another way, will it endorse things irrespective of the very spirit of both Linux and GNU? Whether something is or is not Free/Open Source software and whether it promotes (GNU) Linux? You know something is very wrong when the (paid-for) keynote speech at the biggest Linux conference is given by the company that called Linux “cancer” and continues to attack Linux to this date. That’s like having Donald Trump at the Democrat’s conventions and campaigns.

We have been trying to write more about patents, especially about the EPO, so not many articles mention Linux or talk about Microsoft these days. Microsoft’s latest patent attacks on Free software are revealing; Microsoft says it “loves Linux”, but its attacks on Linux definitely carry on (as recently as a couple of weeks ago or less).

“Microsoft’s latest patent attacks on Free software are revealing; Microsoft says it “loves Linux”, but its attacks on Linux definitely carry on (as recently as a couple of weeks ago or less).”The following points were mentioned a lot over the past 2 weeks, but we finally decided to write an article about it because sponsored articles (for Linux Foundation funders) continue to come out from the Linux Foundation’s Web site (this disclosure says IBM, but previously it was Microsoft). Why is the Linux Foundation simply morphing into a mouthpiece? Why, for example, is it willing to publish Microsoft lies? Just because Microsoft pays for it doesn’t mean it’s ethical or worthwhile. It reminds us of the years when Microsoft used (exploited) Novell for Microsoft marketing. I’ve exchanged nearly a dozen E-mails about this with Stallman this past week and he too is concerned about it.

The main subject of this article is actually VMware, a company that has been notorious for GPL violations for quite a few years (almost a decade). Some people wrote articles noting that Torvalds had publicly acknowledged the important role of the GPL at LinuxCon. Shortly thereafter, however, Torvalds blasted GPL enforcement. A week ago we saw at least two articles about exactly that [1, 2] (related but less relevant is this article).

“VMware recently poached Dirk Hohndel from Intel (head of Open Source [sic] or whatever they call it) and it was him who interviewed Torvalds as his trusted colleague less than a fortnight ago at LinuxCon, just shortly before the above attack on Kuhn et al.”Journalists then saw a rant in the mailing lists and decided to inform readers regarding Torvalds’ public rant against the Conservancy [1, 2] (these link to the original from the mailing list). A few more articles about the subject have been published since (these are in our daily links) and they serve to reinforce suspicions that Sandler (not just Kuhn) from the Conservancy got pushed out of the Linux Foundation, causing a lot of backlash about a year ago. The backlash was about abandonment of funds (material support) to the Conservancy; it happened after VMware had joined the Linux Foundation and the Conservancy got involved in a GPL enforcement lawsuit against VMware.

But here comes the interesting thing — an observation which I mentioned last week (in passing) over at Tux Machines. VMware recently poached Dirk Hohndel from Intel (head of Open Source [sic] or whatever they call it) and it was him who interviewed Torvalds as his trusted colleague less than a fortnight ago at LinuxCon, just shortly before the above attack on Kuhn et al. It reinforces the suspicion that the Conservancy’s decision to uphold the GPL on behalf of a client made Hohndel an enemy and then, by inference, made Torvalds somewhat of an enemy. Remember that a lot of ‘ex’ Microsoft executives now run VMware (look who has been running the company since 2008) and the company famously violates the GPL (this has been known for many years), just as Microsoft did when it created a shim for its proprietary, back door-compatible Hyper-V (that too was a GPL violation, but Microsoft moved quickly to comply once caught [1, 2, 3])?

“How long before the Linux Foundation is truly/entirely incapable of defending Linux from patent lawsuits and upholding the GPL because Linux foes and GPL foes develop financial strings, making them harder (or riskier) to publicly criticise?”The above observations came out late (I did not wish to write about the subject), but when Microsoft attacked Linux with patents it became too much to skip (I only say “Linux” because it’s Android in this case). How long before the Linux Foundation is truly/entirely incapable of defending Linux from patent lawsuits and upholding the GPL because Linux foes and GPL foes develop financial strings, making them harder (or riskier) to publicly criticise?

11.06.15

So-Called ‘Trade’ Treaties Like TPP and TTIP Threaten to Legalise Software Patents in Europe and Even Effectively Ban Software Freedom/Copyleft

Posted in GPL, Law, Patents at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trading the world for money and power

World trade

Summary: Revelations about the world’s largest secret collusions teach us about what rich and powerful people have in store for software patents, Free/libre software, and digital sharing economies

TECHRIGHTS does not and has not written much about so-called ‘trade’ agreements such as TPP and TTIP (there are several more, usually affecting other countries/continents). It’s not because the subject is not important but because we must focus on a narrower spectrum of topics, including the European UPC. News about ‘trade’ agreements usually just ends up in our daily links, under “Leftovers”, so it’s not being ignored.

We’re living in an age when if those in power commit crimes against millions of people (not just wars of conquest abroad but also domestic wars on the local population with its diminishing rights), they just simply rewrite the law to legalise these crimes after the act (e.g. CISA and Investigatory Powers Bill) and if there is something that bothers them (e.g. law-abiding citizens who are activists) or threatens their monopolies (anonymity-wielding protesters, software freedom etc.), they will simply try to demonise or altogether ban those things. It means we must always stay very vigilant and fight back, at the very least by informing peers.

It is becoming increasingly hard to overlook or ignore the impact of these aforementioned ‘trade’ agreements because the EPO‘s President meddles in them, as we showed less than a couple of days ago.

Benjamin Henrion, a longtime activist against software patents (especially in Europe), has noticed some rather disturbing things in the relevant TPP chapters, which Jamie Love has looked at and explained.

“This looks like it was composed by lobbyists of Free software foes, e.g. Microsoft.”“TPP chapter on software presumes software is patentable in the first place,” Henrion noted, pointing to this curious article titled “TPP has provision banning requirements to transfer or or access to source code of software”. In section 4 it says: “his Article shall not be construed to affect requirements that relate to patent applications or granted patents, including any orders made by a judicial authority in relation to patent disputes, subject to safeguards against unauthorised disclosure under the law or practice of a Party.”

This looks like it was composed by lobbyists of Free software foes, e.g. Microsoft.

“The TPP chaoter on software is basically trumping licences like the GPL with contract law,” Henrion later added. “Am I right?”

“Software patents boundaries will be challenged through ISDS courts and TPP,” Henrion added and Glyn Moody, who has become quite an expert in this area having covered it for years, responded with “same will be true under #TTIP: will be effectively impossible to remove *any* area from patentability – eg #swpats [software patents].”

The article in question is this one, which says: “Instead of combatting the ability to bring cases such as Eli Lilly’s, the TPP’s investment chapter invites them. Any time a national court – including in the U.S. – invalidates a wrongfully granted patent or other intellectual property right, the affected company could appeal that revocation to foreign arbitrators. The new language would also make clear that private companies are empowered by the treaty to challenge limitations and exceptions like the U.S. fair use doctrine, or individual applications of it. Adoption of this set of rules in the largest regional trade agreement of its kind would upset the international intellectual property legal system and should be subject to the most rigorous and open debate in every country where it is being considered.”

There is also this about TRIPS: “The investment chapter provisions on prohibited performance requirements includes a number of exemptions for intellectual property rights, compulsory licenses to patents under Article 31 of the TRIPS or for copyright, or remedies to anti-competitive practice, that protect U.S. state practice in those areas.”

It is imperative that people everywhere become familiar with these to-be-signed treaties before they are signed (if ever). It’s like ACTA from the back door and even if corporate media doesn’t write so much about it, this doesn’t make it any less important or urgent a matter. It’s often that case that the corporate media covers up (if it covers at all) and misleads the public about these treaties. At the end of the day we know who wants to see these treaties passed and at whose expense these can become a reality. It’s class warfare.

“There’s been class warfare for the last 20 years, and my class has won.”

Warren Buffett

11.04.15

GNU/Linux and Free/Libre Software Dominance: What It Comes Down to is Patents

Posted in Apple, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Patents at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Proprietary software companies like Microsoft, Apple, Oracle etc. want lawyers to run their business

On legality

Summary: A decade after Free/libre Open Source software (FLOSS) surpassed its proprietary counterparts on technical terms/merit it is facing an increasing number of patent challenges, as well as disruptive takeover attempts

TECHRIGHTS was born out of the need to tackle Microsoft’s patent war on GNU/Linux. Back in 2006 Microsoft saw innovations such as Compiz whilst it had a lousy operating system called Vista (which even Microsoft executives were internally ranting about). It knew it was only a matter of time until Windows loses dominance outside the server room. Fast forward to 2016 and Android is expected to have nearly 90% of the market. Windows is in a state of disarray and Microsoft now tries to force people to use it, even if they don’t pay for it and don’t want it at all.

“Microsoft promotes lawyers to high management and tries to make patent extortion its new cash cow.”Microsoft tried to evolve, but it was all in vain. Remember the Microsoft Stores? Remember Surface (both the old and the new)? Microsoft is losing a lot of money in the hardware business (faulty by design [1]) and the online business (promises are being broken now in an effort to raise money [2]). Microsoft is now borrowing money — a lot of money in fact — to pay debts [3], confirming what we knew all along about Microsoft’s real financial situation.

As a result of Microsoft’s panic (losing billions of dollars) the company launched patent assaults on various companies (OEMs) that distribute Linux/Android. Microsoft promotes lawyers to high management and tries to make patent extortion its new cash cow. It is also disrupting Android from the inside, in an effort to better control it. Last month we wrote about Xamarin‘s (Microsoft proxy) takeover of RoboVM [1, 2, 3, 4] (still a subject of critical debate). Paul Krill wrote that “Hammond sees the bigger issue as Xamarin’s acquisition of RoboVM and its desire to support RoboVM iOS apps in the Apple App Store, which has taken a dim view of GPL licenses to date.”

Apple — like Microsoft — is also attacking Android backers like Samsung, using software patents that are inherently incompatible with the GPL. Apple is still bickering over patents in an effort to derail the dominant Linux-based platform, Android, according to this new report.

We expect the last remaining barrier for the triumph of Free software everywhere to be patents, and especially software patents. We are changing our site’s focus accordingly.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft’s Surface Book laptop is almost impossible to repair

    IFIXIT HAS taken Microsoft’s first laptop apart and found that it’s probably not a good idea to try to fix it yourself.

    Microsoft’s latest device went on sale last week in the US and has yet to see a UK release, but the people at iFixit have cracked it open and explained exactly what’s going on inside. And it’s not good.

  2. Microsoft is breaking its cloud-first promise

    There’s already a backlash against Microsoft’s surprise announcement, and it’s not a good look for the company given its impressive focus on mobile and the cloud. Microsoft is fighting a war against Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and many others for the business side of the cloud, but its consumer efforts are starting to look a lot more like Apple’s iCloud offering. Apple offers the bare minimum of free storage and entices consumers to pay more for iCloud by making its apps and operating system make the most of the cloud. Microsoft is now bullying OneDrive users into paying for the free storage it is now taking away.

  3. Enslaving M$

    It’s kind of embarassing to have to borrow money to pay debts… but that’s what M$ continues to do. It has $100 billion in liquid assets but it can’t repatriate them to USA without forking out a ton of money to Uncle Sam for taxes, so it borrows money at this end to pay for what it does day to day. The problem is chickens come home to roost. When the day inevitably comes that the world sees M$ has no clothes and that M$ is not the one true source of IT, the gravy train ends but the debts will have to be paid. At the last 10-Q quarterly report, M$ reported $36billion in short+long term debt. Now about half it’s liquid assets will be needed just to repay that debt.

10.30.15

Microsoft-Connected Xamarin Demolishes the Freedom of Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, GPL at 2:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s war on Android surely a benefactor here

Tamarin

Summary: An essential Android tool, RoboVM, turns into proprietary software just shortly after Xamarin, which is financially assisted by Microsoft veterans, takes over it; time to fork?

LAST WEEK we wrote about Xamarin‘s disturbing takeover of RoboVM [1, 2], which was a threat to Microsoft’s monopoly and domination of APIs (especially on the desktop). Xamarin, for the uninitiated, creates proprietary software that strives to spread Microsoft’s .NET to mobile (including Android) devices.

“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin, the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”
      –Abel Avram
It has only been less than a week and now we learn from Abel Avram that “RoboVM Is No Longer Open Source”.

“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin,” explains Avram, “the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”

“The community has wondered what would happen to RoboVM now that they have been acquired by Xamarin,” Avram noted. Well, now we know. Bye bye, community.

To quote further: “RoboVM is no longer providing the source code except to enterprise customers. [...] Several RoboVM components used to be made available under the Apache 2.0 license while the compiler was open sourced under the GPL license.”

It has gotten so bad that RoboVM might be forked. To quote Avram, “some developers consider that closing down the source code has to do with Xamarin’s acquisition. And some are discussing forking the project, perhaps starting with the sources v. 1.8 which will be pushed to GitHub this week, according to Zechner. It remains to see how successful they are in their endeavor considering that RoboVM is not a trivial piece of software.”

Xamarin and Mono were never about Free software and GNU/Linux; they were just a parasite trying to exploit Free software and GNU/Linux to spread .NET and now they serve to convert Free software into proprietary. Microsoft must love what Miguel de Icaza has been up to recently.

“At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately [sic].”

Miguel de Icaza

09.23.15

Media Filled With Spin and Lies Amid Microsoft’s Admission of Internal Usage (and Modification) of GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 5:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “Microsoft loves Linux” lie… on steroids

Hilton hotel

Summary: Further analysis of Microsoft’s admission that it uses Linux internally and the media’s poorly-researched response to that

EARLIER this week we mentioned GPL-related issues pertaining to Microsoft's so-called 'embrace' of Linux, to put it crudely. Some people in various Web sites have pointed out that since Linux is not AGPLv{X}, this oughtn’t be a problem. “Dirty trick from Microsoft for ACS GNU/Linux distro,” Bob Summerwill called it, because “they stick with GPLv2 so they don’t have to share code.” These are actually legitimate points. Our headline was an open inquiry that said “But Where is the Source Code (GPL)?” This question mark at the end indicated that we were still looking for some answers. It has all been rather vague and widely misreported.

Amid the latest Microsoft openwashing by a Microsoft-associated network of propaganda sites (yes, they still want us to believe that Microsoft is an open source company!) we are looking for clarifications as to what Microsoft is really doing internally, hence secretly. It created some kind of proprietary version of “Linux”, or a derivative thereof. They built things on top of it, modifying GPL-licensed code (it won’t disclose what exactly was changed, when, why, and how).

Here is the ‘damage control’ from Microsoft, courtesy of Microsoft Peter, who previously helped Microsoft amid clear GPL violations that we covered in length [1, 2]. Peter is trying to frame this as something that it probably isn’t, shedding off obligations to release code changes. Given Peter’s history amid GPL violations from Microsoft (we covered this extensively at the time), we cannot take his arguments/claims at face value. A lot of the corporate media continues to refute Peter by saying that “Microsoft Launches Linux Operating System”, that “​Microsoft’s love affair with Linux deepens”, or that “Microsoft’s Linux-based cloud OS scores a win for SDN”. They’re obviously paying no attention to Peter, whose employer (an sworn apologist of Microsoft) has spread the ‘damage control’ to two Web sites (identical text, different headlines), one of which pretends to be British.

We continue to be disappointed to find very poor press coverage of this. One financial site was calling this exploitation of Linux code “Microsoft goes open source”. Well, they don’t even release any code, so how can that be “open source”? Lousy journalism.

Either way, since Microsoft hides what it has done and has not yet released any code, all one can do is guess. Relying on claims from Microsoft boosters and apologists is the worst one can do at this stage, especially with history in mind. Remember that Microsoft views the GPL as a “cancer” and moreover, because this so-called ‘cancer’ is so good, Microsoft has violated the GPL until it got caught (repeatedly).

09.21.15

Microsoft Claims to Have Built ‘Windows’ on Top of Linux, But Where is the Source Code (GPL)?

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What if Microsoft® Windows Azure is actually what Microsoft calls “piracy”?

Manchester

Summary: Microsoft cannot rely on Windows anymore, so it takes GNU/Linux code and puts its own brand on it, without even releasing the changes (as per the GPL’s requirements)

THOSE who pay careful attention to details and have fairly good memory can still recall that Microsoft had violated the terms of the GPL before it finally compiled. This happened at least once if not twice around the time Microsoft assaulted Linux to promote its proprietary hypervisor (obviously with back doors as Windows is a requirement) and later, just shortly afterwards, lifted some social media code. To Microsoft, GPL is still like “cancer”, to borrow the words of Microsoft’s CEO at the time. Microsoft is just trying to find a way to live with (or co-exist) with “cancer”.

There have been many reports that mostly emanate from Microsoft’s own, self-promotional claims. The Register has one of the earliest reports about this, followed by some Linux sites which asked the right questions, such as: “We don’t yet know when and if Microsoft will release the source code of the project and which licence they will use for it; the Linux kernel is licenced under GNU GPLv2, so it has to be a compatible licence.”

Various news sites twisted the story, if not just in the headlines, then in the body too. Microsoft boosters took this the furthest [1, 2] and rather than admit that Microsoft is more or less defeated by GNU/Linux (at the server level at least), they tried to belittle the importance of these revelations, which would inevitably have come out (Microsoft chose a ‘controlled’ release of the news). “Microsoft has built a Linux-based operating system” was the headline of one such report, but another way to put it is, Microsoft built its proprietary framework using GPL-licensed code from Linux. When will we see the source code and what does it say about Microsoft’s appreciation of its own code, which is obviously unfit for purpose in such complex environments of a very large scale?

To put the story in just one sentence, Microsoft realised that its own code/workforce is unable to put together a reliable hosting platform, so it turned to Linux, took some “cancer” it liked, then put its “Windows” and “Azure” branding on the whole lot. That’s ‘innovation’ the Microsoft way (there are many prior examples) and it may actually — for now at least — be a violation of copyright law. So who’s the “pirate”?

07.30.15

Microsoft’s Mouthpiece Mary Branscombe Tries to Shoot Down Free Software, But Fails Miserably

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, Microsoft at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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 [PDF]

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.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts